Friday, December 30, 2011

New things for a new year

A new year means new things happening. And as I work towards wrapping up some loose ends before 2011 leaves us, I have to ask myself, what new things will 2012 bring? I know what it WON’T bring, but I have to wonder what it will. And what sort of path I should take.

On a personal level, there’s the usual suspects: Lose weight, learn how to swim, and eat healthy. (How many times am I going to make these things my New Year’s resolutions?? Sigh.) As to losing weight, I don’t exactly have a particular diet to follow, though I have been interested in the Mediterranean diet. I am starting a fitness plan. I’d love to get back into martial arts (I think that injury I had has healed by now) as well as get back into running. But gotta take things slow at first. I have had very mild exercise this year. Nothing intense. That will change in 2012 and I hope to gradually work my way back to martial arts and running as part of my workout regime. Yes, swimming will be in there, too. At some point.

But I also decided that it’s time to stop thinking “if only” with certain things and just learn them! I know I had trouble learning web site design in the past, but I KNOW I want to be able to do this, so I’m going to work harder to learn it next year. Ditto with learning how to make quilts.

On a bigger level … well, I know there is a job hunt in my near future. In the past, I have not had much luck getting a part-time job outside of the home. I had all the luck getting write-from-home jobs. So is it any wonder that I wrote from home for so long and so often?? But I’m done with that and now it’s time to get work outside of the home. I am nervous about succeeding in landing something, anything, but I’m going to give it a try! I have to.

Also, I know I want to work in book publishing, but this year I found out that editing and proofreading are not a good fit for me. But I still want to have my hand in that in some form. I actually learned about a new publishing company that is starting up next year and I put my name into their hat. They contacted me and said they’ll let me know if they could use me. This won’t be a paying gig, unfortunately, but it will at least help me to see where my strengths lie and give me some experience there.

Jennifer is excited because next year, I am signing her up for piano lessons. She’s been asking for them for years and I finally found someone who is affordable. So she has that to look forward to next year. As for Jesse, he is going back to preschool full-time. He is super-excited about the prospect of getting into a swimming class (that boy will swim his time away in the bathtub if I let him!) but I want to get him into other activities, too. That will have to happen in its own time, though. For now, I’m not going to throw the kids into EVERYTHING I see. Though Jen wouldn’t mind that. Ha! She likes to stay as super busy as I do.

We’re excited about a new year on the horizon. I am excited about this new journey I will take, these new things I will bring into my life, and see where those paths will go.

Monday, December 26, 2011

The perfect Christmas

We had a great Christmas this year. Even though things got a little frantic on Christmas Eve, complete with remembering that we needed last-minute gifts as well as last-minute items from the store in preparation of stores being closed on Christmas Day, Christmas Day itself went really well. It was peaceful, happy and filled with lots of laughs and good cheer. Aside from receiving really bad news about a family member that made me really sad that I can’t talk about here, it really was a blessed day.

I woke up early on Christmas. For once, the children slept in! I used this time to tidy up a bit then sat at the desk to do some writing. After I was done writing, the kids were still asleep, so I enjoyed a peaceful cup of coffee and just relaxed for a while. Then I took a shower and after I was dressed, Jesse woke up. It was almost 10 a.m.!

So after Jesse woke up and I gave him hugs and kisses, wishing him a merry Christmas, he saw the tree with all the presents, got excited and woke his sister up. It didn’t take much effort to wake Jennifer up once Jesse told her that Christmas was finally here! Even though the kids had to wait for their dad to get out of bed for the unwrapping of presents, Jennifer could already see that she had the Diary of a Wimpy Kid movie in her stocking. She could see this because it was sticking out of her stocking! (Her Christmas stocking is the smallest. I told her that next year, we should get her a bigger stocking. But that matter was resolved later when the kids opened the box of presents from their grandparents [hubby’s parents] and got new stockings. Jennifer was happy about this and said the stocking she received would be her new Christmas stocking. Thank you, Jim and Mindi!) She was happy that we finally owned this movie. As to Jesse, he’d received the movie he had specifically asked for: A Charlie Brown Christmas.

When we were all on the couch, Jennifer played Santa and handed everybody their presents. Well, except for the time that Jesse grabbed one present he knew was his. For days before Christmas, he’d seen this present under the tree and he always reached for it and held it in his hands, eager to open it. It was one of the gifts from me and hubby. Two books, one about fish and the other about farm animals. He opened this present first and got really excited over them. Jennifer got him a book, too; a Spiderman pop-up book. Jennifer also got books; I got her the new Wimpy Kid book, Cabin Fever, as well as Diary of a Zombie Kid. She was so excited about the first book (it was on her Christmas list) but a little surprised by the second one. At first, she thought it was funny, but as she paged through it, she thought it was a little weird. I’d seen the book when I was buying the Wimpy Kid book and I thought it was an interesting spin-off of the popular series (though it’s not by Jeff Kinney). To say the least, she was a little unsure about this one, but appreciated the book nevertheless. (She is a big Wimpy Kid fan!)

Hubby and I did not receive books but we did get each other a gift card to Barnes & Noble, so we were happy with that. Yay! We get to buy a new book! I know just the one I’ll be buying: The Help by Kathryn Stockett.

The kids were happy about getting books but I think they were really excited to get the things they really wanted for Christmas. For Jennifer, it was a Dragon Ball Z Kai game for her DS and for Jesse, it was a remote controlled Mater. (He likes the Cars movies.)

And I got what I really wanted, too: A PRINTER!!!!!!! YAY! I GOT A PRINTER! I GOT A PRINTER! FINALLY!!! I GOT A PRINTER!!!!!!! WOO-HOO!!!

I was sooooo happy to get a printer. I actually excitedly jumped up and down when I saw it! Hubby got a super-big hug and kiss from me for that! He knows I really wanted a printer. The last time he got me a printer was on Valentine’s Day, I think … about seven years ago. It had conked out on us eventually and we’d been printer-less since. And I’d been taking many trips to a local Office Depot to get stuff printed out : A contract from my publisher, notes for an article that I needed to use my Hi-Liters on, interviews for book projects and resumes. Now I would not need to do that anymore. BECAUSE I GOT A PRINTER!!!!

Hm, I sure am gonna miss the folks at Office Depot who have grown so familiar to me because of all of those trips there to get stuff printed…



You can tell I am excited about this, right?? I told hubby it was funny that he got me a printer because I spent some time on Friday loading stuff onto the flash drive that I was going to take to Office Depot to get printed out. Now I don’t have to do that. BECAUSE I GOT A PRINTER!!!!

OK, OK. Enough of that. Heh.

As to gifts for hubby, Jennifer got him a book light (which was on his list) and Jesse got him an Oregon coffee cup. We had tried to get him a pirate coffee cup, because the one he had broke, but there weren’t any black ones at Fred Meyer. Only pink ones. (Jennifer has the pink one. The two of them share a like of pirates. Arr!)

And something else I got him was a chainsaw. I’d wanted to get him one in the past, but when Jennifer heard about that, she got really scared and begged me not to get him one. I didn’t understand why the thought of her dad having a chainsaw scared her so much. Good grief, it’s not like she has ever seen the Texas Chainsaw Massacre movies. She’s seen characters using chainsaws on TV shows, but never in a violent way. I wanted to get him one because, well, we live in the Northwest! He should have one! (He is a Mountain Man in the making. Heh.) So when I went to get his gift from me, Jesse was with me. At this point in time, Jennifer was not so scared of the idea of her dad having a chainsaw anymore. But this time, it was Jesse’s turn to be scared of it! I was confused over how frightened he acted at the store when we were looking at the chainsaws. He actually tried to convince me to get his dad a leaf blower instead! (Sure, a leaf blower is fun, but they are insanely loud. I have read a lot of letters in the local paper from people complaining about the noise from those things, so I did not buy one for him.) I got him the chainsaw anyway and I guess Jesse was relieved when the cashier covered the box with paper bags after I told her that, yes, it was a Christmas gift. After hubby unwrapped it yesterday, he took it out of the box later on. Jesse chose that moment to walk into the room and he saw the chainsaw. I watched him fearfully back up, his eyes never leaving that thing. (What the heck???) I assured him it was okay, he didn’t need to be scared and it was safe to look at it. Once I calmed him of his fear, he grew curious about the chainsaw and walked over to examine it. Hubby held it up for him and even answered a couple of questions Jesse had about it. That pretty much got him over his fear and he seemed to be okay with it after that. He went right back to playing with his RC Mater.

After all was settled down from the unwrapping of gifts and excitement over presents, it was time for a Christmas tradition in our home: Eating cinnamon rolls while watching A Christmas Story. Jennifer, however, also wanted scrambled eggs with her cinnamon roll, and Jesse also wanted yogurt. (I had some scrambled eggs, too. It was a nice complement to the rolls!) I called my mother to wish her a merry Christmas then soon it was time to get Christmas dinner started. This year, hubby made the turkey for Thanksgiving, which was a nice change because A: I got a break from making the Thanksgiving turkey! And B: It gave him a chance to work his culinary skill in the kitchen. (He is a good chef!) This year, he took over making the Christmas ham, as well. It was REALLY good!!

The day ended with me and the kids cuddled up on the couch to watch A Christmas Carol. This year, I’d been fixated on A Christmas Carol (for some reason! I even mentioned the story in a Christmas story I am currently writing) and this version of the story, with George C. Scott, was the latest movie version we were watching. It was good, but we all agreed it was not the best one. Sorry, people, I still like the one with Patrick Stewart the best. Jennifer likes that one, too, but the one with Mickey Mouse is her all-time favorite.

Well, I do still need to watch a couple more before reaching a final decision on which one I like best. But, I gotta tell ya, I can only take so much of Tiny Tim saying, “And God bless us, everyone.” I’m ready to cover my eyes and scream at the top of my lungs, “Enough, already!!” And God bless us, everyone. And God bless us, everyone. And God bless us, everyone. All right, kid. We get it.

When we were eating dinner, Jennifer told me, “This is the best Christmas ever.” I had to agree. Even though the kids did fight a couple of times, it was still a good Christmas and we all enjoyed being together on this special day.


Friday, December 23, 2011

Christmas paper chain

I remember making these paper chains when I was a kid. I also remember how I would tear off one chain link each day, counting each link that was left and excited about Christmas getting closer and closer, until the very last one was left on Christmas. And I always marveled over how they were the exact number of links that led right up to Christmas Day. Silly me, it never occurred to me that my teacher just made sure we used enough links for it to last until then.

Recently, we saw the movie Jingle All The Way, and in the movie, there was a Christmas paper chain hanging on the wall, which we must assume was made by the young character, Jamie. The chain in the movie had a lot of links on it and I thought that was odd since the movie starts two days before Christmas. I guess they were not using it as a “countdown chain.”

The kids didn’t make these chains at school, so I thought it would be nice to include this activity for them to do while they are on Winter Break. Of course, it’s too late for it to work as a “countdown chain,” but when Jennifer had heard about this idea, she was really insistent that we do this. They had fun tracing lines along the ruler to create the strips on the colored paper (I cut the strips out), and it was a challenge for them to glue together the links to keep each link perfectly round and fit together to form a chain. In the end, they were happy with their creation and Jesse was so proud of himself for gluing almost every single one of his links together.

Today’s Christmas movie is The Santa Clause.

Here are the kids with their chains:

Thursday, December 22, 2011

Seeing Santa

Today, the kids got to see Santa. Yay!

Being 10 years old, Jennifer took one look at all of the little kids in line and said, “I think I’m getting too old for this.” What? Too old to see Santa?? Never!

Well, I think never, anyway.

Today's Christmas movie is Frosty the Snowman.

Here’s a picture of their picture with Santa:

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Paper Christmas trees

The kids are really enjoying their “time off” from school – and a school schedule! I am also enjoying the chance to sleep in this week. I am still getting up early in order to get things done, but not at 5 a.m. like I usually do during a school week. Ahhh, no more waking up and making my way through the bedroom in the dark! The kids are enjoying getting their extra sleep, too, and being able to eat cookies or ice cream at night. Plus, they get to stay up past their normal bedtime. I reminded them they’ll be going back on schedule next week to get ready for when school starts again, so they are enjoying this fun while they still can!

And while I have been lax on some rules this week, I won’t go easy on all of them. Everybody still has to take their baths, brush their teeth and comb their hair!

Today the kids decorated a paper tree. I thought they were going to go all-out with the decorating – using glitter, string, etc. – but it seems they were content to just use crayons. The one on the right is Jesse’s tree. Jennifer decided to turn hers into an ornament.

Today’s Christmas movie: Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer.

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

A gingerbread house ... picture

It’s Day 2 of Winter Vacation! Woo-hoo!

Last year, Jennifer created a gingerbread house. And I thought she’d be up to doing that again this year, but she told me that she wasn’t interested. (No Christmas without a gingerbread house?? The scandal!)

So, instead, she wanted to DRAW a gingerbread house. I wasn’t surprised; that girl will draw every chance she can get! She wants to be an artist someday, so I was just as pleased that at least we would still have a gingerbread house, even if it was one that she drew.

And I must say that, after seeing her picture, I sure wished that was a REAL gingerbread house! It sure would look neat!

This year, we are watching as many of the Christmas Carol adaptations we can. We have seen three of them so far (including Scrooged) so tonight we continue this mission with the next adaptation, the 2009 version with Jim Carrey. Yay!

Here is the picture Jen drew:

Monday, December 19, 2011

Gingerbread men

Today officially marks the beginning of winter break for the children. I decided that we would do something for every day of the week for the first week just to make it special. To go with each activity, we would watch a Christmassy movie.

For Monday, the activity is to make gingerbread men. The movie we are going to watch is Home Alone.

It was fun to make the gingerbread men. Jennifer helped with the mix then she got to roll out and cut the first half of the dough. Jesse got to roll out and cut out the cookies, too. It was really cute watching them create their own gingerbread men.

The icing, however, proved to be a challenge. Usually, I buy the icing at the store, but hubby forgot to buy it while he was out and we were not able to buy any. The box of the mix had a recipe on the side for making homemade icing. I wasn’t sure if I was up to that. I have never made homemade icing. I even asked hubby to do it instead and he asked why. “I’ve never made icing before!” I said. “What if I mess it up?”

“It’s easy,” he said, then he went over the ingredients and said to just follow the directions.

Retreating to the kitchen, I figured, what the heck? I’ll give it a try. So I made up the icing – and I must point out that I had to use more water than what it said to use on the box. In fact, I just added water until it was actual icing and something that could be drizzled over cookies.

Next, we decorated our gingerbread men. I told the kids that they could each have 2 cookies. They each decorated their own cookies. Once again, cuteness overload while watching them dress their cookies up with icing. We didn’t have any candies or decorative goodies for our gingerbread men, though. So we just ate them with icing. Yummy!

Here’s a pic of the kids with their cookies. Mine are in the foreground. They couldn’t stop licking at the icing. I had to smile about that; I guess I done good.

Sunday, December 11, 2011

12 wished-for books for Christmas

Since I had some free time this evening, I decided to check out one of several articles I have bookmarked to read at leisure. One such article was "The 12 books of Christmas" by Sarah Crompton. This inspired me to create a list of 12 books I would like to receive for Christmas. Of course, I know I won't receive all 12. (LOL! Sure is a nice thought, though.) But I decided to go ahead and create the list, anyway. Besides, I had to wonder if there are 12 books I'd like to receive as gifts for Christmas, what would they be?

While creating this list, I decided to have a theme for it. I don't have a whole lot of Christmas-themed books on my mega wish list of books I'd love to own someday, but I DO have a lot of Bible and religious-themed books. So these are those kinds of books from my wish list. Since I am planning to really work at studying and reading through the Bible next year (one of my personal goals for the year), I have some books on my list that might compliment this. Also, I am writing a book about prayer, so I also look for those kinds of books, too. I don't have a Kindle or e-reader, so I had to limit the books on my wish list to books that are available in print.

1. A Bible
(Unfortunately, my KJV Bible is falling apart. I am sad about this because I have had it since 1985 and it was given to me by my dear aunt and uncle. So it's time to get a new one and the one I have will be a keepsake.)

2. Know God and Love Him by Joanne M Rypma

3. You Were Made for More: The Life You Have, the Life God Wants You to Have by Jim Cymbala

4. The Peace God Promises by Ann Spangler

5. The 52 Greatest Stories of the Bible: A Devotional Study by John Alan Turner and Ken Boa

6. Bible: The Story of the King James Version 1611-2011 by Gordon Campbell

7. Through the Bible in One Year: A 52-Lesson Introduction to the 66 Books of the Bible by Alan B. Stringfellow

8. Revelation of the Magi: The Lost Tale of the Wise Men's Journey to Bethlehem by Brent Landau

9. The Authentic Letters of Paul by Arthur J. Dewey

10. Meetings with Mary: Visions of the Blessed Mother by Janice T. Connell

11. Tortured for Christ by Richard Wurmbrand

12. How to Pray Without Talking to God: Moment by Moment, Choice by Choice by Linda Martella-Whitsett

Sunday, November 27, 2011

25 Days of Christmas Movies

In keeping with the "31 Halloween movies" post I made in October, I decided to put together a list of 25 of my favorite Christmas movies. Unfortunately, we don't own all of these movies, and I do try to get them through Netflix when they are available, but they are definitely good Christmas-themed movies no December should be without.

These movies are not listed in any particular order. I just listed them at random.


1. National Lampoon's Christmas Vacation
2. Home Alone
3. How the Grinch Stole Christmas
4. Santa Buddies
5. Santa Paws
6. Elf
7. The Polar Express
8. A Christmas Carol
9. The Santa Clause
10. The Nightmare Before Christmas
11. Gremlins
12. Santa Claus is Comin' to Town
13. The Little Drummer Boy
14. Jack Frost
15. Jingle All the Way
16. Frosty the Snowman
17. Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer
18. Scrooged
19. It's a Wonderful Life
20. Miracle on 34th Street
21. Grandma Got Run Over by a Reindeer
22. Prancer
23. It Came Upon a Midnight Clear
24. A Christmas Story
25. A Charlie Brown Christmas

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Generosity at a gas station

Today, on my way to a doctor appointment, I realized I had to get gas in the car on my way there. I was almost out of gas and I didn’t want to run out on my way to my appointment, so I decided I’ll just stop on the way to get just $5 of gas and be off. Shouldn’t take too long, right? Just $5 of gas was fast and it’d put enough in my tank to get me there and back. I’d be in and out of there, right? Wrong.

When I got to the gas station, I told the attendant I wanted $5 of gas. (Let me say here I did not hold up my hand to show five fingers like I normally do, but I DID repeat what I said.) He asked for my store card after I handed him my debit card. So I handed that over, too.

When he set the pump up on my car, I noticed that he walked away. This confused me. Why did he walk away? Normally, when I buy just $5 of gas, the gas station attendant stays at the pump until it’s done. So I was concerned about this. I tried to find the guy but didn’t see him.

Then I looked at the gas pump. Oh. My. God. It was going past $10. Then $20, Then $30. Oh, my God!!

I jumped out of the car and frantically looked for the attendant. But he was NOWHERE. I saw another attendant and, pointing at the pump that was still running up the cost of gas, I cried out, “How do you turn that thing off?!” He saw my predicament and ran over to the pump. But right when he got there, it stopped.

It had filled my gas tank.

I practically crumbled into a million pieces on the ground. There went the money I would need to pay for my doctor appointment. And then some!

As the attendant was placing the pump back into the holder and closing the gas tank on my car, I started to freak out. What would I do? I almost even cried. I didn’t WANT a full tank of gas! I just wanted $5!

I explained all this to the attendant. He said something but I couldn’t lipread him. I told him that I’m deaf and to please speak slower. He explained that he would tell the people in the office about what happened and everything would be taken care of. He told me to wait there then walked off.

I stood next to my car, trying to get ahold of myself. This has NEVER happened to me before, so I didn’t know what would happen. If I was now without the money for my doctor appointment or something else. I also worried that they would not believe me.

Finally, another person came over to where I stood. She was a lady nicely dressed and it said “manager” on her name tag. She said that we could go into the store with my card and they would reimburse the extra money back onto my card. They would also take out of the gas tank the extra gas so that there was only the requested $5 left in there. (I didn’t know they could do this! And I thought they needed special equipment to do this but the lady said they could do that right at the pump.)

So I followed her into the store. She talked to the store associate and stayed there to watch as he went through the motions of putting that money back onto my card. I was sure to keep both receipts from this. After that was settled, I rushed back to my car because I was still running late for my doctor appointment.

When I got back to the gas pumps, I asked the man if he’d already removed the extra gas from my car. He said that everything was fine. “Everything’s okay?” I asked him. He said yes. He seemed really nice, too, even as he waved when I was driving away, and as I drove, I thought, ‘Gee, what a friendly guy.’

Now, when I got back into the car, the first thing I looked at was the clock. EEK! Panic! I was gonna be late for my appointment. I started the car and drove off.

But as I was driving …. My eyes fell on the gas gauge. And that’s when I noticed …. I had a full tank!!


I started to panic AGAIN. Oh, my God. Oh, my God. First, I thought maybe it was a glitch. The needle would move down to wherever the $5 worth of gas would be. But noooo. It stayed on “F.”

The entire time I drove to my appointment.

I panicked over this. Oh, m God. I’m a thief! They’re gonna arrest me! I’ll go to jail and I’ll never see my kids again! The judge will dart angry eyes at me and announce, “YOU ARE GUILTY FOR STEALING GAS!”

In fact, I was so freaked out over this, I started to have trouble breathing. THEN I realized I was having trouble breathing because of my anxiety over this situation and HAD to get a hold of myself. I had to calm down. Stop these breathing problems.

So first I tried the breathing exercises I do when I have trouble breathing. That did not work. Next I tried to focus myself on what I was doing right now. I kept telling myself, “I am driving right now. I need to pay attention to my driving right now. I need to pay attention to my driving!”

That, too, did not work. The breathing problems continued.

Finally, I took a harsher tone in my voice and I commanded myself, “Breathe! BREATHE!”

And that is what worked. Eventually, I was able to breathe okay again. Thank goodness!

That settled, I came up with a plan. After my doctor appointment, I would go to the bank to explain what happened and BEG them not to charge a fee against the account. Then after that I would go to the gas station, find the attendant, and say something like, “You didn’t take the extra gas out of my car. What gives? Get to it!” Or, something like that. Haha. The point is, I would make it right. It was the right thing to do.

At my doctor appointment, I was talking wth the ASL interpreter about what happened. I was trying to figure out where things had gone wrong. I thought maybe I had not spoken clear enough. (I knew I should’ve held up five fingers!!) But she said, “You speak very clearly.” Maybe I did not speak loud enough. She said, “Or maybe he wasn’t paying attention.” Well, whatever had caused this mess, it had still happened, and I had to set things right. So after my appointment, that’s what I did.

But when I was at the gas station, things did not work out the way I thought they would.

I did find the attendant. And when I saw him, I said, “I thought you took the extra gas out?”

He acted all friendly again and said, “No, I gave that to you.’

It took a moment to sink in. WHA—This guy … this gas station attendant … paid $30-something dollars in gas for a complete stranger? Really?

I was really taken aback. And touched. I even asked him if he meant what I thought he said he meant and he said yes.

I took his hand and squeezed it. “Oh, thank you!” I said. What a nice thing to do for someone!! Wow! That is just so …. So …. Really, really nice. (When I told Jennifer this story later, she was surprised at such generosity and also thought that was very nice.)

We wished each other a Happy Thanksgiving before I hurried back to the car.

Back in my car, I could only sit there, stunned but so moved. Wow. I could not believe this act of kindness just happened. I smiled. How nice! And I would make sure that one day, I would pay that act of kindness forward to another person who was in a similar situation.

I would definitely have another thing to be thankful for this year. Yay!

Wednesday, November 09, 2011

Contract: Impossible

“That’s impossible!”

I looked at what Jennifer was pointing at on the contract she was supposed to sign. Yes, my 10-year-old daughter is signing a contract. It’s a teacher-parent-student contract from her school. We had to sign one last year and do it again this year. I’d told her to read over each line of the contract before signing it and, apparently, she found something wrong with it.

In the section of the contract where it talks about the teacher’s goals, it says that the teacher will strive to provide a safe and friendly environment.

I read this over then looked at Jen. “What do you mean it’s impossible?”

She shook her head and looked at me as though I had the IQ of a thumbtack. “Nobody can do that.”

It was then I figured out what she meant. She thought the teacher was promising to provide a safe and friendly environment in the classroom.

So I told Jennifer, “Well, she is going to TRY to provide a safe and friendly environment. Look, see. It says the teacher will 'strive' to do that. Not that she is promising to do that.”

Jennifer frowned. “But this is a contract.”

Ah, even at 10 years old, she understood that you don’t fool around with a contract. Contracts mean business!

If only I had the time and insight to explain to her the concept of a “loophole." See, this is why doctors never say someone is DEFINITELY sick with something when there are no test results to back them up. They want to cover their ass in case somebody tries to sue them if they screw up!

Instead, I told Jennifer that “strive” is the same thing as “try” and that the teacher will “try” to provide a safe and friendly environment.

Then I told her the cold, hard facts: “You can never promise to create a safe environment. Nowhere is 100% safe. You could do all of these things to make sure someplace is safe, but there’s always going to be one rotten apple to screw it all up.”

This is something I have learned as a parent. No matter how safe I try to make our home, a baby/toddler/child/teenager might do something that could cause him/her to get hurt or sick. I’m reminded of the safety locks we put on our kitchen cabinets. Jesse tore those right off! Or the dangerous items both hubby and I have put waaayyy up high out of the kids’ reach. They found a way to get to those things, anyhow! No locks can keep a determined kid away. But we sure TRY to make our home safe. It is the best that we can do – and at least accidents won’t happen so easily.

Jennifer seemed to understand this is true for anywhere – even a classroom. We try to do the safe thing, the positive thing, the friendly thing. But something or someone could mess that all up.

She accepted this. Fortunately, our conversation was enough for her to understand that it was all about TRYING to do the things outlined in the contract, and not exactly guaranteeing those things will happen.

She finished reading to the bottom of the contract then signed her name. Then we moved on to some other paperwork she had for us to go over.

Hopefully, she learned something important today. Something she could take with her into the rest of her life.

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Jesse turns 4!

October may be National Breast Cancer Awareness Month, but in my home, it's also the "birthday month." It's actually the second such "birthday month" in our home. My husband and I both have a birthday in May, while our children both have a birthday in October. (Pretty convenient, eh?) Yet it seems we can never celebrate the kids' birthday the way birthdays are normally celebrated. One year, for example, the kids had three birthday parties each because we went to different relatives' homes to visit in California. And this year, each child got to celebrate their birthday twice because their special day ended up being on a school day. So, for this year, each child gets a special "family party" for their birthday and, later, on the following weekend, a birthday party with friends. (Alas, I won't share those pictures publicly because of the parents' privacy concerns.) Jesse got to have a little party on this day, his REAL birthday where he turned 4, and then on Sunday he'll have a party with friends. Yay!

Here are pictures from today's party. Happy Birthday, Jesse! You are four years old! We love you.

Jesse with his yummy birthday cake!

Jesse with his goofy sis, Jennifer.

Jesse enjoying some of his birthday presents. (Cake? What cake?)

Jesse getting some extra B-day love from his daddy before he heads off to work.

Sunday, October 16, 2011

31 Spooky movies for adults and kids

Recently, I read this interview with a writer who said she tries to watch one horror movie for every day of October, just to get into the Halloween spirit. Once upon time, I tried to do this, too. I even tried to put together a list of 31 movies for those 31 days, but ended up running out of some REALLY good ones so I moved on to other things.

Seeing that in the interview rekindled my curiosity to see if I could actually put together such a list. And, ta-da! You'll find that list below. I even managed to put one together for kids! Yay!

In the lists below, I have included movie preferences in the event of remakes or other versions of movies which I didn't care for. I also noted one movie in the list for kids that frightened my daughter at the time she saw it so I included a note on a good age group for it -- just my opinion, though.

There are A LOT of good horror movies for adults that didn't make the cut since I could only include 31. These are the 31 I recommend but there are other good ones, too.


31 Horror/Halloween Movies for Adults

1. The Thing (1982)
2. Friday the 13th
3. The Amityville Horror
4. The Messengers
5. Poltergeist
6. 13 Ghosts
7. The House on Haunted Hill
8. Fingerprints
9. Interview with the Vampire
10. Underworld
11. Gothika
12. The Grudge
13. The Grudge 2
14. Night of the Living Dead
15. The Shining
16. Nightmare on Elm Street
17. It
18. Psycho
19. The Exorcist
20. Dawn of the Dead
21. The Ring
22. Saw
23. Saw II
24. The Omen
25. The Omen II
26. The Omen III
27. The Evil Dead
28. The Changeling (1980)
29. Hellraiser
30. 1408 (Unrated Version)
31. Halloween

31 Horror/Halloween Movies for Kids

1. Corpse Bride
2. The Addams Family
3. The Addams Family Values
4. Wallace & Gromit: Curse of the Were-Rabbit
5. Twitches
6. Twitches, Too
7. Bedknobs & Broomsticks
8. Ghostbusters
9. Hocus Pocus
10. The Nightmare Before Christmas
11. Coraline (not recommended for the under-10 crowd)
12. The Haunted Mansion
13. Halloweentown
14. Monsters, Inc.
15. Gremlins
16. The Worst Witch
17. Scooby-Doo
18. Scooby-Doo 2: Monsters Unleashed
19. The Dog Who Saved Halloween
20. The Canterville Ghost
21. Blackbeard’s Ghost
22. The Little Vampire
23. The Adventures of Ichabod and Mr. Toad
24. The Halloween Tree
25. Spookley: The Square Pumpkin
26. Clifford the Big Red Dog: Clifford’s Big Halloween
27. Scary Godmother: Halloween Spooktacular
28. Pooh’s Heffalump Halloween Movie
29. Casper
30. Monster House
31. It’s the Great Pumpkin, Charlie Brown!

Saturday, October 15, 2011

People like that

For all of last week, the kids weren’t feeling so good. Jesse had a terrible cough and stuffy nose and Jennifer was complaining of stomach pain and nausea. Jennifer was not as sick at first – she was well enough to go on her class field trip – but as the week progressed, she got worse and kept coming home from school complaining of discomfort. And at first, Jesse stopped coughing so much, and I thought he was better so I stopped giving him medicine, but then it returned with a vengeance, along with stomach pain. So yesterday I took the kids to their doctor to find out what was up. Turns out they both have a stomach virus.

After we were done at the doctor’s office, we drove through downtown Eugene on our way to the grocery store. As I drove, I happened to notice these girls in the car next to me, staring wide-eyed at me. I had my hair up and when I wear my hair up, the third degree burn scars on the back of my head are visible. The fire permanently damaged some part of the hair on my scalp, so I have hair missing in the back, making my back hairline uneven. This, too, can be seen, along with the left-ear-that-is-not-an-ear (I lost my ear in the accident so the doctors reconstructed an ear for me made out of rib cartilage). Judging from the looks on these teen girls’ faces as they freaked out over my face and head, I could figure out what they were reacting to. I completely ignored them, stifled a growl and drove off. Far be it from me to stay within their view so they’d have to withstand such horror!

But, seriously, even as this was something that I’m used to by now (after over 30 years of living with these scars, I’ve seen the worst of people in how they react to my burns!), it still kinda hurt. It made me sad, you know? That there are young people out there still reacting so negatively to someone who is not “beautiful.” I know we live in a world where beauty is EVERYTHING and if you are not beautiful, people will shun you and talk negatively of you. But it saddens me that we are allowing the future generation to grow up thinking this kind of logic is okay. Why are we teaching our children that it’s okay to react so negatively to people with burn scars, deformities or even skin ailments? Why are we teaching them to think less of someone who is not so appealing to the eye?

Given that these girls were teenagers, I was reminded of one other unpleasant experience involving teenaged girls I came into contact with. Once, while I was in church, I was sitting in a pew in front of a group of teenaged girls. (And, yes, I had my hair up!) It wasn't long before I realized the girls behind me were kicking the pew I was sitting in. I turned around to let them know this was uncomfortable. They only laughed and said, “Sorry.” Then they did it again. I was so annoyed by it, I left the church. Yet I was saddened that young people could get away with being so mean to someone like that. And that, worse of all, they thought it was okay to do that!

No. It is NOT okay.

It’s rude. It’s not nice. And it hurts. Ya know? Have a little compassion for someone not as BLESSED or LUCKY as you to be so beautiful.

I am grateful that there are people I know who are not so shallow and who are kind to others no matter their appearance. These are the people I cling to. These are the people who I feel are important people in my life.

But the biggest kind of comfort I took from that experience? Knowing that my own daughter will not grow up to be like those girls. Knowing that other little girls who have accepted me will not grow up to be like those girls. And you know why? Because they know me as a person. They know me as a human being – and that’s what we all are underneath the burn scars. We’re human beings with feelings. With personalities. With hopes and dreams.

My reminder of this was reinforced after Jennifer found out about what had happened. Of course, she was irritated. She said, “Those girls!” Then she stuck her tongue out in the direction we’d driven away from. (Haha. My feelings exactly.)

I only shook my head and told her the same thing I have been telling myself for years, “There are always going to be people like that.”

She frowned and said, “I don’t like people like that.”

Yeah. Me, neither.

Monday, October 03, 2011

Jen turns 10!

My oldest child, Jennifer, turned 10 years old today. Hooray! Happy Birthday, Jennifer!

Because her birthday falls on a school day this year, we decided to have a little family party today, then on Saturday, she'll have a birthday party with her friends. She will have TWO birthday parties this year! How cool is that??

Here are some pictures from today. Because my husband works at night, we decided to celebrate her family party during the day before he leaves for work.

A surprise awaits Jennifer upon her return home from school!

Ten years old means a ten dollar bill. Woot!

Interestingly, I call her a "silly monkey." Before her birthday came along, she let me know she wanted a BROWN sock monkey. Took a while before we found one!

She lubs her new robe! Arr!

She'd been asking for My Neighbor Totoro for MONTHS! So nice I found it at Target. And, yes, she wanted Dumbo, too!

Jen enjoying her birthday cupcake with TWO flavors of ice cream! Num.

Little brother Jesse had fun eating his cupcake.

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

The best of both worlds

Yesterday, as I was reading a book, Jennifer came over to where I was and sat down. I could tell she needed to talk. Up until then, she’d been playing with her little brother. But now something troubled her. Something was on her mind. So I put down the book and asked her what was up.

She explained that she wasn’t sure how she could balance spending time with Jesse with spending time with her friends. For so long, she always wanted to run off and play with her friends instead of play with her brother. And on several occasions, I’d remind her she needed to spend some time playing with her little brother, too. I guess it finally sank in. Now she couldn’t figure out how to divide her time.

This question made me smile. I looked at her and said, “You notice how this is a brand new thing for you? You didn’t have this problem before Jesse came along.”

She thought for a minute then nodded with a smile.

I set about explaining to her that she’ll figure out how to balance her time with her brother and time with her friends. I told her that she could also have Jesse along when playing with her friends. Yes, Jesse is still a baby, but she has friends younger than her and it could work. Or we could all get together to play at a park.

And also, sometimes it will work out on its own. She’ll play with Jesse for a while then she’ll play with her friends. After a while, it will just happen on its own and she’ll figure it out.

I also told her not to stress on this. Just wing it. See what she can fit in with her brother and see what she can fit in with her friends.

This seemed to help her understand the situation. And today, she was able to spend time with her brother and her friend. They played together for a while, then they joined her friend to ride bikes outside. It helps if the friend doesn’t mind having Jesse around, but in cases that doesn’t happen, I step in and tell Jesse I will play with him. That helps him feel better.

There is still so much Jennifer is adapting to as far as having a sibling and being the oldest is concerned. I’m glad her dad and I can help her navigate these waters, since we grew up with siblings too (and her dad is the oldest), but I think she’ll find a way to make things work just for her. And her brother, too.

Sunday, September 11, 2011

Ten years after 9/11

Today marks the 10th anniversary of September 11, 2001. Up until now, my oldest child, Jennifer, who turns 10 next month, has not been made aware of the full extent of what September 11th means. She only knows it is a day her mom lights a white candle, cries a little bit and takes time to reflect.

She also knows it was a day that happened while I was still pregnant with her.

But up until now, she did not know what September 11th was.

Today, I told her. After 10 years, I felt it was time. As a child born that year, after that event, it was time for her to know.

When I explained to her what September 11th was, a mix of emotions washed over her face. She was shocked that such a thing had happened to our country. She was in disbelief that there are people, terrorists, who hate America and brought their hatred to our country on that day. She was saddened to hear that so many people died on that day. Nearly 3,000 lives were lost on 9/11/01.

I told her about what happened, but I would not allow her to see any of the pictures. I would not allow her to watch the shows on TV remembering that sad day. I just couldn’t bring myself to do that. I could not expose my child to that.

I still remember the shock and disbelief I felt on that day. I did not know about what had happened until after both of the planes crashed into the Twin Towers. An online friend I chatted with on the computer told me, “You need to turn on the news.” So I did. And I could only stare, in shock, at what I saw. I was horrified to watch the Towers collapse, knowing there were more people dying in that collapse.

I watched all of this ... and then I looked down at my very-pregnant stomach. Where my baby was safely growing inside. I remember looking at that stomach and thinking, ‘How could I bring a child into this world now?’

Was this the kind of world I wanted to bring a new life into?

I really struggled over these emotions. Why bring a child into a world that had such evil people? Where there was hatred so strong, lives were being taken away?

I talked with some online friends about this. It was really a difficult situation for me.

But even still, 10 years later, I remember what one of my online friends said to me that changed everything. She said: “Who knows? Maybe your child will be someone to make this world a better place.”

I thought of that today, during my conversation with Jennifer. I was reminded of it after something she said. She said, “I love everyone.”

I looked at her and asked, “Even the people who hate Americans?”

“Everyone,” she answered. “I love everyone. We should all love each other.”

My heart lifted when she said those powerful words. Maybe there is hope for this world yet.

Friday, September 09, 2011

Week One: Success!

This was the first week of the kids going back to school. I am happy to report that it went well.

These are my goals for the new school year:

  • Get Jennifer to the bus stop on time EVERY DAY that she is going to school
  • Get Jesse to the preschool at 8ish
  • Have a drama-free morning
  • Get the kids up at a sufficient hour of the morning where they don’t have to RUSH, RUSH, RUSH to get out the door
  • Have EVERYTHING we need ready and at hand so we don’t have to make last-minute decisions on clothes or hunt for a missing shoe (oy, those missing shoe hunts!)
  • See my kids off with lots of hugs, smiles, extra love – and NO SAD FACES because of a sucky morning.

Yes, it does seem like a tall order. But I am happy to report that we met ALL of those goals for the first week of school. HOORAY!

And … nobody missed a bath/shower. Nobody had incomplete paperwork or forms on the day of going to school. And everybody was well-fed and dressed before heading out.

Yay again!

Before the start of school, I did some serious planning. I decided on what kind of goals I wanted to meet for this year. We also went through ALL clothes to have school clothes in one drawer or in the closet, and playclothes in the other.

Thankfully, we didn’t have to buy school supplies for either of the kids. Their schools provide supplies. With Jennifer’s school, I pay an annual fee for the supplies. So it worked out well. All the kids got for the new school year were new backpacks (though Jesse got his during the summer). While the local paper ran articles about families struggling to afford school supplies for their children, I was grateful that we didn’t have to worry about that.

This year, I’ve had to make some changes, too. The kids know they can’t watch TV while getting ready for school, because then they won’t get ready for school. (That’s what caused some of the drama last year.) Same with computers. NO COMPUTER on school mornings. I have seen how I have to follow that rule, too. I’d get distracted watching the news on TV or checking email. So, no more of that for me! Because I did not drive them to school this week, however, I was able to do some early morning online stuff. But it just can’t happen for the mornings that I am the driver. I also can’t get my morning workouts until AFTER the kids are in school (they just take too long and I might not have time for a shower then show up being all stinky – yuck!). These are changes I’m totally okay with. The important thing is taking care of getting the kids off to school FIRST. That is the number one priority on school mornings.

And that rule just might help us have some other school morning successes in the weeks to come. At least, that is my hope!

Sunday, August 21, 2011

A fair-ly good time

It’s been 6 years since we moved to Oregon but not once have we attended the annual Lane County Fair. That changed yesterday.

By the time we got to the fairgrounds late in the day, the parking lots were filled, so hubby had to drive around and around neighboring streets to find someplace to park. During all that driving, I noticed how some people were charging fairgoers $5 to park in their front yards. After some time of driving, I suggested we just come back the next day. But hubby was determined to find somewhere to park. We were already there and he wasn’t going to give up just because he couldn’t find a parking space. Eventually, his determination paid off and we managed to park in front of a house two streets away from the fairgrounds. I was grateful for the nice weather as we walked.

I was also grateful for our timing. We arrived at the fair at dusk and all the lights were starting to come on. It was very pretty. As the sky grew darker, and the lights became brighter, Jesse was really mesmerized by all of the lights and special effects. Many times his dad had a hard time getting his attention because he couldn’t take his eyes off all of the lights! (Jennifer told me the music was loud, too. She could hear it all the way from where we parked! I asked her what kind of music it was and she said it was “fair music.”)

Of course, the kids wanted to go on EVERYTHING, but because the tickets cost so much, we had to be choosy. I definitely wanted the kids to go on a carousel, but we couldn’t find one. This was Jesse’s very first fair visit, so hubby and I both knew we had to be especially certain he went on some good rides.

Before we got to the fair, I was anticipating the kids having fun on the rides. What I didn’t expect was freaking out when my little baby was placed inside of the first ride. My heart was pounding in my chest and I had to keep myself from running to his seat and pulling him out of there. I was standing there thinking, MY BABY!!! This particular ride was the kiddie version of the swings. (You know, those swings people spin around a pole in?) I kept telling myself that this was a ride for kids. He’d met the height requirement. And, most of all, Jennifer was in the seat with him. Surely she would grab him if he started to slip out. (And they did have a strap that went between the legs so kids couldn’t slip out.) So I just watched, and prayed, as the ride started up. Thankfully, it was not as fast as the adult version. And he was fine. Phew! But I put my foot down later in the evening when they wanted to go on the adult version of that swing ride. I kept saying, “I don’t want him on that ride!” Hubby wanted to go on, too. But even with him, I was NOT going to allow Jesse on that ride. He already was on the kiddie version and that was good enough. (Hubby saw how upset this made me so thankfully he agreed not to put Jesse on that ride.)

When we got to rides that Jennifer was big enough for but not Jesse, then either I or hubby took Jesse to a kiddie ride or hubby went with Jennifer and I took Jesse to another ride. At one point, hubby even suggested I go find a ride I wanted to go on but I said I didn’t want to go on any. That changed when I saw The Haunted Mansion ride. I went nuts and said, “I wanna go on THAT one!” We all ended up going on that ride. I rode with Jennifer and as we went through the ride, I worried it might be a bit much for Jesse (who was riding with his dad). After we all got off of the ride, Jesse huddled close to Jennifer and they started talking. I asked hubby if the ride had scared him and he said, “A little bit.” After Jesse was done talking to Jennifer, he looked at me and said, “That ride was a little bit scary.” (Later that night, he told me again the “monsters” on that ride scared him.)

We ate our dinner at the fair. Two bacon cheeseburgers, two orders of fries, two hot dogs and 4 soft drinks. It cost us $43! The whole fair experience was pricey and I decided that, for next year, we will start saving EARLY if we want to go to the fair again.

Another thing about fairs is how they rig the games so very few people win the prizes. That night, Jennifer was introduced to the term “carnie” and I told her horror stories of how carnies trick people out of their money by fixing the games. Hubby shrugged it all off and told Jennifer she could go ahead and play one of the games. She really wanted to win something but she couldn’t knock over the stack of blocks with the baseball she was given.

Another thing Jennifer wanted to do at the fair was go on the Ferris wheel with her dad. She did get to do that – but unfortunately Jesse was too small for it. So while they were on that, he went on the kiddie airplane ride. Every time I looked at the lit-up Ferris wheel at the fair, I was reminded of the short story I’d written last week that Jennifer’s request had inspired me to write.

Jennifer also got to have some cotton candy – and Jesse, too – but she wasn’t able to play certain other games she’d hoped to play or win a goldfish. (Well, there’s always next year. I promised myself that next year I will drop the whole “carnies are EBIL!” warning and just let her play the games.)

Soon we ran out of tickets – and money to buy more tickets – so we had to go home. We’d been at the fair for 3 hours and we all agreed we had fun. As we walked to the car, my feet hurt from all that walking and my legs were dead. I told Jennifer I had gotten my exercise for the day. It was A LOT of walking!

But it was a lot of fun, too. Jesse had his very first fair experience and Jennifer got to have some good memories of going on rides with her dad. I’m glad we finally went to the Lane County Fair and look forward to going again next year.

Tuesday, August 09, 2011

Bye bye, baby teeth

Yesterday, Jesse lost a couple of his baby teeth. At the age of 3, one would think this was happening a little early for him. But in truth, these teeth did not come out naturally. Actually, they were knocked out in a fall he had yesterday.

Now I am not going to say who caused this fall. I don’t want the offender to be outed here. I don’t want to make this person look bad. The offender has been punished and already feels as guilty as it is about causing this to happen.

Anyway, yesterday morning, I was in the bathroom, getting ready to take a shower. The kids were in the house and hubby was in the kitchen, getting a cup of coffee. Jesse came into the bathroom, crying with blood dripping out of his mouth. He had blood on his hands and shirt.

I freaked!

I cried out to Jennifer to get her father and they came rushing into the bathroom. Hubby took over and assessed the situation while I cleaned up the blood on the floor.

On the floor was a tooth. There was another tooth on Jesse’s hand. His two front teeth had been knocked out.

Hubby told me to call the dentist to find out what to do and I got on the phone while he took care of Jesse. But before I could actually type their number into the box for relay, the offender came up to me crying and explaining what had happened. How Jesse had lost his teeth. I was shocked and horrified. I even screamed, “He’s just a baby!” Of course, this didn’t help the offender feel any better. I told said person to go somewhere else, I was too angry and upset to talk to that person right now. I was riveted! I was also on the verge of tears. Why did this happen to my baby? I kept wiping away the tears as I tried to focus on the phone call.

I called the dentist and they told me to bring Jesse in right away. Hubby got Jesse's mouth cleaned up and he told me to change Jesse’s clothes while he got ready, because he was going to take Jesse to the dentist himself. So I took Jesse into his room and we both picked out some new clothes for him to wear. After he was dressed and hubby was ready, they went out to the garage and got the car seat from the truck and into hubby’s car. I double-checked that hubby had the teeth with him before they left. I watched as they left, my heart sunk. I felt just terrible for Jesse and hoped he wasn’t in too much pain.

At the same time, though, I couldn’t stop thinking that I’d been here before. When Jennifer was 7 years old, she was at a friend’s birthday party and in all the fun and excitement of the kids playing, a boy accidentally kicked her in the mouth and knocked her two front teeth out. There was the blood, the tears, the shock, the pain. Just as Jennifer had lost her two front teeth in an accident, Jesse had, too. I only prayed it wasn’t his permanent teeth that were lost.

After they got back from the dentist, hubby told me that Jesse had not suffered any serious damage. They were his baby teeth and that Jesse didn’t need any pain medicine. As to the teeth, it looked like Jesse was going to get his very first visit from the tooth fairy. I was so relieved he was going to be okay. The whole time they were gone, I was shocked and trying to keep myself together.

Since Jesse is too young to have money, he got a toy car from the tooth fairy. He’s been playing with it all morning. He seems to be fine.

Eating is another matter, though. At first, he would not eat at all yesterday. As it was, the only thing he would accept at dinner was a kernel of corn. (I did make something soft for dinner. Looks like I will be making him soft foods for a while! It’s a good thing he loves yogurt.) This morning, he ate part of a doughnut and a Nutri-Grain bar. That was about it. I am hoping he will be okay to eat without trouble at mealtimes. l am glad that a lot of the things he likes are soft foods: Peanut butter sandwich (without the crust and cut into squares), yogurt, spaghetti, macaroni and cheese, chicken noodle soup. He also like hot dogs and he eats them cut up. I wonder how that’ll work for him. (He’ll probably figure out to chew food on the side if he can’t chew it in the front.) I am hoping we can coax him to eat a little more today, but if it’s pain that’s preventing him from eating, I’ll have to either call the dentist or give him Tylenol. Or both.

This week, Jesse is being kept home from preschool. (During the summer, he has been going there twice a week.) This was something hubby wanted. I think Jesse’s fine and should be okay at the school, but I have to respect hubby’s feelings on this. After all, this is his little boy. So Jesse is home this week.

And the offender will be at home all week, too. No playdates or going to a friend’s house. Unlike Jennifer’s experience, this time around the situation could have been avoided. Granted, the offender probably did NOT do what was done with the intention of knocking Jesse’s teeth out, but that is just one of the things that can happen to someone when something like that is done to them, and I hope that message is not lost on that person. On top of this, I don’t condone violence. I will NOT have violence in my home. I grew up in a violent home and I will NOT let the same thing be said about my children. NO VIOLENCE. Period.

Hopefully, everything about this experience will ensure that won’t happen again.

Saturday, August 06, 2011

Still got it

Today I took Jennifer to the library. As we rode in the elevator, I assured her I didn't need to check out any books. I already have a hefty supply of books to read for book reviews, so I had enough books to keep me busy. Sometimes, when we go to the library, she'll accompany me to the second floor as I pick out books to check out, too, on her library card. Not today, I assured her. Take your time in the kids' section of the library.

But of course, I was wrong. I did end up finding a book to check out -- in the kids' section!

What is it with me and library books?? It is like there is at least ONE I am bound to find that I would like to check out. Sigh. So many books to read, so little time....

Anyway, Jen was checking out comic books and I turned to find a bunch of Halloween books on display. Cool! I love Halloween! So I browsed through the books and found there was an interesting variety of Halloween books.

But, wouldn't you know it, they also had "ghost story" books and "haunt" books on display there, as well. I ended up grabbing these books, but this gave me pause. Lately, I have been so interested in science and astronomy articles that I started to wonder, have I lost interest in the paranormal? Have I lost interest in ghost stuff? Ghost stories? Haunted houses?

This interest in the paranormal books at the library answered that question with a resounding, "Nope!"

I guess I will always be interested in the paranormal. But I'll still be interested in science and astronomy, too. (That's an interesting combination, isn't it?) I was a BIG astronomy buff as a kid and teenager, then I was a BIG paranormal buff as an adult. I guess my interests in one will occasionally increase or decrease in time, but it will never go away. I may not talk about ghosts and hauntings as much as I used to, but I guess I'll always be into that stuff, because I am still into that stuff.

Which is a good thing, too. Still got the haunted cities book project going on, as well as the middle grade series, which happens to be set in a fictional haunted city.

Wednesday, July 13, 2011

The old switch-a-roo

It started with a pair of sandals. Recently, I was at a department store with the kids, where all their summer shoes were on sale. Knowing I needed an extra pair of shoes for Jesse, I started browsing through the display of boys sandals until I found a pair that would probably match with everything. I had him try one on and it seemed to fit okay. (Didn’t ask him to walk around in it, which was a mistake!) So I bought them.

They seemed to fit him at the store, but after we got home and he put them on himself, he struggled to strap on the upper part of the sandal. Oops.

Okay, I just told myself. I’ve got the receipt. Got the tag. I’ll just take them in tomorrow and exchange them for a bigger size.

Now it was a matter of keeping the sandals CLEAN and in good condition until then. Not an easy task for a 3-year-old!

So I waited until he lost interest in them then discreetly hid them in the store bag, with the receipt and tag, and put them up. Later, he wanted to know where his new shoes were. All I could do was shrug my shoulders and innocently reply, “They’re around here somewhere.” I didn’t think I would have much luck explaining to him the intricacies of making exchanges at a store and why we needed to keep the sandals clean. Eventually, he stopped looking for them and just went off to play.

Early the next morning, I hurried to the department store to make the exchange. I got the sandals in a bigger size. “This is the right size!” I declared to the store representative. She just smiled and nodded as she keyed the exchange into the register.

The only problem is, they weren’t. And I found that out at Jen’s next-to-last baseball game. We were all there and hubby noticed how Jesse’s toes were sticking out over the edge of the sandal. He pointed this out to me and I could only sigh and shake my head. Whoops.

So, the next morning, I was once again off to the department store. This time, I bought the sandals in a bigger size. (Thankfully, they were still on sale. And thankfully, they had those shoes in that size.) This was the biggest size available for these particular shoes. I only prayed that THIS was the right size.

This time, however, I was not alone when I was switching Jesse’s old shoes for the new ones. Jennifer caught me in the act. I explained to her the situation, set the new sandals up in the closet where Jesse had left his old ones, and put the old ones away on a shelf, deciding to toss them into the yard sale pile later.

When I showed Jesse where he’d left his shoes, Jennifer wanted to tell him they weren’t the same ones he’d worn yesterday. They were a bigger size. But I asked her to keep quiet about that at first. I wanted to see how these shoes fit him first. (In case I had to hide them again!) No problem putting them on. No problem strapping them on. His toes were below the edge of the upper part of the sandal. And ... he walked around in them just fine. His feet didn’t slide in them, he wasn’t tripping over his feet in them. Everything looked A-OK. Woot!

So I gave Jen the green light and she told Jesse they were the same shoes, but only a bigger size. He clapped his hands and said, “Yay!”

“They fit!” I declared, holding my arms up in victory.

But I know I am not out of the woods yet. Hubby has not seen Jesse wearing these latest editions just yet. And I can only dread the three words that might come out of his mouth. Three words that will send me into a nosedive: “They’re too small.”

Sunday, July 10, 2011

Bloody baseball

Today was Jennifer’s last baseball game. Unfortunately for her, it was not a pleasant one.

During the early part of the game, Jennifer was upset because she hadn’t been able to hit the ball. She kept grumbling, “I suck.” I kept encouraging her to try her best and have confidence in herself. Eventually, her spirits lifted, and we both felt good about her hitting that ball.

Except that it never happened. The second time, she was at bat, I sat with my fingers crossed, hoping she will get just one hit. But then something else happened that made me forget all about her hitting the ball. The ball hit HER – right in the face!

When I saw that happen, I was stunned at first. I was sitting there thinking, Did that just really happen? Did the ball just hit her in the face? IN THE FACE!!!!????!!!!

I blinked, squinting to get a better look and trying to see past the umpire and coach who ran over to her. She was crying and taking off her glasses. And there was BLOOD! Blood came out of her nose. Blood dripped onto her shirt. (I later saw it was even on her glasses.)

I jumped off the bleacher and ran to the fence to get a better look. I was thinking, Oh my God! Oh my God! My heart was pounding. Parents were crowding around me at the fence, too.

The umpire and coach comforted and talked to Jennifer. She was crying pretty bad. The coach walked her off the field and over to the dugout.

I grabbed my purse and nearly knocked another mom over as I ran to the outside entrance to the dugout.

The assistant coach brought Jennifer out. Her nose was bleeding pretty bad. He sat her on the ground and examined her. A lady appeared next to Jennifer and started to talk to her, too, as well as examining the damage.

I stood there in shock, watching the whole thing. My heart was still pounding in my chest. Other parents came over to check on her, too.

I watched the lady help Jennifer. She sure seemed to know what she was doing! I kept asking “is her nose broke?” and they finally told me it wasn’t. (Thank God!)

I couldn’t believe there was all that blood. The whole thing was surreal. I couldn’t believe this had just happened.

Finally, the lady stood, turned around and started talking to me. I had to tell her I am deaf and to please speak slower. She explained that the ball hit Jennifer’s nose and upper lip at the same time. Her upper lip and cheekbones had swelling and Jennifer was in pain. She said I needed to give Jennifer Ibuprofen and it would help the swelling go down. She also told me to use hydrogen peroxide on her clothes to get the blood out.

I asked her if she was a nurse. She smiled and nodded. “Thank goodness!” I said. What a relief there was a nurse here to look at an injured child!!

She went between comforting and helping Jennifer to talking to me. Jennifer was obviously in shock and the nurse checked her to make sure she was coherent. One of the moms I know from last season let Jennifer sit in her chair and we kept giving her tissues to try to stop the bleeding. (The blood was on her hands, too.) Eventually, we took Jennifer to the bathroom so she could wash the blood off. The nurse was so helpful to Jennifer and she really was concerned about her. This woman was missing her son’s baseball game to care for another child. I could only thank my lucky stars for such a caring, helpful and kind person to be there when something like this happened.

We sat out the rest of the game. Even though Jennifer wanted to go home, we had to stay longer for the “award ceremony.” Each player got a medal (no trophies this year), and some kids got two. Jennifer was one of them. The coach had her up first and he congratulated her on playing so well. He was really nice to her and made her feel special. I thought that was nice of him to do that.

Before we left, the nurse, whose name is Kristen, wrote out several kinds of instructions for me for caring for Jennifer. She said to call Jen’s doctor if the bleeding didn’t stop. (It did, thankfully.) I thanked her for her help and she hugged us before we left. What a wonderful person!

At home, I gave Jennifer Ibuprofen and instructed her to take it easy on the couch. I also gave her an ice pack and we worked on using it on either side of her face to avoid swelling. Or even further swelling.

After we got home, I was still in shock over the whole thing. But then I got really angry. It was no fair this happened! Why couldn’t she have a great time? A nice game? No fair!

And Jennifer was mad, too. She said the boy who pitched the ball wasn’t even looking at where he was throwing it. I was mad because he didn’t apologize. I know it was an accident, but he still should’ve said he was sorry! He was the one who pitched the ball! He didn’t even check on her after the game. Grr.

Well, I got over my stewing. It’s like I told Jennifer, “At least your team kicked their butt."

And we did find one thing funny about this whole thing. Jennifer told me the catcher picked up the bloody baseball, looked at it with disgust and said, "Ew." We had a good laugh over that. She also told me that she wondered if her blood was still on home plate.

What a way to end her baseball season.