Thursday, December 4, 2008

Job Loss

We found out this afternoon that Jim will be losing his job January 9. We are in a bit of an emotional upheaval right now so please, keep us in your thoughts and prayers as we figure out how to deal with this new situation.

Wednesday, December 3, 2008

Goin' to Charleston!

Wow, three days of blogging in a row. This must be a record.

Okay, so my church choir is singing a song in our Christmas program called "Going to Bethlehem" and I have it stuck in my head. It's a great song and I made up a new verse as I was sitting here:

Going to Charleston
to a conference
Going to Charleston
With my man.

Going to Charleston
leaving my children,
Going to Charleston,
gonna be real fun!

Jim and I decided to try to get away without the children for a weekend each fall and spring. So far, we've only been able to go away once since Katie was born. Last spring we spent several days in Charleston relaxing and sightseeing. This fall, we haven't managed to arrange a fall weekend. Between trying to get a grandparent here to stay with Katie and Ricarda and our crazy schedule it just hasn't worked out, until now. I got the opportunity to go to an ESL conference in Charleston. I suggested that Jim try to go with me in lieu of a whole free weekend. I have to pay my own hotel anyway so why not? A hurried phone call to the MIL and all was arranged. My MIL arrives tomorrow evening and Jim and I are going to try to drive a couple hours tomorrow night and stay somewhere between here and Charleston. That way we can sleep in (for a change!) and drive the rest of the way tomorrow. It's not the best but it's better than nothing. We'll start planning our spring weekend next week. :) Babysitters? Anyone?

Tuesday, December 2, 2008

Like Mother Like Daughter

I love to read. In fact, that is a bit of an understatement. My husband says that, if I were reading when the house caught on fire, I wouldn't notice until my book started to smolder.

When I was a kid, I used to stay up until all hours reading books. I was a huge night owl and a horrible morning person. I would lie in my bed with my reading lamp on and listen for Dad's footsteps coming down the hallway. Our house was pretty creaky so, unless he was trying to be quiet about walking, I would almost certainly hear him. Everytime I heard a creak I would rapidly switch the light off, hide the book on my chest under my blanket and pretend to be asleep while my heart pounded loudly in my ears. I had many a false alarm that gave me adrenaline rushes to put parachute jumpers to shame. The few times that Dad caught me, when I didn't hear the creak or was to involved in my book to notice, all he had to do was look at me for the shame of disobeying to cripple me inside. Dad never had to yell, he just looked at me in disappointment and I was crushed. I would apologize, put the book away, and turn out the light. It must not have crushed me too much because, unfortunately, probably 50% of the time, 5 minutes after he walked down the hall my book would come out and the light would go back on, almost of it's own accord. So great is my love of reading and my need, for it is definitely a need, to find out what happens next. I never understood that the characters would still be in their same troubled state the next day if I did not read on. As if they would somehow continue on with the story without me.

The last few months Katie has begun exhibiting symptoms of this disease, and she can't even read yet! After being put to bed, she gets up and brings a few books from her bookshelf over to the bed and "reads" by the light of the night light. When that isn't enough after a few minutes, she goes over to the room light switch (which, being tall, she has been able to reach since she could walk), turns it on and returns to her bed with more books in hand. She stays in bed, as requested by her parents, and we watch her on the video monitor laying on her stomach flipping through book after book until one of us goes upstairs, tells her to turn the light on and put the books away because it is "night night time".

More than almost anything, I wanted to foster in my children the same love of reading that makes me have to stay up to read "one more chapter...". When Katie would not sit down with me, even to look at pictures, much less read a story, until she was almost 18 months old, I was concerned that I would force the issue, making her dislike reading, or that she simply wouldn't be interested. Now she tries negotiating her bedtime with a hopeful "How 'bout one more?" in her cute voice. Obviously, I needn't have worried about Katie.

Monday, December 1, 2008

an update

Well, I haven't blogged in awhile but, the good news is that I have been enjoying life instead of writing about it. I would like to blog more and, perhaps in the new year I will get more regular about it. I need to find a way to put it into my daily (or at least every other day) schedule. One more item for the list... :)

Anyway, I talked about balance and how I need to find more balance in my life between work and home. I'm still working pretty late on a regular basis but I feel reasonably on top of my classes right now. This will change in a couple of days as I am finally able to split my biggest class into two classes, a low English level and high English level class during separate periods. While I will suddenly find myself with an extra prep since I will now have three Language Arts classes instead of two, I think it will be easier because I will be planning along with the basics level book for the lower class and able to spend enough time on the skills that they really need and I can start really taking the higher level class where they need to go with higher level grammar and reading comprehension skills.

One way I put some balance into my life recently was on Veteran's Day. This year, our school system took the day off entirely. It wasn't a teacher workday or anything. It was one of the few days during the school year that our daycare is open when school is not. A friend called me the night before and asked me what I was going to do with Katie that day. Incredulously I replied, Katie is going to daycare and I am getting a massage! I actually got a massage, had lunch with a friend, browsed the book store (a favorite pastime) and got my hair cut. I also met Jim and Katie at the park and had a friend take some pictures of us in hopes of getting "cheap" professionalish pictures taken. Jim took some really great ones of Katie and Katie with me the weekend before so I was hoping for some family ones. All in all it was a great day and a good opportunity for me to get some me time. Now I'd better do something else smart and get some shuteye time.
Goodnight. :)

Friday, October 31, 2008

George the Monkey

Okay, I knew I said that I was giong to talk abuot teh state fair and I will! We had lots of fun, Katie rode several rides, patted the goats, saw the chickens and napped for a LONG time afterwards.

BUT, today I have to take a side journey and mention the episode of Curious George I saw yesterday with Katie. Katie has recently started watching the show, which she calls George the Monkey and it provides some variety instead of just Dragon Tales in our days. It was a better episode for me to watch than Katie, I thought because George didn't want to take a bath. He had lost his bubble-making frog, Sproingy and was no longer interested in taking abath, even though he was covered (and I mean covered) in mud. Of course, while he was refusing a bath, he was getting mud on anything and everything he touched. Sound familiar anyone? Dad (the man in the yellow hat) did not understand why he had a filthy monkey who suddenly wouldn't take a bath. He tried 6 ways to Sunday, just like we as parents of toddlers try to finagle our children, to get George to take a bath and was stymied at every turn. He also did not understand why George would not take a bath so the primary problem, the missing frog, was not solved. I so completely identified with the man in yellow it was amazing. I thought about the times Katie cries to go to the potty and, as soon as she sits down, cries to be changed (she did some of this at 3:45 this morning) all while there is nothing to change. I thought about the times Katie loves to take a bath, and the times she won't take a bath to save her life. Or the fact that she is scared to death of the elevator, unless we are carrying her, but loved the carousel with the horses that go up and down. I empathized with George's dad on how he got advice from a friend and tried creative ways to get him clean without actually giving him a bath. I especially empathised when he had to take a walk because he needed to stop thinking about all the problems for a while.

My conclusion, something is going on in their toddler brains that is totally logical to them that makes them do what they do. The fact that we don't know about it or what it might be is immaterial. I will assume that it exists and remember that it is not my fault or anything I am doing that is causing the problem. Instead I will take a deep breath and hose her off in the driveway. :)

Halloween is here! I am so excited about Katie's dragon costume, especially since she didn't HAVE a costume a week ago. More on that and pics to come!

Sunday, October 26, 2008

It just gets better...FYI - TMI

After our exciting and exhausting weekend, last week started off on an auspicious note. Monday, we went to bed late after watching another episode of the Anne of Green Gables trilogy. Just after we went to bed Katie woke up for the first time very upset. She woke up two more times in short succession before we heard the worst sounds a parent wants to hear, especially in the middle of the night...vomiting. She threw up every 15-30 minutes until 6 am.

We were up, literally, all night. We went downstairs after she had soiled every sheet that we own and half her stuffed animals were in the laundry. We watched 5 episodes of Dragon Tales from about 3 - 5:30 am with her sitting on my lap. there is nothing more awful than feeling your child dry heave every fifteen minutes. I was trying to teach her to use a bucket instead of the floor, her clothes or anything else, which she did not like. Dragon Tales was truly a blessing. She was distracted enough by the show that her dismay at vomiting was short-lived once it finished. Unfotunately for both Jim and I, we only had 5 episodes of Dragon Tales on the Tivo. We watched them over and over and over again... She finally napped on the couch for a short while near 6. After she managed to go at least a half hour without vomiting, I carried her up to bed and started calling substitutes so that I could get a little rest. I had sent Jim to bed at 4:45 so that someone would be coherent enough to take her to the doctor. At 6:30 or so I went into school to prep my lesson plans for my sub. When the office staff came in and saw me, up all night, greasy hair pulled back into a ponytail and glasses (no contacts), I got a bunch of surprised looks and startled, "Oh!"s. I even got one, " look terrible!" It was actually pretty funny. :) Jim stayed home on Wednesday with her while I went into school and he was soooo happy when 11:30 came around and the new Dragon Tales came on TV so that there was a new one in the mix. It's definitely time to burn some episodes to DVD so we have more to choose from next time!

It's amazing just how your body stops protesting after awhile. I was so tired, I didn't even notice. I was wide awake enough to keep moving. It was actually much worse later in the week as I never quite caught up on sleep. The good news is, she stayed home Tuesday and Wednesday and then happily went back to daycare on Thursday. She didn't sleep through the night for three or four more nights but manged to keep all her food down. Now, I think I'll turn in since I'm still catching up!

Next stop, the State Fair!

Sunday, October 19, 2008

Thoughts on single parenting

Well, my primary thought on single parenting is I don't know how they do it! Jim went out of town this past weekend to photograph a show in Asheville and it was just me, Katie and Ricarda. It was a wild weekend.

Heather and I postponed our weekly Friday afternoon get together with the kids so I could get some work done before I had Katie over the weekend. I knew I wasn't going to get anything done during the weekend! We met Saturday morning to let the kids play and then went to lunch. For a change, lunch went pretty well. We couldn't decide whether it went better because we're getting smarter as moms taking our kids out in public, or that the kids might actually be getting a little more mature. I vote for smart moms. :)

When I returned home and got Katie in bed (late, nearly 1:45), Ricarda told me that she needed to be in Raleigh in 30 minutes! I'm definitely the mom of a teenager. :)

When she got back from the State Fair later that evening, we watched the 5 hour version of Pride and Prejudice. (Awesome movie, BTW.) I have found a kindred spirit in movie watching in Ricarda. We watched Pride and Prejudice spread out over two or three nights and then watched all three Anne of Green Gables movies. We had a blast and stayed up way too late every night. A good time was had by all.

Sunday was pretty crazy too as I took Katie and Ricarda to church and then, after nap, tried to go shopping for several hours with Katie. She was very well behaved but there is a limit of what one can do with a toddler in tow. In short, I got nothing for myself, which I really needed but we got a bunch of other things done. Best of all, I found an amazing sale at JC Penney. Long-sleeved shirts for $4.50! I bought...a lot. Enough to, hopefully get us through the whole winter, possibly with one not stained beyond recognition as all of her summer shirts are now. Too bad the pants didn't fit her, otherwise I would have purchased a bunch of those too.

Jim didn't come home until late Sunday night so, after three trying hours of shopping, I fed the kids and put Katie to bed. I felt like I had things mostly under control but I was exhausted!

More to tell tomorrow about this week and our trip to the State Fair today!

Friday, October 3, 2008

Chocolate or cookies?

Katie is hilarious at dinnertime. She is just as much a cookie monster as her mom is and would happily not eat anything as long as she can have a cookie. When she sits down in the chair, she says "Have a cookie now?" When I say she has to eat some dinner before she can have a cookie, she happily eats one bite and then innocently asks "Have a cookie now?" It's great. We do this several times until she eats a satisfactory amount for me to decide to give her a cookie.

She often, however, cannot decide between a cookie and chocolate (some kind of chocolate candy, currently fun size Three Musketeers bars). The other night she ate some dinner and specifically asked for chocolate. I asked her if she wanted a cookie. She said, "No, don't want a cookie, I want chocolate." So, I brought her the candy bar and got a cookie for myself. Insta meltdown. "I want a cookie!!!!!" she cries. "I don't want chocolate!!!" So, a change from my normal, I decided to take the chocolate that she was sending my way and get a cookie from the jar. I then held them, one in each hand, and offered her a choice (that's what I'm supposed to be doing, right?) She distinctly chose the chocolate. So, I put the cookie back (it hadn't been touched by her yet. Again, insta meltdown. In fact she cried hysterically through the entire eating of her chocolate. One of the funniest images I have ever seen was her, in full crying hysteria mode, with the entire Three Musketeer bar in her mouth, partially sticking out crying, "Don't want chocolate! I want a cookie!!!!!!" repeatedly.

Thursday, October 2, 2008

Reading CAN be fun

Have you ever heard friends or acquaintances talking about a book or movie or television show and wanted to join in but couldn't because you didn't read or see it? My middle school Hispanic (ESL) kids experience that everyday because the books they are able to read in English are nowhere near the grade level books that their peers are reading.

Okay, so I not above using this blog to push an agenda, at least a small one. Teachers, as you know, have limited resources. We sometimes have to look outside our school budgets to get some things that we want or need to help our students. Donors Choose is a website dedicated to helping teachers find funding for these small project outside of our own pocketbooks. I have recently posted a proposal on Donors Choose to help improve my students literacy skills.

The proposal will give you more details but, in a nutshell, I would like some Spanish language versions of novels that my students would otherwise read in English, if they could. Books like Harry Potter, The Outsiders, Little Women, Hatchet, The Chronicles of Narnia, Eragon, and more are available in Spanish. These books will allow my Hispanic students to read complex and interesting texts at the same level as their peers. Many of Hispanic studnts are currently stuck reading Arthur books (1st and 2nd grade level) or other similar books because they don't have the literacy skills in English to read what their peers are reading. Reading for fun in Spanish will develop their Spanish literacy skills (which helps their English literacy skills!) while giving them the opportunity to connect with their friends.

Check out more details at the following website and feel free to send this link to everyone you know! The total proposal only costs $414 so even small donations will make this dream come true!

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

30 years and still tickin'

Happy Birthday to me...

I turned thirty today and what surprises me about being thirty is not that I feel different (I don't) but it sounds like I'm suddenly much more mature than I was yesterday. :) Like somehow 30-year-olds are supposed to have it together but people in their 20s are still figuring things out. I supposed I'm in trouble if that's the case since I most definitely do NOT have it together.

Take today, for instance. I lost my plan book and the teacher's manual that goes with the book I am using in my classes. If was an "A" day so I taught 5 of 6 classes but, my really well planned day yesterday that was going to give me LOTS of time to plan the rest of the week was spent at home caring for my sick daughter with my sub using my well-thought out lesson plan. Since I teach so many classes on "A" days (and I have morning duty this week) I had no time to plan for today's classes or tomorrow's. Plus, when my kids found out it was my birthday, they decorated my boards in birthday felicitations in 4 or 5 languages. So, in honor of my birthday, I took them to the library (as originally planned) and stayed there a lot longer than originally planned just letting them read. It worked out nicely.

Unfortunately, I had a meeting during lunch and then developed a migraine that just got worse and worse during the last two hours of school. It took me an hour after school to wrap things up with a semblance of order and meet with my mentor. Oh, and I realized, belatedly, that I need to do interim grades this week. Ha! I haven't even set up my classes in the computer so I have some work ahead of me...

I did get flowers (at home, not at work, one day...) from my husband and a nice card and birthday cake. Also, an IOU for a camera to replace the old slow one I use for most of my pictures. I also received a great home-made CD of German rock music and a promise to speak German with me for a time period of my choosing from our exchange student, Ricarda. Hurray! ( I need to practice ahead of time!)

My favorite birhday memory from this year, however, was from 6 weeks ago when two of my favorite people kidnapped me and another of our friends who is also turning thirty (in August) for a dinner out at a really nice restaurant sans children. It was awesome. Not having had a lot of girlfriends growing up makes these ladies (and the time and effort they expend on my behalf) all the more special. This is what friendship is all about, the fun stuff, the leaning on each other, the calling to explain why your husband/daughter/son/parent is an idiot/doll/amazing gift from God just so you can share it with someone. THANKS LADIES!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Happy Birthday to me... ;-)

Friday, September 19, 2008

Potty Training, a better update

Ay yiyi. Okay, so potty training.

Our first weekend of potty training did not go especially well. I had to be gone on Saturday morning (MRI of my back) and could not be there to help Jim as we started this process. As a result, Jim was fairly frazzled when I got back from the procedure and needed to be relieved for most of the rest of the afternoon. This was not what I had in mind. Potty training requires, in my mind and my house, the attention of both parents on the child for the weekend so that we could avoid becoming overly stressed about the process and spell each other. Since my being gone was unavoidable, and Jim had a daddy meltdown, we both spent the much of the day alone with Katie and so did not have each other to help through the frustrations. The frustrations inevitably come when she sits on the potty and does nothing and then, minutes later, pees on the floor. It was all very accidental but stressful nonetheless.

Sunday went much better. We used pull-ups at church, just in case. I didn't feel comfortable taking her to church in underwear, given our success rate of the day before. We don't want her to get confused by the use of pull-ups so we are treating them like underwear. We took her to the bathroom before and after the service and she produced both times. Using the pull-up eased my mind and it stayed drier than her underwear the day before. :) The rest of the day was also fairly easy because she wore a diaper for her nap after lunch (I'm not even thinking about THAT yet). Then, after nap we went to the pool and she wore a swim diaper and I don't really know or care if she peed in the pool. All in all, Sunday was much more relaxing.

Monday she started daycare in her big girl underpants and it has gone generally well. I have to include this photo of her first potty day sticker sheet. She got a sticker for every successfull trip to the potty. Please count the stickers

Yes, there are 13 of them. They took Katie to the potty and she produced 13 times in one day at daycare. Bless them. That was worth my whole month's payment right there. I could never take her that many times.

Fortunately, she has not gone so often since and has gone down to more like 3-5 times in a day. She does have a couple accidents a week now but nothing really bad. She has also started pooping on the potty at daycare right after nap instead of pooping in her diaper as she sleeps, what has been happening. The one major step that we need to make is her asking when she needs to go to the potty.

So, onward and forward. We are using pull-ups on the weekend for our own sanity and letting daycare deal with underwear and accidents, which is making me very happy. We will eventually move to underwear all the time but, as long as we are treating the pull ups like underwear and continuing the potty trips on the weekend, I am comfortable with the way things stand for now.

We'll check in again in a month or so and I'll let you know how it's going.

Tuesday, September 9, 2008

Potty Training Update to come

Okay, I know I owe you an update on potty training but I really need more time to tell the story thus far than I have right now. So the short version is, yes she's peed on the floor, yes, Jim pulled his hair out when I had to be gone for the beginning of it Saturday morning, and yes, she is peeing great at daycare (and I mean reeeeeeallly great, you have no idea). I should have just left it to them in the first place... :) Details tomorrow!

Thursday, September 4, 2008

Why I'm a mom

Today Jim brought Katie to my school because he needed to drop something off that I had left at home. Escorted by our head secretary, they came down the hall to my room and Katie, with her usual ecstatic "Mommy!" First her voice is questioning, hopeful, "Mommy?!" Then, after sighting me in a room, her voice turns to a higher pitched surprised and gleeful "MOMMY!" Finally, running towards my open arms, assured of my presence and welcome, her voice calls out in a deeper delight with an infectious grin on her face, "mommy!" I have recognized this as one of the special delights of being Katie's mother and I have savored it, knowing this phase will last for but a blink of time. The secretary pointed it out to me particularly today, however and reminded me, again, to savor this time. It moved me to write it down, a record of this special time and how it makes me feel. It is everything I ever wanted in becoming a mother, made even more special by the struggles I had at the beginning of Katie's life feeling bonded to her. While our bond was not instantaneous as is often expounded about in books and magazines, it has grown and developed into one as strong as any. She is the daughter of my body and, most importantly, my heart.

Wednesday, September 3, 2008

Potty Training

I have been avoiding it like the plague. I did not want to potty train until I absolutely had too. It takes me mentally back to the breastfeeding days when I could only get out of the house for an hour at a time because we never figured out how to breastfeed outside the house. So, between naps and feedings, I got two 45-60 minute times to fly (relatively speaking) out the door to run AN errand. I fear this will be the same. While I know that we can potty in public restrooms that don't have potty seats, whether or not she will is another story entirely. To be honest, I gave it a try this last weekend and had some success pottying at Target and at church. Church doesn't necessarily count though because there are potty seat inserts in every bathroom.

But, her daycare teachers have been telling us they were ready to try underwear for a month and tonight, amazingly, shockingly, Katie pooped on the potty. Like a real honest to goodness diaper full, minus the diaper. She's been peeing fairly regularly for a few weeks now. This weekend, something will be added and hopefully, eliminated from my ever dynamic to-do list: switching to underwear.

Please pray...

Sunday, August 31, 2008

Not THAT big of a procrastinator...

Okay, I realize I haven't written in FOREVER. But, I'm back now, and, as every good procrastinator does, I have a good excuse. :)

I actually haven't written for awhile because, for the last several weeks, I couldn't type without significant pain. You see, one of the items on my list this summer was to get a large lump called a ganglion cyst taken off of my left wrist. I has been getting in the way of watch for 10 years and I finally decided to do something about it. It still isn't completely healed so I haven't decided yet if it was worth it. I hope so.

I've had a great fantastic summer and a frustrating summer, depending on which parts you look at. I reinjured my back halfway through the summer and have been unable to exercise for 6 weeks so my goal of losing a little more weight went down the tube. It also put a damper on some of my fun with my daughter. On the other hand, I got to spend a lot of special extra time with Katie and we have made some great memories that I, at least will always remember. We went to Pullen Park, the Museum of Life and Sciences, the pool and, just this weekend went to the splash park. We spent time with friends, ate lots of good food, and spent a lot of time laughing at each other and ourselves. We even added another member to our family when we, at the last minute, agreed to take in an exchange student from Germany whose host family backed out.

Last fall I was talking with a friend about how her key word for this year was balance. Finding a better balance between working and motherhood and time for herself and her husband. I thought that was going to be my keyword last year too but it turned into survival. As a first year teacher with a one year old, it was all I could do to keep my head above water. It didn't help that I spent most of the spring semester sick with one thing or another just as I took on a third class to prepare.

I'm stressed now about being back at work. Last year I was part of a two-teacher team and now I am alone at a new school. The learning curve is steep and I feel the pressure keenly to serve all of my students to the absolute best of what I can do. Despite this I want my keyword to be balance this year. I am working towards being more efficient, working less at home and not staying so late at school each day. This way I can spend more time doing the other things I value in life, being a mom, a wife, a friend. I will give myself a little bit of leeway while the learning curve is the steepest to work late but, within a few months, I will be ramping up my expectations and working a little harder to meet those goals.

One step in that direction will be making a pact with my teacher friend and her son to get out early on Fridays to go somewhere together with our kids. By having a date, a person to meet and a place to go, I will be able to remind myself to get out of my classroom and back into the world. :)

I also have gotten farther on my to do list than it seems. I'll update you more on that soon. For now, however, I will leave you with one of my to do list items. Learn how to use One True Media to make fun videos. Here is a little of my own piece of heaven.

Tuesday, July 22, 2008

NOT gettin' it done...

Okay, so I've been sick with one ailment or another since the day school got out in June. This has seriously compromised what I've been able to get done. My latest problem includes some back problems. I had surgery on my back in 2004 and, although I am fine most of the time, I had an acute episode about 18 months ago and another starting last Tuesday. I went back to the physical therapist today and I already feel better. The back problems are getting in the way of doing most of the physical things on my list right now. So, for this moment, all I am trying to do is get better.

Hopefully, all will be better soon and I can knock a few more things off the list!

Thursday, July 17, 2008

Items 19 and 20 - more doctor trips

Okay, enough with the doctor already! Fortunately, I was able to knock these two out fairly quickly one morning. Item 19: get a physical included blood work (which came back fabulously healthy by the way). I haven't had one in over a year and I've lost 30 lbs since then, so it was good to go back and be under my pre-pregnancy weight and see how I am doing physically. Both Jim and I are trying to take care of ourselves by having annual physicals.

While at my physical, I was able to get Item 20: get pesky mole removed from back taken care of as well. It was very simple. I had a mole, on my back, in a pesky location. Doctor's have been suggesting I remove it for years but, knowing it was benign made me reluctant to deal with the inconvenience of removing it. Unfortunately, I changed bras recently became peskier. So, off it came. Still benign, all is well.

Monday, July 14, 2008

Item 15, 16, 17, 18 - all in one day!

We had a very productive day last week on July 3rd. Jim, amazingly, had the day off from work. Apparently, his company was given both Thursday and Friday off. It was wonderful to have him home, especially since Katie and I spent the morning at the Farmer's Market with Heather and Ben. We shopped and watched the kids run in circles around the booths. It was hilarious to watch them. They would look at each other, smile with a mischievous glint in their eyes and then take off running again, arms pumping in that oh so cute way that only two-year-olds can pull off.

And that takes me to item 15: spending more time with friends and connecting with Katie's friends. I am in a wonderful mom's group where all of our first children are the same age. I love to connect with these moms to share the triumphs and tribulations of raising our kids, and the rest of our lives. For those moms I have become close friends with, I really wanted to get some extra time to spend with them this summer for a couple of reasons. One, I feel like I fell off the face of the planet during my first year teaching and two, I want to encourage friendships between our kids as they get to be old enough to start developing such things. It would mean a lot to me for some of us, and our kids, to still be friends 15 years from now. (Yes I'm a totally sappy person, that's just the way it is.) As a fellow teacher, Heather and I discussed getting together to let our kids play and hang out some this summer as our schedules allowed and we have so far gone to the pool, the Farmer's Market, and the Museum of Life and Science.

Check out our game of ring around the rosy at the Farmer's Market while Heather takes the picture!Aren't those the most innocent "Who? Me?" looks you ever saw?

Item 16: Buy beautiful flower baskets to spruce up me front porch. Okay, so this one wasn't originally on my list but the flower baskets at the Farmer's market were amazing and relatively inexpensive and I had been thinking about needing to put something on the front porch ever since the ferns died (a veeeeery long time ago). I have a bit of a black thumb so, we'll see how long they last. :)

Once I purchased the baskets, they were followed, out of necessity, by Item 17: Have Jim pleeeease fix the drip system to the hanging baskets. We have a nice drip system that Jim strung up years ago to negate by black thumb problems but they haven't been working since the disappearance of the ferns so... he quickly got them back in working order. Now all we need is a timer so it's really dumby proof...

Finally, I come to Item 18: remove yucky shrubs obscuring access to spigot. This was not originally supposed to be on this summer's list because we don't really have a lot of cash right now and it was supposed to go along with another item that included purchasing something looking but fake to put in place of the bushes so it wouldn't look quite so bare. However, I returned from the Farmer's Market to find the bushes...gone. SO, I guess part two, putting pretty stuff in it's place, will be on next summer's list. :)

Sunday, July 13, 2008

Item 14: Sell Jim's Car

I wanted to write a catchy "Ode to the Black Car" poem but poetry has never been my forte so you're stuck with this entry instead. :)

To be very honest, I didn't have a huge amount to do with this. My part in this activity was to prod Jim along a little and, mostly, give him time to work on the sale, minus the 2-year-old. Not to say that isn't a significant part of the job! I suppose that the title should really be "Help Sell Jim's Car" but, it's my blog so that's what we'll call it. :)

Anyway! We were selling Jim's 1991 Honda Civic with 170,000+ miles on it ( a good little car, BTW) in favor of a new car (which shall be revealed soon!). (Another item on my list...)

From what we understand, it went to a good home for much more money than the dealers were offering us as a trade in. As a bonus, it sold in 24 hours on Craigslist! Go Craigslist!

He's had that car 14 years. Longer than he's known me. Jim is still experiencing withdrawal.

Thursday, July 10, 2008

Item 13 - Take the 2-year-old to the dentist

This was a very exciting/scary/nerve-racking item on my list. I have been hearing conflicting reports from different sources as to when kids should go in for their first dental visit. A class I took when Katie was born brought in a pediatric dentist who said that kids are now supposed to be in for their first visit at 1 year. My family dentist who also sees children said that he didn't need to see until she was three, but kindly took a look at her during my visit when she was about a year old so I didn't have to bring her in for her own visit.

I decided to split the difference and try to take her in around two. That would also get her on the same visit cycle as me (summer and Christmas). I was terrified about taking her to the dentist. I wanted it to be a positive experience, or at least not a horribly negative experience. I looked for books at the library but didn't find anything helpful. All the books there were above her head and horribly outdated. We're talking 70's chairs and setups. It wouldn't look anything like what she was going to see at the dentist now. They did have the Berenstein Bears dentist book but she isn't into those books yet since the text is a bit long for her. I ended up buying Elmo Visits the Dentist and one other that was realistic pictures but also cute. I think they helped. The text was still over her head so I just narrated the pictures but her interest in Elmo helped. We also practiced saying "AHH" a lot beforehand. :)

All in all it went MUCH better than I ever imagined. The hygienist was FANTASTIC. Katie sat in the chair all by herself and got her teeth cleaned and scraped. She didn't like the light or the floss so we skipped those parts and, wisely, I think, didn't even attempt a fluoride treatment. She didn't scream or holler and only tried to get out of the chair a few times. It helps that our dentist has TVs attached to the chairs so she could watch Dragon Tales over the hygienist's shoulders while it was all happening. I believe that they are DVD capable so I could bring a DVD for her to watch as well. She only started to fall apart when the actual dentist came in, mostly because she had already done quite a bit and she was "all done Mommy!" She was a star, though, and all the folks at the dentist's office kept talking about how amazing it was that a two-year-old let them do so much and was so cooperative.

Amusingly, at the end she got to choose from the treasure chest and, instead of a slightly more age appropriate toy, she wanted the pencil and pad of paper. Overall, definitely a success.

Thursday, July 3, 2008

Item 12 - The Eye Doctor

This summer is about getting on a schedule to go to the doctor for my regular checkups. Last week, I went to the GYN. I was actually early (I remember to call at 12 months and it takes 3 months to get an appt) for a change and that was possible since I changed insurance this past year. I've been going to the eye doctor sporadically and went for 4 or 5 years without going at all, which isn't very good for someone with such bad nearsightedness that I only see a slightly shaped blob in a mirror 6 feet away. Basically, I am blind without my contacts or glasses. Not changing your contacts at all for 4 years is not good for your eyes, by the way. So, I am going to try to get into a routine of making summer doctor appointments in like, March and having them, in say, June. Hence, the eye doctor on Monday this last week. Unfortunately, what I wanted to hear was that I could get 30 day wear soft contacts which he entirely shot down. Apparently, moving from soft to hard is difficult because the image is not as clear and sharp and the image you get with hard lenses. I know myself well enough to know that I will be frustrated if I get a blurry image with soft contacts, even if it still is 20/20. Also, he doesn't recommend that anyone wear contacts overnight. period. Fabulous. I was really hoping this would be a solution for me since my eyes are too high a prescription for Lasik to be a good option. Sleeping in contacts for 30 days would be just as good, in my opinion, without the risk. Ah well, perhaps Scotty will beam back an eye doctor from the 23th century who can fix everything up in a jiffy. :)

Wednesday, July 2, 2008

Items 10-11

#10 Move everything out of my old school in preparation to move to my new one
So, I got canned this year. Sort of. The county was only paying for me to be at the school half time so the school managed to find the money part of the way through the year to make me 75% and then full-time. Hurray for my school! Unfortunately, the county decided that we only needed one ESL teacher and cut my position from 50% to 0% for the upcoming year. That left me with a rapid scramble to find a new job. Fortunately (amazingly, shockingly), I managed to get two full-time offers within two weeks and will now be working at a middle school within walking distance of my house. The worst part was having to pack everything up that I had finally gotten moved to my school and bring it back to my garage. I thought that was going to happen during the summer but I did manage to get it done during the last workdays. It even all fit in my car, but barely. Now it is sitting in my garage, hindering another goal (clean out the garage...) while I wait to unload it in my new school (yet another goal). :)

#11 Get the Defrost fixed on my car
The rear defrost has been broken on my car for like, two years. Hence, it made the list. The shop said the light in the button had just burned out. That better not be all they fixed because it didn't work before the light burned out. Not defrosting the film of frost on my rear window is a problem in the winter, you know. I guess we'll see this winter. If it's still broken, it'll make next year's list too...

Wednesday, June 25, 2008

Item #9

Go to the dentist to get my TMJ splint adjusted

So, several (several) years ago, my last dentist recommended I get a TMJ splint, a night guard, that I could wear at night to keep my teeth from grinding together at night as well as relax my jaw to help with the popping pain I have on the right side. Unfortunately, my last dentist wasn't very good at these splints and it wasn't very comfortable to wear. It fit my teeth fine, but when I closed my mouth, I made me want to clench my jaw instead of having my jaw muscles relax. That didn't make me feel good. I tried and tried to wear it and finally, after awhile, I gave up. Lots of very good money, down the drain. Then I changed dentists (I never really liked the old one anyway...). I decided I should bring my splint in and have the new guy take a look at it. That was a year ago. But, since I am a Queen Procrastinator...well, you know how it goes. So, at my last cleaning, which, incidentally, was right before school was out, I made a special appointment to have my splint looked at. Interestingly, he took one look at it and agreed, he wouldn't have worn it either.

Tuesday, June 24, 2008

Item #8

Get annual GYN exam
Hmmm, nuff said I think...

Monday, June 23, 2008

Item #7

Get a car seat clip from Honda
This was just one of those things that was so small, it was easy to put off until another day. Except another day never came. My toddler is big for her age. Okay, very big for her age. Big enough that, although she just turned two a couple weeks ago, she is very close to the 40lb weight cut off for convertible car seats. At 40lbs I have to remove the 5-point harness and put her in a belt-positioning booster, which our car seat does. I don't know about anyone else, but I just wasn't interested in having my 2-year-old in a belt-positioning booster. I still wanted her in a 5-point harness for awhile. So, Jim and I bit the bullet and bought one of the new Britax Regent seats that goes up to 80lbs in a 5-point harness. This makes me feel much better. And takes me back to the task at hand. In this seat, the children stay in the 5-point harness at 40 pounds but you are supposed to have a tether clip/bolt from the top of the car seat to the back of the car, right underneath the windshield. This did not come with the car, so I had to go down to Honda and buy one. $11.82 later, I am the proud owner of a car seat clip and Jim even installed it before the day was out. Will wonders never cease.

Friday, June 20, 2008

Items 4-6

A few other things that have already been done as I prepared for summer. Some were just completed, others a few weeks ago.

#4 Buy Mommy a new swimsuit
Okay, so the last swimsuit I owned I bought in Costa Rica. In 2003. My body is not made like Costa Rican women's bodies but, at the time, I found one that would work. I had to buy it there because I found out that I was going to Costa Rica in the late fall, much too late to buy a swimsuit here. I actually went in late February/early March and suits weren't out yet. Now, of course, my post baby, body, while not all that bad (actually below pre-pregnancy weight!) just doesn't work in a suit without any, shall we Since I now have a two-year-old that I want to take to the pool a lot, I needed a new swimsuit. Thanks to advice from friend with similar support issues, I now have a very nice (and even kind of stylish) swimsuit with all the necessary support. :) There might be pics later in the summer if I meet a different goal... ;-)

#5 Join a pool
We live near the YMCA so every builder who built in our area assumed that they didn't need to build a neighborhood pool, we'd all go to the Y. Unfortunately, the Y is expensive for a young family and incredibly busy. So, we found a pool that is about ten minutes away by car, and friends of ours already belong there. We've been twice already and we all love it. I expect a long, enjoyable summer at the pool.

#6 Get rid of big chair
This took about 3 months to actually happen but it finally did a few weeks ago thanks to my husband and freecycle. We had a big chaise lounge chair that came with the den furniture 10 years ago. We had been keeping it in our bedroom but it really wasn't a piece that we ended up using very much and it was too big to go in the den. We decided to get rid of it when we did the aforementioned painting in the master bedroom. We posted it on Craigslist and someone bought it. They came to get it so we took it downstairs to the foyer. We tried to put it in their minivan but it DIDN'T FIT. They no longer wanted it. In fact, NO ONE wanted it because no one had a pickup to pick it up. But it was ALREADY in the foyer, where it sat for a veeeeery long time. Jim was busy and couldn't do much with it, I was too crazy trying to finish spring semester to deal with it either. Finally, we posted on freecycle (the Jim part of "we", at my urgent urging) and it was FINALLY taken away and we got back our foyer.

Wednesday, June 18, 2008

Days 1 and 2

Well, my attempt to dive into my to-do list head-first has been slightly thwarted by coming down with a cold on my first big available day of summer. However, I will not be deterred! I have still accomplished quite a couple items in the last couple days as and I can report on the numerous items I actually managed to accomplish before summer officially began.

Items #1-3
In preparation for summer, I have been preparing this to-do list for months. Every time I got stressed over not having enough time to do something, I would add it to my summer list and remind myself that I will have time to deal with it later. It was a coping mechanism. :) Fortunately, a couple things fell into place before the summer began. Most notably, the master bedroom and our will.

For the entire 9 years we have lived in this house, our bedroom has been relocation beige. We managed to acquire some decent furniture a couple years ago but the walls continued to be bland and boring and, in fact, damaged in some places where we had bumped them and where water damage from an old chimney leak was evident. I am color challenged unless I have a really good plan or theme for the room and my husband is, well, he's a guy. The walls are standing and painted, right? I decided that we needed to enlist the services of an interior designer who could not only help us choose a paint color, but also help us with finding draperies. the draperies left by the last owners have been perfectly functional as heavy blackout drapes for the last 9 years, but were dreadfully ugly and definitely needed to be replaced if we were going to paint. Amazingly, despite our crazy schedule, #1 declutter the bedroom, and #2 paint the bedroom were both completed ahead of schedule. It was a huge undertaking on our part, however, and originally supposed to be done in the summer so I am going to count it as part of this list.

#3 complete a will
We've been planning on doing this for years, at least two to be exact since that is how old our daughter is. Jim and I started this in December, meeting with a lawyer and putting together what we needed. Wed then didn't find time to get together with the lawyer again to finish everything and sign all of the papers until about a month ago. Again, something that just needed to get done and we couldn't find time for, ever. We finally pulled it together and got it done, which makes me feel much better. It's still in the to be filed pile, but that is a task for another day. :)

Friday, June 13, 2008

Welcome back summer!

Ah, it's nice to be home and have my first year of teaching behind me. Only hours ago I left my last conference of the year and a few days ago I packed up all of my stuff, put it in my car and moved it out of my school and back to my garage. For those of you who don't know, my position was eliminated at the high school I taught at this last year (and loved) but I was extremely blessed to secure a position at a fantastic middle school practically next door to my house within only a week and a half of being laid off. It does mean that all of my stuff had to come back home for awhile before it can be returned to school, however. :)

As anyone who has ever known a teacher, been a teacher, or lived with a teacher knows, teaching is not a neat 40 hour per week job. We don't put down our dry erase markers at 3:00 and go home to handle all of the regular home headaches that we all encounter in life. In fact, work rarely stays at school since we have our own "homework" which includes planning, writing tests, and, of course, creating (and grading) homework assignments. Add to this the fact that I am a Queen Procrastinator (and yes, they should be capitalized), and I never manage to find time to get all of the home stuff done that needs to get done.

Last summer, I was inspired by a friend of mine who challenged herself to accomplish 100 thing in 100 days. I only had about 45 days left before starting the school year and no childcare but I wrote myself a to-do list and joined the party! As I managed to fly through my list last summer with only a short time available, I saw how helpful the list was and how less stressful my year could be if I tried to fully utilize every summer in a similar fashion.

Don't get me wrong. I'm going to have fun this summer too! My list includes big projects that could never get done during the school year, little tasks that have fallen through the cracks, things for school to get me ahead for next fall, and fun things like taking my daughter to the pool, taking dance lessons with my husband, and going on dates with him! (Yes, that had to go on a list!)

Join me as I power through my list and see if this Queen Procrastinator can keep going for eight whole weeks and get it ALL done!