Tuesday, November 24, 2009

What are YOU Grateful For?

During this week of giving thanks, there are many, many things for which I am grateful. I'm surrounded by people I love, who love me back. I have everything I need, peppered with several wants. My kids are happy, healthy well-adjusted kids. My husband takes good care of me and we share lots of laughs. I have a good life, you know?

Right now, I'm especially grateful that I can be thankful for good friends. I know there are people out there whose lives are so frantic, so dysfunctional, that they're simply in survival mode. They're so bogged down by their issues that they can't even think about having friends, let alone having time for them. Friends are a luxury they just can't afford. For me, friends are a necessity that I can't afford not to have.

Whenever I'm in Houston, I make a huge effort to visit old friends. I grew up in Arizona, but Houston is where I became a grown-up. My kids were born here. We bought our first house here. The friends I made here were a huge part of that becoming-an-adult process. Two nights ago I stopped in on a girlfriend, Liz. It had been a couple of years since we last saw each other, but as she bear-hugged me at the door, time and distance became irrelevant. A few minutes later, her sister (also my friend) Jen showed up at the door. Four hours later, our cheeks ached from laughter.

That's what good friends do. We laugh ourselves silly and love each other no matter how much weight we gain or what kind of mental trauma we cause our kids.

My life isn't a piece of cake. It's the whole dang bakery. And friends are the icing.

Sunday, November 22, 2009

The Happy Couple

I just thought I'd post a picture I snapped of the big day. Despite the rain, it turned out to be a fabulous day!

Friday, November 20, 2009

These Stories Need No Embellishment

My brother is getting married tomorrow, to a fabulous girl. To borrow a phrase from my husband, he is definitely marrying above himself. Tonight we had a dinner for the two families. We spent a lovely evening getting to know each other, all the while enjoying fabulous Greek food. As the oldest sibling, I felt it my duty to bestow a few words of advice to my new sister-in-law; if my little brother got roasted in the process, well, so be it.

Here are a few snippets:

When Anthony turned 3-years-old, my mother took him to the bakery to pick out his birthday cake. He chose one with a girl in a bikini. If you know my brother, that's par for the course. My mom, being the instigator that she is, allowed him to take the three candles and place them according to his desire. You can imagine where the first two went. The third was strategically placed in the frosting lady's belly button.

I gave his fiance three birthday candles to save for when there's a lull in the romance department.

Anthony has always been very concerned about his looks. I've often commented that he is more of a girl than I am. If you were to compare our two vanities, mine would have four products: soap, toothpaste, lotion, and Chapstick. His would contain the entire Clinique collection and then some. When he was in kindergarten, the big VHS movie we watched around our house was Superman II. The villain's name was Zod. He dressed in black and had very slicked-back hair. Anthony decided that this was the look for him. Getting ready for school, he would use no less than half a bottle of hair gel, ensuring his Zod-like look would last all day long.

I gave Charlotte a large bottle of hair gel, to get the happy couple off to the right start.

When Anthony was a teen-ager, he was often up to mischief of one kind or another. Somehow, our mom would hear about it through the grapevine, and would anxiously await the return of her prodigal son. Usually, she was waiting with some kind of weapon; a shoe, a wooden spoon, whatever was within reach. That, unfortunately, was often the remote control. She broke an untold number of remotes on Anthony's backside, or whatever limb he was using to protect himself. The running joke in the family became that if Dad wasn't home it was because he was at Walmart picking up a new remote control.

I told Charlotte to save her knuckles and gave her the largest remote control I could find. She's gonna need it.

And so, I wish for my brother (whom I took for show-and-tell in the second grade) and his beautiful bride, a long and happy life. And if one day, they have a little boy who chases his sisters around the house, threatening to pee on them, well, I hope Charlotte has the remote control handy.

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Palin vs. Mayer

I must have been on a Sno-ball sugar rush last night, because it took me a while to fall asleep. So I stayed up and watched Nightline, as Conan O'Brien spent far too much of his monologue bashing Sara Palin. Interestingly enough, there was an interview with Sara Palin on Nightline. There was also an interview with John Mayer.

Oh goody! I thought to myself, a two-fer!

You see, I adore Sara Palin. I may be in the minority of people who would actually speak up and admit that, but I like what she has to say. Plus, she's a hard-workin' mama.

I also adore John Mayer. I have all of his albums, I've seen him in concert four times, and "Try" is my all-time #1 favorite song.

Whether or not you agree with Sara Palin's views, I am continually boggled by the venom that is spit in her name. The Nightline interview, as you can imagine, was less than friendly. Barbara Walters reported that she had already made a million dollars from her book -- as if that was some sort of evil atrocity. I aspire to be a millionaire myself, and if it happens by way of a book deal, that would only be my lifelong dream come true. What really boggles my mind is how Sara Palin is constantly criticized, torn apart, and hated by other women. She's a mom. No, her kids aren't perfect. But if we were all judged by our kids' choices, we'd all be in deep doo-doo. She works hard. She fights for things that she believes in and in her words, she "calls 'em like she sees 'em." And yet, poison darts spew at her from all angles.

On the other hand, the John Mayer interview was favorable. The star-struck reporter called him a guitar god (I'd have to agree) and then went on to glorify him for all of the A-List actresses he's dated. He's a great musician, yes, and I will defend that to anyone who wants to take me on. But he's also a Mimbo (to use a Seinfeld phrase -- male bimbo).

And so in my late-night sugary coconut high, the most obvious of contrasts played out on the television infront of me. A family woman who isn't afraid to speak up is villified while a musician who gets around, is glorified.

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

I Had Nowhere To Go But Up

Today I woke up with that lingering dark cloud over my head, but I was determined to let the sunshine push through. So I wore jeans and a t-shirt to work. Not very professional, but at least I was comfortable. And comfortable=happy(er). When the students came in, one boy handed me an envelope stuffed with about 10 papers of drawings he had made for me. I think they included one of him and I doing karate together. The happiness meter went up a few more notches. I had a few issues to resolve with my principal, which I did, and it was done respectfully and with a smile. I even managed to fill out three referral forms for students who need speech services. If you're not a teacher, let me just say referrals=mountains of paperwork. Riding on that high, I decided that spreading happiness=gaining happiness. I donated a little money to a coworker in need. I let a lady at the grocery store go ahead of me in line. I patronized a local mom and pop shop and paid probably twice as much for an item than I could have otherwise. But they needed my business more. I picked myself up a yummy lunch from a local eatery that was simply heavenly. (Okay that was more selfish-type happiness spreading, but hey - a girl's gotta eat)!

As I type this, a lovely, made-from-scratch chicken pot pie is baking in the oven. Cooking=therapy. And that will make my family happy. I even picked up Sno-balls for dessert. We don't often do dessert, much less coconut-covered mounds of refined and processed sugar, but hey - a girl's gotta eat!

As with most things in life, the more you give, the more you get.

Monday, November 16, 2009

I Do Solemnly Swear

Thing are off balance. Out of whack. Off kilter. I finally realized that today when after work, I went to the grocery store to pick up some corn syrup for a children's church activity for which I was responsible. The bottle behind it fell from its perch on the top shelf and landed on the floor. I dutifully bent down to pick it up while talking on the phone to someone who was helping me with said activity. As we were chatting, I didn't notice the gaping hole from which the sticky goo was gushing -- all over my satin blouse, fleece-lined coat, and knit scarf. Not to mention my hand, the shopping cart, and its contents. Unfortunately, the wet wipes aisle was at the opposite end of the store.

I didn't have time to go home and change before dashing off to another appointment. Enroute to said appointment, lunch was a chicken leg from the rotisserie chicken I bought for dinner. Fortunately I kept the wet wipes with me on the front seat. Unfortunately I went to the appointment looking like someone had blown their nose on me. Then I came home for twenty minutes before dashing off to the church activity, where there were, of course, complaints from parents for one thing or another.

I have about a bajillion things to do this week before flying with my kids to Texas for my brother's wedding. It's time to find the balance. Get things back into whack. On kilter. From this moment on, I do solemnly swear to JUST SAY NO. So please don't ask. Because I hate to say no. But I have to. For my own sanity. I will take care of those things that need to be done and I will let go of the things I cannot control. I will do it with a smile and I will bring my blood presssure below the boiling point. I might even eat a piece of fruit... if it's engulfed in chocolate.

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Embarrassment Galore

I fainted today. In the LDS temple.


All I know is one second I got really hot and then the next thing I know three cute little old men and my hubby (who also happens to be cute, by the way) are hovering over me because I'm on the floor.

I have no explanation, so I'm accusing the stupid knee-high stockings I was wearing of being far too tight.

You'd think that if you faint in a sacred place, you'd at least see an angel or two.

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Tuesdays with Mrs. Stagg

I guess I'm on a kid quote thing lately.

Today is Tuesday. You'll need to know that in a sec.

My kindergarten class goes to art every Tuesday. Today the art teacher had little piles of legos for each of the kids to play with while she pulled them back one by one to do something artsy with them. Being that report cards are due tomorrow I sat in a corner and tabulated assessment scores and eaves-dropped on 5-year-old conversations. This is what I heard:

Boy: Hey - let's make a robot!
Girl: Don't spit on me!
Boy: Let's make a robot!
Girl: I said don't spit on me! That's gross! And I took a bath! I took a bath on Sunday!


Sunday, November 8, 2009

I Can't Make This Stuff Up

I have a six-year-old son and I swear the reason he was born is to keep me entertained. Here are a few nuggets from the past week:

We had lamb chops for dinner on Friday. My daughter wanted to know what a "chop" was. The boy wanted to know if there was such a thing as donkey chops.

The other morning my husband asked him if he slept okay. His answer: "Yeah- until I woke up."

We had art night at school on Wednesday. He left in search of a friend to play with. He came back a few minutes later and I asked if he found anyone to play with. "Just my teacher," he replied, "and she's too big to play with."

After being asked by his father several times to do his chores, he... ahem, released some gas and said, "that was my ANGRY fart!"

Friday, November 6, 2009

NaNoWriMo Update

At 10,040 words, I'm officially one-fifth done with my 50,000 word novel. Plus 40.
Now I should probably get out of this chair and eat something other than bite-size snickers.
Lamb chops, anyone?

Happy Fall Y'All!

We're enjoying what I'm sure are the last of the warm days here in northern Utah for a while. This is a collage of a few pictures I snapped this afternoon.
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Tuesday, November 3, 2009

Say What?

Ah, November. Report cards to do. Arts night at school. A Primary to run. A wedding trip to plan and attend. Thanksgiving. Oh - did I mention I have a family to take care of?

But the thing I'm most excited about doing this month is this: I'm writing a novel. You know, the one I'm vomiting. It's National Novel Writing Month. Affectionately known as NaNoWriMo. The goal is to spit out a 50,000 word novel by the end of the month. It doesn't have to be good. It just has to be done. Don't believe me? Check it out here: www.nanowrimo.org

Why am I doing this, you ask? I don't know. So I can say I did it? So I can have an excuse for making my kids macaroni and cheese from a box for dinner? I did that tonight, by the way. No vegetables. No meat. Just noodles and powdered cheese.

As of tonight, I've got 7554 words. Go Cindy Go! Type! Type! Type!

Sunday, November 1, 2009

FIVE Layers of Clothing

I'm part of a group of teachers this year who meets once or twice a month to discuss, well, I still haven't figured that out. On Thursday we went hiking in the Uintah National Forest. I'm pretty sure uintah is a Ute word for "freezing my tail off!" Or something like that.

But I got a few good pictures, so maybe it was worth it after all.