Sunday, February 28, 2010

059 / 365: And then there were four....

While this title could have referred to the anticipation of the 2014 Sochi Olympics, it is actually referring to this year's Olympic cauldron.

The opening ceremonies two weeks ago showed us that even the best laid plans can go awry. One part of the cauldron did not appear, causing a delay in the torch lighting ceremony. The show went on and the games commenced.

Tonight, the closing ceremonies started with a mime plugging two cables together and, lo and behold, the part of the cauldron that failed to function two weeks ago appeared without a hitch. The athlete who was supposed to light the malfunctioned part reappeared tonight and illuminated it to the delight of the crowd.

While it was worth a giggle, it also made me think: Canada did a fantastic job laughing at its own foible. And in front of the entire world! Kudos!

How many times have I botched something up and tried to remain serious about it? Too many! I need to take on the Canadian spirit: laugh about it then live it up!

Until next time...laugh away!

Saturday, February 27, 2010

058 / 365: Tummy Troubles

He wasn't smiling at 1:15 this morning.....

I was abruptly awakened to, "Some one's calling you". The faint whimpering of "Mommy" caused me to move as fast as if someone yelled, "Fire!". I flew into the bathroom to find my JOR in a horribly compromised position. I'll skip the gory details, but it was nasty.

This will be just the beginning of the evening's activities. We tried watching a little TV, then going back to bed. Another "issue" on the bedroom floor (thank goodness I put in hardwood floors!). We ended up spending the rest of the night / morning laying on the couch with trash can close at hand while watching the Weather Channel. With "episodes" occurring approximately every 45 min., sleep was not on the "to-do" list. The dawn's early light brought on a fever in JOR as well, so the poor kid was miserable. As he said about 4am, "I don't know what to do. I'm such a mess!" All mommy could do was offer water, clean trash bags, and lots of TLC!

These events are not mentioned in Mommy school. I had to do my best to play part nurse, part support system, part hugger / kisser. While we think he's on the mend, I had to put stuff on the back burner, the most important being a visit with my JAX peeps. I was crushed that I could not see them today, as I was so looking forward to some Loser Therapy.

After a catch-up nap, I moped around the house, still bummed about the missed visit. So, to cheer me up, the Mismatched Marauder showed up in all his glory: blue shirt, green camo pants and my pink socks.

They didn't teach us about this in Mommy school either!

Until next time...recoup away!

Friday, February 26, 2010

057 / 365: Boys just wanna have fun!

JOR's playdate, JCS, came over for dinner and playtime. Not sure who had more fun.

Until next away!!

Thursday, February 25, 2010

056 / 365: Responsibility...that's our policy.

JOR, always the social butterfly, decided to invite one of our dear friends over for dinner tomorrow night (via e-mail of course). In an effort to teach him and his brother a lesson in responsibility and teamwork, I made it clear that if they invite someone over, they must help to prepare for the visit. In other words, they had to clean up the ranch.

JOR did his part by doing the trash and cleaning the downstairs bathroom. SRR's job was to clean the upstairs bathroom. He came down to show us the newest in cleaning attire. (It must be the spring line due to the sports coat.) His justification for wearing this? "I had to prepare!", he said.

I may need to call the EPA to investigate this bathroom.

Until next time....clean away!

Wednesday, February 24, 2010

055 / 365: A Smorgasbord

I hadn't thought much about a blog topic for today. Thus, I give you a smorgasbord of thoughts as they show up in my brain. Yes, there will be some lag time! :-)

-Dear Chesterfield Board of Supervisors: Thank you for not raising my property taxes. Now my husband and I can afford to live in our home, because your action means a 4% pay cut for us! We may even afford food on the table as well...
-Dear lady at the YMCA: You look very fit, but to sign up for an elliptical and a treadmill at the same time is amazing. Too bad you didn't wipe down either machine when you were done.
-Dear Lexus driver: Thank you for cutting me off on Rt. 288 tonight. You didn't get very far, but I guess you had to prove idiot!

I know my Lenten journey is to try and be more positive. I'm positive these people made my CRAZY today!!

Until next time....feast away!

Tuesday, February 23, 2010

054 / 365: Sad...

It is with the deepest sadness that I announce the death of my beloved laptop. My gem, my joy, my solace, my therapy gone with the flicker of a power button. Cause of death: motherboard failure.

I spent two hours last night trying to troubleshoot, to no avail. This afternoon, I got to call India (Mumbai to be exact) for technical support. Chris (we have built a fine friendship on a first-name basis) had me switch RAM boards and reinstall the hard drive, but to no avail. (Bright side: I got to learn a little bit more about my laptop.)

Because of our lengthy repair session (and Chris' monologues about education and this country), my cordless phone's battery went kaput! He promised he would call back in 30 minutes. That was 60 minutes ago...... (Note: He called back on minute 61. Things are moving along.)

While I am very upset (my machine is only 2 months old), I do see some bright sides to this whole ordeal:
-brand new motherboard for free
-time away from excess computer use (luckily MGR is being a doll and letting me use his for the time being)
-I may be able to finish my book this week
-time for a decent mid-week workout anyway
-I can clean my desk easily
-blogging is earlier in the day
-can do the wash
-watch the Olympics
-more time with the boys

Wow, if I'm smart, I can take advantage of this computer detox and be a productive citizen in this house. Or, I can just read and be a bum.

Until next away!

Monday, February 22, 2010

053 / 365: Home Again

This afternoon, I spent some time at my old school. While it was mainly for "business", doing 3 integrations, I did have some visiting time. I felt like I never left. Everyone welcomed me "home". It did my little heart lots of good to get hugs from everyone: custodians, teachers, secretaries, and yes, even some of my former students. The boys missed "Mommy's school", so it was off to visit again tonight for the annual spring book fair. The special guest, Geronimo Stilton, even took a moment to take a picture with them. They are just too spoiled!

Driving home from their book fair, I realized just how much this "home" has meant to me. The staff here made me feel so welcome 13 years ago. Here I was, a Yankee, coming in from the cold and they took the time to warm me up. They were with me as I settled in, they surrounded me as I got news of my mother's death, they celebrated with me as I married and had the boys. They have been with me through thick and thin.

While I'm physically no longer there, my spirit will be there forever. I love these people and consider them my family.

Until next away!

Sunday, February 21, 2010

052/365: Geek-in-Training

The digital native was getting restless. We did our best to delay the inevitable, but the time had come:

JOR now has his own e-mail account.

I don't know what upset me more: that he is old enough to appreciate an account or that somehow my baby could be unsafe in cyberspace. Luckily, MGR set up a child's account that is linked to his, so mail has to go through him before JOR gets them. Whew! Now, about his being old enough to love his e-mails: in every store we visited, he ended his goodbye with, "I have to go home and check my e-mails!" He received his first e-mail from Mommy, an electronic lecture warning him that e-mail is a privilege, easily taken away if any other part of his life goes askew.

I guess I shouldn't worry. He did manage to enjoy the fresh air and sunshine for about four hours today, playing tag and riding bikes and scooters with his brother and neighbors. I'm praying that the boy will continue maintaining the balance between the electronic and non-electronic life. Mommy will have to remind him...via e-mail.

Until next time..e-mail away!

Saturday, February 20, 2010

051/365: Wanted: Sleep!

MGR, in his genius mind, decided to wake JOR at 5am today. Why? So that he could nap before his busy afternoon and evening. Little did I realize the entire family would be shaken our of slumber as well....

The usual Saturday morning ritual then ensued: Weight Watchers, YMCA for a mommy run and a boys' swim. Home for lunch and the boys (all 3) took naps. I stretched out on the couch with my book and nodded off as the alarm went off. Figures...

Saturday, Part Deux, was a birthday party attended by JOR and SRR, home for dinner, then MGR and JOR went off to their Heroclix tournament. They should be home around 11. SRR will be in bed shortly. I won't be long for the conscious world after that.

Until next time.....zzzzzzzzzzzzzz!

Friday, February 19, 2010

050/365: Takin' care of business...

No this is not a family portrait! :-)

I just got my new shipment of "Stuff n Fluff"s today. I'm doing a Reading Incentive party at a local elementary school. The "Bananas About Workshop" should be lots of fun: stuffing, fluffing, reading (Curious George, what else?), and eating (Bananas).

Business has picked up a little bit. While doing taxes, I noticed I did make a little bit of a profit. Nothing to make me independently wealthy, but maybe word of mouth will help me expand my customer base. With the looming pay cut, this may be our saving grace.

I'm excited about the prospect of diversifying the business this spring. BellaBeads 925 will be a part of my inventory. This concept combines the best of jewelry stores and home parties. Ladies can come together and design their own jewelry, bracelets being the most popular. Charms and beads can be selected and arranged to either form elaborate patterns or eclectic collections (that's my choice). It will be nice to gather with other ladies and watch them choose designs that reflect their lives. (It will also be nice to be around estrogen....)

In the meantime, let the monkey business continue.

Until next away!

Thursday, February 18, 2010

049/365: A star... least in my eyes anyway!

Our little big man, JOR, had his 2nd grade program tonight. It was a tribute to America, ending with a group sing of "God Bless America". Quite moving.

However, my shining star moved me more. He had an absolute BLAST on that stage. Prior to tonight's performance, he found out he got the lead in his drama class production, so he was pumped from the get go. All the while, the lad showed his comfort onstage by his nonstop smile, crisp choreography and attention to the director. Then he, along with 2 of his classmates, sang the last verse of "This Land is Your Land". They did a splendid job! (Although I'm his mother, the music teacher in me was impressed as well!)

I couldn't help but think of a few things:
-Could it be our drama class tuition is paying off?
-Is that the little squirt that took forever to make his life debut?
-Will my little star make people smile for the rest of his existence?
-Are these teardrops on my keyboard?

Until next time....shine away!!

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

048/365: I give up....

It's not what you think. It's Lent.

Traditionally, Christians "give up" something during these 40 days of prayer, fasting and alms giving. Most will give up "niceties": chocolate, fast food, TV, booze, etc. This sacrificing will hopefully create a prayerful cleansing in preparation for Easter.

I'm not going to give up some "niceties" (although I should). I decided that my Lenten "sacrifice" would be a little different. I've decided to give up thinking negative thoughts about people. Considering all that is going on at work, this may be a bigger challenge than giving up candy.

Perhaps after a workday, I can come home and have McD's, Ben & Jerry's, and Schnapps while watching "Clean House" marathons. If I do that instead of strangling someone, I'm doing a good job spiritually purifying myself. Happy Lent.

Until next time...purify away!

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

047/365: You deserve a break today....

Poor guy! His brother was mean to him today. To settle the score, SRR had to stay while JOR got to go to the Y's teen center and the pool. Life was good for the little man.

I, too, needed a break. I had to escape:
-the teacher whose e-mail issues I helped resolve. Not once did I get a thank you.
-the news headlines that say our schools are headed for financial disaster.
-the little girl in the lab who rolled her eyes at me when I told her to stop spinning her chair.
-the temper tantrum SRR threw.
-the tea partiers. Face it: Obama WAS born in the US and Palin IS too dumb to run. I'm not even going to discuss Glenn Beck. (The real reason to "Argue With Idiots".)
-the fools making Al Gore / global warming jokes. They need to be tied down and forced to watch "Earth". Great movie!!
-the so-called "Christians" who feel it's OK to let people get sick and die instead of fighting for health insurance reform. They should hang there heads in shame.
-the fact that my hubby's old school is making him physically ill.

After JOR and I had our respective workouts, we had a pleasant surprise waiting for us in the sky;

I guess God was smiling at us. We smiled back and thanked Him for the break!

Until next time....break away!

Monday, February 15, 2010

046/365: If you build it...

The county music teachers had a two-hour inservice this afternoon. The guest speaker, Marcia Neel, is a consultant whose specialty is the recruiting and retaining of music students. She shared many practical and effective strategies to get and keep kids in music. Much of the emphasis was placed on communication: with students, parents, administrators, and elementary music teachers!

This last group is the foundation to any successful K-12 performing arts program. They are the vacuum cleaner salesmen who are able to get into the house and start the sales pitch. It is then up to the middle and high school teachers to carry on from there: the process, the product, the support. Sadly, many of these teachers want the "customer" to come to them, and it doesn't happen.

Our county has won the NAMM Foundation's award for one of the nation’s Best Communities for Music Education. This accolade is due to our strong leadership at the top and the strong teaching at the "bottom": our elementary schools. These teachers are at it day after day motivating students to learn about and enjoy music. I wish the teachers in the upper grades could spend a week with their elementary counterparts to see what is involved in "getting a foot in the door". Maybe then they can appreciate the job that is done at this level.

Until next time....recruit away!

Sunday, February 14, 2010

045/365: Valentines

No need for flowers, candy, jewelry or dinner. I have my gifts right here....

Alright, so they're a little warped, but you gotta love 'em. I do!!!!

Until next away!

Saturday, February 13, 2010

044/365: Pooped....

I wish I was where he is....

SRR went to the neighbor's birthday party today. When I went to get him, he put on a horrific show: "You're mean! I'm NOT ready to go! I want to stay! You're not nice.." ad nauseum. He didn't let me say that I was going to hang out with the family for a bit before we went home. Thus, he blew it.

I calmly told him he had five minutes and after the pinata, we were going home because his behavior was unacceptable. He was about to pitch another fit about missing the cake, but I warned him that another fit would cause us to go home immediately. He thought better and went to do the pinata.

After SRR's time out, he came to me and apologized for his tantrum. He knew he blew it. After the reconciliation, we ate dinner, played and read together and had a relatively calm, yet fun, evening. Hopefully his decompressed self will be calmer tomorrow.

As I took this picture, I wondered just how many times I "jumped the gun". How many times did I pitch a fit before knowing all the information? How many times did I blow it? How many times should I have taken a "time out " for my own tantrums? Maybe I need to tattoo "Think Before You Speak / Act" on my arm as a reminder. Goodness knows I don't have enough hours in a day for time outs!

Until next time....think away!

Friday, February 12, 2010

043/365: Let the REAL games begin!

This picture does not capture the real reason for the boys' excitement. A Subway commercial had just graced the screen. And the crowd goes wild....

Yes, they are VERY excited about the Olympics. Between the anticipation of the Opening Ceremonies and the Valentine's Day parties at school, they've excited themselves into a coma. Nighty night!!

Until next away!

Thursday, February 11, 2010

042/365: To schedule or not to schedule...

I am prepared to switch careers to a professional scheduler. I spent most of my day trying to reschedule lessons and trainings missed due to snow. The poor classroom teachers are trying to makeup benchmark testing and the music teachers are trying to squeeze in extra rehearsals before the scheduled performances. Understandably, I'm on the back burner. However, I need to make the schedule work for me.

Trying to be understanding and efficient simultaneously is a challenge. But I'm giving it a whirl.

Until next time....schedule away! (And reschedule, and reschedule, and reschedule..)

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

041/365: Surprise!

When we went to bed, it was raining. When we awoke, it was raining. When we were getting ready for the day, it started snowing. I mean, SNOWING! Hard, fast, horizontal at times. I had flashbacks to Potsdam days, seeing white out conditions forming.

MGR went out to clear the cars. In NY, this would be a normal winter morning. However, we were worrying. No schools were closing. It was past the usual announcing time. Would they at least delay opening? Close for the day? The forecast wasn't definitive about the snow's starting and stopping times, so that wasn't helpful. Then came confusion:

The middle and elementary schools that start after 7:30 were on a 2 hour delay. All the high schools will open as scheduled (buses were out and about and trying to get the HS kids to school already). Then, the decision came to close whatever schools were on a delay. Cars and buses were sliding and / or stuck. It was a messy morning!! No one predicted it would be this bad.

Needless to say, it was stressful day for the HS kids and parents. Many of these young people drive and did not have enough experience to drive in the storm. So far, I haven't heard about any tragedy. Hopefully, everyone arrived home safe. Knock on wood....

On the bright side, it was a nice surprise. I finished up the paperwork for my online students, tweaked a lesson, played with the boys, started a book and took a nap. A well balanced day! I could use a few more of these!

Until next time...balance away!

Tuesday, February 9, 2010

040/365: Reality Check

Today was a turnaround day: up at 4:30, at the gym by 5, almost figured out my lesson, had a wonderfully cleansing chat with a dear friend, ate within my points. A good day all around. However, the best was yet to come.

The boys and I spent the evening with 36 men. These gentlemen are guests at our church for the week, courtesy of CARITAS (Congregrations Around Richmond Involved To Assure Shelter). Yes, these gentlemen are homeless.

We served drinks and desserts. We ate together and prayed together. JOR and SRR enjoyed themselves with friends, both old and new, and had nice conversations with the guests. I was very proud of their behavior and genuine excitement to be with these men.

As I absorbed the scenes tonight, a tsunami of gratitude came over me. Yes, I felt down yesterday, but do I have to eat my dinners in a church hall? Do I have to sleep on a cot? Am I alone? As Cher beautifully screams in "Moonstruck", "Snap out of it!" And I am trying to. After all, my situation could be much worse. Thank God for these reality checks.

Until next time....check away!

Monday, February 8, 2010

039/365: Done...

I have one word to describe my entire being today....BLECH!

The body is not motivated to move. So much for being the "fearless leader" of my work fitness team.

The willpower is not in existence. The snow days, tagged onto the Super Bowl, have given me an excuse to hold an Eat-a-Thon.

The mind is not functioning (OK, more so than usual). I spent most of the day working on a lesson that just isn't coming together.

The spirit is definitely in the gutter. More scuttlebutt flew about our pay cuts and job cuts.

There was a bright side tonight. "Mommy, can we play with you?"

Thank God for those two.

Until next time....

....and so am I.

I'll try again tomorrow, God willing.

Sunday, February 7, 2010

038/365: Touchdown!

A wonderful evening with a wonderful group of people!

Our Friendmily came over to enjoy the Super Bowl. There was great food, great fun and a fairy tale ending for the New Orleans Saints. This is the first time the team I cheered for actually won the Super Bowl! It was exciting.

Congratulations to the former "Ain't"s. May we all get to feel the exhileration Drew Brees felt winning that Super Bowl. May we all overcome the obstacles of being an "underdog" and become champions. May we all have the ability to detox from the huge amounts of junk food consumed this week and become healthy again. "Ain't"s to "Saints". I can only hope.

Until next time....detox away!

Saturday, February 6, 2010

037/365: Are we a Mr. Bean?

Due to this latest snowstorm, I was reduced to watching a "Mr. Bean" marathon DVD we checked out of the library.

Confession time: I loved it!! The living room was a chamber of chuckles as we watched Mr. Bean go through his daily escapades with his childlike persona and uncommon sense.

How many times in our lives have "normal", daily events turned into sitcom material? What normal routines, like stuffing a turkey, have amounted to comic fodder at the dinner table? I have too many events to discuss in one blog post.

Until next time...stuff away!!

Friday, February 5, 2010

036/365: Here we go again....

Winter Storm #3 is upon us. Schools closed in anticipation of the event.

Sadly, this storm is not like the other two. Historically, Richmond is on an invisible "rain/snow line". Our precipitation depends on the location of this line. This morning, we had a pristine snowfall. It almost seemed like we were in a snow globe.

Tonight, the precipitation got depressing as the line moved. Sleet turned to heavy rainfall that is melting all the snow. The yard looks like a swamp.

Tomorrow morning, we're being told that snow will return for the entire day tomorrow and give us back the white stuff that melted today.

This roller coaster makes me want to sink deeper into my recliner.

Until next time...hibernate away!

Thursday, February 4, 2010

035/365: My son, the town crier.

My JOR is not a shy boy. He's inquisitive, wanting to know everything about everything and everyone. Yes, he is very nosy! The boy takes the learning process a step further by sharing his information with others. Yes, he is a rookie gossip!

We bumped into his first preschool teacher today. "Miss Susan" reminisced about his special skills of knowing and sharing all. She asked if he's running his current classroom like he ran hers. We're still giggling about that.....

While we were eating dinner, I asked the boys about their school's author visit today. "Mom, he cancelled the visit", JOR stated. MGR nodded in affirmation. "He wanted to get back to Florida before the storm tomorrow." MGR looked surprised. "How did you know?", he asked JOR. "I asked Mrs. A. (the librarian)."

Until next time....hear ye, hear ye!

Wednesday, February 3, 2010

034/365: The eyes have had it!

8-4:30: Stared at not just one, but TWO monitors. Rendered videos, graded online coursework, rescheduled missed opportunities due to 3 snow days, played e-mail tag, searched for lesson resources. Lunch was reading the news and

5-6: E-mails, Facebook.

7-8: Researching music (online) for the boys to perform in their talent show.

8:30-9:30: WiiFit

The next thing my poor eyes will do is look at their eyelids! They need a break.

Until next time....blink away!

Tuesday, February 2, 2010

033/365: Wii have fun, and learn too!!

The fam has been cooped up in the house since Friday night. Agitation, grumpiness, tempers, and tension have increased; physical activity, fun, and giggles have decreased. I was getting concerned.

Luckily, a visit to GameStop cured our cabin fever psychosis.

We are now the proud owners of WiiFit Plus, an "add-on" to the WiiFit game. It was the added "jolt" we needed!! The variety of games, from skateboarding to obstacle course running to marching in a band, offer many ways to move the keester. It even keeps track of approximate calories burned (probably not too accurate, but fun to see nonetheless).

Besides the fun and exercise, it offers some fun ways to learn. There's one game where you have to move your hips to tap all the balls the add up to 10. Sometimes you move two ways, other times you have to move 3 or 4 ways. (Note: With my hips, this could wipe out a ZIP code!) There are negative numbers thrown in the mix as well. The player has a certain amount of time to get as many done as possible.

While doing this (and feeling spasms in my lower back), I imagined this, and other similar games, being used in the classroom. What a fun way of having kids learn math facts! Not only are they reinforcing a concept, they are moving. Standardized testing and other "rigors" are pushing physical education and recess out of a student's day. Games like the Wii can put some activity back in. The more activity, the more a brain develops. Obviously, we have many educational "leaders" who did not have PE in school. I'll save that for another post.

Until next time....Wii away!!

Monday, February 1, 2010

032/365: Mixed Blessings

Good news: No school for 2 days....

Bad news: No school for 2 days....

News flash: There is another storm ready to pounce us this weekend. Forecast: lots of snow. Please think of me.

Until next time...pray away!!