Thursday, February 28, 2002

A day with Catering Man

My sister is having a FIELD day with the pudding story. She's laughing her ASS off at me. A while back, my mom had a carton of milk (school sized, cause she works in a school) hurled at her office, so my sister keeps saying "Got Milk?" to her. Now I'm gonna hear "Got Pudding?" as we drive all the way to Florida together.

I've gotcher puddin' RIIIIIIIGHT HERE!

Seriously though, our family attracts dairy products I guess. Perhaps someone will someday throw cheese at my sister and we'll be the Calcium Trinity. Who knows.

A short entry today. No one threw pudding at me, which is a refreshing change from yesterday.

As emotionally and mentally draining as substitute teaching is, catering prep is physically draining. I made crudite, hummos from SCRATCH, baby (Mr. Catering Man said it was the best hummos he's had in a long time. Yeah baby, yeah!) and I made a great big pita platter, and meatballs for hours d'ourves. Put ham in chafing dishes, so they could be put out and heated... it was fun. I'm wiped out. Totally wiped. I'm so not used to doing physical anything... so this is good for me. It is a good wiped out.

Plus, Mr. Catering Man feeds us while we're working. We can sample that which we are making (hello, hummos? GONE!!! nah. But I did make a dent in the leftovers with some of that pita action). And he runs a tight ship. Sloppy is not in his vocabulary.

I got home right before Jessica and put on some laundry. She met me outside, we threw snow at the dog for a while. I came in to read the mail, and she played the answering machine for me, and brought me a beer.

She's a great gal.

"You looked wiped. I thought you'd like this."

"You are absolutely correct. Thank you."

So I'm off to pick up the boy. I probably won't write anything else later because truthfully, I've got nothin. Zip. So here's a picture to entertain you in your wait for my next appearance, courtesy of my sister's friend Rob. (Thanks for the good laugh today. I needed this reminder of why I don't want to ever highway commute again as long as I live):

Wednesday, February 27, 2002

Karma's a bitch with a gold tooth. And today she brought pudding for snack.

1pm, Teacher's Desk, some elementary school in this state:

I think I jinxed myself with yesterday's entry. A few days ago, didn't I say "Karma's a bitch with a gold tooth." Today, she came to class with Jello Pudding.

The morning went totally great... until snack.

The assistant principal had JUST come in to see me and asked me specifically how this one kid was doing. Yesterday I found him to be taxing, but brilliant and fun. Today he just was surly and didn't want to listen at all.

We had a kid in today who was out yesterday, whom I shall refer to as Kid One. He doesn't mix well with this particular boy, whom shall be known as Kid Two. I was told that the two of them were going to give me problems when I got here yesterday, and when Kid One wasn't here yesterday I was thrilled. The day turned out great.

The two of them got into a disagreement about a Pokemon book. Kid One decided the Kid Two had had the Pokemon book long enough. Kid Two disagreed. They argued about it, and after I broke up the argument once by telling them to settle it and come to a mutually acceptable agreement or I was going to take the book myself, Kid Two FREAKS out.

He grabs his snack, which was a small plastic container of Jello chocolate pudding, and whips it Pedro Martinez style at the whiteboard in the front of the room, about eight feet away, four feet higher than he is tall, and at an angle.

The angle causes the pudding to splatter lengthwise across the whiteboard,

sending pudding




He then runs out of the room screaming down the hall.

Holy mother of God, I'm hit by PUDDING! Good thing this wasn't middle school or I'd've maybe been shot. Who knows. All the other kids were stunned.

One started laughing "Oh man! Look at all that pudding!!!"

Yeah. Look at all that pudding.

A six ounce container of chocolate pudding goes a long, long way. Luckily for me, there was a parent here in the class. She volunteers to work with the slower readers a couple times a week, and was cleaning up from what they were working on. She informed me that this kid has a tendency to run out of school and keep running, so she suggested I get off after him and she'd start cleaning and keep an eye on the class.

Initially, I didn't know what to do, thought he was maybe just in the hallway or something, and my reaction time was really slow. I couldn't imagine what I'd do if he were all the way out the end of the building and sprinting across the field up the road to New Hampshire.

So I went out in the hall, and he was coming out of the bathroom. He started towards me and then turned to run, but I was right there and put a hand on his shoulder. I asked him to sit on the floor in the hall, and I sat too and talked with him about what he did.

I told him there are two things you don't do. The first is you don't fight over a book that belongs to the class -- you share it or the book will disappear. The second is you don't throw pudding.


So he apologized to me. He explained to me that Kid number One (who happens to be another A named kid, too) had just taken the book away and determined for himself that the book was in kid number two's possession too long, since December, and that he'd had it long enough. Sort of a vigilante justice thing.

So the pudding incident just kind of was his only reaction.

The co-teacher came in to get the special reading kids, and the mom helper and I were cleaning up all the pudding. She ended up yoinking Kid Two down to the office so he spent the day in the Assistant Principal's office and I sent worksheets down for him to do, and I brought him his jacket and his backpack, which had pudding all on the inside of it because earlier that day someone had stepped on his jacket and cracked the seal on the jello pudding container inside the damn thing...

The assistant principal commended me with a "I bet you wanted to smear it all over him didn't you?" and a smirk. I told him that I didn't... it was all good. I feel bad for this kid. He's at once the smartest, funniest and sweetest kid, and then WHAM! Fucks you up old school with six ounces of brown gelatinous goo.

I don't think the white board will ever be the same. I had to throw out the Valentine's Day hearts that were pinned up on the side of the board (they took a direct hit). Cleaning up took forever, and it was no help that all the other kids wanted to help. "Mrs. G. There's pudding on the bookcase," says one girl. "Yes, I see it." "Mrs G., there's pudding on your sweater." "No shit sherlock. I know. I'll get to it later." "Mrs. G., do you want me to get you a paper towel?" "No thanks kid."

My quotes are of course not quotes.

I had them sit at their desks with their arms folded and heads down and told them not to say a peep until the mom helper and I were done cleaning. They listened. We then went straight into another activity. I didn't think they weathered it poorly, they were cool. I was cool. All the pudding was clean... except my sweater. I told them I'd clean it while they were at gym where they are now. But I felt the need to get this down right away.

My God.

Second day teaching ever and I'm splattered with chocolate pudding and I didn't call the office immediately when this happened.

I had to give a full report and statement to the school counselor. I gave the kids a worksheet to do while I was out in the hall with her giving my statement. She told me Kid Two's mom would be made to buy me another sweater. Uh, not necessary, it's a cotton sweater. It'll wash clean and perfect. But she said it is school policy.

All the teachers are talking about it right now. The story of how poor Mrs. Geiger was hit by pudding shrapnel. I have to wash my sweater off while I still have about a half hour to myself. This afternoon we have another math thing to do, and a movie to watch. Where'd I put the movie??? I can't find it anywhere. Goddamnit!

Doug had a good laugh at me, or I should say towards me, for the pudding story. He told his boss. I'm sure the story is spreading like a weed through school systems across all of Northeastern Massachusetts.

I'm really wiped out so I'll draw this to a close. I am catering tomorrow, but they asked me to come back to the school and sub again for the same class. I had to turn them down, because I'd agreed to do the catering gig first. Oh well. I have to call the Bible Study lady and let her know I'm catering and won't be going with her... I'm sure she is wondering.

Well. I have beer to drink and I deserve it. I'm going to go see if anyone will rub my back and make me feel less wounded. Stupid pudding incident.

More later.

Tuesday, February 26, 2002

Your the best sudsatot I ever hade, Mrs. G!

There are more kids in this class with names that start with the letter A than I've ever seen in one place in my life. That's gotta be some sort of energy vortex sign.

They were great... there's nothing like the look on a kid's face when they walk into the room and realize they have a sub. Astonishment, surprise, fear... and it took me all day to get all their names straight. But I did it. We started out with some math, then did small reading groups... which went well. Then they went to technology class. And I went over the day's lesson plan. The teacher had everything planned in 45min. Increments, solid chock full packed for the day. I was kind of shocked... but it all went fast and easy.

We did a progressive story after technology, all about a field trip. It got kooky and out of hand. I had them illustrate their favorite place to go on a trip... I let them be as insane and impractical as they wanted. Some kids wanted to go live under the sea with Spongebob Squarepants. Knock yourself out kid. I typed it out for them, and am going to surf the web for some graphics to add into the story and I'll print out copies for them.

I think they'll like it.

I ate lunch in the teachers' room, which I've been told by many is the most toxic room in a school to be in... I found it to be pleasant and was only ignored for about 20 minutes. They talked about growing up and going to Catholic schools where the nuns would smack them with Rosary beads which they swung around like a lasso. They laughed about it. It made my stomach hurt.

After lunch the kids were given a math test to help the district assess not how THEY are doing individually but how the district is doing TEACHING math. Six questions, one half hour. Two or three of the kids completely panicked when they realized it was a test. The smartest little girl in the class, one of the A named kids, with cute electric blue wire glasses and wispy thin blonde hair, choked on the test big time. When she handed it in to me, she only had two answers done, and both answers were wrong, and she was all bent out of shape and explained that she just didn't understand and hated the test and .... I assured her that it was okay, but she went to her desk and put her head down and cried.

This is second grade honey. Not your freshman year at Cornell. It's okay.

I told them all to stand up. To stretch and wiggle their arms. To shake the bad test vibes right out of their systems. I commended them for holding up in the face of a test, and getting it done. I told them they did a great job, and they tried their best but it was over and I didn't want them to let that ruin their day... What's done is done, let's have some fun. The little girl was still bummed out so I told everyone to turn around and tell her that it was okay. One girl got up and hugged her, and she needed it. I didn't feel comfortable just grabbing her and hugging her but I wanted to so badly... it was breaking my heart. I could tell from the minute I met her that she was just so bright and intelligent.... and to see her so defeated by a test that wasn't going to be on her permanent school record or anything.

I did end up giving her a hug when I passed out the next piece of work, a big brochure on teeth and how to take care of them. I had them all take turns reading... some are much better readers and they got frustrated when kids didn't read well so they'd yell out the word that the kid was struggling with. I got after them for that.

After that, the teacher had left a book for me to read to them. They were halfway through it, and I read two chapters. I had them all get these beanbag chairs from the reading corner and bring them to the front of the room. They lounged around... one kid decided he would rather sit at his desk and color and listen, so I let him. I had 17 kids silent for a half hour while I read. I don't think I've EVER had that kind of power. It was amazing... and they were psyched for the reading. They were obedient when it came time to clean. I let them color for 10 minutes instead of five, because they were so damn good. I asked them if they thought today was a good day and they all cheered. And one kid told me he didn't have a good day... he had a GREAT day.

Why thank you.

Another one of the A named girls in the class handed me a picture that she drew. It has me standing in my skirt and sweater in front of the blackboard with her by my side. Above us it says "Your the best sudsatot I ever hade, Mrs. G!"

For a first try, I'd say this was pretty much a successful day.

Pros of the day: Someone left me a great lesson plan. Everything was plotted out. And I only had to remind them once that they wouldn't act badly if I were the REAL teacher, and I wanted to remember today as a good day, not a crummy day, so "Respect Mah Authoritay!"

Cons of the day: Having to wait to go to the bathroom, bringing a lunch (I'd rather get a sub or something someplace...). A few of the kids had definite emotional issues... learning issues... but on the whole, they were a kick ass bunch of kids. And if I was the best sudsatot ever, then they were the best class to sudsatot for... I tell you what. No coffee machine in the classroom to which I can attach my face and begin suckling.

So I go back tomorrow morning. We shall see how I do with them. I have a busy morning and an easy afternoon. So I'll be sure to drink scads of coffee.

And get a very good good gooooooood night's sleep tonight.

Here's the text of the progressive story we made up. The kid names are reduced to an initial.

Progressive Story - A Field Trip of Dreams

Christine: One day our class got to go on a field trip. It was a hot and sunny day.

E: We decided to go to the Portland Head Light.

D: But, instead we went to a space shuttle, and we got on our space suits and we went to the moon. We were known as the first kids who ever went to the moon.

K: After space, we went under water and saw sea creatures.

E: After we went under water, we went to the Museum of Science and slept over.

A: After the Museum of Science, we went to Monster Jam. The driver parked somewhere and Grave Digger crushed it.

A: We called My Dad. He brought his boat to rescue us, and took us tuna fishing.

B: Then we went to Lake Park and all went down the water slide and got ALL Wet!

A: After we went to the NEW bus, the bus driver took a wrong turn and we found ourselves at the Museum of Fine Arts in Boston.

C: Then we went to the Children's Museum.

Christine: By then, we were pretty hungry. And we found our lunches were soaking wet. So we went to E's house, so he could put on dry clothing, and went to my house for a barbecue, and we played with the dog. The principal actually PAID for this trip. So we were very happy.

The End!

"I'm Havin' Trouble Tryin' To Sleep..."

Aaah, Greenday. Gotta love em even if true punks think they are sellouts. I enjoy their softcore punk/pop. Beats the crap out of what mostly passes for popular music these days.

It's a little after Midnight. I am still up but should not be in any way shape or form. As of late, I've been unable to fall asleep until about 2am. I've been getting up by 8am and being up for the day... it isn't like I get up and then pass back out again. Although that sure is damn tempting.

Tomorrow the small second graders of a local school district get to have me for their sub. For two days total...

Guaranteed. I'll make 75 bucks a day to hang out with shorties. I'm bring plenty of Ibuprofen. I only hope I can bring the biggest coffee I can carry. So I've got that tomorrow and Wednesday, and catering on Thursday. On Friday, lunch with S & L at Chez N... more on that later. I've got a busy week. I need to get some damn sleep!

Instead of sleeping, I've been sitting at this PC all damn night. Loading QA corrections to my page, I'm in the middle of November's entries and have to redo the November picture show. It's all messed up. But I've also got other fish to fry ...

I just spent about an hour working on the first page of a site redesign for a friend. She runs the Massachusetts Heart Coalition, and asked me to help her site out. It's on tripod and is a one page site that is just full of info, tiny text... crammed with stuff. So we're looking to move to a better format that is easy for all to read. The site will have some interactivity, some rollovers, and the graphic will be sliced up so the body will be editable and not a big graphic... I think it is too pink. She might too. What do you think?

She lost her newborn son to a heart defect. He was about a week old when he died. Most painful funeral I've ever attended in my life. She has rebounded with a courage and spirit that I can only admire and be amazed by, and they have a lovely little daughter now who is the light and joy of her and her husband's life. It's a story for another time. Don't want to start your morning off with a sad story here. I've done that too many times, and I'm supposed to be (a)musing, damnit!!!

I also inherited a site to design from my friend Naomi the Australian. She had preliminary meetings with a dart store in Revere, but obstacles are preventing her from giving her full attention to it. I told the woman I'd have something for her this Friday... A dart store. Guess I'll go with a bullseye theme? How... obvious. But... that's what she wants and I "aim" to please. Ouch. That was bad.

In better news, my sister called me tonight and asked me to ride with her on her move to Florida. She isnt renting a UHaul or anything, she's taking what she can in the car and will come back for the contents of her room when she has an apartment of her own. She will stay with some friends until she's on her feet and working and has a place, then will worry about the furniture she's leaving at my parents. My husband didn't look too thrilled, but he's the coolest guy and totally didn't bitch and moan about being left with the kids.

The way it looks is I'll go by train to NYC to meet her at my parents', on Wednesday March 20th. We'll get a good night's sleep and drive like lightning (not crash like thunder, thanks Brian Setzer Orchestra!) to F to the L to the A A A.

I'm punchy. Sorry for that last one. I'm kinda giddy about it too. Sistah's are roadtrippin to the southland y'all.

I will probably fly back to New Hampshire from Ft. Lauderdale on the Tuesday night, if not on Monday. Depending on how long Doug can handle the kids alone. And depending on when I can get a flight. That's college break for a lot of schools, so I have to look into getting a ticket poste haste!

Okay. I'm officially tired now. It's been a long day. I took bottles to the redemption center, spent 200 bucks on 2 weeks worth of groceries, did site work, played hotwheels... I hope I'm okay in the morning to put up with 2nd graders. Eeep!

A report on how I survived, or if they survived, follows this entry. Adieu

Sunday, February 24, 2002


think I just figured out how to get across to him -- take his food away. He eats constantly, he's kind of a grazer. This morning he got out of bed, closed my bedroom door so I wouldn't hear him, and started to drag a chair to the kitchen so he could raid the cabinet. Back in the day he'd wake me up. These days, no dice.

So I got up and the minute I opened the door he growled at me like a caged animal. I told him to chill, took the chair and put it back, asked him if he wanted food. He was freaking out because I'd interrupted his racoonesque attempt to pillage my cereal collection, so I sent him to sit in the living room while I made coffee and cereal for both of us.

When I gave him his cereal, he refused to sit in his small green chair, calling it a "stupid sight." So he went to the dining table to get a big chair, which is way too tall for the shorter table upon which he eats when we are in the living room. So I took the chair away... he freaked. I told him he had to sit in the green chair to eat. He continued to freak and tried to sit on the floor, of course that's too low for the table. So I took the food away.

He shaped right up when I told him he could eat if he sat in the chair and stopped acting like a recently rescued savage from the jungles of Africa. He ate nicely, and we all went to church... he behaved wonderfully, and when we got home he played outside by himself and I made lunch. We then cleaned his room, and had a ton of fun playing with hotwheels and matchbox cars once the room was tidy. We set up a ramp to run from his bed to the door, shooting cars out into the kitchen. Good times, goooood times.

He can be such an angel sometimes. All day he was super. I don't know what it is.

Aaron called us tonight and told me that G-love must have shaken out all the evil out from his system while up in Maine. I agreed... some sort of something happened there to change his parapsychological dementia and now he's a normal five year old again. Whew!

Aaron also wanted to tell me that he wasn't at all upset or mad or anything about Geoff's behavior - and said that we're like total family to him and Michelle, and that all was good. Which made me feel so much better. I told him he had a right to treat us like family after this visit and become inhospitable to us in future... just like family. After the events that transpired this trip, holy crap we deserve it! Yesterday I'd also neglected to mention that I drew on his dog... I had a blue watercolor marker, and wanted to punk out his puppy, Gonzo was reposed upon my lap and was all agreeable to me doing it... so I did. I felt kinda bad at first, then did it some more. No idea where the boy gets his evil streak. I told Aaron it was washable and licked my thumb to rub it out... it faded but didn't come all the way out, so he had to was his head. I'm such a tool.

Right now it looks like they'll be joining us for St. Patrick's Day. All sorts of wacky assed adventures should ensue. And we're on our own turf, so if Geoff breaks anything of ours, or pokes holes in it, or whatever, we can deal with it accordingly. It's easy to deal with him at home.

Speaking of reorganizing, at church today the vestry warden B got up and talked for about 15 minutes about the self study and search committee process which has to have members in full by March 10th. Doug is thinking of joining. I think he'd be a great asset to that team. B also went through the list of ministries, outreach programs and services that the church has supported and will continue to support, and he left off the food pantry.

Our pastor and his wife ran a pantry out of the basement, which was a supplier to other pantries in the cities near us, Haverhill and Lawrence. The church is open all day, so they never had open pantry hours. Instead, Margaret would take calls from people in need who were referred to our church, and she'd hand deliver food to the people. She also was able to assess whether or not clothing was needed for the children, and in winter if the place was warm enough, so she could aid in that way also. She also was very astute at figuring out who was bullshitting about their need level. She's good that way. Very sharp. She's been at this in this area for 30 years.

When B didn't mention it, I asked what was up with the pantry. He said no one had volunteered to take that on, but the vestry was keen to keep it going as it has been there for so long, and there are agencies and organizations who rely on our pantry. So after service Doug and I looked at each other, and he said 'Wanna do it?'


So we are taking over management of our food pantry, and I am proposing next week that we do an in house food drive, to replenish the stock, and get things going... it's pretty sparse down there.

I'm psyched to have this to do and look forward to. Doug and I went down after the service and looked at the place, it was pretty cleaned out. I'm going to call Margaret this week and get all her contact info, and get the scoop on how the pantry ran and what the expectations were and are of the place. Plus, it's good for our kids to help out with. We would go down there a lot when large quantities of food would come in, and all the kids would help organize the food in categories, but Jessica and Geoff were really into it. I loved that... and I'm glad to continue with it.

In a final note, Chuck Jones died last night. Elaine from Seinfeld once said to Jerry "Everything you know about classical music you learned from Warner Brothers." Yup. Me too. Kill the Wabbit, Barber of Seville, all the classical piano and orchestra stuff, I learned it all from Bugs, Elmer and Daffy... all penned by Chuck Jones himself. Plus, he did the Grinch... And he had a great sense of humor. The world lost a giant... God speed, and hopefully heaven is full of those little clouds, halos, harps and wings like you used to draw on characters when they ended up floating above...

What else is going on??? That's pretty much it kids. Drop me an email if you come across huge tracts of site that are missing... That will help me during the day tomorrow in correcting the broken links. As always... have a great night.

Saturday, February 23, 2002

Brush With Greatness? Topher Grace

Sigh. Got home around 6:30. Ordered Pizza. Kids watching Samurai Jack on Cartoon Network. Doug in bed. Me, building the picture show which will thrill and amaze you. But it isn't ready yet, so here's an entry to tell you about our adventures first... Dying to tell. Okay get your giddy little celebrity thrill pyjamas on girls, because I think I saw someone famous this trip!!!! Not someone sorta famous, but wicked super famous in MY little book.

We left on Thursday just after noon. The car was so packed up, that I had no place to put the pie I'd made for the A&M clan... so it had to ride between my feet, which in and of itself is sorta odd, but... it was the absolute safest place other than staying in our fridge.

Why do I tell you about the pie? It works its way back into the story.

We stopped for lunch on I-95/Maine Turnpike at Exit 3 (We call it Wayne's Burger King because that's the exit for the Hyde-A-Way where Wayne lives with his clan...).I had to put the pie on the ground beneath the car when we went in, because Kinger would snarf the pie. How gauche of us, but it was the absolute safest place other than me sitting with it in the car.

I was getting nervous about that poor pie being out in the open, imagining that someone might walk by and steal it, or, call the cops saying there was a suspicious package under a car in the lot... it could be a bomb!

So I ran out to check its well being.

On my way back out to the car, I passed a guy on the way in... he was in a hurry, trotting kind of, looking anxious. He




Eric Forman.

Who??? Whatchoo talkin' bout Christine???

You know, Eric Freaking Forman. That 70s Show on FOX. AKA Topher Grace, his real live name. I did a quick inner "EEEP!" and made eye contact and said "Hi, how are ya!?"

He flashed that trademark honest to goodness Topher Grace smile and said "Great! How bout you?" and trotted past as I said "Bmlepgffh. Thanks!"

He had on an orange long sleeved T-shirt much like my all time favorite Abercrombie and Fitch factory second (which I also had on at the same time... how childish am I for noting this...??!!) and black jeans. He is very thin, very tall, his hair wasn't coiffed as it is on show, but it is the right length, the right cut to just be him.

Holy Favorite Sitcom, Batman.

I think I just passed Topher freaking Grace in the parking lot at Burger King in February in Maine!!

Naah. Can't be. No way.

The Pie? Oh. Yeah. The pie was fine. Uh, yeah. fine.

I ran back in and told Doug. He was doubtful. What would Topher Grace be doing driving up the Maine Turnpike in February? Not possible. Isn't he like in College someplace in California or some shit? Naaah. Can't be him.

The seeds of doubt were thus scattered into my little mind and my schoolgirl giddiness was cut back a notch or ten. Okay. Realistically, he's absolutely right. Highly improbable. Can't be him.

So Doug took the boy to the bathroom, Jessie went her way to do likewise, and I ran out to the car to have a clear view of the lot and the doors. the seeds of doubt not choking out the saplings of celebrity stalking, er, looking out for. Not stalking. Yeah. That's it.

Doug and the kids came out and headed towards me, and right behind them was the Topher look-alike or be-exact.

I signalled to Doug that the guy was behind him. He (Doug) glanced over his shoulder and didn't immediately shoot me his "no fucking way" look upon which he has a patent pending. I got the one eyebrow raised and small smirk response.

The Topherganger got into his car -- an 2001 black Lexus SUV with Connecticut plates, and picked up his cell phone and he started his car and quickly got back on his way... He gave us a big wave and flashed that smile as he passed in front of our car, with me standing there mouth agape and Doug grinning. I wanted to hand him the pie. "Here, Topher, this is for you! I thought you might like it instead of someone just hounding your ass for an autograph or calling you "Hey, dumbass!" all the time! Come back! Get your pie! Here's your Piiiiiiiieeeeeee...."

Doug said "I think you're right... I think that really IS him."

So. I hear you asking... why no pictures? The queen of the online journal picture shows doesn't have a picture of the Topherganger.

First of all, thanks to Doug's sowing the seeds of doubt, I wasn't 100% sure it was him. Secondly, he was in a hurry first to pee then to leave. And Finally, I was in shock. I mean, I love this kid. That show is a riot (for those who don't watch it, it really truly is. And shut the hell up Chalmers, it SO is, you dumbass!)

So the opportunity to take the picture wasn't really there. And if it wasn't him, boy wouldn't I just feel like a dumbass. Red Forman'd be calling me a dumbass from here to Kenosha.

Suffice to say, I was giddy as a schoolgirl. I like the guy a lot, would love to see him acting in more roles and really enjoy the character he plays on That 70s Show... I would have loved to have stopped him to ask, but for some reason I just didn't. And you know me. I walk up to people and make them hold a 4 inch tall plastic figure which I pretend is "Grandma" fer chrissake. I am not a shy girl. Just that he looked like he needed to be going quickly, so I didn't pester him.

I'm kicking myself for it now though.

The rest of the ride to A&Ms was celebrity free though... we got there in good time, had a kick ass meatball and sausage spaghetti dinner that could NOT be beat even if it happened to be served by Topher Grace, and got a good night's sleep.

Geoff was up early. We all went to the Bangor Children's Discovery Museum in beautiful Downtown Bangor (which really IS beautiful... I was always told it was a decrepid, falling down, piece of shit city, but really it was nice nice nice, in a northern urban way... not in a Beverly Hills or Sedona kind of way) and had a ham dinner that couldn't be beat.

We bailed on A&M early, as we'd planned, because both of them have huge projects due Monday, Jessie has a project due Monday, and Doug is reading in church Sunday, so we had to be back by tonight in order to get out of their hair and get something done. The time was short but had its moments of lingering fun and kid free time for all of us to hang. We watched that 16 year old big nosed helmet-haired girl win the skating thing and then listened as Bob Costas said at least ten times that Michelle Kwan was entitled to the gold... what a tool he is. Damn. I was happy an American won, I didn't care who, and the Sarah girl with the helmet hair did skate herself one freaking excellent program, and Ms. Kwan and the Russian chick both did make big mistakes and didn't have nearly the amout of energy or enthusiasm in their performances. So we all agreed that while her shrieking and goofy hair bugged the crap out of us, we thought she did a good job. Hurray!

After we left today, A&M passed out. I don't blame them at all. I can't believe I'm still awake, and the only reason my daughter is is because she slept for like three hours in the car on the way home.

One final note, my son is a complete pain in the ass, a disobedient little shit, and an adorable dude all at once. Got about three major punishments, one for snapping one of Aaron's indoor palm trees in HALF after being told repeatedly to keep his hands off of things that weren't his. He got in trouble again when we got home. Aaron had found a pair of kitchen shears IN his bed on Friday afternoon, and even though Michelle insisted Geoff stay out of her room he went in there anyway. Aaron couldn't find any immediate or obvious damage, like sliced pillow cases of holes in the comforter, so we let it slide. We got home and Aaron had left us a message stating that they figured out what Geoff had done.

He'd poked a mess of holes in the ceiling above their bed, right where their eyes would look after waking from their well deserved nap today.

So... he got punished. I think God is punishing me for having the audacity to say that people need to control their kids in public. Karma's a bitch with a gold tooth. I'll leave it at that.

I'm going to work on the picture show, write a letter to Topher Grace and never hear from him, and go to bed.

Wednesday, February 20, 2002


There is nothing wrong with playing 8 hours of Tiger Woods 2000, right?

I mean, not consecutively. In the course of a 24 hour day. Nope. Nothing wrong with that. Doug just played about 8 not quite consecutive hours of a game I bought him last year for Christmas (2000, not xmas 2001) that he has shown little or no interest in. So there's nothing wrong with that either. I'm expecting our PC is going to implode any second now.

It is official.

We're bored.

February and football season is over. Normally there is a ton of snow on the ground, but the yard is simply a muddy mess that one can barely walk upon without squishing in up past the ankle of the muckboot. So outside is no fun either. There is nothing good on TV... except Kids in the Hall, and I can't watch that with the Kids on the Couch... if you catch my drift. I'm bored. Hopelessly, pathetically bored.

My friend Scott's mom used to say to him when he'd complain at a young age that he was bored, "you aren't bored, you're BORING." What a complex to give your kid, eh?

And we are. We are boring. I used to be a dynamic, fun loving, ready to have tons of action and hilarity ensue on a daily basis kinda gal. Now. I'm old, frumpy. Tired. Bored and Boring.

I have gone to bed at or after 2am for the past three nights, and laid about in bed until noon, pretending I was reading a book when really I was asleep. As long as the children weren't strangling one another of raiding the cabinets, I felt relatively happy. But what a crap way to spend your life, no? Two nights ago I cleaned our fishtank out at 1am. Geoff had put a peanut butter chip cookie into the tank, and while I'd swapped the water out that morning there was still some chip-debris in the tank that just wouldn't fish out, and it repolluted the water... so rather than have our last lonely fish die a horrible Reeses Peanut Butter chip induced death, I drained and washed the entire damn thing. Made tons of noise too... but the family didn't wake. How pathetic and life-lacking is that?

Yesterday we packed up the family, dog and all, for a walk on the beach at Plum Island, (by the way, the website to which I link here is their 'official' site, but it is 'officially lame in my opinion) which stradles Newburyport, Newbury, Rowley and Ipswich in its 9 mile long run, but only the northern end of the island is human inhabited. The southern end of the island is the Parker River Wildlife Refuge. It is a summer community which over the years has become a year round community.

We almost bought a house out there when we were house shopping. It was a lease to own set up, I was pregnant with Geoff and it was a 1 bedroom house which we thought was a steal at 80,000 (indeed 6 years ago it sure was). We wanted to buy it and expand it, add two more bedrooms on a second floor. There used to be a house located on the plot beside this cottage, but it had been demolished, so the owners purchased the land and it had a huge yard. Come to find out, you can't expand the footprint of an existing property at all (island bylaws) nor can you add a second story to an existing structure. So, we'd have to make do in a tiny structure with two kids and a rottweiler, and possibly build a second town approved house on the other plot of land, move into it, and raze the existing cottage.

Screw that.

But I digress.

We had intended to take a long walk on the beach with the dog, the kids and ourselves... enjoying the 60 plus degree day it was. There are signs posted all over the place saying "No Dogs Allowed on Beach," so we opted to hang out at the playground and let the kids play. We took the sign seriously... meanwhile about 20 dogs came and went with their owners... I told Doug that I thought it was probably okay if we went for a walk, but he kind of shrugged his shoulders and Meh'ed at me... he walked Kinger around the area where the lighthouse is, and up and down some of the roads.

Geoff and Jess played on the playground they have there, which was crowded and put to fabulous use by islanders and visitors. Geoff made good friends with a kid named Leo, and Leo started this fantasy game where they were all monsters of some sort. Geoff was the Vampire, half bat half human, and sneaky. Leo was the Minotaur, half bull half human and eats people. That's his special trait or skill, I guess. Two other boys were Lizatron, a half lizard half human combo and the last boy was half snake half human. There was a little girl in there too, Leo's sister... I think her name was Kayla. She was a mermaid. We all know what she's half of.

They went to the monster cafe, and placed an order. Kayla played waitress... I played cook. Leo complained that the service was too slow so they left. It was quite funny.

We had a nice time. Geoff did his usual 5 year old meltdown when it came time to leave, as is his wont and as we are accustomed to... but it didn't stop. He kept it up for over an hour.

We had to stop at the market to grab a few things to go on the grill (gotta love the grill) and Geoff insisted on coming in with me. He was horrendous. First bad thing he did was insist on popcorn when I wasn't there to get popcorn. And he spazzed out. I calmed him down and told him that I'd get him a small bag to eat on the way home, but that he had to put the 900 pound bag of Smartfood back. He was irked... but followed my instruction, gave me lip and we proceeded through the store to the produce area. I wanted to get apples to bake an apple pie with so we could take it to A&Ms this weekend on our Northern Hospitality tour. He didn't want an apple pie, he wanted pumpkin. I told him no. He freaked out old school. I tried to give him a time out by having him face the wall, but he picked up an apple and tried to throw it... so, I put my basket down and hauled his ass back to the car where Doug and Jessica were waiting.

You don't screw with me at the market.

So Doug ended up giving him a spanking in the car, because he went APE like we've never seen him do before. To make matters worse, I got chocolate bars for Doug, Jessie and me, and told him he couldn't have any. I wanted him to be clear that his behavior was bad, so the consequences were bad. Doug, Jessie and I ate our chocolate bars and gloated about it.

Well, it didn't go as I planned. It made matters worse. Geoff got punished and sent to his room when we got home... no chocolate, no popcorn, no nothing.

And then he twisted his glasses up.

I mean, you'd think a kid would break down after the chocolate part... but he just keeps going and going.

Eventually he calmed down, insisted he wanted to apologize. We let him out of his room and he was contrite, sorrowed at his circumstance, and repentant. I let him sit on my lap facing me and cuddling, while I played Tiger Woods (okay, I played 8 hours today, and about 7 hours yesterday ... I'm entitled!)

I'm not sure what his temper triggers are. Hungry? perhaps. Angry about leaving the park? certainly. But normally we can get him to understand that he'll eventually come back to that place to play... or to that museum. But man. It was the worst freakout in recorded history.

In the morning we depart for the great northern woods to A&M's home for what I'm billing the "Northern Hospitality Tour, 2002" seeing as the Western PA hospitality tour got buzzkilled. Sleepin' bags, dogs, futons, cold floors, cold beer, tons of snow... I'm so looking forward to it. But unlike other planned trips, such as Equirox, TikiFest, and Lostercaust, I haven't made print invitations in photoshop to self-glorify our gatherings.

It'll take us about 4.5 hours to get there. On the way we're going to stop in Portsmouth to turn a box of used books into used book credit at a great used book store, and we'll meander our way up I-95 to the shores of the mighty Penobscot.

A&M have a beautiful view of the top of Penobscot Bay from their kitchen window... I'll be sure to snap some pictures. Aaron told me he was sitting at the computer in the 2nd bedroom on the top floor and a hawk was in the tree right outside his window one day, watching him. I love that about their place. Views, wildlife... happy.

Alright. This is it for a few days. My house is full of the warm toasty aroma of apple pie and gingerbread candles. My son is snoring softly, such a treat compared to his freaking out... Jessica's learning something useful, and I'm going to shower and then read some P.G. Wodehouse.

Monday, February 18, 2002

Most. Disjointed. Post. Ever.

I think my son just ate a loaf of cinnamon raisin bread (the peppridge farm version). My coffee table, which is his eating table, (it's beat to crap and looks horrid so we let him just eat there) is covered in about a thousand pieces of bread crusts and he's hiding in his room.

That's cool.

Why's it cool? Because we're home here, and he'd never be able to even remotely TAKE a piece of bread from his grandmother's cabinet, not to mention EAT in the livingroom, not to mention make a mess. So I'm cool with it.

One of my long time friends is thinking of starting up a journal and I wish to hell he would. He does this email distribution thing where he summarizes the lives of famous individuals recently relieved of his or her mortal coil. S's summaries are comprised a synopsis of the individual's career, their impact on culture and society as a whole, and personal recollections of that person's impact on his life. He has a rating system from 1 to 10, Mother Theresa being like a 1... me being like an 8.5 should I pass tomorrow (obviously, I'm not famous yet, but plan to be so I can soar up the obit ratings scale)... Aside from this hysterically funny and often touching review system he does, he's a very excellent writer.

I'm gleefully putting pressure on him here... I would so love to open my web stalker on a daily basis for my dose of S's humor and intellect... and I think the world as a whole would love it too. He's a fabulous sketch artist too... so scanning some of his work would make for excellent adornment to his journal. He has long kept a paper journal, I always remember him having some gorgeous cloth bound line-free book by his side at the coffeehouse as he waited on the guests at the door. He would write in a lovely calligraphic style with beautiful thick inked pens that never seemed to bleed through to the other side of the page. I watched him writing along the edge of a woman's torso that he'd sketched, the words softly skirting her breast and hip as he went down the page as adroitly as an artist paints a masterpiece and was jealous of his skill and moved by his love for the words and paper.

I am hoping to coax him into the modern age, to post the thoughts in his head and try and take that same sort of love and adoration to the web... with works that he considers public. I know for a fact that he'd keep a lot to himself, and retain that private realm, but the public consumption materials would be great as a journal. Keep your fingers crossed, dear reader. Hopefully this year there will be a smashing new life for you to savor.

I stayed up until almost 2am. Yesterday I'd mentioned that I was planning on partaking in some adult beverages. I should know better by now. Rum and coke has an interesting impact on me. The rum part mellows me out and makes me all happy, but the coke factor is chock full of caffeine and puts me in a solidly awake state for way too long. Caffeine after 2pm is a no-no for yours truly. Shoulda made something with orange juice instead.

At about 1am, I was watching "Kids in the Hall" on Comedy Central (I love Kids in the Hall, by the way. Greatest Canadian Sketch Comedy shown on American TV ever... simply because we don't get any other Canadian Sketch Comedy. There might be better, but... you know) and I started to get the early warning signs of a migraine. (By the by, if you go to that website I link to, they have a MIDI file of the KITH themesong. It makes me laugh. So damn funny).

I haven't had one in months, and I wasn't even entirely sure I had any medicine, so I ran to the bathroom to make sure I did. Not that I could have done anything if I didn't, but... I took one quickly and avoided a full blown killer migraine. which would have incapacitated me for hours.

The early warning signs for me are visual. I get a frosted edge to my periphery, like looking thorough a car window that hasn't been fully scraped after freezing rain. The center of the window has been scraped, but the edges are caked and shimmering with ice. The frost in my vision kind of shimmers and flashes, like there is sunlight shining through. It's kind of cool, but eventually pulls toward the center of my vision, and then the pain starts.

So when I see the flashing lights, the shimmering, I know to take some medicine and go straight to bed. With my eyes closed I can still see the flashing, but eventually it stops, or I fall asleep, and wake up feeling alright. I'm lucky in that respect.

Geoff was up at 6:30, perhaps earlier. And so I got out of bed to be with him and let Doug sleep in.

Jessica was invited to a friend's house to sleep over last night. This girl is in her class, and over the past several weeks they've become "best friends" and are clingy and silly. Jessica has only had two or three friends in her life, so this is new... to have someone totally different to be friends with.

I miss her when she isn't here. She always keeps me laughing... sometimes I have to tell her to stop, because it gets annoying when she says the same jokes over and over to the same commercials (she likes to rag on TV) and I tell her that a good comedienne keeps her material fresh.

Recently she was invited to a birthday party. I'd met the mom and dad a few times and didn't know that Jessica was particularly close with this little girl. There were ten girls there, and two boy cousins (who don't count) and her little brother, and Jessica was thrilled to be invited. When I picked her up, the mom said Jessica made everyone laugh hysterically, had a running commentary on all the gifts that kept everyone in stitches, and was a big hit with the family. I am amazed sometimes that she doesn't have more friends, or a few closer ones. She seems to be such a well liked kid, so it kind of comes as a surprise to me.

She's also a big spaz. She can't have a phone conversation without it deteriorating to noises and nonsense. I tell her that when she's talking to someone she needs to speak English and not Stupidfartish (she makes farty noises on the phone and I can only imagine that the little girl on the other end is aghast, or farting right along with her. Can't be sure).

So she's over there until at least after lunch. The mom has a doctor's appointment at 11, and the daughter wanted Jessica to come with so they can play together in the waiting room.

We're trying to decide what to do with the vacation time we have. Looks like we may go to Maine. I'm going to call Catering Man because he'd mentioned he needed help with his computer, it is acting up, and he wanted me to take a look at it. So I'll try and schedule that and know what day to go on up there to A&M's House o'Hospitality in the Great Northern Wilderness.

I did want to mention why I haven't mentioned the Olympics here in this journal. You've noticed, haven't you? Well. There is a dearth of Olympics coverage from me because I greatly dislike the way the Olympics are covered by NBC. The fact that they tape everything, water it down, show it after 8pm when the stuff happened hours before, pollute it with "human interest angle" stories about how this particular athlete overcame an addiction to NECCO wafers and marshmallow fluff to become the worlds fastest skeleton racer... the music, the interviews, Katie Couric, Bob Stupid Costas... I can't stand any of it.

When I was a kid, they broadcasted stuff live. I remember my mom had to drag my ass out of bed to watch the Hockey Team play Finland in the MORNING to clinch the gold in 1980.

I remember watching stuff as it happened, live. The girlie-angle tear-jerking stories were few instead of many, the commentators knew sports. I thought that it was exciting and interesting. Now, it is just as interesting as watching Oprah, or the View.

The family got together to mock the opening ceremonies this year. Doug, Jessie and I watched and ragged away. Parts of the presentation were the hoakiest crap I've ever seen (the whole Mormon pioneers thing made me pee my pants laughing, with the Dixie Chicks no less. How are they related. And the way too drawn out Native American thing with stupid Robbie Robertson and his unintelligible native-inspired song. What crap). The "fire within" kids and the whole skating routine... having Katie Couric EXPLAIN every aspect of this performance (which in itself was kind of laughable) made me sick. Shut up for a friggin minute and maybe people will FIGURE OUT what the kid's lantern symbolizes. God. Shut UP!

The puppets and some of the costuming were intense and beautiful... the bison with the inside lighting and the little bison shadows inside was my favorite. The skaters with their eagles heads, and some of the other suits were fabulous. That was the second best part.

The best part though, by far, was the lighting of the torch. Everyone else had gone to bed, the mocking had worn them out, but I was dying to see who would light the flame, sure that my mocking would crescendo in a fevered pitch.

And to my amazement, there they were -- the entire 1980 USA hockey team.

I cried. I wept like a little girl.

There was Mike Eruzione, and Jim Craig -- standing up there, recreating what for me was the most memorable event of my childhood TV viewing and my personal national patriotism apex... the "ragtag" bunch of boys from colleges all over America who overcame all obstacles and all the naysayers. Sigh. Sniff. Weep. Amazing. I was so proud of them then, and so... old now.

My daughter wasn't at all impressed with the footage of their victory. She couldn't understand why it meant so much to me. I never personally viewed the Soviet Union as my worst enemy but I know our nation did, and the strength of their all-but-fully professional hockey team in the face of our inexperienced little boys made everyone sure they'd lose. But they didn't. They were tenacious. They were determined. They were what America has been through history... an in your face, against all odds entity that no one likes deep down and wants to fail. So I loved them.

Since then, most of our national subconscious has been pretty much that of invincibility. We as a nation feel we've earned our top dog status by proving everyone wrong over the last 220 or so years. September 11th brought a lot of that crashing down for us as a nation, and our cockiness in the world arena has been high sticked, but the ref didn't call a penalty.

Will we resume being that cocky entity or will we as a nation wear some humility on our cloaks? Who knows. For me though it was nice to see that bunch of boys, now all grown up, some fat and grey, most still looking pretty young and healthy, reenacting the rushing to the podium that their captain called for. They all earned it together and were reunited there together, hands raised chanting USA! USA!

And it was the best part of the Olympics, thus far.

I haven't watched hardly any of it, but I did catch one medal ceremony. Three USA snowboarders all standing on the gold, silver and bronze platforms, being awarded their prizes, with golden roses in a small nosegay. They were all that kind of cocky 21st century American young male type... one kid had hair like Keanu Reeves in "Bill and Ted's Excellent Adventure." And when he lifted his roses and his hat into the air, he gave his head the same "dude!" kind of shake that Ted became famous (or infamous) for. To see the three of them there, lined up, hats over heart, with the flags artificially held out straight because there was no wind, they made me laugh and smile. They weren't like boys their age 20 some odd years ago. But they were there, and proud, and rather entertaining. But glitzier, more polished... but winners nonetheless.

Today is Presidents' Day. Who is your favorite president? Will you run out and buy a CAR!!!! That's the thing to do today! Isn't it?

I don't really have a favorite or most admired president. FoxNews this morning was doing a talk back segment where people were calling in and I wanted to call and say TAFT!!!! or in honor of They Might Be Giants, James K Polk!!!

All these trailer park rednecks were calling in about how wonderful GWB and Ronnie Regan were. I think GWB has sure proven himself in this first year as an amazing leader, but THE greatest president??? No. Not yet. Not clear. Ronnie? A lot of people are looking back on the Regan Administration with longing and adoration, but I seem to remember it as not being the sunshiny experience most make it out to be. Even as a Republican/Independent type, I can't revise history for myself and think back with gleeful blindness at the early 80s as if they were the Salad Days of this nation. So ... who is your favorite President? Anyway. We're still trying to figure out what to do with the week. I plan on drinking nightly and staying up watching "Kids In The Hall." Why the hell not, right?

Gah! This is the most disjointed entry ever. I just read back over it. I am aghast at my meanderings.

The final thing I did want to mention is I ended up catching some of that Kid Rock/Hank Williams Jr., "CrossRoads" thing on CMT, which I mocked here previously. It was pretty damn good, y'all, and no football was sung about. Kid Country should be Rob's new name. Hell Yeah! He did a great job, and Hank was TOTALLY into performing with him. They did a song, which I guess is a Hank Williams Jr. standard, where he sings if they don't like this or that... they can kiss my ass!!!! And the two of them were yellin' it old school 70s Country. Damn. I enjoyed that. Jessica thought it was funny. Aaah, the classical and cultural Americana education I pass on to my child.

Alright. Time to make the boy lunch (it has taken me the better part of five hours to type this today... having the family here constantly cuts into my 1/2 hour quick slam of the journal entry...) and to talk to Doug about our game plan for the week. Auf Wiedertypen

Sunday, February 17, 2002

No Vacation

We talked extensively about going to Doug's parents to spend a few days this week. It always turns into such a hassle, so now... we aren't going. For many reasons, but chief among them is money.

Doug's parents haven't updated their house to accommodate visitors since both their kids moved out, not sure why... but there is nowhere really for all four of us to stay in their house. We'd have to stay at a hotel, which turns into a 100 buck a night slam.

Luckily Dan was willing to dogsit, otherwise that'd be another 25 bucks a day for Kinger to be looked after. Thank God for him.

We did our taxes, and it looks like we owe a pantload... and as of March 18th I won't be collecting a paycheck as fat as I have been, and God only knows what KIND of a paycheck I'll be collecting after that date... so we talked about it and decided that if they couldn't house us, we couldn't go.

So we are here.

Doug is pissed, because he misses his family. He rarely gets to see anyone there hardly but twice a year, and it just makes him a cranky bear. Especially his grandmothers. Neither of them can travel, so it is our duty to go visit.

And he just wanted to get away for a few days, and unlike most of our friends who think that getting away means getting AWAY from FAMILY, he looks upon our time off as a chance to go be with. My family lives a lot closer, and I know we can pick up the phone and say "hey, we're coming to visit," and it ain't no thang. We're in. But it seems like when we want to go visit there, not only is it a 12 hour drive, but it's a big DEAL and an inconvenience to all parties involved.

He secluded himself in the bedroom for a few hours this afternoon, and is not his usual easy to get along with self, so I'm trying to stay out of his way.

I really can't write further about what I think or feel in regards to our not going, because it isn't only financial. There are other elements in the decision. And I promised myself I wouldn't make it a habit to use the journal to bitch about family relationships, so I won't.

Doug will be back to his normal self sometime in the next 24 hours, and I'm sure we'll find fun things to do with this week upcoming. I just hate having to deal with how he feels, and how I feel, and fucking MONEY will have to not be part of the equation.

Taxes suck major ass this year. We finally got to a place last year where both of us were making decent money. I got a couple raises, which shoved us up a tax bracket, and now we owe a lot more than we ever have. Like 2000 clams. Finally making a little money to feel like we were getting ahead and we are taken to the carpet for our successes.

We have it set up so that we always owe... there's a reason for that. It's our money, we'll pay it in April. Getting a refund is the worst thing you can DO to yourself. You WANT to owe, because that means that your money stayed in your pocket longer, not the governments. In years past, we've always owed about 800 bucks. Never more than a thousand.

When I see people celebrating that they are getting money back, I would love to smack them. Dude, that isn't a gift to you. That is money that you overpaid, that THEY earned interest on, and now they are giving it back to you. The government LOVES to hand you a refund. They profit off your money. You should.

We don't mind paying the taxes, but this year, seeing as I'm not getting paid anything in the future, now we have to scramble to make the change. We have to bank as much out of the next four weeks of big paychecks that I get, slamming as much of it aside as possible, and then we will figure out from March 18th to April 15th how we're going to make the difference.

My happy life.


It is snowing and raining out right now. Mixed bag of precipitation as it were. We're supposed to get about four inches of wet heavy snow overnight. I was looking forward to getting away. Don't want to have to be cooped up here with the kids and the cold and the claustrophobia of the Way Out Inn in wintertime.


Alright, so I officially sound down as hell. And I am to some extent. I was looking forward to seeing my niece, and sister and brother in law, whom I adore. And I love having the time with my inlaws, I love my father in law greatly, and Jessica adores him. Having the kids have some time with their grands, and great grands is very important... But whatever.

Geoff and I went to the market. I was deliberately NOT visiting the market this past week because I wanted to use up all the stuff we had in fridge so nothing would go to waste. So today we literally had next to nothing. I had stuff to make tuna casserole for dinner tonight, and then we were going to light out first thing. So seeing as we're here, I made the trip to market to brave the elements and what I thought was going to be a snowdriven insane mad crowd, but there weren't that many people here. No one seems to be panicking for this 4 inches of snow we may get. What a relief.

Doug is making dinner, and I think he's swigging down some rum-n-cokes... I may just join him in that. Why not. When bummed, pick up a good book, drink a stiff one, and mellow out.

Seeing as I'll be here next week, I will be fighting for PC time with the family. Geoff and his phonics CD rom, Jessica and her Presidential history puzzle game... they are playing nicely together right now, and have been for the past few days. She's been willing to be with him and play the games he wants to play... not sure what her angle is, but they have been getting along swimmingly.

Okay. I'm outta here. More perhaps tomorrow. We shall see.

Friday, February 15, 2002

school vacation week is coming.... Harry Potter.

Geoff is better. Thanks for all those emails checking in. I kept him home yesterday, hence the lack of an entry. It is very hard to sit here and type with him climbing up the back of the chair to sit on the counter next to me to test whether or not I know what things start with.

Start with what letter that is...

"What do Snorlax start with?" he queries.

And then I have to answer "S" and he tells me I'm right.

"What do Snorlax END with, mommy?"

"Um, X."

"Yes. Very good. Now. What Do Zaboomafoo start with?"

And this goes on for hours. I am very very glad he has begun to show an interest in letters and words, but sometimes I need to just not be asked what pokemon or PBS character starts with and ends with what letter. I'd like for him to read them on his own. He's starting to do that... but not quite on his own. And he enjoys the game.

He had a wonderful day yesterday. He had thrown up like crazy on Wednesday night, so we decided to keep him home just in case. He was very happy to be with me, and it is making me feel as if I should go ahead and withdraw him from school for at least one day a week. Doug told me to keep him in, just in case I get a call and an interview and a job. It's easier to keep him in a routine he's used to rather than pull him out, get him used to something else, and then shove him back into it.

He's doing really well in school this past week, except he and the other 10 boys in his age group like to compare penises in the bathroom and talk about their butts. They all think that's pretty damn funny.

Well. Butts ARE funny. 'Tis sad but true. But one of the boys might go home and say someone touched him inappropriately and then a parent might get upset... the way things are these days. The innocence I remember about learning about bodies when little isn't so innocent in some eyes. So his teacher is working on stoping that behavior without making them feel like they are doing something dirty or wrong. Hard balance.

We painted yesterday. We cleaned. We watched PBS and Kids WB. We played the phonics CD that Doug got for Geoff for his birthday. Reader Rabbit -- fun stuff. He can play for hours.

So when I told him he was going to school today he flipped. Yeah. Staying home with me is a ton of fun. Sorry honey. Except today I have mopping, dishes, and laundry to do. I blew all that off yesterday to pamper you. Go to school, play, learn, make things... and have a good time. It's better than helping me sort underwear.

Doug got home from work yesterday, and it being Valentines Day brought nothing chocolate or floral, and received nothing chocolate or floral. Instead, he had received from his school office four passes to the local Amesbury Cinema Pub, and told me that they were showing Harry Potter at 7pm. Would I like to go with the kids and him to enjoy a Valentine's Night out? Heck yeah. So we packed up and went over.

It's been about 9 years since we've been there. The last time we went we saw "The Rock," With Ed Harris, Sean Connery and Nicholas Cage, and I was pregnant with Jessica. They allowed smoking in the theatre, which kind of surprised me, and the place was a thick heavy haze of smoke and I felt sick. Being pregnant and tolerant at the same time didn't bode well.

They've changed the smoking policy without ostracizing smokers (in my mind, smokers might think differently, but...) they have a cool little lounge at the very back of the cinema with a large glass window so you can still see the movie if you need to have a smoke during the show... Very smart. And one can barely smell the smoke. I am sensitive to the smell, so I knew people were in there, show second run movies and independent films, and the seating is pub setting with tables and they use old airplane seats and old diner corner benches with round tables. It's pretty nice. They serve beer and appetizers, and sandwiches, and pizza. All told, our night out was under 30 bucks for us all. And we got in for free with the passes. He's going to score them more often.

Harry Potter was a good movie. I'm still kind of not sure about the whole magic sense of the film. I loved the books and love sci-fi and fantasy, but... the best part was that in the end the kids had to use their wits rather than their magic to foil the traps set for them. They had to THINK hard and figure stuff out. Very smart. I think that the overall message is that magic doesn't solve all your problems, you can't just wave a wand and get your wish. Thinking, deciding, working hard... those things all matter more. I'm not the type of Christian that just wrote off these books or freaked out about them. I think that there were great moral lessons learned, real good and evil battling head to head. For instance -- Draco Malfoy... what a bad seed. And Alan Rickman's portrayal of Professor Snape (perfectly cast...) seemed to be a bad guy (more so in the book than the movie) but turns out he isn't. Very good stuff. What seems, what is... what are expectations. I enjoyed the story greatly. But I can see how some people who can't draw conclusions immediatley write this off as some sort of evil tool. It isn't. No more so than Narnia or LotR.

Geoff fell asleep towards the end of the movie. Curled up in my arms and passed out. It made all the other attendees of the film laugh.

And speaking of Alan Rickman, Doug asked who he was... I told him that he was in Dogma, and Galaxy Quest and ... Die Hard. Doug cracked up and said, "I'm not a common thief, I'm an exceptional thief!"* Aaah yes. Great line. So he knew who he was. Doug is very bad with actors and drawing the connections and knowing what people were in. He'd fail at Six Degrees to Kevin Bacon. So I try and always remember who was in what when I go to a movie because invariably he'll ask. I reminded him that he most recently saw Maggie Smith in Gosford Park, and Robbie Coltrane was in Nuns on the Run with Eric Idle, one of Doug's favorite movies. If someone was in one movie he remembers, it clicks for him. For instance, he hated Dogma, so Alan Rickman's portrayal of Metatron meant nothing to him. I loved him in that role. He was a riot.

(* I looked it up and the exact quote is: "I am an exceptional thief, Mrs. McClane. And since I'm moving up to kidnapping, you should be more polite." He says that after Die Hard's wife calls him a common thief.)

I'm good at this.

Another great line from Die Hard is the one where he touts his classical education: "When Alexander saw the breadth of his domain, he wept for there were no more worlds to conquer." The benefits of a classical education."

What else is new. Oh. As of close of school today my husband, son and daughter are on school vacation week. For many this is an opportunity to go away to fun and exotic places. For us -- it will most likely not. We are facing a lack of money in the coming months with my lay off, unemployment, substitute teaching etc... I had hoped that we'd go somewhere for one overnight at a hotel or something. Then the kids can swim and have a blast.

One of the things that actually bothers me about the public education system in the Commonwealth of Massachusetts is vacations. Seems like the kids always are on vacation. A week off between Christmas and New Years... which they deserve. A week in February. A week in April...

I think that the February vacation isn't necessary, considering the kids stay in school until June 20th these days. What the hell!!!! Take back that fucking week and let my kid out on the 10th or something.

No one should be in school until the end of June.

I hate that!

The February week seems unnecessary. The April week, well, that's just completely essential. Spring. Life. Something fun to do. February -- travel is a pain in the ass. There's nothing to do in this area outdoors unless you ski, and don't get me started on skiing. So I'd much rather not have this week off. But, we get it. So to do something is essential. We shall see what finally ends up as the thing we do.

Well I'm on the phone with my mother in law right now and listening to her tales of woe... meningitis, spinal taps, everyone in Beaver Valley is dying of all sorts of illness so we shouldn't come.


Alright I'm going to go. I have some resumes to send. More later.