Wednesday, December 30, 2009

Resolutions for 2010

It's amazing that when I'm working five days a week, busy and perpetually overwhelmed, I can somehow manage to regurgitate a blog entry just about about every-other-day. But when I have two weeks off for Christmas, I can't seem to accomplish one entry.

I'll write an entry tomorrow about Christmas (or maybe I'll just copy and paste from Shan' one will notice, right?), but I have only a few minutes before Clint and I leave for dinner, so I wanted to write down my New Year's resolutions. That way next year I can look them over and laugh at myself for being so foolish to actually think I could accomplish them. =)

Okay, so I have two:

1. To stop cussing. Believe it or not, I cuss like a sailor in the privacy of my own home. In front of the kids and everything. I would like to be a good example for my kids and teach them that there are ways to colorfully express yourself without having to resort to bad language. The kids are starting a "quarter jar" on January 1st, in which I have to deposit a quarter every time I cuss. We already discussed what words I am no longer allowed to say. Luckily I still get to keep "crap," "piss," and "bastard," but I did lose "damn." I fought to keep that one because I don't view it as being a very strong curse word, but ultimately the kids won out, so if I'm going to keep saying "damn it," then I'm going to go broke. And of course, the big ones are gone: the "a" word, the "b word," the "s" word, and the "f" word. Should be fine, as long as I don't stub a toe anytime soon.

2. To write more. And this includes taking the actions to try to get something else published. I just sat back and stopped trying after getting the True Story article published, and I'm not sure why. I think in my mind, it was like I had hit some important milestone, so I just sort of expected that I no longer had to work at it. At this point, I would rather get rejection slip after rejection slip then sit back idly, doing nothing. I have so much respect for people who are working to achieve a dream, even if they never see that dream come true. Just their striving to reach it becomes a permanent part of who they are. I want to be a person reaching for something, even if I never attain it.

Thursday, December 24, 2009

Don't Drink the Water

Last night Clint and I had mapped out our day for today.  For the first half of the day we would go to Costco and buy all of the essentials for our Christmas feast, not to mention all the plasticware, etc., for the kids.  For the second half of the day we would clean the house spotless, steam clean the carpets, etc.

So one little bump in our plan.  Clint decided that blacking out in the kitchen, cracking his head on the tile floor, and getting five staples in his head would be a much more appealing way to spend our day, rather than shopping and cleaning.

So it started this morning.  I was asleep in bed when I got whacked in the head with a hairbrush.  It was Clint, sitting on the toilet on the bathroom (with the lid down, just to clarify), immobilized with confusion because he was bleeding from his head and he couldn't quite figure out what happened.  He tried to holler at me to wake me up, but I didn't hear him, so he flung a brush at me.  After some initial confusion, we finally *sort of* pieced together the events that led to his head bleeding all over the place.

Clint woke up before me this morning and went into the backyard to feed the dogs.  When he came back into the house, he chugged down a 20 ounce bottle of water.  This isn't anything out of the ordinary; he always drinks a ton of water.  After slamming down the water, he had a dull ache in his chest; that small stabbing sensation that's typical of drinking too fast.  He leaned over the counter for a second, and that's the last thing he remembers.  When he woke up, he was lying on the hard tile floor in a puddle of blood.  He was very disoriented; at first he thought he was still in bed.  Eventually he made his way into the bathroom, but was still unsure of what was going on.  Enter: Hairbrush.

So I woke up this morning to a nice polite brush clobbering me in the head, followed by walking into the bathroom to see blood running down my husband's head.  My first exclamation was, I believe, "Oh my God!  What happened?!"  He tried to explain it to me, but he was still confused himself.  He kept mentioning the dogs...I was beginning to think he had gotten attacked by a dog.  After piecing it together, the next sentences were (and these I remember clearly), "Okay, we have to...well, oh shit.  We have to get you to the hospital.  Shit.  I'll call your mom and have her pick up the kids, and, oh shit, let me get my contacts on.  Shit."

The emergency room ushered us right in.  They tested Clint's blood sugar, and also did an EKG and a CT on him.  Everything came back normal.  They're not sure why Clint fainted, but the doctor thought it might have something to do with drinking the cold water too fast.  He said that there's a chance that Clint cooled down his "inner-core" too quickly, causing his blood vessels to constrict and temporarily ceasing oxygen flow to the brain.  In other words, just a freak-thing. 

I have refused to let Clinton do anything today but rest, so this has resulted in us being seriously behind schedule with our Christmas preparations.  After dropping Clint off at home, I went and did all of the shopping.  Clint's mom came with me to help, because she knows I'm a scatterbrained shopper.  With her help, we flew through all of our shopping in about an hour, and that counted going to two different places.  Once home, I cleaned the master bedroom completely, which is a miraculous feat in of itself (the master bedroom is the pack rat room).  I was going to keep going on to the rest of the house, but I felt physically drained.  So Clint and I popped in a movie, which brings me to the present.

So tomorrow, I have to finish everything that we were supposed to finish today, all before 4:30 in the afternoon, because that is the time we celebrate Christmas with Clint's side of the family. 

I should feel overwhelmed, but I don't.  I don't know what my problem is, but I can't seem to muster up any stress or anything.  I just feel very oh-well-ish and even a little serene about everything right now...maybe because I'm just glad that Clint's head wound wasn't anything serious.  But hopefully this feeling isn't that deceptive calm before the storm.  Gotta just keep this smile plastered on until after the holidays.

Tuesday, December 22, 2009

Scrappin' Frenzy

I've been in scrapping hell for the last few days.  If I'm not scrapping, then I'm battling the Christmas shopping chaos with Clint or reading my new "Complete Idiot's Guide to Publishing Children's Books," feeling guilty that I'm not scrapping.  And my dining room is a scrapping vortex of little cut up pieces of paper, sticky glue globs, photos spread haphazardly everywhere, die-cuts, fibers, brads/eyelets, and multiple other decorations that I would be more than happy to never lay eyes on again.  But the good news is I have only two more pages left to scrap, and then I am done!  I am so relieved.  This year I will be done early; most years I am putting on the final touches all the way up to Christmas Eve.  And considering I give my mother-in-law her pages on Christmas Eve, this is a pretty stressful form of procrastination on my part. 

Speaking of my "Idiot's Guide," I've read eight chapters now, and I LOVE this book.  I don't know if it's the type of book that you are supposed to read straight through (it would be like opening a textbook and reading it from cover to cover), but that's what I'm doing.  It is just so user-friendly, practical, and easy to read.  I'm hoping to finish the book over break, because once I start back to work, it's all over for me.  But I also have to squeeze in the novel The Kite Runner, because I promised one of my students I would read it. 

Time to go back to my scrapping dungeon now and finish this damn project.  =)

Saturday, December 19, 2009

Sanctioned Spousal Abuse

No one's updated their blogs in the last few days, probably because of the busy holiday bustle, but still...dang slackers.  Don't they realize that I'm on break now and in dire need of some good reading material?  =)

Today Sarah came over and we scrapped some pages together.  I'm not much into scrapbooking anymore, but once a year I create pages for my mother-in-law's "Family Theme Night" album, and I give them to her as one of her Christmas gifts.  The book is quite impressive, and huge, since I've scrapped every Family Theme Night since 2003.  This year I actually had to buy my mother-in-law a new book, because the other one finally became too full.  Sarah and I started at around noon today, and by 5:30 I had only four pages scrapped.  It takes a really long time to do each page--especially when it's a gift for someone else, because I try to make everything perfect.  I wish I could lighten up with the whole thing, but I'm just anal like that (I hate the word "anal," but I'm lacking a better word at the moment).

After scrapping, we took the kids to McDonalds for dinner.  Then Clint and I went to K-Mart to pick up a few things.  On our way home, we drove passed the house shown below.  The picture doesn't do it justice; in person, it is stunning.  The little silohuettes in front of the house are our kids, so enraptured by all of the lights that they begged us to let them out of the car so they could get a closer look.

Unrelated, but I mentioned in an earlier blog that I was going to be Clint's partner in kickboxing for the first time.  I just wanted to give a quick update about how that went, and I can sum it up in one sentence:  He kicked my a#@!  We were working on defense maneuvers and counter punches, and every time I was supposed to dodge, I didn't dodge fast enough and I would get clobbered.  Not by Clint's punches (I blocked those), but by his feet.  We were supposed to purposefully try to stomp on our partners' feet to motivate them to dodge.  My left foot was so smashed by the end of the class that I wasn't even sure if I could wear my shoe.  I don't bruise, which sucks for me, because I still feel bruises, but I just have nothing to show for the pain.  And let me tell you, I have the biggest, nastiest, and most invisiblest bruise on the top of my foot right now.  Damn I wish you could see it (and me too); you'd be like, "Wow, that's a nasty bruise," and I'd be all like, "Oh this?  This is nothing," while inwardly sucking in the attention and feeling proud of my battle wound.  But this scenario will never happen, because I have nothing to show for my agony other than a slight smudge.  (On a side note, I hate it when my students say "I was like..." and "she was like...," but for some reason the shallowness of those words seems to work in the above imaginary conversation).

Despite my smashed but perfecty healthy-looking foot, I had an amazing time in class with Clint as my partner.  He and I fought each other so energetically, and I've never had a partner so aptly keep me on my toes before (or smash them, for that matter).  The other students were so entertained by our sparring; after awhile I became conscience of the fact that several students in the class were watching us intead of practicing the moves themselves.  Some were even shouting out at us (stuff like "Get em' Jodi!" or "You gonna take that from your wife?!"), and the verbal baiting was just energizing us even more.  At one point I punched Clint, hard, expecting him to block as usual.  I was shocked when my jab landed square on his had caught him off-guard.  I immediately dropped my gloves and cried out, "Oh my God, honey!  Are you okay?!"  That gave everyone in the class a good laugh.  I guess despite it all, I'm still just a girl.

Overall, working with Clint is such a far cry from the "polite" sparring that I normally do with the other white and orange belt females in the class that I don't think I'll ever be able to go back.  After class, I determined that this "sanctioned spousal abuse" (as Clint jokingly dubbed it) is very therepeutic and I'm already itching for some more.  I think this might be slightly psychotic, but I'm okay with that.

Thursday, December 17, 2009

This Mom's Smoking the Big One

Earlier this week, my students asked me if my own kids still believe in Santa.  I told them in a playful tone,
"Oh yeah, my kids know that the second that they stop believing in Santa, they no longer get gifts.  However, I will say that when it comes to the big ticket items, we put 'Mom and Dad' on the tag.  Cuz let's face it, there's no way I'm going to let the big guy in the red suit take the credit for Nintendo DSes and laptops." 
The kids all had a good laugh, and we moved on.

Then this afternoon, I received a phone call after school from my vice principal.  He regretfully informed me that a parent had called, complaining to him and feeling incredibly upset because I had told her son that Santa wasn't real. 

Um...huh??  I have a couple of problems with this.  First of all, it's not like I walked into the classroom and said "Okay, everyone take out your notebooks and number your papers one through ten.  And, oh yeah, Santa's not real."  I'm not much in the way of shattering students' hopes and dreams--I mean, really, there's generally only three or four days out of the month that I actually derive some kind of sadistic pleasure out of trampling spirits and squelching dreams, and this was not one of those days. 

But secondly, and most importantly, I teach seventh grade!  Twelve and thirteen year olds!  So even if I did perform said atrocities above, who cares?!  Why on earth is your almost-teen son still believing in Santa?  Is my next principal phone call going to be because I take his binkie away in class and make him stand to use the potty?


Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Quitting, then not Quitting

Feeling very light today! 

I stayed up until 3:00 a.m last night talking to Clint over the phone (he was at work), and as a result wound up calling in for a sub early this morning.  I always feel guilty calling in for a sub (especially when I'm not sick), but last night's conversation made it so worth it.  Clint had been very dark and moody all day yesterday over something really trivial, and I was very frustrated with him.  I had just come home from a long day of work, ready to enjoy the rest of my evening with my family, and instead I was accosted by his negative, broody attitude over something that had nothing to do with me.  But once we hashed it out over the phone, I completely understood where he was coming from.  In fact, I really wanted to just hug him when he explained why he was feeling so upset.  Next time, I need to try to be more patient with Clint when he is going off the deep-end over something seemingly small, because chances are his uncharacteristically jerky attitude is just his tough-guy attempt to cover up vulnerable feelings.  He puts up with all of my hormonal mood swings...he should be allowed to have his moments once in awhile, too.

Today we slept in until 10:00ish and then finished Christmas shopping for the kids.  Afterwards, we went to La Casita for lunch.  It was such a pleasant lunch--the kids were still in school, so we had the whole table to ourselves and just talked for over an hour uninterrupted.

Last night I officially decided to quit kickboxing.  But then today I changed my mind.  Yeah, I can't keep up either.  =)  I have been playing with the idea of quitting for quite some time now.  The reason is simple: because I suck at it and do not seem to be improving.  What actually finalized my decision ( or so I thought) was seeing Sensei Brandon fight last Friday.  It just brought to the surface once again how much of a professional he is in this arena.  I can't seem to get past the feeling that people like me are just a waste of his talents. 

So I told Clint last night that I was going to finish off the rest of this week, and then let Brandon know that I was dropping out of the class.  I was feeling pretty depressed about this decision though, because I have made some good friends at the dojo, plus I actually really love the work-out portion of the class.  In fact, I was going to look through VVC's catalogue to see if they were offering any kind of high impact aerobics class to replace the workout that I would be losing by quitting kickboxing.  But regardless, the whole thing had me feeling heavy-hearted.

Today, however, during lunch, Clint and I came up with a plan to help me stay in kickboxing.  He is at a much higher skill level than me, so he generally partners with guys who are around the same belt as he is (which makes complete sense, because you don't want to have a partner who slows you down).  But he really doesn't want me to quit kickboxing, so he said that from now on, every Tuesday and Thursday, he will be my partner.  On Mondays and Wednesdays, he'll continue working with someone at his own level.  This way he can help me master some of the techniques two days a week, but still get in the practice he needs the other two days. 

I guess it sounds strange, but even though Clint and I are in the same class, we usually have very little to do with each other. He does his thing with his buddies and I do mine. Tonight will be my first night partnering with Clint, so it should be interesting.  I don't know if this is going to be the miracle cure I need, but I'm really happy that we are at least trying one more option before I quit.  I'm hoping that working with Clint will help me to become more skilled, ultimately building up my confidence and compelling me to stay in the class.  I guess only time will tell, but it's worth a shot. 

Sunday, December 13, 2009

Quote of the Week

No time for a post today, so instead I'm going to do a quote of the week (now keep in mind that a quote of the week doesn't mean that I'm going to keep doing quotes of the week...this is probably the only one you will ever see):

"I have my new dissertation topic: A pscyhodynamic approach to anxiety disorders prevalent in young children whose parents surround their Christmas trees with barbed wire and pit bulls with Santa hats...what do you think?"       ~Shannon S.

Okay, goodnight!

Saturday, December 12, 2009

Tearing it up in OK

Last night was utterly exhilerating!  You know how guys obsess about sports such as football, and they will sit there and holler at the television screen while us females just sit there, perplexed, wondering what the hell the big hoopla is all about, it's just a damn game?  Okay, that was a run-on question.  But anyway, I finally got a taste of that kind of enthusiasm. 

Last night Sensei Brandon was in an MMA fight in Oklahoma.  He has been training for months.  Usually our dojo holds classes on Friday nights, but since his fight was scheduled to stream live starting at 6:00 p.m., we decided to bring a projector to the dojo and project the fight on a giant screen so that his students could watch it in a movie-like atmosphere.  Clint treated everyone there to pizza and soda, and we also brought our popcorn machine so that we could munch on some popcorn while enjoying the fights.  Once the fights began, we turned out all the lights.  Brandon's fight was the fourth one.  After watching the first three, I was truly anxious for him.  The first three fights were pretty hard-core, with two guys getting hurt (one was knocked out, and the second one looked like he had broken his hand). 

But once they announced Brandon's name, all my nervousness fled and was replaced with excitement.  It was truly awesome to hear our own little city being announced.  The energy in the room was nearly palpable, with no one in the dojo even able to stay in their seat.  When Brandon appeared on screen, we all started screaming and going crazy.  Then, before we knew it, the fight began, and we watched our sensei kick ass.  His opponent was completely outmatched.  Brandon was patient but lethal; every single opening that his opponent presented was met with jabs.  This guy got the crap beat out of him.  Now, don't get me wrong, I don't advocate fighting and don't particularly care to watch it, but when it's your kickboxing instructor tearing it up on the big screen, it is an absolute high.  Clint even recieved a text from our brother-in-law, who was watching it from home, and the message contained only one word which quite aptly summed up the fight: "Duuuuuuuuuuuude." I've never screamed at a screen so much before.  When Brandon won, all of us started jumping up and down hysterically.  It was ridiculously fun. 

I definitely won't be forgetting this night anytime soon.

Thursday, December 10, 2009

Cookies Galore

Whew--so busy! I haven't even been able to touch my blog in a week, and even now I should be going to bed. I'll make this a quick entry.

I stayed up late grading the rest of my response to literature essays on Saturday night, so it has been refreshing this week having that burden lifted. But it is almost the end of the semester, which means lots of deadlines to meet. Next week is our last week of school before Christmas break, so Benchmartks and report cards are quickly approaching. This week was a lot of fun though--we're doing a whole unit based on Charles Dickens' "A Christmas Carol." Tomorrow is our "Jingle Bell Rock" dance, and as usual, I'll be chaperoning.

This week me and one other teacher were chosen to attend a six day GATE (Gifted and Talented Education) certification conference. I couldn't be more thrilled. GATE certification is an add-on to a teaching credential that makes a teacher that much more valuable. Having this certification means that I will actually know how to teach GATE students, which would be very useful to me considering I've been doing it for a year-and-a-half now with no prior guidance.

The downfall to the whole thing is that several teachers put in for the GATE training, and three of the teachers who were not chosen have more seniority than me. One of them, Niecy, is a good friend of mine, and she was really upset--not at me, but at what she described as blatant favoritism. Ultimately she brought her complaint to our union reps. She was very sincere through the whole process. I told her from the very beginning that I completely understood her perspective, and if her pursuing this issue meant my losing my slot, I could live with that.

Yesterday, Niecy told me that she had given it some thought and decided not to file a grievance with the union, after all. She said that she needed to pick her battles, and this was one she decided to let go. I don't know if it's because she and I are such good friends, or if she just lost steam over the issue, but I still feel bad about the situation. She's an awesome teacher and deserves to go. Of course, in spite of myself, I'm still thrilled that I'm going.

So February is the big month. I'm excited, but will have to do six days of subbing plans (it's every Monday and Tuesday) for three weeks. Plus my being absent for six days is going to put my classroom into chaos. I just hope I get a good sub. Either way, it's worth it.

Next week my students are doing a cookie recipe exchange. I gave them each a recipe card, and they have to come up with a recipe that appeals to them and bake cookies for the class. They are bringing one cookie for each student (and for me), so each student will wind up with over thirty different cookies (to be taken home to share with their families). I'm compiling all of their recipe cards to create a class recipe book. I'm going to send the book to our district printshop, and have one made for each student. Some of these kids have never baked cookies from scratch before, and they are SO excited. Today they were sharing the recipes that they wanted to do, and they're pretty much baking everything from gummy worm cookies to Russian Tea cookies. I've never done this activity with students before, so I'm hoping it goes well. But at the minimum, at least I'll get to take home a LOT of cookies--102 if every student participates! Merry Christmas to me!

Tuesday, December 1, 2009

Belt Test

The internet is taunting me right now. It is agonizingly slow every time I try to click on a new page, and the pages keep coming up with errors. I have been so busy these past few days that I haven't had the chance to peruse some of my favorite blogs, and now that I have ten minutes of free time, the internet decides to be completely uncooperative. I'm not even sure if this post will publish.

So, as stated, I have been really busy since we started back to school yesterday. I have heaps of grading that I just can't seem to catch up on, and with report cards looming ahead in three weeks, parents are suddenly very interested in scheduling parent-teacher conferences for their children who have been slacking.

Kickboxing was great tonight. A little rough because we had that week off, but a great night, overall. I confessed to my friend Rachel my phobia of taking the belt test, and she spent probably about ten minutes talking to me about it and encouraging me. The belt test starts out with an hour-and-a-half workout, and once you're thoroughly exhausted and ready to collapse, you must spar with a purple or brown belt for a three minute round. The workout is're not allowed to leave the floor whatsoever for the full workout period; not even to go to the restroom or get a drink of water. The only exception is if you have to throw up (which is pretty common), and in this instance, you must leave the door open so the sensei can make sure that you are indeed puking and not taking a break, and then return immediately to the mat. If you leave the floor for any other reason, your test is over.

Ironically, it's not the workout that scares me the most. I'm sure the workout is going to be a total ball-buster (Clint's lingo, not mine) and I'll probably want to pass out and die, but it's the sparring that really scares me. I've never officially sparred before, and I just know that all the techniques I learned are going to fly out the window and I'm going to look like a complete fool. Luckily, the test isn't until January, so I don't have to stress out about it yet. But I have to take it this time, because it's starting to be embarrassing that I'm not progressing in the class.

Time for bed! I'm aiming for eight hours tonight--crossing my fingers that insomnia doesn't kick in because I really need the sleep tonight.

Friday, November 27, 2009

Getting Ready for Christmas

Thanksgiving was great yesterday.  The food was delicious.  We had turkey, cheesy hashbrown potatoes, green bean casserole, sweet potatos with brown sugar and pecans, frog-eyed salad, rolls, cream cheese jello, and of course lots and lots of pies.  My stepsisters Jessica and Amber were out for Thanksgiving, which was nice because I rarely get to see them.  Jessica had brought the brand new Super Mario game over for Wii, so toward the end of the evening, Shannon, my mom and I began taking turns playing the game.  I wish we had begun sooner, because it was actually really fun...reminded me of those childhood days of fighting over Super Mario on Nintendo.  We had to cut it short though because it was starting to get late.

After leaving my parents house, Clint and I drove over to our old house (which is only about five minutes from my parents house) to check it out.  Our tenants moved out somewhat suddenly and never left us their forwarding address (guess we're keeping their security deposit), so we were concerned about what kind of condition the house was left in.  Surprisingly, it was immaculate.  The renters had even swapped out some of the older light fixtures and replaced them with new, more modern ones.  The only downfall was that they painted every single wall in the house this dusky blue and limey green color.  Every single wall...both downstairs and upstairs.  It's awful.  The colors not only make no sense, but they completely suck the light out of the house.  But, paint is an easy fix.  I'm just thankful that they left everything else in such good condition. 

The kids loved running through the empty house last night.  Trinity was getting all nostalgic and talking about all the memories we've had in that house...which is somewhat true.  My favorite memory is when we had that surprise snow storm that took down the willow tree.  I still remember Jeremy hurrying across the street to see what the loud noise was, and I remember him wearing that hilarious straw hat that was drooping under the weight of the wet snow.  That night we all went on a walk down the sparkling white streets, where you could hear the distant cracks of other branches snapping and falling under the weight of the snow.  At one point, I remember looking up at one of the street lamps, and within its normally raunchy yellow glow was a thick flurry of snowflakes whirling around chaotically in dizzying patterns.  It was breathtaking. 

Elijah was just a baby when we moved in to that house.  His first Christmas was in that house.  Even Clinton admitted that, although he'd never want to move back, he did feel a bit sentimental about the house.  I, on the other hand, don't miss that house even a little bit.  I wish I could muster up a little bit of nostalgia, but I only feel relief that I don't live there anymore. 

Today I spent the entire day cleaning the house so we could decorate it for Christmas.  Once finished cleaning, the kids and I decorated the Christmas tree while Clint took care of the outside of the house.  The house looks so cute and cozy now, and it is so clean, that I'm not sure if I even want to live in it.  I just want to freeze it the way it is so it will be just like this on Christmas day.  Except for the master bedroom.  I didn't have time to clean our bedroom, and it is ridiculously messy.  I get grumpy just opening that door right now. 

Clint did a great job on the outside of the house this year.  This year's outdoor decorations include icicle lights, colorful lights wrapped around the fence, a big Christmas train on our roof, a wooden Rudolph lawn ornament (complete with red glowing nose), a big rugged cross (with lights wrapped around it) and a wreath on the door.  We both worked our butts off all day, taking a break only for lunch (in which we went to La Casita).

Tomorrow I'm going shooting again in the mountains with the whole family.  I can't wait!

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

New Moon

Busy day today!  This morning I went went with Teri to see "New Moon."  I had high expectations for the movie because thus far I have heard good things about it, but ultimately, it wound up being "okay."  Like the first movie, it wasn't nearly as good as the book, although I will admit that this one followed the story line of the novel more closely than Twilight did.  I'm just getting a little tired of Edward's (movie) character.  In the book Edward is portrayed  as dark, cultured, intimidating, chivalrous, and mysterious.  In the movie, he seems more preppy and "teenagerish," and his voice isn't nearly deep enough (don"t ask me why that's an issue, but Edward should have a deep, sexy voice).  He's also too pale and skinny.  Okay, I know the pale-thing sort of goes with the whole vampire territory, but still....Also, in the movie, Edward spends way too much time being all weepy over Bella.  In fact, the two just get annoying to watch after awhile.  I feel like, "Yeah, we get it, you two are madly in love, but can we move on to something else other than your earth-shattering feelings for each other for just two minutes?"  Jacob's character, on the other hand, is sexy and intriguing.  On screen, he and Bella are so much more dynamic with each other and interesting to watch. 

Trinity came with us to watch the movie.  She asked me a few days ago if she could come with us, and I said no, because she had neither seen the first movie or read any of the books.  So she borrowed Twilight from her aunt, and finished reading it in two days.  I couldn't believe it...the novel is huge, especially when you consider the fact that she's but nine years old.  She loves the books so far though, and I don't mind.  I'm usually pretty picky about what she watches or reads, but the series is harmless and actually rather pure in its innocence, considering that the main characters are vampires.  Although I'm going to have some major explaining to do once she gets to "Breaking Dawn."

After the movies Clint and I reunited and got some shopping and errands done.  Then we went to Red Lobster for Sarah's birthday dinner.  Shannon and Jeremy came too, and it was a very pleasant evening.  The conversation was lively and the kids all behaved so good...Sarah bought her kids crab legs, and I think distracting them with a shell to peel off for an hour was a brilliant strategy!

Now we're getting ready for Thanksgiving tomorrow.  Clint is making Frog-Eyed Salad and I'm checking the weather so I can lay out the kids' clothes for tomorrow.  Well, that's what I said I was doing...I better go do that now before Clint notices that I took a scenic detour to my blog.

Happy Thanksgiving Eve!

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Pre-Thanksgiving Torture

Kickboxing was insane tonight. Because the dojo is going to be closed until Monday for the Thanksgiving holiday, Sensei Brandon decided that he needed to squeeze a week's worth of workout into one class. It was torturous. I'm not the gushing sweaty type, but I came out of the class as drenched as if I had just stepped out of the shower.

At one point Brandon had us doing these choreographed kickboxing maneuvers, and it was utterly embarrassing for me because I am so uncoordinated and I couldn't get them down. I was stumbling really bad and pretty much just wanted to quit. The situation worsened when my lack of motivation caught Brandon's attention, and he came over to walk me through the steps in front of the whole class. He pointed out that I was trying to watch the other students too much, and I needed to relax and just do it, without worrying about whether I did it perfectly or not. After a few more failures, he made me do the moves with my eyes closed, because again, I was trying to watch the other members of the class perform the maneuvers instead of just relaxing and doing them. After a while, I finally was able to do the moves (more or less), and the whole class erupted into applause. At that point I felt like that one commercial, "Want to get away?" I could just feel myself mentally sinking into embarrassment.

Later in the class, we had to pair up with a partner to practice jabs, hooks, push kicks, and round kicks. Today's class had 19 students, so inevitably someone was going to wind up without a partner, in which case that person is paired up with Brandon. I am never paired off with Brandon. It's usually an experienced male with a more advanced belt that is willing to pair up with the sensei. I began by pairing off with Sarah, and after some shuffling around, she and I got separated and I was standing across from another regular in the class...I can't recall his name. We were getting ready to begin when Sensei Brandon pulled me away from my partner and had me pair up with him. Petrifying. I had to go eight rounds of punching and kicking with a fourth degree black belt--an absolute master of his trade. How the hell did that happen? And all the other students in the class got to switch off with their partners, meaning that for the first three minutes one would punch or kick while the other held the pad, and then they would switch off. But I was required to be the aggressor for every single round with Brandon. Because of the fact that we were so unequally yoked, obviously there was no way he could punch or kick me--I'd be thrown across the room. So there was no stopping, no rest periods, just go go go.

After getting such one-on-one instruction from Brandon, I feel a combination of invigoration and guilt. Invigoration because Brandon really pumped me up and I could feel my punches and kicks (especially the kicks) improving. But guilt because he just wasted all this time on an uncoordinated, hopeless white belt. He was so patient and motivational, and he really should reserve that energy for someone who stands a chance of gaining something from it. I'm a lost cause.

Maybe my Crazy Hubby was on to Something... =)

It's almost time for kickboxing so I can't really write a post at the moment, but I wanted to post a new picture of the pond.  It is just about finished...complete with water, plants and goldfish!  The only thing we have left to do is to cover the remaining dirt with river rock. 

I am so in enraptured by this little thing!  The two fountains make this trickling sound that is very tranquil and relaxing.  I was glued to that bench for over an hour this afternoon, watching the little fish swim around.  I can't wait until spring and summer when I can relax out there with a book.

Yay to Clinton and his hair-brained schemes!

Sunday, November 22, 2009

Young Eyes

You never quite realize that you're becoming a "regular" somewhere until you start meeting other so-called regulars.

Every Sunday I go to Burger King to grade papers.  It's not like I'm crazy for Burger King's food (although I will admit that a juicy whopper hits the spot from time to time), I choose Burger King simply because it is the only place on my side of the bridge that has a play area.  A play area is an absolute must.  Clint sleeps all day on Sunday until 3:00, and I need a way to get my work done while simultaneously keeping the kids entertained.  A play area provides just such an environment.

Every Sunday I sit in the same booth.  It's located outside of the play area, so I don't hear all of the high-pitched squealy noisiness, but it faces directly into the play area so I can monitor the kids as I work.  Some time ago I began to notice that these two older men tend to sit in the booth right in front of me.  They look to be in their seventies or eighties.  Sometimes they arrive before I do, and sometimes they arrive right after.

Last week, I was inputting grades into my laptop, a very common practice for me, when one of these ever-so-familiar senior citizens began to complain about my using my laptop.  He stated that the booth area I was sitting in was way too dark for reading (which, hello, Burger King does have this thing I like to call "light" and "electricity"), and questioned (quite rhetorically) how I could stare at a screen like that without straining my eyes.  At first I thought that he was just expressing concern and trying to be polite, but then he continued to go on and on, drilling me about how I was hurting my eyes.  He even got out of his seat and walked behind my booth to analyze the screen from my angle (awkward!), and came to the conclusion that I was crazy for working on my laptop in the dark.  Again, it's not like I'm trying to input grades in a pitch black cavern in the Alaskan wilderness at midnight--we're talking Burger King here, at noon, in broad daylight.  It was so strange--all I could think was "Lay off you crotchety old bastard!" 

At one point, the other old man told Mr. Obsessed-With-Eyeballs to leave me alone.  He said that, like much of the youth of America, I had those "young eyes" that could stare at screens for hours, unphased.  I didn't want to interrupt him by telling him that I actually have the vision of an old lady, because the guy was defending me.  So finally Mr. OWE got off my case and started asking me some more normal questions, like what is it that I do for a living (he thought I was a bookkeeper...does that profession even exist anymore?), and how long have I lived in the desert.  We started conversing, and it turns out that other than a decade-long reprieve to pursue an education, Mr. Owe has lived in the desert since the late forties.  He told me some really interesting stories about what the High Desert was like way back then.  Apparently there were only somewhere around 400-and-some residents living in all of the desert towns combined.  He remembers when Main St. didn't have a bridge, so residents actually crossed right over the tracks.  There also used to be a train station here in 'Tumbleweed'.  All in all, it was a really interesting conversation.

Today I didn't have any grading to do, but at lunch time I took the kids to Burger King anyway, just because it has become our Sunday tradition.  I headed toward my normal booth, and of course Mr. Owe and his friend were there, in their normal booth.  We greeted each other, and then the kids and I proceeded to eat our lunch.  After we finished lunch, the kids ran into the play area and I pulled out a book to read.  Mr. Owe immediately began complaining about my reading the small print of the novel in the "dark."  This time I was just amused by the whole thing, and brushed him off.

Later on, a little old lady joined the men.  Not realizing that I was eavesdropping, she asked Mr. Owe who I was, because she had seen us talking.  Mr. Owe replied "That's Young Eyes.  She's a teacher.  She comes here on Sundays to do her work."

I swear these crazy old kooks are growing on me.

Friday, November 20, 2009

Ahhh...Finally a Moment to Breathe

I am officially on Thanksgiving break! I feel nearly ecstatic...a whole week off to refresh and renew. Although in reality I don't know how much "refreshing" and "renewing" I'll actually get accomplished, given all the projects we've got going on and the holidays approaching. I figured it out last night, and Clint and I have seventeen family members to shop for...seventeen! This doesn't count each other, either. How did Christmas get so out of control? Every year Clinton argues for some kind of "drawing of names" system for Christmas, but my mom never finds this option very attractive because she loves the mass heap of gifts on Christmas morning.

Speaking of Christmas morning, Christmas is at my house this year. I know that doesn't sound like anything special, but in the eleven years that I have been married, Christmas has always been at my parent's home in Silverlakes. They live in the same house that my grandparents built over twenty years ago, so I think there is just a sense of warmth and familiarity to gathering at their home as opposed to mine or Shannon's. Plus, it is larger than my or my sister's house, so it has always been more practical to do Christmas over there. But this year, my mom said that she was done hosting Christmas every year, and declared that this time it is my turn. I don't know why the sudden change, but that's that. I wanted to have it at Shannon's house because I love her cozy mountain home, but I was out-voted because everyone is worried that it will snow in Crestline and the drive will be too difficult, especially for my grandparents who drive up in their R.V.

So it's going to be at my house, and I have no idea how to put on Christmas. The whole prospect is very intimidating to me, but I'm also excited. My main concern is the size of my house...we only have one small living room, and I don't see how everyone is going to fit. But, on the plus-side, I have a dining-room table that seats eight, so that covers the adults. I'm going to have the kids eat in the laundry room. I guess that probably sounds like cruel and unusual punishment, but our laundry room is over-sized, and it's actually pretty pleasant and cozy when it's not full of clothes. So I'm going to decorate the laundry room all Christmasy with lights and garland, and I was thinking I'd put Trin's miniature Christmas tree in there. Then I'll set up two card tables up against each other and cover them with a Christmas table cloth to make them look like one longer table. I was going to buy some cute Christmas plastic-ware for the kids to eat from, and even put a Christmas centerpiece on their table. Basically whatever it takes to convince the kids that eating Christmas dinner in the laundry room is a "good" thing.

Thanksgiving is still on the horizon, yet all I can think about is Christmas.

Thursday, November 19, 2009

All this Work for a Fancy Puddle

This is our pond so far! It's about half-way completed. We have most of the plants in, and although they look small right now, the hibiscus plants against the wall will get up to six feet tall and three feet wide, and the flax plants will get about three feet tall. This is assuming that we don't kill them all off first, which is a definite possibility. The pond needs a liner, which was just delivered two days ago. Clint is going to install the liner on his next day off. The liner also came with a pipe/pump thing that you put in the center of the pond and it bubbles or sprays water up, depending on which setting you choose. We still need to install the flagstone around the pond, which you can sort of see stacked on the sidewalk in the background. Clint also bought a bamboo "deer chaser" (yeah, I don't really get the name either, but it's a type of fountain), and some lilies to float on top of the pond. I'm excited about the progress we're this rate, it should be finished in about a week. I only wish I had "before" pictures of this was this crappy little corner full of rocks and weeds.
I feel like I was blind-sighted by awards assemblies today. We went to what was supposed to be Elijah's very first awards assembly at 5:30 this evening, but once there, the principal informed us that Trinity would be getting her award at the "fourth grade" award assembly at 7:00. We didn't even know she was supposed to receive an award tonight, so we were pretty much thinking, "Um...come again?" Rather than hang around for an hour after Elijah's assembly, we took the kids to McDonalds and treated them (and ourselves) to cheap hot fudge sundaes.
Elijah received an honor roll award, which I thought was amusing, because seriously, what the heck is honor roll in kindergarten? Straight "A's" in shoe-tying, scissor handling, and distinguishing left from right? Almost all the kids in his class received an award, so it's just another example of our society awarding mediocrity and fluffing up kids' egos before they have even had a chance to earn self-esteem the old-fashioned know, by actually accomplishing something. But Elijah has worked hard in kindergarten and is doing great in reading and math, so I was proud of him tonight.
Trinity's unexpected award was for getting straight A's. In fourth grade, it's more difficult to get on the honor roll, so I was actually proud of her, too. It would be nice though to be given a little heads-up when she is going to receive an award. Although who really knows...she probably had a letter in her backpack that she "forgot" to give us. She is very scatterbrained.

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

A Comment about Comments

I added "comments" back into my blog. I took comments out awhile ago for two reasons. First, I had come to the conclusion that I didn't want to know if someone was reading my blog, because that might compel me to tweak my writing on behalf of that person. You know, to add certain things just for his or her behalf, or worse, omit things that may offend that person. Secondly, I don't share my blog with anyone (except for Shannon, and now Kristyn) I have stated previously, this whole thing started as a personal online journal. So why have a comment option just for one (or two) people?

Given all this, why am I bothering to add that feature back in? Well, it was a spur of the moment decision. I just tried yet again, for the gazillionth time, to comment on my sister's blog, and for some reason it won't let me ("it" being the magical forces that are against you when you're trying to accomplish something). In order to comment on a person's blog, you are required to type in the funky letters that are displayed on the screen (to make sure you're a legitimate human being or whatever), but every time the letters come on the screen for Shannon's blog, half of them are cut off. So I have no problem typing out a comment, but it won't let me post it. After several (oops, I mean a "gazillion") attempts, I finally decided to add comments back into my blog. I know that doesn't seem like much of a solution (because it isn't), but I figure on the off chance that someone out there in the internet wilderness stumbles upon my blog and is suddenly overcome with an urge to post a comment, at least he or she won't be denied the ability to do so as I perpetually am with my sister's blog.

This is just how I feel today though...I'm sure next week I will be removing that option again (for the above-mentioned reasons).

Monday, November 16, 2009

Crampy but Good

The pond is actually coming along! We picked up four "flax" plants on clearance over the weekend to plant around the pond. Of course, everything green is on clearance right now because, seriously, what kind of fool starts landscaping in November? (rhetorical question, please don't respond). I was so proud of our flax plants until we got them home and set them around our kidney-bean-shaped hole...that's when I realized that we were going to need many more plants. Those four little suckers just aren't quite creating that lush greenscape that we're going for. We also have our seating area now, which Clint is currently putting together. It's a shiny pecan-stained wooden park bench--we found it at Rite-Aid for $40, and we had a $20 off coupon. I still can't believe we got this charming little bench at a drug store for 20 bucks! It's amazing the kind of deals you find when you're out getting ice-cream.

Work was good, except for I had really uncomfortable cramps all day. Given that in my last entry I reported I was feeling cranky, I'm sure you can deduce the reason why.

I had a great conversation with my principal today. She wants me to try out this new program in which students' progress is charted and boldly displayed on the classroom walls. I just finished reading all of the information she provided me regarding the program, and it's going to be a ton of work (especially in the beginning), but I am really excited about it and already eager to get started. She said that I could let all of the information digest in my brain for awhile and start after Christmas break, but I don't know if I want to wait that long. But, thinking about it now, it might take me that long to get everything set up in my classroom to make this work, so maybe I will begin after Christmas break. If the program goes well for me, I may end up sharing the idea with the rest of the staff. We'll see how it goes. :)

Saturday, November 14, 2009

Operation Christmas Child

I've been cranky today, but for no good reason, really. This morning the kids had their karate promotions, and the whole event was long--it lasted for nearly three hours. Trinity had already taken her belt test yesterday, so she was just there strictly for the promotion. But the Little Ninjas didn't actually take their test until today, so we had to show up an hour before the actual promotions so Elijah could test. The test for Little Ninjas is a full hour long, which is no small feat for five and six year olds. Elijah did well, but by the end he was could just tell he was tired. Luckily he still passed. One thing that was kind of cool was that they were short on judges, so I got to judge. They assigned me two Little Ninjas who I had to evaluate, which was funny because I don't know a damn thing about karate. But I felt like my assigned boys were very sharp and did a great job, so I gave them both good scores. After the Little Ninjas completed their test, the promotions commenced and Elijah received his leadership stripe and Trin got her orange belt in karate. She was thrilled. She has had this nervous energy since yesterday, wondering if she passed her test, so when she was awarded her orange belt, I felt happy and relieved for her.

After the promotion ceremony, we went out to run errands, and it was just a long, grueling day. Among other things, we had to shop for Moo's birthday and for our "Operation Christmas Child" boxes. Operation Christmas Child is an awesome organization that sends Christmas gifts to children in impoverished nations that would otherwise not have a Christmas. You choose a gender and an age group (i.e. female, age 5-9), and then you take a standard-sized shoe box and fill it with gifts for your child. Here's a link to a great video segment regarding Operation Christmas Child: It portrays a woman from Bosnia who once received one of these boxes when she was a child, and how it impacted her life. I'm not going to lie, the video clip does have a Christian-driven agenda, but all religion aside, I think Lejla just has a powerful story. Clint and I do two boxes every year, one for a boy Elijah's age, and one for a girl Trinity's age. This year our little girl is getting art supplies, a doll, mittens, a cute new toothbrush with toothpaste, a candy cane full of "runts" (gotta cancel out that toothpaste somehow) and a new purse. Our boy is also getting the runt-filled candy cane, toothbrush/toothpaste, and mittens, but is also getting stickers, two small coloring books, a beenie, and a car. I so badly wanted to get our girl a diary, but couldn't find one anywhere.

My dream is to one day be one of the people to actually deliver the boxes. Well that, and to publish a novel. Someday. Over the rainbow.

Friday, November 13, 2009

Movie & Itchyness

We got back from watching 2012 about an hour ago, and I really enjoyed it! I'm sure Rotten Tomatoes (along with other movie critics) will come up with negative things to say about the movie (some of the scenes were quite unrealistic, etc.), but what it comes down to is that it was two-and-a-half hours of destruction and mayhem with likeable characters and just enough interjections of subtle humor and comic relief to make the movie not feel too heavy. And the special effects were awesome. I also loved the ending, which I don't want to give away, but I just loved it that the directors didn't follow with the ever-so-popular trend of giving their movie a deep, meaningful, Shakespeare-type ending. Overall, I don't think 2012 will be winning any Oscars, but it was sheer entertainment from beginning to end.

I am so itchy! My whole body has been itchy now for nearly two weeks. At first I just thought it was dry skin, but then all of these tiny red bumps started appearing. Clint insists that I'm allergic to our detergent, but that seems ridiculous because a) I don't have sensitive skin at all, and b) I have never once had a reaction to detergent, so why now? The irony is that the detergent that we are currently using is non-allergenic, with no colors or odors, designed especially for "sensitive skin." So I told Clint that this must be the problem--since the detergent is designed for sensitive skin, and I don't have sensitive skin, my skin is protesting against it. But all joking aside, I need to figure this out soon, because the itching has been keeping me up at night. I just can't stop scratching, and of course the more I scratch, the more insatiable the impulse becomes.

Thursday, November 12, 2009

Gerbil with Eight Legs

I'm waiting for Clint to come home with our Jack in the Box dinner, so now I'm killing time because he's taking awhile (dang Jack in the Box with their whole 'we make it fresh'...just slap some microwaved patties on some buns and slather mayo on it--will ya?).

I have absolutely nothing to talk about, so I decided to share a quick memory from last summer. Clint and I went on a mission's trip to San Vicente, Mexico, which is a whole story in of itself. At any rate, we had dropped off some clothing and food at a local rehab center, and we had stayed for dinner (peanut butter sandwiches) and fellowship, which ran pretty late. We left the facility sometime around 10:00 p.m., and as we left, some of the teens in our group spotted a tarantula crawling through the desert and caught in a tin can. They began to dare each other to hold it, but no one was willing to do it--not even the big burly men in our group. I didn't like the whole idea of using a living creature as entertainment, but I was fascinated by the spider, and they really weren't mistreating it or anything, so I finally told them that I would hold it. No one believed I would do it, but for some reason I have no fear of big hairy spiders...I just was never equipped with that defense mechanism. So I held the spider, and it was not scary at all--not even a little. It felt just like holding a gerbil. The tarantula was very friendly and just crawled along my hand and arm. After seeing that I survived the whole ordeal without getting massacred, one of the big burly men finally worked up enough nerve to hold the tarantula himself.

The irony of the whole thing? I can't stand looking at this picture. It gives me chills. For some reason, spiders in person don't bother me, but seeing them in a picture--even my OWN picture--creeps me out.

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Pond in the Desert

I had no work today because of Veteran's Day. I say "had" because now it's after four so it feels like the day is already almost over. I loved having a day off smack in the middle of the broke up my normally long work week into two much more manageable pieces.

This morning Clint and I went to the movies to see "Couple's Retreat." I wasn't blown away by the movie, but overall it was pretty cute. My favorite scene was when the little boy pees into the toilet at the home improvement store, which really has nothing to do with the overall storyline of the movie, but it was just so classic. I remember when we took Elijah off-roading in the jeep back when he had just recently been potty-trained, and he suddenly had to go "potty" really bad. There obviously was no bathroom around, and for some reason he couldn't stand the idea of just going in a bush. He was so little and we had done such a good job convincing him that "the potty is where the pee goes," so he couldn't comprehend that now we wanted him to go in a him this seemed like "bad" behavior to do such a thing. Finally, after many failed attempts, I found a nice hole in the ground near a dry riverbed and shaped the back of it to look more like a toilet. I convinced him that it was indeed a toilet, and although slightly skeptical, he was more than willing to sit down and relieve himself. Toddlers are funny like that. They just need to have some control over the world around them, even if that means sitting in a muddy hole to do their business.

After the movie, we came home and Clint worked on digging a giant hole while I took a nap. Clinton is currently building a pond in our front yard, a project that is sort of insane. It's just that it came out of no where, and we still have so many other unfinished projects that are so much more of a priority than building some silly pond right before winter, not to mention that we don't even have landscaping in our front yard. Isn't a pond supposed to be kind of like the icing on the cake of an already nice yard? But once Clint gets an idea in his head, he becomes nearly obsessive about it. We have this corner nook area right near our front door, and I had mentioned previously that I thought we should plant a little grass over there and install a fountain. Somehow my suggestion got blown up into an entire pond (still with the fountain and still with the grass). So last week Clint ordered the pond liner online, and he began digging out all the rocks, clearing out the area, and softening the packed dirt. That was a lot of work (for him, not for me...I just relaxed and took the dog for a walk). Today Clint dug out the pond itself, and I have to admit, it looks pretty cute so far. It's about seven feet by five feet, a foot-and-a-half deep, and shaped kind of like a kidney bean. Now the hard part is done, and we need to just wait for the liner to arrive so we can start actually creating Clint's vision. Once it's finished, Clint wants to put koi fish in it, but I don't think they will be hardy enough to withstand the cold temperatures, so we may have to wait until spring.

So nevermind the kitchen counters that still need to be replaced, or the jacuzzi sitting in our backyard with no power and no water, or the truck sitting at my in-laws house waiting for least we'll have a damn pond.

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Normal Day

Not much to talk about was a very normal day. Work was uneventful. Although I was somewhat amused at one of my student's response to our journal entry. The topic was "If you could be teacher for the day, what would you change? What would you keep the same?" Most students talked about how they would eliminate all rules and lock their teachers in a dungeon under the gym while they enjoyed all-you-can-eat nachos in the quad all day...that type of thing. But Tommy, my socially awkward genius (he is the only kid in the history of our school to score perfect scores on his placement tests for math, thus placing him in 8th grade honors courses and in my class), stated that he would "make the school day longer, eliminate all group work, eliminate the 30 minute lunch period which amounts to more of a 'recess,' and create a new standard in which ALL extracurricular activities have an obvious educational purpose." And he was dead serious. He didn't care either when the class started to boo at him (despite my best efforts to stop them), because he is just immune to the normal seventh grade need for approval.

After work I took Moses for a walk, watched two episodes of the Amazing Race while Clint took the kids to karate, talked to my mom on the phone, went to kickboxing, went out for ice-cream with Clint and the kids (thus negating our workout, as usual), watched "V," and that brings me to the present.

This Friday (the 13th--woohoo!), I'm going to the movies with Shannon, Jeremy, Cassidi, my mom, Clint, and Sarah. We're all indulging my sister's disaster movie fettish by seeing 2012 on its opening night. We purchased our tickets in advance and I am really getting excited. The movie is two-and-a-half hours long, so at least I know we're getting our money's worth. But really, I'm just thrilled to be able to go to the movies with my family. With my mom living in Silverlakes and Shan living in the mountains, it is tricky to plan an outing, and the fact that we're going to the movies...I don't think I've been to the movies with my mom since I was a kid! I know the little girl in me is going to make sure that I get to sit by my "mommy."

Sunday, November 8, 2009

Sleeping in the Closet

Clinton recently began sleeping in the closet on Saturdays and Sundays, which has really increased the quality of my weekends. He used to sleep in our bedroom (like the average human being), but it was difficult on both of us: For him because he struggles to sleep with daylight streaming in through the windows (even with the blinds shut), and for me because it has been nearly impossible to "get ready" in the mornings without disturbing his sleep. So he decided to move a mattress into our inordinately large walk-in closet ("inordinate" only because the master bedroom it is attached to is ridiculously puny) and try sleeping in there. Now he has a nice dark atmosphere to sleep in, and I can walk in and out of our bedroom during the mornings and get ready without disturbing him. It's working out pretty good so far, although I'll admit it was a bit strange telling the kids yesterday that "Daddy is asleep in the closet."

Yesterday was pleasant. In the morning I went to Target to go birthday shopping for my niece Cassidi, who just turned twelve, and for little Austin (Matt and Alana's son) who was turning four. I texted Sarah to see if she wanted to meet up with me, and she just happened to be in town with the kids, so we met at Target. I got through all of my shopping in about 15 minutes, so we decided to meet at the McD's across the street for lunch. I beat Sarah there and was waiting for what seemed like an eternity for her, and just when I started to feel little prickles of concern, she walked through the door looking somewhat bedraggled. It turns out that when she was backing out of the Target parking lot, her and another woman backed out at the same time and ran right into each other. I feel so awful for her...she's the type of person who can walk through a rose storm and come out smelling like crap (okay, I may have twisted that expression a bit). Once we were settled down with lunch, we dived into our usual long deep conversations. At one point she confessed to me a lie that she had told. She was so worried that I would be mad at her (even though the lie in question was never directed toward me, but to another party), but I actually felt quite the opposite--it took a lot of courage for her to divulge what she did and I only view her as refreshingly human.
After lunch, I went home, wrapped some presents (and by "wrapped" I mean "threw in bags"), and headed toward Matt and Alana's house for the birthday party. The party was a very relaxed backyard get-together.  They had a bounce house for the kids, and a pinata, which of course the kids loved (and now, with Halloween's loot, we have a mountain of candy so enormous that we will probably be handing it out to trick-or-treaters next year). Once it was dark, we talked around the fire-pit outside for a little while.  After once again visiting with Matt and Alana, I have determined that Matt was born in the wrong time period. He belongs in an era where he can be some sort of freedom-fighting renegade, going through underground channels with a bunch of others rebels to fight for justice.

Today I went to church by myself, which I didn't care for because this is only my third time at this particular church (we changed churches recently), and so a lot of people don't recognize the "newcomer" yet and were a little on the over-friendly side. The times I went with Clint, people reacted more normally with us, but for some reason, when I was by myself this morning, they had this false warmth about them. I know that makes no sense, but that was just my perception. The service was really good though, so overall I'm glad I didn't flake out.

This week I have completely neglected Moses because I had a lot of after-work responsibilities that ate up my whole week. I finally was able to take him on a walk this afternoon and he is back to dragging me on his leash. Arghhh. He also gulped down a slinky right when I let him into the house. Didn't even hesitate. I hate to think how that's going to look coming out the other side later.

Language Arts Night on Wednesday went great.  I had so many more parents then I imagined, and for a few nerve-wracking minutes I thought that I wouldn't have enough supplies, but I wound up with plenty. I decided to do the flipbooks and corresponding PowerPoint with my own students this week, just because they came out really cute and are great little tools for teaching parts of speech.

Friday, November 6, 2009

Asian/Anime Night

It feels like it has been forever since I posted...this week was brutal. I am so grateful that today is Friday so that I can finally get some rest. I'll probably write a nice long post later, but for now I'm just going to write about Halloween since I just splattered Halloween pics all over this blog entry.

Every Halloween we do a "Family Theme Night," in which we choose a theme and then have a fun evening of food, games, and sillyness related to our chosen theme. Past themes have included Space Night, Wild Wild West, Pirate Night, Under the Sea, Hollywood Glam, etc. This year's theme was Asian/Anime Night. The boys chose this theme a year ago, and although we did our normal democratic voting process (in which the girls normally win), the men strategically divided the women and conquered. I was quite bummed last year when this theme won, because I don't know anything about anime. But I now have to admit that this was one of my favorite ones so far. The costumes were great--Trinity was a pokemon trainer, Elijah was Bakugan Dan (whoever that is), Mike was a samurai knight, Amanda was a chinese take-out box, Carey was a sumo wrestler, and Teri was a "maid in China." Clint and I were anime characters: Clint was "Bleach," and I just modeled my costume after a character I found online (her name is Kuragami or something like that...unfortunately her character could be an Asian prostitute for all I know). Clint created all of the games, and they were so much fun! We played Ninja Knife Throwing (with real knives!), Ninja Capture the Flag (in the dark, using glow sticks), Ninja Walk (where you had to walk across bubble wrap without popping any bubbles), and Ninja Bubble Punch (where you had to punch as many bubbles as possible before one hit the ground) (and yes, I realize I'm over-using parenthesis, but you can skip these parts, you know). Winners of the games were given Asian-looking currency to purchase items from the prize redemption booth, and of course all prizes were Asian or anime related. By far the most entertaining game was definitely Ninja Capture the Flag. Running around in the dark, tripping over gopher holes and jumping over little kids' bikes while trying not to fall flat on our felt like being a kid again. Our team won, although Clint pretty much won the game for us. Me and Moo wound up getting "frozen," forcing Clint to leave his post as goalie and conquer the competition. While running around, my fish net stockings fell all the way down to my ankles. I also had to ditch the blue wig earlier on in the evening and switch my boots for tennis shoes, so by the time we finished the game, I was pretty much falling apart with barely any vestige remaining of my prior costume. But it was worth it.

The victorious winners!

Trinity & Elijah

Clint & I before our
costumes fell apart

Monday, November 2, 2009

*Hands Up*--I Surrender!

Okay, Nanowrimo isn't going to happen. In the last two days I haven't been able to get in more than my initial (and quite pitiful) three-hundred-and-some words, and with each missed day the word count is mounting. It sucks because if this challenge was issued over summer, I'd have no problem at all (so I say now, but I'm sure it would still be an intimidating task! Let me rephrase by saying if the challenge were issued over summer, I at least would stand a chance). But I literally have no free time. Especially this month. Remember that resume I worked on way back when? Well I just found out that I got the position I was applying for as an Intern Support Provider (yay!). I'm excited, but this new responsibility will further gobble up my time. In addition, I have several extracurricular activities scheduled for this month. This Wednesday is "Language Arts Night," and this is my fourth year now as one of the presenters, so right now I'm in the process of preparing a PowerPoint presentation that guides parents and students into creating Grammar Flip Books (I just made the concept up last week, so crossing my fingers that it will all come together!).

I know it seems like I'm writing down all of these excuses as an attempt to hide my lame, loser-esque attitude, and...well, that's actually true. =) I did actually contemplate uploading a "phony" word count just to save face (not all the way to 50,000, but to like 27,000 or so), but obviously I could never do that. If I'm going to be a quitter, I might as well own up to it. So here it's official...I SUCK. Now I'm going to go to kickboxing and beat up a bag.

Sunday, November 1, 2009

Try a Little Peacocking

I swear men are clueless. We went to our Family Theme Night tonight (which I will write a whole post about later), and Clint barely exchanged two meaningful words with me the whole time we're there. I mean, he wasn't ignoring me or anything like that, it's just that we were both busy having a fun night with his family. Seriously, if a video camera had recorded our entire evening, you would have thought we were brother and sister rather than a married couple...we were that platonic. But then, the second we get home, I start pulling out my pajamas, and he says quite suggestively, "You can leave that on if you want," raising his eyebrows toward the little Asian dress I am wearing. AS IF!!! You treat me like a second-cousin-twice-removed all night long, barely glancing my way and not so much as giving me one little flirtatious comment (yes, my need for affirmation strikes again--I don't give a flying f!), then expect, let's keep this PG rated, but you get my point. Oh silly silly men! So I patiently explained to him that the next time he wants to have a "happy night" with me, he needs to start actually courting me hours ahead of time. I told him to envision a peacock (the second syllable of that particular animal makes for a nifty mnemonic device). The male peacock doesn't just dive right in there when he's trying to get a few minutes of peacocky bliss, rather, he goes through a whole courtship routine of ridiculous (yet effective) displays in order to win the female over. And frankly, that's the way it should be! Pull out a chair for me. Hold my hand. Tell me I look pretty tonight. You want some lovin', then dude you better work a little for it.

Saturday, October 31, 2009

Happy 50th!

This is my 50th post since I started my blog! I was surprised to see this, because I honestly figured I would have seventy or eighty posts by now. I started this blog sometime in August...has it really taken me three months to get to fifty posts? Wow--I'm not nearly as long-winded as I give myself credit for.

I'm not going to write about anything today. In fact, I never intended to blog today at all, but I happened to see on my dashboard that I had a total of 49 posts, and given that today is October 31st (Halloween...blech), I got it in my head that I wanted to reach the fiftieth post mark before this month ended (and I have 82 minutes to spare). Plus, this might be a good time to mention that I *might* be taking a leave of absence, and that if you don't see a new blog entry from me in the next thirty days, it is because I am in the process of torturing myself over the creation of a really crappy novel.

Friday, October 30, 2009

Costume Drill

It is such a gorgeous day! Even though it's evening, it's about 72 degrees outside and sunny. I love the in-between seasons in the desert...the weather is just perfect (when it's not windy).

I just got back from taking Moses on a walk and he did so good. He's getting better and better each time we go out, which I guess is what is supposed to happen. I'm not used to actually investing time to train a dog. It's one of those idealistic things that I always say I'm going to do, but never wind up doing. But for some reason, with Moses, I've actually been sticking with it. I think there might be two reasons why I feel more committed to the "Get this Damn Dog Trained" Project: First, his size...I have this near-panicky urge to get him under control before he outweighs me. In my mind it's becoming this race against time. Secondly, Christmas is at my house this year, and I want to present my big beautiful behaved dog to my family, because where it stands right now, he's pretty much going to pummel the kids and bull-doze poor Grandma to the ground. But at the moment I feel really excited about Moses' progress, especially on the leash. Today a pit-bull got away from his owner while we were on our walk, and Moses handled it very well. He showed a little interest, but didn't try to drag me. He kept right on walking, so he gets an "A" for citizenship for today. The pit bull started to come toward us, but changed his mind at the last second and ran down the street.

Today was entertaining. It was Halloween Dress-Up Day at my work, so I went ahead and dressed up as a cheetah...or it may have been a leopard. Some sort of spotted cat. I don't care to dress up, but the kids love it when I do, so I try to be a good sport. I'm not exactly crazy about Halloween, but I have to say that the costumes this year were pretty adorable and harmless. The girls were dressed up mostly as fairy tale characters, fairies, and lady bugs. The most popular boy costume this year was a banana...there were a lot of bananas running around (did Wal-Mart have these on sale this year or something?). It was refreshing to see students veering away from the morbid, gory costumes. I especially expected to see a ton of vampire costumes due to the popularity of "Twilight," but there were hardly any.

The most humorous part of the day occurred in the middle of 6th period when suddenly the fire alarm went off. I was immediately surprised; a reaction any teacher experiences when there is an "unscheduled" drill. So we all had to file outside and march to the outer fields, costumes and all. It was like a costume parade, but the participants were much more confused (and let's face it, happy to get out of 6th period). The poor 8th graders were supposed to be at lunch, but they were required to go out into the field as well, so they wound up having to eat their lunch during 7th period and it seriously messed up the rest of the day. We found out later that the fire alarm was pulled because of a dry ice experiment that went awry in one of the labs.  I'm sure I'll get the whole story on Monday.

After school let out, I stayed after to chaperon for the Halloween Dance. It was fun and the D.J played great music, but it wasn't as fun as the last one because I didn't have Trin and Elijah with me. When they're with me, I have an excuse to dance and get crazy. Without them, I'm actually limited to strictly chaperoning, or otherwise I'm just the weird teacher shaking it by myself...and not even well since, really, I am a terrible dancer.

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Guardian Angels

I wasn't going to post today because I'm craving some nice juicy television right now (pretty sure I have a "Desperate Housewives" DVRed), but I can probably squeeze in a quickie.

Clinton (I hate to go from the word "quickie" to talking about Clint...please understand that this is just an unfortunate coincidence) wrote the sweetest blog that ping-ponged from my last entry. He doesn't normally read my blog; believe me when I say that this is very much not his thing. But I think after my little mini-melt-down on Monday night, he must have known that I was needing something from him, so he decided to read my most recent post. He responded to it on his blog, and after reading what he wrote, I decided I don't care if he ever says another damn nice thing about me, he is the most wonderful hubby in the world. But even as I write down this, I know that in about a week, maybe two, I'll be back to being a total brat.

Today I carved a pumpkin with my "angel." I'm in a mentoring program called "Guardian Angels" in which troubled youths (called "angels," ironically) are assigned to participating adults ("guardians") for a full year. The program is designed to provide an adult role model for students who come from dysfunctional backgrounds and simply don't have a support system in their homes. The guardians try to make contact with their angel once a week, and everyone in the program gets together once a month to do some kind of special activity. Today we carved pumpkins, and it was tremendously fun. This is my third year in the program, and last year I did not have a good time. My angel last year was painfully shy, and I tried all year to get her to open up, but she wouldn't. She wouldn't even crack a smile, ever, which made being with her very awkward. I never looked down on her for this, but it just made for a long year. The year before was my favorite. I was assigned one of my own students, Matt. Matt and I have such a great rapport (I use the present form "have" because he is still very much a part of my life), and I loved being his guardian angel, although I must have not done a very good job because he wound up getting busted for drug possession on campus later in the school year. I remember staying with him for hours right after it happened, talking to him about what to expect next and what he needed to do. To this day he is still a little delinquent (or shall I say "work in progress"), but he is so close to my heart--I don't think I'll ever give up on him. This year, I really like my angel. I So far she is very friendly and talkative. She is very easy to be around and we both feel really comfortable with each other.

Time to make the kids dinner (and by "make," I mean "microwave"), and then it's Desperate Housewives here I come!

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Stupid Emotional Girl

Last night we had our small group, and I got emotional during the discussion. I hate that. We've been in this group for eight months now, and for the entire duration I have never been anything other than upbeat. But last night I felt frustrated with Clint, and I couldn't seem to hide it.

It all started because the question was posed, "How did you meet your spouse and what first attracted you to him/her?" I know this sounds pathetic, but Clint never affirms me in front of people, and it is a constant source of contention between us. He takes such good care of me in the privacy of our home, but for some reason, he can't seem to ever say anything nice to me or about me in the presence of family and/or friends. So when this question came up, I felt a little excited to hear what he was going to say. All the other members had shared something nice about their spouse, and I figured that Clint would feel obliged to do the same. But when his turn came around, he said that "Our story is pretty boring. Jodi and I just always knew each other in high school." He didn't even address the second part of the question at all. I inwardly felt crushed by this...I don't know why I expected something'd think after eleven years I'd learn. But for some reason I did expect more, and I just felt so crappy...and a little angry too. I felt like shouting "You coward! Oh, you're more than willing to 'love' your wife, but as long as no one else is watching. Heaven forbid you violate your tough man code by coming up with ONE damn attractive thing about me."

So for the rest of our Bible Study I held it together and smiled and laughed with everyone else. But then, toward the end, the women were asked to "share some general comments about how you feel loved." I tried to keep my comments as objective as possible as I shared that I thought giving a woman verbal affirmation and uplifting her in front of others is what makes her feel loved, but obviously I was describing myself and I got teary-eyed. I didn't actually cry, but it was just enough to make things really awkward and to embarrass the hell out of me.

So now I am seriously pissed off at myself. Why can't I just discuss things like an objective intellectual without getting all damn weepy? I hate it that my small group saw me doing this, and worse, I hate it that they know now that I am not entirely satisfied with my marriage. Especially since Clint is the leader of our group. As a couple, I think we're held to a higher standard and should be "the couple to look up to," not "the couple to pray for." Ughhh. The worst part is that I feel so selfish. Clinton is a wonderful husband. He is so sweet and thoughtful, he always wants to cuddle (even though I'm about as cuddly as a porcupine), he cooks, he helps me with the cleaning without complaining, he constantly does little acts of service to make my day easier or just to make me feel special. But here I am, hung up on some shallow need to be "talked up" in front of people. It drives me nuts--why can't I just appreciate what I have? I know several single females who would kill to have someone like Clinton.

We never did go to the Halloween party at the dojo last Friday. We never made the decision not to go, but the time for the party just sort of came and went, while we sat at home watching t.v. Ironically we put all of this energy into trying to decide whether we wanted to go or not, but our own exhaustion and laziness that Friday evening pretty much made the decision for us.

I am having such a difficult time sleeping. Last night I was still staring at the ceiling at 2:00 a.m., and I started to panic because this was going to be my second "all nighter" in a row. I can function okay at work with one missed night of sleep, but I can't do two in a row and still teach the next day with any quality. It's torture to be a walking zombie but to have to be in front of 108 students throughout the course of a day. So at 2:30 I finally crawled out of bed, made some sub plans, and put in an absence for today. It felt great not going to work today, but I also feel like a lazy slug. I had Clint swing by my work to grab a stack of papers for me to grade, but as of now I haven't graded anything. At this point I don't know if I will.

Sunday, October 25, 2009

Bad Exercise & Good Hearts

Everyone around me is sick. Clint has had a nasty cold for a week now, Teri and Carey cancelled out on tonight's dinner because they're sick, our brother-in-law is sick, Elijah has a cold...I feel like I'm the "last [wo]man standing." Although it was weird, because I have felt great all weekend, so I decided to take Moses for a jog this evening. But by the time I got home, I felt really awful. My lungs were burning and I couldn't stop coughing. This was odd, because the route wasn't new to me--it's right under a mile and I've jogged it several times before. But you would've thought this was my first time, the way I reacted. Now, three hours later, the burning-in-my-chest feeling is gone, but I am still coughing and my lower back aches. Isn't exercise supposed to make you feel good and energetic, not crappy and yucky?

Today was sort of boring, but also sort of pleasant. We went to church this morning, and then ate lunch at Daikoku. It's just like Maan Fu, where the chefs cook your food on a hibachi grill fixed right at your table. We aren't normally in the habit of eating Japanese cuisine (usually we just go to BK, or we may get some cheap Chinese food), but Clint had a coupon that was getting ready to expire. It was fun because the kids were with us this time, and I loved seeing their reaction to all the Chef's fanfare in presenting our food. They especially loved the onion "volcano," although Elijah dove under the table when fire started spewing out of it. I took a picture of the volcano and will have to post it's pretty impressive. After lunch we came home and I graded until about five. Following this I went for the above-mentioned jog in which I just about hacked up a lung.

I am getting more excited for the NaNoWriMo competition, although I still feel about 99% sure that I won't complete my 50,000 words. I hate to be so fatalistic about it, but I just don't have the support available that I think a task like this will require. I'm not upset about this--it's just a fact. Despite my pessimism with the whole thing, I do think that NaNo is going to be a great thing for me. If I don't make the word count, at least this challenge will get some of those creative juices flowing. My novel right now is listed as "youth/young adult," but I'm pretty sure I'm going to be changing that soon. Although I plan to feature some younger characters, I really want the story to be more about the teacher (and no, she is NOT me--she's going to be much more quirky in a lovable sort of way). Several of the other characters are mapped out in my head, and I just love them. Well, some of them I dislike, but they're the type you "love to hate." I've also mapped out the setting, which was pretty easy, because I just modeled it after George Elementary School, located on the old George Air Force Base. It has that perfect, run-down, dilapidated atmosphere that I'm going for. But I have no idea how the story is going to begin, and worse, I have no idea how it's going to end. This is a major problem for me, because I don't know if I can even begin to write a story if I have no sense of direction. I'm just hoping that between now and November 1st, I get some kind of "a-ha!" moment and figure it all out.

Shannon stole my thunder by mentioning it on her blog, but I just wanted to write briefly that Kristyn and I are tentatively broaching some kind of truce. It began with her adding me to her "writing buddy" list for nanowrimo, and then she addressed my sister and I publicly on her blog in a way that really warmed me. Actually, I'm not sure what order those events occurred in, that was just the order I discovered them in. Anyway, Kristyn also stated that she has read every word of my blog, which again, warmed me in a way I can't really describe and don't really understand. Clint can't even read my blog with any kind of regularity (I think he's read three entries), so for someone (who I happened to hurt and offend, mind you) to not only take the time to read it, but to refer to it as beautifully written--that was just the most thoughtful thing she could have done. The situation between me and Kristyn has left me feeling inspired by the human capacity for maturity and forgiveness. Of course, now I have to stop making third-person references about her, because it's just weird, now that I know she's reading this (Hi Kristyn, by the way).