Tuesday, December 7, 2010

Parade Etiquette

There are two kinds of people in this world. Those who love parades, and those who don't.   People who love parades get excited weeks in advance. They camp out in the wee hours of the morning to set chairs up in the ideal viewing location.  They come prepared with drinks and snacks and chairs and blankets and (sometimes) even RVs.

People who don't love parades get annoyed with them because they disrupt traffic.  But they go anyway because they have kids or nieces and nephews who are parade-loving-fools.

This weekend I found myself at a parade.  And it was cold fun! Despite my status as one who does not love parades I'll admit that it was nice seeing so many of my students up on floats (even the ones who didn't look thrilled to be there).  Plus, the parade had the most awesome Grand Marshall, ever!

With all of the friends, and blankets, and sights, and small town coziness you'd think it would be perfect...you'd be wrong.  Because aside from the kids, and students, and floats, and friends, and Christmas cheer, there were also PSYCHO ADULTS who clearly went insane when candy was thrown into the crowd. And I promise I'm not exagerrating.  These GROWN women were running around grabbing up handfuls of candy (seriously they had BAGS full at the end).  They would snatch up pieces of candy that my four year old niece was about to pick up (as in run up to her and grab the candy out from under her hand right before she actually touched it).  It was nuts  Crazy, rude, inappropriate, and NUTS.  The most ridiculuous part was that the little boy they had with them would hand my niece a piece of candy if he picked it up when she was reaching for it (clearly he had more manners than the grownups).  Don't get me wrong, my niece got plenty of candy...but that is not the point.

For future reference, lets take a moment to review some basic Parade Etiquette...

1. Don't take candy from small children
2. Don't stand in front of small children to try and get to the candy before they do
3. Don't take candy from small children
4. Don't put horses in between the fire truck and loud garbage truck (it'll scare the shit out of them...for real)
5. Don't take candy from small children
6. Don't take candy from small children
7. Don't take candy from small children
8. Don't take candy from small children
9. Don't take candy from small children
10. Don't take candy from small children

Any questions?

Monday, August 9, 2010

My hardest year won't come close to hers...

There was a year, not that long ago, that I call my hardest year.  It was a year of teaching that started with great joy.  A new school, a new job, a new niece coming home from China, new students, new friends. It was great.  I won't pretend that every day was perfect, but it was a pretty awesome year.

Unfortunately, as these things go, it did not stay awesome.  Unexpected and unwelcome pain came into my joints, a great friend experienced a great loss, and a friend and colleague passed away.  Things went from being pretty awesome, to pretty unbearable in the the span of a month....

And despite all of that, despite the pain, and grief, and loss, there was my 1st period math class.  And they were awesome.  They were awesome through everything.  They held each other up and cried together when they lost a great teacher.  They worked together through a grief that most had never know.  They never laughed, never mocked, never spoke unkindly about anyone going through that pain.  They were a great example to me.  An example of compassion, and love, and strength.

On days when my physical pain was too much, they offered to open my diet coke (clearly they understood the importance of my morning diet coke).  They helped uncap pens, open doors, carry books.  They asked how I was, how I felt, if I needed anything.  They were great and they will forever hold a very special place in my heart.  They, quite honestly, helped me get through that year.

In that class, among so many great and amazing kids, there sat a tiny girl (close to the front so she could see, which I can say since I was a short kid too).  She may have been small, but she was Mighty, with a grin that could knock your socks off.  She worked with intensity to get very problem right.  She offered her help to anyone who might need it (me included).  She never complained, or frowned, she was joyous...always.

She is a little bigger now, despite my belief that all of my former students remain frozen in the 6th grade, she has grown.  But she still has that grin, and laugh, and spunky attitude.  She is still Mighty.  And she is fighting a great battle.  A battle against cancer.  A battle that she CAN beat.  A battle that is being fought with doctors, and medication, and attitude, and (above all) prayer.

I won't post her name, but you can be sure that God knows who I'm talking about.  Won't you join me in praying for her?  For health and healing.  For a continued positive attitude.  For her family to stay strong.  For her doctors to be wise.  For the cancer to be defeated.  For the Mighty to overcome!

Tuesday, July 6, 2010

The Topsy-Turvy and Me

I am willing to admit, without shame, that I love infomercials.  I mean I really, really love them.  As in, I will watch them (over and over) if it's a good one.  Now, despite my love of all things "as seen on TV", I have never actually ordered anything from an informercial...although I have been tempted.  That's not to say of course, that some of these items haven't found their way into my house (hello, George Forman...yes he started as an informercial).

One of the best "as seen on TV" items that I've coveted is the Topsy Turvy. Say what you will, that thing is AWESOME.  I mean, it's tomatoes that hang in the air....sweet!!   I've talked about it, thought about it, and dreamed about it (don't judge me).  I've scoffed at peoples comments that the thing doesn't work, that it's a rip-off, that tomatoes can be easily grown in the ground.  I mean, come on, it's awesome!

This year I got one as a gag gift for my birthday from Bridget.  To say that I was excited is kind of an understatement.  I may have told everyone I knew that I finally had one, and bragged about how awesome my tomatoes would be.

And then the Topsy Turvy sat in my house for several months, mainly due to the fact that the directions said it hung from a post and that would require me to actually hang up a hook on a post which I wasn't terribly motivated to do.  

Luckily my mom heard about my dilemma and told me that she had several Shepards Hooks in her shed that she wasn't using and that I could have one.   With renewed vigor, I headed over to get the hook and to finally get my Topsy Turvy started.  However....when picking up the hook I ran into my mom's friend of who told me that there was NO WAY the shepards hook would work.  She had tried it last year and her husband had ended up having to build a whole new system to support it.

Well, that was simply too much work for me.  I mean, I liked the Topsy Turvy, but I wanted it to be easy.  You know, like it is on the infomercial.  Those old people are happily watering it while enjoying fresh tomatoes, I wanted to be those old people.  And, since I wasn't quite ready to give up,  I headed to the store to buy soil and a tomato plant.  You'd think that would be easy. 

You'd be wrong. 

I bought the wrong kind of soil (who knew there was even such a thing as the wrong kind of soil...dirt is dirt, right?).  Then I couldn't get the shepards hook in the ground.  Then I got seriously annoyed and just planted the whole thing in a pot.

I figured it was still okay.  I had a plant, it was planted (in the wrong soil), and soon I would be enjoying fresh cherry tomatoes (since I had bought a CHERRY tomato plant).  Except, clearly I hadn't.

Here's hoping it at least tastes good. And, in case you're wondering, the Topsy Turvy is still in the box in the backyard where it is turning yellow from sitting in the sun....

Saturday, July 3, 2010

Taming the Chaos

If I haven't mentioned it before there are big changes afoot in my house.  My sister and I first started talking about the possiblity of combining households for over a year.  We brought it up last summer when the news was full of gloom and doom regarding school systems and teacher salaries.  We planned, we made lists (well I made lists). and we talked endlessly about the pets and the furniture and the stuff that we have.  We ultimately decided that it would be possible for the three of us (My sister, my niece, and I) to all live comfortabaly in my house....but that we weren't ready just yet.

Fast forward one school year and we've faced salary cuts, furlough days, and more gloom and doom in the news.  She was anxious to pay off some debt and I was anxious to get started on my own adoption so we decided to take the plunge.  We spent several months working to get her house ready to sell and to turn my 2 bedroom (and a loft) house into a 3 bedroom house.  Painting was done, furniture was moved, boxes were packed, and her house was staged and put on the market.  Now I don't want to jinx anything, but she is currently under contract (after only a month on the market) and she closes in just a few weeks.  Woohoo!!!!!  Of course, the sale was a huge relief and we celebrated briefly before realizing that, holy cow, do we have a lot of work to get done!  Right now the house looks like a disaster zone but I just keep telling myself that it has to get messier before it can get cleaner.......right?

My sister insists that I point out that most of the boxes in this picture are, in fact, empty.

There is SO much trash....I was apparently trying to fill all of the kitchen cabinets just because I could and not because I actually needed all that space!!

Our one spot of organized loveliness in the midst of the insanity...I look at it often

I managed to finally clean out the closet in my niece's new room...after talking about doing it for months...

Now I just have to figure out how to get all of this stuff into my closet....

Wednesday, June 23, 2010

Awesome Amish

I just got back from a visit to Pennsylvania and, just like always, I found myself completely enamored with all things Amish.  I mean, come on, the barns, the horses, the buggies, the Rumschpringe ...it's almost like Little House on the Prairie only with more of a dress code. 

This, of course, let to my inevitable "wouldn't it be like totally awesome to be Amish" moment. Where I think about how nice it would be to get away from the world.  How peaceful it must be without the TV or radio or internet.  How, even if I were to still be a teacher in my alternate Amish Universe, all the kids are like totally polite.  How idyllic the farming lifestyle is  (Side-note, when I have this fantasy I like to conviently leave out all of the hard work involved in actual farming and focus on the TV version where farmers are peaceful, hardworking, God-fearing folks).

Then again, I look around and realize that I'm writing this post on my laptop with the TV on and have gotten about 6 texts in the last 5 minutes.  I also realize that sleeping until noon is probably discourage in the Amish world, as are pants for girls.  And, since I'd rather get a massage then wear a skirt (side note 2,  the very idea of getting a massage sends me into near panic mode so this is, in fact, not a good thing), I suppose I'll have to make due with just visiting Amish Country and not actually being Amish.

Although deep down inside I still think it would be kind of awesome to be Amish...for like, a week.

Friday, May 7, 2010

The Shed....Part 1

This is my yard

This is my yard after I leave a large box containing a Shed that I can't manage to put together sitting on the grass for over a month in all sorts of weather.

This is the Shed (still in the box) after being rained on for the 4th or 5th time

But, never fear good people.  I have some exciting news.  Wonderful news.  News to be shouted from the rooftops of towns, and toasted with yummy frosty drinks.

The shed is now......
Out of the box

And that my friends, is totally a step in the right direction!

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

Down with Wallpaper!

After wanting to rip the last of the wallpaper out of my house for years (literally since I moved in), I finally tackled the job over Spring Break.  Well that may be overstating it just a bit, but I at least started over Spring Break...it took a bit longer than expected (what with me being completely unmotivated when it came right down to it).  But now I have a beautiful, new, wallpaper FREE, bathroom.  Or, more specifically, my sister and niece have a beautiful, new, wallpaper free bathroom!

Thursday, April 1, 2010


There are things that every teacher does that school could never, ever prepare you for.  The rude children, the overwhelming amount of paperwork, the insanity of middle schoolers in the week before vacation to name a few.  And then there are those things that are so outrageous that they enter the world of myth, they become the stories that we sit around telling each other when things get to stressful.  Every teacher has a few, and I have more than my share:

The Rat
Mopposite Boy
M and the Celery
Anything involving my evil genius
Rock NO
and many more....

Some stories are hilarious, some are sad, some make me remember why the heck I do this job, and some make me question my career choice.  For example: there was one year when my sister (hope you don't mind Noelle), became the Patron Saint of Menstruation.  No seriously, for some reason every 6th grade girl experiencing that special moment came and told my sister.  The conversation generally went like this:
Student: "Ms. K, I have to tell you something"
Noelle: "okay"
Student: "I got my period"
Noelle: "Do you need to go to the nurse?"
Student: "No"
Noelle: "Do you have everything you need?"
Student: "yes"
Noelle: "Do you have any questions?"
Student: "No"
Noelle: "okay, go to class"

This happened, a LOT, and not always by students she knew well.  It was weird

I can't tell you the number of times that I've had to explain the importance of showering and deodorant. And you can't even being to imagine what an awkward conversation is until you've had to call a parent to tell them that their child has been habitually masturbating in your class.  Double the awkwardness when the student is a girl.  Triple the awkwardness when the parent then asks you to speak to the kid about it....they most definitely don't pay me enough for that.

But they do make excellent stories!

Saturday, March 27, 2010

International Adoption: As explained by a three year old

I've been off-line lately which has be great for getting things done around my house but not so great for my internet addiction (or maybe it was good for that also).  Long story short my  beautiful, shiny, new computer BROKE.  But never fear, dell is sending me a new one (probably because I haven't finished paying for the broken one), and until then I'm borrowing some computer time at my parents while everyone is out shopping.

And now for the story that inspired the title of this post....

My niece Ella, aside from being the most entertaining 3 year old out there, also happens to have been adopted from China.  She knows all about adoption and asks questions about it pretty frequently.  We have a big group of adoption friends who we get together with frequently so it's not like any part of the process is a secret, I just didn't know she paid such close attention!  The other morning we had the following conversation on the way to school.

Ella: "Jesse, how old your dau-er (daughter) is"
Me:  "I'm not sure Ella, probably around 2"
Ella: "How big she is?"
Me: "Smaller than you"
Ella: "Jesse, you got to do all that paperwork so you can go and get her just like my mama got me"
Me: "I'm working on it"
Ella: "Ms. Kim did all her paperwork por (for) she can go get Little Mister David"
Me:  "I know, Ms. Kim is just faster than me"
Ella: "But I want her"
Me: "Me too Ella, me too"

If only it were really that simple!!!

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

Olympic Fever

I'll admit it, I totally have Olympic Fever and I know I'm not alone in this.  I watch sports rarely, less than rarely really, but once every four years I get obsessed with the Olympics.  (I say every four years because the Summer Olympics just don't do it for me, after gymnastics and diving I'm pretty much out).  But for the Winter Olympics? I'll watch just about anything, all of that skiing and skating and snowboarding and sledding (I'm talking about you bobsledders and lugers), that stuff is wicked fun to watch.  It also helps that those athletes are all a little bit nuts, you'd have to be to do what they do.  I love every cheesy, over the top, stupid dramatic, piece of it. 

Touching stories about athletes overcoming adversity?  Love it!

Profiles of countries and places that I've never heard of?  Love it!

Restrospective looks at every mistake an athlete made at the last Olympics followed by the word "redemption" said at least 1000 times a broadcast?  Love it!

Instant replays everytime someone falls down?  Love it!

Watching the Olympians tear up at the medals ceromony and tearing up myself no matter what national anthem is playing?  Love it!

I love it all, but the snowboarding? Oh the snowboarding.... I admit to be unabashedly jealous of the snowboarders. I want to be able to do that!  Not enough to actually learn mind you, because I don't want to be a beginner, I want to be good and I'd like to start out that way.  Clearly this as good a reason as any to just dream about it and not actually do it.   None of the other sports look nearly as cool as the snowboarding.  None of the other athletes look nearly as fun to hang out with.   It is by far my favorite Winter Olympic sport (and I realize they snowboard at other times that I could watch on tv but it's just to stressful!)  I'm tell you the reason I never watch sports is probably because it's to exhausting to love something this much.  From every over the top opening ceremony to the torch being extinguished I just love the Winter Olympics, heck I'll probably even watch Curling (if just to marvel at the fact that it is an actual sport), but Snowboarding will always be my favorite!

Monday, February 8, 2010

Times they are a changin'

To put it mildly the economy sucks, I mean really sucks.   People are losing jobs, houses, savings, and retirement funds.  I have been very lucky that I haven't lost any of that and, despite my whining about it, I am grateful to have a job.  Still, paychecks keep getting cut, class sizes are getting bigger, stress levels are rising, and expectations keep getting more unbelievable...

For over a year my sister and I have talked about what we would do if the economy sunk so low that having separate houses no longer made sense.  We talked about selling both our houses to buy a larger (but cheaper) home, we talked about renting, refinancing, and moving in with our parents (hi mom).  We talked, and talked, and talked, and talked.  And finally we decided that it was time.  Next year is going to bring more cuts to the education budget (thanks government) and, while Dave Ramsey has made a huge difference in how I approach money, I won't be able to save nearly as much as I would like.   She is in a similar boat and although she isn't saving for an adoption she would like to pay down some debt. 

The next few months are going to be full of changes at my house because I'm about to get two roommates, one sister/best friend, and one adorable (although kinda loud) three year old,.   It is going to be mutually beneficial on both parts and should be good fun.  We've voluntarily lived together before, much to our parents surprise, and are looking forward to doing it again.  I'll be able to save for Bulgaria while also paying down debt, and she will get to pay down debt and start saving for life.  It will definitely take some adjusting but we are both looking forward to it.  My once neglected loft will soon become home to some awesome IKEA wardrobes (hello sale), and the guest room downstairs will become a room for cousins to share....someday! 

So bring it on Economy, Bring. It. On.

Thursday, February 4, 2010

Black & White

I guess its time to get this out in the open....I think black and white movies are boring.  And yes I do mean all black and white movies.  I can't help it, I guess my brain just isn't wired for that.  I need color, bright bold over-the-top color.  I've tried to like black and white movies, I really have.  I've seen It's a Wonderful Life and, sorry Clarence, I hated it.  Any not just a little....

I mean come on...nothing even blows up.  It's boring, a friend recently told me that black and white movies make her sleepy, and I totally agree.   I practically needed an IV drip of caffeine to make it through Casablanca and I really, really wanted to like that one (it's a classic). 

Call me unpolished, uncouth, or a product of my generation but seriously I need action and adventure and cute boys and color!  I'd rather watch Lethal Weapon (it's funny and stuff blows up), The Hangover (it's funny and there are cute boys), Die Hard (stuff blows up and there are cute boys), or The Sound of Music (threw you with that one huh, but really folks musicals win me over every time...unless they're in black and white).

So maybe I'll never be a film critic or a member of the Academy but, I'm ok with that.  And if you're a movie that is musical, or funny, or has cute boys or explosions then my house is the place to be...black and white movies need not apply (although I do accept the cheesy and sappy as well).

Thursday, January 7, 2010

For Alyssa

In the world of Adoption there are many, many wonderful stories that are told about bringing families together.  I have read dozens of wonderful stories and seen hundreds of blogs with happy endings. 

Alyssa's story is not one of those happy endings.

I've gotten permission from Alyssa's adoptive mom to link her story here.  I share it because I feel that it is a story that needs to be told, that people need to hear.  So that this can be prevented from ever happening again.   I wish I had power, or knew important people, or could do something to help...  I feel powerless, hopeless, and helpless and I know that none of that, none of what any of us feel when we read Alyssa's story is even close to what her mom feels. 

Please read it, please think of Alyssa, please pray for a solution.  If enough people know, if enough people care, then maybe this could lead to a happy ending...if not for Alyssa then for others who have been put in the same situation. 

And...if you know anyone with power feel free to pass this along

Saturday, January 2, 2010

A Year in Books

These days it seems like everyone is blogging about 2009 and all of the trials and tribulations that it held. I decided to do something a little different and share my year in books.  Several years ago I started keeping track of all the books I read during the year because I was curious about the number.  2008 brought in 112 books due mainly to the state of my RA and the fact that I really couldn't do much else that year, crafting was most definitely out and even typing was hard, so I read a LOT.   This year I finished up my last book of the year at around 3:00pm on December 31st while at my BFFs house enjoying the quiet when literally everyone else there was napping (even the dogs).  That book brought my grand total for the year to 73, less than the previous year but only because I'm back to being able to use my hands!!  I love keeping track of the books I've read because it's fun to look back and remember all the great things I've read over the year.  So here is my retrospective for 2009...in books

Yellow Star by Jennifer Roy - This is one of the many books I've read out of the school library and is by far the most uplifting Holocaust book I've ever read.  I can hear you saying to yourself "Really? An uplifting Holocaust book", but I promise it is.  Great for parents and kids (11+), a wonderful fast read.

The Sex Lives of Cannibals by J. Maarten Troost - A hilarious travel narrative about a man and his wife moving to the South Pacific (to a place I'd never, ever heard of).  A great read for anyone who likes to travel, dreams of traveling, or just likes to read about traveling!

Dragonfly in Amber by Diana Gabaldon - One of the Outlander series, which my friend Jenn hooked me onto (on a side note go check out her recipes, you will not regret it!).  The whole series is a great mix of historical fiction, action, adventure, and sexy Scotsman, all wrapped up into one great series of books.  

 Okay let me preface this book by stating that I read the first book in this series before the 3rd one was even published so I've been in on it since the beginning and not just caught up in all the hoopla.  My book for April is Eclipse by Stephenie Meyer - This remains my favorite book of the series, and I won't go into anything else about that!

Pretty in Plaid by Jen Lancaster - If you're not reading Jen's books, or checking out her hilarious website then you should.  She is a riot and I've never been disappointed with any of her fantastic, hilarious, sarcastic memoirs.

Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone by J. K. Rowling - In honor of the 6th moving coming out in July of 2009, I had to reread the entire series (because I'm that girl), so I started with the first and plowed my way through the whole series in time to see the movie.  And yes I'll do it again when the book is made into a movie (twice since it's being split into two films).

The Reader by Bernhard Schlink - I'll admit that I wanted to read this book because the movie was coming out and I wanted to see it.  Well, I ended up liking the book so much that I refused to watch the movie because I didn't want it to ruin the pictures I had in my head!

The Undomestic Goddess by Sophie Kinsella - When school starts back up after a long summer of relaxing then I just have to read things that pure fun and fluff.  This book delivered, it was funny and touching, and easy to read.  Plus (bonus) it takes place in England so I get to read the whole thing with a British accent!

 Certain Girls by Jennifer Weiner - This is a sequel to Good in Bed (which I also reread this month), and was fantastic.  I love the way Weiner is able to write both as the main character and her teenage daughter and be completely believable.  I laughed, I cried, I laughed some more, it was wonderful!

The Lost Symbol by Dan Brown - Okay so I caved to peer pressure and bought this book, but it was really good.  And, as long as you're not crazy and believe that everything he writes is true (his books are in the FICTION section people), then just sit back and enjoy the story!

Handle With Care by Jodi Picoult - I'll read any book she writes and love them all.  Although the material in her books makes them all difficult to read (I always need to read fluff after one of her books), but are all beautifully written and wonderful to read.

Under the Jolly Roger by L. A. Meyer - This is the 3rd in a series of young adult books and is also the last book I read in 2009!  The series follows a young girl who is orphaned, lives on the streets, and finally stow aboard a British ship disguised as a boy to join the British Navy.  Although it is a young adult series I'd say that after book 3 it is probably not appropriate for kids younger than 13 or 14.

So there it is, my Year in Books.  Some kids books, some adult books, some mysteries, some chick lit, and a whole lot of fun.  Here's to 2010 and all the books it holds!!