Countdowns

Sunday, June 26, 2011

Gamer Food

Dear Secret Blogiary,

I haven’t mentioned it before, but…I’m a gamer. I love playing D&D style games.

With previous groups, I would often “entertain” when they were at my house. I loved making snacks and desserts for them. When that group fell violently apart – too many inter-group conflicts and then half the group moved – I decided that the next group, I would not invest so much effort into. It was too expensive and time consuming.

Currently Mister W and I are in a group that is running the latest Pathfinder Adventure Path: Carrion Crown. It is full of the spooky. This current group is near perfect gamer gold: they all bring snacks of their own to share, they are focused on the game and there isn’t a single ounce of party/player angst.

So it was exciting when at the last game session, one of the players suggested that we do a potluck. I heart potlucks! We went with hamburgers, potato salad, chips, drinks, and I got to make the dessert.

I love desserts more than I love potlucks.

I ultimately decided to make Monkey Bread, a pull-apart cake like creation that should probably be considered illegal for the sheer amount of butter used. Biscuits rolled in cinnamon and sugar and drenched in a caramel pecan sauce! Talk about heaven!

But while I was at the grocery store picking out my weekly supply of fruits and veggies, my eye was caught by a gorgeous display of bell peppers. Oh and how they inspired me!

Gamers, I thought need food for energy and not just junks. No crashing and burning for my group. I decided to make a veggie tray with a creamy ranch dip. And oh how delicious it was! First thing I plan on doing in the new place? Start a garden! I need peppers all the time!




  



Clearly more than just peppers went into the platter. The Baby Bella mushrooms were just perfect with the dip and the crisp crunch of the sugar snap peas was delightful!


After gorging ourselves on veggies, which everyone was surprisingly thrilled with, we then tore into the Monkey Bread,




which, according to one gamer is, “of the devil.” That didn’t seem to stop him from eating nearly half of it!

Saturday, June 25, 2011

What She Wants...She Knows She'll Get

Dear Secret Blogiary,

Aside from freaking out about packing up all my junk and then finding a place to stash all the said boxes of junk until Moving Day, I have been making a list of all the things we will need to purchase for our new place.

The list stands thusly and in no particular order:

1. outdoor garbage cans
2. clothes line
3. wheelbarrow
4. bunk beds
5. microwave
6. small dining room table
7. area rugs
8. lawn mower

At this point, that’s all I can figure until we actually get in there and see what else we might have need of.

Now with just under two acres, Mister W and I were quite aware of the amount of yard work we’d be doing and we immediately started figuring a budget to buy a lawn mower which would be a big expense.

He wants a BIG one. A ride on one. A Manly, with a capital M, one. Like this, the John Deere x749:



Me? I’d just prefer something we could afford. Like this self propelled Craftsman.



A few weeks ago, Big Sis and I were killing some time in Sears and wandered into the Lawn and Garden section.

“Let’s look at lawn mowers,” Big Sis said and headed over the display.

She eagerly climbed aboard one of the big John Deere’s and began making load engine noises.
“Really?” I asked.

She smiled. “I like this one!” she said twisting the steering wheel to the left. “And, I could help and I could practice driving at the same time.”

“Ha!” I laughed, “Like I’m gonna let you ever learn how to drive the way you crash grocery carts!” I shook my head and told her to hop off as I walked to the display of push mowers.

“These are a bit more in our price range.” I said looking at the line of shiny red, orange and green mowers.

Big Sis walked over and began playing with a mower. “It has too many things on it, Mom.”

“Hmm, and the ride on ones don't?” I replied looking at a simple, less expensive model, a non self propelled model. I got tired just thinking about pushing it across the lawn.

With a sigh I looked up at Big Sis and indicated that we should go. But then, as we turned to leave, we saw The Mower stashed away in the center of all the other mowers, kind-of hidden against a column.

“Mom!” Big Sis dashed further into the display, practically crawling over another row of push mowers. “This. Is. The. One.”



Following her, I tripped over the wheel of a mower and stumble up next to her.

“It’s beautiful,” I said. “Classic and Classy”

“And it’s totally in our price range,” she said holding up the tag. “Look, it’s a hundred less than that other mower you were ogling.”

“Yes, it is,” I replied, running my hand over the handle.

“You like it.” Big Sis sing-songed softly and then pulled it out to test it. She pushed it back and forth a few times, the blades making a soft click-click whoosh. “Let’s get it now.”

“We need to talk it over with Daddy,” I said.

“But,” She started, then stopped when I gave her The Look. “Fine.” She gave the mower another push then put it back against the column.

We turned to leave, narrowly escaping a salesman who had been circling for some time with another customer.

“You know, Mom,” Big Sis said as we walked out of the store, “we need it for three reasons.”

“Yeah?”

“First, it would be good exercise for us.”

“Uh huh.”

“Second, Little Sis could help without you worrying she’d chop her leg off.”

“Good point.”

“Finally,” Big Sis looked back over her shoulder for a last glimpse of The Mower, “during the Zombie Apocalypse, we’d still be able to mow the lawn and we wouldn’t have to worry about gas.”

Oh, Big Sis! Sometimes you know me far too well.

Thursday, June 23, 2011

I Don't Just Like Them! I Love Them!

Dear Secret Blogiary,

On one of the applications I had to fill out, I had to answer a ten question short response test to gauge my personality and attitudes towards teaching.

1. Why did you become an educator?

Fair enough and easily answered with just a touch of BS babble.

Then I got to question two:

Do you like kids?

Huh. Interesting. How can I possibly answer that without sounding like a lunatic?

This is how I wanted to respond:

Do I like kids? Duh! I enjoy a child now and then; the smaller the better, you know, when they are juicy and tender and mostly uncorrupted by pollutants. Jonathan Swift was definitely on to something. A little seasoning to spice them up a bit, though I guess it depends on my mood – a handful of fresh basil and garlic, you could whip up a tasty Italian dish. And don’t get me started on all the different cuts! But, like lobster, I find that their exorbitant cost only allows me to partake in children as a rare treat.

This is how I actually responded:

Yes.

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

I Hate Playing Waiting Games

Dear Secret Blogiary,

Remember when getting a job meant walking into an establishment and physically, with a pen, filling out an application? Maybe handing over a resume typed on cream-tinged heavy weight paper. Crisp black letters struck stark and bold on paper that you really couldn’t afford, but you bought because wanted to make an impression?

Those days are long behind thanks to technology. Oh, how the internet makes things so easy and then complicates the shit out of them!

After e-applying at all manner of places (not out of choice but out of necessity as that is how the company wants it) I play a waiting game, checking my email hourly, just in case one of the HR people deems me worthy to contact.

I can recall each time I have applied for a job, shaking hands with the manager or owner, feeling confident that while I might not get the job, at least I gave it my best and showed them who I was. Now, I can only hope that the few smackerals of bytes I typed into text boxes and the few drop-down menus I made a choice on were the right ones.

And the real kicker is that back in the day potential employers would at least call you to let you know if you didn’t get the job. (Do I really sound like I’m seventy? Because every time I use that phase I imagine a grandma’s wavering high pitched squeak and a determined finger wagging.) According to the few people that have regaled me with job-hunting tales of woe it is rare indeed for an employer to call with a “thanks, but no thanks.”

What happened to common courtesy? What happened to verbal communication?

Oh yeah, the—ooh, I’ve got mail!

Sigh.

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

It's Like Camping Without All The S'Mores!

Dear Secret Blogiary,

Florida is once again on fire and has been for sometime. With all the smoke in the air, we have good days and bad depending on wind direction. Today is a bad one. This morning when I went out with the dog, I let her do her business and then instead of walking, we came right back inside.




That is not haze or fog in my 'hood. That is the heavy smoke that rolled into the area from the Honey-Prairie fire and many others making the air quality unsafe. 

I love "camp fire" smell, it is one of the best parts of camping it brings about a craving for s'mores and flashlight tag - but this borders on the ridiculous!

One might even wonder if it ever acceptable to wish and hope for a tropical storm to rage across the region!

Good-bye Carl Freedman.

Dear Secret Blogiary,

Many years ago when I was in college, I was required to take a “senior seminar” class in order to graduate. Beyond any hope, I found myself taking, with my BFF Lindsey, the senior seminar to top all senior seminars: Science Fiction and Fantasy in Literature.

Thrilled to be taking such a cool sounding class, I pushed down feelings of uncertainty about the professor. I had taken classes with Dr. – before and I was never fully impressed. Oh, she knew her material, but I always felt like she threw things at us on the cuff, never really planning out anything. And while as a teacher I can say some of my best teaching days were those when I taught on the fly, I can also say, I do much better when I have a plan and modify it as I go if needed.

I might not have liked her classes, but there was no way I was going to pass up the chance for a senior seminar class that actually focused on my favorite form of literature.

Enter the stack of books for this class:







The class itself was about what I expected. “Exploring” the books together, no real plans, just a touchy-feely haphazard trip through the semester. The fun was taking it with BFF Lindsey and a few other friends. But it was the book by Carl Freedman that made the class so intriguing.

We tore the book apart ridiculing Freedman ever step of the way. I scrawled scathing comments in the margins, wasted tubes of highlighters on each page and referenced other books and authors who had said it better. BFF Lindsey and I would compare our comments after each assigned reading. Of course, being a college student, I knew everything and was quite high and mighty in my arrogance and superiority and I had no problem discuss Freedman’s flaws in class.

Fast forward nearly ten years and Carl Freedman is still sitting on my bookcase. Proudly displayed among my other college library: Shakespeare, Chaucer and Milton, thick English Lit books, thin religious tomes, Pamela and Wuthering Heights, etc. I’ve not given these books a second glance since putting them one the shelf and swiping them with an occasional dusting cloth.

With the move upcoming, I’ve had to reconsider my priorities and really look at my books with a critical eye. Prior to this move I had upwards of nearly two thousand books in my house. When I by a book, I make a commitment. I offer the book a forever home, making promises that up until this year I have kept.

Now, books have to go. There isn’t any other choice. I have too many and will soon be in a house that cannot hold them. Tough decisions had to be made.

I started with three piles in front of my bookcase: Keep, Donate, and Undecided.

It was easy at first. All the novels I read once and knew I would never read again quickly went to the Donate pile. I hesitated over my stack of Christopher Moore books. The only one I reread is The Gospel According to Biff…the rest found there way into the donate pile. Keep was also easy, philosophy anything stayed, the Riverside Shakespeare? Keep. Milton? Keep. And on it went until I got to Carl Freedman.

Carl Freedman spent two days in the Undecided pile along with the rest of the Senior Seminar books, a stack of Templar Histories, and some literature anthologies. At one point, Freedman even went back on the shelf, I was so torn. But in the end, it was Mister W who set the stage for a good-bye.

Mister: So…book packing seems to have stalled out a bit.

Me: Yeah…I’m having some separation issues.

Mister: Need help?

Me: NO!! I mean, no, honey, thank you, I do not need you to throw out all of my books.

Mister: Do you need some advice?

Me: (sigh) Sure, honey.

Mister: You are showing a tendency towards hoarding—

Me: WHAT?

Mister: Let me finish. You have the tendency, you know you do, and you get it from your Dad. For the most part, you have it in check except when it comes to your books and your crafts. Everything else you have no trouble parting with.

Me: .... And?

Mister: If you know that you are never going to read the books again…then—

Me: Yeah…

Nothing gets me motivated more than being compared to my father’s hoarding.

So, good-bye, Carl Freedman.

I will keep all my fond memories of you, but it is better that we make this a clean a break as possible. I give you, reluctantly, to the local library along with your shelf-mates.

Thursday, May 19, 2011

Because I Suck At The Blogging, That's Why!

Dear Secret Blogiary,

I admit quite readily, that I suck at keeping things up to date. I still have a Micheal Phelps calendar on my wall from 2009 open to January. I never flipped to page to see the next awesome Micheal Phelps photo. Never.

In any case, I have some good excuses umm, reasons - yeah, reasons - good reasons for not posting.

First, I'm boring. I haven't done much. Okay, really I have actually been doing a lot. But most of it is all just "regular" stuff - playing with The Girls, doing laundry, procrastinating.

Second, I am stressed about the whole stupid house situation, dejunking and packing. We found a nice house to rent and the move is on (have I mentioned this yet?).

Third, I am scouring and applying for jobs. I don't want to change jobs because of the economy but I also don't want the job I have. What a conundrum. With the move upcoming, I need something though. Once we move, there is no way that I will be able to commute to work! I'll be working to pay my gas bill!

Fourth, surviving the last weeks of school and trying to maintain my composure. And truly, surviving the last few weeks when the students have shut down because they took the FCAT and clearly have nothing more to learn takes a lot out of a person!

Fifth and quite honestly the most important reason, I have actually been quite diligently researching and planning for a story.

I am going to try a June NaNoWriMo (right, 'cause I need to stress about more stuff) and although NaNo is about a novel in a month, I am not going to rush too much on this one. I have some heavy hitting science research to do so the plot doesn't end up like a bad SyFy movie.

And let me just say that having to resort to the research librarian because I can't find an obscure text about 18th century farming techniques in Florida is slightly awkward.

"So, are you doing a paper?" He asks.

"Um...not exactly, just researching." I reply.

"For...fun?" He asks, one eyebrow popping up into a near perfect arch.

Seriously! Why can everyone else do the Spock eyebrow?

"Well, actually, I need it for a story."

"Oh," he says and I get the feeling he is actually disappointed. "So you're a writer?"

"Yes." I say my face disappearing into a Farmer's Almanac. "Do you think you can get the book about farm tools?"

"Sure," he says, "I'll have to put a request in for it."

I nod. "Thanks," and turn back to the shelves.

He was totally mocking me. I know it. Snarking almost.

So that's where I am. Counting down the last few days of the school year. Searching for a new job. Scribbling notes. Packing. Reading. Plotting.

Breathing. Just breathing.

Sunday, May 8, 2011

Open Letter to My Family

Dear Secret Blogiary,

Dear Family Member(s),

It has come to my attention that you*

A) still think I am a child
B) think I am an idiot
C) think maybe I was dropped on my head too many times to count
D) require constant supervision
E) have asked repeatedly for your advice
F) make rash emotionally-based decisions

While I didn’t intend for this to be a pop quiz, clearly, I need to ascertain your poor opinion of me before I reply to your increasingly emotional demands on my person.

Please let me begin with a few minor and simple observations:

1) While I may be the youngest, I am by no means a child. If you might recall at last birthday count I was pushing well into my mid-thirties. Plus, if you will kindly remember, I do not live at home.
2) Again, although I am the youngest, I actually have quite a bit of brains at my disposal. In fact, I am pretty sure that at birth, I had the same amount of brains as everyone else.
3) According to family legend, I was not actually the one dropped on my head.
4) I will readily admit, as a child if not supervised I tended to get into things, however, as a grown-up, I have no trouble getting into and then cleaning up my own things.
5) Point in fact, I do not ever ask for advice from family for the simple fact that you are family and therefore emotionally involved and I cannot rely on your advice being objective. This was true as a child and teenager, it is still true now.
6) While I can be emotional I don’t believe I have ever as a teenager or adult made a decision rashly – I may have made emotional decisions (clearly I married Mister W and there was a great deal of emotion in that) but rash? No.

So let’s review, just because I don’t talk to you about my life or major decisions that have no bearing on you or your life whatsoever does not mean that I do not think about my choices before acting on them. In fact, you might want to make a note about this, but I constantly think about my decisions and sort-of obsess over them because I want to look at all options, all sides, in every corner and under every rock before going through with a plan because guess what?

I was fucking raised to think before I act!! To gather all the information so that I could make a fucking well-informed decision.

In addition, I often do not ask you advice, not because I don’t want it, but because having lived my whole life knowing you, I know what you will say. I’ve paid attention through the years, watched the mistakes you’ve made and catalogued them deep in the clutter-filled recesses of my grey matter. I know most of the time you force give your advice because you care. Thank you, but unless I ask, please don't. Since before I can remember, I've tried very hard not to give unsolicited advice. I kept quiet during times when I thought you were doing something wrong. I ask for the same courtesy.

Also, when I walk away, let me go, especially if you are starting to raise your voice and/or cry. Don’t grab my arm and make ultimatums. I am walking away so that you or I don’t say something in an emotionally charged conversation that we will both regret. Remember, I think before I act, but sometimes you forget.

Finally, I don’t claim to not make mistakes. Mistakes and failure happen. I get that. I've made plenty. As a parent, I understand that if I can prevent my child from making a mistake, I should want to. But then how does one learn? I try to live by the philosophy: A smart person learns from their mistakes. A wise person learns from the mistakes of others.

A mistake can be a great motivational factor, a great learning tool and sometimes, a big mistake can result in the best possible consequence. Remember, that time when I got knocked up and according to some I “did it on purpose?” Mistake it might have been, but if we hadn’t made it, Mister W and I would not have our Big Sis!

So, should our choices result in an unforeseen and potentially rotten consequences, we’ll roll with it because that’s how we are. And if I talk about it or not, take comfort that just because I am silent, does not mean my brain is taking the night off.

Please stop trying to make me feel like shit because you dislike that I am not including you in a decision that affects only Mister W, The Girls and me. Stop accusing me of not making an effort to find another way. Just, for fuck’s sake, stop.


Sincerely,

Leigh

* For the remainder of this letter the singular ‘you’ shall refer to the plural ‘you all’ ‘all ya’ll’ or ‘youse guys’

Sunday, April 10, 2011

Reality: 1, Hopes: Zilch. Oh Reality You Trounce Me Again!

Dear Secret Blogiary,

Clearly, I have been spoiled by my expansive 1,700 square feet of living space. By bedrooms that are like vast caverns. By kitchens that three or more people can be in at one time.

Spoiled. I admit it.

The apartment I looked at with its supposed 1,400 square feet was such a disappointment. Everything was squashed and dark. The layout was long and narrow, dark and cramped. The only room that wasn’t was the dining room. The bedrooms barely fit the bed and dresser (yes it was still furnished – the current tenant was not yet moved out). The walls were dingy and I was told that the carpets would be cleaned but the owner was not going to repaint. Ick.

I tried to think positively about it. Remember, I told myself, location and price, both of with are good. Except…

When I called Mister W to let him know about it, he asked if it was a place that I could live with for the long term. And I hesitated just a second before I answered, “I guess.”

“Well, that’s that,” Mister W said.

“What?” I asked.

“You paused first. It won’t work. You won’t be happy with it.” He said.

“I-”

“Honey,” he said, “Just keep looking when you get home. We’ll find something.” He reassured.

“But-” I protested.

“Location and price aren’t worth you being unhappy.”

It shouldn’t surprise me anymore, but I am constantly amazed at how well he knows and tolerates me.

Spoiled. That’s what I am.

UPDATE: Went with Mister W to look at another apartment today in the neighborhood next to the one I looked at alone. Much, much nicer. Slightly bigger. And we decided to go ahead and put in an application for it. Crossing my fingers and holding my breath.

Friday, April 8, 2011

Apartment Hunting

Dear Secret Blogiary,

I am not ready to move just yet…But I have an appointment tomorrow to look at an apartment.

Once Mister W and I decided that keeping this house was not worth our sanity or our marriage we knew that it would only be a matter of time before we would have to move. We thought that we would wait, though, until we actually got a foreclosure notice. That was the plan. And in the interim we would work diligently at paying off as much debt as possible.

This apartment though is absolutely perfect in location, size and price. It was an opportunity that we could not let pass us by without at least trying to get it.

Ideally the plan for next year is for me to work from home, home school The Girls and focus on writing. For that to happen we needed to reduce our living expenses to a single income: Mister W’s. We talked about trying to go to a single car household as well and since I wouldn’t be driving to work, I was okay with that.

This apartment is less than a mile from Mister W’s work (read that as walking distance) which is so, so, so perfect. Because it means that we could go to a single car AND I wouldn’t feel trapped at the house because Mister W had the car all day. Plus, it is close to potential part time jobs for me if the whole “work at home” thing doesn’t pan out well.

It is a bit smaller than what we currently have, 1,400 square feet versus 1,700 square feet, but we have 3 full baths and the master one is freaking HUGE (really unnecessarily large) with a closet to match and the apartment only has 2.5. So I figure I am losing a master bath and master closet sized space. I can live with that.

I am a teensy bit concerned about the credit check though. I plan on bringing copies of our W2s and a current bank statement. And I plan on being completely upfront with the whole foreclosure thing.

So I am hopeful.

Hopeful that it is as nice as it is in the pictures.

Hopeful that if it is as nice then our credit score doesn’t take us completely out of consideration.

Hopeful. Just hopeful.

And also, kind-of hungry.

Wednesday, April 6, 2011

WWIJD or What Would Indiana Jones Do?

Dear Secret Blogiary,

Sometimes it scares me how little my students know. I have to remind myself that they are only 13-14 years old and they haven’t been exposed to much in the way of culture.

“Mrs. W.?” Student J asked during the wind down of the lesson. “Can I ask you a question?”

“Does it have to do with the lesson?” I ask J trying to keep the exasperation out of my tone. J is notorious for asking questions that while interesting have nothing to do with the lesson or my content area.

“Kind-of,” he replies while shaking his head.

“Okay, Ladies and Gentlemen, go ahead and start reading the poem.” I sit down next to J. “Go ahead,” I say.

“Did you go to college for this?”

“This being…?”

“Language Arts…poetry…you know, this.” He gestures with his hands around the room.

“Yes,” I tell him. “My major was English. I love words.”

“Oh.” He says, then “But what about teaching? When you were in college is this what you wanted to do?”

“Oh. No!” I exclaim. “I didn’t even think about teaching until after college.”

“What did you want to be then?” J asks leaning forward on his desk, the poem he is supposed to be reading forgotten.

“Archeologist,” I say. “Like Indiana Jones.”

J stares at me for a few seconds. “Oh! You mean like the movie?”

I nod, smile and point at his book. He looks back at the poem for a minute but then as I am about stand up to move on to another group of students he looks back at me.

“Why didn’t you become an archeologist?” he asks quietly.

“No more Nazis.” I tell him.

“Oh,” J says, “What are those?”

Monday, April 4, 2011

That man is clearly not my Father as I am sure he has been replaced by a Pod Person.

Dear Secret Blogiary,

Dad called me back tonight concerned about how my day went and if I “rocked any boats.”

“Did you behave?” Dad asks.

“What? Are you kidding?” I reply. "Am I five?"

“Well, I know you were a bit upset.”

“Yeah. But I am a teacher and I teach.” I say pulling the phone from my ear and sticking my tongue out at it.

“So…What did you teach today?” He asks.

“Jeez, Dad! What am I? Ten?” I say.

"Come on, Teacher. What did you teach?" He cajoles.

“Fine." I say rolling my eyes wishing we were Skyping so he could clearly see my sass. "I taught the kids how to construct a meth lab in their closet so they could earn money to buy some pencils.” I pause. "Cause, you know, they never have supplies."

“Huh. Meth lab? That’s good. Teach them a skill they can use! I hear meth can bring in a lot of money.”

"Um...yeah. I guess. Depending on the neighborhood, I imagine." I say slowly, I am talking to my Dad, right?

"Anything else?" Dad asks. "Did meth labs take up the full 90 minutes?"

“Yeah." I reply. "You know, I’m tired of teaching stupid shit like spelling and reading. Tomorrow, I’m going to teach them how to cut powdered sugar in with their coke to increase supply and profits.”

“That’s a good plan, Honey, just, you know…don’t rock the boat too much, okay?”

“So you think I cut the lesson on IEDs?”

My dad snarks softly into the phone. "You know, they tap phones."

"Seriously, Dad? Now you're worried about illegal phone tapping?"

"Well, could be."

Perspective Is A Wonderful Tool

Dear Secret Blogiary,

My dad called me this morning to check in (I am still not sure if it is for my benefit or his) and we got to talking about work. I told him about the evaluation and when he asked me if I was upset, I paused and had to really think about that question. Am I upset about the evaluation or am I more upset about what I think it means?

And as I was talking to Dad, I realized that I am not upset about the evaluation. I am angry about what it represents. Essentially, as I said before I will be hard pressed to get a job in education again. And really, the more I thought about this, the more I realized that I was okay with it. Because the more I thought about it the more I realized that it isn't teaching I have a problem with, it's the students.

I can teach. I can teach well. But my tolerance for kids is shit. I refuse to tolerate belligerant and vile teenage antics. I don’t want to deal with hormonal teenagers rage about the unfairness of having to learn about grammar or why they need to understand how to construct a sentence. I don’t have any sympathy for students who come into my classroom with some kind of sob story about why they don’t have their work. Not doing it is one thing. Trying to bullshit me into believing a story about why they don’t have it something else entirely. I never BS’d my teachers. If I didn’t do an assignment, I owned up to it and took the consequences. But then I was also raised by a woman who demanded honesty and all times.

The only time I ever did not have an assignment finished and tried to get out of it was in college and I had just had emergency gallbladder surgery. The professor’s response: Sorry about that. Yup. Surgery does indeed suck. The paper is still due on Tuesday because you knew about it a month ago.

I turned it in on time and got my first B ever in this particular professor’s class.

It occurred to me today, after a week’s distance between the aforementioned yearly evaluation and my subsequent post about it, that I was awful whiny about it. That isn’t who I am. Well, okay, I do whine a bit on occasion, but in this instance, I am better than that.

So, back to work today, with a smile even, because regardless of what others might say, I know that I am doing my job to the best of my ability. And I take pride in that.

As for the evaluation? One piece of paper does not define who I am as a person. And as for what the future holds? Well, in the immortal words of Tom Petty:

It’s time to move on. It’s time to get going. What lies ahead, I have no way of knowing. But under my feet, Baby, grass is growing. Yeah, it’s time to move on, time to get going.

And I am okay with that.

Sunday, April 3, 2011

I Blame Chili's and Their Stupid Good Food

Dear Secret Blogiary,


Mister W. and I do not often get date nights. Hell, between his schedule and The Girls, it isn’t often we get any type of quiet alone time. But we try.

Tonight, out of some random act of kindness, Mom took The Girls for a sleepover. My mind immediately began racing through various naughty things Mister W. and I could partake in.

Oh…The plans I made while waiting for Mister W. to finally get home. And it all started with food. You see, I have long since discovered that, although it is an Old Wive’s Tale, the way to Mister’s heart is to bypass it altogether and focus on the stomach. Mister Q. loves his food. Loves. So it was with great pleasure that I remembered an awesome Christmas present we had yet to use: A gift card to Chili’s.

I assaulted Mister W. as he walked through the door all but tearing off his shirt and shoved him into the shower. As he soaped up I told him of my plans and with a grumble from his stomach he readily agreed that it was a fine plan.

Chili’s was slow, odd for a Saturday evening, but it was nice to get a table without having to wait thirty minutes. Sliding into the booth, Dreamy Waiter took our drink order: Sweet Tea for me (I was driving) and Crown on the Rocks for Mister W.
Normally we skip the appetizers because I never finsish my dinner when we have a started, but Mister W. was Hungry and I just couldn’t resist the southwestern egg rolls.

Big Mistake.
Hot, crispy, just a touch of spice, dipped in that avocado-ranch dressing. Divine. And did I mention hot? Sort of like a lava flow in your mouth except instead of lava it is the skin from the roof of your mouth melting and cascading over your tongue.

I survived. Barely. Thank the sweet tea deity that Dreamy Waiter had just brought me a refill. I guzzled half of it down and suck on ice cubes while waiting for dinner to arrive.

Fajitas all around for dinner; me, the trio, Mister W. the buffalo chicken. Ah! but the meal was so good. And it was nice to be out of the house, eating food that I didn’t have to cook, with someone who I occasionally like to spend time with.

We talked in quiet voices about the plans for the rest of the evening and I am sure that my face was warm not because of the spicy food but because…

But then, poor planning struck. As it so often happens (because every single time we have a date night this is how it ends up) we eat too much and waddle back to the house, bemoaning all the food, as good as it was.

We sit down on the couch to let our dinner settle.

We turn the T.V. on (really haven’t we seen this episode of Mythbusters 5,000 times?).

Mister W. yawns. I rub my eyes.

I lie down and put my head in his lap. His stomach burbles in protest. I sit back up.

We look at each other.

We laugh and shake our heads.

“Every single time,” Mister W. says.

“Yup.”

“Maybe in the morning? Before the girls come home?” Mister W. asks.

"I do like morning sex," I say.

Mister W. stumbles off to bed.

And I get sucked into watching a SyFy (why do they spell it like that?) mini-movie, Meteor, "starring" Jason Alexander.

I blame you, Chili’s.

Friday, April 1, 2011

Out of the Loop

Dear Secret Blogiary,

It was way past my bedtime. I could hear muffled chatter from downstairs and occasional laughter. I lay in bed trying to identify the laughs by pitch and tone. Clearly, my brother’s laugh was deep, while my mom “tee-heed.” And for the life of me I knew, just knew, I was missing out on the single most important thing in my life!

It was the same thing every night. I would get to watch Jeopardy then maybe Punky Brewster, Family Ties or The Facts of Life then I was shuffled off to bed. But I knew, after my story and getting tucked in, that Other Stuff was going on right down at the bottom of the stairs.

Many a time I would, with as much stealth as an 8 year old could muster, sneak down the stairs to see what was going on. I managed to watch snippets of Knight Rider, bits of the A-Team, almost an hour of Ice Pirates. But without fail, I would eventually get caught and get sent back to bed.

Mom walks me back upstairs and watches as I climb into bed again.

"Why do you do this every night?" she asks as I lay down.

"Cause." I say yawning, "I don't want to miss it."

She shakes her head, tucks the blanket up around my shoulders, and leans down to kiss my forehead. 

"You are not missing out on anything, dear, we are just watching T.V."

I close my eyes as she walks out of the room. She is part of the conspiracy, I think before giving in to sleep.

And it is moments like this that I feel like I am missing out on something. Something BIG. All because of my unwillingness to embrace current trends and technologies.

It isn’t that I dislike technology; it's just that it is too much to keep up with.

I miss my rotary dial phone.
I miss the Atari.
I miss news just at 6 and 11.

And I am only 34.

I was fine with dial-up until Mister W. wanted cable back and Comcast (the Devils that they are) offered a triple pack that was cheap.

My prepaid cell phone does one thing.
My mp3 player only plays music.

I never jumped on the MySpace wagon.

I have failed at Facebook. I only have about 60 friends and they are mostly family (my nephew has over 300! How can you even know that many people?) Honestly, I did have more at one point, but they were all people from high school that I never talked to in high school to begin with so I unfriended them. Harsh, right?

Social media is not something I have gotten the hang of. And so when people on other blogs talk about Twitter and the Four Square, I feel, well, out of the loop. Missing something.

Far cooler people than I utilize Twitter for utter awesomeness. The Bloggess, for instance, is currently campaigning for Nathan Fillion to send her a picture of him holding twine. Sexily. She'll do it too, as she has magical powers.

I can’t compete at that level. I don’t even want to. It would be hilarious to follow though.

BUT (and you knew this was coming right?) The point of Twitter, updating your life status, seems rather silly to me. In extreme cases, as in say overthrowing the government, sure, then I guess Twitter would be a blessing to have. But in my very small world, I don’t see the point. What exactly am I missing out on?

The other day, I went out for ice cream with the Girls. Unusually warm and balmy, we opted to sit outside. Across the sidewalk from us, also enjoying their ice cream, sat two girls, probably in their very early twenties. Clearly, they had come out together to hang out but neither of them looked at the other. They weren’t talking. They weren’t giggling or gossiping. They were on their cell phones, texting, browsing the internet, Tweeting maybe?

And I see this everywhere.

I may be old fashioned. I like old school: Old school music, old school technology, old school if-you-can’t-reach-me-leave-a-message-at-the-beep style of living. But isn’t there going to be a point, where technology for its own sake is going to go just a bit too far? I’m not talking Matrix conspiracies or protesting to stop progress, but as a teacher, I do see first hand where this is going. I have students who balk at reading a short story because it is too long, students who can’t seem to get past “text writing” in their formal essays. I don’t want to be Chicken Little nor do I claim to have studies to back it up (not yet anyhow but I am totally going to Google it), but clearly (to me at least) technology is becoming a problem.
Whoa! Where did this soapbox come from? I’ll stop there. I started this post because I felt like I was missing something. Now, I realize that I am.

The 80’s.

Clearly, I need to step up my “going Amish” plan. But first I need to check to see if Nathan sent that picture yet.

Sunday, March 27, 2011

Unsatisfactory?

Dear Secret Blogiary,

It turns out, I do secretly care. I care about my stupid job that makes me miserable. I care what I accomplish in my classroom. I care about making sure that the students get the most from me that I can give during the year. I care about the connection I make with my kids. I care about doing a good job despite the fact that I hate it.

So it came as a major blow to see my final yearly evaluation on Friday. It had two categories that were dinged.

One I knew about: professional behavior. Apparently it is unprofessional to miss work when your children are puking their guts out. Every single teacher there that has kids was dinged as “Needs Improvement” in this category. In clear, yet tiny perfect italics it read: needs to improve attendance. Like I was a student. Shit! That comment is one that I can check on my student’s report cards.

Fine. I knew I was going to get dinged. It was the only thing that had been discussed with me at my post-observation. Honestly, and I am all about conspiracy theories, I think it had more to do with getting people out of the “High Performing” category. If we get “High Performing” we can also earn merit pay (although with the new law that was just passed, this will be the last year for this type of merit pay).

It was the second category that was marked “Unsatisfactory” that had my eyeballs about to burst from my head! I was marked down for not having classroom management. I was shocked, hurt, and quite honestly pissed off.

Now overall, this year’s group of students were a nightmare in 6th grade and wretched in 7th – this by the admission of the 6th and 7th grade teachers and the administrators. Every single teacher on the hall has the same problems with the same students I do. I refuse to yell and scream a student or hover over them until they do what I ask. I also refuse to continue to call the parents if after the first call made no difference. This group of kids does not care about consequences. Phone calls to parents do nothing. Time outs do nothing. Referrals do nothing. Nothing fazes them.

As 8th graders they are fully responsible for their actions. I shouldn’t have to call parents.

As a parent of an 8th grader, I refuse to make excuses for my child. She knows how to behave and what is expected from her, so why should I accept anything less from my students? All I hear from the higher ups is that standards and expectations need to be higher for our students. So why should I lower my expectations?

I have a single class that sheer unadulterated Hell. One. Not a single teacher on my team can “control” this class and as they travel together (the same students share all the same classes) they wreak havoc all day long. I only wish I was exaggerating. Ethically, I will not discuss them individually, but I will leave it at this: many of the students in there are certifiably crazy – it is in their IEP – and most are labeled as EH (Emotionally Handicapped – which essentially means they have severe anger management problems and will likely fly into a rage at the drop of a hat).

And I have a theory about that. They know that first of all, the 8th grade administrator, no matter what the offense, will take the student’s word over the teacher’s in just about every case. Secondly, they know that even if they get in trouble, the punishment will not be a punishment; instead it will be a “conference” with the student where the admin will read them the riot act, slap them on the wrist verbally, and send them back to class.

The teachers get no support to back up our management plan. So how am I supposed to have effective classroom management? Beats me. In my two minute read-this-and-sign-here evaluation conference, I got no feedback and it didn’t occur to me to demand any because I was so blindsided.

And unfortunately, I care about it. I care because this is the only time I have been dinged for anything in an evaluation. Not even in my first year as a teacher did I have problems. And as I have been mulling the evaluation over for the past few days it occurred to me why.

I had the support of administrators who backed me up no matter what. Since Mr. MoHOLU took the reins, the school has gone downhill and I wish that was me just being angry and disgruntled. But after talking to other teachers and watching the number of teachers transferring out each year increase, it can’t just be me.

Saturday, March 26, 2011

Getting Sloshed

Dear Secret Blogiary,

Mister W. and I don’t drink all that much. Mister W enjoys a beer every now and then. I’ll drink a cocktail occasionally. So we don’t often have a decent supply of alcohol in the house for when we actually do want to drink a little bit more than Crystal Light or milk.

Today after Mister W. got home, we felt like “getting sloshed.” (Trust me, I am such a light weight nine times out of ten I can’t even finish one drink let alone get sloshed!)

Mister W. and I wanted Mudslides, so I took Big Sis with me on a liquor run for company. Somehow, (seriously, it was like one second I was looking for Irish cream and the next I had 7 bottles in my arms) I also ended up with the fixings for Grasshoppers (my favorite!) and a bottle of Amarula (so yummy). I ended up buying far more liquor than I actually needed. Instead of a bag, the cashier gave me a box. Classy.

Big Sis: You are putting that in the trunk, right?

Me: (carrying a box of liquor) That’s why I gave you the keys.

Big Sis: And you aren’t planning on drinking until you get home, right?

Me: That’s the plan. Why?

Big Sis: Just checking.

Me: I haven’t yet progressed to the “lush” stage of my life, Kiddo. You know that, right?

Big Sis: Yeah. (pause to open the trunk) Mom? Where are you going to put all of these bottles?

Me: In the liquor cabinet.

Big Sis: We don’t have a – OH! You mean on top of the fridge?

Me: Yup. The liquor cabinet. Although when I hit the lotto I am totally going to have a real one.

Big Sis: You could buy a mansion and have a whole room for your liquor.

Me: That would be a lot of alcohol. I don’t think-

Big Sis: It could be your “liqourary!”

Me: Huh?

Big Sis: You know! Like a “library” but for your liquor. A Liqourary.

Me: Huh.

Big Sis: What? You don’t like it?

Me: Actually, I think it is brilliant! And then we could alphabetize all the bottles-

Big Sis: And color coordinate them!

Me: You are seriously awesome.


Mister W. and I managed our one (how old we are getting) Mudslide each. He went to bed and I must confess, after only half the glass, I too am ready for bed.

So for the record:

1. I now have enough liquor to last me until at least Christmas and

2. My goal of “getting sloshed” to have wild drunk sex (God where have those days gone?) has epically failed.

Saturday, March 12, 2011

Lack of Maturity

Dear Secret Blogiary,

Big Sis hung out “free range” style at the mall today. The first time ever. What did she return home with? Forbidden skinny jeans? Inappropriate novelties from Spencer’s?

Nope.

A new Build-A-Bear.

Me: You blew your money on a Build-A-Bear?

Big Sis: Yeah. And?

Me: Nothing. (shaking my head and smirking) Put it in the trunk.

Big Sis: (Puts box in trunk and takes out the new Bear and climbs into the front seat)

Me: Really? You are so immature.

Big Sis: Says the girl who slobbered on my arm and claimed she was a lamprey the other day.

Me: I…But…

Big Sis: And who went around saying “balls” over and over with different adjectives in front of it last week.

Me: …

Big Sis: I win!

Fine. She "wins." But only because I was being nice.

Tuesday, March 8, 2011

Stupid Fucking Day

Dear Secret Blogiary,

What a Stupid Fucking Day. You know those days when nothing “goes wrong” per say but nothing goes right either. Today was a Stupid Fucking Day or an SFD for short.

It started simply enough. Mister W and I woke up at the same time for a change and I attempted to initiate a quick intimate moment. God Lord! How long has it been since morning sex? Pre kids, I think. I could have used the pick-me-up, today, and I was shot down. Hard.

Pushing my hand away, Mister W. goes into a diatribe about how he needs to get up and get going for work. WORK?!?! Screw work! I wanted SEX!

All the time we are on his schedule and this morning it just tipped me off that whenever he wants it, I jump in full on regardless of whether I am really interested or not because I have discovered that unless I am sick, I will get interested real quick once we start. But God Forbid I want it at an inconvenient time and it is all hands off.

So, pissy, horny and now irritated because I woke up early I rolled from bed and moved on. Sort-of. Have I mentioned that I am really, really good at holding a grudge and stewing about things?

The morning continued with diabolical plans to with-hold all sex acts until further notice. That lasted until the end of my shower when I realized that that was just about as likely as me winning the lottery without actually playing.

At school, I had my yearly observation. I was woefully unprepared. The lesson was one that I had never taught before, but the next “required” piece in the curriculum. Stupid curriculum. So despite my prep, I felt, at best, “iffy” about the lesson. The class I chose for the observation is typically one of my better involved ones. They might be my lowest level class, but by God, they try.

Except for today. I don’t know if it was the administrator in the class or what, but they were silent, taciturn, and reticent. Who were these children? Clearly they were abducted last night and replaced by pod-people.

The focus lesson (a mini mini-lesson – essentially I have to teach two lessons one FCAT focused and then one content but that’s a rant for another day) ran long and although they had been over it before, they acted like they had never seen inferences before even though as a focus lesson they have been over it dozens of times. Then when we got into the bulk of the content – character development and historical background of a story – they lost it and went crazy with misbehavior.

Then, before I got into my super required “differentiated instruction” the admin left. Observation over.

Great. Perfect. I am sure to ace this one.

From there it just got worse. Spring is really in the air because I could not get the rest of the class in line with what they needed to do. At one point, I gathered up the five kids who were doing what they were supposed to a taught them alone and ignored the rest.

They didn’t seem to mind.

Then I got yelled at TWICE! for letting a student use the restroom.

SFD.

We have this ridiculous rule about when we are allowed to let students out on hall passes. As ridiculous as it is I follow it to the letter because that is just the law-abiding goody-two-shoes I am. So, with two minutes to spare before the cut-off time, a student who never asks me to go to the restroom asked. I look at the time, I tell him, okay, but hurry because you only have 2 minutes before the cut-off. The boy grabed the pass and took off running to make it to and from in time.

Mr. MoHOLU radioed my direct admin and sent him to reprimand me. My reply was courteous and I told him that the boy was within the time. My admin radioed back letting Mr. MoHOLU know my response and reason. Not ten seconds later Mr. MoHOLU stormed into the wing and shouted, SHOUTED! Down the hall that he was sick of all the hall passes and it didn’t matter that the boy was sent out right before the cut-off I shouldn’t have sent him out because he could have held it until next period.

SFD!

Why the Hell did Mr. MoHOLU established a cut-off time if he wasn’t going to allow us to abide by it? My school is on block schedule so we are in class for 90 minutes. 6th period, because it is the lunch period, actual real time is 2 hours because it is the lunch block and we have to rotate 900 students in three shifts through, with clean-ups between each. So, it is a long period and after lunch, kids need to pee. Fact of life. They guzzle down chocolate milk, juice and soda and then are trapped in a class for near two hours. Hell! I gave up drinking any thing at lunch because I couldn’t hold it that long.

Stupid Fucking Day.

All I’ve got to say is that Mister W. better put out tonight.

Friday, February 18, 2011

It Was Fun While It Lasted

Dear Secret Blogiary,

The Great Period Watch of 2011 is at an end! I started my period today. It hit me as I drove to work and I exploded in a fit of road rage when fellow commuters would not let me merge. I must have gone through my entire repertoire of curses in one long strung together outburst. Thankfully, I am only a verbal road-rager, and usually only right before I get my period. So I had the inkling that I might actually be starting, but as that was the only sign, I didn't get my hopes up. But the evidence was there when I got to work and went to the bathroom. Thankfully, like a good Girl Scout-or member of the Cult of MacGyver-I am always prepared.

As I have previously stated, I was going to be okay with either result and it looks like The Faboo Ms. Dee and her dream prediction was the most accurate of all fortune telling devices. And she might have been right about the psyching myself into it, since honestly I did get the "pregnancy feeling." So maybe I was going through a phantom pregnancy.

I had one moment with a deep sigh and a bit of an “phooey” in the back of my head, but as I was thinking about it, it wasn’t that I wasn’t expecting that made me sad, it was that I wasn’t going to be pregnant at the same time as BFF Lindsey.

I will still be making an appointment with my doctor to find out what went screwy. I am not convinced it was stress as my level of stress has not changed since the beginning of the year. And according to all I have read researched, it would not have been the medicine change. Well, I’ll say it should not have been. I would be silly to discount it, since that was the only thing that has recently changed in my life.

In the end though, I can now focus my creative energies into making awesome baby stuff (baby Cthulu stuffed doll maybe? A Borg Cube? Something Ninja-ee?) for an awesome friend who is going to have an awesome baby…

…Or two…

The Magic 8 Ball seems to suggest she might be having twins.

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

Where's The Great Zoltar When You Need Him?

Dear Secret Blogiary,

The Great Period Watch of 2011 continues with breaking news:

The Faboo Ms. Dee (the only other person I told about the possible pregnancy) had a dream last night in which my car broke down on the side of the road and she came to my aid. Concerned about my lack of menstruation, she brought me directly to a doctor’s office wherein the doc did a thorough search of my innermost cavities and declared I was not pregnant.

I told Ms. Dee that I was relieved that her fortune telling dream indicated a positive resolution to the dilemma to which she respond, “No you are not! You have psyched yourself into wanting a pregnancy and therefore your body is responded to it.”

Well, sure there might be that, but as I’ve said, either way I’ll be content. I just want an actual tangible answer. By the time I got home I was convinced that I could get the answer using more reliable methods.

I turned to the Magic 8 Ball. Except for the unfortunate fact that I couldn’t find my Magic 8 Ball! I did the next best thing: Google. Turns out there are actual FREE Magic 8 Ball generators online! Who knew?

Here, you input your question, click submit and low the Wonder that is the Magic 8 Ball takes place.

Me: Am I pregnant?
M8B: Maybe.
Me: Umm, could you please be more specific?
M8B: Yes.
Me: “Yes” you can be more specific or “yes” I am pregnant?
M8B: Please Ask Again Later.
Me: Is it later enough for you?
M8B: Yes.
Me: Am I pregnant?
M8B: Maybe.
Me: ARGH!!

Okay I think, certainly there are other methods of telling your fortune and getting a straight answer from the fates.

Let’s try Tarot. I didn’t think I would find a free tarot card reading site, but on my first Google attempt I found this. I got to choose the spread, “Burning Question." It seemed appropriate. And these are the cards I got in order:

1. Four of Cups
2. Eight of Spades
3. Ten of Pentacles
4. Ace of Pentacles
5. Transformation
6. Temptation
7. Two of Cups

Overall the whole thing was confusing. I got that Cups are all about fertility, love and relationships, Transformation and Temptation are self explanatory. Spades are used in gardens to dig ditches for planting which is clearly related to implantation of sperm! Pentacles are pointy and are related to magic, right? And birth is magical…And certainly if I am pregnant, magic was involved as I cannot imagine how I might have conceived. As there wasn’t an actual answer I’ll go with a “maybe.”

Next up? The I Ching. This is clearly the way to go, I thought. It has been around since before the Jurassic and predicted everything up to 2012. It has to be accurate. And once again I was amazed to find a free online version here.

I asked my question, “Am I pregnant,” and got the follow line sequence:

This is Lu or "Worrying the Tiger." According the result since I tread on the tiger’s tail and it didn’t bite me I have an Epic Win! But for some reason the essential message remained: Uncertain.

Go figure.

Okay, I think, let me deal with a fortune telling device that is connected to me, to my heritage: Runes. Sure enough Ask Google and the Internet provides. Free online rune casting. Since I do not know anything about runes I let the website choose which spread to cast.

It picked the Fork Spread, a three rune casting with two runes up top and one centered beneath. Left Rune reads as “Ken” reversed which signifies ignorance. The right rune is “Ansuz” or the voice of God, as it is reversed as well, it means that I am deaf to God’s instructions OR that I am not listening at all! The last rune, “Othila” represents the homeland which relates to stability and safety.

Take these all together with my question and I am ignorantly not listening to my homeland. Not listening to my ignorant homeland? My homeland is ignorant and not listening?

Once again, the online fortune tellers have left me even more confused and frustrated. But then, then my friends, I get a brilliant idea! What is the one fortune teller that trumps all others EXCEPT the Magic 8 Ball? That’s right, the Cootie Catcher!!

Like a Cootie Catching Champ, I folded that fortune teller up and wrote the following responses on the inside: two yeses, two no’s, two maybes, one “Don’t you think you should go to the doctor already?” and one, “Are you sure this is the best method for determining pregnancy?” Now since I made the Cootie, I couldn’t ask the question myself, so I enlisted Mister W. who, although doubtful of the accuracy of the test, played along for my sake.

Me: Pick a color.
Mister: Red.
Me: Pick a number.
Mister: Seven.
Me: Pick another number.
Mister: One.
Me: Pick another number.
Mister: (eyebrows raised higher than I have ever seen before) Really?
Me: You have to pick three numbers.
Mister: Fine…Seven.
Me: (opening the Cootie Catcher and frowning) Hmm.
Mister: Well?
Me: “Don’t you think that you should go to the doctor already?”
Mister: HA! Haven’t I already told you that?
Me: Clearly, this might be more than The Cootie Catcher can handle. This is BIG! Important.
Mister: Uh huh.
Me: No really! Cootie Catchers are more for like, “Does Tommy like me?” or “Will there be a pop quiz in algebra tomorrow“ or “Will I get caught if I smoke crack in the bathroom?”
Mister: That’s the kind of questions you ask?
Me: No! Of course not, I’m just saying…
Mister: Uh huh. Tell me, Hon, when do I need to start thinking about getting you committed?
Me: Um…Never?

So there I was staring at Mister W. staring back at me and all I could think about was what methods of divination had I not tried yet. And then it hit me. The most accurate method I’ve ever seen specifically regarding pregnancy! The Needle Test. A tiny sliver of steel had accurately predicted what I was having the first two times. Grabbing my sewing kit I pulled Mister W. into the bedroom.

Mister: Now what?
Me: The Needle Test.
Mister: (rolling his eyes and sighing) If I do this will you stop?
Me: Of course (clearly he doesn’t know me as well as I thought).
Mister: Fine.

In case you might not know, the Needle Test involves hanging a needle on a thread, rubbing the thread up and down the inside of a woman’s arm a few times and then holding the needle and thread over her wrist. If the needle moves in a circle, the baby is a girl. If it moves back and forth, the baby is a boy. This is continued until such time as the needle stops dead about the wrist which means that there will be no more children.

If the woman already has children the needle will cycle through the existing children first, so for example, I would expect that the first two times the needle was hung over my wrist, it would swing in a circle. The next time the needle hung over my wrist would reveal the “current” child. And then Mister W. would keep going until the needled stopped. With this test you can also predict how many children one might have.

Mister W. placated me and performed the test. First time: Circle for Big Sis. Second time: Circle for Little Sis. Third time: Back and forth!! Fourth time: Dead stop.

So, this could mean one of two things: 1. I am indeed pregnant and it is a boy. Or 2. Sometime in the future I will have a boy.

Maybe.

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

Secrets are hard to keep especially if you don't know whether you actually have a secret.

Dear Secret Blogiary,

I am now on Day 12 of The Great Period Watch of 2011. Three pregnancy tests have told me that I am not pregnant and from what I have garnered from the web, from the pharmacist and from one of the two people I have mentioned this to, the wacky pregnancy hormone hCG should have turned up by now if I am indeed in a delicate condition. Despite that, I am either conjuring up pregnancy symptoms like some neurotic dog with a Phantom Pregnancy, or I really am and I have incorrectly estimated the date of my last period and the hCG just hasn't built up enough.

The problem is, well, it isn't really a problem, but I think that I am actually leaning towards the side of wouldn't it be cool to be just a little bit pregnant. Especially in light of a certain revelation from BFF Lindsey in Japan. BFF Lindsey Skyped me the other day to inform me that she was expecting and engaged.

I had The Girls young and out of my really good friends only BFF Rose and now BFF Lindsey have (will have) little ones. I certainly have friends with kids. But it isn't the same as being pregnant at the same time. It could totally be like the Pregnancy Pact but without manipulative conniving teenagers.

Creepy. Right?

In any case, The Great Period Watch of 2011 will continue until Sunday. If by then I haven't started yet, off to the doctor I will go. And if it turns out that I am indeed pregnant, well, I will offer a cute little grin and be happy. And if it turns out that I am not pregnant, well, Mister W is all ready to set up an appointment to get neutered, and I will accept that two beyond beautiful, well-mannered, funny and irresistible children are just perfect for me.

I guess what I am saying, either way I'll be good and I am not going to actively try to bake me up a bun!

Thursday, February 10, 2011

Waiting.

Dear Secret Blogiary,

I have two beautiful girls and for a long time after I was diagnosed with Factor V (why I had to take Coumadin) I was filled will angst because I was told I should not have any more children. The Coumadin I was required to take would cause birth defects and just being pregnant could potentially cause problems.

Mister W and I wanted four children. It took a long time for me to accept just having two. A long time. I logged hours and hours of talks with Mister W., with friends and family about why it wasn’t “safe,” why two was enough, why this had happened to me. I cried. I yelled. I cursed.

It was unfair, I cried to Mister W. one day about two years after I started on Coumadin. Little Sis was about two and a half and at the perfect age I thought to add another. The age difference between Big Sis and Little Sis is roughly six years and that, I felt, was too big of a gap. I told him that it wasn't right people who had no business having children popped them out like rabbits, but we, in a secure relationship, a stable financial situation and we – smart and not hideous – couldn’t have anymore.

We had one scare in all those years. One tiny oops. A condom broke and I will say honestly, we were not upset that I might get pregnant, we were upset that I was on Coumadin and that could harm the baby. After that, Mister W. said he would have a vascetomy, but I did not want him too. I was still selfish about wanting children. I didn't want to do something that we might later regret so because of me, he is still potent.

Over the years, my attitude developed into one of acceptance. In the back of my head, a third would have been welcome, but it was kind-of nice not having to worry about schlepping a diaper bag around, paying huge amounts of money to a daycare, being able to be spontaneous and free enough to jump in the car and just go.

This past year when Little Sis turned 8 and my BFF Rose had her baby, I finally felt okay with only two. Nine years is too much of an age gap. It would be like raising three only children rather than a family of close siblings.

When I stopped taking Coumadin in January, Mister W. asked if I did so in order to procreate some more. And I was able to truthfully tell him, “no.” I accepted my two, I was happy with two. Two were all we needed.

I am a week late. A week is a long time in someone who has been regular like Big Ben since she was in 8th grade. I play it off, hoping that my system is screwed up because I was majorly sick last week. But I certainly am worried enough to buy a pregnancy test. And use it immediately upon arriving home.

No plusses…but still no period.

I am waiting.

Sunday, January 30, 2011

Breaking Up is Hard to Do...Especially when you have to dump your doctor

Dear Secret Blogiary,

A month ago, I stopped taking my rat poison Coumadin which keeps my blood from its over active clotting action. A month ago after a year of talking with my doctor every month about alternatives to Coumadin and six months after I got tired of my doctor telling me “no, you will be on Coumadin for the rest of your life,” I stopped taking my “life saving” Coumadin.

I spent six months reading lab research, published medical articles and researching for myself the effects of Coumadin and the alternatives to taking a drug that was originally created to kill rats. I looked at natural supplements, dietary changes and other factors that might make and effect on my thick blood.

I told my doctor about the information I found and he continued to insist upon handing over a prescription telling me it was by far the “safest” route to take.

Safe means safe. Right?

Maybe not so much if you read the side effects that are often times worse than the original problem. Clearly in other medical cases, medicine created in a laboratory is needed, but in my case? I can manage my issue with a daily regiment of vitamins and minerals.

So for a month now every morning and evening I have been taking a handful of natural supplements that do the same job as Coumadin with the additional benefit of not destroying my liver.

And every morning The Girls make a big show about making sure I take my pills: garlic, 2 Cod liver oil, 2 vitamin E, 1 low dose aspirin and a flax seed oil. In the evening I take another Cod liver and flax seed.

Clearly changing medicines is something that should be done under supervision, so after breaking up with my doctor, I am back on the "doctor market" looking for a doctor who will support my desire to maintain my health in a natural way.

One month ago, I made a decision to change my life. I was very nervous the first week, a little less so now. Every twinge in my back makes me wonder, every ache in my leg gives my heart a little flutter. But I am still alive and still good to go. I am happy with the change and although I am taking more pills, I feel it is a better life style choice for me.

Thursday, January 20, 2011

I am so glad that I was home for this today

Dear Secret Blogiary,

What I don’t understand is why people have to be assholes. I went camping over the long weekend (I’m working on a post about it) and the last day it rained. So I have wet equipment. Wet tent. Wet fly. Wet chairs. Wet sleeping bags.

Clearly, the equipment needs to get dried out in order to prevent mold, mildew and other rot from taking over. So, I kept the tent in my trunk until it cleared up and then set it up in the driveway to dry at the first hint of a warm sunny day. And then it rained. Again.

Clearly, I am not going to leave the tent up forever! I would like to park in my driveway again. But it has now been set up for two days and I have been out with towels encouraging it to dry. It is not my fault that the weather is not cooperating.

So today, who shows up at my door? The neighborhood Nazi I mean the community “manger,” Anne and her lurking evil sidekick Haggy (I don’t know her name but she sure as hell looks like a nasty hag with required scowl and hairy moles).

Anne: (nodding over her shoulder at the tent) You know that isn’t allowed to be there, right?

Me: It’s drying out.

Anne: (looking back at Hag and tent) What do you mean?

Me: (confused because here I thought I was speaking plain English) Umm. The tent is wet. I am trying to dry it out.

Anne: Well, it isn’t supposed to be there. You need to take it down.

Me: Clearly. In fact, as soon as it is dry I plan on doing that very thing.

Anne: Well?

Me: Well what?

Anne: Go take it down.

Me: Now?

Anne: (impatiently glaring at me) Yes. It isn’t supposed to be there.

Hag: (glaring) Hrumph.

Me: Yes. So I gathered from the three times you have now told me that. It is not dry yet.

Anne: (taking out a little doorknob hanging “ticket”) Well, I am going to have to give this to you.

Me: Okay.

Anne: When will you take the tent down?

Me: Really? I‘ll take it down when it is dry.

Anne: (handing me the ticket) And when exactly will that be?

Me: (looking up at the sky as I take the ticket) Well, assuming that it doesn’t rain again today, then, as soon as the tent is dry. As I have said.

Hag: (glares and scowls while tapping her foot)

Anne: So you’ll take it down today?

Me: Jesus! Really? I’ll take it down when it is dry!

Anne: (turning away from the door) Well, I will be checking back later. See that you take it down.


I guess it was a good thing they didn’t go out back to see the rest of the gear.


See that? I have a permanent record now! I'm a hard-core bad ass now!!


Wednesday, January 19, 2011

Florida Perils

Dear Secret Blogiary,

As further proof that people need clear instructions so as to avoid doing stupid shit:

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

It's a lack of time management that causes these things to happen.

Dear Secret Blogiary,

I haven’t been as attentive as I would have liked and truly – though I am sure you have heard this before – it isn’t you, it’s me. I have been, well, occupied with going crazy. November through January is always a rough time for me in terms of blogging.

First, of course, there is NaNoWriMo, which, by the way I won for the second year in a row. I hated the end result, but I finished and while I think the story has a good premise, I do not think I executed it well. Honestly, now that I have two months between us, I can tell you that the story was possibly some of the worst written drivel I have ever written. Which, although harsh, is true and good, because without being able to recognize the bad in what I write, how will I ever improve?

NaNo also lead Mister W and I on some very long and deep conversations about the meaning of my life and where I want it to go. Clearly, if you recall, I have been displeased… Hell, downright miserable with my job and Mister W has been nothing but encouraging me to follow my dream of writing full time. So I have been playing with story ideas and characters…we’ll see what happens in the coming months.

NaNoWriMo gave way to the holiday season when I am in my personal happy place. I love the holiday season. I take pleasure in everything: songs, food, gifts. And this year I threw myself into making quite a number of handmade gifts, namely crochet and food items. Between baking and wrapping, trimming and drinking my spiked eggnog, I didn’t have much time at all to think of you. I lurked on a few other sites like an innocent peeping Tom, but I didn’t have much to say, so I kept everything hush-hush.

December was also a time for family and I had a houseful. Again, I was in my element because I take great pleasure in entertaining and making people feel welcome, happy and pampered.

Big Sis and Little Sis took much of my time as well, not that I am complaining. Every moment spent with the Girls is good. Board games, Munchkin, new Wii games and scooters kept us busy.

Crafting has also been a big distracter! I got a loom for Christmas so I have been spending time learning how to weave! So fun! With the little taste I got from the table top loom I am eager to move on to a larger floor loom and then…Who knows!? Maybe a spinning wheel and a few alpacas!

My Beka Loom

My crochet has also brought in a bit of money. After a few of my colleagues saw a scarf and hat I made for myself, I received a few requests for scarves, hats and baby blankets. As in people want to give me money to make something for them. Give me money to do something I love to do!! What is that saying? You know, about doing something you love? Well, let me tell you, Mister W is keen on that idea. As much as he is encouraging me to write, he is also pushing me to sell my skills. He doesn’t even blink anymore when I bring home a new skein of yarn!

So that’s what I have been up to. Now it is a new year. My inkwell is full and I have a brand new sheet of ecru parchment, shiny and crisp just waiting to absorb my thoughts and experiences, my joy and my sadness.