29 December 2007

Edjumacated

Grades posted. Two A, One B. Hell yeah.

25 December 2007

(No quite so) Quiet Christmas at home

As per usual, nothing goes off without a hitch around here. No major disasters on our part, but enough bumps in the road to keep it interesting.
In the only-a-minor-disaster department, we wound up junking out my little Geo. *sniff* We had been watching carefully, knowing it was on borrowed time, and wondering at what point the repairs would be too expensive to justify. When it developed the knock of death (on the way to my finals), we knew the time had come. Replacement parts for a 4-cylinder subcompact are hard to come by in the rural midwest, land of big-blocks and F-150s. So we've been doing the one-vehicle dance, while iPastor tinkers on the other van (E-150, of course), to press it back into service.
Saturday I worked at Job 1, where we wound up staying open a little longer to accommodate Christmas shoppers. When I called for pickup, the internet at home was down, meaning my Vonage phone service was also down. After calling the neighbor, with hopes of sending a kid to fetch someone at my house, I found out another neighbor was in town, so I arranged a carpool. The accumulated waiting and errand-running put me home two hours later than planned. We used some of that time at work to clean out Nina's collection jar, so I got to take a little bonus to her family, including a sucker and little notes put in by kids who read her information.
Meanwhile, back at home, our Christmas company had arrived. B is a friend from a group dating back to our more, um, intense, Trek fanhood. She has a similar situation to mine, in that her (half) blood siblings are considerably (20+ years) older than she. She is not particularly close to any of them, so she tends to spoil the kids in our little group instead. Things 1 and 2 were particularly excited to see her again, having spent a weekend on their own with her during their foray to Theatre Camp this summer. iPastor had started supper, and B had finished it up, so I came home to a hot meal and some good company just lazing around and passing the BS.
Sunday morning my bro and SIL called, asking about timetables. I hadn't been expecting them until Monday, but told 'em to head on over, the turkey was in the roaster. I went to church, ran Thing 1 to McD's, stopped at the Evil*Empire Stupid Center, then came home to wait for bro. And wait. We come from a line of terminal putzers, so I was not too surprised by tardiness, but felt a little guilty when they were dropped on my doorstep, having made it within 8 miles, only to unexpectedly drop the tranny in their Explorer. We shuttled back to collect the contents of the truck (which contained enough food for another complete Christmas dinner), then park it at a friend's in the little village where it conked out (once again affirming the rural/small town lifestyle) but wound up limping them home. We then commenced with dinner, having picked up said friend for dinner, and I rushed off to work, where I was not needed due to the turn in the weather, so I came home after collecting the McD Thing, and we flopped on the various couches and chairs to watch the stack of Christmas movies bro had brought, visit amonsgt the girls, and drink a little Christmas wine.
Yesterday, the mechanic (steady Job 1 customer) came with trailer in tow to collect the Explorer. We had a leisurely brunch of crockpot oatmeal and an awesome egg bake we invented on the spot with gluten-free bread. A weekend of paying attention to someone's gluten and corn-free diet really makes me thankful for relatively good health, and very aware of the grain-based ingredients that go into things you would never guess. Hot cocoa mix? Canned Cranberries? Gravy packets? All make sense when you think about it, but just fly under the radar most of the time. We commenced goodbye-ing as B headed home to regroup and head out to visit some of our other friends. We had an abbreviated gift opening so the Things could enjoy the stuff from Uncle and Aunt, then I packed them up for the trek back to South Dakota, so they could get their second car unparked and running. I drove home in a beautiful winter sunset and twilight, and we piled on the couch for more movies.
Today, I was up when iPastor got home from his night shift. He has been on a stretch of nights, so he has flitted in and out of the weekend's activities as his sleep schedule allows. I tucked him in, and soon the Things began waking and checking the stockings. When iPastor wakes, we will have our little family gift exchange, then we will do more lazing and movie-watching. Not a bad way to spend Christmas Day.
Somewhere along the line, church father's decided to celebrate Christmas at this time of year as an alternative and incentive for new converts to replace their pagan celebrations. The actual date of the Birth of Christ is lost to the ages, though speculation and guessing is a fun pastime. It does not matter what day we pick to mark the event, as long as we hold appreciation in our hearts for the very real and miraculous nature of that Birth. Families often choose this time to gather and celebrate, but once again, the date is not as important as the gathering and the loving purpose therefore. May your personal holiday be marked with joy and peace. Love your family, and keep Christ as the forefront of your celebration.
I leave you today with this adaptation of 1 Corinthians 13, read by one of my church family on Sunday. God Bless your Christmas!

Christmas 1 Corinthians 13 Style
- author unknown

If I decorate my house perfectly with plaid bows, strands of twinkling lights and shiny balls, but do not show love to my family, I'm just another decorator.

If I slave away in the kitchen, baking dozens of Christmas cookies preparing gourmet meals and arranging a beautifully adorned table at mealtime, but do not show love to my family, I'm just another cook.

If I work at the soup kitchen, carol in the nursing home, and give all that I have to charity, but do not show love to my family, it profits me nothing.

If I trim the spruce with shimmering angels and crocheted snowflakes, attend a myriad of holiday parties and sing in the choir's cantata, but do not focus on Christ, I have missed the point.

Love stops the cooking to hug the child.

Love sets aside the decorating to kiss the husband.

Love is kind, though harried and tired.

Love doesn't envy another's home that has coordinated Christmas china and table linens.

Love doesn't yell at the kids to get out of the way.

Love doesn't give only to those who are able to give in return, but rejoices in giving to those who can't.

Love bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things.
Love never fails. Video games will break, pearl necklaces will be lost, golf clubs will rust ... but giving the gift of love will endure.

20 December 2007

Done and done

Finals taken.
Dropbox items submitted.
Papers turned in.
Professor bribed with whisky (no crap--the dept. majors showed up with a giftwrapped bottle for retirement/Christmas. Mellowed him out for the whole class.)

Done for the year!

Now if I can afford next semester, it's licensure come spring. Please pray me tuition!

17 December 2007

Language development

Thing 1 has developed a starnge language tic. She and her friends have taken to using words with -ness. Sometimes it works: "Mom, check out my awesomeness" Sometimes not so much: "We had a great time. Massive funness." I was in the tub, and she came bursting into the room (as per usual, privacy is elusive). I expressed my annoyance, and she exclaimed with her usual enthusiasm, "Mom, I have to pee right now! I have peeness!!!!"
Then she realized what she said.
Somedays being a parent is sheer joyness.

16 December 2007

You've come a long way, baby...

Visual gem of the day: a big ol' dude with a proud Minnesota belly, smoking a Virginia Slim.

14 December 2007

Still here

I have not fallen from the face of the planet. Finals crunch is upon me, and I am cranking out the papers and projects. Job 1 and 2 are at busy restaurants with lots of Christmas parties and I've been working most of them.
I have been collecting lots of bloggable tidbits for you, and tucking some away for Blog 365. Now I need to be off and about my business. I'll try to poke my head up for air this weekend.

04 December 2007

Minnesnowta

The first snow of the season arrived here on December 1, which, I suppose, is nothing to complain about. There were warnings and forebodings, and cancellations galore, but I think we only got 4-5". I begged off work Saturday night more for the hassle factor than higway conditions. Why take the time and effort to go in and wait on no-one? I am a bit self-serving, after all. I did manage to get stuck for the first time travelling 3 blocks to pick up a kid who hadn't sense enough to come home. It was about 4:14, not quite dark enough for headlights to make much difference, and not light enough for really good visibility. I drove right into a heap the county and city snowplows had left smack in the middle of the road. Had the light been better, I would have seen it there, but as it was I had no idea it was there until my car stopped moving. Luckily enough, other neighbors were adventurous (read: damn fools) enough to be out and about as well, and they passed word ala a game of telephone back to a neighbor at the corner store with a chain who had me out in less than five minutes (I LOVE small towns!). (For extra credit, diagram that sentence) Here we have a lovely little exercise in revision for clarity, but I'm not playing today. Other than that, I only had to shovel the plow rut behind the vehicles (do we see a theme here?)
***
Anyone else see this today? We may not all have 500 pounds to lose, but her views on blind acceptance are right on the money.
***
One last thing, I am truly insane. Michel, I double dog dare you...

30 November 2007

30

NaBloPoMo is done!! Woot!
***
I'm a little late tonite since we had St. Andrew's supper at our house. It's the third year for our little tradition. St. Andrew is the Patron saint of Scotland, so we had Beef Stew (Scotland has cows) shortbread and cloutie dumpling ala potluck. There was butter and scotch, but not together. I was not as well prepared as I like, and it was a much smaller gathering than in the past, but I was so ready for a little bit of fun instead of work work work work. We ate, talked, laughed and played some cards. It was just what the doctor ordered.
***
I do hope to post with frequency, but I will wait until I have something to say. I have been intrigued by some of the topics on the writing prompts, but as I mentioned before, I'd like more time than I've had lately to work through them. With that, I'm off to bed.

29 November 2007

29

Wow. Two posts left. Thanks for hanging on through all the drivel. Or was it blather?
***
Heard on the radio today: You can't do the wrong thing well enough or long enough for it to turn out OK.
***
Ugh. I'm having a hard time stringing a coherent thought together. I woke at 4am and couldn't get back to sleep, so I got up, ran laundry, and worked on school stuff. Now I'm shot. Guess I'll save up the pearls o' wisdom for the big finale tomorry. I can see you all aquiver with the suspense. Mwahahahahahaha!

28 November 2007

28

I heard some good news on the radio yesterday. Good in a weird way. Thanksgiving week gasoline sales were down 1.7% from this week last year. This comes in a series of 5 weeks' decline in demand. Consumption of gasoline is down, if only minimally. It is only a reduction in consumption that will ever bring the cost of gas down. Keep is up consumers! You're on the way!
***
iPastor got an Eagles DVD for Christmas, and we're having a lovely home concert experience as I type. Can't put out the $$$$ for tickets, but this is a lovely substitute.
***
Fun with words: conundrum. We got to explain that one to the German kid over the weekend. When we were more active, rabid Star Trek fans, and Next Generation was still in broadcast, they went through a period one season where the titles of the episodes were "Catastrophe," "Disaster," Conundrum," etc. It got to the point where we wondered why they didn't just start naming the episodes "Really Big Problem of the Week" "Conundrum" has been one of those pet words in our family since then. Just a fun little tidbit to share.
***
Had a couple readers mention troubles reading this here rag. If you're out there at all, would you please leave a comment of some sort, even just "Hi," so I know if anyone can see this. Thanky really muchy.

27 November 2007

27

Random bits of internet fun for you today...
***
So, Mama Goose is

AKA:

1.YOUR ROCK STAR NAME: (first pet, current car)
Skippy Montana

2.YOUR GANGSTA NAME: (favorite ice cream flavor, favorite cookie)
Cinnamon Bun Monster (????)

3. YOUR "FLY" NAME: (first initial of first name, first three letters
of your last name)
G Jon (there was actually a guy named Gjon at college...)
4. YOUR DETECTIVE NAME: (favorite color, favorite animal)
Purple Penguin

5. YOUR SOAP OPERA NAME: (middle name, city where you were born)
Jill Rock Rapids

6. YOUR STAR WARS NAME: (the first 3 letters of your last name, first
2 letters of your first)
Jon Ge
7. SUPERHERO NAME: (2nd favorite color, first tool that comes to mind,
put "The" at the beginning)
The Blue Lopper

8. NASCAR NAME: (the first names of your grandfathers).
Frank Otto

9. STRIPPER NAME : (favorite candy, the name of your favorite
perfume/cologne)
Mounds Oscar de la Renta (started out strong there...)

10.WITNESS PROTECTION NAME: (mother's & father's middle name)
Mae Gustav
***

I got an email hint to go see this commercial today.



This led us to poke around on Youtube searching Rube Goldberg. Great fun there if you have time and bandwidth to waste.

***

Now i have crabby kid to settle in for bed. G'Nite.

26 November 2007

26

From the prompt generator today comes: What was your first car.

Christine was a 1963 Plymouth Fury with push-button transmission. The car was an absolute riot. It leaked oil, water and brake fluid, and started best with a little gas poured into the carb. I carried little bottles of the various fluids in the various cavities of the engine compartment. Her body was mostly bondo, making her a mottled beige and brown sort of holstien. I had more fun in that pile of bolts than I care to recall during my senior year of high school. It was also a death trap. The brakes went out on a hill in Sioux Falls once, and I had to turn into a parking lot that was three feet above the street behind a retaining wall, and I wound up dropping the front end over the edge and dangling the wheels over the sidewalk. My brother was a spit-and-baling wire mechanic, and he had found her and given her to me. When I decided it was not worth the effort to take her to college, he tricked her out and ran her in figure eight races and enduros before flipping her end for end at the Sioux Empire Fair. It occurs to me for all the fun we had in that car, I never got pictures. Probably a good thing. Unnecessary evidence. Great fun, 'tho.

25 November 2007

25

When the NaBloPoMo well runs dry, I check here or here for help with a topic. So far I've found several things I want to write about, but not at the time I find them. I've found topics that I think need a visual, so I need to go get a picture, or things that need real concentration or time I just don't have at that moment to do the topic justice. Ironically, one that popped up today is "What do you sense you're supposed to do before your life is over?" iPastor was just asking me today about our overarching vision, as in: we need one. Once again, the topic merits more thought than I can give it right now, but I'll get back to you.

I kept scrolling and got this instead.


Dear Mom and Dad,

I just celebrated one more holiday without you. By now I've had more holidays without either of you than I ever had with you. A person gets used to orphanhood, but there are times when your absence is more tangible. Earlier I found myself typing the phrase "Thanksgiving at home" and I stopped myself. Where exactly is that, anyway? I have many places in my life where I feel loved and welcome, but Thanksgiving "at home" would be in a small grey house with too many people crammed in, but I never realized we were crowded. Holidays at home meant waking up to conversations and laughter drifting up the stairway with the aroma of coffee. Dinner was crowded onto the kitchen table and I usually wound up sitting on a box fan, but I didn't care. The people I loved would be gathered near and I relished it. I somehow tuned into how important those times were and took note of it, even if I didn't realize why at the time. I hope that my children will realize the importance of these times and keep them close to their own hearts. My children are blessed beyond measure to have a huge network of family beyond blood ties to love them and care for them. They will still miss out on having you, the you of your prime, when you were healthy, strong and full of laughter. I often wish you could know your grandchildren, hear their voices, share their triumphs, but moreso I wish they could know you. They will never know what they have missed. I do.

Love,
Gidge

24 November 2007

24

The presents are unwrapped and the ham consumed, and another Christmas-at-Thanksgiving celebration winds down. Almost ten years ago I was invited to a work Christmas gathering. We were told to bring three wrapped gifts values at less than $5 each. These were put on a table and we rolled dice until they were gone; rolling doubles earned a present. They were then unwrapped and oohed and ahhed over. A timer was set, and the dice rollng re-commenced, this time doubles meant you could steal a gift. It was great fun. I suggested it to my family. I think I meant for it to replace gift giving, but instead it morphed into a supplemental Christmas activity that is now as traditional as the Michigan Rummy or 31 games. At one time we decided on a limit of $20/family, but I don't think anyone's adhered to that in a while. As large as our family is, the gifts cover a dining table with a card table pushed up to it. There's quality merchandise, white elephants, and schwag from the various corporate employers about the table. Each year the kids' selection gets a little better as they grow old enough to participate. There's screaming, mayhem, greed and excess: all the necessary elements of a successful Christmas. Generally, a select few items get snatched from one end of the table to the other, and there's a bit of horse trading at the end of the game to find homes for stuff you don't want, and foist stuff off on whoever got skunked. This year we filled a small box for the tree of hope charity. It's nice that someone else can benefit from our craziness this year. And I got a fire starter!
Off to bed; tomorrow we pack the troops into the car and head back to work and school. Tough to go back after such a nice long weekend. Hope your holiday held as much laughter as ours did.

23 November 2007

23

I maintain that I am not ready for commercial Christmas. I was more than ready, however, for the laughter, the stories, the family, the kids, the singing, and the fun. That part was long overdue. We switched sides of the family and moved the location a couple hours south, and are now having a ball with my 'doptives. We've killed a couple pans of lasagne and a couple bottles of wine, had a game of Michigan Rummy while the rest played Wii, and we're about to break out the farkle dice. Here's hoping you and yours are having as much fun tonite as we.

22 November 2007

22

We're home and tucked in after a lovely day with family. I was amazed at my own self control; I did NOT refill my plate. That didn't stop me from picking off the buffet table every time I walked by, but maybe that's the lesser of two evils. We had to bring iPastor home to catch a nap before his night shift, so I left the kids with the family for a while, then we killed some time at the Evil*Empire.
***
Never one to avoid the cliche, the customary list follows:

I am thankful for the relative good health of my family.

I am thankful to have a reliable partner for my life's journey. I've been watching friends with problems bigger than mine deal with them alone.

I am thankful to live in relative safety.

I am thankful for family, friendship and laughter.

I am thankful to have a snug warm bed to crawl into, and I think I will.

21 November 2007

21

Long day. Opened at Job 1, ran errands on my break, came home for a while and went to Job 2. Ran to the Stupid Center after work and got a couple treats for the kids and some last minute supplies for tomorrow. Sis-in-law is hosting this year, and we're bringing a couple of pies. Thing 2 took her first crack at baking a pumpkin pie, and it looks like it turned out nicely. We'll throw together an apple pie tomorrow morning and head off to lunch. iPastor will soon be home, so I'll bid you adieu!

20 November 2007

20

This morning, I found this little item. The honkers are out in full force. The surface of pretty much any body of water hereabouts is covered with black and grey. I thought it would be appropriate to share this little nugget from my neck of the woods.

Geese

They are over the marsh now
An umbrella of feathers and cries
It's almost more
Than I can hold
The way reeds bend
To spy the shadows
Of their own swaying
They and the fading geese
One string
Inviting the dark to dance
To sift from the branches
Of the actual
To surround me like breath returning
When everything else is gone

Michael Shorb

19 November 2007

19

I went to the well at one of my NABLOPOMO groups to look for a writing prompt. Poking around a bit, I found "Why I Chose My University Degree." Now there's a long and sordid tale...
In high school I was a speech and theatre geek (aside for those pitnickers out there: "theater" is a building, "theatre" is a craft (or an art, if you want another argument)) I was even awarded our high school's theatre scholarship. I was the first in my family to go to college, and I had to find the cash to do it. After narrowing my choices to two schools, I went with the state college that offered me more scholarships. I was offered a decent financial aid package at choice number 2 as well, but the private school tuition negated the aid.
I dove headfirst into college life, and floundered my way through with little to no advising, juggling production schedules and part-time jobs, loving every minute of it. I acquired and discarded a couple of boyfriends before diving into a relationship that lasted the better part of three years and which I still cannot understand why the hell I stayed in so long. I was on track to finish my BA in 4 1/2 years, and I was deciding where to go to grad school, considering a masters in dramaturgy.
The old saying goes: "Man plans, God laughs." The Old Boy split his sides when he set me down in a Happy Chef restaurant one August afternoon in 1990. I was back in Marshall apartment hunting for the school year after completing an internship at a community theater in my hometown. We stopped at HC for lunch since I had previously worked there and still had some friends on staff. Turnover being what it is in food service, the new assistant manager was a friend from a directing class. Coincidentally, he was losing a roommate, so I jumped at the vacancy and took the room. We married the following April.
We were on our own financially, and supporting a household and two college educations was a bit too much, so we withdrew from school with the intention of going back when we got on our feet financially. We managed to commute a bit and get a couple more quarters of school completed right after Thing 1 came along. I tried to go back when I was expecting Thing 3, but had to drop at midterm due to financial aid hangups. Finally, when I was expecting Thing 4, I was fat, tired, and truly disgusted with my job. I had four years of college and nothing to show for it. I taught a few workshops and directed a couple community plays over the years, but we had settled in a location where theatre will not pay the bills. So, what to do with all this booklearnin'? I thought about what I enjoy, I examined my transcript for the best transfers and substitutions, and I cobbled together the better part of an English education degree. Bless you, William Shakespeare! I really do enjoy language, reading and writing, so hopefully I'll be able to use that to make it easier for some kids to learn it in high school. Now, once again, my biggest enemy is the almighty dollar. I am no longer eligible for financial aid, which means I must scrounge the cash for each class. Each semester I cannot afford is four months longer before I can go look for a teaching job to pay off all these loans that I took out to get this degree. It's a bit circular. Hrm.
So there's one writing prompt down and a little something you may not have known about the ol' saucy goose. With that, I am off to work a little on a poetry paper, read a few articles on language and literacy, and go to bed!

18 November 2007

18

For more on the theme, we have this item today. Humph.
I served a big birthday party today at Job 1. Grandpa took me aside and wanted to pick up the tab. His kids cornered me and said no, he couldn't afford it. The end result was a pissing match over the tab that left me stuck in the middle and grandpa rather crestfallen. If you have elderly parents, do me a favor and try not to humiliate them in public, even though you mean well.

17 November 2007

17

Apparently I struck a chord with a couple of y'all out there. With that in mind today, allow me to linky you up with a couple favorite sites of mine.

Check out the fine folks at Buy Nothing Day, and their counterpart, Buy Nothing Christmas.

I appreciate the philosophy: "Buy Nothing Christmas is not really about refusing to spend a dime over the holiday season. It’s about taking a deep breath and deciding to opt out of the hype‚ the overcrowded malls‚ and the stressful to–do lists. It’s about reminding ourselves to really think about what we are buying‚ why we are buying it‚ and whether we really need it at all." Cool.

16 November 2007

16

Meh.
My 'dopted family has fallen into the habit of celebrating Christmas together the weekend after Thanksgiving. It stemmed from travel issues, and the other complications that develop from branching out and forming extended families. This year I am just. not. in. the. mood. To be precise, I am most definetely OUT of the mood. I have been noticing in the newspapers and radio ads that I catch, that many communities held their "lighted Christmas (oops, strike that, call it "generic holiday of no religious significance whatsoever") parade" and opening festivities for the holiday season last night or tonight. This moved up from Black Friday, which had moved up from the first couple sensible weekends in December. The Black Friday sales start as early as 5 am, and I have read of some major retailers having Thursday afternoon sales. The grass and trees are either brown and dead or weirdly green from our damp October and mild-so-far November. It doesn't look like Christmas. It doesn't feel like Christmas. I don't feel like Christmas. At all. As a matter o' fact, I have been roaming about aimlessly with a rather large black cloud over my head and a lead weight on my shoulders. Not festive. Not cheery. As much as I loathe the commercialism that has enveloped Christmas, I like to buy gifts for my family. I enjoy giving them something that makes them smile. And I can't afford it. Ever. Truly the Lord protects fools and small children (and ships named Enterprise, I guess); we always muddle through. We always have. But I am tired. Tired of climbing the hill and not seeing the top. Tired of working toward a goal that seems unattainable. Tired of everything I do not being enough. Tired of questioning every single expenditure that is not life dependent. Tired of resenting every such expenditure that anyone else makes. Just tired.
Meh.

15 November 2007

15

Long day. Got some homework done and sent it off via email, then worked both jobs today. I worked up some fodder for another waitress rant, though. If there's a hostess, and a sign indicating please wait to be seated, there's a reason for it. The hostess tries to spread people out so one server doesn't get swamped while another has no tables. Murphy's law applies to food service: if you let people seat themselves they will all settle into the same section. If you have to duck around the "Please wait to be seated" sign and nearly knock it over, telling me you didn't see it won't fly.
***
The Things are growing way too fast. Thing 4 wanted to help with dishes last night, so he pulled up a chair next to me and "helped" which involved lots of soap and splashing, but not much washing. As he did his part, he admired his reflection in the window over the sink, and began to sing himself a song about Jedi washing dishes, all the time studying his expressions in the mirror. I have to remember to tuck these times away for when they are 14 and making me insane.

14 November 2007

14

Windy. The glass is rattling in the really old panes, and the plastic is fluttering on the ones we've gotten covered. The steady rush was almost soothing last night. Better than the squeaky belt at the grain elevator, anyway. That's been the noise I've had to fall asleep to all through harvest. I wonder what's up with the wind, though. I chatted briefly with Dutch Girl #2 yesterday; she said they've had the windiest weather there on record for 30 years. iPastor told me he heard that Seattle had gusts of 90mph yesterday. Marshall, where I drive for class, sits atop the Buffalo Ridge and has a reputation for being windy. Yesterday as I was approaching town, MPR reported that it was the "wind winner" for the day, with sustained winds of 30 gusting to 45mph. It shook the windows in my poorly-sealed car doors.
***
Thing 4 slept through until nine this morning. We both woke up about 3:30am when the fake baby went off (it goes back today, Yay!) and had a potty break, then snuggled back in to sleep. Now he'll be supercharged. We may be in trouble.
***
No one has posted any questions about life, the universe and everything in comments yet. C'mon y'all; give a girl a hand...

13 November 2007

13

I was awakened by a baby in the middle of the night. Thing 1 has her Ready-or-not-Tot from parenting class. It's an ugly little bugger. She was up every 40 minutes last night. I only heard it twice. Divine payback. Heh.
***
I thought of all sorts of interesting things to blog about today, none of which come to mind now that I am sitting here in front of the iMac. The daily diary is getting a bit stale. Had a quick visit with the girls from Job #1 at a good-bye party for one moving to California. Took laundry to dry at the laundromat since we haven't made time to get the new-to-us dryer picked up. Worried that Thing 4 will wake up in the middle of the night because he went to bed early with dad. Oh well, sometimes his little body just needs to catch up with his go-all-the-time brain. I'll leave you now and hopefully return with better stuff tomorrow.

12 November 2007

12

It's a two-job day today, so I am granting myself a few minutes of downtime before I take a swipe at the housework and head off to work.
Once again, the weather is promising to be quite mild, but it's really cloudy. The sun did break through about the time we got home yesterday, leaving us the end of the afternoon to enjoy some sunshine. The gray and dark is what settles in to dampen my spirits all winter. Time to hit the tanning bed.
***
As stated before, just because I'm posting doesn't mean it can't be lame! Done and done!

11 November 2007

11

Happy Veteran's Day. Thank you.
***
Bubbie's b'day party was fun. He, our sister and her daughter and grands met my family at a hotel with (dinky) waterpark in Watertown. Bro has a tiny apartment, so this way the whole family could stretch out and the kids could blow steam. Sis treated to Chinese buffet for supper. Uncooperative employers kept iPastor at home and sis-in-law at work until late, but we got in some good visiting (sleep is overrated) and spent the first real time together as a family unit since probably 2001. We got the obligatory pictures, and headed home before we got on each other's nerves.


***
The weather was mild for the drive home, but overcast. As we bean the descent from South Dakota into Minnesota, I got Thing 1 to take some pictures. It looks much better on a sunny day, but about 5 miles west of the border, we crest a hill and can see for miles. Someday I'll learn to use a camera to capture the coolness, but until then, all you get are these:


***
We are working on reducing electric use. The LP company came to fill the tank and put the fear of petroleum in us for the year. Gotta try to cut corners where we can. We're working on unplugging and powering down all the little peripheral stuff that we don't think of, and simply being more conscious of our use. If we have to plug it in to use it, we may think twice about the need. With that in mind, it's time to power down and bid you folks good night.

10 November 2007

10

Happy Birthday Bubbie Don!
Damn the Double Nickel.
***
As could have been predicted last night, I forgot the camera. Oh well. Thing 3 won, Thing 2 nailed her song but was out-cuted by a red-headed dancing boy. Same here, but the cute was an 80-year-old, one-man polka band. He is a charmer, though ; we've known him for years, even having him play in the garden of our little cafe many years ago. I did a quick google just in case, but only found him here
***
Well, big brother wanted to host his birthday party at a waterpark for the kids. After our trip to the pool/waterpark with him in August, I think he's hooked. Can't check in until three, though, so I'll ride herd here until it's time to leave. With that, i leave you.

09 November 2007

9

I got home from the school/work marathon last night and the family was watching "Rescue from Gilligan's Island." What a waste of digital media. With no laugh track, the gags fall flat. The acting is atrocious. Sad how many of the group are gone now.
***
As per a conversation in our house last night, I leave you this for your viewing enjoyment.

***
Contest tonite. Might be back with video if I can manage it...

08 November 2007

8

cash advance

Why I pay the big bux for all this booklarnin'...

***
I am a peripheral member of the Non Traditional Students' Organization (NTSO, affectionatly known as "nutso" because we are.) I'm never on campus for meetings or activities this term, but I occasionally use the lounge and its coffeepot or computer. It's a nice place where I may not be the oldest person in the room (apart from the prof, and sometimes even then...)or be mistaken for faculty. It can be a great source of support, or a huge distraction. Today I was visiting with a woman my age, with as many kids as I have, raising them on her own. We get a little assistance with medical care, fuel and school lunches. As I look ahead to completing this degree, I wonder about starting a job with enough income to make up for that help, and start paying back student loans. Will I be showing a better income, but still be in exactly the same financial hole next year? It's troubling, but I got a good dose of perspective from my comrade in the NTSO. She recieves assistance with food and rent, but in order to keep her kids fed, she is unable to work. She wants to work. She is able to work. The second she earns any income to pay for a car or her utilities, she loses her food assistance. How the hell does this system work? Maybe in a metropolitan area with public transportation a vehicle is a deductible allowance. Try getting to a late doctor's appointment, or working a 3-11 shift in most small midwestern towns. Here is a woman working to complete a degree in social work to help other women just like herself, and she's shackled by the system that's supposed to be supporting her. Are there people who cheat on their welfare? Sure. Are there mothers who commit fraud for public assistance to avoid work? You bet. I could name some names. But for the love of mercy, how do we justify a system that is so inflexible? Rules are put into place to ensure equity and honesty, but how can a social worker look a mother or father in the eye and tell her s/he's ineligible for any cash assistance beause s/he is guaranteed child support by the court, but it hasn't been paid in three months? Crap. Someone knock me off the freakin' soapbox already. It's ruining my mood for the day.

07 November 2007

7

After three daughters, I'm still getting the hang of raising a son. Tonight I had Thing 4 in the tub. The entire array of tubby toys accompanied him, including a little terrycloth seal with a tiny red-striped bandanna around his neck. I glanced through some reading while Thing 4 enjoyed the water. Soon he announced "Look!" I glanced over to witness him proudly, um, sporting the little bandanna. I did a lovely spit take, to which he announced, "That's funny." Just so long as he quits that before he starts dating, we should be all right.
***
I almost forgot tonight's post. I'm glad I remembered, but I hope I can find some other habits to establish over these next 30 days that might actually be of some use. That's fodder for another post; for now, my warm bed calls.

06 November 2007

6

The cold is improving. I am typing with a chattery four-year-old on my lap. He's telling me all about his little homemade Star Wars lego ship. Until recently, he'd never seen Star Wars, but his knowledge of SW was fueled by the Lego Star Wars PS2 game. Now he's hooked. It gives his Trekkie father fits.
***
I have a fan blowing in my basement along the hanging rack my father-in-law built me. I pull clothes out of the washer and put them on hanngers to dry. I'm feeling rather self-satisfied with my conservationist thrift. As long as I plan ahead, I can make sure things are plenty dry by the time I need them, and I'm saving electricity. Socks and undies are kind of a pain, though.
***
For poetry class, we discussed this the other day:


Lying in a Hammock at William Duffy's Farm in Pine Island, Minnesota

Over my head, I see the bronze butterfly,
Asleep on the black trunk,
blowing like a leaf in green shadow.
Down the ravine behind the empty house,
The cowbells follow one another
Into the distances of the afternoon.
To my right,
In a field of sunlight between two pines,
The droppings of last year's horses
Blaze up into golden stones.
I lean back, as the evening darkens and comes on.
A chicken hawk floats over, looking for home.
I have wasted my life.

James Wright

Bill assigned us to write a suggestion for what the speaker means by "I have wasted my life."
Almost immediately I had my thought, but it came in the form of a response poem, so I rattled it off:

“I have wasted my life…”

By not spending more time lying in hammocks
Listening to cowbells.
I have wasted my life
Chasing the almighty dollar
Instead of Bronze butterflies
I have wasted my life
Burning the droppings
Rather than watching their blaze
I have wasted my life paying a mortgage
Not searching for home
With the chicken hawks

Just remember, any tomatoes you throw will just platter your own screen.

***

Udder den dat, I got nothin', so y'all can go to bed now.

05 November 2007

5

The "s" word.
I saw it today. Nasty little flurries scudding up the street pushed by a bitter wind. Quite short-lived, and interspersed with sunshine, but not to be denied. It's heeeeeeeeeeere.
***
Family is acting a bit cranky on the after school shift. Think I'll drag them forcibly to town to dry and fold laundry. New used dryer should be here soon, but we're either hanging or laundromatting in the meantime. Bleah.
***
The cold has moved to my chest. Night before last I awoke every hour or so to a coughing fit. Last night I slept thru until 3, but when I awoke to cough, I kept at it for an hour. I moved to the couch so I could prop myself upright, and got back to sleep for a couple hours. Those are the times I miss having a recliner. Most days it just took up space, but it was nice for headcold or pregnancy sleeping.
***
Nothing much else today. Tired and cranky is contagious. TTYL.

04 November 2007

4

Well, pictures will have to wait for a less hectic day.

I took Thing 1 to her job at McD's today. We got there early enough for her to grab her breakfast. They were a little short-staffed, and some of the clientele was a little short-tempered. A hunter was waiting with his son. When told his order would be about four more minutes, he snarked, "It's already been 20, what's four more?" He emoted all over anyone within close proximity. I wanted to say something, but I specifically felt like I wanted to say something to make a positive influence and not just make a snotty remark; at that minute, I didn't have the words. I sat down while Thing 1 waited for her food. A young man got up from where he was sitting in the kids' section and wandered along the line of customers at the counter. He could have been anywhere from 15 to 25, a developmentally disabled young man with a shuffling gait and a huge smile. From where I sat, it seemed like he went directly for the cranky hunter and offered him a high five. The hunter was a little nonplussed, but grinned back and slapped the young man's hand with a "Hey, buddy." The young man beamed at him and pointed out his blaze orange cap, which the hunter took off and showed him. About that time, an older woman with the young man came along to collect him and they headed out the door. The hunter's demeanor had completely changed. Someone else was sent to take care of it.

03 November 2007

3

At least the titles I've chosen for the month are easy...heh.

The weather for today looks to be 50-ish and partly cloudy, plenty nice for November, and perfect for an afternoon of forced child labor in the yard. 60s possible tomorrow. That's a two-job day, though, so I'll have to get the yard work in today.
Right now I'm burning daylight, so I'll get to it and maybe be back with pictures.

02 November 2007

2

Sick. I had the fever and ache a couple of weeks ago, followed by a minor cough and some sniffles. I thought I'd gotten off easy, until it settled into my sinus and throat overnight. I spent most of the night sitting up to blow my nose, then rolling over so the opposite side of my nasal cavity could fill. I actually feel better now that I'm upright. Got the drainage system working with gravity again, I guess.

96 on the poetry test last week. Woot. Took him a while to get through the exams, as he had three classes of tests to do, and just had cataract surgery. No wonder he retires after this semester. We'll miss him, tho. He's a royal hoot, and a true Minnesota voice. Go check Bill out.

After a long week of work, the whole fam damily is home together tonight, so we're off for a family Guitar Hero Marathon! Traditional family values at work!

01 November 2007

1

Off to a roaring start for the month. For some reason, Thing 3 startled awake at 04:15 and went scurrying through the house, certain that she had missed the bus. After investigating the hurried footsteps and slamming doors, I got her settled down with a book, since she refused to go back to sleep, only to find we had awoken Thing 4. He sang himself back to sleep, but I wasn't so lucky. I gave up and got into the shower and now I sit, waiting for iPastor to come home off a marathon night shift. Yuck.

30 October 2007

Good Lord, they've bottled it...

(For those of you getting out the magnifying glass to read the bottle, that's "momspit")
Oh the horror...

27 October 2007

I'm gonna need valium and earplugs...

...to make it through the next few years. I was fool enough to allow Things 1 and 2 to host a Halloween party here last night. Upwards of twenty shrieking teenagers went stomping, running, screaming and spewing drama all over my house and yard. Oy. I think we can dump that one in with "what was I thinking" as well. We discovered that "Poltergeist" has held up well over the years as far as being scream-worthy. The kids were relatively well-behaved, with a couple notable exceptions, but they were loud and rowdy, and went through chips and cheap pizza like oxygen. The Things have done a fair to middlin' job of cleaning up after themselves, and were also quite good about tolerating younger brothers and sisters ( a couple friends had to bring theirs, and that forced the issue, I think). I still think I can justify a nap today, though.

***

Ever lose a kid in your own house? I just hate that feeling of panic. A couple times when Thing 1 was little I went flying through the house in a frantic frenzy (yay for alliteration!) only to finally find (can't stop!) her snuggled down between her mattress and the wall or otherwise safely cocooned somewhere. When we first moved to this house, I woke one morning and Thing 3, three years old at the time, was MIA. The doors were all secure, so I was a bit less panicky, but it was a new-to-us house with undiscovered nooks and crannies that I dreaded seeking out. I found her relatively quickly, snuggled into a box of blankets and towels that had yet to be unpacked. Yesterday, I had much the same experience with Thing 4. The doors were secure, but he was nowhere to be found. I was a bit flummoxed as I kept rechecking rooms because I could think of nowhere new to search. Thing 3 had a nicely folded, perfectly square blanket on the end of her bed (we won't mention the condition of the floor...) Thing 4 had snuggled himself perfectly under that blanket. Eventually he stretched and his little feet came poking out to give him away. I breathed a sigh of relief and went about my morning routine. I made some tea and checked my morning email, to read that a friend's grandson had been approached in town (pop. 5600, 2 hours from metro anywhere) by a man who tried to lure him into the car, and there were two other reports, including one in which the man actually walked up to a mother and attempted to wrestle her 1 year-old child from her arms. I'm really glad I read that AFTER I had my kid safely at the table with his breakfast.
With that happy news, I leave you all to your day, and I'm off to seek some fall sunshine, or nap.

26 October 2007

In training...

I suppose I'd better work up to once a day gradually. I wouldn't want to strain anything. I joined a couple of NaBloPoMo groups for writing prompts and other hints. You teeming masses out there reading could post some questions in the comments and I'd answer them, such as "What were you thinking?" (Answer: I wasn't. Duh.)
In true Minnesota fashion, I'll talk about the weather. After our two weeks of rain, we've had a week of cool sunshine. So, as we travel the back roads, we see fields of dry cornstalks, fields of something really short and bright green (sugar beets? I thought they were all out...), trees with leaves that are bright red, yellow, faded out, or gone. The grass in the ditches is bright green and looks like April. Weird. Fun for the eyes, tho'.
Got one test back with a B. Cool. Nothing too difficult there, but sometimes a little hard to verbalize in a test question. For example, give me a couple of sentences to sum up Emerson's concept of "Man Thinking." Go! I apparently did OK, because I got full credit on that one.
Thing 4 has reached a stage where he watches TV actively. He talks back, sings along, and dances with the music. When he plays a video game, he jumps and runs in place with the game. We won't have that sedentary kid syndrome here. Makes me tired just watching him.
Well, I'd better knock off before I wear out. Gotta go cool down...

23 October 2007

NaBloPoMo

I'm doin' it. (No-one said the posts couldn't be lame.)

21 October 2007

They're gonna put me in the movies...

Friday we went to the opening weekend of Arnold's Park. It was great fun and we got some good screen time. The kids had a blast spotting themselves and their friends. I was a bit dismayed that the old adage about the camera adding ten pounds seems to be about 40 pounds shy. I'd almost forgotten my hair was that long two years ago. The movie is a PG-13 murder mystery. No gore, no cussing, some adult situations. Great teen flick. So, here's a shameless plug. Check the theater list on their website and go check out the cute family the photographer is working with.

18 October 2007

Now we're onto something...

Got my papers back from last week, and doing the happy dance. So all this learning is good for me, it makes me well-rounded and knowlegeable in my field, but its the little marks in the gradebook that go on the ol' transcript. Also, it's good to have some sort of benchmark to measure the time I sit in class. Had two midterms today, too, so hopefully they'll turn out as well and life will be good.
On other fronts, in Minnesota we've had measurable precip for 16 of the last 18 days, and I'm beginning to forget what the sky looks like! Not looking forward to driving home in the yuck.
I had to drop Thing 1 off at her job at McDonald's on the way to school, so at the suggestion of Bossy, I tried a cinnamelt. Pretty good. They have a great texture. I work at a place renowned for its baked goods, however, and for a dime more I can get a carmel roll roughly the size of my head there, and homemade and yummy to boot. Cinnamelts stay on the back burner, I'm afraid.
Now it's time to rattle off that last test, then hop in the car and shift to "home" mode. The good news is: no work today!

11 October 2007

Yuck

So I head to the 5th (Extreme Quiet) floor of the library to work and a class has a meeting room with full window walls booked and they are watching Fast Food Nation. Great flick, major distraction, and I won't need lunch today...

10 October 2007

Still feelin' corny

Did I say something yesterday about it all evening out? I like how the wall streeters have their panties in a bunch while those familiar with the ag industry seem to say, "Duh, what did you expect?" I would still like to see the locals grow more people food instead of cow and pig food, and fuel, but it's all about baby steps. Along with all the ethanol plants sprouting up in this area, there is a plant about 30 miles away burning turkey manure for power. We have a major turkey processor with a plant locally and several plants in Willmar, so there are many turkey farms in the area. Hopefully they will smell better, and my power bill will go down. The turkey poo plant is in the same town as a vodka-producing plant. Farmers will always find something to make a market for the crops!
Off to Job 1, have a great day!

09 October 2007

Land of a Thousand Distractions

Sing with me: Naaa, nana na naa, nana na naa nana naa nana naaa, nana na naaaaaaaa...
Enough of that. Finally got a couple of papers to write, and now I'm finding EVERYTHING else on the internet much more interesting. I was actually reading sonnets like a good girl, but got much more interested in the Wiki biographies of the poets than the actual poetry. That one I can actually count as useful information for the ol' English teacher repetoire. Not so much the Evil*Empire online shopping.
I have a new Job #2. Another bar and grill, but this one isn't open past 10 on weeknights or 11 on the weekends. It's food and booze only, no dance floor or entertainment, or anywhere to put it, really, so I can help clean up and close and still be back in bed on old lady time. Woot. Christmas is comin' and the propane tank needs fillin'. Those corn burners aren't quite as attractive this year, what's corn now, $15, $20/bushel? Go farmers. Here in Minnesota a record amount of corm was planted this year, so it should all balance out eventually. Then maybe we can go back to feeding the people with the crops. Radical, man.
I'm out of dog food, and too lazy to go get any until I have to go to town anyway, so I made the dogs oatmeal. Don't laugh until you go read the ingredients on the side of a dog food bag. Anyway, I just tossed some oatmeal into some water on the stovetop, and snapped it on medium while I went to rotate the laundry and do a couple other chores. I came back and it was perfect, better than if I'd actually tried to cook it nice for the kids. Next time I try to make oatmeal for the kids, it'll turn out runny or lumpy or something. Phooey.
Break time's over. Now to choose whether to write about sonnets or the influence of Franklinian thinking on modern society. I think it's ol' Ben up to bat.

03 October 2007

Parcel Post

Lately it seems like Thing 1 can't remember a blessed thing she needs to get through the day. I am becoming well-acquainted with the office staff at her school. So today, once again, the phone rang. This time: ice cream for TA treats. TA is like homeroom, and the kids take turns bringing treats on Wednesdays. So I rearranged my schedule, loaded Thing 4 into his car seat, ran some errands and dropped off her treats. I was feeling mightily persecuted, and coming up with a snappy quip for the secretaries, but when I got inside, the counter was lined with snacks from all the other parents who got called in a panic this morning. Looks like I was in good company, today anyway.

26 September 2007

No news is no news

Not much happenin' around casa del goose. We work, eat, sleep, get up, repeat. Classes are going fine, although we have yet to take a test or write a paper in any of the literature classes, and it drives me a wee bit crazy not to have something to measure progress. Even if it is only regurgitating facts, it gives me some small sense of accomplishment.
Got to take myself shopping for an hour without kids, then go have a Birthday beer with my mother-in-law. She rocks. And she loads the birthday cards!
The big news locally is that our community now houses Evil*Empire Stupid Center. Acres and acres of stuff I don't need, but will probably buy anyway. It was kind of nice to wander about sans rugrats and look at things besides toys or groceries.
I've been wandering the internet filling out scholarship applications and writing contrived, insincere essays in hopes of garnering some free money to pay for that last semester of class coming up. I've been thisclose to finished for sooo long, and I just want to be DONE. Then I'll start subbing for $95/day to pay off the verschlugende loans! Yep, the glamorous world of education...what was I thinking again?

13 September 2007

Random randomness revisited...

One from the "C" file:
Me: "I like you!"
Thing 4: "I like burping!"
***

My friend Kathy reminded me thet Michel (where are you, Chica?) tagged me a few weeks back with this thingy that I put off until later, which is now. Without further ado...

10 Random Things About Me.

(No guarantees, may include repeats, my memory sucks.)


1. I have double-jointed thumbs.

2. My siblings are 18 and 16 years older than me.

3. We occasionally drag our family out to work as movie extras (and we live nowhere near Hollywood.)

4. I believe my retirement plans include an RV.

5. I have an awesome job working for people I really like (it just doesn't pay much...)

6. I really enjoy being back at college...

7. ...except for the days when I feel really outdated, old, and out of place (usually a day when someone mistakes me for faculty)

8. I will probably pay off my mortgage before my student loans.

9. I love to read for pleasure, and I hardly ever do.

10. I can't decide if I would love to be a SAHM, or if it would drive me insane.


With that, I'm off to class.
10.

06 September 2007

Overheard...

...on campus today:

"Why is it always so hot in this city? It's just gay!"

Before we go all wierd with the nudge nudge, wink wink, they were cleary discussing the weather. But with a profoundly underdeveloped vocabulary. Since when does heat=gay? Since when does anything other than tra-la-la, either happy or lifestyle-wise, equate to "gay?" I'd prefer a "This sucks!" ala Butthead over "It's just gay!" any time. You're in college, people. Learn to use your words.

Now I will climb down from the lofty height of my soapbox and ramble on to something else.

I had a severe new pencil moment in class today. All freshly sharpened and ready to go, and me with nothing to write. We weren't in note-taking ode. I had to doodle just to work off the edge of the creative drive. Dang.

Studying poetry always makes me feel inadequate. Attempts I've made at poetry always feel to me like they come out contrived, like I've tried to force what may have been a perfectly good idea into an uncomfortable girdle of language. I fancy myself an essayist, although you'd never tell it from the drivel posted here. I do kind of get a kick out of haiku. The very brevity of it makes you choose your words very carefully. You can make it silly or serious, depending on your mood.
Haiku is a lark
I could get addicted quick
Don't get me started

05 September 2007

Back to School

I could do a mini-post on how many times I had to retype "school" to get it spelled right, but I'll leave that to the imagination.
Last week, I went back to school. Again. Argh. It took me WAYYYY too long to find the mommy/student balance, so I had some incomplete classes that rolled into retakes because I did not get the work done. Only me to blame, lesson learned, makes me a better student, yada yada, but it still sucks. The bright side is that I get to take two of these classes with a great old prof who reminds me of a cross between Santa Claus and an undepressed Hemmingway. He absolutely loves his subject matter, and he's highly entertaining.

We spent two of our long weekend days with G'ma. G'pa was gone fishing, so she had far too much peace and quiet on her hands, and we had just the cure for her. We had two extra kids in tow, children of iPastors's BFF.


The bulk of us went to Lifelight. The kids enjoyed the waterpark while dad and I cruised the bands. I especially enjoyed Derek Webb, who I "found" this winter through myspace, as he gave away a bunch of free downloads of his music. Quite cool and folksy. Liked that a lot.









iPastor seemed to be enjoying him as well.











Everyone came out to see Barlow Girl. Even Alex had heard of them in Germany, so a good time was had by all. It was a hot The girls returned to the waterpark and iPastor and I relaxed and listened to (and iPastor critiqued) a couple more speakers and bands.
It was a typical summer day, but a great breeze kept it from being as stiflingly nasty as earlier in the month.




Some people still worked too hard, though.

01 September 2007

Man plans, God laughs...

It seems our whole summer has been about cancelled trips and postponed plans. Visits to see new and old friends were called off, camping trips deferred due to illness, and class reunions called off by last minute work emergencies. Our plans for this weekend's trip to grandma's house and the nearby Lifelight festival changed nearly hourly this week, hampered by work schedules and generally cranky kids. It's all good, however. Car #1 left in time to see Jars of Clay last night, and Car #2 headed straight for Grandma's house when Thing 1 finally was set free of McDonald's. Things 2 and 4 are planning a day with G'ma, and the rest of us are fueling up to avoid the overpriced festival vendors, then we are off for a day of music, sun, and waterpark! What am I doing still sitting here?

27 August 2007

The Great Minnesota Get-together

After last year's trip to the fair, I watched the weather channel with a careful eye, and we decided not to rush off to Saint Paul until later in the day. For once, the decision panned out, and we got to the fair just as the rain stopped and enjoyed a relatively dry evening. Thing 4 performed and had a blast. Uncle Don and Aunt Vicky even made it to the fair to watch. It seemed a bit odd not to spend all day roaming the fairgrounds, but we were all a bit less irritable than normal. Alex was too tired and sore from volleyball practice to really enjoy the fair. At home she plays volleyball for a couple hours once a week. Here, she dove into 4 hours of practice 5 days a week. Ow.

I can think of nothing worthwhile to blog about. Sad.

18 August 2007

Our new little bundle of joy...

I love exchange students. They come already potty trained and with their own spending money. We fetched Alex from the airport Wednesday nite, and headed for a day at Maul of America and the Park formerly known as Camp Snoopy. For your info, the past couple times we have laid down hard-earned money to go to the park, we have done a birthday package. The price is better, and the 5 hour time limit on the wristband is plenty if you plan for a good day. Middle of the week meant short lines. You also get some free game tokens and a cupcake. They were pronounced good, although apparently loaded with food coloring.


Hey! Scroll Wayyyyyy down and sign my guestbook. I saw that widget at Holtieshouse and had to go get my own!

14 August 2007

More shameless kid promotion

Things 2, 3 and I performed at our home fair talent show Monday, all placing in the money, but only Thing 3 winning a trip to state (again) Hard to lose when you're the only kid in your category, but I think she did better this year than last, so go figure. I found myself with a camera but no batteries, so I stole some from g'ma, then had no media card, so couldn't take video. Bummer.
Not to be outdone, Thing 1 joined us the tonite for the Karoake contest (less pressure?) and won. Thing 2 also performed and did an awesome job, but I forgot the camera in the car. I placed in the money, so we have a little spending jingly for the trip to the Maul ofAmerica (named coined by Daynoter John, all credit where it's due) I retrieved the camera in time for Thing 1 to sing, so I got her loaded on youtube. I tried for better quality, but the file was too big. Oh well...

12 August 2007

So a week has come and gone again. I've been on a purge. We've taken bags to the thrift store, cleaned closets and drawers, and I haven't wanted to stop for fear I'll bog down!

Thursday we hit a nearby talent show. For once I will play the irate stage mommy and assert that my kids were robbed. The sound man was hopeless, as was his system. The CDs we'd played in the car on the ride over would not work in his machine. Later they got a different player, but not until both my kids had to sing different sons or arrangements that threw them off. Thing 2 chose to go with the same song, but the other CD had background vocals, which are a DQ for state fair competitions. Thing 3 did a song from last year, so she missed some words. Oh well, they sang for grandma and had a blast. By the time they got through my bracket, the system was squeaking and humming something fierce. It kicked out one guy's cd halfway through his song and stopped dead on another gal's. My CD worked fine, just hit the middle o' the pack, I guess.
So finally, I got video. These were taken on the still cam, and seemed OK when I put them into iMovie, but the compression seems to have taken it's toll. The still cam couldn't seem to do some of the songs in one clip, so they're pieced together. Ya get what ya get. If I wanted to take the time and effort to pull out iPastor's big dog video software, I'd get better quality, but spend a lot more time. So, here ya go...





04 August 2007

Counting blessings...

I drove home from Watertown on Wednesday with a vanload of sleepy, worn-out kids. We had another dental appointment over there, so we decided to bring a couple friends and check out their newly remodeled municipal pool, which now has a waterpark nearly as large and just as nice as any we have been to previously, with the added bonus of costing far less than any of the others. We met my brother and his wife at McD's (fine dining is irrelevant with that many kids along) then headed to the pool. It was awesome. Plenty of options for all ages and thrill-seeking levels, and lots of lounge chairs. You could get as wet as you wanted (or didn't want) and relax next to the pool or sand pit in comfort. Wednesday was one of the first overcast days in a while, and it was midweek, so it's quite possible uncomfortably packed at other times, but our trip was an overall success, despite the loss of my favorite sunglasses.
After swimming, Uncle Don, who had a good night at the casino previously, wanted to treat for a movie, so we saw the Simpsons. Pretty much a 90 minute episode, but fun. The kids were all blissfully (for me!) quiet and tuckered out as I drove home, disturbed only by freakishly large flocks of turkeys, then pheasants, alongside the road. It was odd enough I wondered if someone was shooting a wildlife tourism commercial in the area. I actually had composed some thoughts about what I deemed blogworthy, when the radio station broke in with a news report of the 35W bridge collapse.
Perspective is a humbling thing. No-one gives a rat's patootie about my happy little mommy day when it is unknown how many mommies are trapped in the rubble or underwater. We now know of three dead mommies and at least one missing, along with her daughter, not to mention the daddies, brothers, sons, sisters. Patric Reusse of the Star Tribune had a similar perspective he shared in Thursday's edition. All our loved ones have checked in safely, their routes taking them elsewhere or elsewhen. Timing is, indeed, everything.
I slept poorly last night; iPastor came to bed a little later than me, which is not unusual, but for some reason it threw off my sleep pattern. I finally gave up at 5:20, planning to walk the dogs. iPastor had closed the window (despite the recent heat it has been cooling off beautifully at night!) so it wasn't until I got into the bathroom that I heard rain. Rain!!! Very badly needed rain. No storms, hail, or wind (yet?) but a nice, gentle soaking rain. So the dogs got a quickie trip out the door to take care o' business, and I get teatime on the net. I have to work soon, but I managed to steal an hour for myself. I've already encountered two of our foreign kids online, so its been a treat.
This song comes to mind with events, both literal and figurative, so I'll leave you with the words of Bart Millard and Mercy Me:

Bring The Rain

I can count a million times
People asking me how I
Can praise You
With all that I've gone through
The question just amazes me
Can circumstances possibly
Change who I forever am in You?

Maybe since my life was changed
Long before these rainy days
It's never really ever crossed my mind
To turn my back on you, oh Lord
My only shelter from the storm
But instead I draw closer through these times

So I pray

Bring me joy, bring me peace
Bring the chance to be free
Bring me anything that brings You glory
And I know there'll
be days When this life brings me pain
But if that's what it takes to praise You
Jesus, bring the rain

I am yours regardless of
the clouds that may loom above
because you are much greater than my pain
you who made a way for me
suffering your destiny
so tell me,
what's a little rain?


Holy, holy, holy
Holy, holy, holy
is the lord God almighty
is the lord God almighty
I'm forever singing
Holy holy holy
you are holy
you are holy

30 July 2007

Same old...

Not much new hereabouts. I feel like I've been making some progress on little projects some days. Others are a waste of oxygen. Of course, all bets were off when HP 7 came in the mail. I got that knocked out and was satisfied all around. With that distraction out of the way, I've been able to get back to some work. iPastor has been all handy and stuff lately as well. He installed some carpet in the student room and got some little outdoor projects in hand. I've been trying to glean and clean closets. With summer here, the girls wear shorts and skirts far more often than pants, but when they do have jeans on, I'm seeing lots of ankles, so I've been trying to empty the drawers of items that don't fit.
Also in the mail came our copy of Sweet Land. I missed it in the theater, so it was the first time through for me. Our family is all present in the depot scene, although after spending two days on set iPastor's screen time is whittled down to a flash of him carrying a crate full of chickens. My girls are planted in a little family behind the lovely leading lady as she's studying an English primer. I'm not too far back from them in a cluster of ladies. Mostly I recognized my really big hat. It was fun to see all the familiar faces in the church scenes, and the church itself. Zion Lutheran was one of the first parishes in the county, and years after it closed, the Norwegian Historical society expressed interest in shipping it to Norway as part of an exhibit on emigrant life after they left the homeland. When that happened, it sparked an interest in refurbishing it and keeping it functional, which the families of the original parishioners did, so now its used several times a year for weddings and other special events, including Christmas and Memorial Day concerts where I usually wind up singing.
On the 19th, Arnold's Park held its premiere party, but we had to miss that. Bummer. iPastor had a good shot in the original trailer, so we'll have to wait patiently for that one to hit screens or shelves to see how the final edit came out.
Today Nina's dad is hauling our trailer out to the dump, as our only vehicle with a hitch is kaput. After I get that emptied, I can start reloading it. We've had a heck of a time with bikes. I buy cheap ones and my brother brings garage sale bikes for the kids. They break, then I let the neighbor boys scavenge them for parts. Choppers are back, and the kids seem to be having great fun creating ridiculously large ones. But now I have a shed full of frames and rims, as well as other miscellany that has seen its time come and go, so that's the next batch for the dump. I've been piddling with laundry and other things while I wait for him to bring the truck, and I suppose I should log off and not let this become a bigger distraction.
So, with that in mind, onward and upward. Excelsior!

18 July 2007

Psalm 8:3-4

As I walked the dogs tonight I looked up into a clear night sky and was reminded of one of the things I like about small towns: stars. I wish I had a little better than ye olde idiot-proof, point-and-shoot camera, to capture the depth and glow of that sky tonight. Something like that needs the KJV:

3When I consider thy heavens, the work of thy fingers, the moon and the stars, which thou hast ordained;

4What is man, that thou art mindful of him? and the son of man, that thou visitest him?

17 July 2007

For Crying out Loud...

Nina's family got an inflatable waterslide to keep the kids entertained this summer. Today, her little sister, Eliza, fell off the thing, broke her arm, and had to go have surgery to set it and pin it. Enough!
***
We, on the other hand, got the kids safely off to camp. Thing 3 was a touch apprehensive, but as soon as we got there she was distracted by new friends and her big sisters promised to be there if she needed them. Good kids.
***
On the way home, iPastor and I took Thing 4 for supper at Cafe Persepolis. The website could stand a healthy dose of spell/grammar check, but has cool pics. Good food. We were just discussing finding new places in our greater regional neighborhood, so we started tonite. We also dropped a load of coin at home depot. The bathroom needs a little help, so we got some tools to get going.
***
Thing 4 is not going to know what to do without his sisters. He was lapping up the attention tonite, though, so I'm sure he'll survive.
It's late now, and I must sleep. Ta!

14 July 2007

Summer in the City

Summer in our city, anyway. Not the urban hub of hot weather activity are we. However, we do have great fun. Saturday nite we had a pickup frisbee game with representatives from most of the houses on that side of town either participating or spectating. It was great fun. The one bar in town was having its anniversary party in the parking lot, so we all got a free live band whether we wanted it or not. In a moment of mommy softness, I allowed the big kids to stay out for "night games." We do have a curfew in town, due to some unfortunate incidents with bored teenagers a few years back, but they can be in someone's yard. They came in tired out and slept hard.
Yesterday we cleaned out and washed the van in anticipation of the trek to camp today. When that was done, we decided to take a quick trip to the lake in the clean van and see if the dogs would swim. We haven't had them out yet. It was a moderate success; the dogs paddled about a little, but were far more interested in all the interesting smells along the shore. The water was nasty, too. Lac Qui Parle is a shallow, dam-enhanced lake full of geese and pelicans. It was like bathwater, but decidedly greener. That beach can be so nice early in the year or during a rainy summer. Unfortunately, if it's a wet year, a good part of the park stays closed and flooded, so you don't get to enjoy the beach so much. Kind of a double-edged sword, that. Since I had the good sense to wander around gravel roads after washing the car for the first time in ages, I pulled back up to the hose and rinsed the dust off. I also got out the power washer and had my semi-annual fun of hosing off the area rugs. Nothing says "clean" to me like 1300 PSI! (Yes, I know, it's just a little weenie household model.)
Well, I'm off to try to weasel out of work so I can ride along to camp, and maybe sneak in a trip to home depot on the way by. This time it's church camp. It's old hat for Things 1 and 2, but this is Thing 3's first year, and she's pretty excited. All the old cliches about how quickly time passes pop to mind. While we played frisbee the other night, I was startled to see all these little boys who are suddenly young men. I've been watching them grow for years, but it seems like baby fat has melted off, jawlines have appeared, and they've added several cumulative feet to their height overnight. I'm already having apoplectic fits about the curves appearing in all the appropriate places on Thing 1, and the evidence that Thing 2 is not too far behind. Now Thing 3 is old enough for sleep-away camp. Yikes.

12 July 2007

Cranky!

The dental work went fine. Thing 3 had an office visit yesterday (fillings and a crown), but Thing 4 went to an outpatient surgery center for all his work this morning. One of the possible side affects from pediatric anesthesia is irritability. In spades, apparently. Oy. Thing 4 woke up hard from his dental work. He was a bit freaked out from his IV (fluids) and pitched a hissy until they removed it. He was upset but unable to really articulate any specific pain or discomfort, as he was still groggy. The nurses chalked it up to disorientaion. He sucked down about 3 glasses of juice and water which he saved to upchuck in the van on the way home. He then had a case of puke euphoria, and turned into a chatterbox, alternating between talking a blue streak about the new game dad bought him, and screeching at his sisters for various and sundry infractions on his personal space, his possesions, or his private oxygen supply.
We've recently done some rearranging and put a much smaller TV in the living room, now that we use the projector or movie watching. We hooked up a VCR, and with the lack of cable hereabouts, the kids have been dragging out the old VHS movies. With 5 years between kids, all the sudden the old Disney tapes have been rediscovered. Tarzan, and his crew are new again. Cranky pants and his sisters have settled in to enjoy. I think I'll join 'em. G'nite!

11 July 2007

Wheeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeee!

Greetings from Watertown, South Dakota! Things 3 and 4 require some extensive dental work that has been referred to a pediatric dentist and oral surgeon on this side of the border. Thing 4 needs pretty basic work, but enough of it that they want to sedate him and do it all at once rather than subject him to multiple visits. We had to schedule over two days, so we got a hotel room. The hotel has a pool, which is awesome for the kids, a hot tub for mom, and free wireless internet for dad. When we first got here and the hotel was nearly empty, we got speeds of around 1.2 meg. It's calmed down a bit with more ppl on the pipe, but still nice and zippy. We've been cussing our ISP (curse you MVTV Wireless, curse you!) for quite some time because our services is quite unreliable and slow. Unfortunately the ISP's proverbial butt is covered by it's sale of "unmetered" (not unlimited) service of UP TO 1 meg, so when we complain of our 356 up and down connection, our choices are basically "take it" or "leave it." Whee. Qwest DSL doesn't come so far, so our other option is dialup. Hooray. So for today anyway, in between relaxing by the pool and having supper and perhaps drinks out with my brother and his wife, we are enjoying the speedy goodness of wireless.
We went out for supper and are now enjoying Mythbusters. We shut off our cable earlier this year, so it makes TV new again! We gather around the set together just like the old time radio. I think I'll go back to watching Jamie and Adam shoot things. Cool.

08 July 2007

Now is the summer of our discontent...

Noble motivations aside, the Things right now are the crabbiest little bunch of Bickersons I have ever seen. Unfortunately, that behavior is contagious, so Mama's cranked up, too. I assume this will pass with the heat, but only time will tell.
Our 4th was fun. Saw friends, enjoyed works, and rolled down a hill. Every grownup should do that once in a while to remember what it's like (ONCE in a while; twice made me want to hurl.) We also had large fun with a projector, A PS2, and a game of Guitar Hero.
Thing 4 turned 4 this week. He's all boy right now; baby's all gone.
Yesterday I packed the grouchy kids into a vehicle with broken AC, and trekked halfway into the next county to witness the baptism of the new nephew. Cute as a bug. It was a bluegrass service, which apparently means country music with a banjo and a harmonica, because it didn't sound like bluegrass to me until they put down the instruments and sang some a capela stuff. Nice, but just not quite there. Picky me. Afterward, it was off to the in-laws house to enjoy some supper and visiting until the sun went far enough down that I didn't have to drive into the glare. On the way home, one of the small towns in between was having its fireworks display for the local festival, and it gave the kids something to watch for a good 20 miles.
Now it's off to church. Hopefully it'll cheer some of us up.

03 July 2007

Looky what I got!




Woohoo! I gotsa button! Me likey. Many thanks to Michel for making me feel like somebody extracts something from the drivel I post (and promises drinks!) Now I guess the idea is to pass along the love, so let's see...

To Bossy: Often I can't follow WTF she is saying, but she spews forth comments that make me snort coffee over my keyboard. And one of her handles is Rocker Mom, so who better?

To Britmum: With bonus rockin' for her
Gran.

And to Kelly: Who has to deal with other people's kids en masse on a daily basis, which really rocks.

Copy/paste that button and Rock On!!

30 June 2007

Mama's little Sinead


In the interest of camaraderie, Thing 1 has shaved her head along with Nina. Nina never actually lost all of her hair, but the remaining straggles were bothersome, so this afternoon, Nina's dad shaved them both.
Otherwise, the week has been fairly uneventful. No pics or video from the contest. User error. There were three real contenders. The other two placed. My mother-in-law says I got screwed, but she's biased. I may try again in Milbank or Big Stone.
Got the kids collected from their daycamp yesterday. Spent a few hours with the kind folks who've been harboring the fugitives for the past two weeks. I'll have to commission a medal or something.
Thing 1 wasn't home 12 hours before she was begging a sleepover at Nina's. She did her share of chores before she left, though, so I guess it's all good.
Potluck tomorrow, so I'm off to put together taco salad fixings. You all enjoy your Sunday.

25 June 2007

Can't trust that day...

At least good ol' Cliff was thoughtful enough to come check under the laundry chute where I'd been standing admiring the empty space I'd made, when the next load came down and buried me.

Monday Monday, can't trust that day....especially when I awoke this morning with an odd sense of optimism. Hmmmm. This is atypical Monday behavior on nearly anyone's part. Must have been that power nap I got yesterday. Thing 4 snuggled in next to me while everyone else was gone, and we zonked out for nearly 3 hours. Got a little recharge I guess. I've always been a fan of the siesta mentality: sleep through the heat and work when it's cool. Unfortunately, the rest of the Midwest doesn't operate on those hours. ANyway, I got quite a bit accomplished last evening, and awoke with grand designs for this week. This could be dangerous...

Fuzznut is back. I was dreading another kitty memorial post. Our cats usually have a tendency to go walkabout a few days at a time and then one day you realize thay've been gone awhile (except for actually finding MamaBob last year). Fuzznut had been missing a few days, and the Things were starting to fret when a neighbor kid reported seeing her at the local river swimming hole. Yesterday while I was powernapping, a neighbor parent had a batch of kids out swimming, and Fuzznut sauntered up to them and was promptly brought home. She settled right back in as if she never left, enjoying the clean litter box and gravy train. Now she is hopscotching on the keyboard. I could use a short vacation from the madhouse now and then myself, but I'll pick a luxury resort over a van down by the river.

Well, I'm not going to accomplish any of those great things sitting here. Any of you in my neighborhood: I have a contest in Willmar on Wednesday, c'mon out and stack the audience for me!!!

20 June 2007

It's about time...

...for something to happen that's interesting enough to post about.
No such luck.
But I'll post anyway.
I spent Saturday night at my first 20 year class reunion of the summer. I went to school through the 8th grade in my hometown. It's small enough that they invited anyone that they could locate who'd been in the class. When we moved away, it was only 17 miles to the north, so I was frequently back to visit friends. The reunion for the class I graduated with is in August.
Sunday we drove. A lot. We cruised from my folks in extreme SW MN, to the southern 'burbs of the Twin Cities, then it was a speed run to the office supply store, then home 2 1/2 more hours in the van. With no AC. Yuck. Gotta get that looked at.
Got to IM a bit with Alex today, and get a ballpark estimate on her arrival (3rd wknd of August).
Now, it's off to tame the laundry dragon. If you don't hear from me in a few days, it won.

11 June 2007

It's all fun and games until someone loses an eye...

...or breaks a nose, I guess. There is a sad old hideabed on our porch. Last night we had some storms roll through, producing some lovely lightning. I pulled the bed out and flopped thereupon with the iPastor to watch the light show. Before too long, we were dogpiled by the three awake Things and, fittingly enough, two of the dogs. All was well until, siblings being as they are, the giggling gave way to some roughhousing. One reflexive kick later and Thing 1 went squealing to the kitchen with a bloody nose. Before too long the squeals dissolved to giggles, and after spattering me with snorted blood at least once in a fit of laughter, we got the bleeding stopped and the floor mopped and life returned to what resembles normal around here.
***
Yesterday's Netflix gem was a little Irish film called Waking Ned Divine. I never got the chance to see it when it came out a few years back. It was a fun little flick, worth an hour and a half of your time.
***
We spent the bulk of our Sunday at the park in Montevideo for Nina's benefit picnic. She had a blast, and it was amazing the people that little girl has touched in her 8 years. Friends and coworkers of her parents, most of her school, all of our church, people from EF, and perfect strangers who saw a poster or read about her in the paper packed the park for food, games, carriage rides and music. The Things and I, and even iPastor in a rare appearance, performed along with several other groups and a soloist over the course of the day. There wasn't a dry eye in the park when Nina got up to sing "My Savior, My God" with Thing 2. I'm a pretty proud wife/mama today, it was a great day for Nina, too. Thing 4 provided entertainment by raiding the goodie tent for cotton candy about a dozen times. My cafe employers were running the tent, and I warned them I would be missing work if I had a kid with a tummyache today. So far he's still sleeping off the sugar crash. I have a feeling Nina slept like a rock last night, too.
***
Our church is on deck to serve coffee at the little community center today, then it's back on the hamster wheel for us. The kids are working odd jobs to pay for camp, iPastor has been bumped to full time to help his supervisor cover for one of the other plants they guard, I'm on all week, and I have the first of two class reunions this summer on Saturday. If it's a bit scarce around here, we'll catch ya on the flipside.

***

Someone sent these pictures from the picnic Sunday.


04 June 2007

Who can I make cry today?

Besides me.

8th Grade formal on the last day of school. Next year Thing 1 is officially a high schooler. She's at orientation for her first payroll job (McDonald's) today. *sigh*



Where are you going my little one, little one
Where are you going my baby my own
Turn around and you're two, turn around and you're four
Turn around and you're a young girl going out of the door
Turn around (turn around)
Turn around (turn around)
Turn around and you're a young girl
goin' out of the door

Where are you going my little one, little one
Dirndls and petticoats, where have you gone
Turn around and you're tiny, turn around and you're grown
Turn around and you're a young wife with babes of your own

Where are you going my little one, little one
Where are you going my baby my own
Turn around and you're two, turn around and you're four
Turn around and you're a young girl going out of my door

03 June 2007

Two go out, only one comes back...

While cleaning out the outdoor toy bin, we came across a couple of kites that had been languishing far too long. The kids earn reward points at our Sunday night kids' program at church, and are able to redeem points for goods, these kites included. There was a stiff breeze this afternoon, following a squall and a downpour, so we decided to give the kites a try. One was too small to get much loft from the strong wind. Perhaps a tail will better balance it. It was fun for some short-string stunts, though. Sponge Bob and Patrick adorned the slightly bigger one, and it took off in the breeze easily. After a good half hour passing the kite around, Thing 2 lost it from her grasp and it bobbed and soared along the current in the air. Thing 2 followed after it for a good half a section. It reminded me quite a bit of myself in a cow pasture many long years ago. I was able to retrieve mine way back then, but she couldn't locate where hers finally went down. I watched her disappear over a knoll, then a few minutes later, reappear running between rows of new corn, learning a lesson about letting go. It was a lot of energy to expend on a two-bit kite, but she gave it a try and gave up when it became more than the kite was worth. Even with the loss, it was a good bit of fun for as long as they've lain unused in the porch.

01 June 2007

School's out!

From a long weekend to a long week. After four days off, Tuesday was a little hard to take, but I managed to slip right back into the old rut and get to work. This week includes a groom's supper and wedding dance, so it'll be nice to see Sunday roll around.
***
We did a bit of rearranging on Monday, and so far the rest of the week I've made no real progress, but haven't backslid either.
***
The kids are done with school until August. Countdown until the first cry of "I'm bored"...
***
Under "C": "I have tater tot gravy in my ear."
***
I don't drink a lot of "road coffee." My schedule allows me to have coffee at home or work. Occasionally, if we're on a long drive or traveling at odd hours, I'll take my chances with a cup of convenience store java, but those times I usually opt for my beloved Starbucks Double Shot Espresso and Cream which I blogged lovingly about at the blog the domain ate last year (lots of caffeine packaged in four bladder-friendly ounces! hooray!) Recently, I needed java at an odd time, and swung through McDonald's drive-through. I had a surprisingly lovely cup of coffee. Small, three creams, just right. Just a handy tip for you coffee lovers out there.
***
Well, back to work now. You all enjoy your weekend off. Don't mind me. Really. I'll be fine.