Wednesday, December 20, 2006

Plugged In

I am all kinds of plugged in now.

Remember when I mentioned that E was hooking me up with a new Mac PowerBook? (Of course you don't; but a gold star to anyone bored enough to find the post.) Well, some several months later, ta da! I'm typing this post on my couch, from my new (well, at least to me. It's actually a couple of years old.) laptop! I believe this is my first very own computer. Mine mine mine. Not the school's or loaner from E's work or the family's. Mine! Porn sites here I come. ;)

Also--my new phone finally came today! I've been without a cell since Thanksgiving. Then today, just as I had scraped the gravy out of the power outlet on the old phone to see if that would help it keep a charge (it did) the Fed Ex guy delivered my new one. Poor guy. I was on the phone (land line with a 12 inch cord. If anyone is last minute shopping for me, boy could I use a new cordless for the house.) with Katy, and Soph answered the door. Jimmy was just getting ready to freak out on the guy (He's totally ok with strangers that we've let in the house, but those standing outside the door are considered highly suspect.) when I intervened. What kind of new phone do I have? A black flippy one. Sweet.

I'm down to just 2 more gifts to buy--one for my dad and one for Mandy and Clark. (Mand--shut your eyes.) We're headed to Best Buy tomorrow to look for those. I'm crossing my fingers that I can find a cheep boxed set of a season of Dr. Who for my dad. The one with the guy in the scarf. For Mand and Clark, I'm hoping they don't have Firefly yet. If they do, maybe Buffy season one. (Ok. You can open them now.) I hate people (except for you) who tell you all smugly that they have all their shopping done and wrapped--like in November. Those people are worse than the ones (again, present company excluded) who have delicious, homemade, nutritious dinners in the freezer in little labeled containers, ready to bust out at a moments notice.

Today's best thing about being a mom:
Cutting snowflakes out of coffee filters and muffin cups together.

Today's worst thing about being a mom:
TV guilt.

Monday, December 18, 2006

Have a Happy Zappy Christmas!

My top 5 favorite things about Christmas, this year. (Less than 50% are dairy related. Sweet.)

5. Clam dip
4. Going to Sophie's school and having the cute little girl with the speech impediment rave and rave to me about her new "kitty" pronounced, "titty." (Ok, not super Christmas related, but pretty freakin' funny none the less.)
3. Having cute Soph-made Christmas decor to hang up.
2. Peppermint stick blizzards
1. Listening to Soph sing her new favorite made-up song, "Have a happy, zappy Christmas."

Oh--and honorable mention goes to this outfit she opened last night from her Aunt Karynn. Too Cute.

My top 5 most hated things about Christmas this year.

5. The gravy boat nonsense.
4. Bronchitis
3. Christmas light malfunctions
2. Being dragged into the living room to see every toy commercial and being informed that that is what she REALLY wants. Tough kitties. The Santa shopping is done.
1. Gift anxiety

Today's best thing about being a mom:
We're having our first "Mommy and Sophie" day in a long, long time. I've been making an effort today to just enjoy her company.

Today's worst thing about being a mom:
Her god-damn bedroom is so filthy, again. I know she can't tackle a mess like that on her own. When are kids old enough to REALLY clean their own room--not just throw shit in the closet?

Thursday, December 14, 2006

Sick, Sick and Tired, and Sick OF

Today, I'm all of the above. I have something fluish/coldish going on, and frankly, I feel like total shit. Yesterday I called a sub, but today, that was not an option.

You see, I've been working tirelessly (ok, I've been tired sometimes ) for 5 years now to find a way to help my kids be better readers. According to some assessments I've done, at least half are below grade level, and at least half of those are 4 or more grades below grade level. Sheesh. In my teacher ed classes, I was never taught to teach reading. Sure I got the literary criticism stuff, and I can teach the hell out of a novel, short story, poem, essay, what have you, but never anything on what to do with the kid who simply can't READ the novel, short story, poem, essay, etc. I spent a ton of time studying up on comprehension and vocabulary strategies, and for a fraction of my kids, that helped, but only for the ones who were doing ok to start with.

So this year I've been attending a series of classes to get my reading endorsement. Usually it's me, a fellow teacher, and about 100 3rd grade teachers. I've learned a TON, the most important being that if the kid can't decode the word, no amount of comprehension study in the world is going to help him/her comprehend the text. Period.

Long story short, I'm now teaching phonics, decoding, affixes, and multisyllabic fluency. Sounds fun, huh? For fluency (speed+emotion=meaning) to increase, kids have to read the same passage at least 6 times. Then fluency goes up both for that passage and future passages. Enter: (da du du da!!) readers' theater! We've been practicing 4 holiday themed readers' theater(s?) for the last few weeks, and let me tell you, I've seen more improvement with this one activity than any number of expensive, time consuming programs combined. Today they are performing the pieces (The Christmas Orange, How the Grinch Stole Christmas, The Christmas Orange and The Christmas Truce) for the school AND I (much to the horror of the kids) sent invitations to the parents.

So--I'm here, Theraflu in hand, bag of cheep Christmas cookies under my desk, classroom rearranged into as theater-like a place as I can, hoping that at least a few parents show and that the kids won't cut class.

Today's best thing about being a mom:
When I'm sick, Soph always brings me little things to help me feel better. Yesterday it was a potato chip, a dolly, and a Christmas ornament.

Today's worst t thing about being a mom:
Because of the floor debacle, and me being sick, we were all out of stuff to make her lunch today.

Monday, December 11, 2006

Gravy Grinch

Hmm. Tried switching to Blogger Beta and apparently something is awry. I hope it won't mess things up too bad. Also, my blogrolling seems to be out of wack. FYI--Sophie Says has been updated.

Now then. Here is why I hate Christmas. All my mother wants is a new gravy boat. In my family, we take the gravy pretty seriously. The old gravy boat broke, and the gravy needs a new home. What she really wants is a plug in gravy boat that keeps the gravy warm. So, I figured--a quick trip to Wal-mart and that's one gift down, right? Wrong. There are no. gravy. boats. at. Wal-mart. Not plug in ones. Not not plug in ones. Not any ones at all. Ok. So I try the other 2 options in Cedar City. Nope. No gravy boats. Apparently there was a run on gravy boats right before Thanksgiving, and no one has reordered. Ok. Breathe. That's what the internet's for. Right? Only, shipping on a plug-in gravy boat is like ten bucks. And I'l be damned if I'm going to pay ten bucks shipping on a twenty dollar gravy boat. I calculated the hours I spent shopping for a gravy boat--both on and off line. People. 5+ hours. I finally (dur) looked on Amazon and got free shipping and the gravy boat is en route, but crimeny--how lame am I to spend 5 hours of my life on a hunt for the perfect recepticle for fat thickened with flour? (And why is it a boat? How about the gravy bus? Gravy ship? Gravy raft?) Sigh.

In other news, the bulk of my furniture has spent the last week sitting on my front lawn. We're finally having the wood floors redone, and frankly, I don't want to talk about it. What I thought would be a 2 day project has ballooned into a week long project and between living without a kitchen, dining room, or living room and the fumes and dust, I'm about ready to kill people. But, I think the work is done, and tomorrow the floors will be dry enough to move the furniture back in.

Much more to report, but just don't wanna. Maybe more tomorrow.

Today's best thing about being a mom:
Grandma J took Soph to see Santa a few days ago. Apparently he was pretty crappy. Maybe 18 years old with a fake-o-rama beard and cheap suit. When I asked what she thought of Santa, she answered, "Well, I think it must have been his brother."

Today's worst thing about being a mom:
Do I have enough stuff for her? Too much? Should I break down and get the Bratt? Does she really need stocking stuffers?

Sunday, December 03, 2006

...and a pony and a race car and...

I put up all the Christmas Crap today: tree, wreath, stockings, etc. If I wanted to, I could blog about Christmas light trauma, but I really don't want to relive it. To summarize, lights attached to the tree are a great idea--until the lights quit working.

Instead, here is Sophie's Santa letter, as dictated to E this morning at 6:30 while I was still asnooze in my bed.

Dear Santa Clause,

My name is Sophie Gene.

I want a (Like how she cuts right to the chase?)

1. Super Rocket Snowboard
2. Racer Scooter
3. Dinosaur set for Dad
4. Pom Pom
5. A baby like Bianca's
6. Polly Pocket set with a Jacuzzi, camera, and sunglasses
7. Music box
8. Magnet set that makes a cool monkey
9. Phone number set
10. Glowing Ariel that sings
11. Pom pom sister wig
12. Digging dinosaur bones set
13. Pop up elephant that pops up butterflies
14. My own sproinging Christmas tree
15. A green and pink basket for Bianca
16. My own carriage with real horses
17. Cleaning list like Cinderella's
18. Ariel Vanity

I've been good.


I'm afraid she's going to be pretty disappointed. Last year she played with most of her Christmas toys for about 1 day. The Disney Princess talking vanity was a total piece of shit. The Polly Pocket beading machine was worse than a piece of shit. It was a piece of shit with eighty-million pieces and a battery. She's getting a scooter, a couple of new Barbies, and the rest of her stuff is going to be well made, and learning/craft centered--not because I'm a good granola mommy, but because that's the stuff she plays with.

That said, Christmas is such a good influence on Miss Sophie Gene. I feel equal parts hella guilty (you know--because of the lying and coersion) and elated, but the "be good or Santa won't bring you any toys" works like a fucking magic charm with that girl. I'm serious. She's totally minding, picking up her shit, and did I mention, minding? This weekend was absolutely dreamy. It must be so nice to be the parent of a child that does what you say--like--all the time. Oh--and after she finished her Santa letter, she drew a picture for Mrs. Santa because, "Mommy, I bet Mrs. Santa doesn't get very much mail."

Today's best thing about being a mom:
Seeing Christmas through the eyes of someone who still thinks it's magical and wonderful and not a huge damn pain in the ass. Oh, and watching "The Grinch." Not the Jim Carrey one. The awesome old-school one with Boris Karlof.

Today's worst thing about being a mom:
Well I ever, ever be able to sleep in until noon on a Sunday again?

Monday, November 27, 2006

A one horse soap and sleigh

I think I was 14 before I realized that it was actually a "one horse open sleigh."

You know, as much as I fucking HATE Christmas sometimes, I love all the singing. The last few days as Soph and I have been driving around, she's been requesting, "Sing Christmas songs Mommy." I've been having fun doing "The Christmas Song" a la Karen Carpenter, "The Little Drummer Boy" a la David Bowie, and last night, I was totally channeling Billy Holiday while sing "Jingle Bells."

Soph's favorite is, like most 4 year olds, "Rudolph the Red Nosed Reindeer." She has totally mastered the "like a lightbulb!" and "like monopoly" bits. My favorite just-for-fun Christmas song has got to be "Let it Snow." There's so much room to slide around in that one. Plus it's so cozy and just ever-so-slightly naughty. As for the more "serious" carols, for my money you can't beat "O Holy Night." Even though I'm not a believer, that crescendo "Fall on your knees. O hear the angels' voices. O night divine...." and so on gives me the shivers every time. That song just swells an breaks and swells again until you're ready to just shout out "God bless us, every one!"

Of course, I've always found "Santa Clause is Coming to Town" to be down right creepy. The, "He sees you when you're sleeping. He knows when you're awake," is just too Santa-as-Stalker for me.

I also hate the "push-the-button-and-listen-to-the-carol" toys, ties, and whatever else. Yesterday, after Thanksgiving Part Deux at Grandma Bud's house, Soph, Grandma, and I all made the pilgrimage around the corner to the Griswalds. (Actually, I have no idea what their last name is, but their house is lit up like, well, like something very, very light-y. Katy, I think, refers to it as "The house Christmas threw up on.") This year along with the plastic baby Jesus surrounded by light up candy-canes and polar bears and every other tacky Christmas decoration in creation, they added a very electronic sounding carol bonger-outer. Yikes.

Today's best thing about being a mom:
Crayon masterpieces on the fridge

Today's worst thing about being a mom:
We just can't seem to get the haircut right these days.

Sunday, November 26, 2006

Random acts of capitalism

Sophie's school sent home a For Small Hands catalogue. Check out the link because let me tell you, their stuff is awesome! I particularly loved the "classic toys" section. Your kid (or niece/nephew, grandkid) doesn't have to be in Montessori to love it. We're talking classic well made stuff for kids. Stuff they'll like, and use, and possibly--gasp--learn from. The stuff ranges from very well-made child-sized kitchen ware, cleaning products and gardening tools to yoga sets, classic toys like a cobblers benches and lacing kits, to wonderful musical instruments like spin drums and egg shakers. I'm totally getting her this. That girl will shred paper until the cows come home.

Also, if anyone reading this has Soph on his/her shopping list, please consider getting her something from these guys. She does not need more plastic Disney Princess crap. Not that you would give her crap. Because you are awesome. And she really loved the Princess crap you gave her last year. Ok. Shutting up now.

Saturday, November 25, 2006

What can you really say?

A letter I just finished writing:

Dear ****,

I received your letter on Wednesday, right as my family was heading out the door to drive up to Logan for Thanksgiving with my mom’s (huge) family. When I saw your name followed by an inmate number, I felt really—well, really something. Sad mostly. Sad and surprised. I read your letter then spent a large part of the (6 freakin’ hour!) drive up North thinking of what I could write to you.

Brad was a student of mine—but only for a short time, and his attendance was slightly worse than yours. I remember him as a charming, fun kid who seemed in desperate need of a hug—or beating—or maybe both. What I’m trying to say is that he seemed particularly lost to me, even then. Beyond that, anything I could say about his choice, your choice, your proximity to his choice, would be presumptuous. There’s no way I can imagine the feelings either of you experienced, or offer anything by way of insight or advice on such a heartbreaking event.

That said, I was surprised that you chose to write to me. Somehow I always imagined that I was a bit of a pain in your ass. And while I’m flattered that you classify me as a “civilized being,” I don’t necessarily always classify myself as one. It sucks that you took a fall, and/but meth is nasty, nasty, insidious stuff, as I’m sure I don’t have to tell you. I speak from a small amount of personal experience, and the experience of watching many friends and students loose themselves in it. As a teacher it’s so hard to know when to step in with a suspicion—even a very well supported one. You find the insides of pens laying around—notice a kid breaking out—chewing his/her fingernails—sniffing and sniffing--tapping, tapping, tapping on the desk-- and just shake your head and say a prayer. I watched you go up and down—orbit toward and away from your education, and finally just quit coming. I’m sorry you felt like you were kicked out of school. I want you to know that every teacher at SEA tried to hold on to you for as long as possible. Ultimately, you just simply weren’t there, ever, and we had a bunch of kids to place and needed your spot. It sounds shitty—but unfortunately, numbers do end up making decisions like that at times.

I really don’t have much to offer by way of advice. Here’s what comes to me though. First—there are a TON of opportunities for education in the corrections system. Take full advantage of as many of those as possible. I’ve known guys who went in without a high school diploma and came out with almost the equivalent of a bachelor’s degree. If you need help or information on anything school related in there, I’m your man, um, woman. Second—you know, I’m not a religious person. In fact, after I left the LDS church, I pretty much swore off all spiritual stuff as complete bullshit. But, in the last few months I’ve been having a bit of a change of heart. I think there is a spark of some kind in everyone. Whatever you want to call it—higher self, the divine, shit, call it “Barry” if you want to. But I think that internal spark has the answers. I don’t think you’ll find them outside yourself. For me that spark kicks in in nature, listening to Gillian Welsch CDs, singing with my daughter, or when I (rarely) just let myself sit in silence. I’m thinking you may have more of a chance to sit in silence in the next little while than you have before. It sounds cheesy, but try and tune into that spark and see if it has anything to say. Finally—write. Write it all down. Start from as early as you can remember and just write it. Don’t worry about who is going to read it—although I will if you want me to—but write it. It’s weird how words on the page are such good house-keeping for the mind and, if you will, soul, but they are.

I believed in you when you were my student and I believe in you now.

Your friend,

Mrs. J

Monday, November 20, 2006

Dur Dummy

"What are you doing?"
"What are you doing?"
"What are you doing?"

I got out of the shower this morning--10 minutes behind schedule as usual--and heard E asking this question--each time with different emphasis--each time the volume of his voice rising significantly.

So, wrapped in a too small towel--pretty much just boobs and cooter coverage (Janz is staying with us and I didn't want to scar him for his ENTIRE life.)--I scurried into the kitchen. Here's what I found. Sophie, pantsless (of course) her bare ass just at my eye level, standing tippy toe on the counter, reaching into the back of the top shelf of the cupboard and pulling out a canister of Italian seasoned bread crumbs with a triumphant and slightly sheepish look on her face.

I repeated her dad's earlier statement: "WHAT ARE YOU DOING?!"

Soph gave me her best, "well dur dummy" look and answered, "Getting some breadcrumbs."

Luckily, I needed both of my hands to hold the glorified hand-towel over my naughty bits, so I couldn't strangle the life out of her as I asked, "Why in the hell do you need breadcrumbs?"

Again with the "dur dummy" look and, "To feed the birds."

What followed was me not allowing her to traipse through the neighborhood, pantsless, at 7:00 pm, in the 40 degree blackness, scattering breadcrumbs for the "poor, starving birdies" and her having a breakdown and subsequent time out. This breakdown was followed by another involving her eating an entire bowl of butterscotch chips for breakfast--well, not being allowed to eat an entire bowl of butterscotch chips for breakfast, thus the breakdown.

(Insert transition)

While having a fairly major relational and spiritual breakdown of my own this weekend, I went and saw a lady--Melanie I think--who does angel readings. In addition to teaching me how to connect with my higher self and filling me in on my past life as a slave to a very cruel master (I won't tell you who the master was.), she told me--unsolicited--that Soph is an exceptionally old, wise, and intuitive soul who is here to be one of my main spiritual teachers. I broke into our higher-plane revelry to say, "But she's such a naughty brat!" Melanie looked a little startled that I hadn't said something like, "Yes, yes, I've intuited our many incarnations together." Then she paused for a while, and cocked her head to the side like she was listening to someone and said, "Well, it's hard for her to remember that she can't do everything she wants." I tried very hard, but wasn't very successful, to not give her my best "well dur dummy" look.

Today's best thing about being a mom:
Being missed by someone after being at work all day.

Today's worst thing about being a mom:
Sometimes it's just too spiritually enlightening.

Thursday, November 09, 2006

Battle of the Bratz

Much like her mother, Sophie does not respond well to the word, “no,” particularly when the no is in response to a request for a new toy.

Soph has been BEGGING me for a Brat. Any kind of Brat. I realize that in the past I have been the most permissive parent in the land, but I’ve put my foot down when it comes to Bratz dolls. I know I don’t have to tell you that they look like little whores, and that the Baby Bratz are particularly offensive—you know that already—but let me just say that THEY LOOK LIKE WHORES AND THE BABY BRATZ ARE DOWN RIGHT PERVY!!

I tried to explain to Soph why I will not buy her a Brat (unlike her grandma, who bought her the sluttiest Baby Brat in the store.) I told her that I thought Bratz dressed way too sexy for little girls, and that little girls should dress like little girls and not play with toys that are sexy. This, of course, led to Soph asking me, “What’s sexy mom?” That one is almost as tricky as, “Who’s God mom?”

I tried to explain to her that dressing in clothes that show a lot of your skin or are very tight is sexy. Things went down-hill from there as she asked questions and I back-tracked, trying not to say that bodies are bad, or baths are bad or that even her nakey time is bad. I couldn’t very well say, “Dressing sexy means that you wear clothes that are designed to show your body in a way that turns people on physically,” could I? I mean, a four year old isn’t ready for even a way toned down “talk” of that nature, is she?

So now we’re having the discussion of what is and isn’t sexy, like, ALL THE TIME! No—mommy changing into her jammies isn’t too sexy. No, the baby in the diaper on TV isn’t too sexy. Yes, the girl jogging down the street in a sports bra and mini-shorts is kind of sexy, but exercise clothes are in kind of a different category.

I spent about one second trying to explain that sexy clothes aren’t bad, if you’re old enough and are wearing them in the right place and time, but that was going less than nowhere.

She’s also taking every opportunity to point out to me that “Bratz are nice mommy!” Any commercial, any time we accidentally walk past anything Brat related (There are Bratz fruit snacks for Christ’s sake!) at the store, she’s right there, pointing out to me that the Bratz are, in fact, wearing clothes, and “Look, that one isn’t too sexy mom.”

(Let’s not even start on the “z” instead of “s” that pluralizes “Brat.” Are these people trying to wreck both the moral and grammatical fiber of our young girls?)

Then, this morning, Erik called me at work to ask where the camera was/is/whatever. Well, it was/is in my purse. I guess Soph insisted this morning that if she was going to dress herself (a skill we’re working on—she can do it, but would rather sit limply and watch cartoons while Mom or Dad does it. My fault—I know) she should be able to pick out her own clothes. E said OK, and Soph announced, “OK then. Today I’m dressing like a BRAT!” Apparently the result was decidedly un-sexy (thank goodness) but also quite hilarious. From E’s description, I think she was trying to go for the current “leggings under a shirt/dress with a big belt and ankle-boots” look, and ended up with more of a “multi-colored sweat pants and socks and a big stained mermaid t-shirt with a brown crocheted scarf wrapped around it for effect plus some Strawberry Shortcake snow-boots” look. I told him to go ahead and let her wear the outfit she chose to school. All the Montessori stuff shoves “let the child do for him/himself” down my neck all the time (not that I don’t love it—I do) so I guess they can deal with the result of Soph “doing for herself” today.


Today’s best thing about being a mom:

Ample opportunities for righteous indignation?

Today’s worst thing about being a mom:

Trying, in the face of, well, everything, to raise a confident, informed little girl, and still letting her be a little girl for as long as possible.

Tuesday, November 07, 2006


A quick ramble on my film class--

1st quarter was kind of, well, crappy. (Crappy, if you don't know, is a professional term we educators use.) I found some great curriculum guides, and ordered them, but, because they are put out by a Canadian company, and thus didn't have a US zip code, our school district's purchase order computer had an aneurysm. It took, literally, months for the powers that be to address the problem, and I didn't end up with the stuff until last week. Plus, attendance was really hit and miss, and--although I know better-- it's hard for me to get revved up and super prepared for a class when only 2 kids are showing up. This was a huge problem when screening the films, as 1/2 of the class would show up one day, then totally different kids would show up the next.

We did, however, make some progress. The movies we've seen so far are Modern Times (which they loved), Singin' in the Rain (which they hated), Moulin Rouge (loved), Some Like it Hot (Loved), and North by Northwest (HATED), and The Nightmare Before Christmas (lukewarm). I've been a little surprised by the kids' responses to some of the movies, but frankly, I expected even more bitching than I've gotten.

As far as our study of the art/science of film making, we had a pretty good time with art direction and music/sound, but have been foundering a bit with editing/cinematography--probably because I'm just learning about editing myself.

Now that 2nd quarter has started, I have about 5 new kids in class. I mentioned before that the class was all girls--with the exception of one guy whose attendance was pretty spotty. Now I have a pretty even mix.

The next genre on our agenda is the western. Frankly, the only westerns I've ever seen are fairly modern--Tombstone, Dances With Wolves, Unforgiven. I've never once sat through a John Wayne western, or an old Clint Eastwood one. I even thought of just throwing the western out of the mix, but it does have its place historically and otherwise in the study of film, and just because I'm not a huge fan is no reason to skip it, I guess.

Originally, I had planned to show Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid, but after watching it, I changed my mind. I don't think my kids are ready to embrace anything that was scored by Burt Baccarat (sp). Instead, I'm probably going to show The Searchers (A 1956 John Wayne/John Ford about a fanatically racist man searching for his niece who was kidnapped by a Comanche)--even though I haven't seen it yet. (That's my plan for tonight.)

Another reason I have been a bit hesitant about addressing the western with my kids is that the class has both cowboys and Indians in it. But--I decided to just jump in and use the western and The Searchers as a vehicle for addressing racism and racial stereotyping in film, and to extend our discussion of how the change, over time, of individual genres, reflects change in our society. This quarter I'm going to try to have a movie night once or twice a month, and I'd like to show Dances with Wolves and then compare it to The Searchers and have the kids write a paper about the evolution of the western--with particular emphasis on the portrayal of Native Americans. We'll see.

I also came across a bunch of stuff that argued that the connection between the release date of the last "great" western, The Wild Bunch (which I also haven't seen), which came out in 1969, and the the lunar landing--also 1969--is absolutely not accidental or incidental--that the western, with it's major symbol of the western frontier, simply morphed into modern science fiction as the "final frontier" shifted to space. An interesting thought--and one that does seem to hold water in many ways. Plus--now I have a really good reason to show either Serenity or the pilot for Firefly (which I'm leaning toward) in class.

Thursday, November 02, 2006

Treats and Sweets

Can you imagine opening your door on Halloween night and finding this cuteness waiting for you?

Sophie and Bianca were a big hit with all the folks in our predominantly elderly neighborhood. Of course, all the old ladies were very concerned about Bianca's lack of a sweater, but she wouldn't wear one, and I'm not her freakin' mother, so I didn't force the issue.

I waited on the sidewalk while these two trotted up to front doors, and so I didn't hear the comments from the door openers, but I can guess pretty well what they had to say.

You see, Soph's favorite part of Halloween wasn't trick-or-treating, although she thought getting candy from strangers was pretty bitchin'. No, what she truly loved was answering the door (at our house and both grandmas') and handing out the candy. And as she thoughfully chose a candy from the bowl and deposited it in each waiting bag, bucket, or pillowcase, regardless of if the candy recipient was 4 or forty, she said things like, "Well aren't you a sweet little princess?" or "Oh, what a precious ninja," or my personal favorite, "My goodness! What a darling, umm, scary gross guy."

Today's best thing about being a mom:

Just listening

Today's worst thing about being a mom:

Soph peed her pants at school today. There's a big plastic ziplock bag of pee-soaked jeans and socks (even her tennis shoes smell like pee. ew) waiting for me to wash them.

Tuesday, October 31, 2006

Great Dane

Because I know you were on the edge of your seats (I almost typed seat of your pants), here is the final product for International Children's Day. I hit Walmart and found a cute little skirt and blouse on clearance that were Scandinavian-ish. Then I bought a cheep lace table runner and some white ribbon and fashioned her a little cap and apron.

As you can see from the other kids' "costumes, " I may have placed a bit more importance on International Children's Day than was necessary. Oh well. I'll know next year.

Oh--what kind of food did my little Danish princess take today? Wait for it....Wait for it....

Today's best thing about being a mom:
Sometimes getting things right

Today's worst thing about being a mom:
Regulating candy intake on Halloween

Monday, October 30, 2006

Weekend Update

Wow. I haven't done one of these for a while. Let's see if I remember how.

Saturday: E drove up to Salt Lake for the day to visit Janz. I don't really know what has happened to the plan for him to move back. I thought that would have happened by now. But--I'm on a need to know status on that one, and apparently, I don't need to know. Soph and I spent a nice morning together. Apparently, whatever was causing her to be the biggest brat in all the land, be it spiritual, physical, or just temperamental has passed. Other than the occasional 4 year old crap, she's doing much better.

We babysat (of course) her pal Addison most of the day. We had a picnic, played with some play dough (colored with Kool-Aid. It makes it smell nice.), and did other assorted messy stuff. Those two girls just want to boss the pants off of each other. They are both only kids, and both are used to calling the shots. We had a few breakdowns, but nothing too serious.

Saturday night we went to a little Halloween party. Soph rocked as Scooby Doo, and Aunt Katy made me up into a pretty bitchin' pirate. I was tired and grumpy and menstruating, so we didn't last too long.

Sunday: What a total waste of a day. Not bad really, but I was tired as hell, and so was Soph. We stayed in our pajamas pretty much all day, watched too many movies, ate too much ice cream, and accomplished less than nothing.

So, as I said earlier, Soph's doing better. Good thing too, or the shit was going to hit the fan in a major way.

So ends this boring post.

Today's best thing about being a mom:

Today's worst thing about being a mom:
So, tomorrow at pre-school, they're having international children's day. The kids are supposed to dress up as a kid from a foreign country, preferably from our family's heritage, and bring a food from same country. I get that this is a fun thing to do without having to deal with Halloween costumes and candy, but sheesh. Now I have to come up with ANOTHER costume. We're pretty much Danish, with a bit of English and German tossed into the mix. How the hell do I dress my kid up like a Dane? A Viking helmet? Plus, the Danes eat a lot of fish--a lot of salted and pickled fish. Not a favorite treat among the under 5 crowd.

So, the plans I'm kicking around in my head are: 1) Make up a Danish costume with no attention paid at all to authenticity--maybe a little apron and a garland of flowers in her hair or something and sent her with some cubed Havarti on toothpicks or 2) Forget the family heritage thing and go Greek--wrap her in a quick toga and grab some baklava at the store to send with her. Votes? Other ideas?

Thursday, October 26, 2006

Take this job and shove it.


I've found a rogue computer here in the computer lab where I help/babysit my one independent study class that will let me log on to blogger. Sweet.

Know what? My daughter is a big spoiled brat pain in my ass.

That's right. You heard me. She's a brat. She's spoiled. She's a pain. The pain resides in my ass.

She's not sleeping. She's throwing huge screaming bawling fits every time she doesn't get her way, which is often, as she constantly wants to do things like take the eggs out of the refrigerator and make "egg sauce" (wtf is egg sauce anyway?) in the middle of the living room floor. The last 2 mornings have been tortuous. Tortuous like, "I'm so glad you are going to preschool and that those sorry saps there can deal with you instead of me. I'll be at work all day. See ya!" rather than "Oh my sweet love. Mommy hates to go to work and leave you because I love you so...oh the guilt" tortuous.

Every time she yells at me, I'm giving her a 3 minute time-out in her room. This morning she had 3 time outs between 6:30 and 7:30. The last one was because I wouldn't stop blow drying my hair to tie her up on a chair with her rainbow jump rope while saying "heh, heh, heh."

Night before last she got up like 5 times, the last being at 2:00, and she refused to go to back to bed. I'm talking screaming, kicking, and generally going to bits. Finally at 4 she fell asleep on the couch, exhausted with herself.

Now lately, I am a total skeptic to all things spiritual/religious/whatever. (This IS related to the above. I promise.) But over the last few weeks, the energy (I know--mumbo jumbo) in my house has been bad. Ugly bad. Like I pick up Soph and we both don't really want to go home. It's not just the filth, though that's part of it. After a night of no sleep at all, I was feeling desperate. So yesterday I picked Soph up from school, and we went to The Wizz, the local store for everything from hemp soap to glow in the dark skulls to fairy tarot cards. I consulted with the owner, Sally, and ended up buying a sage smudge stick (bundle of sage tied together.) I went home, lit it up and got it smoking, and feeling very silly, went from room to room, spreading the "sacred smoke," blessing my house, asking that only the "good, pure, and peaceful" remain. Then I put the smudge out in a bowl of salt, and sprinkled the salt around my house, repeating the blessing. I also bought a little dream catcher and hung it above Sophie's bed.

Did it work? I don't know. She slept better, but that may be due to the adult dose of benedryl I gave her before bed. She was back to being her bratty self at 5:30 this morning.

Today's best thing about being a mom:
Nothing. Nothing at all.

Today's worst thing about being a mom:
It sucks.

Tuesday, October 24, 2006

Thanks, but no thanks

It looks like this year we’ll be heading up to Logan to join my mom’s extended family for Thanksgiving.

When I say extended, do I ever mean extended. They have to reserve the church to have room for everyone. My mom has 6 brothers. With one exception, they all have at least 4 kids—I think. I quit keeping track of my cousins a decade or so ago. Now that the grandkids have started procreating, the numbers have reached fairly ridiculous proportions. I honestly have no idea how many 2nd cousins I have. Something like 10 or so.

I haven’t been to Logan since Sophie was 8 months old. Before that, I hadn’t been for, well, years and years. Do I dare blog about the karmic mush that is my mother’s family? Not so much. Here’s an abbreviated version.

So, my dad was in the Navy, and nearly every summer, whether we were living in Minnesota or California we would DRIVE OUR ASSES to northern Utah. Luckily, this was the pre-seat-belt days, so we would roll around in the back of the station wagon eating fruit roll-ups and gold fish crackers, playing travel games, starring in the Smith Family Way-Back-Band (did anyone else call the back of the station wagon the way-back?) and starting pinch-fights.

When I was little, I loved these trips. Cousins, cookouts, trampolines, and my grandma’s homemade strawberry jam. As the years went by, though, they became more, well, torturous. I grew boobs, lost my faith in the LDS church, and realized that just because people are related to you, it doesn't necessarily make them nice. I suddenly felt like the blackest of black sheep. Then I remembered the basement incident.

So, why am I going to Logan for Thanksgiving? Why am I going to haul my size 18 ass up to the mother land to be sized up, (I can just hear one aunt whispering to the other, “Becky used to be such a pretty girl. She sure has let herself go.) scrutinized and generally put on display? It ain’t for the turkey, I can tell you that.

Family is family I guess. None of my uncles, aunts or cousins have met Sophie, and I’d like (some) of them to. Plus, there are a handful of 2nd cousins just her age, and I’m sure she’ll have an absolute ball running through the halls of the church with them. My girl LOVES cousins. She misses the Krause kids like crazy, and absolutely adores the Jorgensen cousins. For Soph, playing with cousins is better than Disneyland. When I tell her that we’re going to meet new cousins—a whole building full, she’s going to flip.

Those little bastards better be nice to her, or I will loose my shit.

Thursday, October 19, 2006

Bock Bock?

So, my brother-in-law is currently undergoing chemotherapy for a brain tumor. (He had surgery a few weeks ago and the surgeon removed most of it. The prognosis is pretty positive.) You’d think that would be the topic of my post, wouldn’t you? Well, it’s not. Somehow it doesn’t seem my story to tell.

Why, then, do I bring it up? Well, soup. Soup and chickens.

When I asked Mike what he could keep down, he said soup. Actually, he said. “Well, brothy soups don’t seem to make me hurl too bad.” So Sophie and took it upon ourselves to make him a pot of the most delicious, nutritious, non-hurl-able chicken noodle soup in all the land.

I’m actually a pretty kick-ass chicken-soup maker. For this one, I threw a nice big fresh chicken, some onion, carrot, celery, bay, peppercorns, and a little garlic in my big stock pot to make the broth, cook the chicken, and get the soup ball rolling. When the chicken was cooked, I took it out of the pot, let it cool, and commenced to remove the meat from the bones.

Soph was sitting on the counter, as is her usual MO when I’m cooking. Now, my girl has eaten a lot of her chicken in her day, but I think this was the first time she saw an actual whole cooked chicken. Her chicken usually appears in nugget or drumstick form. She looked at the chicken for a while and said, “This isn’t a real chicken. Right Mommy?”

I answered her, “Well, yes. It is.”

She thought a while and asked, “But it never had a head. Right Mommy?” Warning bells began to ring on my mommy radar.

Deciding that honesty was the best policy, I told her, “Well, actually, yes. It did have a head.”

She sat for a while, and then asked the inevitable, “Where is the head now?”

Again, going with the honesty, and trying to head off further questions, I decided to give her the whole story. “Well Soph. This chicken was alive. And then somebody killed it and chopped of its head and pulled off its feathers and sent it to the store. We bought it at the store to make some soup for Mike.”

“Was it a bad guy?”

“Was who a bad guy?”

“The guy that chopped off the chicken’s head.”

“Nope. It wasn’t a bad guy. It was just a regular guy. Honey, when we eat meat, it means we’re eating an animal. The animal was alive once. Farmers raise animals for us to eat. That’s why there are farms. We need to be grateful for our food and not waste it, because the animals were alive once. Some people have decided that eating meat is not ok, and they are called vegetarians. That’s ok. But Mommy thinks it’s ok to eat meat. She just tries to be very thankful.”

“But not cows. Right mom? We don’t eat cows.”

“Well, yes. We do. Hamburgers are made from cows.”

Now the whole time we’re having this conversation, she’s been picking little bits of chicken out of the bowl I’m using and munching on them. At this point, she kind of looked at the piece of chicken in her hand, then sort of shrugged and popped it in her mouth.

This conversation is not unlike the one we had when Soph was just learning to talk. If I remember correctly, I was eating a chicken sandwich. She was curious, so I offered a little piece to her, asking, “Would you like to try some chicken?” She looked with horror at my offering, and asked, “Bock bock?”

It does seem weird that her whole life we’ve read books about farms, watched shows about farms, sang songs about farms, but never once have we talked about the fact that the animals on the farm are pretty much dinner walking around. It seems weirder that we do that to begin with. That is, personify our future food. Why do we romanticize farm animals so much?

This is the part where I should deconstruct the above, and wax all philosophical about it. But I don’t think I will.

Today’s best thing about being a mom:
It makes me think about things I should think about but don’t.

Today’s worst thing about being a mom:
There’s no denial allowed.

Tuesday, September 26, 2006

Give Peace a Chance

Soph reported to me that she had a "problem" today and that she sat on the "peace" rug.

Here's how the story goes.

Soph: Mom. I had a problem today and went to the peace rug.
Me (hesitantly): Oh yeah? Tell me about it.
Soph: Well, Isabel wouldn't tell me it was ok.
Me: Hmm. Wouldn't tell you WHAT was ok.
Soph: She wouldn't say, "I accept your apology."
Me (worried): What did you apologize for?
Soph: I called her fat.
Long pause so I could collect my thoughts and address the issue as a calm, skillful parent.
Soph (in tears): But mom, you told me that you're fat. Grandpa Ray says his belly is fat.
Me (contemplating my eternal suckitute at parenting): Ok. You're right. But it really hurts people's feelings when OTHER people say they're fat.
Soph: But she is fat.
Me: Sometimes we don't say things even when they're true. We need to protect other people's feelings. Why did you tell Isabel that she's fat.
Soph: She got stuck in a chair.
Me (biting a hole in my cheek, trying to prevent myself from laughing): Well. Bodies are all different sizes. Some are big and some are little. Everyone is different. That's ok. I want you to be really really nice to Isabel, ok?
Soph: Mom. There are too many rules. I don't want to go to school anymore.

So, after Soph went to bed, I called her teacher. Mrs. E explained to me that actually, the "fat calling" incident happened a week ago. She didn't even know about it. Then today, Soph started kind of crying quietly. After digging a bit, Mrs. E found that Soph was feeling really really hurt that she kept apologizing to Isabel, and that Isabel wouldn't accept her apology. So the three of them sat down on the peace rug and talked it out. Big sigh.

I'm feeling equal parts responsible, sad, angry, and really, slightly amused. The thing is, "fat" is a description. Its connotation, obviously, is negative, but none-the-less, it is just a little ol' adjective. Of course, in our place/time, fat, when used to describe a person, = bad. Very, very bad. Kids read, "The fat cat sat," and it's fine, but call someone fat (particularly ME) and the shit will hit the fan. No more to say really. I'm going to sleep on this one.

Today's best thing about being a mom:
Well, I never become overly cocky.

Today's worst thing about being a mom:
Having a walking, talking conscience.

Saturday, September 23, 2006

Haiku Hodge-Podge

Draw a circle first

Dots for eyes and lines for legs

Add a smile--Voila!

Six-thirty a.m.

Thirty six degrees and dark

We're waiting for what?

Auntie Shannon's COLD!

Grandma keeps wrapping me up,

And mom says "Say Cheese"?!

Photo op again?

Grandma says Mom deserves her

picture taken too.

I found my friend mom!

We'll catch you guys later. What?!

We can't go alone?!

2 hours of waiting

Shivering, nose wiping, hell

Was worth it for this.

Tuesday, September 19, 2006

The Neighborhood of Make-Believe

You see, I don’t WANT to blog about getting fatter and sleepier and less interested in, well, pretty much everything. I don’t want to talk about going to bed pretty much immediately after getting Soph tucked in (at 7:30). I don’t want to talk about the 2 pairs of pants that fit me, and money being tight-ish, and so not having the desire or the means to go buy more. I don’t want to talk about getting to school, late (again) and sitting here, forcing myself to do the minimum—the bare minimum--to keep my classes afloat, fighting off sleep every second, every second, and then giving into the urge to close my eyes and feeling sleep creep through my brain, settling for a 2 second sitting-up nap, though it would so prefer to climb under the covers and sleep, ahh, sleep all all all day.

I don’t want to. But on the other-hand, I don’t want to let the blog go completely. It’s been part of my life for more than a year now, quite considerably more, actually. That’s an investment. I still want SOMETHING to be there when I wake up some day. Maybe I’ll just blog about what I wish I was doing and feeling instead of what I’m actually doing and feeling.

Woke up at 5:00 this morning and went to the gym. Did an hour of step aerobics and a half hour of yoga. Man, that new size 6 sweat suit I bought from “Not made in a sweat shop by 10 year old South American children, and not made with materials or dyes from any endangered plants and animals or that compromise the habitat of any endangered plants and animals, and not involved in anyway with global corporations who are responsible for mass murders and wars in the Congo or Somalia or any other African country over some random mineral necessary to make electronics, and not shipped using any fossil fuels which are ruining the planet for all humankind, especially your daughter” is certainly comfortable. After my workout, I came home and fixed a lovely organic breakfast and Soph, E, and I all sat down together over our whole grains and lean proteins. After breakfast, Sophie dressed herself, brushed her own teeth, and thanked me for getting rid of the TV because she much prefers interactive activities that are good for her cognitive and motor development to 90 minutes of Playhouse Disney each morning. When I arrived at work, looking very smart, slender, and professional, I might add, I arranged the differentiated learning activities, and prepared to be a facilitator who inspires and guides her students toward learning.

Why not? Soph seems to be able to live in her own little fantasy world with no particular trouble. Lately, she talks not only about her imaginary friend, but her imaginary friend’s immediate and extended family. We went to see the hot air balloons of the Sky Festival early one morning over the weekend, and she informed all assembled, in much seriousness, that her imaginary friend’s grandfather has a hot air balloon and that he takes her for rides in it all the time. I’m charged with strapping the imaginary baby sister into her imaginary car seat each time we go anywhere in the car, and also am expected to carry the imaginary baby seat into the store, and secure the imaginary baby sister in the shopping cart. Every now and then, Soph shrieks that her baby has fallen out of the cart, and I then rescue IBS (Imaginary Baby Sister, not Irritable Bowel Syndrome) from the floor, and strap her back in.

Her imaginary world extends to school as well. Apparently, the teacher had to sit Soph and 2 of her cronies down and ask them to stop playing their imaginary games (based, I think, on The Nightmare Before Christmas, Soph’s current fave) in the classroom, because they were getting way too rowdy and interrupting the work of the other students. As reported to me by the teacher, Soph sat, nodding, listening, seeming to get the idea. At the close of the little chat, the teacher asked, “Do you understand girls? Do you have any questions?” Soph’s little arm popped into the air, and when called on, she asked, “Um. Mrs. Esplin? Could you be the witch?”

Today’s best thing about being a mom:
It forces you to get out of bed in the morning.

Today’s worst thing about being a mom:
It forces you to get out of bed in the morning.

Monday, September 11, 2006

Been a long night

The good: Sophie and I watched The Sound of Music—kind of.
The bad: She LOVES, with a burning, burning passion the puppet/yodeling scene, and refused to watch the movie past that point. Yodel, rewind, yodel, rewind, yodel, rewind, “Lay-ee-yodle-lee-ee-yodle-ay—Whew!”
The ugly: I’ve had terrible insomnia the last 3 nights. As I lay in bed, unsleeping, for hours, that fucking song runs through my head over, and over, and over again. If I ever chance to meet that one little girl in a pale pink coat or that son-of-a-bitching goatherd, I will strike down upon them with furious vengeance. With a baseball bat. With nails in it.

Now then. The Soph update:

She’s back in school and loving it. The morning of her first day back, she was slightly nervous. She kept telling me all the things we do and don’t do at school—kind of reminding herself of the rules. When I kissed her good morning: “Mommy, we don’t kiss at school. Only hug.” When she lay down on the couch to watch her morning show: “Mommy, we don’t lay down under the table at school.” When she was helping pack her lunch, and I put in some (bad Mommy) chocolate frosting for her to dip her graham cracker sticks: “Mommy, we don’t bring candy to school. But frosting is ok. Is it Mommy? Is frosting ok?” When I called her a silly-pants for sneaking the frosting out of the fridge and eating it with her fingers while I had a shower: “Mommy, we don’t call names at school. Rennin called me a pee-pee noney. Will Rennin call me a pee-pee noney today Mommy?” When I asked her to put her toys away: “Mommy, we don’t play at school. There are no toys. We do WORK Mommy. But the work is fun Mommy. It’s LEARNING fun Mommy. But we can play OUTSIDE Mommy.”

This weekend it seemed to be her goal to have as much of the surface area of her body on my body as possible. She didn’t want to just be BY me, she wanted to be ON me.

Her vocabulary continues to be hilariously astounding. Last week she jumped in my mom’s hot tub and announced, “Wow! I’m pretty buoyant!” Later the same day, she came to me with a toothache (Damn. Still need to make that appointment with the pediadontist) and reported, “I have such an affliction.”

Me update:

Well, I don’t want to talk about that, do I? Thus, the not blogging for several days. I’m fine. Fine. Fine. Fine.

Today’s best thing about being a mom:
This morning at 5:30 (She woke up at 5:15! I don’t want to talk about that either.) we waltzed together to her “Kid Songs” DVD.

Today’s worst thing about being a mom:
This morning at 5:30 (She woke up at 5:15! I still don’t want to talk about it.) we waltzed together to her “Kid Songs” DVD.

Sunday, August 27, 2006

Call me Mommy

The story of my life has become significantly less than gripping.

This weekend I had planned on getting caught up on the laundry, sweeping and mopping the floors, that kind of stuff. Trying to get any work done with Soph around is just such a pain in the ass. I know she misses me during the week. I know she just wants some face time during the weekend. BUT, if I don't get the bedding washed, the Department of Child and Family Services is going to come and take her away. Seriously.

So yesterday, I had just sent her, Janz, and E over to the elementary school playground to play, and filled up the mop bucket to get down to business when there was a knock at the door. Long story short, I ended up with Soph's friend Emily and her little sister Isabo all afternoon, (couldn't say no--as their mom has been taking Sophie two days a week until pre-school starts) thus moving decidedly BACKWARD in the house mucking-out plans.

Today, I've had the other best friend--Addison--whose mom had been my Friday savior. Now, please don't get me wrong. I love these little girls, I love their moms, and I love for Soph to have someone to play with, but damn. Working all week only to babysit and clean all weekend is kind of a grind though. I need some cocktails and loud music; maybe even some dancing. Oh well. I suppose a little Guitar Hero (Have you played it? Embarrassingly fun.) and wine in a box will have to do me.

Today's best thing about being a mom:
Writing with sparkly silver gel pens on black construction paper.

Today's worst thing about being a mom:
Finding boogers

Tuesday, August 22, 2006

'Nuff Noir

Thanks for all the feedback on the film class. I'm continuing to work on this one, and will keep you, faithful reader (ha) updated on how the kids respond. That said, I have noticed that nearly all of the films suggested by others, and by me, have male protagonists. So now I'm on a search to fill in a few of the slots with films with sistas.

Now then--Soph stuff. When we were visiting the Krauses, Mand mentioned a bumper sticker she read that said, "Meat is murder. Delicious, delicious murder." Last night, my dad cooked us up some phat cheese burgers. I took a bite, and announced to the table, what else, "Meat is murder. Delicious, delicious murder." For some reason, Soph liked the sound of it, and today while waiting in the doctor's office (which was filled to the brim) walked around chanting, "Delicious, delicious murder." That, combined with the fact that she was barefoot, had drawn all over herself with a ballpoint, and was wearing a filthy white t-shirt, contributed to more than a few questionable looks by others to yours truly.

Her preschool doesn't start for another week and a half, so she's been doing, and will continue to do the Sophie Shuffle for a bit. Luckily, she's a resilient little cuss, and has been having a pretty good time. Today she stayed home with Dad, and tomorrow is a playdate with her pall Emily.

It's really too late to do a birthday update, but suffice it to say, that girl CLEANED UP. Just off top of my head, presents for which I'm now trying to find room include the following: Easy Bake Oven, a Cabbage Patch Baby, Floam (awful, gooey, disappointing crap), Don't Break the Ice, 5 new DVDs, a Care Bear art set, fishing pole, pink feathery fan (thanks Kods), and about a million other things.

School is ok, but the stress is landing smack in my back, and really exacerbating the Epstein Barr. Hopefully another week or two will see me back in the groove. The blog is going to suffer for a bit, I think, but don't desert me. I'll be around as much as possible.

Today's best thing about being a mom:
I was so proud of her today. She was at school with me drawing on the white board, and figured out how to draw people. She was even prouder of herself than I was, I think. I'm too lazy to pull the picture off my camera just now, but soon. Soon.

Today's worst thing about being a mom:
She wants me to pick her up, all the time, all the sudden.

Wednesday, August 16, 2006

More Movies

So--I've gotten downright formulaic with the movie thing. I've decided to set the class based on genre and film elements, and then work with them in pairs. For each set, we'll study 2 films, preferably one pre-1980 (not a magic year, just kind of in the middle) and one post. Here's what I've come up with so far. What do you think? Please keep in mind that I'm trying to choose movies against which my students won't totally revolt.

Genre: Drama/Element: Screenplay
  • To Kill a Mockingbird OR Rocky
  • Dead Poets' Society OR Straight Story

Genre: Musical/Element: Art Direction

  • Singin' in the Rain
  • Moulin Rouge

Genre: Sci Fi-Fantasy/Element: Special Effects

  • Star Wars
  • Harry Potter and the Sorcer's Stone

Genre: Thriller/Element: Direction

  • Rear Window
  • ??? Ideas? Quality PGish thriller in the last 20 years with exceptional direction?

Genre: Action Adventure/Element: Editing

  • King Kong 1933
  • King Kong 2005

Genre: Noir/Element: Cinematography

  • Maltese Falcon
  • ??? Ideas? Again, a quality noir film from the last 20 years with exceptional cinematography?

Genre: Western/Element: Score

  • Magnificent Seven
  • Silverado

Genre: Animation

  • Snow White
  • The Nightmare Before Christmas

Genre: Martial Arts/Element: Foreign Language Film

  • Seven Samuari
  • Crouching Tiger Hidden Dragon

For documentaries, I'm thinking

  • When We Were Kings (Tons of my guys are into boxing)
  • Rize (Boys of Baraka is R. Thppt.)
  • Whatever short documentaries I can track down
  • Winter of the Dance (A pal of mine knows these guys, and participated in Winter of the Beard, which I hope will be out by the end of the year. I may be able to get the director and producer in town to chat with us.)

So, what I'm lacking is comedy. (In so many ways.) Ly suggested Bringing up Baby, but I don't know if my kids will stick with that one. Maybe. What "film element" would fit well with comedy? I'm kind of thinking either acting or production, since, well, that's what's left.

School starts tomorrow! Wish me luck.

Monday, August 14, 2006


Long story short:

Our art teacher left over the summer. We now have no fine arts classes to offer. Our principal and counselor informed me on FRIDAY that I'm going to be teaching an intro to film class, as, according to NCLB, it's the only fine arts class that, as an English teacher, I'm "highly qualified" to teach. Guys--school starts on THURSDAY!

Now--I did a mini unit on film for my applied communication class, but a year? Can't fake that.

So--put yourself in my shoes. Help me out. If you found out you were going to be teaching an intro to film class in, you know, a few days, what would you do? Would you structure the class chronologically or by elements of film? Or maybe in terms of specific directors, producers, etc.? What films would you show? What kind of assessments and goals would you have for your kids? How would you justify the class to parents who don't want their kids to "watch movies"?

Oh--keep in mind that you're limited to G, PG, and PG-13 movies, and that most of your students are at-risk teenagers who read and write at about a 5th grade level.

Report on Soph's bday party soon.

Saturday, August 12, 2006

Happy Birthday Haiku
Sophie Gene turns 4 today!


Grrr, originally uploaded by missuzj.

I WILL have my way
Or pout until I turn five.
How'd'ya like that mom?

Bucket Head

Bucket Head, originally uploaded by missuzj.

Come in Mom, over.
Where are my presents? over.
Soph over and out.



Jump, originally uploaded by missuzj.

Bounce! Pounce! Skip! Spring! Sproing!
Sprinkler squirt, splash, sputter, spray
Turning four kicks ASS!

Thursday, August 10, 2006

Guess who broke a sweat today?

That would be me folks.

See, Sophie's across the street friend, Bianca, has a trampoline. An old, huge, dangerous trampoline with exposed, broken springs, a fucking LADDER to get on it, and no safety enclosure.

Soph and I have been doing battle about that trampoline. I don't want her on it. She loves it. I let her jump with Bianca, but check on her like every 3 minutes and then make up some excuse to get her the hell away from that broken arm waiting to happen.

So, as Soph's birthday is coming up (the 12th, remember?) I ordered her this. Notice the included safety enclosure? Notice how it has no springs, just nifty elastics? Notice how it is close enough to the ground for her to climb on and off of by herself--no rusty old ladder required? Sweet.

I put the order in on Monday, and it arrived today. How's that for speedy?

When I arrived home from my NEVER ENDING beginning of school meetings today, 2 boxes were waiting for me at the front door. The instructions said that in order to assemble the trampoline and enclosure, one needed 3 "able bodied" adults. Piffle! Pashaw! I put that bitch together myself in under 2 hours.

Soph loves it, and we jumped and jumped. My leg muscles are sore! So is my neck, for some reason. I'll probably be slightly miserable tomorrow. I think it'll be worth it, though.

Pictures soon, I promise.

Today's best thing about being a mom:
That great big shit-eating grin she gets on her face when something VERY cool is going down.

Today's worst thing about being a mom:
This was my first day away from her all day in a long time. It kind of sucked.

Monday, August 07, 2006

That time of year

It's that time of year; the time when I review the summer months, and realize I didn't do a god damn motherfucking thing. Somehow, "that time of year" always coincides with "that time of the month." Funny that.

Anywho'syourdaddy, I have exactly 3 days left of summer vacation. Three. This Thursday and Friday we have our big faculty planning meetings when we discuss our school wide "DRSLs" (Desired results for student learning), and size up the new faculty members, and brag or (in my case) lie about all the shit we did this summer. Then I get a weekend to sweat and stew. Then, on Monday, all the teachers in the district get to sit in an auditorium and first listen to the superintendent give an inspirational-as-ass speech and then get all fired up as he and the district office staff huck the new inspirational t-shirts out to us stadium style while "We Will Rock You" or some such nonsense crackles through the speakers. After THAT display, we have to sit and listen to some paid education expert and/or inspirational speaker inspire us even further. Then, we plod to our classrooms, and reality hits us, or in my case, bitch slaps me in the face.

I've been going into school a couple hours a day for the last week or so. The thing is, my school is not even a red-headed-step-child. It's the imaginary friend of the red-headed-step-child. We don't have a custodian. We have a sweeper. The sweeper comes in after school, vacuums the floors, gives the bathrooms a lick and a promise, and that's it. Most schools get a total rehaul over the summer. Paint, carpets cleaned, desks scrubbed, white boards whitened, bathrooms sanitized. Kids--I'm not even sure my garbage was taken out on the last day of school. The paint on the outside of the building is peeling off in huge chunks. The toilets are, just, eww. And generally, the place looks like shit.

So today, Janzen, Sophie, and I are going to go and do what we can to clean it up. Well, Janz and I will be cleaning. Sophie will be doing her damnest to make new and improved messes as fast as we can clean them.

Oh, I got sidetracked. Here is the shit I didn't do this summer.

1. Go to yoga. I think I went twice.
2. Exercise. Instead I gained about 10 more pounds.
3. Take Sophie on fun and exciting mommy daughter fieldtrips.
4. Paint the interior walls of my house.
5. Work on my yard.
6. Write.
7. Write a grant for laptops for my classroom.
8. Dejunk my carport.
9. Detail the cars.
10. Anything productive.

What did I do?
Well, I played a shit load of spider solitare. I watched a lot of tv. I read a lot of blogs.

I suck.

Friday, August 04, 2006

Again with the birthdays! (But it's a good thing.)

All right cats and kittens (where did that come from?). It has come to my attention that we all missed the birthday of the sweetest lady on the internet.

So, because I adore Nicole, and because I can't come up with any new ideas, here is her birthday list. Unfortunately, I don't know Nicole as well as some, AND I'm not precisely sure how old she is, so here's the plan. I'll start the list, and y'all help me out by continuing it in my comment field. If you don't know Nicole "in real life" that's no excuse. If you DO know Nicole in real life, you are morally obligated to give us at least 5 lines on the list. Now then.

1. Her grandparents all have cute nick names.
2. She loves living in the city.
3. She is very hip in her music tastes, and has a thing for musicians (wink, wink).
4. She has an adversion to poop. (Well, don't we all, but I think hers is slightly more, um, emphatic.)
5. At 16, she went to see a rock band at CBGBs without her mothers knowledge.
6. Her hair has been been dyed, in her own words, "most of the shades of the rainbow."
7. She successfully quit smoking.
8. She likes to watch reality TV.
9. She never thinks her house is clean enough.
10. She's a bit of a worrier.

Wednesday, August 02, 2006

The earth goes around the sun tra la! And Missuz J turns 31!

At Soph's school, on the kids' birthdays, they sing a little song. First, they put a big orange ball in the middle of the room. Then the birthday kid gets to hold a blown up globe. As the birthday kid slowly walks around the globe, the class sings, "The earth goes around the sun tra la. The earth goes around the sun. The earth goes around the sun tra la and (insert kid's name) turns 1!" Then the birthday kid says what he/she could do when sh/e turned one. (roll over, eat baby food, etc.) This song is repeated, year by year, until the class reaches the kid's current age. Then the kid and class list and celebrate all the things the birthday boy/girl can do now.

I think it's a pretty cool little activity. Unfortunately, having neither big orange ball nor globe nor gaggle of preschoolers at my disposal, I shall have to blog it instead of sing it. I'll skip years 1-30, for your anti-boredom convenience. Now then, ah-hem,

imaginary class: The earth goes around the sun tra la! The earth goes around the sun! The earth goes around the sun tra la! And Missuz J turns 31!

imaginary teacher: So Missuz J--what can you do now that you couldn't do a year ago?

Missuz J: Well, umm, nothing.

imaginary teacher (in a very nurturing and gentle tone of voice): Let's think about it together. You're getting to be a very big girl. Did you learn anything new?

Missuz J: Hmm. Well, just last week I think I invented a new cocktail. See, we were out of vodka, and I wanted a White Russian so I used some old coconut rum we had in the back of the freezer. I call it the White Jamaican. It's pretty delish. At least, I think I invented it.

imaginary teacher (an almost undetectable note of impatience in her still very sweet voice): Hmm. Well, that's nice, but let's keep thinking. Let's think about new things. Did you do anything new?

Missuzj J: Well, I grew two new chin hairs. But I guess that doesn't count. Hmm. I've got one! I watched the entire Buffy the Vampire series for the first time--in like 2 weeks! You should have seen the house. And smelled it. Damn. Have you seen Buffy yet? Want to borrow season one? You really have to give it until the second season for it to really heat up. Now, at first, you'll probably think that Angel is smoking hot, but just hold out. (SPOILER) Soon you'll see that he's just a vampire pussy with a soul who hides out in his apartment when Buffy is supposed to be killed by the Master. Just WAIT until Spike gets the chip put in his head by the initiative and starts tarting around with his shirt unbuttoned, and then, then, in Smashed, oh, my God, he has Buffy up against this wall and you can totally hear her unzip his pants and...

imaginary teacher (her impatience now noticeable): OK! I get the idea. There are young kids here you know. Now, other than cocktails and comic book TV, has ANYTHING happened this year that you're proud of?

Missuz J: Well, I didn't get skinnier, or smarter, or more patient, or more spiritual.

imaginary teacher (condoling): That's ok sweetie.

Missuz J: But you know, I think I am a little happier.

imaginary teacher: Now that's something to be proud of.

Monday, July 31, 2006

A Berry Happy Birthday--To You! (Too much Strawberry Shortcake!)

So many birthdays!

Erik's birthday is today--so although you like to stay incognito on my blog, tough titties baby! Here are 32 things ('cause, duh, he's 32) you may or may not know about my spouse.

1. He hates hates hates eggs. Really. With a burning passion. Even the IDEA of deviled eggs makes him gag. If Sophie wants him to eat something and he balks, she says, "But there's no debbled eggs in it Dad!"
2. He was an amazing radio DJ in college, as well as an amazing professional radio DJ for a couple years before and after we got married. In fact, he won a broadcaster of the year award, but we spaced the banquet because we didn't know it was in his honor. (Remember that time we did it on the desk at KBRE honey? GT.)
3. He loves his children with great, great, intensity.
4. He has apocalyptic nightmares several times a week.
5. He loves Dune. (I, however, do not.)
6. He never looks at other women--at least in my presence. Doesn't even mention who's hot in Hollywood when we're hanging out with friends. (I, however, do.)
7. He broke both arms in grade school. (They were playing Star Wars. He was standing on the jungle gym. When he was "shot" he flung himself backward, falling through the jungle gym.)
8. His 2 culinary specialties are fajitas and English muffin pizzas.
9. He loves wine spritzers.
10. He runs like, a million miles a day. Really, like 7 or 8.
11. He loves to play Madden football and some boxing game on the PS2.
12. Lately, he's into Entourage.
13. He loves gravy. Loves it.
14. He talks about fixing computers in his sleep.
15. He's dynamite in the sack.
16. He sometimes asks me if his pants make his head look to small. (Sorry babe. Had to mention it.)
17. He gives me a run for my money at Scrabble, even occasionally winning.
18. He travels hundreds of miles, literally, every week in order to be a father to his son/my stepson.
19. He has the most delicious shoulders I have ever seen.
20. He has now performed 3 karaoke numbers, IN PUBLIC. (Anarchy in the UK, Hit Me Baby One More Time, and You Give Love a Bad Name)
21. He's a Frisbee thrower extrordinaire.
22. He never puts his laundry away, but has a complex system of moving it among, like, 7 laundry baskets.
23. Although I refuse to do his laundry, he often will wash a load for me.
24. He often washes my hair for me.
25. He LOVES cartoons. In fact, when I was about 8 months pregnant, and asked him how he really felt about the fact that he was about to have a daughter, his answer was, "Well, we'll probably have to watch a lot of girl cartoons."
26. He gets down on the floor and really plays with Sophie, and the other kids in our life.
27. The only way he'll eat corn is on the cob. Period.
28. About this time of year, he starts helping with the dishes at my Mom's house (more than usual. That is, he always helps, but begins now to go the extra mile) because he's "saving up" for Thanksgiving--so he can eat and then sit on the couch and watch football without feeling guilty.
29. He's a gifted writer, particularly of fiction.
30. He brushes his teeth with Sophie's Barbie electric toothbrush.
31. His favorite clothes are full of holes.
32. He has a constellation of moles on his right forearm that look just like a puppy paw print.

Now then, on to Kodi. I totally totally forgot Kod's birthday which was like, 3 days ago. Add to that, I don't even know exactly how old she is. So in honor of Kodi, who I love like a sister, who I could not live without, who is one of the only people who I feel comfortable hanging out with in my messy house with no bra, here is my absolute favorite Kodi story.

In the LDS church, you're baptized at 8. After that--you have to stay sin-free (or repent like a mad man) to get into the highest level of heaven. So, sweet Kodi, on the night before her 8th birthday, figured she'd better get her major sinning out of the way. She pondered for a while, and then hit on the perfect, most sinful activity an almost 8 year old could engage in. She sneaked into the neighbor's yard and jumped naked on their trampoline. Yes!

So Happy Birthday to both of you.

Today's best thing about being a mom:
I love how Soph can get so excited about something so seemingly insignificant. A box of Backyardigan bandaids, her first maccaroon, a bottle of apple juice in the shape of, jump-back, an actual apple!

Today's worst thing about being a mom:
We went to the dentist to start having her cavities (that's right--plural) filled. Fuck, dude. What a tortuous nightmare. Long story short, we're going to have to take her to the pediadontist and have the rest of them done while she's asleep. Nightmare.

Thursday, July 27, 2006

RIP Kenmore

It took me a long time to finally let go. I've been clinging for months to the idea that it might get better. But today, I finally had to face up to the truth.

My dishwasher is dead.

Even my usual process of spinning around three times, saying the proper incantation, propping up the open door with my shin while gingerly loading the glasses in the broken top rack, praying it won't all fall to pieces has stopped working. It is officially twice as much work to load the dishes as to just wash them by hand. I surrender.

I LOVE my dishwasher. I put everything in it: light fixtures, plastic toys, storage bins. If it fits in there and needs washed, in it goes. But now, sigh, my dishwasher is dead.

So I climbed up on the counter and peeled my dish drainer off of the top of the cabinets, hosed it down (literally), and hand washed this morning's dishes. I'm seriously going to have to institute a one glass rule--every one gets one glass per day, and that's it. I swear it seems like Erik and Soph are in a contest to see who can have the most drinks from the most glasses.

I HATE doing the dishes. As far as household chores, it's the one I hate the most. Well, I really hate scrubbing the bath tub--but that's not an every day thing. In fact, it's embarrassing to tell you how often I do clean the bath tub, so I won't. Sweeping I hate, but mostly because I have to move all the rugs and can never find the dust pan. Vacuuming hurts my back so I can pawn that one off on Erik pretty easily. Laundry isn't TOO bad. I just hate lugging it up and down the stairs. Folding laundry is a nice excuse to watch trash TV without guilt. But dishes. Fuck dude. No TV. Smelly. My shirt gets wet. Soph always gets in some kind of trouble. Dishes also have such a time table. Skip for a day or two, and you're completely fucked.

My mom and dad made us start doing dishes at age 8. By the time all 3 "big" kids (sorry Katy) were 8, we had the dishes broken into 3 jobs. Clearing, rinsing, and loading. Clearing was the job we all wanted, and we were supposed to rotate, but somehow, my little brother Jon always ended up with that sweet job. He'd clear the table, one fucking fork at a time, keeping Mandy and I waiting until we'd just go and do it for him. The clearer was also in charge of counter wiping, but as that little fucker is in possession of a wiener, he never did that either. (Sorry, but really, most men just don't wipe off the counters. I'm sure all you metrosexuals do, but really, you're the exception.) Rinsing was the worst job, as it involved actual scrubbing and water. Plus, I think my mom mostly looked at the dishwasher as a sterilizer, and she insisted that the dishes that were loaded into it were basically clean already. Loading was ok, but you always ended up being the last one out of the kitchen, so that kind of sucked.

So--now I'm dishwasherless. Pity me.

Today's best thing about being a mom:
Having chocolate milk available to put in my coffee

Today's worst thing about being a mom:
Whining. And whining. And whining some more.

Wednesday, July 26, 2006

Home Again, Home Again

Ok. Blogger sucks, as usual, and I can't get all the photos I want to download. So--here are a bunch, and I'll compose a second post to finish things up.

So--the Albuquerque trip.

I've already covered Wednesday and Thursday, travel day and zoo day, respectively. So, on to...

Friday was Madeline's birthday. I should say, Friday was Madeline's birthday EXTRAVAGANZA! After a night of swapping Zack's bed and the air mattress several times, Soph and I woke up feeling about as tired as we did when we went to bed, a process that was to be repeated pretty much daily during our trip. Madeline was very sweet, and like most birthday kids, didn't allow the slightest opportunity to pass without reminding friends, family, and strangers that it was her birthday.

We mobilized the kids and hit the road at about 10:00, destination: Build a Bear. We were there early enough to avoid a huge line. If you're not familiar with the build-a-bear process the kid picks a stuffed animal skin, then helps an employee stuff it, inserting a heart and some kind of annoying sound, if they want to. Then they give the animal an air bath, choose some expensive stuffed animal clothes to dress it in, use a computer to name the animal and print a birth certificate, and then, take the build-a-bear oath. It breaks down to about a 45 minute process that costs about 40 smacks per kid. Soph chose a rabbit, dressed it in a Sleeping Beauty dress, and named it, what else, Aurora. (She later decided that the dress was too scratchy, took it off, and renamed the naked bunny "Vanilla Icing.") Zach built a darling surfer monkey, and Madeline built a pink birthday bear that sported a denim mini-skirt. Sweet.

After Build-a-Bear we let the kids ride the Carousel at the mall. This was a huge treat, and a chance for the moms and grandma to sit down.

From Build-a-Bear, we loaded the kids in the van and headed for the Mecca of 7 year old birthday parties everywhere, you guesses it, Chuck E. Cheese. Actually, it wasn't as painful as one would think. The place was surprisingly clean, and the rides and games were only 25 cents each.

However, here at Chuckey's, I began to loose my cool. It all started with a popsicle. Those bastards have a fancy popsicle machine right at the exit. When it was time to go, Soph spotted it, of course. Because it was a party day, she had pretty much been getting whatever she wanted. So, when she asked for a popsicle, I kind of absentmindedly said sure, kind of forgetting that we were going to be eating cake and ice cream in 20 minutes. Of course, in a group of three kids, one can't have a popsicle without the other 2 getting one So, I bought popsicles all around. In my imagination, Mandy was pretty annoyed with me for doing this. Disapproval of any kind kind of throws me for a loop. I spent much of the rest of the afternoon imagining that I was a terrible mother and aunty and that the popsicles had ruined the day. Dur.

Cut to the next morning. Mand had a long day of yoga, and grandma and I were taking the kids out on the town. Again, in my imagination, I was fucking up the plans--getting in the way, and generally not following the program that I somehow couldn't figure out. My paranoia snowballed until I was sure Mandy wanted me to get a hotel and take myself and my rowdy daughter the hell out of her house. Matters weren't helped by the fact that the kids were all pretty rotten, and that my mom was entertaining, I think, similar feelings to mine.

By the time we got home, having gotten lost for a while thanks to my navigation error, I was hosting my first, I think, official migrane. Lights flashing, nauseaa, and pounding, pounding pain. My sweet mom decided I needed some distance and alone time, and as soon as Mand came in the door, left to find me a hotel room. Sigh. Left alone with Mandy, I totally came unglued, spilling my guts, telling her how I felt totally in the way, like I was doing "something" wrong, etc. I don't think she'll mind my sharing her response. See, in HER imagination, I was still mad at her for leaving me, moving to Albuquerque in the first place. She felt guilty for being happy. For being happy without me. This lead to her putting distance between us, because she felt like she was betraying our friendship, our sistership, with her happiness. So--tears, hugs, and then mom arriving back with the hotel key.

I decided to go ahead and stay at the hotel for the night, which I think was a good decision. Soph and I watched Ice Age 2 together, and both slept in a real bed, which was a good thing.

Sunday was a down time day for everyone. Mom had a long nap at Mandy's while the sisters and their kids took the kids to the hotel pool. It was small, but we had it to ourselves, and it was very nice. Later we made a trip to Whole Foods to procure dinner fixins. Sigh. Cedar City has lovely things about it, but good shopping is NOT one of them. I'll be shopping at Whole Foods in my dreams. Dinner was roasted veggies on focaccia with goat cheese. Can you say yummy? I'm going to recreate that meal soon. We also played some Disney Princess Monopoly with Zack and Madeline after Soph went to bed. Zack rolled the dice for everyone, chanting "Sugar pop, sugar pop, give me a sugar pop," each time before giving the dice a roll.

Continued Below.