Thursday, December 29, 2011

New Tattoo

After a lot of research last night, I decided I wanted a cherry blossom branch as my new tattoo.  I'm sure it's no coincidence that a cherry blossom branch happened to be the first real painting I did, too.  I guess I must be partial to that particular tree.  I also decided that I wasn't going to get some dainty little thing that was just going to be floating around in the middle of my ankle like my rose--uh uh; it was 'go big or go home' this time around.  Today, we went to the tattoo parlor, and I told my artist (who was absolutely awesome--same guy who did Clint's) what I had in mind, and he was able to sketch out a design on my foot/ankle pretty quickly.  Once I approved it, he got to work.  It took almost exactly an hour-and-a-half.  He had estimated two hours, so shaving that extra half hour off was sheer bliss. 

The pain of getting this tattoo was much more intense than I expected, but maybe I'm just wimpier than I used to be.  The top of my foot was the worst.  The skin is so thin there, and there was just no barricade against that needle.  Nonetheless, I held it together the entire time...I spent the entire time joking around with Clint and the tattoo artist, singing songs in my head, counting spots on the ceiling, etc.  When the pain got real bad, I would just focus on relaxing my hands and arms (both of which kept tensing up), and I would try to imagine that they felt like water.  For some reason, doing this temporarily took me away from the pain.  One positive thing is that, although the first ten minutes is the longest (endorphins still waiting to kick in, maybe?), the time flies after that.  Those ninety minutes felt more like thirty.

Okay, enough chatter.  Here's the new tattoo....

My tattoo artist had just finished the tattoo when we took these pics, so my skin was still pink and raw.  Now that it's nine hours later, the flowers have more white in them that makes them pop out more and look much prettier.  The two largest blossoms closer to the top are what's actually covering up my old tattoo.  Overall, I am SO happy with the final product!  It's simple but dramatic.  And other than some initial shock I'm receiving from the older relatives, I'm getting a ton of positive feedback on this one.

After leaving the tattoo parlor, Clint and I were both feeling pretty famished.  Apparently self-mutilation works up an appetite.  Steve was stuck at Starbucks all day waiting for his car to be fixed, so we decided to meet him for lunch.  Much to my delight, he chose sushi (it's ridiculous how much I love the stuff now).  Clint had never tried sushi before, and he and Steve both ordered the all-you-can-eat special and pretty much ate themselves into a coma.  I, on the otherhand, ordered sane proportions of food, but that's neither here nor there.  Overall, lunch was definitely my favorite part of the day. 

Tomorrow I will be decorating Rose Floats in Pasadena from 1:00 p.m until 1:00 a.m (yep, A.M.!) with 25 middle schoolers and about 15 high-schoolers.  Wish me luck!   

Singing Feliz Navidad on a Train with Elves

I almost forgot--before I can officially move past Christmas, I have to post about our trip on the Polar Express.  A few days before Christmas, we went on a train ride from Filmore, California, to the North Pole.  But as luck would have it, the North Pole was only a half hour away from our departure station.  Here are a few pics:

 Getting ready to board (we all wore PJs, in case that's not evident in the pic)

 Me boarding the train (Moo took this one)

The conductor punching our tickets

 An elf ("Sparky") reading "Twas the Night Before Christmas"

 Mike, Moo, Carey, Nettie, and Lucas

 Teri, Trin, and Elijah

 The boys looking all innocent (they were being rowdy seconds before)

 Santa surprising the kids with candy canes

We also ate cookies and drank chocolate milk during our train ride, and sang a ton of Christmas carols.  They actually gave us sheets of music so that we could make requests.  There were a few off-list carols requested, such as Feliz Navidad, which was just damn hilarious because most of the passengers fudged the lyrics through the Spanish parts of the song, not really knowing the words.  "We Wish You a Merry Christmas" was another funny one.  When we got to the figgy pudding part of the song, people started changing the lyrics to "We won't go until we get some because we're selfish bastards who have a strange obsession with figgy pudding"...or something like that. 

There was one part of the night where the thought occurred to me, "I'm singing Feliz Navidad on a train at night with a bunch of elves."  I resisted the urge to pinch myself, because the whole thing seemed a little dream-like.  Seriously, if you have even a little bah-humbugness around the holidays, this train would have been your worst nightmare. 

Okay, now I'm done talking about Christmas.  

Wednesday, December 28, 2011

Sushi, Tattoos, & Christmas

I HAVE to do a "How Christmas went" post like, NOW.  It's almost a sin to be the owner of a regularly updated blog and not have mentioned how the holidays went by now. 

Okay, so I'll get to Christmas in a minute (haha, still procrastinating), but first I want to talk about the two things that are on my mind this very second.  Be forewarned, they're both pretty shallow: #1. I tried sushi for the first time, and #2. Tomorrow I will probably be getting a tattoo.

So #1, the sushi thing...there's nothing exceptional about that except for the fact that I don't really have what I'd call sophisticated taste buds, so I was never sure if I would like it.  I mean, it is raw fish, after all.  But yesterday, Becky and I decided to go out to lunch, and she suggested a sushi bar.  When I walked into the restaurant (which was beyond adorable), she was sitting at the bar and had already ordered us a bottle of this delicious rice-wine-stuff whose name I can no longer remember.  You drink it with these cute miniature china cups, and I remember off-handedly trying to estimate how many thimble-sized glasses one would have to consume to get sloshed.  Anyway, since I was new to the whole sushi experience, Becky ordered everything for us, and she couldn't have done a better job.  Everything was so delicious.  I'm actually craving more today.  We stayed for over two hours, enjoying the different varieties of sushi, itty-bitty cups of wine, and good conversation.  I also ordered a delicious hot tea that I think I must've downed eight cups of (ughhh, ending in a preposition.  Might have to come back and fix that later).  The only downfall to our lunch was the fact that I am clumsy with chopsticks, and the fact that I locked my keys in my car.  I don't know how I managed that one, considering it has remote entry.  When I called Clint to tell him that I had locked my keys in the car, he said "That's impossible."  I was thinking, "Well, hmmmm....there's a set of keys sitting dead-center of the passenger seat that would beg to differ."  He was a good sport about it though, and we used it as an excuse to treat ourselves to smoothies. 

#2 is easy to explain.  I have a small rose tattoo on my left ankle that I got on my 18th birthday, and I've been wanting to cover it up for years, but keep putting it off.  I think I have a little commitment phobia when it comes to choosing a new tattoo to cover it up with (damn, another preposition-ending...that's a stupid grammar rule anyway).  As one of my Christmas gifts, Clint made an appointment for me to get the new tattoo.  I'm actually really excited about it (minus the whole needle-pounding-into-my-flesh-over-and-over-part), because this gives me the push I need to get it done.  But, as of tonight, I still have no idea what I'm going to get, and the appointment is for 11:00 tomorrow.  This should be interesting.   
Christmas was so nice!  Clint's family came over for Christmas Eve, and we had our usual pajama party and breakfast for dinner.  Christmas morning we did our own nuclear family thing, and as usual, I think I was more excited to watch Trin and Elijah open up their gifts than they themselves were to open them.  After presents and breakfast, we got ready and headed over to my parents house.  Overall, it was an awesome day.  I hate to define the day in terms of "what I got", but I really scored with the gifts this year.  Clint gave me: the new generation iPod Nano (in pink--it is so tiny!), an iPod docking station that is constantly changing colors and is about the size of a tissue box, a set of twelve professional grade paintbrushes, a giant goldfish bowl (that one has a back story), one of my own paintings customized into a laptop skin, and of course the appointment to get my rose tattoo covered up.  My grandpa sews, and he made me three "artist" aprons to wear when I'm painting.  He also made me a beautiful cabinet for my bathroom (my grandpa is truly a Jack of all trades).  In addition to all that, my grandma gave me my great-grandmother's old oil painting set, including an antique wooden carrying case.  I didn't even know that my great-grandma painted, so it was thrilling to go through her set and see some of the things she was working on before she passed away.  None of this includes the lovely gifts I received from the rest of my family, but it's going to get really boring if I just prattle on and on about gifts, so I'll stop here.  Although I do have to add really quick that I got Shannon some new jeans, a new shirt, and a new pair of heels for Christmas.  I only bring this up because when I opened my Christmas gift from her, it was new pants (really cute black dikis), a new shirt, and a new pair of shoes.  We got each other the same gift.  I swear, sometimes it's like we're twins or something.

The best part of Christmas was watching my grandma open up the willow tree that I painted for her.  Her reaction went beyond my wildest expectations and almost made me cry.  She was so thrilled, and it was just adorable.  The second best part was playing Apples to Apples with the family.  It's a pretty hysterical game.  That, and eating prime rib for Christmas dinner, and drinking this delicious white chocolate coffee that my dad made.  The whole day was just incredibly nice.

Okay, I did my obligatory post-Christmas entry, which means that I can actually start talking about other un-holiday-related things for my next post.

Friday, December 16, 2011

Thoroughbred Street & Goodbye

Aside from the United Airlines dilemma (which we are actually starting to lose sleep over), the last couple of weeks have been crazy fun.  On Wednesday night we went to a hockey game, which was a blast.  Hockey games are awesome to watch in person, but added to the thrill was the fact that we went as part of a private party through Carey's work.  Not only did we have the preferred balcony seating, but our party had an attached suite with our very own bar, pool table, all-you-can-eat food/drinks, and so on.  Not to mention there were attendants all over the place taking care of our every whim.  It's going to be tough going to a regular hockey game in the future after experiencing the high life.  I'm going to be like, "Huh?  I actually have to pay for these nachos?!"

Last week we went to a Christmas party down the hill (again, through Carey's work).  It was awesome--the food was delicious and the people there were so friendly and upbeat.  I remember I couldn't stop laughing the whole night.  At around 8:00 p.m., everyone from the party walked down to Thoroughbred Street to check out the neighborhood's famous Christmas lights.  Here are a few pictures, but obviously they don't do these displays justice.

Okay, I have to stop now before I end up plastering all 36 of them on here.  It was cool, because a lot of the neighbors were actually on their lawns, selling coffee, hot chocolate, and other treats.  And all the spectators were so festive and so much in awe.  I'd love to do this again every year.

On Sunday night we met Alana at La Casita for dinner to say our final goodbyes.  It felt bittersweet, but I think I held it together pretty well.  I just kept reminding myself that I was trading a really great local friend for a really great long-distance friend.  Alana will probably kill me for posting this, but here is the Christmas card she gave us when she left:

I had to post this, because Alana's words on the card sum up everything I feel about her, Matt, and the boys.  But I have to say, as far as goodbyes go, the whole thing was a really positive experience.  I think it's because we have every confidence that distance isn't going to be a deal-breaker for our friendship. 

I'm still not caught up on everything I wanted to write, but this entry's getting on the lengthy side, so I'm going to go play Just Dance now and take a bath. 

Thursday, December 15, 2011

It Only Took a Decade...

I finished report cards a couple hours ago and can't wait to start my break!  I'm so behind on this blog that it's probably going to take me a few entries to catch up, but for now, I'm just going to write about some news we just received.

Yesterday a Fed Ex package was delivered to Clint's parents' house from United Airlines.  As I've mentioned in the past, Clint used to work for United Airlines at Chicago O'Hare eleven years ago, but was furloughed after 9/11.  We always knew that "someday" he could get recalled, but after ten years, we had written it off.  Until yesterday.  After an entire decade, Fed Ex arrived with something we never imagined: Clint's recall notice.  For Chicago.  He now has six whole days to make a decision.

That being said, there's no way we're moving to Chicago.  As much of an adventure as the Midwest was, I'll never go back.  My life is here.  But Clint talked to a union rep for United Airlines today, and was told that if he accepts the job in Chicago, he can put in a bid for LAX, which will soon be hiring as well.  The downfall to all of this is Clint would initially have to work out of Chicago, and we really don't know how long it will take to get the transfer to L.A.  I could be a single mom for a few weeks, or a few months, or...indefinitely, really.  That's a little nerve-wracking.  Another big downfall is that once he does get the bid for LAX, he will be dealing with a huge daily commute.  These pitfalls should be enough for us to just say "No thanks," but the pros to the job are pretty damn positive.  Even though he worked for UAL for only one year, he would be returning to the job with eleven years of seniority and at full pay scale.  In other words, he'd be making good money.  Another huge advantage are the flight benefits.  United Airlines employees and their immediate families can fly anywhere in the world for free.  Of course it's standby only, but this never posed a problem for Clint and I ten years ago.  There was always room for us, and 90% of the time we flew first class (they immediately upgrade employees to first class if there's extra seats available).

I honestly don't know what we should do.  I'm trying to figure out if the flight benefits and extra pay are worth the stress of an exorbitant commute and crummy hours (he'd be back on graveyards again, and most likely working 6 and 2s).  Even with the ability to travel anywhere we wanted a decade ago and the associated fond memories, I don't remember that period of my life being entirely happy.

I have a lot of other things I want to write about (such as the fact that Alana and I said our final goodbyes), but I'll save it for my next entry.

Sunday, December 11, 2011

Christmas Card 2011

Still have no time to write, but I just finished making our annual Christmas card, so I wanted to post it real quick.  I'll try to pay better attention to my poor neglected blog soon!

Monday, December 5, 2011

Wild Grapes

I have so much I want to share from the last few days, but just can't seem to find the time.  I'll try to come back on here tomorrow night and write a decent entry, but until then, I want to share a quick excerpt from Robert Frost's "Wild Grapes."  On Saturday night I went out with Becky and Alana, and Becky had saved this poem on her phone because she wanted to share it with me.  She said that the poem reminded her of me.  I felt so touched that a poem would make her think about me, but even more than that, I absolutely love this stanza that she shared. 
I had not taken the first step in knowledge;
I had not learned to let go with the hands,
As still I have not learned to with the heart,
And have no wish to with the heart--nor need,
That I can see. The mind--is not the heart.
I may yet live, as I know others live,
To wish in vain to let go with the mind--
Of cares, at night, to sleep; but nothing tells me
That I need learn to let go with the heart.
Okay, better entry to follow soon.  Or if not "better", at least more long-winded.

Sunday, November 27, 2011

Stereo Love, Cold, a Thousand Years

We have some people coming over to look at our puppies in fifteen minutes, so I don't really have time to write a post, but I wanted to put up a couple songs.

This one keeps popping up on my Pandora, and it's slowly growing on me.  Probably because I've never actually heard an accordian sound so catchy's sort of interesting and pretty.

These next two are both from the Breaking Dawn soundtrack.  This first one has a very eerie, haunting melody.  I still haven't made up my mind as to whether I like it or not, but it's been stuck in my head for two days now, so I must like something about it.

This last one is my favorite.  The first time I heard the song, I thought it was "alright," but now after hearing it half a dozen times, the romantic in me just loves it.  The video, too, is beautifully executed. 

Entertaining Hillbilly Style

Yesterday Alana and I had plans to meet for lunch, but she brought along a surprise visitor:  Matt!  He had spontaneously driven up from Northern California for the Thanksgiving weekend, and he decided to crash our lunch with a surprise visit.  It was awesome.  After lunch, we all headed back to our place.  Now keep in mind that we hadn't planned on entertaining company, so...some of our activities included:

Relaxing on the the middle of the lawn

Attempting to take 70's vintage photos

Playing the keyboard on the porch in the dark
(I'm sure the neighbors loved Matt's rendition of Bad Romance)

Playing peek-a-boo through the window

Dancing machismo-style

And staying warm
(have I mentioned yet that this in the dark, in the middle of a lawn?)

We also played Just Dance "Club Style."  That's where you turn out all the lights, turn on some laser lights, and try to follow the dancers on the screen with your Wii remotes, but people keep jumping in front of you with their own impromptu dancing and it really jacks up your score.   I can get an official rule book if anyone's interested. ;-)  Luckily no one took the time to capture this particular event on camera (thank God).  Here are a few more random pics (I just love the first one):

I'm not sure what happened with that last picture, but I sort of like all of that alien-green.  Alana took most of the pics from last night (which is why she's only in one of them), and she has this interesting little app on her phone that makes the photos look like 70's era Polaroids.  That's why several of these photos have the white border around them, and/or the warmer colors.  I might have to hunt down this application for my own does a great job of capturing those good ole' nostalgic hillbilly moments.

Wednesday, November 23, 2011


I had such a nice time tonight!  The kids and I just got back from a pre-Thanksgiving day dinner at my parent's house.  My grandma and grandpa were also there, along with my step-sister Amber and her boyfriend.  My dad recently acquired a full-size casino poker machine from a side job he did in Pahrump last month, so of course we all went crazy playing on that thing.  At one point I walked into the room, and he was teaching Trinity and Elijah how to play video poker.  I was like, "Awwww, that's so precious.  Now my kids are going to be gambling away their tooth fairy money."  After piddling away all of our nickels (I think I'm down $1.25), we had spaghetti for dinner and then played on the Wii.  I got my mom to play Just Dance for the first time, and that was hilarious.  Now I see where I get my lack of coordination from.

Here's me and Shannon with my mom and dad at the Trunk-or-Treat last month.  I think this is the very first photo of the four of us that I have ever put on this blog (and of course my mom just happens to be wearing some bloody, gruesome apron).  I'm really going to miss all of them tomorrow.

I think I might give Grimm another try now.  Okay, here goes.  Eeeeeeeek.  Wish me luck.

Oh yeah, Happy Thanksgiving!

Monday, November 21, 2011

Played Again and Puppies

As I started to mention earlier, I'm officially on Thanksgiving break this week.  Normally this fact would have me in a state of euphoria, but I have such a huge stack of literary response essays to grade that it's hard to feel like I'm on break.  I graded the essays for my honor's class already, and theirs alone took me three days.  With two more classes to go, I can just see the grading stretching out in front of me for miles...and miles....

But still, it's great to be on break, even with the grading.  I slept in until 8:15 this morning and it felt so nice.  Today Trin and I enjoyed our testosterone-free day, and that was really cool.  We watched Julie and Julia.  I've heard good things about the movie, but I personally thought it dragged out a little too long.  Plus I don't care for how it ended, but I guess that's the crux of true stories.  The one thing I could completely connect with though was the main character's desire to be a writer.  I actually got tears in my eyes when she received all of those messages on her machine from editors and publishers who were interested in publishing her work.  It must be an amazing moment...that precise minute in life where suddenly everything you have ever dreamed of comes true.

Speaking of writing, I deleted this poem from my blog last week (I think), but now I'm putting it back.  I don't care if it makes me sound like I'm moody or overly-dramatic.  This time it's staying.  Note to Self:  Quit caring what you "sound like" when you write.

You painted the possibility
Yet I never told
You put it on the table
Impassioned and bold
You said you’d bear the burden
I refused to fold
Despite your calculated words
that spun a fool’s gold

Now, you run away,
covering your face
And strand me here,
burning in our disgrace
How simple you are, to
think you can erase
The rips and stains
you wreak upon lace

So cloak yourself in shame,
and leave me to dwell
In this empty place where
you played me so well
‘Cus even amidst your
cowardly-lade hell
I protect you, and will
never ever tell.

Have I mentioned lately how inundated my house is with puppies?  There are puppies all over.  Everywhere I walk, I'm followed by a trail of puppies, chewing my toes.  Or I'm tripping over puppies.  Or I'm saving them from whatever little contraptions they've gotten stuck in.  And ever since we switched them to puppy chow (about three days ago), they're plopping little land mines on the floor like every fifteen minutes.  Thank goodness we no longer have carpet!  Since we've lost both Calzaghe and Lily (damn animal control), we decided we're going to keep one of the puppies.  His name is Yang.  He's adorable...I'll post a picture of him soon.

Oh, I forgot to mention that with the money raised from our Top Turkey fundraiser, my club was able to provide Thanksgiving Day feasts to 22 local families!  Everything including the turkey, stuffing, mashed potatoes, veggies, sweet potatoes, and ingredients for pumpkin pie.  SO worth all of the work!

Cry for You

The boys are gone today, and I'm supposed to be grading (even though I'm on break), but Trin talked me into some long-overdue girl time.  So she's on Netflix right now picking out a chick-flick, and I'm going to pop us some popcorn and make some hot chocolate (too bad she's not old enough for margaritas). 

I'll add more to this post later (or maybe do a completely new one).  Until then, here's a good chick song.

Saturday, November 19, 2011

Done with Floors and Dream Couch

Our flooring is done!  We also replaced our old couch and loveseat with new ones.  Here are some pics of our new living room:


I love the new floors!  They make the whole house feel more airy.  I'm also thrilled with the new couch and loveseat, which is good, because they were a pain in the ass to find. The problem is I wanted something lighter in fabric to brighten up the room, but it also had to be made from durable, pet/kid-friendly fabric. Plus I wanted something pillowy (spell check is throwing a hissy fit over that word)...basically a couch that feels like a giant marshmallow.  Clint's wish list included built-in recliners, so that made our ideal couch even more difficult to find.  We went to six or seven different furniture stores to find what we were looking for, but ultimately had to special order this one to get everything we wanted.  The fabric is microsuede, so anything that spills on it wipes right off.  There are two built-in recliners in both the couch and the love-seat (four total), not to mention two cup holders and a built-in center console that's big enough to store two full-size laptops.  I'm not kidding, this thing is our dream couch.

Thursday, November 17, 2011

Curling up in the Kitchen

Yesterday I had one of those days where you come home feeling like pureed jello.  It's been a fun week, but my club's Top Turkey fundraiser has eaten up all of my prep periods, and has been a lot of work.  During seventh period I was counting down the minutes until work was over...I felt so mentally drained.  On my [ridiculously short] drive home, I kept imagining how great it would be to plop down on my couch with a cup of Earl Grey and watch some mindless TV.  But when I entered my house, said-couch wasn't there.  I followed it's trail to this location:

Yep, that's my couch.  In the kitchen.  Clint had taken another day off to do some more work on the floors, and he made amazing progress, but not without a few inconvenient side-effects.  With nothing better to do (TV was unplugged and crammed on dining room table), I posted the following status on facebook:
My living room migrated a little. It's all good though, cuz now if I get thirsty, it's a mere arm's reach to the sink. And if I get cold, I can just turn on the oven.
I did still enjoy my cup of tea.  And the fluorescents provided great lighting to chill with a book.

Today the living room is back to normal, which is sort of nice because if I decide to take a little cat nap, I no longer have to curl up between the dishwasher and stove.  I'll post pics this weekend, once we have all of the trim back on the walls.

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Pointless Housekeeping

Today I came home from work and got a major itch to clean, which is really bad timing since our house is torn apart due to floor-installation.  Right now our living room is about a third done, and all of our furniture is crammed on one side of the room, half-blocking the kitchen (you should see how snug I am right now, nestled with my laptop in-between a couch, coffee table, and shelf unit).  So I told Clint that while he was at the dojo tonight, I was going to clean the house.  He laughed and pointed out the futility of such an endeavor, but I didn't really care.  When I get this sort of craving to clean, it's usually because I'm dealing with stuff at work that seem so never-ending and insurmountable that I just need the feeling of starting and completing simple tasks.  It's a sort of therapy.  So as soon as Clint and the kids left, I blasted the music and did the dishes, cleaned the counters, swept the floors, cleaned up our faux livingroom, lit some candles, and did some laundry.  I even arranged the crammed furniture so it resembles a miniature living the kind of display you see in the gallery of Living Spaces, or Ashley's Furniture in those moments where they don't have a semi-truck protruding through their front entrance.  Now I'm sitting here in the middle of my clean house, trying not to laugh (or cry) at the fact that after all of my effort, there's still a tile saw in my living room, heaps of wood piled against the walls, a mountain of furniture crammed in front of the kitchen, and concrete under my feet.  Oh well.  I feel accomplished.

I was going to write more, but now I'm not (profound, I know).

Friday, November 11, 2011


Okay, I know I've already blogged enough for one weekend, but I'm trapped in the ketchup and mustard room for an hour because Clint's watching "Grimm" in the living room, and I can't watch it.  I'm a huge baby.  I got through the first minute of it, but once the girl started shrieking in the background because she was being tortured by whatever wolf-creature whisked her away, my stomach started rolling and I had to get out of the room.

Change of subject.  I'm currently reading Crossed by Ally Condie (sequel to Matched), and I am really enjoying it so far.  It is completely different from the first novel.  Matched was more light-hearted, shallow (in a cute way) and teen-agery, although it did get heavier towards the end.  But this one dives much deeper into the characters' pasts, and their current motives.   It's not that the story is incredibly riveting or fact, much of it is slower-paced.  But it's thought-provoking and intriguing.  Unrequited love in a tolitarian society just makes for a beautiful story.  And considering that the novel is geared toward the young adult audience, I'm surprised by how many quotes from the book come across as pure poetry.  Take these, for example:
And it is strange that absence can feel like presence.  A missing so complete that if it were to go away, I would turn around, stunned, to see that the room is empty after all...

The picture frightened me and thrilled me in some vague way--the sky was so spectacular, the land so beautiful and dangerous, so full of heights and depths.  I was afraid of the vastness of a place like that.  At the same time, I felt sorrow that I would never see it.

Because in the end you can't always choose what to keep.  You can only choose how you let it go.
This next one is a little bit more than just one little quote.  It's a conversation between the male protaganist and a smaller child, both who are fleeing from the society:
"Do you know how to paint?"  Eli asks.
"A little."
"My mother taught herself, and then she taught me," I say.  "My father used to come here and trade with the farmers.  Once, he brought a paintbrush back for her.  A real one.  But he couldn't afford any paint.  He always meant to get her some but never did."
"Then she couldn't paint," Eli says, sounding disappointed.
"No, she could.  She used water on rock.  Her paintings always vanished in the air."
"Then how did you know what they looked like?" Eli asks.
"I saw them before they dried," I say.  "They were beautiful."
I love that conversation.  Love love love it.  But I really don't know why.  I'll have to get back to you on that one.

Oh my gosh, it's 11:11 at night!  I have to post this right NOW so I can officially have a blog entry at 11:11, on 11/11/11 (yes, I realize my life is sad if I get off on ten "1s" in a row).

Living on Concrete

Today has been a huge improvement upon yesterday.  It was awesome waking up this morning with a three day weekend to look forward to.  And honestly, yesterday wasn't terrible, although I know it may have come across that way.  I was just being your typical over-emotional female, but I'm over it now.  Work was crazy-busy, mainly because I'm losing all of my prep periods due to the Top Turkey competition.  We also had a renaissance rally, which always adds chaos to an otherwise normal day.  I was part of a "flash mob," in which we surprised the students with a short dance.  It was only about a minute long, but it was pretty funny.  My students couldn't believe it when their own teacher was suddenly in a crowd of thirty people, doing a synchronized dance (we rehearsed it the week before).  It was like being in a scene from a bad musical.    

Last night we went over to Becky's house for small group and had our usual fun.  Becky made a delicious potato cheese soup that has me feeling inspired to try cooking up some soups myself.  I absolutely love soup in winter--I literally crave it every day.  That and hot tea.  Clint's sister (Moo) bought me some cinnamon tea for my birthday--the really good stuff--and it is so delicious.  Soup, hot tea, and bubble baths...those are the things about winter I love the most.  Well that, and Christmas.

Today I got to see Jewls!  It was very last minute.  Jewls had texted me yesterday letting me know that she was going to be in the desert, and wanted to know if I wanted to meet up with her.  Unfortunately I didn't have my phone on me and didn't get her message until late this morning, but we still managed to pull together a visit.  We met at a mutual friend's house who happens to live less than five minutes away from me.  It was so awesome to see her!  We all just hung out and chit-chatted, and I discovered that cranberry-apple juice mixed with sangria is insanely delicious.  I also got to cuddle with Seth again.  Damn I love that kid.  My only complaint about our visit is I had to leave much earlier than I actually wanted.  But as I drove home, I told myself that two hours was a whole lot better than nothing at all; especially since I woke up this morning having no clue I'd get even that much.

When I got home, Clint had stripped all the carpet out of our living room and hallway.  We've been installing new flooring (this was my birthday present), and as of now, Elijah's room and the office are done.  Now we're finally on the main part of the house, which means about two weeks of living on concrete.  Oh, we also repainted our office last week.  Clint wanted "Asian", so I came up with the color scheme, but the colors came out much bolder than I had envisioned in my head.  As I was painting the walls, I was thinking, "Crap, this is going to end up looking like ketchup and mustard walls."  And even though that might have been partially true, it all came together in the end, and now I really love this little room.  In person, it is so warm and cheery.  Here are some pics:

Admittedly the desk is still pretty cluttered...
 The new floors (they look better in person--camera dulled them out)

It's sort of fun living on concrete right now.  It feels like we're staying in a house that's still under construction.  When I was a little girl, my grandparents built their house from scratch, and Shannon and I used to live with them on the weekends.  We'd all sleep in their motor home, which they had parked on their lot.  At one point, the house was finally dry-walled, and we actually were able to stay inside the house.  I remember my grandpa used to barbecue our dinner right in the living room, over the concrete.  And we would watch TV...on the concrete.  Shan and I also used to tear through the entire house on our Big Wheels (remember those?).  Living on concrete right now reminds me of those happy days.  The only downfall is I'm stuck wearing slippers everywhere I walk, because the ground is so cold.

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

May All Your Realistic Dreams Come True

A lot of people who know me view me as one of those cheery, optimistic-type persons.  I think it's because I tend to approach life's little challenges with a sense of humor.  You'll never see me cussing because a cat got stuck in my engine compartment, or because my son stuck a paper clip in the electric socket, or because the sheep got in the house and peed all over the living room, or because I burnt half of my eyebrow off, or because I took my sleeping children to work, or...(maybe I should stop now.  This list could go on for awhile).  But the truth is, on the inside (whatever that means), I'm actually a relatively cynical, and even pessimistic, person.  Even though I generally see the humor in things, when it comes to my own goals and ambitions, my inner-voice is always telling me "You can't do this"; "You'll never make it"; and worst of all, "You're foolish for even trying."  I don't know where this comes from.  Maybe it's because, even as a little girl, I could perceive that little patronizing smile on my mom's face when I told her I wanted to be a published writer.  Or maybe it's just something that's built into some people.  I don't know. 

But is being a cynic (or "realist", as I prefer) really such a terrible thing? Studies show that Japanese students far-exceed American students in every possible category, except for self-confidence.  Students in Japan have much less confidence in themselves and their abilities, yet here they are, out-performing students in America in every subject to a degree that is nearly staggering.  And then you have American students, who have accomplished nothing to instill confidence within themselves, yet are still oozing with the stuff.  And they'll still be stuffed full of unsolicited pride and hopes to star on American Idol, even when they're flipping burgers.  Over-blown feelings of self-worth without the accomplishments to back it up leads to nothing but a self-entitled individual with no real future.  I think the students from Japan show us that, perhaps, keeping one's feet firmly planted in reality (which includes experiencing the occasional bouts of pessimism and insecurity) is what drives a person to eventually accomplish something real.

Plus, honestly, I don't mind feeling cynical about things, because then I never have to feel let-down about those things.  It's simple math:  You can't have that feeling of having your hopes crushed if you never hoped to begin with.  Viewing life through realistic lenses doesn't negatively impact my overall happiness level; if anything, it actually increases my overall happiness.  Because when something wonderful does happen, it is completely unexpected, and thus, much more thrilling.   

But sadly, I find myself being a cynic now with Trinity and Elijah.  I just don't like to see them let down, so I constantly find myself telling them "Don't get too excited about blah blah blah, because you never know what can happen."  I'm not trying to paint pictures of an ugly reality for them; it's just that I hate the idea of them feeling disappointment.  I hate the idea of them getting their hopes lifted, and then having their little bubbles burst.  I think it was Alana who told me that I should try to get past this; that part of the fun of childhood is anticipating wonderful things, and the occasional let downs are simply part of growing up.  I do see the validity in this argument, but it's really hard for me to put it in practice.

But what has really brought this issue to surface for me (and prompted this post) was the recent discovery  that my cynicism is actually permeating into my classroom.  Below is a picture of a birthday card I received from one of my students about a month-and-a-half ago.  This card not only had me chuckling because the final message is so "me", but it was also a little bit of a wake-up call.  The edges are cut off, so some of the words are lost, but check out the words on the bottom.

So there it is.  Twenty years from now, I'm going to be known as the teacher who inspired my students to pursue their dreams...but only the realistic ones.  The teacher that pushed her kids to reach for the stars...but only the close, more reachable ones.  The teacher who encouraged her students to spread their wings and take flight...but stay on the ground, cuz let's face it, you can't really fly.

Saturday, November 5, 2011

Family Theme Night 2011

Okay, this is the last post I will write regarding Halloween.  I swear.  I hope. 

Much to my surprise, Carnival Night was a lot of fun.  We had a ring toss, goldfish toss (with real goldfish; they all ended up in our pond by the end of the night), balloon darts, pie-eating contest, lion-taming show, and a few other games that I can't currently remember.  For food we ate giant turkey legs, hot dogs, nachos, funnel cake, popcorn, and cotton candy.  I use the word "we" loosely, because I pretty much didn't eat that night (wasn't really in a junk food mood). 

My only complaint about the evening was that everyone decided to clean up the party's mess that very same night, which was a real downer.  Whenever I host an event, I wait until the guests leave to do the big clean-up.  I'll do some basic cleaning while guests are still over (such as putting perishables in the fridge and moving dirty dishes into the sink), but killing the whole party's ambiance with an hour of clean-up makes no sense to me.  It's going to be the last thing your guests remember.  My other complaint is the fact that Clint's sister never puts on any music.  Seriously, it's a party--put on some music!  Other than those two details, the night was great.  Moo did an amazing job decorating the house, the food was great, and the games were really entertaining.

Teri took over a hundred pictures (that's not an exaggeration), and I just narrowed them down to 37 I want to post.

Damn.  I can't post 37 pictures.  Blogger needs a slide show feature.  Hold on, I'm going to check and see if there are any slideshow gadgets that actually work....

Okay, I'm back.  Blogger does have a slideshow gadget, but it requires a Photobucket or Flickr account, and I remember trying it out about six months ago and, even with the account, I couldn't make it work.  I think I'll try it out again, but not tonight.  I have some important movie-watching and nacho-eating to do.

So, until I can get the pics to come out, I'll put up a few pictures of everyone in their costumes.

 Mike (Elvis), Moo (gypsy), Lucas (magician) and Nettie (tightrope walker)

 Carey and Teri (dressed as "tourists"--complete with hula-hoop stomachs)

Me (clown) and Clint (tattooed freak)

 Forgot to mention the GIANT carnival prizes!

 Trinity the leopard (she couldn't find a lion costume)

Elijah the lion tamer (sorry about the lack of a close-up)

Trin and Elijah

 Pie-eating contest

 Trinity with one of her prizes

  Nettie and Lucas cuddling with bears that could swallow them in one gulp if they were actually alive.

That all counted as a "few," right?