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).

Friday, October 23, 2009


I've officially lost it! I signed up for the NaNoWriMo challenge. Kristyn talked me into it, but the funny thing is she doesn't know she talked me into it. NaNoWriMo participants must attempt to write a 50,000 word novel, beginning from November 1st and ending at midnight on November 30th. I did the math and it averages to about six pages a day. I have to teach all day, grade papers on my weekends, spend time with my kids, go to kickboxing, attend small group, and do basic housecleaning at least once in am I possibly going to squeeze in six pages a day? But on the bright side, the website acknowledges that they expect pretty lousy work. The idea is to allow yourself the freedom of "literary abandonment." With such a small time frame to work within, it allows writers to do what basically amounts to one long free-write without the burden of second-guessing themselves or aiming for perfection. I don't know if I feel excitement or dread right now. But I just have to try it, at least once. I guess the worst that can happen is that I am the one and only participant that winds up with "zero" words by November 30th.

Aces Breakfast

Three years ago me and another teacher, Naomi, decided to start doing what we call an "Aces Breakfast," where we make breakfast (eggs, pancakes, sausage, and juice) for all of our students who received an "A" on their report card for language arts. We have our Aces Breakfast three times a year: at the beginning of quarter two, quarter three, and quarter four. Last year, another seventh grade language arts teacher, Denise, loved our idea so much that she wanted to get in on it. So now there are three of us teachers sponsoring this event, and after so many times of trial and error, we have the whole thing down to a science. We can quickly and efficiently serve breakfast to about seventy students within a twenty minute window, all while being silly and having a good time.

So how on earth did today's breakfast wind up being such a disaster? First of all, parts of the eggs were burnt to a near crisp. Clint scrambled five dozen eggs last night, but what he created was far from fact, it was quite the opposite. He added milk in them to make them fluffy and moist, and also added cheese to enhance the flavor. But our crockpot (one that I have never used before, I should add), which was on "low" last night to keep the eggs warm, decided it would be more fun to scorch the eggs instead. I didn't have time to replace five dozen eggs, so I just mixed them up as best as I could and hoped students wouldn't notice the burnt egg pieces within their breakfast, or the fact that their eggs were a strange hue of brown instead of yellow, or the fact that they smelled a little like burnt rubber.

Despite the charcoal brioche eggs, everything else this morning seemed to be running very smoothly and perfectly on schedule. Denise arrived nice and early to my classroom, got the griddles fired up, and started making pancakes. Meanwhile I set out all of our paper-ware, butter, syrup, and apple juice. Naomi began heating up the sausages, and things were looking great. Then suddenly we had an electrical short and I lost power to my room. Students were lining up at the gate, getting ready to come into the school, and here we were, three teachers in aprons, scrambling around my room, trying to figure out a way to magically know something about electricity so we can fix the problem and resume our cooking. Luckily another teacher walked passed and saw us panicking, and was able to locate my electrical panel and help us resolve the problem. But unfortunately, by the time everything was said and done, we had a gazillion students in my room waiting for food and nothing to give them (but some gourmet eggs).

By the time the bell rang for first period to start, several students were lucky to have eaten even one pancake, unlike the three or four they normally digest when we hold this function. I was shoving plates in students' hands as they ran out the door, telling them "Have your teacher call me if they have a problem with you eating in class!" Four girls stayed with me to help clean up the mess, and I still had pancakes going on the grill, so I had them randomly deliver breakfast to nearby teachers. They didn't know who they should give breakfast to, so I just told them "pick anybody." Later, I had teachers approaching me saying "Thank you for breakfast this morning!" and I just felt so amused, because of course I had no idea that I had "given" them breakfast. How nice of me--I rock. =)

Throughout the course of the day, I tried to explain to my students that the Aces Breakfast isn't usually such a disaster, and my kids seemed confused by this. They thought the whole thing was great, and one student, Thomas, declared "those were the best eggs and sausage I have ever had!" Apparently Tommy likes the taste of burnt cheese. To each his own, I suppose.

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Teaching in Jammies

Remember that post a couple of days ago where I mentioned that Clint and I were going to turn off all technology and spend time "connecting" with eachother? Well, Operation "Spend More Quality Time Together" went pretty well. Here's a transcript of our conversation:

--"So was your day?"
--"Pretty good! How was yours?"
--"Good!" (long pause) So...." (longer pause) "What do you want to talk about?"
--(shrug) "I don't know..." (long pause) "So..." (painfully awkward pause) "Are we allowed to
get on our laptops now?"
--(laughing) "Whatever woman."

So we lasted about forty seconds, but it's baby steps, you know? I'm sure for our next attempt we'll get to a full minute, but I don't want to be too optimistic.

Moses is getting so big. The bigger he gets, the more irresistible he is to me...I just love giant dogs. When we were in Lake Arrowhead on Sunday, I got to see an almost full-sized Newfoundland, which is don't see a lot of newfs in CA. This one was adorable; he was chocolate brown, which was the original color I wanted (I wanted a furry brown one so I could name him Chewbaca). He was a beast of a dog, but his feet were the cutest things of all. At that size you could really see his webbed toes, and it almost looked like he had flippers instead of feet. I don't think Moses will wind up with those giant flipper-feet, but he is going to be a huge mass of a dog when he reaches his full size. Thank goodness he's finally doing better on a leash. I took him for a nice long walk yesterday and he only drug me for about a block. After that I actually got to lead, which was cool. Except for he has this habit of lurching forward every time a car passes, and I need to break him of this soon before I wind up flat on my face, eating asphalt.

Halloween is getting closer, much to my chagrin. I hate Halloween. We are supposed to go to an overnight Halloween party tomorrow at the dojo, but I keep going back and forth as to whether I want to go. I have an adorable leopard costume that my friend from work is letting me borrow, but I always feel awkward and a bit silly when I'm wearing a costume. I feel like a kid playing "pretend" or "dress up"...a kid who is just a touch too old for such games. Costumes, in general, make me feel uneasy. So do the decorations...every part of the holiday leaves me feeling unsettled. At the same time, a lot of our really good kickboxing buddies are going, and I know it's going to be a fun crowd. If we don't go then we're probably missing out on a really great time, not to mention missing out on a chance to build some fun memories with the people in our class.

Speaking of dressing up, today was "Pajama Day" at my work. I love wearing jammies to work because they are so comfy, but the downfall is that it actually makes me feel more sluggish. Weird psychological thing, I guess. Plus, it's really hard to discipline adolescents on such days...apparently trampeding around with froggy slippers on your feet makes you less threatening of an entity.

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Life is Short. Have an Affair.

This is the logo of an up-and-rising website that is putting a new twist on so-called "dating services." Clint and I saw an interesting commercial on television for a company called "Ashley Madison Agency," and he got curious as to what exactly this agency was. So we looked it up online, and it turns out that this agency is an online dating service for married people. According to the company's description, Ashley Madison is "the world's #1 married dating service specifically for ATTACHED men and women who are looking to have an extra-marital affair." It is basically a "" designed specifically for those who are looking to cheat on their spouse. It cost $250 to sign up for Ashley Madison's services, but they do guarantee that you will have a satisfying extra-marital affair within three months or your money back. And the website currently has over four million members. Staggering.

That being said, what...the...hell? I guess I'm completely naive, because I had no idea that such blatantly immoral sites actually existed. Can we possibly come up with any more creative ways to desanctify marriage? But it's honestly not surprising...just look at the time we're living in. The liberals "gray area" has become like the Blob, oozing into every crevice of our value systems, slowly spreading and growing with each ounce of morality it gobbles up.

Monday, October 19, 2009


Just some random things....

First, I just read my sister's blog regarding our day at the shooting range, and it tripped me out because you could swear that we copied off each other. We basically described our day yesterday in the same manner. So is this a twin-thing or a lack-of-creativity-thing?

Secondly, I was thinking about the other day in kickboxing, how Sensei Brandon had us do 175 crunches. Every time he looked over in my direction, I would do the crunches quickly and enthusiastically, as if there was nothing in the world that I would rather be doing than those beautiful crunches. But every time he turned in the other direction to monitor other students in the class, I would slow down and do these fake type of "barely" crunches...or I would take a quick break--and then of course continue on the moment he looked in my direction again. I don't know why I'm bothering to write about this. I keep thinking about that saying "A true judge of character is what you do when you think no one is watching." I guess by this criteria, my true character is pretty lazy.

Third random thing: I've been sneaking and reading Kristyn's blog. I only say "sneaking," because on my last e-mail to her, I told her that I would no longer frequent her blog (or something to that effect). I actually meant it when I said it, too. And the funny thing is I never actually followed Kristyn's blog before the whole explosive e-mail incident. I read a couple things here and there, but that was about it. But now I can't seem to stay away. Her posts just have a down-to-earth quality to them that keeps me wanting to read more. The reason why I bring this up is because my sister commented on Kristyn's latest entry, and in Kristyn's reply back, there was the suggestion that she reads my sister's blog. This surprised me...I had no idea she followed Shannon's blog. So then I connected a few dots and figured out that, since I am listed as my sister's sole follower on her blog, there is a possibility that Kristyn is also reading mine...or has read mine in the past. I highly doubt this, because I just think she would find my blog incredibly uninteresting and boring to read, but there is that possibility. So if Kristyn is reading my blog, I guess this is my way of confessing to her that I have been reading her's, too.

Fourth random thing: Clinton and I have been having issues lately. Nothing big, but we both admitted last night that we've been experiencing somewhat of a "disconnect" with each other lately. There are nights when I go to bed and realize that we didn't share a single part of our day with each other. We think the Internet might be a big part of the problem. We both love being online, so we can easily sit next to each other for two hours on our laptops and never once have an actual conversation (other than the occasional grunting or monosyllabic words). We are the proverbial little old couple, sitting next to each other in our rocking chairs but never truly communicating (well...minus the rocking chairs and plus a little technology). So Clinton said that when I get home from work this evening, we are going to turn everything off, turn a little music on, and do nothing but talk for at least a half hour. That is why, for the first time ever, I am typing a blog entry from work...this way I won't be tempted to type one when I get home. Of course, now I'm negating work responsibilities, but that is neither here nor there.

Last random thing: I wasn't able to sleep with my gun last night (since I left it over at Shan's), which made for a rough night of sleep. Before Clint left last night, I was complaining that I had no way to protect myself. So then he gives me a sword. A friggen sword. I was dying laughing. I can just imagine... "Excuse me Mr. Intruder Sir, would you mind stepping back four feet so I can cream you?" I finally traded the sword for a more common place knife. I hate knives though...they make me shudder (I know, this makes no sense in light of the fact that I have no problem with guns). I'm ready to have my gun back. But when am I going to have time to drive up the mountain to go get it this week? Sorry--rhetorical question.

Sunday, October 18, 2009

I Killed a Bowling Pin

I'm going to make this one quick because I have to get some laundry done before bedtime. It would be really great to have something clean to wear to work tomorrow, instead of having to "spot clean" my work pants and throw them in the dryer.

I went to the shooting range today with my mom, dad, Shannon, Jeremy, and my niece Cassidi. It was so exhilarating to be able to shoot my gun...the last time I shot it was the day Adam and Sarah separated. I remember because it was on Clint's birthday, and we went to the gun range down-the-hill to celebrate (that was Clint's idea of fun). I believe that was two years ago now, but I'm really bad with tracking time because it seems to be going faster and faster. Anyway, today was such a pleasant day. The weather was beautiful--mid seventies and sunny. I've never been to an outdoor range before and I really loved it. We stayed for quite a long time, and I'm pretty sure that by the end, we had all shot to our heart's content. During our last hour there (after endless tries), I was finally able to shoot a bowling pin and a clay pigeon.

After we finished at the gun range, we were all ravenously starving, so we drove up to the village at Lake Arrowhead to eat lunch. Shannon, Jeremy, and my mom wanted to try this nice-looking Mexican restaurant, but my dad and I didn't want Mexican because we had just had it the day before. So we swayed them toward this new little cafe, and it wound up being pretty terrible. The place was messy, they were sold out on half of the items on their menu (which were already overpriced), and the server was not exactly what I would call "professional" (he was wearing a rockstar-looking shirt and his hat was on backwards). But we did have a great view of the lake, and the food, while mediocre, was still pretty satisfying (hunger makes you less picky). Still, we probably should've just gone for Mexican.

After lunch we perused the shops for a little while, went to a little bakery that had the most delicious chocolate chip/walnut cookies imaginable (and their pumpkin-spice chai was to die for...I stole a few drinks from my sis), and then headed home. I was so proud of myself, because I managed to drive home by myself from Crestline for the first time ever without feeling that panicky feeling I usually get. This time the landmarks finally stood out to me in a more friendly, familiar way, and I never had to call Clinton or my sister once to get directions. I know it's ridiculous to be proud of such a trivial, "normal" thing, but I can't explain how accomplished I felt making that drive today. Now it's officially on the "safe" list, and the fear of that drive will never again be a reason that I can't visit my sister.

The only downfall to the whole day was that I forgot to bring my gun case home...along with everything in it. Clint made me feel sort of crappy about this when I got home, but he later apologized and now seems to be over it.

Saturday, October 17, 2009

My Lil' Blogger

Trinity created her own blog. She's been itching to have one of her own ever since she saw mine, so I finally sat down with her this morning and helped her to create one. It is really cute and I hope she sticks with it. She loves to write, but the only thing that I can see being discouraging to her is how long it takes her to type. Plus she's somewhat of a perfectionist and wants everything spelled correctly (she just asked me how to spell "exhausting," followed by "amphibian"). Again, I really hope she sticks with blogging...what an awesome hobby for a 4th grader. Sure beats playing video games.

Friday, October 16, 2009

This One's a Keeper

I just changed my blog template and I love this new one. I especially love the spacious area it allows for writing my posts. Normally my blogs take the form of a long narrow column streaming through the center of my page, which always seemed to be such a waste of space. Now this new template gives me a wide margin to create my blogs. The one downfall (and this is a big one) is that when I downloaded the new template, I lost all of my gadgets and all of my pictures. That was a bit heartbreaking for me, because if you actually counted the hours it took me to add all of those elements over time, it probably adds up to quite a few. Most of those pictures are saved somewhere on my old work laptop (which doesn't help matters much because I'm going to have to dig them up), so it is going to be quite an undertakimg to reinstate them all. I will probably just do one here and there, over time. On a positive note, at least I have only been blogging for less than three months...I can't imagine having lost all of my page elements if I had been at this for a year or longer.

It's only 9:40 and I feel like it's midnight. I am so tired. It was another exhausting week. It's too early to go to bed on a Friday night, so I think I'll lay on the couch and take a nap. =)

Wednesday, October 14, 2009


Day two of still appreciating my life and my work. Imagine that. The effects of that novel are lasting longer than I expected...of course, I'm still in the process of reading it.

Because of the bad economy, Clinton has been stuck working the graveyard shift for the last several months. I don't mind so much, because it pretty much feels the same as him working the day shift: he sleeps while I'm at work, and he's up and ready to go by the time I get home. Plus, both he and I are just so incredibly blessed that we still have our jobs. My school district laid off 181-and-a-half teachers at the end of the 08/09 school year (yeah, I don't get the "half" either), and I still remember that feeling of holding my breath, wondering if I was going to receive one of those dreaded pink slips. I remember all of us teachers running to our boxes the day they were issued. I remember the feeling of joy when my box was empty, followed shortly after with a sinking feeling of dismay when I realized two of my really good friends at work received a pink slip. All of us teachers wore pink that Friday to express our support for all the teachers who were laid off (my school site had eight total), and we even marched during a "Pink Rally" to try to raise public awareness of the budget crisis in California's education.

Clint's work, likewise, has also had many cuts. Luckily he doesn't work the type of job where strong attachments to fellow employees form (at the railroad they pretty much work with different people every day), but the many lay-offs have resulted in a shrinking bubble around him, and has left him with the lousy graveyard shift.

Again, I'm just grateful that he still has a job, but the problem is that I'm discovering that I can not sleep at night without Clint being home. I don't have an independent bone in my body and I am SO paranoid. Every little noise makes me jump...the fridge can't even come on without me going into defense mode. I've tried everything to sleep better. I sleep with a 9 mm every night, and that definitely helps. I don't keep it under my pillow, because it creates a hard uncomfortable lump, and plus I'm not entirely comfortable with the idea of an explosive device right under my head. So I keep it under Clint's pillow, next to me, with the strap of the holster left unbuttoned for quick access. But the problem is that the kids sleep on the opposite end of the house, and I'm constantly worried about them. I mean, that's great that I'm armed, but what if some predator broke into my house and went to their side of the house? So I've tried moving the kids into my room (yes, I realize I'm sucking them into my unhealthy paranoia), but let's face it--it's impossible to get even ten minutes of sleep with a nine-year-old and a five-year-old. That strategy only lasted a few days. Next I tried sleeping with my giant dog. This actually works pretty well except for Moses is still technically a puppy, so by 2 or 3 a.m. he has to go potty. And his way of letting me know is by slapping his huge paw on my bed over and over again and growling (a cute frustrated growl, not a mean growl). It just doesn't make for a very restful night. I could use sleeping pills, but I won't for two reasons: 1. I don't like to take anything that my body risks becoming dependent on, and 2. I refuse to knock myself out when I am soley responsible for the kids.

So I don't know what to do. I'm hoping Moses' bladder grows bigger soon so he can stay in the house longer, but I have a feeling that even when he can sleep in the house full-time, I will still find reasons to be paranoid.

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Rich Americans--Lucky Us

It's amazing how a book can change your whole perspective on things--at least for a little while (the effect does eventually wear off). I'm reading this book called "The Nazi Officer's Wife," and it is making me appreciate my life so much right now. The main character in the book, Edith, is a Jewish woman trying to get through the difficult period in Germany right before the Holocaust. It is so sad, because Edith starts out with a very happy childhood, and grows up to be a confident young woman. In her late teens she enters into a university to study law, which in of itself is quite an amazing feat for a woman in the late 1930s and early 1940s. But at this point of the story tension begins to build, and the Jews in the story quite rapidly become victims of unimaginable prejudice and discrimination. Little by little, her family begins to lose everything they own, but the worst is when Edith goes to take her final law exam (equivalent to the BAR exam here in the U.S.--sorry, don't know how to spell that acronym). She is so excited and eager...she has worked hard for this moment, has devoted years of her life to her studies and conquered all obstacles, and it is the only thing left for her to do before getting her degree. But when she arrives, the "Aryan" woman behind the counter tells her (with a gleam of sadistic satisfaction in her eyes) that she can not take the test. Because Edith is Jewish, she has officially been kicked out of the university and will never practice law. It is so heart-breaking. You can practically see everything that she has worked her whole life for just slipping through the cracks of her fingers while her eyes pool up with tears. So currently in the novel, Edith, this brilliant young woman who (practically) has a law degree, is forced to do back-breaking labor on fields and in factories in order to keep herself and her family alive. Her life is so miserable, but you don't feel miserable when reading about it. She's a survivor, and her courageous outlook makes it easy to not want to weep in despair for her. Rather, you just want to cheer her on.

So today, when I entered my warm cozy classroom, I just couldn't help but feel so blessed to have the life that I have. I get to work this cushy job where the worst of my problems are seventh graders getting under my skin from time to time. I get to come home to limitless meals and a nice warm bed to sleep in, and security. Poor Edith shivered every night on her cot, and had nothing but diluted cabbage soup and stale bread to eat, and had no idea what dangers tomorrow would bring. What's tragic is that although Edith's story takes place in the past, there are so many people across the globe who live this life of uncertainty on a daily basis...who don't know where their next meal is going to come from and don't know how much closer to death tomorrow will bring them. We are so rich here in America--even poor Americans are rich by the globe's standards. I wish I could remember this every single day, so that I would stop acting spoiled when I want something new, like hardwood floors for my house or new car. I could appreciate what I have so much more if I could just keep other people's circumstances at the fore-front of my mind. But, unfortunately, the perspective I gleaned today will be forgotten tomorrow, and I'll be back to spoiled me again.

Monday, October 12, 2009

Recognized for your Potential

I love this! Great closing thoughts:

“Let the boo-birds say what they will, I'm thrilled that President Obama won the Nobel Peace Prize for what the committee said was not so much what he has done, but what they hope he will do.

“Talk about giving hope to all of us — no longer do we have to actually accomplish stuff, but simply convince others that we hope to accomplish stuff. I think we ought to universally celebrate the awarding of the Nobel Peace Prize for potential deeds.

“Since I'm a musician, I'd like to go ahead and get my Grammy now — and I'm on TV, so I want an Emmy as well….

“Heck, go ahead and give me a Tony Award — I haven't been in a Broadway play, but I did see Jersey Boys a few weeks ago and knew all the songs… that's potential.

"And hey, you might even ask your boss for a big ol' raise even if you're a slacker at work, because deep inside of you, there's all kinds of potential, and it would be a lot more fun to go ahead and get the paycheck now.

"To all my Republican friends who have said really tacky things about President Obama not having accomplished enough for the Nobel Peace Prize, I say, put a lid on it. Quit your bellyaching and take the sour grapes out of your mouth, and instead, take in a deep breath of unbridled hope that you too will be recognized for what you might do someday."

--Mike Huckabee (,2933,564462,00.html)

Nobel Peace Prize

I intended to mention this days ago, but as you know, Obama won the Nobel Peace Prize. I have nothing fresh or new to add to the commentary concerning this that I’m sure is already out there, but I just have to say a few words any way. In the past, the Nobel Peace prize was awarded to people who actually did something concrete toward attaining world peace. I mean, even when Al Gore won the prize for his efforts in global warming, at least that was something somewhat tangible. Yet the Nobel is being given to Obama for something that he is aspiring to do, but hasn’t actually done. So he is promoting world peace—tell me what beauty pageant queen hasn’t advocated for the same thing? What’s worse is that Obama was elected for the Nobel only two weeks after he was sworn into office. At that point of his presidency, the only thing Obama had accomplished was to talk a good talk.

Basically a bunch of European elitist are the ones who decided to give Obama the Nobel, and why wouldn’t they? They love the new watered-down, “neutered” America that Obama is promoting. Also, by giving him the Nobel, it would now be oxymoronic for Obama to send those 40,000 troops to Afghanistan, although I do agree with O’Riley that winning the Nobel will probably not sway Obama’s decision one way or another regarding the Afghanistan issue. He already has the award now…it’s not like the Nobel Peace Prize committee is going to take it back if Obama decides not to play nice. But regardless, it seems to me that awarding Obama with the Nobel peace prize has a lot less to do with actual merit and a lot more to do with the clever strategizing and promotion of a weaker, more diluted America by certain stakeholders.

The one thing I will say to Obama’s credit, however, is that he never asked for this award, and he was extremely humble in his acceptance of it. Us Obama antipathizers (yes, I made that word up—can’t help it if there are holes in the English language) almost wish he had been more arrogant in accepting the Nobel, because it would have made it so much easier for us to target our criticism and contempt over this decision at Obama himself. But Obama actually showed a lot of class and what seemed to be genuine surprise in his acceptance of the award, forcing us to target our criticism toward the unknown entities around the globe who made this idiotic decision instead. Good job there, Obama.

Sunday, October 11, 2009

Sleeping In

I slept in until noon today! I haven't done that in years. We were at Mike and Angie's house last night, and we got home sometime before 2:00 a.m. But then Clint and I stayed up until 3:00 a.m. messing with our blogs. Well, he pretty much spent all of his time creating a blog and finding the perfect template for it, etc., which is really funny to me because I seriously doubt that he will actually write in it. As of today, it still has no entries--but hey, at least it's aesthetically appealing. I spent the hour adding a news feed gadget to my blog. It updates several times a day, so hopefully this will encourage me to be more current on politics and the rapid degradation of American values (yes, I realize that I'm one-sided in my perspective--sorry 'bout that).
Clint and I got into a fight this morning. It started over the spa, which is becoming a real sore subject between us. About three months ago, we sold our golf cart for $500. I wanted to use the money to purchase a stainless-steel fridge from Craig's List, since the refrigerator that is currently in our kitchen is spray-painted black in order to somewhat match our other appliances. The spray-painted fridge was supposed to be a "temporary" solution until we had some money to buy a nicer fridge. But Clint, on the other hand, who had started kickboxing the month prior, wanted to use the $500 to purchase a spa to relax his sore muscles after class. My concern with the spa was that it would just sit there in the backyard, collecting dust, because he would never get around to doing all the work involved with hooking it up (he is very busy with work, school, and kickboxing). Well, he wound up talking me into the spa, and three months later, guess where it is? In our backyard, empty, still not hooked up. So I occasionally get bitter about this, because if we had gone with the fridge, I would have been enjoying it for the past few months, but instead we have this worthless spa that's just eating up space in our backyard, and of course our $500 is gone. So today, being in an excessively hormonal mood, I picked a fight about it. In retrospect, our fight was pretty comical. At one point in our argument Clint declared that he needed to put me on Craig's List, although he'd have to list me for free to get rid of me. This didn't go over so well (although he did wind up apologizing sometime after). At another point of our argument, I waved my hot curling iron threateningly in his direction when he wouldn't leave me alone. Real mature, I know.

The thing with me and Clint is that we don't fight a lot, but when we do, we don't fight "lightly"...neither one of us is made up that way. We go into full-fledged crazy mode. But after eleven years of marriage, I don't question this anymore. I can't say I love the way we fight, but I do love it that our marriage is so full of character. It reminds me of part of a song that states "I want to sunburn to know that I'm alive..." (can't remember the song or artist at the moment). Sure, I could be in a luke-warm marriage in which my spouse and I never do anything more but the occasional mild-mannered bickering, or I can be part of a marriage in which we go through the full-range of human emotions together. Call me a sadomasochist, but I'd never trade what I have. As far as I'm concerned, you have to go through the lowest of lows to experience the highest of highs.

Friday, October 9, 2009

Grading and Dreaming

Quarter one grades were turned in today...sigh of relief! Us teachers don't get a break between the first two quarters, but it's just refreshing to be able to start from scratch next week. I am still struggling to muster up the enthusiasm for this year's students that I had for last year's. It's been ten weeks now and still there are no emerging personalities. My students are either incredibly helpless (expecting to get their grades handed to them on a silver platter) or they are talented academically but have about as much character as a paper plate (don't ask where the paper plate simile came from...I think I must have still had the silver platter in my head). Last year I had such high-energy students that, although were challenging and head-ache inducing, entertained me on a daily basis. I miss them so much. Since last year was my first year teaching honors, I mistakenly assumed that all honor's kids were like that particular group...rambunctious and witty and slightly insane. But with this new honor's group, I'm now questioning this. Honors kids apparently come in all sorts of packaging, and this year's packaging is a little on the dry side. But, at the minimum, at least they are cooperative and relatively easy to teach. I'm sure in time they will grow on me.

*The middle portion of this blog has been removed to protect the privacy of the subjects.*

I am really tired and think I will curl up and take a nap.

Wednesday, October 7, 2009

This & That

I have been so mind-numbingly busy and feel nearly desperate to have just one evening to sit in front of the television and personify a couch potato. Of course, here I am cutting into my free time right now by typing a new post instead of vegging.

Today was a decent day. I had to period sub for a choir class, which turned out to be a pretty easy gig. Then for my own classes, the students had to take their benchmark, so I actually got some time behind my desk. After work I stayed for tutoring, and during the last five minutes me and one of my students, Cole, decided to race. He was certain that he was faster than me, I felt certain that I was faster than him, so of course it was only natural to figure out who was right and who was wrong. Ironically, we wound up with a dead-even tie, so now we have to do a re-match during next week's tutoring session (we accomplish a lot of worthwhile things during tutoring).

Sarah went to kickboxing with Clint and me yesterday. I feel really proud of her. She was exhausted and I could tell that she was internally dying, but she hung in there and gave it everything she had. Brandon was wonderful with her too...he was very empathetic and motivational. She signed up for a two year contract, but I feel worry that "life" will start getting in the way and she'll wind up not going. I only worry about this because I know how hard it is to motivate myself to go consistently, and she has an even further drive and a busier life.

I guess Kristyn and I are no longer friends, although it's not like we really had a relationship anyway, so I guess I'm not really "out" anything. She wrote a long post about me in her blog, and although it painted an unflattering image of me, a part of me feels touched by the fact that she wrote all that she did. I know it sounds strange, but the fact that she took the time to say what she did at least sends me the message that she cares somewhat about our situation. We sort of left things off at an impasse, although based on her last message she was quite angry with me--we are both way to stuck on our own perspectives and can't seem to give in on certain things. At least we've had a little bit of closure, I suppose, before calling it quits. The funny thing is, despite everything, if she ever did move back to the desert, she is someone I'd actually enjoy hanging out with. There is something about her cynicism that I find refreshingly honest. But I know that it's not a two-way street--I'd get on her nerves immensely. I'm way too optimistic and God-loving for her taste. Plus I'd want to talk about my kids once in awhile.

Sunday, October 4, 2009

Fair and Fire

We went to the L.A. County Fair yesterday.  For the first couple of hours it was just me and Clint with the kids, and we arrived early before the crowds hit and were able to take in a lot of the things on our hit-list for the day. We went into this "under the sea" exhibit where the kids were able to play in beach sand and build towers with giant foam blocks, which they loved. Next we sat at a nice outdoor table in the shade and munched on giant corn dogs and fried zucchini. After lunch, we went to the giant barn area, where we must have spent at least an hour or two. We went through all of the different animal exhibits and saw countless cows, sheep, goats, pigs, chickens, and even a camel and a llama. We took the kids through the petting zoo, which was huge compared to other petting zoos that I've walked through in the past. The kids later went through a giant hay maze, and then we went to a goat miking-demonstration, where both kids were chosen as volunteers to milk a goat.

At one point, we got a phone call saying that Mike and Angie were planning on going to the fair too, so we decided to meet up with them. The first problem was that, while our ticket into the fair had only cost us one dollar a person (they were running an admission special from 11:00-1:00), Mike's and Angie's tickets were $17.00 each. That is a pretty outrageous price just to get into the fair, especially when you consider that everything costs once you're inside. The next issue was, right when Mike and Angie arrived, so did half of the was very crowded. Angie seemed very unhappy navigating the stroller through the crowds, and I was feeling awkward because I knew that her and Mike had paid a lot of money to go to the fair that day.

Luckily, the day improved drastically after the first hour or two. Mike bought me and Angie a spiked lemonade and himself a beer, right about the same time that my sister called and told me that the pass was closed due to the fire. I don't know if it was the drink that relaxed everyone or just the idea that "Hey, we're stuck here for awhile so we might as well make the best of it," but after that the mood lightened up tremendously and we were able to have an enjoyable time.

After the fair, we all went to "Dave's Famous BBQ" for dinner, and it was so delicious.  Luckily the pass opened, so we were able to drive home after dinner. The drive home was exciting...we had a great view of the fire from the freeway. It was breathtaking. At first we could only see the orange glow from a distance, but as we continued to drive, the glow grew larger and larger until we could actually see the flames rolling down the mountainside. It looked so close, but I'm sure that was an optical illusion considering it was night-time and the flames were so bright.

This morning we went to church, but I didn't get anything out of the service because my eye was agitated the whole time. Stupid eye.