Tuesday, January 30, 2007

One of the cool things about having older kids is that their school work becomes more interesting - and challenging. My daughter has been studying for a social studies test. She has to know the Preamble. We've been discussing all those phrases: "do ordain and establish," "for ourselves and our posterity," "insure domestic tranquility." Which phrase do you like best?

Thank God for School House Rock. We've been singing it. Do you remember it? I hadn't said it in years, but when prompted, I could sing it. I'm going to post it in the comments. See if you can remember any of it before you look.

Did you ever have to diagram it? No one diagrams sentences anymore. I'm actually looking forward to taking grammar classes again when I start my Master's. (I still haven't heard if I'm in.)

Sunday, January 28, 2007

I’m stealing a post from Peggy tonight because her stories topped mine and she doesn’t have a blog of her own. Many of you know her. If you have only met Peggy through comments on my blog, you’re in for a treat. She’s letting me tell you a little slice from her life.

Last night she hosted a small gathering of new and old friends for a delicious potluck meal (emphasis on the luck). For a fun, post-holiday gag, we had a white-elephant gift exchange. It was fun because we picked from the anonymous pile one at a time. The chooser got to select a wrapped re-gift from the pile or take one that had already been open. It was such a wacky assortment of “gifts” that it was fun to see who wanted which gift. The cooking wine was hot, as was the silly string, and the hard hat. My brother-in-law (also a random commenter) took a dive, taking a Noah's Ark teapot from one disappointed boy so the boy could reselect.

So tonight, I stopped by Peggy's. There was a tea tray littered with their dinner remains by the sink. On it was the Noah's Ark teapot (b-i-l forgot it), the cat-shaped creamer that Peggy's daughter was happy to win, & china tea cups. Evidently they had taken their dinner snuggled up for a movie in bed: Sprite and party leftovers. Peggy's daughter was sure her uncle wouldn't mind the loan of the teapot.

Doesn't that sound cozy?

Friday, January 26, 2007

I'm a published columnist now. My column and my "extra" article were on the front page of the B section. So now I'm Lois Lane. I just need Clark Kent. I actually like Clark best when he takes off his glasses.

I'm going to the jr. high school play tonight. My daughter is operating the curtain. I'm hoping the twice weekly drive to Cheverly for her next play will pay off in more time in the spotlight.

Thursday, January 25, 2007

I'm exhausted.
I have stretched myself too thin. I need to start saying NO, but I'm having a hard time doing that with my new job, which wouldn't be a problem if there were no technical difficulties, taxi obligations, domestic duties, romantic entanglements, dust

I need a vacation.

Don't margaritas on a steaming beach sound marvelous? palm trees...hammock...distant sound of a steel drum band...nothing scheduled but a dinner reservation...sand & sweat mixed with coconut oil....surf and shells....

what would you add?

Tuesday, January 23, 2007

I'm thinking of having a Superbowl party, even though I am not a big football fan. I like the event, the funny commercials, the casual food. And you just never know what will happen at half-time. I need a couple fun drink ideas, or maybe I should just stick with beer & margaritas. Of course, I'll need a new TV since mine went all psychedelic on me. It will look like all the players are in pink & green on my current screen, although at my house, that would be appropriate.

Who are you rooting for and why?
I’m all for Indiana, having a few issues with Chicago. Plus the Colts used to be in Baltimore. So I’m counting on Indiana scoring big.

Sunday, January 21, 2007

I’m really jazzed about my new gig as weekly newspaper columnist. (Thanks Greeny for that great verb.) Rather than thinking they hired me, I’m thinking they are my first regular customers as a writer. I have had other writing jobs that were one-time-only. It’s hard for freelancing to feel like “real work.” But this week, I got to wear my Press Pass four times: a photo badge on a lanyard. I feel like I’ve joined the club of employed people – and I’ve got the proof. I guess there’s no real proof before I get paid. But I hope to provide them with great reading so they will continue as my customer.

The great thing is that this job is so positive. I am charged with showing how proud this town is of their great kids, great teachers, and great schools. So I get to remember all the fun things about teaching and learning and the journey of grade school and try to remind the community about them. No hard hitting investigative journalism exposing the underbelly of anything. We read enough bad news. I’m the Good News Girl.

How can I make that a CG?

Thursday, January 18, 2007

My kids and I have enjoyed watching American Idol together. We particularly enjoy the beginning where the people who no one has ever been honest with try out. They say, “My mama says I sound like Barry White.”

Last year, I was watching with my kids during one of these embarrassing auditions and I told my kids, “See, you are not doing your friends any favors by lying to them to spare their feelings.”
My son replied, “Mom, you have a good voice – but for lullabies.”

I took that to mean I should stick to small audiences in closed rooms. I can take the hint.

So I do sing lullabies to my kids. My older two are kind of outgrowing the sweet bedtime ritual. I barely sing to them anymore. But my youngest has been challenging me lately. She has said, “Sing me a lullaby you have never sung before.” Tonight she requested “a short song from the 70's.” Where did that come from?

Anyway, I'm bored of my lullabies. Can you help me out? What lullabies do you remember hearing? Which have you sung to your children?

For a long time my son requested “The Star Spangled Banner” every night. No one requests that one now. I do sing a few of the sleepy old hymns from church, just so my kids remember them, like Amazing Grace.

Here's a list of the most popular ones in my house.
What am I forgetting?

Raindrops on Roses
Stay Awake (from Mary Poppins)
Hushabye Mountain (from Chitty Chitty Bang Bang)
Sweet Baby James
You've Got a Friend
Yellow Submarine
Somewhere Over the Rainbow
Redwing (folk song my Grandma sang)
Logger Lover (folk song my parents sang)
Southland in the Springtime (Indigo Girls)
How long do you want to be loved? (Dixie Chicks)
I have a new job as the schools columnist for the weekly paper in the next town over from mine. I'm very excited about it, but way behind the learning curve about their school system. So my head is spinning with details from websites ans newsletters from eight schools. My first deadline is this Monday.

I had to go to the paper's headquarters for my press pass. I'm feeling very Lois Lane.
Today I interviewed some school children who asked, "Are you a reporter?" It was fun to say yes.

I'll keep you posted!
Onward & Upward

Wednesday, January 17, 2007

I don't even want to talk about my internet today. If you could see me, there would be a dark cloud over my head.

One of the frustrations of losing your home-base computer is that you have to remember all of your passwords. It's like the phone list in my cell phone. I can only call people if I have my cell now because I don't ever learn the new numbers anymore.
So I suppose the password memory jogging is a silver lining to this big black cloud.

Tuesday, January 16, 2007

I have never been as mad at a service provider as I am now with Verizon. They have caused so much interuption in my work yesterday and today, most likely tomorrow, and possibly for a week.

If you were planning to switch to FiOs, watch out. I signed up with a saleswoman on the phone a couple of weeks ago. My super duper new internet service was supposed to be installed Monday. I had to arrange to be there for 4-6 hours. So I did.

No show. No call. Actually, when a Verizon representative called, she was calling to see if I'd like to sign up for FiOS. She investigated my complaint and had to reschedule me for the 25th.

Then I lost my internet connection. I tried all the standard rebooting procedures. I checked my wires and firewalls. I rebooted in a different order and checked my network connections. Nothing.

So this morning I spent an hour getting to a human being to see if they could figure out why I have no connection. After working with a girl somewhere in the far east for half an hour, she determined that the cause of my problem was that Verizon had cancelled my DSL service. Didn't I have FiOS now?
So I was transferred to billing. The young man I ranted to was frightened into reducing my bill, but he couldn't give me internet service. Well, he offered dial-up, but that doesn't count.
So I waded through all those computerized switchboards to get to another human hopefully empowerd to restore my DSL. I did get someone, but she was working with someone else on my problem and asked to call back.

By now I had to leave. I needed to do some things for my exciting new job which I was hoping to post about today. So she said she'd call on my cell. She did and said that my DSL should be restored at home.

I returned home a few hours later to find she was wrong. Still no service. I called again. It is so annoying how many times you have to repeat the number you are calling about. I had a computer tell me to call back. I was disconnected. When I finally got back to another human tonight, I was told I had to call during business hours.

If Verizon can't restore my DSL tomorrow, I'm switching providers.
Any recomendations? I like Earthlink's commercials, but that might not be enough.

Monday, January 15, 2007

I know America has a long way to go on race relations. We are so far from perfect. But we have come so far and at least we are still moving. I love the diversity of my neighborhood and my family. Maybe we'd still be where we are without the work of MLKJr. I am glad he was here though. The world is a better place.

Friday, January 12, 2007

Last night I chaperoned my parents on a date to the Kennedy Center. For Christmas I bought them tickets to see “Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf?” starring Kathleen Turner & Bill Irwin, who has already won a Tony for his role in the play. I bought a ticket for myself too.

Have you seen this play or the Liz Taylor/Richard Burton movie of it? Yikes! I read the reviews that said it was a “giddy vicious thrill ride” and a “bitter satire of marriage,” but honestly I had no idea how bitter and vicious.

Do you ever remember watching a movie with your parents and a make-out scene came on or there was a spate of cussing? Same awkward feeling. I know they’re grown ups and all, but it was no “Beauty & the Beast.” Well, maybe in a way…
At least I didn’t see it on a date. That could have been uncomfortable.

It did provide for an interesting conversation after the play. This is a story about mean, miserable wrecks. There are two couples: one realizes they are miserable and one has it brought to the surface by the other couple’s maliciousness. And the whole time they are getting progressively drunker. We decided that the message was something like this:

Happiness is only possible when you realize that happiness is not possible. Misery can be bonding. Love hurts. Something like that.

I’m sure the lobby bars did well on this play. I was wondering what the clusters of husbands were discussing while they waited for their wives in the bathroom during the intermissions.

There was an unusual distraction during the play. Apparently this particular play attracted an older crowd and it is winter. This combo of factors made for much audible, organic punctuation during the performance. One guy three rows in front of me repeatedly created one of these sounds. Honestly I’m not sure how, nor am I sure I want to. Was his dyspepsia temporary or chronic? I felt sorry for his wife. I was grateful I was far enough away that I did not detect any olfactory accompaniment. And the coughing! Was it the booze at intermission? I wanted to stand up and shout at one point, but what would I say?

I know that when I’m old I’ll probably be terrible and I’ll still go to whatever play I want and not care about the young women I annoy in the audience. Hopefully I’ll keep some Tums in my pocket.

Wednesday, January 10, 2007

Today my daughter used a Target gift card to buy an iTunes gift card. hhmm

When she got home, she told her brother he needed to shower because he stunk, an accurate assessment. He lifted his armpit and inhaled deeply.

"Man stench." He declared. "Get used to it."

Should I worry about the boy growing up in a houseful of women?

Tuesday, January 09, 2007

For Christmas, my daughter got me these two charms for my cell phone. I love them. When I was a kid, I loved the sound of long fingernails on the piano keys, even if it drove my teacher crazy. My daughter loves nails clicked on a window. I feel the same way now about the sound these charms make when I use my phone. I don’t know why. My daughter also caught my personality well with this duo: a pink ribbon angel and a margarita.

My friend from Boise, who has sent me artistically crafted jewelry before, sent me these 4 earrings, each one different. Each time I have worn a different combo. They’re great conversation pieces. I love ‘em. So when I thanked her for the earrings, she tactfully mentioned that I might also consider using them as wine charms.

Oh. So that explains the unusual hooking mechanism.

Would you use them as wine charms or earrings?

Monday, January 08, 2007

The thing about motherhood that makes me want to drink is the relentless nature of it. I love my children. They really are great kids. But they are so needy. They need rides. They need money. They need their friends over. They need hugs and sympathy. They need to be left alone. They need to take their anger out on somebody. They need someone to rebel against. They need new jeans. They need someone to edit their book report – now. They need their laundry done. They need to borrow my jacket. They need their horizons broadened. They need their intellects challenged. They need time to relax, a quiet place to study. They need it at 3am. They need it now.
They need.
They need.

Some days I’m good at anticipating it. A lot of days I miss.
I have a lot of help, but ultimately, their needs depend on me.
I wanted this. They are my wish granted. I love them fiercely.
But sometimes, more than anything else, they make me tired.

Saturday, January 06, 2007

Have you heard about Oprah’s new Leadership Academy in South Africa? It’s for 7th & 8th grade girls and is apparently quite a show piece for Oprah’s philanthropy. I read a bit of controversy about it that got me thinking. This residential school has the mission of training “academically talented” girls from a poor background to be leaders. I’m sure the academic part is top notch. The campus is beautiful. The component being questioned is the beauty salon. O’s philosophy there is the beauty feeds confidence. These girls in this country have not necessarily been told they are beautiful. Like it or not, leaders are judged on appearances.

The naysayers point out that the funds could have helped more kids with 10 modest schools rather than one over-the-top academy. I say it’s her money and I’m glad she’s sharing, no matter the motive.

Here’s my question for you that I’ve been thinking about since I read the little article in the Post.

Is it better to do less for many or more for fewer? Should I give a small gift to a hundred people or a huge gift to one? A nibble or a feast? A cottage or a mansion? Flip flops or Manolos?

Thursday, January 04, 2007

So what topics should you NOT blog about? Recently people have lost their jobs over things they've posted on MySpace and on blogs. So obviously specifics about the job aren't a good idea.

I know many of you use your real names and many don't. Mostly it probably doesn't matter since a name like Julie or Anne isn't remarkably identifiable.

I guess some of the lines to cross depend on your readers - but that's the tricky part. We never really know who's reading. And obviously we want readers. I enjoy the conversation.

I'm afraid if I censor myself too much that my blog will sound like those happy family press releases that people send in their Christmas cards. Really many of those letters are WAY too long. So I have to realize that much of the minutia of my life is mind-numbingly boring to most people.

Some of the juiciest details that are too personal to reveal would make for much more interesting reading.

But I don’t want to embarrass my kids. I have to learn to fictionalize better.

Why do you blog?
Have you ever got in trouble with your blog?

Wednesday, January 03, 2007

I'm having a little blogger crisis lately. It's the public vs. private thoughts thing. Some of the things I'd like to talk about that would be the most interesting I'm afraid to put out there, which is why I haven't been posting.
Like things about my new relationship
new writing career possiblities
things about my children

Are you guys ever stumped? I've had a bunch of new things happening.

How about dating with children - not dating children, or children dating, which would all be interesting conversations. I hear Kate Blanchett has a movie out on one of those topics.

So then I think I will just write about a safe topic, like my favorite movie of 06, "Little Miss Sunshine." (Don't miss it. Don't watch it with little ones around either.)

I could talk about my underwear to draw out some of the lurkers I see on my blog.

So what will it be?
one man in particular?
my kids?
my writing?
lyrics to a song by the Reverend Horton Heat?
my diet strategies?

I'll just wait and write a real post another day.
Thank you for your patience while I experience techincal difficulties.

Monday, January 01, 2007

I think in 2007 I will have a steadier, healthier diet. For the last few years I have made do with jelly doughnuts and drive-through meals. Don't get me wrong; when you are hungry, those are really appreciated. Those can hold you over. But as tasty as those were at the moment, I never felt very good about eating them later. I was always hungry again. I was thinking I'd just have to live on those. But this new meal plan is looking promising. I think I'm ready for some home cooking, some delicious, slow-cooked meals that are well balanced and hearty and still have some dessert after dinner.
Ya know what I mean?