Archive for February 2009

There’s a NEW Dipsey in town!

February 25, 2009

     Had a wonderful exhausting day today. Dropped the Prince off to school at 7 am and did some ‘power shopping’ with the Princess before dropping her and her nebulizer at school ay 8:00.   Had to go in and fill out the medical paperwork so she could give herself a breathing treatment at noon. Discovered that the band concert we THOUGHT was tonight is actually NEXT Tuesday. Yay!  Signed her up for snowboarding after school, zipped out to the restaurant supply house looking for squeeze ketchup bottles we needed and then went to the television studio to set up for the taping of our FOURTH episode of ‘Dipsey Doodle’s Flower Pot Shop.’  This is the literacy program I write and produce for our school district…..for free.

     My original Dipsey – the wonderfully talented Cally Sevald – has graduated from high school and is working with the Young Americans performance troupe. SOOOoooOO there is a NEW Dipsey in town!!!

p1020188AT is an eighth grader and photographs wonderfully with pink hair, don’t you think??  Taping took all day and we had a wonderful time together.  We were spotlighting the ‘Biscuit’ books by Alyssa Satin Capucilli  with this episode.  We invited a vet – and a gorgeous puppy named Ben – to teach Dipsey and Farmer Bob how to take care of a pet.  The puppy was GORGEOUS….and cute…and loveable…and low key.  And he looked just like Biscuit!  And he tried to eat the set ….  Just gotta LOVE a flower lover.

   Then,  being the glutton for punishment that I am, I picked the Princess up at basketball practice and  took her to the ski slopes for one last harrah of a snowboarding session. Three hours later, I am home and nearing exhaustion.

 
But sometimes exhaustion can be exhilerating.

 
Probably going to be rethinking that in the morning.

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Traditions

February 21, 2009

mvc-011f-2He turned fifteen today.  Birthday traditions take high order in how we do things around here.  Traditionally Mom stays up late the night before wrapping every single little thing….even a package of gum.  Presents are balanced in a pile and topped with a bounty of balloons so there is a virtual shower of ballons when it comes to opening presents.  Mom has also stayed up to hang a curtain of crepe paper streamers on the birthday child’s bedroom door.  (Seriously I hate that curtain because there is no easy way to hang them. So thank you 15 for asking me NOT to do it this year.  I won’t be so lucky with your sister in August.) 

And birthday cakes have always been my ‘thing’.  Which usually means making the cake several days before and frosting it late into the night before or early in the morning the day of.  I am talking cakes like 3D teddy bears, a hockey/soccer player (with tin foil blades or chocolate chip cleats ), castles, sandy beaches with pretzel stick palm trees,  dragons (a bundt cake pan and Twinkies for the feet), space ships with aliens and even the Millineuim Falcon (when we were in our Star Wars phase).  Once I made a bed with four sleeping faces (cupcakes) decorated like the boys invited for a sleep over with two girl faces (cupcakes again) peeking over the foot and decorated to look like my daughter and her cousin who was also spending the night.  Had ‘Watch out Boys…’ lettered on the side of that one.  It was a hoot.  But, my favorite cake – ever – was the Frankenstein I made for 15’s ‘Mad Scientist’ party when he was eight.  Heh.  I baked that one in an empty 5 lb. coffee can.  This year he requested an ice cream cake from Dairy Queen….chocolate…..with a soccer ball.  Sigh.  End of ‘tradition’. 

Birthdays begin with phone calls from out of town relatives so they can sing ‘Happy Birthday.’   Non and Pop are usually the first from Florida and Aunt Darcy in South Carolina a close second.  Activity and dinner is generally whatever the birthday person requests.   Today they are at a bowling party for the newly four twin neices.  Tonight it’s crispy chicken and potatoes.  And baked beans.  And pickles.  And a birthday cake from Dairy Queen.  And red pop.  And a Red Wing hockey game on the big screen tv.  Perfect for 15.

But there are other traditions as well.  One that I really don’t share with anyone.

Every day on this day I think about a young woman on the other side of the world.  A twenty year old who gave birth to a baby, left behind some very basic and sketchy  information about herself and his absent father on a form and walked away.  Walked away leaving her slightly premature child in a nursery. 

I wonder if she thinks about him – or me – as often as I think about her on this day? 

I wonder if she wonders what he has turned out to be?  If she would be proud to know that he is kind, a good friend, a dedicated soccer player and motivated student.  I wonder if she would get a knowing gleam in her eye if  she learned that he was stubborn and tenacious and very, very shy at times.   I wonder if she would understand his quirky sense of humor.  I wonder if she thinks about what he might look like and be proud that he is – at 15 – gawky with his new height and very, very handsome. 

I hope she wonders…..and knows.  I hope she knows that her child – my son – is loved more than anything in the world.   I cannot imagine our lives without him.  He is a huge part of our family.  And I thank her.  For having the courage and faith to hand her newborn child to a stranger.   To be able to trust him to  the hands of the people who gave us the opportunity to raise him. 

Her child – my son – this angsty alien teenager being at the moment – is going to be a good, good man.  Someone we can both take pride in.  I wonder…and hope that she knows these things. 

And thinking about this is -on this day every year – is my very own birthday ‘tradition.’

Happy Birthday, Son.

I love you.

 The picture is from his 8th birthday because part of being this  angsty alien teenager being is that you fight tooth and nail about getting your picture taken…..sigh.

Filling the Freezer

February 16, 2009

fall_decor_2008_00812 

    We are a soccer family….and currently a basketball family….and maybe even a track family in a few weeks.   Our lives consist of a busy school/work day with an added sports practice tacked on for good measure.  Because my children play for different travel soccer clubs, we are generally carting them off in two different directions.  Basketball is directly after school – AT school – for two hours.  Unless there is an away game to attend. 

 Because we are a family that still eats dinner together at the table, preparing meals can sometimes be a challenge.  While the Princess and I are totally happy with soup or a sandwich or an occasional bowl of cold cereal for dinner, my two ‘boys’ can get awfully crabby if their tummies aren’t full of something heartier before 7:30 at night. 

Last fall I discovered one of those grocery store ‘Taste of Home’ recipe booklets for freezer meals.  I spent one Sunday afternoon/evening in a frenzy of cooking and wrapping and freezing.  I added cooking instruction labels to the top of each one.

  It was SO nice to have these random casserole things to pull out in the morning and pop into the oven in the evening when we were going to be on the run.  Add a salad/cut veggies/cottage cheese/fruit/hot bread and you have a wonderful meal.  Some were better than others.  All of them were eaten.  Gone.  So, Super Bowl Sunday, I did it again. 

 I went grocery shopping in the morning and cooked, assembled and wrapped all afternoon.  Still had ingredients and a couple more to do on Tuesday and I did.  Twenty casseroles filling my freezer.  Twenty two if you want to count the two that we had eaten.  Or twenty five if you want to count the two meat loaves and one pan of lasagne that were already there. 

And lest you think all of those foil pans are filled with meat loaf and lasagne type meals, they’re not.  There is quite an assortment actually.   There are three spaghetti/ham casseroles, three turkey/dressing casseroles (my personal favorite), three ‘colorful chicken’ casseroles (a tasty mix of chicken, celery, peppers, corn, peas and pasta  – Princess’  favorite), three 3 cheese kielbasa casseroles, two chicken enchilada/spanish rice dinners, two sausage/rice casseroles, one mini pizza meatloaf pans with 4 mini meatloaves, one tamale pie casserole and two cheddar turkey bakes.

Ah.  Perfect for those ‘on the run’ meals.

Perfect because I control the fat and sodium and sugars with not-real- salt and not-real- sugar and my favorite not-real -butter ingredients.  I buy the low fat EVERYTHING for them.  I buy lean meat cuts.  I buy  whole grain pastas.  I sneak in the extra vegetables (’cause what they don’t know won’t hurt them, right?).

What a sense of accomplishment to have your larder…er…um…freezer…full.

It’s not that we don’t  ever have real on the spot cooked meals because we do.  And my crock pot cranks out a meal or two every week. 

 The only problem I am having with this full freezer is that I am so durn stingy with them.  Like I don’t want anyone to actually EAT them.  They are freaking works of ART!  Putting them together took TIME!   MY time!  The choice between taking one of ‘them’ out and making do with say….oh….a hot dog….has been awfully hard.  Nearly impossible really.

So….I guess…..Bon Appetit!  Maybe…….

After the dance….

February 13, 2009

I hate seventh grade. 

I hated it once.  I hated it twice  (with the Prince) and it’s not any better this third time around.  In fact, it’s worse.  This time I am going through it with a Princess.  A Princess who has never really shown an interest in girly things.  A Princess who  is all about sports.  And moving.  Fast.  She is all about jeans and  bikes and snowboards and soccer balls and skateboards and basketballs.  Oh…and texting. 

This boyfriend/girlfriend thing is very new to her.  She has long been disdainful of friends who gushed about this boy and that boy.  She was never patient enough to sit through their conversations.  Never.  In Kindergarten she was perceived as being slightly odd because she was more likely to be playing ‘tanks’….bumping and chasing and bashing on the playground….with the boys.  Later she was perceived as a leader of sorts because she led a small contingency of girls onto the playground football and soccer fields.  And they played rough.  With the boys.

Most of her guy friends see her as a ‘bud.’  Someone to compete with.  Someone to laugh with.  Someone to play computer games with.  Not someone to ‘go’ with.  (It makes her crazy when I ask where they are going. LOL)  But when the Christmas dance rolled around someone asked her to ‘go.’   A nice kid she’d known in Kindergarten.  A cutie.  Cute enough to  make her want to wear an actual dress….and tights.    They danced and they hung together but were off with other friends as well.   And  he broke up with her after the holiday vacation.  ‘Whatever…’ she says she told him. 

But as the weeks passed and the Valentine Dance was looming, she began hunting around for someone to ‘go’ with.  We talked for an hour in the car the other morning.  The central theme was that girls mature faster than boys.  That she was the ‘whole package’ – smart, fun to be around, athletic, pretty – and when they finally caught up to the girls in their orbit, the guys would be buzzing around her like bees.  SHE would soon be able to pick and choose.  That said she was content to go to the dance alone…..to just hang with her friends. 

So off she went.  Snazzy black slacks, black tee under a bright red sweater, loose black hair swinging to the middle of her back, huge smile…..and ugly white tennis shoes with one neon green shoe lace and one neon orange shoelace.  To hang with her friends.  And eat pizza.  And play basketball.  And maybe dance.  Maybe.

Two hours later we picked her up and she was yakking away about what she had done.  Just hanging with friends was definitely more fun and easier than ‘going’ with someone.  Oh….and she danced.  And then she slapped someone.  An eighth grader who was TOUCHING her!  While everyone was ‘dirty dancing’……

I hate seventh grade.

Did I mention that?

Spring is on the way…..

February 11, 2009

….and you know I can tell?  My tennis shoes came out of hiding!  Yay!

Flippin’ the Freaking Switch

February 10, 2009

Okay.  It’s been about 6 months.  My almost 2 year old laptop has been on the fritz.  First, the wireless internet connection was working perfectly.  And then it began to work only when I had it plugged into the wall.  And then it only worked when I had it plugged into a certain switch next to the Lazy Boy chair in the livingroom.  Then internet connections quit working on my laptop altogether.  It was aggravating but I could still use our desktop computer for internet activities.  But I kept asking HRH to see how we could fix it.  He finally called his twin – the Computer Meister  – who installed our wireless system.  Their telephone…ahem…conversation was ….ahem….curtailed.  Computer Geek vs Computer Geek Wannabee?  Not good.  HRH was frustrated.  He sent emails.  He sent instant messages.  He printed PAGES of instructions.  He finally gave up and set the whole issue aside for a while.  Well,  I was going through those papers one day recently.  At the very top of the Acer instructions he’d printed, it said to make sure the ‘internet switch on the front of the computer was on.’ 

Heh. 

And they trust ME to teach computer skills????

Loving My Internet Connections

February 5, 2009

Yesterday was a good day. 

As a part time Teacher, I have one day a week off.  I chose Tuesday.  It was an odd choice, I know, but it has actually turned out to be the best day.  It’s a quiet day when everyone else in the family is off doing their thing and I can concentrate on what needs to be done.   I can do laundry, grocery shop, fill my freezer (which is what I did yesterday…fodder for a future post), hit the multiplex for a matinee no one else wants to see, schedule appointments, sew, bake, work on lesson plans, etc.  Tuesday is a good day for me.  And yesterday was better than most.

You see, as an elementary Technology Teacher I must spend my days cautioning children from Kindergarten to fifth grade about internet use.  I must strictly caution them about high tech ‘stranger dangers’ and the flashing availability of ‘inappropriate’ web sites.   I have to restrict their use of easier, faster seach engines because of those web sites.  I have to restrain their natural curiosities – which only serves to whet their appetites – in the interest of ‘internet safety.’   I want my students to be responsible but I also want them to be fearless with the internet.  I teach them the required curriculum….but I don’t have to follow my own instructions.  I am an adult.  Yay!

The internet – and it’s websites  – has been a very lucky thing for me.  And the reason why yesterday was such a good day for me. 

First thing in the morning I logged in to check on some of the blogs that I follow on a regular basis.  I checked out my friend Mary’s blog, The Eleventh, and it put a smile on my face for the entire day.  Mary and I connnected about a year and a half ago because we are Bloggers who are raising daughters with a similar history.  I love reading about Mary and her little Rabbit.  Oops.  I am smiling again.  Then, on a whim, I checked another friend’s blog.  D left barely a week ago for a study abroad semester in Croatia. Our friendship has evolved from fan fiction writing critiques to occasional texting and fandom sharing.  She is young, has the same issues I do with writing implements (I never took an exam or did homework without a clutch of freshly sharpened #2 s on hand…unless you want to count the period when I could only write anything functional with red ink on a yellow legal pad…heh), has a biting sense of humor…and , as she was leaving for Europe, sent me one of her three copies of the recent  ‘Improper Bostonian’ with Maura Tierney on the front cover.  Totally made my day.  Yay!  D has internet service in her host home after all.  Now I can live vicariously through her adventures in Zagreb.

Later in the morning I had a FaceBook chat with another friend – the mom of my daughter’s Kindergarten best friend.  As hard as we tried to keep it, THEIR friendship went by the wayside of different interests and different schools.  But ours didn’t.  We maintain contact through e-mails and a rare phone call. ….and now Face Book, via the internet.  Yesterday we compared ‘notes’ about using cilantro in our recipes and my love affair with canned green chilis.  I slipped a note onto the wall of another ‘friend’, comparing our interest in an actor she has recently worked with.  I also answered a lengthy email with a friend in New York City.  We met on line at an “ER” message board THREE years ago.  Our friendship has evolved way beyond our interest in ‘ER.’  So much so that when I ran away from home last fall to see Maura Tierney in ‘Three Changes’, my friend bought tickets for the same performance and took me out for dinner beforehand.  Our first face to face meeting after two years of emailing each other.  It’s the kind of thing that can make or break an on line long distance friendship.  But our friendship continues.  We live very, very different kind of lives and continue to enjoy hearing what they other is doing….and thinks. 

I sent a long, newsy email to my Mom in Florida.  We hadn’t connected by phone is a while and I enjoy writing when I know she can get it in the same day.  I answered notes that had been sent to me through my work email system from the comfort of my home computer desk.  I checked my bank account and transferred money into a woefully low checking account from the same spot.  I logged into Compassion International to see if there was any news about about the little boy we sponsor in the Dominican Republic.  I opened one of my favorite blogs for recipes, The Pioneer Woman, to doublecheck  something I was planning for dinner.  And I checked in with my friend, Pam, another blogger with whom I share step-parenting issues with.   I checked in on Mary Ellen’s blog….about her adventures with her three little girls that I totally want for my very own.  Seriously.

Later in the day I received an email from a blogger friend with a job I envy.  He and Liz are sending me something…and ‘ER’ surprise.   Needed my snail mail address.  I am very intrigued and very, very suspicious of these two.  : )  I love their wit, their sense of humor and his love of all things Disneyland.  A ‘surprise’?  That one is going to keep me thinking for a while.  I shared that with my sister in South Carolina via an ‘instant message.’  And my last internet task of the day…..to set up another taping of my cable show with the director of the school district’s television studio.  It’s an afternoon ‘shoot’ on the 24th.  I love television production talk.  And I love working out the logistics via emails.

So after a day’s worth of internet and web activities I am still smiling.  And preparing to go back to school and caution my students about the ‘dangers’ of the internet and being responsible.

Naw.  I think we will ‘play’ today.  There is www.freerice.com and www.spellingcity.com and www.coolmath4kids.com to contend with.

Thanks to the internet.