Making a List & Checking It Twice

I just overheard a student say, “There’s something about Asians.” Um, yeah. I don’t know what the context is but it’s funny to hear that when kids are supposed to be doing chemistry class work.

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I had a great time this morning. The teacher did not have a first period so for ninety minutes I did this:

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I am making t-shirts for my growing number of second cousins (my cousins’ kids and grandchildren; aka my nieces and nephews) because man, there are so many of them and I’m sure they already have everything.

But they don’t have a tee that says “MY COUSINS ARE MY BFF’S” with (most) of their cousins’ names printed on them as well. Ha! Try returning those t-shirts to Target.

I unwrapped and smashed a couple dozen candy canes. Last year I handed out candy-cane-and-chocolate covered pretzel rods. Yes, the ones that cost two bucks each at bookstores! I don’t like using the chocolate disks from the bakery section; they taste awful. Instead I just melt semi-sweet chocolate chips in the microwave and dip and coat away.

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Yesterday I took the day off and had a playdate. My friend and her kids came over. Our kids played while we sipped specialty coffee from my Keurig. She told me about how her family has stopped the entire rush of extravagant gift-giving, how they have a white-elephant gift exchange amongst the adults, and how their kids draw one name for gift-giving.

My family has done that before and it requires a lot of time, not just to organize but to ensure that everyone actually shows up to exchange gifts and with in-laws, different sides of their families, etc. that’s a lot to juggle.

And so I decided to just stop the worrying. I cannot afford to buy my aunts and uncles things they want and I’m pretty sure they have everything they need. I cannot afford to buy and/or stress over the dozens of cousins’ kids and grandkids and like my aunts and uncles; I’m pretty sure they have everything too.

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I’m bringing back homemade ornaments, framed pictures, and fresh baked goodies for Christmas. I asked my BFF to just come over one day and bake with my children so I can take pictures and make a scrapbook page. I asked my cousin if in lieu of presents I could just have her two boys over for a slumber party, complete with pizza, ornament making, and cookie decorating (although with the dog being sick we may have to wait until after the holidays). I am going to give the items I’ve created for craft fairs but thoughtfully consider whether or not they would actually have use for them beforehand. Styles differ but how could you turn up your nose to a framed photo of thirty of your siblings’ grandchildren and great-grandchildren?

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The NaNoWriMo Redemption (24971)

As I sit here subbing for seniors in a social studies class, I cringe as I hear, “WHERE’S IT AT?”

It has been over two decades since high school but being in Mrs. A’s English class for two years has taught me to laugh and cry whenever I hear a preposition at the end of a sentence.

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And so it has come to this. My concession to NaNoWriMo 2012.

I lost.

I have a million reasons to explain why but they don’t matter. Now I am committed to finishing what I started. I wrote almost 25K words and have just passed the first threshold of the main character’s journey. I would love nothing more than to finish the story.

I have a few sub jobs lined up and part of each period will be actual teaching. But the rest of the period will be spent writing extensive sub notes according to the students.

But according to us, it will be FinDaNoMo!

FINISHING THE DAMN NOVEL MONTH.

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The Tryptophan Triangulation

Hope all of you had a wonderful Thanksgiving!

And now I feel a darkness upon us. For those of you not in the States, I’m talking about Black Friday. America’s craziest shopping day of the year.

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I remember when I was a kid my mom would wake up at 7 in the morning and go shopping the day after Thanksgiving. As a mom myself, I’ve been to quite a few BF sales to get great deals on basics for the kids like pajamas and long-sleeved shirts for a few bucks, not to mention huge discounts on gifts for our growing extended families.

I had no idea how crazy this tradition had become until someone actually died during a Black Friday sale. And then tonight I saw a glimpse of how awful some people can be. I saw a news clip of a dad saying to someone else, “I swear to God if you push my kid I will put a f@cking bullet in you!”

It was caught on tape!

It was not enough to have thousands of retail employees leave Thanksgiving with their loved ones early but now we need hundreds (thousands?) of media people reporting this?

Um, also why are you bringing your kid out in the cold at this late of an hour to go shopping? And why are you modeling this behavior? (Okay, no kid deserves any rough treatment but hello? Why are you bringing your kid? Why? Why? WHY???)

Not the recent presidential election. Not the earthquakes that have rocked the planet. Not Hurricane Sandy. Not closing the achievement gap in schools or even how to fix public schools.

Nope. Shopping.

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After someone died in a trample I started to think, “Okay, if I can’t walk away from my cart at any moment during my shopping, then I am taking this WAY TOO SERIOUSLY.”

And so became my mantra. I went for sport. I went to people watch. Sometimes I’d find a friend to go with and we would just hang out and talk to others in line. Others who weren’t taking it quite so seriously. Most of the people who just grunted in line looked like they would kill you for a good deal on a TV.

Last year a friend and I brought some wine coolers to keep us warm in line. Don’t worry. We weren’t obnoxious or rowdy. We just thought it was more funny than anything.

This year I type from my living room. I have broken a tradition of nearly a decade. I don’t have a sitter but eh, I think I’m over it. Don’t get it twisted. Not judging here. Maybe I’d be out there if my husband were home to watch the kids or if we had some play money.

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I talk a big game about wanting to see and help the world become a better place. Maybe the trio closest to me need to see me put my words into actions, not valuing stuff over everything else, not worrying about whether my friends and family will think their Christmas gifts are “good enough”. Maybe taking this year off from the day’s hustle and bustle will give me the perspective I need. Maybe, just maybe, skipping this year will give us more time for this.

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The Crafty Capacitance

This has been quite a busy weekend. Rain storms kept me from driving to my race last Saturday and honestly driving in the rain would have been far worse than running in it! I felt quite gulty about missing the race but talked it over with my husband who always manages to say what I need to hear.

This weekend was my first craft fair. I had no idea what to expect. I baked three pans of brownies to sell for Saturday, three more for Sunday, and sold out of them by the end of the craft fair. I sold three kinds of brownies: chocolate caramel, mint (made with real Andes creme de menthe candies), and toffee. I don’t have a picture because they ran out too fast. Also, if I took the time to take a picture of some, they might have ended up in my belly.

I prepared these items to sell, priced $2-$10.

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These wreaths took over sixty hours to make, priced $25-30 each.

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I ended up donating one to the craft fair raffle. One of the volunteers was an elderly lady who was so kind to me. I guess you’d have to be to the FOUR-TIME WINNER of the raffle! Anyway, I ended up giving her one on her way out. I sent a friend’s daughter (who was selling her own treats as well) to bring it to her on her way to her car. I was told she was ecstatic. Sixty hours, schmixty hours.

BTW, t’s true! I won four times! I bought six raffle tickets for five dollars and won four times. I’ll have to take a picture of my winnings for a later post because I hear the kids stirring. Almost time for breakfast.

I also painted these wreaths red and glitterfied them. (If “glitterfied” is not a word, then it should be.) One of them sold.

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I only sold a few items and the craft fair ended up costing me more than I actually made. I forgot to figure in the cost of lunch (and um, actually packing snacks and meals), not to mention all of the awesome crafts and treats out there. I bought a large loaf of pumpkin bread for ten bucks. Yes, pretty expensive but it was delicious and I was hoping that it would feed us for a few days.

Wrong.

It fed my kids for a few hours! My mom said that it disappeared fast.

I’m glad I got a slice when I did!

I’m thinking about doing another craft fair at an elementary school and repricing some of the items to sell.

But in the meantime, three kids’ bellies are growling and I am twenty thousand words behind for NaNoWriMo! Think I can catch up? I’ve done it before. Cross your fingers and send me a cyber kick to finish please!

The Eponine Complex

I was not very productive this weekend. The weather has officially moved to sweater status, sometimes even boots and jacket days. I don’t know what it is but cold weather and rain make me very sleepy.

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We put up our Christmas tree but haven’t decorated it yet. I wanted it up before my Lia Sophia jewelry party on Wednesday.

This weekend will be my first craft fair at our church. I will be occupying a small corner of a friend’s booth and I’ll be selling Pinterest-inspired stuff from last year as well as homemade brownies with my son. Some of our proceeds will go back to the church and I hope this can be something our entire family does every year. I don’t know about other crafters but I don’t paint and glue gun and spray for the money though making enough to cover materials is ideal. It’s just a lot of fun, especially when the kids want to do their own project on the side.

Before the craft fair on Saturday I am running a 10K.

I haven’t been running since the last 10K. Um, last month.

I am not nervous about it. I think I will run at a slow pace and try to run the entire six-ish miles without stopping but…

I won’t beat myself up if I have to walk. I just want to finish.

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Sometimes I freak out about what I’ve got scheduled but then I go back to work and somehow everything all gets worked out.

For the last few months, I’ve been thinking about how much I love the performing arts and would love to start bringing our kids to different shows. Did I ever tell you that I once auditioned for Les Miz?

Yep, I did.

Once.

That’s all it took. It only took one shot to let me know that while I may be able to carry a tune, I am no match for a Broadway audition. It only took one shot to realize that I have no future on Broadway. It only took one shot to realize that I would never sing in a theater.

Today I’m subbing for theater. Today I did this.

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I sang. And I was loud. And probably okay.

But I don’t care. I sang in a theater.

As You Wish

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There were only five kids in my second period class. It’s a class full of seniors and most of them went on a field trip to tour a couple of local universities. Two of the kids had permission to assist another teacher.

Three kids.

They dutifully studied for other classes. One student asked if she could watch a movie.

Why not? I thought. But it has to be one of her teacher’s movies.
Continue reading

NaNoWriMo: Day 7 (10,163)

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10:35 am: I’m feeling much better today even though I had a hard time falling asleep last night. This morning, I started a two day sub job for an awesome English teacher.

I wrote four hundred words before lunch, passing the 9K mark. I was feeling pretty good, especially compared to yesterday and the day before. I was thinking about how Mexican food would be delicious for lunch since the teacher’s prep period was right after lunch and I had a couple of hours to myself. After I talked to my cousin’s daughter for a bit (she’s a junior here), I decided against leaving campus and just had a leftover chocolate chip Pop Tart I found on the kitchen counter this morning.

I went downstairs to the faculty restroom and came back…

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To a classroom of students waiting outside my door!

New term, new schedule! So glad something made me stay instead of leaving.

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And now I don’t have a class for last period. What shall I do?

Should I go home and let the dogs out? Should I go to Starbucks and have a delicious creme brulee latte? Should I pick up my kids from my brother’s house early?

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No. I’m just gonna sit in this empty classroom and write.

1:40 pm: 9634 (So close to breaking 10K!)

NaNoWriMo: Day 6 (8940)

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I’m not feeling good.

It’s not because of the election. It’s not because I’m about a thousand words behind today’s goal. I don’t even think I got the flu that R had just before he left.

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I think I’m just sad.

You know, you think it would get easier. Living apart more than together. Routines back to what they were before Daddy got home.

Maybe that’s the sad part. The fact that he comes back into the house and its so effortless to have Daddy around but equally effortless for us to get back to our normal after he leaves.

I don’t want to miss him anymore and I don’t want to drop him off at the airport ever.

Wallowing in self-pity and my NaNoWriMo eating habits DO NOT go hand in hand. I really do try to be mindful of what I am eating simply because I don’t want to be a hypocrite in front of the kids (though having coffee for breakfast while they’re at school is still less than ideal).

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Last year being on Pinterest and actually making stuff brought me so much joy that I looked forward to selling some of these things at our parish’s craft fair… only I have a 10K on the first morning of the craft fair.

Dear NaNoWriMo,

It’s only day six and I am losing my mind. Oh well. It should make for an awesome novel in twenty-four days!

XO

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NaNoWriMo: Day 4 (7837)

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1:24 pm: OMG. Someone tell my kids to be quiet.

My husband R and kids have been playing Minecraft nonstop this weekend.

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Now that he went back to Virginia, they won’t have as grand a time and they’ll stop playing, right? WRONG.

I have a 10K in two weeks that I have neglected to train for. Oops. Maybe I’ll go for a run tomorrow morning. Or maybe I should stop eating crap.

With day four into NaNoWriMo? I don’t see that happening. Perhaps I can slow my chocolate consumption.

Heh heh heh…

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I doubt I will accept a sub job for tomorrow since the youngest, like my husband, has been a bit congested. Best to not accept a job just in case she may need to stay home from school. While I’m at it, I could probably pick up some milk…

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I didn’t realize I caught up yesterday and even pulled ahead. I think I may need a nap. Hmmm… can beds talk because I swear I hear mine calling my name?

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7:59 pm: Two hour nap. Talked to husband who flew into Norfolk safely. Fed the kids leftovers. A 500+ word session on Write Or Die. Ate a dinner that included an assortment of leftover avocado salad and tortilla chips. Had some of these delicious cookies that R and I found at the commissary.

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Um, yes. He and I did eat a whole package of these by ourselves while the kids were at school. We bought a second one to share with the kids. I thought about hoarding them to use while writing but oh, that’s a calorie nightmare that I was able to avoid. Tonight.
Those caramel cookies are DIVINE. If you’ve never had any before, I highly recommend them. Chewy caramel goodness that makes you forget to read how many cookies are in a serving size and how many calories there are in said serving size. Yes, don’t look at those numbers while you enjoy them. I wanted to take a picture of our cookies but– surprise, surprise– they are long gone in our bellies by now. I found this image on Google though.

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Four letters for you: OMFG.

So I’m going to try and write a thousand more words before yawning takes over my evening.

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Good luck to my fellow NaNo-ers! (BTW, I’m going to try to write 11,000 words on Veteran’s Day weekend. Who else is up for the challenge? Military spouse Nano-ers, I’m talking to you!)

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The Faking It Fluctuation

Another two weeks with Daddy have come and gone in the blink of an eye. This morning we were up at five in the morning to take Daddy to the airport again. Thank goodness for Daylight Savings Time or I would be even more useless than I am now.

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We have been busy for the last two weeks, having volunteered for two major church events. I subbed for five days. We had a photo session; the church is preparing a directory for members featuring a free portrait for each family. I wish I could have taken a picture of the kids when they were posing. The boy was totally uninterested and the middle girl was copying the boy but the youngest? The youngest was posing for the camera even before the photographer told us to sit down!

The boy (with notification for his teacher and the office) took a day off to hang out with Daddy. He really needed that one-on-one time. The middle child had an afternoon last Friday with Daddy all to herself. The youngest didn’t take any time off since she’s in kindergarten for only three hours a day.

Last night we went to get pho (Vietnamese soup) and ice cream for dessert but on Monday we picked up the kids right after school. I told them everyone was coming with me to run errands.

“Errands?” The boy practically shouted. “Can’t I go home?”

“Nope,” I said. “And there’s a new shoe store down the road. I want to buy more shoes.”

Ahhh… the groans in the car were deafening.

So we drove to the movie theater and watched the movie they had been waiting weeks to see, Hotel Transylvania.

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We rarely go to the movies. No, wait. R usually is the one who takes the kids to see movies. I don’t mind. It’s their thing so I was pretty excited to go to the movies with them– all five of us together. It was rather fun to sit next to my husband during a movie and hold hands. We snuck in homemade cookies from R’s family which are long gone by now.

Today I had to get a bunch of handouts ready for an elementary kids’ group at church as well as teach Sunday school for kindergarteners.

All was going well until…

1. I realized I was teaching THE SAME LESSON AS LAST WEEK.

and

2. I realized I was missing FIFTY HANDOUTS.

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Honestly, what could I do at that point? Pretty much nothing. No, wait. I owned up to my mistakes (apologized to the director of Sunday school and last week’s teacher who were both really understanding and go-with-the-flow about it; left a message with other teachers in charge of handouts and had my kids finish up what they could).

People around me wonder how I can do what I do without my husband to help. Working, taking care of the kids, volunteering, pets, NaNoWriMo, you name it… I don’t know how I do it either. I guess I have a really great talent for juggling or faking it, at the very least.

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