Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Belated Thanksgivings

I know you've all been patiently waiting for another installment of my so called life...I regret to inform you this isn't it. (But I have it waiting in the wings for my next post, which won't be so long in coming.)

1. My oldest brother is in a Coronary Care Unit due to some life-threatening (at the time) blood clots post knee surgery.

2. We awoke at 3 am last night to water dripping from our bedroom ceiling. Turned out to be a minor problem due to the massive wind (or so we are hoping), but unnerving none the less. I spent the rest of the night dreaming about rain pouring in all over the house.

3. There's been a case of head lice in the kindergarten classroom that will require me to pay close attention to Morgan's hair hygiene for the next couple of weeks.

4. My iPod has mysteriously gone missing.

I'm thankful for hospitals and doctors and CAT scans and blood-thinning pharmaceuticals and my brother's fiance for forcing him into the emergency room. I'm thankful Scott and I have friends and family with which to share holidays, health concerns, legal advice and Caddyshack jokes.

I'm thankful for our beautiful old house that keeps us safe and warm and looks great in retro Christmas lights and doesn't look like either house next to it. And that I have heat and electricity and water....and cable.

I'm thankful for our two children and all the germs, stray dogs, rocks, flowers, laughter, sand, acorns, birds nests, hugs, and head lice they may or may not bring with them; because that means they're alive and here with me. (And able to make the comment, "Look, there's a turkey strangling a pilgrim!" when we see a large inflatable from the highway.)

And I'm thankful for MP3 players where ever they are, but I'm also thankful I'm not opposed to singing Christmas carols and Glee soundtracks without accompaniment.

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Homes for the Holidays 2010

Saturday was our annual fund raiser for the Early Childhood PTA. The premise is a homes tour, and we try to have the home owners matched with decorators to create "holiday" themes in the homes to get people into the Christmas spirit....yada, yada, yada.

Basically, we coerce six to eight home owners into letting people trample through their homes and suffer the degradation of people criticizing them for the smallest of defects. (Okay, maybe I'm exaggerating, because the majority of people do make positive comments, but I'm always amazed out what comes out of people's mouths.)

I volunteer to stand in a home for a few hours to make sure the old ladies don't steal anything and nobody uses the tour home toilets.

I was in a very nice home built in 2000 where my only two criticisms were:

1. The builder did not lay their sub-flooring correctly on the second floor. Every step you took would creak and give with your feet. Although maybe the owners requested this so they always knew when their kids were sneaking out. I don't know. All I know is that my parents built their house in the 1980s and it does not make those noises.

2. I spent all three hours staring at a large ridge in the carpeting that ran the length of the bedroom, because it had not been stretched properly. I'm sure they didn't install it like that, but it had obviously been there a long time.

Now I challenge you to come into my home and have only two criticisms.

As far as other people's opinion...

"Is this the master bedroom?" Well, it has a king-sized bed and his/her closets and built-in dressers, so yes. Followed by either, "Then where is the master bathroom?" or "Then why are there stuffed animals on the bed?"

It's not so much that they asked about the master bath, it was the way they asked. Like they were appalled that a master bedroom wouldn't have it's own bath. So apparently, my house (built in 1920 and therefore unencumbered by the need to have tubs big enough in which to swim and toilets close enough one doesn't have to strain their muscles to get to them) would not pass the test.

On top of it, when they were shown the door to said bath, they were equally appalled that the home owners had closed it off for the day. Do you really need to see where people void their bowels??? I appreciate an aesthetically pleasing bathroom as much as the next person, but let's really think about what you are asking to look at, people.

As for the stuffed animals, they were clearly part of the Christmas decor, placed against the throw pillows on the bed. It's not like they were being snuggled up to in bed at night. What is the big deal? I cannot even tell you how many people made that comment, though. It was unfathomable to me.

Note to my mother: if people tour your home they will apparently think no adults live there, since there are teddy bears in every room.

"See how this vaulted ceiling makes the room so much more capacious?" I'm not kidding. That is a quote from one of the few men I saw on the tour...I wasn't even sure it was a word. I had to look it up. What's wrong with the word spacious? It's a perfectly acceptable word.

There was a lot of interest in the home owner's wedding picture that was hanging on the wall, the sentiment ranging from "Oh, isn't that a beautiful dress" to "Wow, she was clearly married in the 80's". (I was of the latter contingent.)

The general consensus was that the built-in dressers seemed very convenient, but they must not be planning to move ever, since they clearly wouldn't be able to take those with them. Umm...they have these things called stores where you can purchase furniture that one doesn't currently own or needs to replace. I think they'll be okay and there is no need to pigeonhole them into the house for all eternity.

One final note. I hate the smell of vanilla air fresheners, stemming from a long ride back to college with someone who felt the need to have 5 of them hanging from their rear view mirror. So of course the room I am assigned to is burning a vanilla candle. Just another day in the life.

Monday, November 8, 2010

The Trial

Parent-Teacher Conference Day

I've been dreading this day since I got my reminder notice a few weeks ago. Because if something is going wrong, it's not Morgan's fault. She's five. So it kind of fall's on me. And therefore this parent-teacher conference is really just a critique of my parenting skills.

Part of this is brought on by my pre-school parent-teacher conference last year, in which the very pleasant teacher asked me if Morgan had any stress at home, because she sometimes would get very nervous if she was asked to do multiple or difficult tasks.

"Well, now that you mention it...if she makes a mistake in her flashcards I make her walk a medieval gauntlet I erected in the basement."

So, by the time this morning hit, I had a small knot in the pit of my stomach. Stressed? Why would she be stressed? No one in my family stresses?

(Not to mention I've been riding out a slight hormonal imbalance this month that had already caused me to (1) burst into tears in front of my boss and (2) fight to keep it together as we drove past a cemetery and Morgan asked me where we were going to bury Potter when he died.)

I brilliantly scheduled this conference for 7:30 AM.

I may have mentioned that I have trouble getting out of the house in the morning. No? Not six or seven or twenty times? Well, I have what you may call a bit of a "sleep deprivation" problem which causes me to procrastinate throwing back the covers. Most days I'm leaving the house at about 7:45 to get the girls to Thea's, so I somehow had to gain a half hour.

We didn't do too bad. The parents before us were still there chatting when we got there, so I call that a win. Okay, we cut it close. But we also didn't take the full 15 minutes, so no harm done.

Morgan's polite and kind.

This was a surprise, because at home she's all, "Shut up, bitch, make me a bowl of spaghetti-o's!"

She hates doing her letter formation. And this is a girl that loves books. But she really struggles with writing, and therefore is pretty stubborn about doing it. Hmmm, you mean she doesn't like doing things she's not good at, because she can feel people judging her? So much so, that she doesn't even want to practice to get better? Hmm...who does that remind me of? It's somebody, I'm very close to...hmmmm.

Anyway, that was the worst of it. And it was something I already knew.

My only question was whether or not she had friends. I mean, I got the impression that she did, but since Mrs. D's class has all the kids that are on IEPs, I kind of wondered how that was affecting her social skills (not saying that all kids on IEPs have social problems - just a general pondering from a parent that doesn't have to deal with that daily).

Well, she must get that question a lot, because she pulled out a notebook where she spent the last several days recording who played with who, where, and for how long.

So on Wednesday last week Morgan started in the play kitchen areas with Lilly, Elizabeth and Jay and then went over to the computers with Molly and Daniel, etc.

I was pretty impressed. Not with Morgan, with Mrs. D. That must have been a giant pain in the ass, but I guess how else could she remember?

Anyway, it's over for another year. I can now lapse back into apathy.

Author's Note: Did you catch the three paraphrased movie quotes in this post?
"Over-reacting? Why would I over-react? Nobody in my family over-reacts?" Annie Banks, Father of the Bride
"I have what you may call a bit of a "weight" problem." John Candy's character, Stripes
"Shut up, bitch, make me a turkey-pot-pie." John Bender, Breakfast Club

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

Halloween 2010 Recap

Coming up for a breath of fresh fall air between Halloween and Christmas. Instead of a long-winded and boring journal entry, I'll recap by the numbers.

October 23
50 bales of hay thrown into loft. Okay, so Scott threw and I stacked. Okay, so John stacked the majority and I supervised.

2 kittens named. In a burst of un-feral abnormalcy, two of this year's kittens are actually allowing the girls to catch and hold them. Even though Zoe's idea of cuddling is a Lou Ferigno sleeper hold. Morgan has dubbed them Fickey and Mickey. She pretends to be able to tell them apart.

October 24
8 adults arrive in Halloween-themed clothing to celebrate Scott's birthday. My idea. I'm cool like that. (This includes 2 grown men in Goonies Never Say Die t-shirts.)

October 27
101 Portrait Innovation pictures taken. Somehow managed to narrow down to 8, but I got the CD for free, which means technically I have all 101.

October 29
1 kindergarten costume parade. 25% Star Wars, 30% Princess, 15% Fairy, 10% Athletes, 10% Toy Story, 10% Public Servant.

1 trip to Costco. 2 balloons from Red Robin. 1 massive stomach ache.

October 30
1 werewolf that scared the bejeezus out of Zoe. (Thank you, Uncle John.) After convincing her that it was only Whitney in a mask, we headed out to the Merchant Trick or Treat parade where I begged Malley's to give my children extra candy for me. "Treats" included: 1 pass to Pace Fitness for an adult (?), sugar free candy and toothbrush from the dentist (come on!), some "organic" candy (isn't that an oxymoron? i didn't even chance it. straight in the garbage.). I personally feel that KeyBank should have been giving dollar bills, but that's just me.

2 trips to the bounce house at the PTA party for Zoe, who until that day had been terrified of them. 4 crafts made that are still sitting on the floor of my car. 1 of which includes the emptied contents of half an Elmer's glue bottle, so now pretty much anything that ends up on the floor of the passenger side is stuck.

250 fish fried by Uncle Mike to celebrate a visit from the Maryland contingent of the family. 50 song requests for Cousin Jake's guitar, only 5 of which he actually knew. Jefferson Airplane's "Somebody to Love" being the overall favorite of the little ones.

1 trip to the drive through beverage at 11:30 pm...for milk...because Aunt Charlie - despite inviting the whole famn damily over - only maintains Lactaid in her refrigerator.

October 31
1 more Swigart family visit...just to round things out for the day.

46 degrees outside at 6pm. Official tricks or treats start time.

7th and final appearance of Dorothy. 3rd and final appearance of Shirley Temple. Dorothy refuses to wear a coat. I give up.

26 full-sized candy bars dispensed. Typically, we have about 5 kids come to our house because our road is too busy for the little ones and there are way too many other neighborhoods serving beer. We believe the influx may have been caused by Mo Williams opening his gates across the street. Like the Pied Piper of Hamilton, kids could hear him calling from blocks away.

10 pounds of candy. 1 pound donated by Morgan for kids who can't trick or trick..."Mommy, did you know there are places in this world where it is not safe?" What's a holiday, without a lesson in morality.

Until next year, rest in peace.