January 31, 2009

Blogging is My New Favorite Drug

So I was sitting there last night, at Todd's computer, with Metallica (or some other weird, loud and totally child-inappropriate music) screaming in my ears. Other people were gathered in the family room watching a sit-com and eating various leftovers, but I had already eaten and was eager to check out my friend's new blog. He told me he was going to write one, but I didn't believe him. Mostly he just reads ours and makes bizarre comments, so I was a little surprised when he actually did it.

He didn't exactly jump up to log on and let me read it. I had to ask several times. I guess I come off as a little more judgemental than I think I really am; was he afraid I'd criticize him? I love reading what other people write! Being an English teacher must cast a dark shadow on my writer friends; the funny thing is, it's kind of miraculous that I teach English. I have terrible grammar issues (ask J!) and mostly I write like I talk, which is mostly like a 10th grader.

He shouldn't have been worried. I had absolutely no problem with his grammar, spelling or sentence structure. I know him. I know better. I did spend quite some time formatting the actual blog page, though. I mean, I asked him if I could, I didn't go in there and start changing everything up without permission. Contrary to popular belief, I'm not a control freak. I was just trying to make him look good.

Oh, and by the way, my apologies for blogging after a half bottle of Merlot last night. The kids' lyrics were killing us and I felt I needed to share.

January 30, 2009

Newbie Plug


I follow a new blog...check it out! My dear friend, Todd, decided it was time to join the blogosphere, and I'm so glad he did. He has a way with words that challenges grammatical convention, but it's from the heart.


A Flash of Brilliance

I got an amplifier
My farts sometimes catch on fire
I just blew it at Fred Meyer

These are the lyrics from the newest song by my son's band, Bloodwake JCT.

Keep an eye out. They're only 10 years old, but I promise you, they're going to be big.


January 29, 2009

Ahead of the Game

I'm always surprised and annoyed by people who pressure their children to get married, or to reproduce. I know a few moms who do this; they're constantly asking their kids about love interests, and the minute the "b" or "g" word is used aloud, the pressure's on.

"Oh! This is getting serious! Why don't you invite him/her for dinner?"
"I'm sure Grandma would love to meet him."
"I wonder what your girlfriend will be doing for the holidays? Maybe we should invite her whole extended family over here for Thanksgiving."

Or, even worse, the pressure to pop out grandchildren.

"So are you two trying yet?"

"Boy, Carol next door is babysitting her third grandbaby today. Wonder if I'll ever get so lucky."

"You know, the longer you wait, the less time Dad and I will be around to help you out with the kids."
And so on.

But I'm not like that. My 25 year old daughter, for one, is like Super Career Girl, and only just recently discovered the joys of straight men, as opposed to Gay Best Friends. (Not that GBFs aren't the greatest thing since sliced bread for the ego; they just come packed with a bit of drama, which prevents other, perhaps healthier, relationships from forming.) I'm in no hurry to marry her off; she's far too independent for that. I'm sure there will be someone out there who she can't walk away from, but right now, it's all about work and getting settled in life. I have to commend and encourage that; I was working at Starbucks, living in a crackhouse apartment when I got married and had my first kid. That sure was a good plan.

And Matt, well, he's only 16. I ask about the girls, but he shrugs off the conversation as if it were far too personal a subject to discuss with one's mother. As if I had asked about his personal grooming habits. And then, sometimes, he'll launch into a story about someone he likes, or he'll go out of his way to introduce me to the latest girl; last summer he fell in love for the first time and shared more than he ever has. As soon as it ended, though (like a bomb going off in the backyard, by the way) he stopped talking to me. I wasn't privy to the whole emotional component of the break-up, which made me sad, but it is what it is. It's most likely he'll turn up married one day, having eloped to Costa Rica or something, saying his vows while hanging from a zip line. Or, there's always the Reverse Process of Grandparenting - you know, where the baby comes before the marriage. Or instead of the marriage. That's kind of a distinct possibility with this kid.

And as for Jack, well, of course he's only in 5th grade. Why would I even be thinking of pressuring him? I'm not. In fact, I don't even give much thought to whether or not he'll get married or give me grandkids; I know he will. I have his wife picked out already.

Actually, I have a couple picked out. I don't mean I want him to be a polygamist, I just want him to have choices. There's Janey, the girl next door. They've been friends since the day Jack was born, when Janey was just over a year old. To this day, they call each other "BFF" and, however in denial this may be on my part, still have sleepovers on occasion. They can spend hours on end together, doing boy things, or girl things, or gender- neutral things, it doesn't matter to them. Janey's mom and I have pictures of the two of them from day one until now; we (I) plan to make a great slideshow for the wedding.

They don't know they're getting married yet, of course. That would be crazy, to put that kind of expectation out there for them. Plus, there's this other girl that I've spotted at school. She's gorgeous - Hispanic, I think. She has jet black hair and deep brown eyes and a dazzling smile; she's also 110% personality and a little bit of trouble. I don't mind that, the trouble part, because I'm pretty sure she won't be the one. I'm just lining her up for the baby-making. Those kids would be stunning. Janey will be a good step mom anyway; she has me for a role model.

But I'm open, you know, to Jack's ideas. Like if he meets other girls in high school, which he might, if Janey lets him. I'm open to him dating and exploring other relationships, in an effort to find his true soul mate, as he grows into adulthood. I am so not going to be that mom who hovers over his love life, wanting to know every detail. I refuse to spend all of my quality time with him, as he gets older, worrying about whether or not he'll get married and have kids.

Which is why I've taken care of it all, already. It'll free me up for the more important stuff later, like wondering if he'll ever move out and into his own place - him, Janey and all the step kids.

January 21, 2009

The Fruits of Our Labor

Ahhhhh.....it's over! It's the end of January; you know what I'm talking about: The Science Project. Good lord, it never seemed like this much work when Matt was younger. But then again, Matt was pretty self-motivated, and Jack is, well, not. It's not entirely his fault, though, I must admit, that we basically started and finished the project the night before it was due. For one, that's how I operated all through school, so if I'm his role model and front-line assistant, he's already screwed.

We got the assignment before the break, but I didn't feel like dealing with it then. We finally did the experiment a couple weeks ago, but honestly, didn't look at it again until last night. How was I to know there was so much writing involved? (It's not like Jack was on top of it; he could rarely remember to bring home the paperwork each night.) I had no idea that cutting out fourteen titles and text boxes with curly-q scissors would be such a hair-tearing operation. Or that choosing a font color would be such a trauma. Next time, I'll remember that yelling "I'm going to lose my mind if you don't focus, right now!" sets off a crying jag, which takes up precious cutting and pasting time. I'll remember that creativity should be severly limited when dealing with small children, that letting his little artistic spirit free at 10:00 on a Tuesday night is just going to cost me money in crazy meds. A poster board doesn't have to be hand-colored with highlighters to eliminate white space. Next time, I'll remember, for sure, that the day the project is assigned is the best possible day to start it.

It's done and on the bus now. There's no telling if it will make it all the way to school; it was acting as some sort of wind shield while we were outside, which may cause irreparable bending or tearing of certain parts, but I tried to let go of it. It wasn't mine in the first place; I had to keep reminding myself that it was Jack's project. That Jack had to cut and glue and paste. That Jack had to decide on the arrangement of pictures. That even though none of that happened the way I would have done it, it wasn't mine to create. And yet, as he left the house with it on top of his head, running across the icy street, I did feel a small sense of pride in my project. I mean his.

January 7, 2009

OPC Rock!

So, I was telling this story to Shawn tonight, and she asked if I had blogged about it. I'm sometimes hesitant to tell stories on OPC (Other People's Children) - you know, in case my friends don't want to be sold out. But this one, truly, is classic.

I was at the bus stop this morning, in my car, because it was raining to beat the band. My Abby, the Stress-Will-Cut-Your-Life -Short one, was in the back seat, staying dry, while all the boys battled with umbrellas on the corner outside. Then the other Abby, Abby D (mine's Abby M) shows up at our window, and we invite her to sit inside with us. She crawls in and shuts the door, then the two of them, Abby D and Abby M, start whispering. Suddenly, I'm transported back to 7th grade. While intellectually I know they aren't talking about me, it still triggers a negative vibe and I call them out. "No whispering!" I shout. "What are you whispering about? That's rude!" They look at each other, unsure if they should tell, then Abby M blurts out

"Abby has a David Archuletta CD in her backpack!" They giggle. As if David himself were in there.

I smile to myself, remembering Abby's dad, Josh, at the New Year's party, telling us (openly, freely) that he loved David Archuletta. I say,

"Your Dad loves him."

"I know." Abby says. "He has a man-crush on him. My Dad's not gay, but he's gay for David Archuletta."

Before I can begin laughing, she continues,

"And my brother's not gay either. But he's gay for L'il Wayne."

If only they knew what came out of the mouths of their babes in my company.

Oh, wait, now they do.

Way to go, Josh. Tell Connor I'm pretty sure that no one at the high school reads my blog anyway.

January 2, 2009

And So, We Begin Again

Ahhh...you gotta love that post-Christmas mess. The one that takes over your house completely, and paralyzes you with the thought: 'oh, God, where do I start?' I'm not necessarily a neat freak, but this is the only time of the year, really, that my house is a wreck. Christmas is like a license for me to put anything anywhere. Chairs and tabletops and floors are scattered with stuff; some of the furniture is rearranged to accommodate trees and such, so we maneuver around clumsily, between misplaced couches and piles of Things Without A Home.

I know what needs to be done. Believe me, I have a few lists going. I just haven't decided on a plan of action yet. A strategy, so to speak. Like every January second, I hope to organize well this year. I intend to make legible labels and create storage arrangements that make sense and provide easy access to year-round items. The problem is, while I'm all about making the labels, (I'm such a teacher), I'm not so much about the packing stuff up. I was mentioning to my friend, Joanne, that I hate the emptiness of my house when all of this is gone. All the sparkle and bling gets put away, leaving me with this somewhat dull, ordinary decor. Obviously, as Shawn has pointed out, the trick is to take this opportunity to rearrange everything. Like switch your dining room and living room out, which is what she's debating. It just seems like so much work. I'm not into work right now. I'm still on holiday.
I have to mention a few things I discovered this year that have absolutely nothing to do with Christmas, but feel more like New Year's gifts. Things with which I plan to become more familiar in 2009.

Like blogging, for one. Showing up at the page. Thank you so much, Joanne. I know it's taken me awhile to leap into the 21st century, but I'm so glad I'm here. I love writing and reading with all of you and it's made such a difference in my level of motivation to do something productive with my life.

Two, Goodreads. Thanks Kim! I'm linking it here too, because I'm already a fan. Not an addict, but I'll probably get there soon enough. God knows I'm addicted to everything else. http://www.goodreads.com/ Check it out, book lovers. It's very cool.

Then there's Whole Foods. OMG, what I've been missing!!! This is the most amazing, fun, market EVER! Sadly, the closest one to my house is about 45 minutes away, which isn't much closer than Trader Joe's, but will definitely be worth the drive. A little pricey for every day shopping, but for special occasions, (like our New Years Eve Tapas Party - more on that later), it was perfect. Karma and I spent an hour in there on Wednesday, which felt like 10 minutes in Disneyland. Enough of a tease to come back, but painful to leave when so much was unexplored :-)

CSI. Now that, I'm addicted to. I'm all over it: New York, Vegas, Miami, I don't care. Reruns, new episodes, doesn't matter. Thank God for channel 57, which, if you don't know, is All CSI, All Day. How I'm planning to use that to improve my life this year, I'm not sure yet. It's not like I'm going to sign up at the local voc school and become a forensics expert. Maybe I just want to be more connected to the world of television. Maybe it's inspiration for writing?

And cooking. Thanks, Karm! She has peaked my interest in culinary pursuits just a little this year...enough to be enamoured of Whole Foods and take a dessert-cooking class with her. I'm still the Queen of Foods That Come In A Box, but I'm making progress. I taught myself how to make homemade guacamole and soup this year. That's huge.

I'm not running too deep this year. I could mention all of the truly meaningful things that happened in 2008, the events that changed our lives and will continue to help us grow into the coming year. Like the tragic death of our friend, Dan, and the insane professional challenges my husband is going through, and the day my oldest son decided to live somewhere else for awhile...but right now, I think I'll start with food and entertainment. It feels manageable to start slow and easy. Eat better, watch more tv. Not your typical resolutions, but they're mine, for now. The big stuff will come along in time, I'm sure.

Happy New Year!