Monday, August 31, 2009

I Probably Should Have Put This on Twitter But Didn't Feel Like Being Concise

Now for every mommyblogger's favorite type of post: Mildly Amusing Things My Kids Did/Said!

(I am imagining my readers cheering wildly. Please don't crush my dream. I have so few left.)

The other night we were driving home after church and the moon looked large, full-or-nearly-so, and Miss Pink exclaimed, "I can see the craters on the moon and I can even see the footprints where the astronauts walked there!"

Justin and I exchanged amused glances and I said dryly, "Wow, we'll have to tell the eye doctor that those glasses really improved your vision."

We chuckled and Mr. Blue piped up, "What are aster-snots?"

The other three of us laughed until I realized he was getting embarrassed and I quickly answered his question. I love it when my kids mispronounce big words and I'm always sad when they start pronouncing them correctly.
* * *
The other day I wanted to be comfortable (wait, when don't I want to be comfortable?) so I was wearing a loose-fitting top and knit skirt as I took Miss Pink to school. She looked me up and down and said firmly but kindly, "Mom, that just looks saggy. You should put on a beautiful belt."

Schooled in fashion by a six-year-old! She was right, though.
* * *
That reminds me, Miss Pink and I often have conversations about which of her clothes look good together. I have always let her wear what she likes, within reason, but sometimes her choices are unreasonable and rather than just lay down the law, now that she is older, I try to explain why something does or doesn't work. She likes What Not to Wear and has been known to say she is "adding a POP of color."

The other Sunday, she picked out a denim dress a friend had given us. It has a full skirt with belt loops so she put a silver belt with it. I complimented her and told her she was wearing all neutrals. (She had recently learned that silver is a neutral.) Then a few days later she spoke up in the car and said, "Mom, is pink a neutral?"

"No," I said.

"But--I LIKE pink," she argued.

"That's great, honey, but it really isn't a neutral. You can wear it with a lot of things, but not everything." This obviously wasn't the answer she wanted, so I kept trying. "Not every color you like has to be a neutral."

She made dissenting noises and kept repeating her vote for pink as a neutral until I said, "Okay, honey. I guess for a six-year-old girl, pink IS a neutral."

And on that fashion-forward note, I am going to stop and go watch TV with my husband.


Friday, August 28, 2009

Friday Fill-Ins #139

1. He was a rolling stone. (Didn't know how to answer this one or to whom I am referring when I finally answered it!)

2. New school supplies is what I look forward to most this time of year.

3. My best friend is my husband. I can tell him anything and we can always work things out by talking them over until we reach a solution.

4. It is such a comfort to me to be honest with you.

5. Appearances can be subtle clues to what is going on inside a person.

6. The last person I gave a hug to was Mr. Blue, just for being so cute!

7. And as for the weekend, tonight I'm looking forward to date night with Justin, tomorrow my plans include a scrapbooking session with friends and Sunday, I want to have something sweet at my friend's daughter's birthday (the second party of the weekend)!

Check out more Friday Fill-Ins or participate yourself here!


Thursday, August 27, 2009

Reading Aloud (With Recommendations and Links!)

If you've known me for any length of time, either on the Internet or in person, you know I love to read. And not JUST blogs. I read actual books--mostly novels and memoirs, but also some nonfiction--maybe not as many as I read before I discovered blogging, but I will never stop reading books and short stories. If I'm not actively busy with something else, I'm reading.

However, recently Miss Pink has interrupted my reading time with a request I can't resist. She wants me to read to her. Now, I've always read to her since she was old enough to chew look at a book. But over the summer, her demands increased exponentially. Literally every time I sit down, she asked me to read to her. Her reading skills are good for a beginning first-grader, and she can read quite a few picture books, but those are not enough for her. She wants to read chapter books--books with more of a plot than the average picture book. Although it's hard to beat Don't Let the Pigeon Drive the Bus. Man, that pigeon cracks me up every time.

So I am conscripted into reading chapter books to her. She knows I almost never say no to reading. We worked our way through a bunch of books about fairies and horses this summer (and also one called The Anybodies, which was written for, oh probably the 10-12 year-old age group, but Miss P had no trouble understanding it. The author imitates Lemony Snicket's self-referential commentary not very successfully, but the actual story is fun and suspenseful; I wanted to read ahead when Miss P was asleep, but restrained myself.)

So being a teacher and unable to help myself, I thought she might like reading The Secret Garden and then watching the movie together. She loves gardens and animals, after all. She said yes and we began. The first half of the book intrigued her, but I noticed that the last few days she had stopped asking me to read it. We read other books, and I realized she was probably growing tired of the more challenging book.

I still love The Secret Garden, but as I read I noticed how many words, expressions, and the setting itself were old-fashioned and foreign to a six-year-old in 2009. We tried The Borrowers because she loved all the Littles books, but The Borrowers was even more full of things she'd never seen or even heard of, and as wordy as a Victorian novel. Last night after finishing a chapter, she whispered to me as if she were afraid of hurting my feelings, "Mom, I don't really like The Borrowers because it's from the old days. Or even The Secret Garden. I mean, I like it, but..."

"I understand," I said. "I hope you will give The Secret Garden another try when you are older, though."

"I will," she said, snuggling down under her covers. "Maybe when I'm eight."

I'll take it. Where was that pigeon book again?

Monday, August 24, 2009

The Day Before School Starts

It is the last day before school starts. The house is clean (even vacuumed) although as I write this the kids are playing, which means they are getting out more stuff that will need to be put away later. As Erma Bombeck said, cleaning your house while you have small children is like shoveling the sidewalk while it's still snowing.

Not that I'd know anything about snowing. I think it will be near 100 again today--but that's to be expected in Texas at this time of year.

I am trying to think about how to write about what has been going on with me in a way that will be at least moderately humorous and not come across as mentally unstable so that everyone would be all, "Now THAT is a woman who does not need to be teaching America's Children. She is about halfway off her rocker."

I think I should just go ahead and tell you how I've been feeling instead of prefacing it so much. The more I say "I'm not crazy"--well, I think you know how that sounds.

I read all the Facebook posts this morning about the moms crying all the makeup off their faces when they took their babies to school. I have always wondered what is wrong with me when I hear about moms crying--surely my heart is a small black lump of coal for not crying? I have never cried, not when either kid started preschool or Miss P started kindergarten or at the END of kindergarten. Maybe because they were both excited about school and willing to let me leave. Miss P told me last year, "You can go now, Mom," when I'd been there about five minutes and no other kids were even in her class yet. So I did, feeling that it would be fine because my kids are just like that . (I don't know what I did to get two of them.)

I still feel great about Miss P starting 1st grade. She has the same teacher and classmates because they loop K-1st. I feel good about Mr. Blue not being in preschool, but rather being watched by one of my best friends when I am subbing. She keeps several kids around the same age and is going to do plenty of educational activities with them; plus our parenting philosophies are almost identical (makes sense because we helped each other develop our parenting skills by endlessly talking about it when our oldest girls were toddlers). I know he will love being at her house and the main thing to learn at his age is social skills, sharing, lining up, etc. and there will be plenty of that. He is excited about it.

I also feel relieved that the after-school care for Miss Pink has been settled. On days when I sub, unless I am at her school, I will need thirty minutes to an hour before I can pick her up. (I have to finish leaving the classroom ready for the next day and also, the secondary schools dismiss later than the elementaries.) I had asked a mom from her class to take her home with them on those days, but I learned at the sub meeting that I am allowed to use the after-school care at her school for a reduced rate. Normally it is $15 a day for drop-ins, but I get to pay $5--exactly what I was hoping to pay the mom! I will still make enough money that I am not just barely paying for day care and they have an excellent program with lots of fun activities.

So all that is good, but I have been struggling with the whole idea of becoming a working mom. Not so much for right now since I can pick and choose the days I want to work, but I do overthink and project into the future. So that means I am worried about using up all my energy and patience on other people's children and not having enough for my own. Right now when I sometimes get tired and snappy before bedtime, I think,"Well, at least they had me at my best all day." I haven't taught in so long--and I didn't teach long enough to be a "veteran teacher" who has all the routines down to a science. I just don't really know how hard it is going to be. (I also know I am making it harder on myself by expecting to be super-stressed. I mean, I am going into a classroom of kids, not OGRES!)

I guess I am also grieving not being able to stay a SAHM. (My brain doctor, as I call her to myself, tells me this is completely normal.) As I said, I knew I wanted to be a SAHM when I was teaching and then going to grad school, so I didn't get invested in either of those as a career. Justin kept telling me I didn't have to go back because the company was supposed to make more money every year. Then this little thing happened--you may have heard of it--called a recession. If Justin is going to retire before he is 80 we need to have some more money coming in. (If any of you are able to stay home homeschooling and growing your own food, that is great but those are not choices I was able to do while staying home. Basically we sacrificed for me to stay home while the kids were small. I don't regret it but I think it would be unwise to continue barely making it financially, being unable to plan for the future.)

I do feel that I need to go back to work. All the signs are pointing in that direction. I would need to do something after Mr. Blue started school anyway--I am not much of a PTA volunteer, it drives me crazy to plan fundraisers. I am more of a "bring brownies" kind of person. As my dad wisely told me, the longer I wait, the harder it will be to get back into it. Once I do go back, I know the "teacher" part of my brain will click on and it will be okay. It always does whenever I am in charge of a group of kids. But part of me is sad that I don't get to be a SAHM forever. I thought it was going to be my reward for losing so much sleep when they were babies and that I would finally have enough time to write a novel. Now I'm worried I won't have time or energy enough to do the things that are important to me. Being a good mom is at the top of that list.

Okay now I have made myself sadder than when I started. It still is a good day although I don't have time to tell you what I planned to, about how low the expectations are for subs, which cheered me up when I heard it. "Don't fall asleep in class"? REALLY? I THINK I can follow that rule.

Unless of course I can wear pajamas while lying on a comfy couch in a dark room while the kids watch a movie and let me doze off. I may have done that just this morning.


Friday, August 21, 2009

Friday Fill-Ins #138

1. I remember, I remember when my babies were babies--and now they're getting so big! (As Mr. Blue says: "I'm growing up so fast!")

2. Dear readers, I want you to know that your support means a lot to me.

3. Is that my first paycheck in seven years (I am anticipating) !!???

4. I'm trying to resist the temptation of spending too much money for new clothes and shoes.

5. I'm saving a happy thought just for you!

6. If I made a birthday list a weekend vacation would definitely be on it!!!

7. And as for the weekend, tonight I'm looking forward to eating chicken shwarma at an Egyptian restaurant, tomorrow my plans include buying this book for my next book club meeting (I've already read it but I want my own copy and it's worth a reread) and Sunday, I want to go to church since I missed last week!

More Friday Fill-Ins can be found here.


Wednesday, August 19, 2009

Don't Know What You've Got Till It's Gone

Thinking about The Back Porch today—the one place I would say was my favorite restaurant until they closed it down. I still miss it and although I like a lot of different restaurants I’m not sure any of them is my favorite like that one was. There were two locations and we went to the second one more often. It was decorated with fake vines and flowers “growing” on lattices around the restaurant; the walls, or some of them, were painted with a mural of blue skies, rainbows, and flowers growing behind painted picket fences. The room where they served ice cream had those metal tables and chairs that you’d normally find on—you guessed it—a porch.

You walked up to the food serving area and helped yourself to the salad bar if you wanted salad. I always wanted one. Even as a kid I liked a good salad. The salad bar items were always fresh—no brown edges on the lettuce or mushy cantaloupe--and the glass plates were chilled. The cashier weighed your salad and if your guess was close enough, you won a free scoop of ice cream. I won a couple of times. (More about the ice cream later.)

The other food was excellent, too. My brother usually got the tortilla soup, with thin crispy strips of fried tortilla on top and lots of melted Jack cheese inside. Mom and I often chose the vegetable soup with the fresh-baked Zuni bread, which I can’t even describe properly except to say that it had cornmeal in it. I don’t bake bread, but I’d make an exception for that bread. They had pizza with great crust, too--I could go on but I'd make myself too hungry.

We didn’t get ice cream every time we went, but when we did, it was an Event. The ice cream was made on site, with the freshest ingredients. My mom’s favorite was the peaches and cream they had in the summer (why can’t I remember any of my dad’s favorites?) and my favorite was the Hershey chocolate. It was mild, not rich—so cool and creamy as it slid down my throat. I think that was the first place I ever had a (freshly made, of course) waffle cone. Heaven.

I went to college down the street from my favorite eating place. When I worked evenings in the library, I’d head to the Back Porch until I had to be back to campus, enjoying a quiet spot to read and a nice meal which was “not too expensive” (said in a Monty Python voice).

Almost a year after my college boyfriend broke up with me, he wanted to meet me for lunch. I don’t remember which one of us suggested The Back Porch, where we had gone many times together, but that’s where we ended up. I knew what was coming and what my answer would be. I refused to let him buy any food for me, claiming not to be hungry—as far as I know, the first time I’d ever sat in that restaurant without eating something. I stared into my soda and listened as he asked me to take him back, and then I told him no. “I’ve moved on,” I said. “I’m over you.” It was true. I was glad I hadn’t let him buy food for me. This way the place was still mine, and I could take it with me when we parted.

Stupidly, I didn’t go to The Back Porch very much after I graduated a couple of months later. I didn’t realize it wouldn’t always be there. I married, moved away, and the restaurant closed. I still miss it.


Sunday, August 16, 2009

After the Wedding

It was a busy and happy weekend. My brother got married. The bride was radiant, the ceremony was moving, my children walked down the "aisle" in my parents' side yard exactly like they were supposed to, no one died of heat stroke, and a good time was had by all.

Of course if I were a good blogger I would have pictures of this. Sadly, I forgot my own camera (nothing new there) but if I get some pics from my mom or the groom himself, I will share them with you. I wish I could figure out the scanner so I could show you the pics from the photo booth of me and Justin, and Miss Pink and her uncle. They really hammed it up. Mr. Blue didn't know how to pose for the photo booth, so his show just a blank stare.

The kids were so exhausted from dancing around the reception that they slept later than they have all summer, which meant we did too. We also played hooky from church. It's been a relaxing day.

I have some posts I want to write but they have not ripened enough yet. Talk to you soon.


Thursday, August 13, 2009

Friday Fill-Ins #137

Graphic courtesy of Tonya! we go!

1. When will I start believing in myself?

2. The Egg and I (book) was the last good book I read or movie I saw or tv show I watched.

3. Everything has its beauty but it is in the eye of the beholder.

4. Green chile chicken enchiladas is what I had for dinner.

5. I'd like your thoughts.

6. A luxury spa is where I want to be right now.

7. And as for the weekend, tonight I'm looking forward to eating ice cream at the diner where my brother's rehearsal dinner is being held, tomorrow my plans include joyously attending my brother's wedding to his true love, and Sunday, I want to worship with my church family!


Tuesday, August 11, 2009

We got home on Saturday after our trip (to Lousiana to visit Justin's family). His mother does in fact have lymphoma, but at least it is the large-cell type, which has a better cure rate, so we are all hoping (and praying) for the best. My MIL is keeping her chin up, which we all know is important. She got a recommendation for an oncologist and will be starting her treatments as soon as possible. Thanks for your kind words and prayers.

I feel like I'm behind on everything after being gone a week. Apparently I didn't realize (or was in denial that) school was starting so quickly. Not only do I have to get everything lined up for the kids, but I also have to get all my ducks in a row for subbing. Guess who lost her birth certificate AND her S.S. card? (And yet I have never been the victim of identity theft! Amazing, when I have clearly been careless with my personal documents.) Well, at least now all of Miss P's school uniforms and other supplies are bought.

My brother is getting married on Saturday, and my kids are in the wedding. I will try not to wait too long before posting again.


Thursday, August 6, 2009

Update and Request for Prayers

Has it really been almost a week since I blogged? Sorry about that. We are in Louisiana visiting Justin's family, and first I was getting ready for the trip and then traveling (it's a 6 1/2 hour drive) and then once we got here we discovered that his mother's DSL works only intermittently. Justin's sister brought over her laptop but I hate to stay glued to it when others may need it. I'm going to try to do some scrapbooking today since the kids have their cousins to play with.

It turns out this is not going to be an ordinary visit. It's always a little weird for me to be here because Justin spends all his time working on his mother's house (it was never totally finished after Hurricane Rita demolished her master bedroom and bathroom), the kids play and my SIL goes her way and I'm left at loose ends. Normally that would be all right--I read, scrapbook as I said, or go to the grocery store and try to do useful things like cleaning up the kitchen. But this time I am struggling with anxiety.

My mother-in-law has had some lumps on the side of her neck for several months, and terrible sinus pressure and pain. None of the medications they've tried have helped. Last week the lumps were biopsied, and the doctors are almost sure they are malignant. We are waiting to see what type of cancer the biopsy shows. On Friday, my MIL's sister is coming over and we're supposed to sit down and discuss my MIL's wishes.

As hard as it is for any family to deal with a diagnosis of cancer, I especially feel for my MIL because four years ago, she lost her husband to sarcoma, a rare but aggressive cancer of the connective tissues. She spent a lot of time in hospital rooms--and so did we. I was pregnant with Mr. Blue at the time and most of my pregnancy was clouded with the sickness and loss of Justin's father. And then shortly after he died--before Mr. Blue was born--the hurricane made her house unlivable and she had to live in her church's apartment with her daughter, son-in-law, and two kids--with nothing to do but wait for others to rebuild her house as best as they could, in the time they could spare. Through it all she has been patient and enduring. Which is why I feel like shaking my fist at the sky and saying, "Now this? Really?" Yet I know that faith, not anger, is what will sustain us on the road ahead, wherever that road leads.

I don't know how to end this except to ask for your thoughts and prayers. I am trying not to let it get to me; Justin, his sister, and his mom are holding up well. Most of you know I have an anxiety disorder that is normally kept under control by medication, but I have a sick flutter in my stomach and I am trying not to remember how the PPD started while we were staying here in the aftermath of the hurricane. (It probably started during my FIL's sickness and just finally erupted later.) I DON'T want to make this about me, so pray that I can hold it together for Justin and his family.

It helps to write about it, so if you are reading this, thank you. My blogging friends have become an important part of my life.