Tuesday, August 29, 2006

I got a nap!

Not that a nap has anything to do with today's post, but, hey, it's a big furry deal these days and I thought I'd share the excitement.

so the older kids have their braces--and we're out a down-payment on a new car--and now their pain is my pain... can you hear it now? "Do you have your headgear on? Did you brush? Did you floss? Do you need me to yank those puppies out with a pair of rusty pliers or are you going to take care of your grillwork?"

And to add to the pictures of domestic wierdness, I thought I'd share a few vignettes that will make everyone stop wondering why big mama needs a nap (and a shot of tequila, but she's breastfeeding):

Episode 1--in which our heroine returns home from exercising dripping sweat only to find Mate with a suspiciously bright orange rag in his hand. "The cave troll got into the hand lotion!" he grumbles grimly, wiping down the footboard of the bed, the dresser, and the television and the other dresser and the doorframe and the..."Why are you looking at me like that?" He says, puzzled. "What is it? What did I do? What didn't I do? What did I forget...oh!" Can you hear the dawning comprehension? "Is this your new blouse?"


Episode 2--in which our heroine is sitting in the bathroom. doing what you do in the morning--it's an odorific ritual that sometimes demands a newspaper--when her 11 year old daghter bursts in, wearing a soccer uniform that saw two games yesterday and has one to go on this day, saying "Mom...does my uniform stink?"

Episode 3--In which our heroine is holding her adorable baby daughter while taking the cave troll on the carousel, and the adorable baby daughter gives a happy little grunt and takes out her diaper and her outfit and mom is stuck, holding a cheery, stinky baby while the carousel goes around and around and around and around and around and around.

Episode 4-- (Actually this happened last year but it was too funny to just die after I told my all male, body-phobic lunch crew who tend to hold me in general contempt because I use words like 'crapweasel' 'f*&^head' and 'breastpump'.) In which our heroine (very pregnant at the time) is sitting on the couch with her daughter and her husband on a Wednesday evening, watching one of those 'Funniest Moments on Live Television' shows. We had just gotten to the segment when people doing news stories on animals are looking straight at the camera while the animals are doing their business (in this case, it was a kangaroo doing himself a big favor) behind them. So we're watching the show, and in OUR background, strides my large, dripping wet, and VERY NAKED oldest son. He is heading for the garage--which is the only place in the house where you can see people from the house. My husband and I looked at each other and then looked at the door to the garage, waiting to see what would happen next. In a few moments, the door opens and my son emerges--still naked. He waves a pair of underwear that he has gleaned from the drier and smiles at us, then ambles back to his bedroom to put them on. Have I mentioned that we're across the street from a church that holds Wednesday services? *sigh* Yeah.

So, these are just a few examples of why big mama needs her nap... the other is BOUND, which I'm going back to work on even as I sign off... Goddess, I'm so close to done that I can taste it--but it's going to be over 720 manuscript pages, which means that the self-publishing company will charge a fortune for it, which means no one will read it... too bad... it could be the best thing I've ever written...

Sunday, August 27, 2006

Ours is not to reason why...

I've thought of some other reasons to work besides the fulfillment of smacking grammar into cast-iron minds with a balsa-wood 2x4.

* Food--I'm a fan!

*Air conditioning--don't stay home without it!

*Eating out--with the way I cook, this is a definite necessity.

*Braces for the kids--so they can eat my world class "makes leather look like butter" steak.

*Movies--no self-respecting media junkie would deny herself this staple.

*The Internet--so my husband doesn't run screaming out of the chaos with his hair on fire.

*Girl clothes--for the little girls.

*Boy clothes--for the ginormous boys.

*Me clothes--because finding big mama clothes to fit mama's big butt don't come cheap.

*Mate's clothes--because if I don't buy him clothes he will wear them UNTIL THEY ROT OFF HIS BODY. I tested this once--wasn't pretty.

*The laundry monster--I can manage to wash the clothes but I can't manage to fold them. They sit on one side of the bed until the we can roll off on that side without actually changing altitude...the mattress gets a little lumpy, but, hell, nothing gets broken. Although I can't fold the clothes because, no matter where he is in the house when the cave troll hears the fibers being pressed he comes charging in to jump on my folded piles like Charlie Brown jumping into a pile of leaves, nobody every bothers Mate when he sits in our bedroom and watches the Kings lose...ever--so he can get lots of laundry folded and nobody's the wiser. However, for reasons known only to himself, he doesn't fold laundry during the summer when I don't work. If I don't go back to work, that puppy's gonna take over the block.

*My self-worth--If I could manage to clean the house, this would not be a problem, but I'm hopeless. I'm sitting right now at a table filled with an ungodly pile of crap, and it's like it doesn't even register until someone comes by and I suddenly see it through the eyes of a sane person and then I'm like "Wow--who gave this woman her license to procreate?" If I didn't work, write, or knit, I'd have nothing tangible to prove that I earn my oxygen and the cubic footage of flesh storage it takes to sustain me on the planet.

*My conversational reserves--If I didn't work all I'd have to talk about would be my kids--who are mostly only cute to me--and the characters in my books--who (hello) DON'T ACTUALLY EXIST!!!! I need to go to school and teach so I have something to talk about that happens somewhere besides my over-stimulated gray matter--otherwise, I AM the world's most boring human.

* Self-betterment--If I'm not teaching literature, all I'm reading is crap. (With the exception of Roxie and the Yarn Harlot--that's good stuff:-)

* Getting the check--I don't do direct deposit because Mate and I were so poor for so long, it still tickles me to drop that puppy in the deposit envelope and watch it make my bank account fatter. (The fact that our living expenses have multiplied geometrically since our salad days does not diminish this satisfaction in the least.)

* Teaching my children by example--if nothing else, by negative example. For instance, I've told them both that they need to take a home ec class in high school, because they need to learn that real food has names.

* Sleep is overrated--that's what I've been told, anyway.

* Running water--two thumbs WAYYY up!

* Yarn--still the best excuse ever for shaving a sheep.

So I've got reasons to go on...but that didn't stop me from jumping up and down with my arm in the air going "me me me me me me...I'LL do it" when Mate and I were discussing who gets to take all of Tuesday off to take the kids to the big kahuna of orthodontist appointments. I mean, you have to stay sane to stay circumspect, right?

Saturday, August 26, 2006

The world's best lightbulb joke

Okay...I just heard an ESPN sportscaster refer to the 'teachable moment'--which one of my colleagues broke out the eduspeak lexicon, because I thought that crap was supposed to be a secret...

That being said--my daughter has a soccer tournament this weekend, which means our house is going to be a black-matter vortex of accretion for another week...oh, well, I may have time to go grocery shopping, which means the claw machine and I'm happy. Babetta's is also having a sale on Labor Day--there may be light at the end of that tunnel--I haven't bought yarn in almost two weeks! *sob*.

And now, the entire reason for this absurdly short post. For those of us who follow the Yarn Harlot, she had a giddy post this last July when she told her favorite lightbulb joke and what followed was a deluge of every bad lightbulb/knock-knock/whaddyaget joke known to man...I was telling bad jokes for WEEKS! And now, my oldest daughter just told my all time favorite lightbulb joke--she made it up herself tonight:

How many babies does it take to screw in a lightbulb?

None--because when they smile the world lights up around them.

I'm gonna post that on my whiteboard this week--it'll keep the blues away!

Friday, August 25, 2006


When I started writing this post, my husband called...we had a rather meandering conversation for a few moments while he tried to work and I tried to blog and we both tried to maintain a relationship that's lasted for 19 years without letting all of the responsibilities that come with it drop like glass boulders. While we were talking, our best friend called, and so I picked up her line decided to check my e-mail-- while I was doing that, Arwyn, who is in the other room being held by her sister, started to flirt with me... so I was checking my e-mail, talking to my friend, and flirting with my baby AND mediating a dispute between siblings.

My friend hung up, and now I'm typing this post, and flirting with my baby.

We have just returned from work and picking up my daughter--during my commute I write. Not physically but mentally--while I'm driving, my mind returns to my book and I plan and phrase and question and remember and catch plot-holes (and potholes) and have conversations and cry and laugh and do everything I do in front of my computer without having to type so that when I do type I can type like the wind. At the stoplights, if I'm not eating breakfast or getting the toddler's toy which got dropped, I knit.

Before the commute, I was at work--usually, at work, while the kids are doing quiet work, I enter their grades into the computer, but today, the grading program was down so I was writing. When I wasn't writing, I was stalking them up and down the aisles keeping them quiet while writing a key for the quiz I gave at the end of class.

During lunch, I was expressing milk for the baby, reading my e-mail, and looking for the Yarn-Harlot's blog in the internet but the internet was down so I was... wait. I wasn't expressing the milk for the baby. It wasn't coming out. So I had to stop and pull up a picture of Arwyn (I used the picture down on the blog) to try to make my milk come down, and she was so cute, and I had abandoned her with the (admittedly wonderful) daycare worker while she was grinning in my face. And then I cried. Just cried. No other task at hand. And then my milk dropped, and instead of checking my e-mail or doing something else while being the human cow, I thought.

Many of my students are from Muslim countries--they wear the headgear and the lovely kaftans and everything (I feel very foolish that I don't know the proper names for these things.) A couple of years ago I was talking to one of them about her arranged marriage. I've learned long ago not to get upset about things like this, even though the idea is alien to how I grew up: just because it's different, doesn't mean it's worse. I asked her if she was looking forward to going back and getting married, and leaving much of the independence she had here in the States behind.

She told me that it was wonderful being a woman in her country. She had seen me come into class upset and frazzled at leaving my children and that where she grew up, the woman spent the days in community, raising their children, keeping their homes beautiful, cooking good meals, and talking to each other the way American families don't seem to anymore.

I think of this student on days like today, and I especially thought of her at this moment, sobbing in my darkened classroom while trying to do one good thing for my child this day.

Did she and her family members multi-task?

Did they sweep and mind children or order groceries and do the dishes? Did any of them write while they were sweeping, or did they dream while they were plying needlework? Or was there simply a quiet blanket of peace, of heartbeats between tasks, of blessed meditation on the wonders of watching children grow and having something important to offer the world as they grew older and learned from their mistakes? But what if they did dream? Did those dreams come true? Were they composed of limitless options and 'sky is the limit' success? Or did those dreams have limits, boundaries, the littleness of lives circumsribed by tightly built, high walls?

I know that when I didn't work, I felt trapped, as though the limit to my life was the four walls I lived in and the yard beyond it, and the two small hearts that beat inside it with me were tethers to this tiny domain and helpless boredom of inactivity. But I was alone then, my husband was only home once a week, and there was no one to share my wonder in the children, or to ease my frusration at being the only parent for six days out of the week.

If I had been inside a peaceful high wall, with my mothers and friends and sisters, would I have learned the noble and honest multi-tasking of the homemaker? Would the freedom of the workforce have seemed quite so enticing?

Multi-tasking: Women have been doing it for centuries. You'd think eventually we'd get it right.

Tuesday, August 22, 2006

Can I do Short?

Probably not-- I've been talking to kids nonstop for two days and I've decided that I'm the most concision handicapped individual in the whole world--a nightmare for a teacher. If only once I could shut up I'm convinced my students would be able to listen to the silence of the world and figure things out for themselves...a Table-of-Contents in a notebook, people--how hard can it be? Pretest--can they really be in 11th grade and not understand the pretest? Really? Oh, well, then I have to explain it and that just blows that whole thing about shutting the hell up to the northwinds...

On other fronts, my kids go and get the first installments to their braces today... does anyone want to know how much it costs to get braces from spacers to headgear installed in two adolescent children? You lie. NOBODY wants that number...I swear to the Goddess of finances that my first 5 cars didn't cost that much. (1970 Datsun, 1976 Pacer--you heard me-- 1975 Volvo, 1980 Toyota Corolla, 1986 Ford Escort--a fine family vehicle if you're frelling broke, really--combined total? $5,250. Less than half as much as my children's teeth. Who wants out of that parenthood gig NOW?) Un-be-frelling-believeable.

And as for the babies? The cave troll has insomnia from mama-go-bye-bye stress...it's heartbreaking. Last night it was nine-o'clock and he should have been in bed for an hour, and he comes padding out, clutching t'binkit, and just puts his hand on my arm and looks at me. He knows he can get in trouble for this, but what he really wants is a hug. I was so tired I couldn't focus on my computer screen, and the good cry I had earlier hadn't helped, and hugging him was the last useful thing I did all day. I now have to run my laundry again because I didn't get to it and now it's probably stinky.

As I was having that good cry, though, my husband put things in perspective--"We could probably live on my salary you know...we'd have to give up some things...books, movies, braces for the kids, yarn..." Wait a minute, buddy...back the truck up...you're talking crazy now...

Sunday, August 20, 2006

Happy Birthday, Pete

Tomorrow, my Dad turns 60. This would really blow my mind, except my dad has not yet acknowledged that he's aging, and as a consequence, looks in my mind like he did when I was a little girl and he was a god.

This is a picture of my dad, wearing the woefully oversized camouflage colored Jughead hat from the NOT JUST MORE SOCKS book--I offered him a way out of wearing it--it fits my son perfectly (think of every Mike Meyer's quote about enormous noggins and that's my son.) But he was so tickled that I made it for him (and that I picked the colors he loves best), that I don't think he's going to take me up on it. To celebrate my dad's birthday I figured I'd give you some details that make up the general dadscape that I grew up with.

* When I was seven and my dad and mom got divorced, my dad asked me who I wanted to stay with. I chose him. This was 1974, and a dad who kept his kid was unheard of. I can't imagine a world in which I didn't grow up with my dad.

* Shortly after that every good thing my dad ever did in all his past lives caught up with him, and he met my stepmom. She was the best thing to ever happen to him, and one of the best things to ever happen to me. (I must also count my grown-up family--she was his grown-up family.)

* My dad used to put me on the back of his motorcycle because that was the only transportation we had. He said that when I was falling asleep he'd shake my clasped hands to wake mme up.

* When my dad was working and going to school, he used to sleep under the car, while pretending to fix it because he knew I'd leave him alone. (I wish I worked on cars. Hiding in the bathroom isn't working.)

* The first time I saw my dad cry was when our dog Sparky died. He's always claimed that if he's really good in this life, when he comes back he'll be a labrador retriever. I think he'll be the best one ever.

* My dad still rides a motorcycle--he looks like he rides a motorcycle, and although he's nursed his handlebar mustache and his soul patch for the last 30 years, the truth is, other than knowing he's the world's nicest guy who looks really tough, he has absolutely no vanity. He has always brushed his hair in the car on the way to work.

* My dad taught me how to drive. I'm including this tidbit so that those who know me can include his name in the class action suit after I demolish their automobile in some way, shape, or form.

* My dad went for about a ten or fifteen year span when he got a ticket every year. He was extremely proud of that. My stepmom, who paid the insurance bill was not so proud.

* My dad saw all my plays in high school, and many of my band performances. He also watched my stepbrother play football.

* After my dad and stepmom first met, my stepsister (who was three at the time) kept asking her mom "Which is bigger. A giraffe or Pete? An elephant or Pete? A giant or Pete?" In recent years, my stepsister has made my dad carrot cake on his birthdays more often than not--he looks forward to it.

* My dad plays frisbee golf--he actually entered a tournament at Shasta as a Senior about five years ago. He finished in the top ten Senior division, but he says that's only because he was the only one his age who didn't party with the young-uns without wrecking himself.

* My dad can fix anything except computer. My husband can fix computers and not everything else. After the initial friction of "who are you and what are your intentions towards my daughter" they have always gotten along very well.

* My dad is a tremendous graphic artist. If he'd been born in this day and age, he'd be working for Pixar, I know that in my bones.

* My dad and stepmom took us cross country in an RV when I was 14. This should be a requirement for every young person in every country across the world.

* My dad is six-foot five, and when he was younger he had curly hair the color of cherry coke, eyes the colors of a Hershey bar, and more freckles than a spotted trout. My son Trystan is his spitting image which makes me prouder than I can say.

* Trystan gets his desire to tell terrible jokes from my dad.


Saturday, August 19, 2006

Vainglorious Prickweenies

We had our yearly 'let's get in there and change some s*&^ that works' meeting yesterday... we have one every year, but this year, because our funding was at rockbottom, we only got paid for a half-day, which was depressing because most of us were there for a full day to go implement the changes to our own curriculum and fix up our rooms. The real shame of it is that I was BUYINGit--I was there, listening to the English department talking itself into becoming the literary borg in which all our policies and approaches are exacly the same and I was sort of getting into it...sure, I can confiscate hats on the first offense (it often takes me half a period to notice that a student even HAS a hat on...and that includes kids I've been talking to for ten minutes outside.) Sure, I can send kids to the office for ID's every day when they forget theirs. (I NEVER wear my own ID badge. EVER. ) Sure, I can ask for some sort of evaluation EVERY SINGLE STINKING DAY. Wait...wait..I've done stuff like that...my desk ends up a pile of little pieces of paper that I don't have time to get to, and, voila--useless make-work that takes the place of meaningful learning. So, I say to my administrator, "Hey--this doesn't really make sense--how about aim for 4 out of 5 days, or something decent and real twice a week, right?" And that's when things go south. Because God forbid we use our common sense to decide when to evaluate our students--it's not like CA teachers don't have more education than teachers in most of the other states in the union, right? And suddenly I'm getting test scores thrown in my face and this always curdles my blood because we constantly get told our test scores suck as a school but only once in 12 years have I seen the test scores FROM MY OWN PLOTZING CLASSES which means that getting told my test scores suck is like getting told the weather sucks--sure it's 120 outside but me and mine are in the pool, so what?

I eventually retreated to the silence of angry knitting and watched in admiration as my dept chair annihilated the guy, but the moment was blown...the BUY-IN was blown and things spiralled to hell at warp speed thereafter. My computer decided that because it was having it's systems revamped I didn't exist, which meant I couldn't pull up my documents to change them to the word of the literary borg, which meant that I couldn't print up my syllabus which meant that I have to hope I can get the kids to daycare early so I can make my copies during my first period prep or I'm greeting the ravening hordes with the whiteboard and my fractured wits and by the time the computer got fixed, I was running late late late to pick up the tiny ones from daycare and so I RAN OUT OF MY CLASSROOM WITHOUT MY BREASTPUMP AND TWO BOTTLES OF EXPRESSED MILK.

I discovered this error when I got home, and as I was jumping up and down in the driveway, mouthing obscenities so the cave troll didn't run into his grandma and repeat the several F-bombs I silently dropped, I realized that even though the two events had nothing to do with eachother I was having a recurring fantasy of beating my administrator to death WITH the breastpump.

Which brings me to today. Today I took the toddler to gymnastics, drove from gymnastics to work where I picked up the breastpump, then back to my daughter's soccer field where I made it just in time for the first of two exposition games for their opening day. As I pushed the stroller while holding the toddler's hand and carrying two captain's chairs, I felt my heart plummet. Oh crap. She was playing the Wild Things today.

The problem with this was that she was ON the Wild Things for four years. This year, her coach cut her. It's a rec league team--he wasn't supposed to do that. He tried to weenie out of it by just not telling us about the day the team traditionally signs up together, but since his daughter and my daughter were best friends, that fell through, and he met me at the door with Arwyn (aged two weeks, if you want an idea of my own emotional state) and as my daughter went inside to meet with her friends (four years, remember?) and to plan who was going to who's birthday party, he told me that my kid was getting cut from a rec league team. I cried during the entire enrollment process and then I had to tell her when we got in the car. It was worse than when the rat died on Halloween. It was worse than when the rat died on my son's birthday. It was BAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAADDDDDDDDDD.

So my daughter ended up on the Lightning Bugs this year, with girls who are all a year or more younger than she is, and the first team she has to play is her old team. I cried through the first half of the game--every time a Wild Thing came to the line in front of me, I had to fight not to cheer her on...dammit, I watched these kids grow up! And then I take a good look at the other kids that they've recruited for the team, and a good look at the kids on the Lightning Bugs. The light bulb goes on. Bryar didn't get cut because she was the WORST player on the team--she's not. She got cut because she was the FATTEST kid on the team. All of the Wild Things are skinny as whippets. Half of the Lightning Bugs are slightly solid--including my beautiful, amazing, smart, sensitive little girl.

I stared across the field at the vainglorious prickweenies (the coach's new second in command was responsible for the push to cut Bryar)and hoped they choked on their own spit, and I made an observation about prickweenies that is both cynical and true.

Prickweenies tend to be in power not because they're stronger (nope) or smarter (HA!) than the rest of us. Prickweenies tend to be in power because they know who to crap on.

My admin could crap on me because he knows A. I'm fat, B. I'm funny, C. I am unashamedly emotional and D. I'm overtly maternal. Take a look at our media, people--I'm a quadruple threat--nobody takes the mama bear seriously until she's ripping out someone's throat--and then they shoot her down with sawed-off shotguns and say "Gee, I wonder what made her lose it like that." My personal nightmare of a prickweenie is, at the moment I write, looking for someone to replace me as AP teacher--he says it's because my test scores are low, but since he's never actually compared my AP test scores to how these kids tested in 11th grade (to do that, we'd actually have to get test scores that mean something and my upper administration has a pathological aversion to doing that) he doesn't know if my scores are low because I'm an idiot or if I'm a freakin' miracle worker--judging from the feedback from the kids, it's option B, but he doesn't give a rat's ass about that because that would mean he's interested in the truth. The fact that in order to be funny, I'd have to be more than proficient with language and the concepts thereof seems to have eluded him too--but we've already seen that upper admin is usually short on common sense so I don't know why that surprises me. Why let honest evaluation of an employee get in your way when it's easy to crap on her because she's too damn busy to defend herself?

But I can deal with that--my verbal umbrella has been fending off the scat of vainglorious prickweenies for most of my life. But my daughter... my beautiful daughter... Goddess, people, don't we deserve better for our children than to allow vainglorious prickweenies to rule the world?

Thursday, August 17, 2006

This is a test...

Of the emergency blogging system...

Actually, I just wanted to see if I could blog from school, and, voila, something else interesting to do besides teaching which really should be my first concern...

Yesterday was EXHAUSTING...my kids are both in middle school, and they both needed to go pick up schedules etc. yesterday, but at different times...as a result we spent from 10-11 at school, from 11:15-12:30 shopping for MY school clothes (I don't want to talk about it...not quite as depressing as the year some bozo in bulimia-land decided all fat women should wear horizontal stripes, but not nearly as neat as when I could fit into my pre-1st pregnancy clothes either.) And then we went to lunch--where my daughter committed the two worst heinous sins in the book-- 1st, she didn't get the toddler a drink when she ordered (I was getting kids out of the mini-van--this is what is known as delegation.) and 2nd, she threw away the toddler's fries while he was wandering around charming other diners at Wienerworks. Silly her, she thought he was done--judging by the size of his uber-tantrum, (brought on by sheer exhaustion, I'm sure)--I think the only reason the cave-troll didn't wake up and jump on Bryar's head as she slept was that he was too tired to think of it as he passed out on the couch while I took his sister to dance class. (This is unheard of in cave-troll land--usually it takes four stories, two songs and the appropriate number of hugs to get him to pass out--and all of these delivered by me.)

Anyway, all this hilarity was followed up by hours 1-2 at the school (This time for Trystan) and then an odd thing happened...we were driving home and both young-uns were HOWLING at the top of their little lungs because THEY HAD HAD ENOUGH and two things occurred to me.

A. If I turned right instead of left, I'd quickly be at Babetta's, my yarn haven of choice.
B. If I didn't go to Babetta's NOW AT THIS INSTANT I wouldn't have another chance to go for almost a month.

I felt the yarn withdrawals pumping through my overworked system, and suddenly there we were, at Babetta's, with sock yarn in hand. It was a lovely moment of junkiedom, purchasing what the Yarn Harlot refers to as the methadone of fiber...I'll have to savor it for a very long time... who wants socks?

As an addendum to this horrible day? We count to three before getting medieval on Kewyn's little baby bottom, right? Between games of tag at the fat-lady store (instigated by my older daughter, but since we were the only ones in there, who cares?) and a misguided trip to the Hallmark store (Kewyn, don't touch that...or that...oh for God's sake put your hands in your pockets and roll around on the floor, would ya?) we counted to three A LOT before we got home. (But not at Babetta's...all is peaceful at Babetta's, and so was the cave troll...) So anyway, we're laying around the living room before dance lessons, looking dazed and wrecked, and we start asking Kewyn, "Hey buddy...how old are you? Are you two? Are you this many?" And we'd hold up two fingers, and he got this very hurt expression on his face, this very "But I wasn't DOING anything" expression, and then he started to shout "No mama! NO TWO! NO TWO!!!!!"

So I guess if you want to ask the cave-troll how old he is, you'll have to wait until he's four.

Wednesday, August 16, 2006

All Better Now

So, I woke up this morning, read my last post, and realized a couple of things...

A. If I kept writing like that I'd be suicidal before Monday, when I became besieged with other people's children, so we won't do that anymore.
B. Yesterday, that lovely baby pictured above was sitting on my lap when she gave a beautific smile, cocked her leg so that her left-hind-yab escaped her diaper, and destroyed an entire load of laundry in one cheerful grunt. That really would have made a much better post...and since I was wearing some of that laundry, it would have made some incentive for me to get out of the house and work!
C. That hat has a very funny story attached that I would not forgive myself for not writing down. (BTW--thanks for the compliment on the knitting, Roxie--but the following story will reveal why I am a dilletante at best!)

That hat, worked in sportweight yarn, has a spiral pattern created by yo/ssk (For the non-knitters, let's just say that this is a very fiddly, irritating sort of pattern to be repeated for eight inches of 3" by 3" tube on little tiny double pointed needles with purple yarn). It was about ten o'clock in the evening one June night and I was working serenely, about 6 inches into the skinniest, most minimal part of the spiral (also the most finicky bit of knitting) but taking a break to feed the adorable baby when Mate snuck into the room. Well, more like did that cartoon tip-toe thing that Scooby Doo and Shaggy used to do? I was watching television while nursing, so I didn't really pay him any attention-- always a bad move with Mate--and that's when he struck. Reaching into the top of the knitting bag with the hat, he snatched one of the double pointed needles with live stitches on it and PULLED IT OUT and retreated to the back bedroom, leaving me, pinned to the couch by a nursing infant moaning "THOSE WERE LIVE STITCHES!!! WHAT DID I EVER TO DO YOU?" I kept this up, mouth opening and closing in stunned outrage, until Mate sheepishly slunk back and stuck the dpn back in the bag. I handed him the burping baby and tried (and failed--you can see the spot where I failed and just gave up and 'fixed' the stich count) to re-insert the needle where it belonged, saying "What in the hell were you thinking--you've always been so supportive of my knitting...why would you try to crush my little soul like that?"

"I'm sorry." He said with a terrible wince. "I lost the stylus to my pda, and I'd seen you working with those and I thought 'that would be perfect'"

"Well, was it?"

"Oh, yeah...worked like a charm..."

"Well I've got two dozen of those things that aren't currently working with LIVE STITCHES!!!"

"Yeah...I'm sorry...next time I'll use one of those..."

Good answer, Mate!

D. And now a very funny school story...

Every year I give a talk I call 'Don't get knocked up during prom.' Yes, this could get me fired...I'm very aware of this, but I've had so many kids come up and say "Thank you, Ms. Mac." that I think it's worth the risk. (Remember--if we don't pay our attention bills, Satan repossesses our children.) Anyway, the very first 'Don't get knocked up during prom' speech had the bad timing to be given right after a talk about Byron--you remember, the famous poet who was exiled from English society after doing everything with two and three knees and who finally knocked up his half-sister? (Everybody say EWWWW! EWWWWWWW!) But that didn't stop me... bravely I launched into 'Don't get knocked up during prom.' And it went very well--the feedback from the kids was good natured and mostly positive, and the talk was winding down when Pete Sanchez burst out 'Yeah--and man, make sure you change the rubbers in your wallets, because those things expire--I didn't know that!' And suddenly everybody, including me, was laughing so hard we were darned close to wetting our pants. The laughter was finally dying down... and I almost had a handle on the class again, when a girl who had been up at the office for most of the period came back in and, reading the 'down to giggles' mood of the room, she looked around and said, "What'd I miss?"

I smiled and replied, "I just gave a little talk--'Don't get knocked up during prom'."

She nodded soberly and said, "That's not going to be a problem--I'm going with my cousin."

Remember Byron? We laughed until the bell rang, and the poor girl never did understand what set us off...

Tuesday, August 15, 2006

Some Knitted Things

Okay okay okay...I borrowed shamelessly from EZ up there, but I have so very little in common with her that I figured I should capitalize on what I've got...

Because I'm usually at my computer at school, that's where I keep my list of the things I knit, crochet or (I haven't done this since the cave troll was born) quilt. This summer I decided to blog instead, and between the baby, the book, and the blog, I haven't accomplished quite as much in that area as usual, and I'm here asking myself, if a picture is really worth a thousand words, how many words do I need to write to make up for the things I haven't knit? Ouch...tough questions...

I'll be doing more school stories tomorrow--since Thursday is my first day back (by my choice--I have to get ready...decorate the room, remember what I teach and how to get medieval on their sorry 10th, 11th, & 12th grade assess--that sort of thing...that, and I need to spend a day sobbing because I'm deserting my tiny ones and it's best if I do that alone. No. Not really kidding.) But today I'm going to put up a couple of photos and wonder if a word= a stitch or if there's a whole other scale I'm overlooking...

This is a grown up hat I made for Bryar out of this yummy skacel mutant sheep fur (read: merino superwash hand dyed) I used a pattern that called for fingering weight for a kids hat and made one for my daughter's oversized noggin w/sportweight. The color's lost in the photo, more's the shame.

These are the jaywalker socks that I made with Knit Picks yarn... again, for my oldest daughter... (spoiled. definitely spoiled.)

This is the cutest baby in the world at this moment, whom I have been breastfeeding all summer--haven't found a way to breastfeed and knit. I'm not sure there is one, and since this is our last child, I don't think I'll be the one to find it if there is.

And my blogger just decided to stop uploading photos--I had some lace socks and a matching lace hat, the cave troll at rest under one of three baby blankets I made for MY baby, and I had the three blankets I made for other people's babies, and a couple of sweaters for Arwyn before she arrived and a couple of hats but, all in all, not as much as I usually acomplish in any given 5 month span...

What can I say? BOUND is almost done, and my heart is still going to break when I leave it all behind... I'm so lost as to what a fair trade off is I can't even fathom it... definitely more school stuff tomorrow.

Monday, August 14, 2006

Thoughts inspired by a $100 weenie pig

I got nothin'... We spent $100 on the Guinea Pig, and as already discussed, that critter ain't even good eatin'... I spent almost two hours chasing the cave troll around PetSmart while my older daughter took the pig to the vets for being a weenie pig with skin problems and all I can think of is, "There will not be a mouse, rat, gerbil, hamster, ferret, chinchilla, bunny or weenie pig in my home from the time this one drops dead on somebody's birthday or a children's holiday (both have happened, no lie!) to the time the infant gets big enough to guilt me into it, as the lost goddess of weenie pigs is my witness."

And then I pet the adoptable kittens and wondered if maybe I wasn't overstating the whole 'animals are a colossal pain in the arse' stand just a weenie pig bit. Then I got the $100 weenie pig bill and wondered if we could serve the weenie pig's remains to gullible rich people with my definitely un-pesticided garden snails and make a killing.

But my flummoxulation (great word--made that up myself) aside, I figured I'd talk about Beowulf and the modern teenager...

I teach Beowulf--I love Beowulf...I have a hard time convincing kids that all of that bald poetry is simple story telling at it's barest. There is no complexity, there is no irony, Beowulf good/Grendel bad, the good guy dies with the most toys, the end. Eventually they get it--they really love the part where Beowulf rips Grendel's arm off and what's left of Grendel goes sobbing into the forest to die in a cave like the big carnivorous weenie pig that he is. They love it...they especially love the part where Beowulf throws that humonguloid arm up over the framework of the giant meadhall to rot and says "Me good guy, that proof, so there!" I mean, it's really great territorial chest beating, and if kids didn't get off on that we'd have a world without wars, gangs, and organized sports...but in this day and age it was a positive thing and that totally intrigues them.

I could tell I'd made an impression with Beowulf the day I helped break up the girl fight.

Mostly I let security break up fights, but there is something reckless in me, something that wants the world to know that even though I'm an excessively large woman with a sweet round face, I am still no one to dick with and if I am pissed off, you'd best stay out of my way. It's the thing that drives me to go walking around my not always safe neighborhood alone at nine o'clock on a summer night--in fact, it's the place in me where Cory, my main character comes from. It's a good place, but reckless--it's the thing inside of me that has led me to drop the F-bomb more than once during meetings with my administrator. Sometimes I regret where that place takes me, sometimes I revel in it, but mostly I am surprised by it--if anyone were to ask me I'd say I was a hobbit, not a warrior elf, and when I find myself (like Pippin or Merry) with that bloodied sword in my hand, I couldn't say who was more surprised--me or the dead orc in my way.

This fight was one of those days when that place opened up in my heart and I was in the thick of a big-honkin' girl fight. Now my stepmom (one of the most lovely people to ever walk the earth) once told me that when you're in a girl fight, one of the best defenses is to grab the girl's hair from the back of the head--you have control of the direction the person is flailing and their arms aren't aimed at you. I imagine she got this tactic from when she worked as a ward clerk at night in a county hospital--but in this particularly ugly fight, that random bit of information came flashing through my brain. I have a clear memory of one girl--one of the smaller ones--being dragged away by her boyfriend--he was carrying her like a toddler and her arms and legs were straight out in front of her like she was trying to materialize through his body onto her foe, and that was when the girl in front of me got away from the security guard holding her and she darted in front of me. I grabbed her hair from the back of her crown, and it slowed her down enough for security to tackle her and get her in a 3 point restraint, but, uhm...did I mention I work in a school with an intensely varied ethnic background? Yeah... a lot of the girls have weaves.

The bell rang, the fight broke up, and I was left with a rather impressive hunk of synthetic hair dangling from my hand. I took it back to my 5th period class, where I sheepishly fielded a bunch of 'you go, Mz. Mac' comments from the kids who'd seen me in the fight (my part was so minor--they were being cute, really), and that's when I held up what was left of the one girl's weave.

They busted up, and I told them I was at a loss for what to do with it. One kid (a talker--remember vocabulary? We called him gregarious Gregorio.) suggested that I should nail it above my doorway as a warning to whomever entered not to mess with me.

"Then we could call you Beo-Mac!"

I was so proud of them I almost cried.

Sunday, August 13, 2006

Memories of Future Past

(Wasn't that title a Moody Blues album? I certainly hope so...)

Anyway, in order to determine what I was going to post about, first I tried to download pictures. As you can see, that failed. I have this bizarre fear that all of the pictures I've uploaded and the computer has ASSURED me I've uploaded are going to start spotting the web like that episode of FAIRLY ODD PARENTS in which Timmy Turner wanders around people's PC's in order to wreak havoc on their e-mail. For those of you who haven't seen that show, my envy for you burns as hot as a thousand nova suns. (For those of you who have, that last comment should have you in stitches...)

Anyway... small children are down, large children are still at grandmas, and Mate is snoring gently on the couch (uh-oh...tiny sister just woke up...I am once again blogging one handed....)so I thought I'd add to the 'happy teaching' stories...

This next one shows why I love my particular, extremely diverse populations. Now I personally went to an 'all pink' high school-- most of us had pink skin or some variation of that tone...as I've told my students frequently (and truthfully), we had one black student, but it was good for him, because it was 1985, and we thought all black people were Eddie Murphy, so he was the most popular guy there. So when I tell my family and friends from the pink-people's hood that I teach where I do, I get these really wide-eyed looks and a "That's a rough area..." Which cracks me up--because the only reason they think it's a rough area is that the skins are not all pink--and in my school, that means they are cocoa brown, cafe latte, tea yellow, slavic tan, and every variation in between. But what they don't understand is that these kids are GOOD kids. I've subbed at all pink schools--I once had a kid stick a 'Help we're being repressed' sign in the window of the portable building because I made him take his walkman off. Clever, yes. Respectful? Not on your life. So in order to appreciate this next incident, you have to appreciate what would happen if an overweight, 5 month pregnant, middle aged teacher did a full body belly flop (as pregnant women are wont to do) in the quad after lunch in front of an all pink adolescent audience. Can you hear the roars of laughter from where you sit? I could, even as my knees hit the ground and my large belly followed. The thing is, the roars of laughter were all in my head. My 5th period class, which was all lined up in front of my door, waiting for me to walk from the staff lounge to let them in didn't laugh at all. Instead, as I walked up the ramp to the portable, all I heard from them were reassuring questions--"Are you okay Ms.Mac...did you hurt yourself? Any blood?" (There was a little on my knee--I blew it off.) And I'll always remember that--I know my classmates would have laughed. My kids, bless their hearts didn't--and I will always love them--every class of them--for it.

I'm teaching sophomores this year--I've been teaching all Seniors and Juniors and the jump in maturity level from 10th to 12th grade is just phenomenal, so I'm a little apprehensive. I need to dust off all of my old classroom management skills and some memories of less than stellar classes. My last 9th grade class was still in the 20-1 stage of funding--which meant I only had 25 of them. (This is, to me, an absurd and sad testament to California's moronic and dimwitted approach to education as a whole. If you ask a teacher in a more civilized state what their classroom ratio is, they'll roll their eyes and say in a beleagured voice, 28 students to one teacher--can you believe that nightmare? And then all I have to do is say the magic words--"I'm from California--36 to one" and I get their total respect. Of course ocassionally a politician will run for reelection and we'll get a surge of funding marked 20-1--meaning, that all over the state highschool principles scramble to cut every freshman English class in half--because that's the only place the funding goes--and six months later the politician gets elected, reviews the budget, wonders why our math scores haven't improved, and calls the whole thing off.) So anyway, this class was smaller than usual, but, by the end of the year, I discovered that more than half of them had been referred to continuation school--which meant that the fact that I wanted to throttle more than half of them at any given moment on any given day was definitely not my fault. (For any teacher doing the math here...if the entire school sends forty exiting Freshman to continuation school a year, and 1/2 of your class of 25 is going to continuation school, that means that you have 1/4 of the schools worse behavior problems stuffed into one small class. Basically people, this renders 20-1 both moot and a hinderance rather than a help.) So anyway, I wanted them dead, finito, over and done with, roadkill, whatever. But that was only at the end of class. At the beginning of class I would walk up the ramp (Oh yeah--I had them after lunch. Any teacher will tell you that the after lunch thing is the kiss of death for often the most promising classes and the impeteus behind banning soda from every vending maching on a public school campus from here to Saskatchewan) and greet them by name--and be honestly glad to see them. Ashanti was a sweetheart who begged me to teach her crochet, Jorge was really bright and did anything I asked, Jesse had a big heart, Yokell had some maturing to do, AJ was a pussycat in front of his grandmother--you get the picture. And so, one day, as I stood in front of the class, getting ready to deliver the lesson and wondering if God would pretty please drop an anvil on my head and spare me the next 55 minutes, I simply spoke to them from my heart. "Guys--I don't get it. I walk in here everyday, and you are really nice to me--and I am genuinely happy to see you. You are funny. You are kind. You have smiles on your faces and you are excited for class to start. Someone raise their hands and tell me then, why it is that when the bell rings, I am three times as happy to see you go?"

Nobody raised their hand--but about 1/2 (again, that math thing) looked at their hands in shame.

It would be nice to say that things instantly improved, but that's a Hollywood ending, and yes, about 1/2 of them did end up in continuation school. But when I was pregnant with Kewyn, Ashanti made me a baby afghan--the only person so far to crochet one for me instead of the other way around. I had Jorge again as a Junior--he was genuinely happy to see me. A.J. stopped by sometimes to assure me that he'd matured a whole lot from his freshman year. I, in turn, told him in confidence that one of his teachers had put him on the nomination list for our Student of the Month award--he never got elected, but for A.J., the honor was in the nomination. And for the rest of the year, when things got dicey, all I really had to say was, "I'm still happy that you're here--don't make me change that." And about 80% of the time, it worked.

More to come...

Friday, August 11, 2006

A bit and a bat and a little of that...

I don't know why the cave troll is currently beating the couch senseless--it has something to do with a moral objection to bathing the guinea pig... the workings of a toddler's mind are sometimes a total mystery.


*The older kids are going away with grandma and grandpa again. I love grandma and grandpa. They are welcome to do anything they want with my children--hell, I survived, didn't I?

*I had a giant crying jag about going back to work. Would I feel better about this if I didn't hate my administration with the burning passion of a thousand nova suns?

*I made up four knock-knock jokes to help my older son (13, and communicatively handicapped) figure out the whole 'name as pun' thing that, so far, has completely eluded him. I offer these jokes here for your consideration:
*Knock knock.
*Who's There?
*Kewyn who?
*Kewyn A is over-- let me in the darned door.

*Knock knock.
*Who's There?
*Bryar who?
*Bryar something nice and she'll forgive you.

*Knock Knock
*Who's there?
*Arwyn who?
*Arwyn in soccer made us tournament champions.

*Knock knock
*Who's there?
*Trystan. (This one's hard...the answer doesn't really rhyme.)
*Trystan who?
*You Try-stanning on one foot for a while and see if you like it?

They're all lame as Tiny Tim, I know it, but hopefully it will help Trystan stop telling jokes like "Why is the street called Sunset? Because you can see the sun set on it." (Yes. I know. It's not a joke. We've been having the 'it's not a joke' conversation for several years now, and my only consolation is that Adam Sandler's family used to tell him he wasn't funny either, until he finally watched a bunch of movies and improved his timing. And, oh yeah, got funny.)

* I remembered two funny moments from teaching in the past that won't get me fired.
A. I do vocabulary every week, and as we review the words I give as many real life examples as possible (so the kids don't think these words are just for fancy dress, right?) and the word of the day was 'Officious'.
"Officious is like people butting in where they don't belong." I said, and then Mario, a student I had for two years in a row was off and running.
"You mean like our neighbors--I mean, my brother was doing target practice at ten o'clock at night and the nosy officious neighbors stuck their big nose in our business and called the cops and even the cops said 'If you hear gunshots and there's no screaming to go with it, it's probably not even anything' and I wish those people would just keep their big officious noses out of our face from now on!"
When he was done there was a complete silence, as the entire class just stared at poor Mario in horrified fascination. When he was done, I spoke up--in chorus with about ten other students.
"Dude...where in the hell do you live?"

B. Oddly enough, a class that also had Mario in it, but he wasn't the focus this time. This time, it was two girls who were usually impeccably behaved, but on this day, I was certain they were the cause of all of the giggling laughter aimed my way. I was sure it was aimed my way. Teaching is a vulnerable business--you have thirty-five adolescents looking at you at the same time--if you've got a zit or your bra strap's showing or you're having a worse than usual fat-woman's day, they'll know, they'll laugh, and maybe they'll tell you about it, so I was sure this laughter was all at my expense and, having thought I'd established some trust with this (difficult) class, I was unreasonably hurt. I went off--I told them all what I just told you and I made them feel incredibly bad for laughing and I got very seriously angry on all of their 11th grade asses, so you can imagine my horror when one of the girls came up to me, shamefaced, with a little note at the end of class. It said "Look at the tiny blue footprints on the ceiling." The idea, of course, was to get everybody to look up and giggle--the most harmless joke in the world. Boy, did I feel dumber than hammered whale shit--and I really had to apologize to that class. Thinking creatively, I had a TA cut out little tiny footprints out of blue construction paper and tape them to the ceiling above the girls' desks. When they came in the next day, suitably chastened, I had them look up.
That was three years ago and the footprints are there to this day--they remind me that it's not all about me.

Okay...I feel better. I spent all morning crying because Arwyn was being unfairly adorable, and Kewyn really needed me and I remember this feeling from when the older kids were this small--the feeling that if I was better with money, better at cleaning house, a better housewife (don't ever underestimate that breed of animal--it is fine and noble and stronger and smarter than it looks) then I wouldn't have to abandon my children to the fates. This feeling sucks, but this time (age has to come with SOME bennies!) I have more than a need for money to drive me to return, I have have a memory of why I love my job. More funny school stories to come, I hope--they seem to be doing the trick.

Tuesday, August 08, 2006

Ode to Sock Yarn

Two posts in one day = two posts over three days.

I'm so close to the end of BOUND I can scent the testosterone behind Bracken's left ear and stroke the satin of Green's skin (see VULNERABLE and WOUNDED), but I've got this little ditty waltzing through my gray matter and I thought if I let it dance on the vid-screen, I can get back to work:


Sock yarn I love you
Your stripes are so neat
But the best thing about you
Is you're meant for feet!

Portable Project
Wrapped in one little skein
You're meant to be stepped on
And stepped on again.

Sock yarn I adore thee,
I plop you in bags
And knit you at stoplights
Without feeling bad.

Cashmere is a luxury
And merino's a treat
ButI can't stuff them in luggage,
And you're meant for feet.

You're meant to be worn
On broad stinky dogs
Or stuffed into tennishoes
Or showed off in clogs.

I don't have to worry
If you fall off in the car
On the big sticky space
That's been there a year

Cause I'll scoop you back up
And keep on knitting on
Knowing nothing's as nasty
As the feet you'll soon don...

Soccer practice be darned,
With it's dust and it's leaves
Because you're meant to be worn
Not mothballed with trees.

I don't have to wash
If the baby is sweaty
Or worry about touching you
If the dog stinks like a yeti,

'Cause sock yarn you're tough,
You're not gentle or sweet
Whether a sock, hat, or glove,
You're still meant for feet.

Dead dinosaurs and the radio-active fur of mutant sheep

We'll, I was testing the browser with some knitting but it's taking the day off again, so no dice...

Yesterday I had a lovely moment. I was taking the older kids to the orthodontist...(the discovery of how both of them needed enough orthodontia to wire together Lilliput is a blog entry for another time--but it's got everything: terror, humor, cave troll tantrums, decimal points, my boobs on display. Lot's of entertainment value for your dime....) Anyway, yesterday the older kids were in the ortho office, getting their teeth scoped and the cave troll had fallen asleep inside the car and tiny sister had woken up. It was a bizarre and unprecedented 82 degrees in my neck of the woods (yes. armageddon comenceth when it's 82 degrees in Sacramento in summer.) and I lay down a baby quilt (made for the cave troll--I haven't sewed since he was born) and put tiny sister on it under the trees and on the grass, and she rolled around and chewed on her fist and my keys and looked cute and I...you're gonna plotz, really...I KNIT!!! I mean, I have the word 'knitting' up on the blog under interests, right? And I've shown the ocassional knitted item on this blog and was even going to show two others (a hat and a pair of Jaywalker socks) that I've finished this summer, but really, how much talking have I actually done about knitting? You wouldn't know it's my favorite hobby next to writing but it is...it really is...I have the stash to prove it.

Actually, I have the stash to prove how little time I actually spend knitting. When I go into my LYS (Babetta's, my new second home I love it I love it I love it) you can tell how stressed I feel by how much yarn I buy. When I have no kids and lots of time to sit down and knit with other knitters that's what I do. I don't even buy yarn. Now ask Babetta how often that actually happens. I will walk in and walk out with sock yarn just because holding a new skein of it slows my blood pressure and I don't have time to knit, which does the same thing. And since I've got four kids, a full time job and a need to vent my brain-chatter in print, I end up buying more than I knit because I have just enough time to buy the yarn but not enough to use it up. When I die, I'm going to find the world's best yarn charity and make them the happiest people on the planet, because I've got twenty-seven boxes of Red-Heart and Lion Brand (you heard me. Twenty-Seven cedar plastic boxes of Red-Heart and Lion Brand--Homespun, four ply worsted, Wool-Ease, Jiffy...) and three plastic boxes of wool sock yarn and fabulous sweater yarn. I've got officially more yarn than I will ever use--W.H.A.C.O. at it's worst. The Yarn Harlot just wrote about what she did when she was temporarily childless--I'll tell you what I do. I open my boxes and touch my yarn. I run it through my fingers sadly, because I'm not going to get a chance to use it for at least another five years, and it makes me sad. I'm like that king in THE QUILTMAKER'S GIFT. Except if a knitter, or a wannabe knitter even so much as ventures up my drive I pounce on then and force yarn in their pockets until they beg for mercy and run away screaming from the crazy woman trailing fiber from her hands like the sleeves of a straitjacket because if I don't have time to knit, by the three headed One somebody will knit my yarn for me.

It's really very tragic.

That being said, I will tell you that I actually had more than twenty-seven cases of yarn to begin with. Yes. The original figure was closer to thirty-five, but I had a lot of it in bigger boxes. I took those boxes to school.

I teach English most of the time, but on my lunch hours, I teach yarn. Knitting. Crochet. Anything I can get them to do, I teach it. I donate the yarn for free. Usually there's a caveat--knit a square for a blanket for Project Linus. (That didn't really work though, because they're high school students and they like the easy way out and Guage is a four letter word to that animal.) Last year it was "If you knit a baby blanket, I will give you yarn for the rest of the year." Of course I was out for the last 1/3d of the year, so I don't know how well that would have worked, but I'm trying... but it's hard, because although I have addicted some of my beloved students with a true love of the art, to some others I know I'm still the crazy but harmless yarn teacher and there's nothing I can do about that.

But today, when I'm making plans to go back, I can look forward to converting some more masses, to English, to Writing, to Yarning...last year I got three thank you notes thanking me for teaching them English--and for teaching them yarn. I keep all my thank you notes but I'll treasure these--because I've always said that I teach students, not just my subject, and the idea that I've given someone a lifelove of something so productive and simple means I've done more than my job.

Nope...still not looking forward to going back. But I am planning to donate some more yarn to my classroom, and that's a start.

Sunday, August 06, 2006

The whole poop and nothing but the poop.

Okay... I'm procrastinating. I know I'm procrastinating. School is a week and a half away and I don't want to think about it. I've got four brand new textbooks sitting in my living room (taking up a lot of space, actually) and I look at them and put my hands over my ears and squinch my eyes shut and shout "La la la la la la la la..." Every working mother knows this feeling. I don't want to leave my babies. Ever. Because one day I will drop them off at day care in the morning, fabulously cute at two and a half years and four months, and I will go pick them up again in the evening and they will be four and two, and the very next day, I'll only be picking up one of them because the other one will be in Kindergarten and then they'll both be in Middle School and I WILL HAVE MISSED THE WHOLE PLOZTING THING! Don't tell me I'm being overdramatic...it's happened to me before.

So I'm putting off my "I want to go back to school" blog for one more entry and showing the world that Mate and I are raising a brood of media-addicted banter-geeks. And we're wierdly proud of that. Here is a sterling example.

Last night, my husband was going into Target to buy VEE FOR VENDETTA (fabulous movie!) leaving me, four children, and our best friend Wendy (sitting in back between the middle schoolers) to occupy ourselves. I had my knitting (the jughead hat in some army camo Fortissima for my dad) but everybody else got bored. Kewyn threw down his Pooh-bear doll and started screeching to have it back, and verbal chaos ensued.

Wendy, (cruelly dangling the Pooh in front of Kewyn's arms as he flails about in his car seat) "You want the Pooh? You really want the Pooh?"

Bryar, (doing her best Jack Nicholson) "You can't HANDLE the Pooh!!!"

Mom, (now channelling the monkeys from MADAGASGAR "But if you have any feces on you, throw them now!"

Kewyn, in the meantime, gets his Pooh-bear back and throws it at his brother, who says, "That is a good bear...for me to POOP ON!!! (Triumph the Insult Comic Dog...kids love him--eesssh!) and what followed was a repeat of that morning, when dad had used the same line. Kewyn starts screaming "Poop on! Poop on! Poop on!!" With so much toddler delight that not even the thought of horrified grandmothers on our next public outing can keep me and the rest of the over-stuffed minivan from giggling for the next ten minutes. Dad gets back to the car and wonders why we're laughing like morons, and we tried to explain it to him (of course he was embarrassed because he started the whole Triumph the Insult Dog thing) but he didn't really get the full flavor until this morning.

This morning, Dad is picking up the yard, and Kewyn screams, "Dad, you've got DOG POOP!!!" and then laughs like a maniac, and Matt and I, being the bad parents we are, couldn't be prouder. "Did you hear that?" I said, wiping away an imaginary tear. "Our boy said 'Poop'!"

To which my spouse replied, "Poop keeps you warm!" (God love Eddie Izzard...may he live longer than his silicone boobs...)

And it ocurrs to me. Our children are doomed. And now I REALLY don't want to go back to work.

Friday, August 04, 2006

Boring pictures, take a snooze...

Oh joy oh joy, the browser is working and I can bore the world with vacation pictures! I'm so happy I could just wee!!! The kids are back from Camp Winthers today, and are totally cooked, done and partially digested... my daughter took a shower, put on her jammies (at five o'clock) and said "No." Without discussion when asked if she wanted to go out to Red Robin. My son has gained ten pounds in trail dirt and I'm so happy they're doing their own laundry these days because camp laundry has a life--including altered molecular structure and incipient intelligence--all it's own. They spawned that laundry and allowed it roam in feral clots throughout their luggage, and it's their job to tame it, the end. That being said, enjoy my blurry vacation pictures!

This is Bryar Coustou--she's wearing jeans and a sweatshirt under that drysuit...she says she felt like a weeble-wobble.

Here we have Bryar and Kewyn, checking out fish with much wonder...Kewyn kept screaming "Dory!" (from FINDING NEMO) and apparently his voice got intense enough to scare the crap out of some poor older woman who thought he was being poked with pins. This was before he disappeared and scared the crap out of us.

This is Trystan, chasing Kewyn, who is chasing pigeons. Dad and I are laughing our hefty asses off.

And this is tiny sister, modeling the hat I finished on the trip...that's Debbie Bliss Baby Cashmerino... that stuff is like angel tears it's so soft... she's looking very angelic herself...

ANd my browser just quit...too bad, because I was trying to upload a picture of the Beloved Spouse (I shall call him Mate and I will love him and kiss him and buy him T-shirts and underwear and he will love me and be mine) in which he looks very handsome, dashing, and Byronic... I love showing him off, because we don't look like we match very well, and I like the idea of people looking at us and wondering how I ever landed a dish like that...

But more photos later, when my browser is back online (crossed fingers here!) and I promised funny and inspirational school stories--don't worry, I'm going to dedicate a post to those, I still need to remember why I love what I do...blog y'all later:-)

Wednesday, August 02, 2006

Caution: This blog contains TMI

Okay... my pictures refuse to upload, and I'm sort of fried about that anyway, so I've decided to come out of my shell a little and go off on a rant here about the skewed wierdness that is American society...more specifically, American Medical society...

We brought our dog in to get her booster shots this July. She had an ear infection. It was treated. The medication brought on a skin rash. It's being treated. This little series of health problems has resulted in a healthy vet bill (at the very least) and no fewer than 10 phone calls per week about the #$#@$%% dog. Is Chiquita okay? Are you giving her the medicine? Is she still scratching her ass on the wall outside? Could you keep her from doing that? Are you sure you don't want to have her bathed at our facility so that she smells like lavender vanilla instead of her preferred odeur of rancid cabbage dipped in horseshit? I mean, don't get me wrong, she's a sweet companion, a decent if cowardly watch dog and a functional ottoman in the evenings, but, well, she is a dog. And I'm not sure I'd mind all this attention if the phone calls didn't occur when I'm juggling the infant while changing the toddler's diaper (you know those signals that say they're ready to be potty trained? nope...ain't seen a one...) but what really bothers me is that, for every phone call we get about the damned dog, that's three phone calls we don't get from our people doctors but should!

Think about it! I go and drop a 10 lb. human being from the mama-go-boom-box, and a day later they make sure we've got a suitable cargo container for traveling and then cut us loose. Oh yeah, they make us take it back in two weeks to see if it's still breathing, but in the meantime it's you, this wriggling little stranger, the What To Expect books and a holy crapload of shit that can go wrong--including shit happening in your own body. I mean, you get this little piece of paper with things like "If you drop a blood clot larger than a lemon out of your weehoo, go ahead and call us." and some vague stuff about shoving your boob all the way back into it's little gullet during breast feeding, and, voila you're parents. (By the way, folks, that lemon thing actually happened to me, and I did call them, and they told me to wait and see if another one fell out and then we'd do something about it.) My firstborn was born hungry--they're not supposed to be born hungry, you know, they're supposed to work up to it, like they work up to seeing in color, but Trystan was born STARVING--and the little goombah had literally sucked my boobs bloody...I mean, he had blood in his diaper because that was pretty much all the little vampire was getting to eat--and we begged for a two day appointment to see if this whole 'breast feeding' thing was going to work. In the end it did, and thank God for endorphins because Matt said he could always tell when Trystan had stopped playing with his food and settled down to chow because the screaming (my screaming that is) actually stopped, but seriously--we didn't even get a sampler of formula or some damned bag balm because, hell, everybody does it, right?

And it's not like that sense of bewilderment eases with your second child or your third or even your fourth (for all I know the fifth one walks out of the uterus and asks for a menu but somehow I doubt it). Trystan cried a lot because of his disability. We didn't know about the disability when Bryar was born, so imagine our complete horror to discover that the reason she was crying was that she had a double ear infection, which we found out at her well-baby appointment, otherwise we wouldn't ever have known. Kewyn spent a week hooked up to ant-biotics and pulse-ox monitors and scary looking stuff because I'm strep B positive and the labor doc didn't believe me when I said "Admit me now or you won't have time for the anti-biotics." but when they sent us home (with stern admonitions to look for ANY signs of ill health) we could almost HEAR their eyes rolling when we called up the advice nurse if he so much as hiccupped off-key. I swear to the Goddess, I'd give a mucking truckload of wool to have gotten 1/2 the attention for all four newborns as I've gotten this summer for the damned dog.

And as for adult medicine? They lost my IUD today--I mean, not lost it, they hunted down the big phallic ultrasound and showed me a fuzzy picture of it lodged somewhere in my hoo-ha but basically, for all that I didn't really want the damned thing in the first place and it's only an interim deal until our 'other measures' take effect, I am now stuck with it. Oh, sure, my doctor rather sheepishly pledged to rummage around my uterus with a pair of sharp tweezers should I decide I don't want it anymore (I didn't want it now!) but in essence, that puppy is a free agent, appearing or disappearing at will...and I didn't even get a piece of paper or anything to prep me for what could happen with it. When they put it in, I bled like a moose--what's going to happen when they go aerating my privates with those sharp tweezers?

I don't know. All I know is that I get to ring them up when I want to call the whole thing off, and in the meantime, should I sneeze and shoot that thing through my panties and fat-woman's stretch jeans, I promise to yell at the general populace to duck and cover. Hell, it's more of a warning than I've gotten.