Morning Fog

Happy New Year!

Out with 2007.

The good:
I got my masters. I got my credential. I got my first full-time classroom teaching job. I got a new car. I got an iPhone. Best of all, I started MAKING money as opposed to just paying tuition.

The bad:
Has to be Sprite’s car accident. And her stitches and black eyes. Or maybe this should go under the ugly?

The sad:
My father-in-law’s passing last May.

The questionable:
Sprite marrying her marine when he was home for a month in August. Time will tell on that front.

It wasn’t the best year of my life. I don’t think it was the worst either.
Who knows what 2008 holds…certainly not me.


Feeling a little peppier

Yesterday, I just checked out.
Everything was finally over…the last day of school and Christmas shopping and cooking and Christmas Eve and Christmas day, and the day after Christmas and my mother’s birthday. Finally.
And I just stayed in bed. Everything hurt, and I was so tired that I slept most of the day away…something I hate doing, but I thought of it as a sick day.
I finally dragged myself out of bed, took my third prescription strength dose of Advil (something had gone kaflooey in my back) and went to the gym. Of course, after 10 minutes on the bike, my legs mutinied and dragged me to the sauna.

The sauna. My favorite place to be.

Unless there is a naked lady in there, then it is my most favorite place to feel uncomfortable as I try not to stare.

After I was done there, I went to my most favoritest nail salon, where the people are Vietnamese, but actually speak really good English. Most of them. As many women have discovered, it is not imperative that you actually communicate with your nail tech, but it does help sometimes. I like having that option. So anyway, I got a manicure and a pedicure and something from Starbucks, and called it my vacation day. To top it all off, my husband didn’t call once while I was gone, which is miraculous. That alone was worth it. That sounds cruel, but sometimes I feel like our phones are an electronic umbilical cord. The lack of missed calls when I finally checked my phone was like a little gift.

Today I felt much better. And he bought me jeans.
I didn’t want jeans. I have come to the conclusion that jeans only look good on the young and the thin. Fat old people just look dumpy and unimaginative in them. I have some, but never ever wear them anymore.
But we went out shopping while the Littlest one was at a party, and Mr. Wonderful force fed me jeans in the dressing room until I relented.
The ones I bought, I must confess, look okay. But they are too big. They are falling off me, and I think I am going to have to dig out a belt now. Bummer. I have stayed away from belts for a long time too.

So funny thing about these jeans, they fit my curves and aren’t tight so I don’t hate them. But they are kinda low cut, so they lay on my hips and that means they also tend to hang off them a bit. I like them, and they are driving me crazy at the same time.

But they are so much better than some I tried on…the kinds that grab at the top of the the thigh and bottom of the knee, and make my legs look like sausages in a denim casing. That is such a ridiculous look on me. One pair coupled that with such a baggy belly that I could have passed for a kangaroo. Or not. Just sayin’
And these are long enough too! That is always a bonus. I can wear my Bjorn clogs and the pants are still dragging the ground.

Okay, I know, enough of the sounding like I have never had jeans before. These will probably die in the back of my closet too. As soon as I lose a few holiday pounds, they probably will be too big to wear, even loving the looseness as I do. Oh well. Maybe I can take them in or something…I hate shopping for jeans. Always have, but for different reasons now. Used to be that my waist was so tiny that I would go through a dozen pairs before I could find one that fit in my thighs without hanging off me at the waist. That was when I was like a size 4.
I am not a size 4 now, but although substantially larger, I am built proportionately the same way. So now I have trouble getting the right fit, and the added bonus of looking like a cow at the same time.

Do you see how shopping can bring out the self-loathing in even the most confident of us? Damn disgrace, that’s what it is. Oh, did I mention that I’m dieting too? Starting the New Year’s farce early.

Seriously, I weigh 10 pounds more than I did the morning after I got back from Philadelphia (when I went to pick up my MIL right before Thanksgiving). That hurts, since I did a great job losing 20 during the summer, and more or less kept it off till now. Hence the club and the sauna and did I mention the Costco sized bottle of something called Zipfizz?

This stuff has a fat blocker, a carbohydrate blocker, an appetite suppressant, an energy booster and a personal trainer all rolled into a tiny capsule. Okay, I might have been exaggerating about the personal trainer. In fact the website says that you “have to exert your will power.” Bummer. I would love to buy a tube of will power. In fact, I am willing to go on record as stating unequivocally that lack of will power is the prime source of my downfall. There, I said it.

But, in an attempt to place blame elsewhere (like, say, on my mother-in-law) I have to tell you that she believes in the four food groups…and three of them are sweets. Candy. Ice cream. Cake. Try living with that, Zipfizz!! Will power my sweet patootie!

I think that brings us up to date.
Oh yes, I also sent a vague and noncommital email to my son’s principal. She will most certainly assume that it is job-related. However, the vagueness gives me deniability, should that be necessary. I could be a spy, I tell you.

Thanks for the advice, re the job dilemma.
For the record, I have worked in my son’s school and at different schools. I like being at his school better. And most teachers I know teach at their kids’ schools. Teaching is just such an all-consuming job that it makes it easier to balance work and home when they overlap that way.
Someone in a position to know better, whom I respect, counseled me to stay away from his school too. That is why I didn’t apply there last year. With all due respect, however, she never had children so never faced this dilemma herself. So while I admit certain points are valid (as some readers echoed) I still think I want to go for being at his school, unless the Principal feels otherwise. We’ll see what happens. I am hoping things work out for the best, whatever that may be.


Virtual White Christmas

If you are reading me via a feed, you NEED to click through and see the snow falling on my blog. That is a very big deal, my friends. It was 71 degrees and sunny here today, so a little of the white stuff, even if it is only pretend, makes it feel like Christmas.

You have no idea, unless you grew up in the sun/warm belt like me, how deprived you feel as a child when you keep hearing about White Christmases and see pictures of snow and snowmen and snowflakes and mittens and scarves and all that jazz. Oh sure, we get some cold weather, but come on.

One of the biggest thrills of my life was when we got snow on Christmas Eve one year when we lived in St. Petersburg, Florida. That was miraculous.

Enough about the weather. Weather is weather, right? Cold in winter, hot in summer. Lots of variation and anomalies and constant change, but basically, just background noise most of the time.

Okay…Now the important things: first of all Merry Christmas! to all and to all a good night. Mine was very nice and not so nice for different reasons.

In the naughty category:

1. The fact that I worked until Friday really cramped my style. I know I could get better organized and do more of this stuff earlier, but there is that whole “old dog new tricks” thing to take into consideration.

2. Corollary to above: I never sent even one Christmas card out. I used to send a lot of them. Cute pictures of the kids, the whole shebang. Sigh.

3. All the Christmas gifts that my assistant and I ordered in September, wrapped and boxed and have had sitting in the corner of my room? Still sitting there. I totally forgot to give them to the kids on the last day. Double sigh.

4. Good excuse for above, but still sucks: my daughter’s car accident Thursday night preoccupied my mind and kept me up all night so it is logical and understandable that I forgot to give out the gifts. But I would rather have had no accident to use as an excuse, you know? Cause it is 50-50 I would have forgotten them anyway.

5. My daughter is out of state and wasn’t with us. First time I was without one of my kids on Christmas. Double suck.

6. My mother-in-law has been here way too long.

7. My father-in-law wasn’t here…first Christmas since his death.

8. I didn’t get to see my parents. I am putting this in the bad category, but seriously, it is a double edged sword. Great to be with them, hell to be with them. Capice?

9. I never heard a peep out of youngest child, all day…too busy with his gifts. Whoops, this should go in the good column. /giggle

10. Cooking. Cooking. Cooking. Cleaning. Cleaning. Complaining. Complaining.

In the nice category:

1. I don’t have to go back to school until January 7th. Yeehaw.

2. My daughter is going to be fine.

3. I got a nice bonus from school, and lots of nice things from the parents/kids in my class. Especially the big gift that the parents got together on…an obscene amount of money to use at a ritzy spa. Hello. How did they know that I needed relaxation and pampering? How did they know their kids were running me ragged? I have to say, it is nice to feel appreciated. That is one of the perks of this job. If the parents like you, they make you feel like some kind of Goddess for being able to do your job. Of course, it can totally go the the other way with parents too, so really parents are the wildcard, aren’t they?

4. The tree, the tree. We do have the most beautiful tree ever this year. Ever. Of course, I decorated it piecemeal over the course of three weekends, but what the hell. A living room full of rubbermaid tubs and tissue paper is a small price to pay for a work of art like this. Right?

5. My oldest was here all weekend and Monday and Today. It was like he came home for Christmas, which of course would have been overkill since he lives 10 minutes away. But seeing him every day was great, and almost made up for the absence of the middle child.

6. My youngest is a total gift giving genius. This child is amazing the way he zeroes in on people’s personalities and tastes and picks an appropriate gift. I think he is doing all my shopping for me next year. And wrapping? He is a speedy and efficient wrapper. We are working on finesse…but between my style and his speed, we might be on to something here. Have I mentioned how much I adore this child?

7. Speaking of him….watching him serve midnight mass (which was actually at 10 pm, don’t ask) really choked me up. I have really super-vivid memories of having to hold him on my lap, arms around him like a straight-jacket, to get him to sit still in church. So seeing him sitting up there, carrying the cross out, doing altar boy stuff, really makes me beam a little. Ok, a lot.

8. Speaking of midnight mass (at 10 pm) that was the highlight of my holiday this year. First, we got there really early since my smallest wonder was serving mass. So we sat through 15 minutes or so of a Christmas concert that was going on between the 8 and 10 pm masses. It was magnificent, truly. You would be hard pressed to come up with a more professional and majestic church choir performance. Towards the end, our pastor sang a song. In French. He is French, and I have heard him sing during mass of course, and I think parts of Christmas Carols in French in the past. He has a beautiful, deep, expressive, voice and the song he sang was stupendous. I could have listened to him all night.
I tell you, there is something magical about sitting in a dark church on Christmas Eve, with all the candles and the people all dressed up and singing…and knowing that all those people are there for the same reason you are. That all the extraneous trappings of the holiday fall away, and we all just gather together and celebrate and REMEMBER why we have Christmas after all. I can’t tell you what a good feeling that was. It also made me realize that, despite all the other things I could have been doing between 9:30 and 11:30 that night…nothing was more important, and apparently a church full of people agreed with me. And so I sat there…with my husband at my side. With my mother-in-law and my oldest son nearby. With my youngest son serving mass at the altar. With the French priests who sound so melodious and enchanting. With the amazing choir and beautiful Christmas music. The church was full, in so many ways, and there was something comforting, almost womblike, about sitting there that night.

9. Saw my brother on Sunday. Mr. Entertainment. In town for the day. We went to Little Italy after lunch and yes, that helped make my Christmas. It also helped make my most yummy Lasagna.

10. I had a little meltdown on Saturday. But Mr. Wonderful held me and sympathized with me and reminded me that it isn’t things that are important at Christmas, it is relationships. And you know, that helped, even if it wasn’t rocket science. Because Christmas still came and it was still good. Those of us who were together had a great time, and we got to talk to those who weren’t. And just knowing that my husband, my partner, wasn’t putting unrealistic expectations on me was helpful. To be quite honest, as long as he gets laid, he’s good. Well, you know, he likes the food to be hot and tasty, the wine full bodied and not too sweet or dry, and dessert to show up when he has a craving. So I guess it is really food and sex. The rest is gravy.

I think there are more than 10, but that’ll do. For now.
I am off to sleep till noon tomorrow. That was an order from my MIL, so I guess I must sleep till noon. Like I actually listen to her….


Woe has a long O

Oh God I can’t stand it.
I don’t think I can do two more days.
Put me out of my misery now.

Ok, don’t go that far.

I am just so OVER this class and Christmas crap and not having a life. And I didn’t just say “Christmas Crap?” did I? Oh God, see what I mean?

Tonight we had our Christmas program. It was wonderful and delightful and all that…but I was at school at 7:15 this morning. I left at 3:30 to get a couple of things FOR SCHOOL (including a white blouse that I had to wear tonight), stopped home for literally 10 minutes, and then finally left school at 8:30 tonight.
When I took this job, I don’t recall saying that I was forsaking all others for the privilege of being there. I guess that was in the damn fine print.

In sassier news (not really the right word, but I am quasi-brain dead right now) NO!! I didn’t just say that either, did I? God, I am full of faux-pas tonight. A mom in my class just lost her father. He had a brain anyeurism and is brain dead. She flew to Florida and back again in 48 hours to see him. ANYHOO, it turns out that her brain dead father is/wass 51. FIFTY-ONE.
I don’t know what is more shocking…the fact that a man only 3 years older than me just dropped dead or the fact that a man only 3 years older than me is/was the grandfather of one of my students. Or that a man only 3 years older than me is/was the father of a MOM in my class. Or maybe it is that for the first time in my life, I actually feel old. My life in context…it isn’t pretty.


Out of the mouths

Dear cheap house builders from the 1970’s,

I know that we live in Southern California. I also know that since it never rains here, it obviously never gets cold here either. Having said that, I still think that perhaps you could have used glass that is thicker than toilet paper for the windows, and maybe put in a skylight that actually seals in the bathroom.

I know that lows in the high 30’s and low 40’s aren’t all that cold. I have lived in places where they describe the temperature in terms of “wind chill” so I realize it could be worse…however, 38 degrees is 38 degress whether you are in California or Michigan, and taking a shower in a walk-in refrigerator is NOT my idea of fun. Especially tonight, when I took a shower while my youngest was finishing up. We measure his showers in terms of hours, not minutes and my nice hot shower was lukewarm at best and the room was colder. We have heat in there…good old forced air heat that evaporates out the skylight as soon as it hits the room HENCE my outrage. It’s been building for awhile.

“Wah,” to quote one of my students.
I can’t wait for school to be out ON FRIDAY giving me a whopping 2 days before Christmas Eve. And trust me, when you are a teacher…a member of this soul-and-time-sucking profession…you don’t get much time to shop until you are done. At least in my household where there is a young child still at home and a dog and a husband and a visiting mother-in-law and two older kids who somehow STILL seem to be able to come up with ways to abscond with my time. Not that I’m complaining. Much. Wah. Just wah. I really want to finish up school on Friday, sleep for a week, then do all my Christmas shopping, wrapping, card writing, and food shopping. And some baking and cooking. And more decorating.
Can we reschedule Christmas for, um, February? Ya think?


I won!


The holidays would not be complete without Poolie’s Phamous Photo Phenomenon.
Would they?

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Validating me

My mother-in-law is going to be 90 on Thursday, and you may recall that her husband passed last May. It is only right that she is here with us for the holidays and her birthday. As if to convince everyone that I really believe that, I flew to Philadelphia last Monday just so I could fly back with her on Tuesday.
Obviously because she is too old to fly alone.
In case that wasn’t as obvious as I thought it was.

Having said all that, and having proven how wonderful a daughter-in-law I am, it really drives me nuts having her here. In a very mild way. A mild kind of nuts. Not a screaming, ranting and “she goes or I go” kind of way. We did all that 20+ years ago, and we are way beyond that.

Half the time I am not sure why she drives me nuts exactly…just a person in my house who isn’t me, my husband or my kids, I guess.
Sometimes it is her personality. She is a total split personality. On the one hand she is VERY religious, generous, helpful, industrious, kind and friendly.
On the other hand, she is also very ignorant, bigoted, going deaf (get a hearing aid already!) and does things like rinse her dirty cups with cold water and before putting them back in the cupboard. She is extremely tidy, but not necessarily clean when it comes to household things. Neat as a pin…sanitary is not in her vocabulary.

Speaking of her vocabulary, I suppose it is a combination of her immigrant upbringing…her mother didn’t really speak English well (she was German) and her father was from Ireland. I suppose he spoke English, but not Americanish-English.
Add to the that the fact that she wasn’t a great student and dropped out of high school when her father died…she was about 15 I think. Then there are those regional differences. People in Philadelphia have odd words for some things. Mix that with ME…the former ENGLISH major…miss “use the proper word at all times and say what you mean/mean what you say.” I feel my skin crawling when she talks somtimes.
Over the years I know I have come accross rude when commenting, but believe me, it took every ounce of strength I had not to be much ruder! Much more extremely ruder to the MAXXXXX. I was holding my tongue as tightly as I could, but some forces are just too great to rein in entirely.

One example that stays with me 23 years later…Number one son was a newborn, and I was giving him a bath. She told me that she was always too “scared to bath her babies” her mother had to do it. BATH her babies??? BATH? As in a NOUN? I hate that she can’t say, “bathe.”

Things are never expensive, ever. They are “dear.” Always dear. I never heard that in my live from anyone but her.

A sandwich is a hoagie. A pizza is a “tamatah pie.” A lollipop is a taffy and sprinkles are jimmies. She doesn’t vacuum, she runs the cleaner. She doesn’t carry a purse or a bag, but a pocketbook. Can I tell you how much the word “pocketbook” drives me up the wall. What the heck is a “pocketbook” anyway? I say a small book, frankly. Not something large in which to put other things.

Oh, and I did I mention that I really could do without the reports on her bowel movements, stomach aches, and passing gas? I mean, I could really, really, really do without all of that. Seriously. I don’t do bodily fluids. Not other people’s.

Then, there is the fact that she feeds the dog constantly. And everything. And right from the table. We have a weak stomached-dog who can only tolerate hoity toity dog food and the occasional morsel of something else. So guess who got to be up with the dog in the middle of the night two nights in a row? While the dog threw up and had diarrhea??? Three guesses, and the first two don’t count. Hint: I’ll tell you it wasn’t HER.

I read a blogger today who mentioned that ranting and venting and getting it all out and down has been scientifically proven to promote sanity and happiness when compared to sunshine-and-roses diarists. So there…I have taken a healthy step forward in the name of my own mental health.

Just for the record, I will add that she means well, has a good heart and loves her family mightily. Those are good things and make up for alot. Having said that though, I have to say that between now and New Year’s, I anticipate much more work on my mental health to take place on these pages.

Speaking of pages…welcome to the new digs. Some of my old friends found me, and recognized me right away. Others I may have to drag over here.



Just kidding

The holiday is over.
Fun is over.
Vacation is over.
Sleeping in is over.

So why is my mother-in-law still here?


1 month until

The Christmas lights are up. I can’t guarantee that I won’t add to them, but I have 1200 little colored icicle lights, and probably half that many white ones, up. The house is festively festooned around a couple of windows and all along the gutters that run from one side of the house to the other.
I love gutter clips.
Whoever invented those babies should be given The Mad Housekeepers Seal of Approval because not only do they make hanging Christmas lights a much easier task, but they make them look neatly strung as well. Talk about bang for your buck! And they are completely reusable and last forever. I have had these more Christmases than I can count and still they go strong. I don’t lose them, thanks to Ziplock (don’t get me singing the praises of Ziplock) and they don’t break even when I snap them off the gutter in a hurry in January.

Now, what do we have for shoulder pain, as in my arms were over my head doing unnatural things for a couple of hours? And earlier, we had a slight gardeningpalooza going on, complete with cleaning off the patio and teasing the dog with the hose.

I need to rest my achy bones, but the house – she is beautiful.


Well, it’s about time

I declared a turkey-free Thanksgiving and I have to say that I am proud of that.

Imagine the time and energy saved by not buying it, cleaning it, disinfecting around and after it, stuffing it, roasting it, unstuffing it, carving it, serving it and then dealing with the carcassy remains!

Everybody’s favorite side dishes perfectly accompanied an extra-large Honey Baked Ham, pre-ordered, glazed, cooked and sliced. Re-heating optional.

The decreased work load (due to lack of turkey prep and addition of desserts baked and delivered by dinner guest) gave me the inclination to drink several glasses of wine which made for a much-improved Thanksgiving on all fronts.
If it hadn’t been for the tantrum that drove my daughter from the table in tears early on in the meal, it would have been boringly perfect and uneventful.

Kudos to my offspring for delivering the requisite family drama. With my mother in relatively good health and not retching her food during the meal, we were in danger of skipping that part of the meal.

Grace was said, thanks were implied if not spelled out implicitly, and everyone survived.
Next stop, Christmas.

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