the defender and the big red dog.

Sunday, February 27, 2011

in a quick, pick-up game of hoops tonight, i met my match.

she's eight.

i am certain that even in my advanced state of aging, i can out-dribble, out-shoot, out-guard, and out-rebound her.

but she has some wicked defense skills.

i mean, how is one expected to not get warm fuzzies when this is in your face?


trust me when i tell you that she has some scary sound effects that go along with this vicious face. if i wouldn't have looked directly at her, i might have been okay.

but one look into those molten chocolate eyes and i was instantly captured by her charm...and doubled over in laughter. this girl cracks me up.

after we finished our one-on-one match, we worked on some ball handling skills. this is one of the only times i'll ever be a proponent of the double dribble....



i was pretty impressed with her multi-tasking abilities...

and then things went south.


can you see the sheer determination on her face? she is not one who gives up easily. i think if she would have had on tennies instead of crocs, things would have totally gone her way.

cee was chosen as 'rock star of the week' for her class this week. we made a super cute poster that is all about her. she is so proud of it, and i am so proud of her. she did awesome on her report card...all a's.

jay got to bring home her class mascot...we took lots and lots of pictures with him. let's just say that clifford is welcome to stay for as long as he'd like!!! what a gracious house guest he is. :)




we had a huge weekend and lots of fun with him. jay was absolutely beside herself to have him staying with us. she did an outstanding job of making him feel welcome. i think we're ready for a foreign exchange student.

uhhhh - i have to go now, the oscars are starting.

peace and paparazzi....

chicken

Saturday, February 26, 2011

we had some seriously awesome grilled chicken for dinner tonight. as our resident four-legged friend stared, drooled, and begged, it seemed only appropriate to teach the girls that dogs + chicken bones = bad news.

we talked about how chicken bones are the most important kind of bones to never, ever feed to dogs. they asked why, and all i knew (then) is because the bones will splinter.

leave it to our fur-kid: he ate the chicken bones out of the trash. jay cried because she left the door open to the trash. i tried to minimize the equation i'd presented earlier to ease her tears.

we googled 'when dogs eat chicken bones' – it seems that the worse outcome includes punctured intestines (and other unmentionables). we (which, if 'we' are honest with ourselves ultimately means 'me') are supposed to watch his poop to make sure the bones come out. this seems like life imitating art and i'm john grogan and the consumed bones are jenny's necklace. except there are no mangoes.

the girls are very worried about him and made a special palette for him to sleep on tonight. doesn't he look like a dog who's suffering and just ate a lot of something that he shouldn't have?


all i'm thinking is that this is a dog who has eaten the following:
-a kiddie pool full of rotting craw fish
-uncountable birthday cakes
-an array of valentines and valentine candy (yes - i mean he ate the actual paper valentines)
-two gingerbread houses
-fudge
-onions
-entire boxes of pizza (in a single sitting)
-entire 20 lb bags of food (in a single sitting)
-our super bowl cake
-a sam's sized thing of goldfish
-and God only knows what else...

he used to cruise our old neighborhood (and by 'cruise' i mean that he would dig out on tuesday nights because he knew trash day was wednesday) and topple over trashcans to peruse other people's leftovers.

additionally, he is a humongous wimp. despite his 'fighting spirit,' he has tangled with a spike deer and a coyote (and won against both).

therefore, i am thinking that surely some lousy chicken bones aren’t going to get him down.

there was one website that suggested buying a big can of pumpkin and feeding it to him to induce vomiting. that's just gross.

we opted to not take that happy little route for our geriatric friend.

i always thought that dogs would slow down and become less mischievous in their twilight years.

i think i've been thinking wrong.

prayers for our pooch and his wicked food snatching skills would be appreciated.

peace and pumpkin puke...

national haiku day (but not really)

Friday, February 25, 2011

it's national haiku facebook status day or something to that effect. what a brilliant concept...i love a syllabic challenge.

so....here's a recap of my day, haiku style:

dear electrolux,
my laundry won't fold itself.
kelly ripa lied.

presentation done.
differentiation - wow.
so glad i survived.

you know where to score
some black market vicodin?
from my friend halley.

crepes were on my mind,
had one for breakfast today.
yumminess indeed.

i am so sorry
my car is a disaster.
a stick's on your butt.

i'm also sorry
i spit my coke everywhere...
big oopsie daisy.

what a handsome guy
sleeping gently in my arms.
got my baby fix.

moonshine hit the spot,
but not the kind you're thinking...
more delicious food.

great news late today:
new jedi baby in town.
is her name leia?

friend falls down, goes boom...
scored a broken wrist - oh no!
hope her cast is black.

'mom, i made straight a’s!'
'what about crooked a’s, cee?'
she asked with a grin.

clifford's at our house.
jay bird brought the mascot home.
weekend fun with him.

even though she's eight,
she still needs time in my arms...
oh how i love that.

half sour pickles...
at that deli in new york.
no idea which one.

thing two sure does like
having clifford at our house.
oh, her smiling face.

thing one wants to crawl
back into my arms; therefore,
time to end this post.

peace and poetry...

fan club...

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

...party of two.

oh yeah! i have the two most awesome fans in the whole wide world. two guesses who they are.

they spoil me daily with so many sweet drawings and love notes, and lately i have found myself taking those treasures for granted. i try not to, but it happens. then they go to stay with their dad for two days and i suddenly find myself in the midst of a very quiet, empty house.

except for browning - there isn't too much about him that's quiet anymore.

on my nights alone, i really do cherish my love notes from my fan club rock stars. they have the most endearing way of letting me know how much they love me.

sometimes i wonder if i do enough to show them how much they mean to me.

sometimes i worry that the answer is no.

tomorrow afternoon i will be in dire need of a fan club.

i am presenting, along with a dear friend of mine, at the texas middle school association's annual conference. i am not really a fan of speaking in front of people my own age. i can talk to masses of kids til the cows come home, but for some reason, adults never fail to freak me out.

i have no idea why i hate speaking in public. if i knew the reason why, i think i could play enough mind games with myself to successfully un-freak myself out for an hour or two at a time.

i am going to take some of my fan club mementos with me tomorrow because i know if my little dumplings were with me, i would be fearless. why is that?

again - i have no answer.

here's a little sneak peak of how our presentation will end...i guess it's always good to finish with a smile. except if you aren't a teacher, then you might not smile at this.

the greatest teacher of all declares that the hills are alive
my fan club hit the hay a couple of hours ago, and now i think it's my turn to follow suit. however, anderson cooper is doing good things on cnn right now...hmmm....what to do, what to do.

sorry this post is kind of boring. that's all i have for now.

peace and presentations...

santa monica

Sunday, February 20, 2011

i've been missing this place.


february in l.a. is perfect. i can't wait until the girls are old enough for us to go there on a fun weekend trip. they would love, love, love the pier and the beach.


maybe this fall would be good....yup. i like it. i'm gonna put it in my calendar.

these are two of my most favorite non-kid pictures. the sky makes me smile.

check out my friend natalie...could she be any cuter and any more ready to kick cancer in the booty?


i know she would appreciate your continued prayers, thoughts, karmatic wishes, and/or universal tidbits of love. she's been through a lot in just two weeks. if you haven't checked in on her lately, you should.

those pretty, long pigtails have been chopped and she'll be sporting a cute pixie 'do for the next few days...then it's time to say goodbye to hair for awhile. i am so proud of her courage and strong will.

peace, positive vibes, and pacific views...

simple saturdays

Saturday, February 19, 2011

it’s drizzling today, and that kind of sums up the kind of week i had. remember the glee episode where finn wanted to name the baby drizzle?

finn: i read that gwyneth paltrow named her kid apple and i think that’s so cool, ‘cause you know how much i love apples. so i figured we should name our kid something more original, poetic. then i came up with the best baby name of all time. drizzle.

quinn: drizzle?

finn: yeah. you know how awesome it is when it’s just drizzling outside. but it’s not really raining so it smells like rain, but you don’t need an umbrella to go outside.

quinn: are you a moron? we’re not naming our baby drizzle. we’re not naming our baby anything, finish your test, finn.

the girls and i just got home from the land of dribbling-optional basketball also known as jay’s league. it cracks me up watching the 4-6 year old crew...the difference between boys and girls is a lot more obvious at this stage because they don’t really recognize the boundaries of social norms. they just do whatever they feel like doing.

i love their free spirits and their general zest for life.

this pretty much means that the girls prefer to sit together talking, laughing, and listening patiently to each other. they’re dainty and graceful and they say please and thank you, and they smile at each other a lot. they clap when their team scores, and they tell everybody how good they’re doing.

i’m not saying the boys don’t smile or say please and thank you, but it seems like they definitely enjoy spending more time chasing each other and growling at anyone who comes near their ball.

they leap through the air with reckless abandon. they climb the goal posts. they climb the bleachers. they climb up the mats that are glued to the walls. i’m pretty sure they would attempt to climb the walls even if the mats weren’t there. they are on the go.

those are the established norms for the boys and the girls. it’s pretty predictable and very amusing to me.

and then there are the few boys who sit, weeping (occasionally wailing), in their mom’s arms. the thought of getting on the court or of having to throw the ball in to a teammate from the sidelines is just too much for them.

these little boys are the ones who i think will eventually spend their amassed fortunes on therapy sessions that are specifically targeted at analyzing the oedipus complex. i can kinda tell which ones are probably going to have issues later in life. what can i say? it’s a gift i have.

this week was a particularly crummy one at school. just like tons of other districts across the united states, our district has, for lack of better words, run out of money. our budget exceeds our means. the state legislature is in session this year, and even though i know we have tons of lobbyists advocating for us, it seems that their efforts are going to all be for naught.

my district announced thursday that they made a multi-million dollar budget cut. what does that mean to me? first and foremost, it means that my daughters are being deprived of the education that they so dearly deserve.


it also means that two of the most amazing teachers i have ever known may no longer have their current jobs after this school year ends.

one is an instructional strategist...in layman’s terms, that means she is the person in charge of teaching the teachers at my school. by teaching us, she helps ensure that all of our students are receiving the education they need and strategies they can use to help them be successful in middle school, high school, college, and beyond.

another has been responsible for teaching kids who don’t know how to read...to read. i’m not sure there is any better gift you can give a kid than the gift of reading. she is full of amazing skills and knowledge to share with teachers, and she also works with a population of kids who really need some educational tlc because they’ve been passed through the system even though they have major skills deficits.

these ladies’ efforts have never gone unnoticed or unappreciated by me as a teacher, and my heart hurts for them. they’ve spent so many years of their lives helping children and teachers, and the ‘system’ has ultimately shown them no respect or thanks for their services.

epic fail for the system.

my worries move on to my own girls...who’s going to teach their teachers now? who’s going to implement strategies for them? who’s going to monitor them to make sure they’re learning everything they need to know in order to conquer the world?


i am their mom – i will do anything i can to help them achieve everything possible...it just seems like a giant diversion from my grand plan of how things are supposed to work.

i think the most frustrating part for me is that i feel pretty helpless...i am not comfortable in the position of helpless. that's not my thing. can one person’s voiced concerns really make a difference? what if one person’s voiced concerns put her own career in jeopardy? it’s a very delicate balance, and I don’t know which way the scales will tip in the end.

i do know that worrying isn’t going to get us anywhere at all.

i am trying to steer my brain into the problem solving lane, but it feels like i’m navigating through thick, nasty, mucky mud.

needless to say, this weekend couldn’t have arrived soon enough.

this morning’s drizzle was a perfect tone-setter. it created the exact mellow mood that i so desperately needed.

i popped a breakfast casserole in the oven around 7:30 this morning and then i sat back and counted my blessings because sometimes that’s what it takes for me to regain perspective after a rough week.

before i knew it, the stress of the week was slowly starting to fade. pandora provided the perfect blend of drizzle-laden music: stevie nicks, fleetwood mac, carly simon, james taylor, oz, the black crowes, and the eagles.

the sound of the girls’ laughter danced through the air along with their sweet nothings to each other of how they’ll always be best friends forever and ever, no matter what and how they're going to live here forever and never move away because home is home.

drizzle on the outside.

warm fuzzies on the inside.

a gentle fire rolling in the fireplace.

blissful.

i'll take these perfect moments whenever i can get them...

peace and patience...

p.s. jay's class made a book out of their six favorite valentines. here's a sample page from jay's book. where does she come up with this stuff?

happy ♥ day

Monday, February 14, 2011

i took the afternoon off because originally the girls had dentist appointments today. those were changed, and i kept my day off because this meant i could go to their valentine parties at school. i hardly ever get to go to their school things, and it was so fun to watch them with their classmates.

when i got home, i received my true valentine for the day...this little beauty is on our fridge. don't know how i've missed seeing it until today...it might have something to do with the fact that it's right at browning's eye level.


this is so sweet to me. both girls are great at making - and sneaking - love notes into places where you'd never expect to find them. i have a whole basket filled with sweet nothings from them. i just didn't know that browning was a recipient of them, too.

i'm going to have to keep my eyes peeled for more notes at his eye level...he might need help reading them.

now one of last week's makeup mysteries is solved. we can close the books on 'the case of the slightly mangled lipstick.'

i'm still actively accepting crime tips on 'the curious case of the suddenly empty mascara tube.' it looks like someone did an experiment to see exactly how much mascara there is in a tube, but so far nobody has plead guilty or offered information pertinent to the investigation. :)

on an unrelated note, yesterday i wasted an hour (or three) of my life playing with photoshop. in the process, i created a new 'page' to the blog. it's called our cast of characters...check it out when you have a chance.

peace and precious hearts...

control

Saturday, February 12, 2011

i am a self-professed control freak.

today brought a whole new layer of meaning to my existence. thankfully, it also brought some clarity and lucidity my way.

i'm not sure where to even start or how to tactfully say what i really want to say.

let's start with pictures...


their smiles are what keep me going on days like today.

a handful of people told me today that they've been reading my blog. that makes me very, very happy! readers make me happy! knowing that i have an audience makes me happy!

but i didn't start figment soup just for the happy feeling. this blog started as a way for me to embrace my urge to write through some of the more difficult moments of my life.

that said, this post might be where i lose a few of those readers. this is my blog, and it's my place to vent. i'm definitely not forcing anyone to follow along or read. i am going to say what i want to say, and i am not going to offer any apologies for what's on my mind right now.

i learned a lot about myself today and over the last week, and the ability to know now what i didn't know then actually makes me chuckle.

there were so many things in my 'old' life that i couldn't control. instead of wrangling my emotions and being in charge of my own reactions, i allowed those 'things i couldn't control' to take full control of me.

ironic, huh?

i am a very big believer in 'if you don't like it, try to change it; and if you don't like it and you aren't going to try to do anything about it, then please don't gripe about it because you're kind of wasting air. and energy. and my time.'

that quote will most likely never go down as something historically relevant or profound, but it has been a driving force in my life for several years. for me, it works.


this post has been brewing in me for a couple of weeks, and today helped me figure out why.

i am so thankful for the things i have learned about myself in the last two years. i have made some of the most amazing friends, i have had a chance to figure out who i really am, and i have had the opportunity to show my fortitude on more than one occassion.

i remember, very clearly, being 8 3/4 months pregnant: tired, sore feet, achy, uncomfortable, stressed, and despite the physical demand on my body, my biggest concern was about how i was going to be a happy, smiling, gracious hostess for a super bowl party that he told me we would have...a week before my due date.

jay was due on feb. 15, 2005. the super bowl that year was on feb. 6, just like this year. i was so thankful that we would be induced before the super bowl because surely that meant there would be no party.

i also remember completely (but quietly) panicking when my ex brought up the fact that we would have two whole days with the new baby at home and should still be able to have people over for the game.

oh, joy.

looking back, i cannot possibly imagine why i even entertained the thought of trying to pull off a stunt as crazy as this. but he said we would do it, so i guess i thought if i didn't do it then i was kind of a failure.

i was controlled.

i had no control.

i was very relieved when, the day before the party, he reluctantly agreed that a party wasn't the best idea.

that kind of sums up my 'old' life. day in, day out, i was stressed and never in control of anything that had to do with my well being or even that of my girls.

today gave me another glimpse of that stress. it was jay's birthday party today...she has been just about ready to pop all week waiting for this day to finally, finally get here.

we had her party at a place filled with jumpy castles...it was scheduled to start at 4. all of her kindergarten classmates were invited, and i had met very few of them. i had met even fewer of the kindergarten parents.

i am not naturally an outgoing person...especially around new people.

all of that stress was already simmering inside of me when my ex called at 3:45 to tell me that he and the girls were running about 45 minutes late. i went from a simmer to a rolling boil in about 10 seconds.

really?

who does that?

who?

who?

i can tell you four very definitive things.

1.) she had a blast at her party and that really is the most important piece of this weird puzzle called life;


2.) i was gently reminded (or not so gently) that i am much happier now than i have ever been before;

3.) i do not miss the person who occupied my body during that awkward time of my life called marriage, and i sure am glad she's gone; and

4.) it's not cool to get to the party late with the guest of honor...no if's, and's, or but's...not. okay. at. all.

by 4:15, i felt like i was going to cry and maybe not be able to stop for a long time.

by 4:16, i sprouted about 30 new gray hairs.

by 4:20, God sent in two of my favorite students from school. seeing them there made me partially regain my composure and realize that i had to be mature about this and not do anything irrational to the driver of my children if and when he arrived.

by 4:25, i was past the mad stage and well into the 'thank you God for helping me make the choice to leave' stage.

by 4:30, i was thankful for my new found mom friends who were there telling me that they each owed me a bottle of wine for staying so calm and collected despite the absence of my birthday girl...

and by 4:35, the birthday girl and her precious sister had arrived at the party.

around 4:45, i was reminded of why it's important for me to be in charge of my own feelings and reactions to other people's choices. and that's about when it all finally made me chuckle.

the joke of the day was ultimately on me...i am the only one who can control my reactions to situations. you would think a control freak would already know that.

does that make sense?

probably not.

but to me, it makes perfectly logical sense.

and i feel so much better for getting this all out on cyber-paper...

even if this all seems like jibberish to you, you have to trust me: it means a lot to me to be able to write this.

please join me in a huge, collective sigh of relief.

(sigh)

i just needed to 'say' all of this jibber jabber that i just wrote.

i'm stepping off my soap box.

God works in mysterious ways, and so often we have no idea why He does the things He does...we just have to trust.

that trust paid me back tenfold today.

thank You for having my life mapped out for me and for taking good care of me and my sweet baby girls.

peace and parties...

why timmy (the snow man) doesn't smoke

Sunday, February 6, 2011

i know you've all been chomping at the bit and just dying to know why timmy didn't need a pipe to smoke. after reading this, i know you'll finally be able to get a good night's sleep.

but first...

...a smidge of background info -

we had a snow day friday, so we went up to my school today to get all of my plans together. while i was working, they were (of course) playing school, and when i looked up from my lesson plans, this beauty was on my elmo/overhead:


do you want a hairy tongue? i didn't think so, and neither do i. what better reason could discourage smoking? i can't think of one that hits home any more than knowing that just one tiny little puff can cause a hairy tongue.

an added bonus of their lesson was a sidebar lesson (imagine a small group activity for those who need a quick review/reteach) that reinforced the essence of the main lesson. it targeted students who may not have been alarmed simply at the thought of having a hairy tongue. here is a tiny sampling of some of the other 499 things that cigarettes have in them...


in case you don't speak kindergartner, here's what my girls learned are in smokes:

pee pee
dish cleaner
rat poison
hair spray
finger remover (more commonly know as finger nail polish remover)
gasoline

they have me convinced.

smoking is evil.

at first i was very curious how all of this information had been acquired by them, simultaneously, in separate grades. once i learned that the anti-smoking people had visited their entire campus, it all made sense to me.

they have a good message to share...i hope you'll pass it along.

i just wish they still got those cute frog stickers that we used to get as kids...remember?

the cute little frogs with the speech bubble that said, 'you smoke, you croak.'

i always loved getting that sticker. just say no, okay?

in mrs. hill's first grade class, i told the anti-smoking person that i was a twin in a desperate attempt to score two frog stickers.

it didn't work.

peace and psa's...

it's the little things

Friday, February 4, 2011

remember a couple of weeks ago when i was working on my doctorate of procrastination?

today i did some more digging in my special delivery from the kitchen fairy. i found something that i been missing tons (okay - in all honesty, i had completely forgotten about it).

my mini-muffin tin and i had such a special thing going a few years ago!! and she's back...and she means business.


i knew it was a stew kind of day, and i knew cornbread muffins would be the perfect 'accessory.' i had no idea that i'd find my long lost friend, though.

welcome back. stay awhile. okay? please?

peace and petite puffs...

the drama face

you know - the one that's actual two faces...one is happy and the other is sad and it's black and white?

well, that's how this post is going to be...a splash of sad followed by a dash of happy.

one of my friends started her first chemo treatment an hour and forty five minutes ago. i feel so horrible for her. i just looked up her 'chemo cocktail' and it does not sound like the kind of cocktail i typically prefer. it's made up of taxotere, adriamycin, and cytoxan.

i already knew she was a very strong person, but watching her fight this battle is even more proof of her strength. she has the most positive outlook. cancer has absolutely nothing on her...she's going to kick butt and take names, i just know it.

go get 'em nat, i love ya tons!!!

perhaps you are wondering why i'm writing at 10:30 on a friday morning. it's simple: we got almost a half inch of snow, so naturally, school was cancelled!

i wish i had an excitement gauge because it was a serious toss up between today and christmas morning for which one made the girls shriek and scream and giggle more (don't tell santa).

here are a few pics...

this is our snow 'person' - when i asked what we would name our snowman, they exchanged one of those secret sister moments and quickly replied, 'timmy.'

he's pretty cute, huh? he has fruit loop eyes, an orange bell pepper sliver for a nose, and champagne cherry tomatoes for his buttons. timmy doesn't smoke, so he doesn't need a pipe.


have i ever told you how much i love my girls? just in case you didn't already know...


have a great day - and if you don't mind tossing out some of whatever floats your boat (prayers, happy thoughts, rainbows, good juju, karma cards, positive vibes, etc.) for my friend natalie, i know she'd appreciate it tons.

peace...

groundhog!

Wednesday, February 2, 2011

happy birthday to my sweet baby jay...she's my own personal little groundhog, and she was up bright and early to see if someone else saw his shadow. she was very composed as she clapped for him...

she doesn't look six to me.

do you think she looks six?

i don't.

i can't believe she's really six. it seems like just yesterday that she came bounding into our lives, and nothing has been the same since then.

six pound, one point four ounce, newborn baby jay, in her golden, fleece diapers...

and now...something that very few people know about her and the amazing strength that radiates from deep within her...
in the first months of jay's sweet life, we found a bump on her soft spot. i have to tell you that hearing it was a tumor was one of the scariest, most humbling pieces of information i have ever heard.

the doctors said we could watch it for a few weeks, and we did. we watched it grow with our own eyes. we watched it grow on the x-rays and ct-scans and mri's.


looking at the pictures from this time, i think we forgot about how obvious it was, but looking back - it's pretty clear. something was there that shouldn't have been, and that 'something' needed to go away.


she had surgery when she was four months old...they had no idea if the tumor was attached to the top of her brain or the top of her scalp, and they didn't know if it had 'roots' or if it was simply encased in tissue and attached at the surface. the best news they had is that they could operate directly through her soft spot instead of having to remove 'bone'.

during her surgery, there was a general pediatric surgeon in charge and a pediatric neurosurgeon on deck - just in case.

i was a wicked, messy wreck that day. i remember so many odd details about that day, but nothing now that seems relevant.

obviously, everything turned out just peachy.
her tumor was attached to her inner scalp, had no 'roots,' and it was benign. i will never forget the fear i had in my heart from the time we found her tumor until the time we learned that she was going to be alright.



this was her napping the day after her surgery. knowing that a tumor on my baby would no longer cause her harm or discomfort is one of the most beautiful moments in my life.

something happened to me during those weeks that i will never be able to pinpoint, but i realized that she was a trooper and that i would do anything for her.

anything.

she's grown into such a poised, thoughtful, and caring little lady who really wants to catch you off guard or knock your socks off or make your day or blow you a kiss or give you a giant bear hug just because it's almost thursday.

she blesses me in more ways than i'll ever be able to express. i am so thankful that i'm her mom.
sweet jay, i hope your day was half as wonderful as you've made my life...because that would be a pretty hard day to beat.
peace and endless possibilities...

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