orange orbs on my porch

Sunday, September 30, 2012

my pumpkin stalking mission is complete! in all fairness, pumpkins were available last weekend, but they were $9 (for small ones) and it seemed a little silly to pay that much for one (or two - because there is no way the girls would carve one together).

friday after school, it was cool-ish (as in not 90). the rain clouds started rolling in at the same time we got home. we took the pumpkins to the back porch, and our time outside was seriously one of my most favorite friday evenings in a long time...hearing all about their day...listening to their ideas...misty rain and dawes in the background...

the other thing i love about pumpkins is what's on the inside. i crave pumpkin seeds during this time of year. i know i can buy them at the store, but they're so much better when they're freshly roasted. the girls love them, too. olive oil, salt, and tony chachere's makes everything good in our world!

we're all smiles around here...i guess pumpkins have that effect on us.

due to the addition of orange orbs, the view of my back porch makes me very happy right now. it's still rainy outside, football starts in a couple of hours, and we just might stay in our jammies all day long. slutty brownies are on deck (aka super brownies for the 10 and under crowd around here, and we prefer milanos to oreos), and pulled pork will go in the oven when those are done. i love weekends like this!!

peace, pumpkins (finally!), and pj's...

a wicked case of the red, white, and blues...

Tuesday, September 25, 2012

for as long as i can recall, election years have stressed me out.

i remember having a conversation with my sweet granny when i was six. we were in her 1979 baby blue oldsmobile cutlass supreme. she was driving, and i was sitting on the arm rest that was meant to separate the driver from the passenger.

i wasn't wearing a seatbelt because i was a front-seat rebel at an early age. she had a handtowel on the seat beneath the armrest...because i always had muddy feet and probably also because she was a much more refined rebel than me.

i remember asking her why there were so many signs in yards with donkeys and elephants on them, and she told me that they stood for republicans and democrats. i remember thinking that those were kind of random animals to represent things, and i vaguely remember wondering, 'what are republicans and democrats?'

maybe i didn't actually wonder that because i was only six, but i feel like it would have been a reasonable question to have had at the time. and that was the beginning of my election year anxiety.

for whatever reason, that anxiety has continued. four years ago, election day was actually on my 34th birthday. it was eighteen days after i filed for divorce. it was seventeen days before cee turned six. for me, it was an important year, and the election signified both personal and national change. i could not make myself go to sleep that night until the polls were definitive.

i felt like i was, along with the rest of the country, on the cusp of a new beginning. i was leaving behind what was familiar and comfortable; i was fully prepared to head into the unknown. major anxiety on many fronts.

fast forward to now, and my anxiety continues.

social media has created a whole new spectrum of campaigning, and i can't help being reminded of a piece of wisdom my granny taught me just over thirty-two years ago from the front seat of her car (over a cup of orange sherbet) when i asked which she liked best between the donkey and the elephant. she simply said, 'it isn't polite to discuss religion or politics.'

that has always seemed like very reasonable advice to me, but then again, i despise controvery and tension. i would rather shove shards of bamboo underneath my nailbeds than endure tense moments with people who i care about.

facebook, as an entity, doesn't necessarily embrace my granny's advice, and this election year has proved to be extremely stressful to my peace-love-and-happiness nature. i truly respect other people's opinions, i honor each person's right to the freedom of speech, and i am proud that we each have the right to cast our vote.

i am more than happy to listen to both sides of a story, search for the truth, find the middle ground, and dig deep for commonalities; but i am having a really hard time with the ignornace and lack of patriotism that spouts from people who i've known and respected for years.

it's frustrating to me to see people send such mixed, sporadic, and inconsistent political messages, and it's disappointing to me to see them do it in such a public and thoughtless manner.

i believe in 'majority rules'.
i believe in the principles of democracy.
i don't like to see people trample on either of those.

november 6th cannot get here and be gone quick enough for me. i trust in the system our founding fathers established, i trust in our leaders, and most of all, i trust in our country.

i am ready for the political shennanigans of social media to end so i can get back to respecting people i've known most of my life and so i can get back to enjoying what they have to say about their own lives...

basking in the non-stop glare of other people's shining political opinions is giving me a massive migraine.

i'm pretty sure if my granny was still here, she would be wagging her pointer finger and shaking her head at the rampant lack of political manners that has flooded our society.

forty-two more days.

(yes, really.)
peace and political privacy...

human rubber band & a cornucopia

Saturday, September 22, 2012

whew - what a week!

i knew it was going to be busy from start to finish, and i had mentally prepared myself for two longer-than-normal, no-break (read: no wine until later than usual) days.

my critical oversight was that i didn't factor in all the other things that come up during the course of a normal day or a regular week.

a little bit of do this, do that;
a little bit of read this, write that;
a little bit of be here, be there.

and that was just at school...lucky for me, i do have hilarious, amazing friends at work who kept me smiling around the clock!

the girls just had a change in their after school program, and they aren't happy about it so they needed lots of extra tlc in the evenings. the weather has cooled off and browning has found puppy-like levels of stored energy, which is great.

but by the time they were all three asleep each night, my introvert self wanted to curl up in the way back of my closet...with a giant glass of wine, a flashlight, and a good book. i hate feeling like that, and it gave me a thorough understanding of the phrase 'human rubber band' (which, apparently, isn't something i'm used to).

somewhere along the way, i even forgot to check my fantasy football roster - until last night, which was too late. i left an injured player in for the thursday night game and didn't realize it until it was too late. bummer. i'm usually way more on top of things!

by the time we finished soccer practice last night, i was more than ready to do nothing more than chill in my pj's with these sweet faces (even though i really really did want to take them to see pretty lights).

this morning i woke up to ten little fingers dancing on my back. it was cee - she has perfected the art of back rubs, and today's had a new twist. at one point, she whispered to her fingers, 'stop!'

and then she and her fingers broke into an unexpected interlude of 'hammer time'.

later when i asked her about the musical surprise, she told me her fingers were re-enacting the hunger games on my back...apparently i got the cornucopia scene where katniss blows up the bad guys' loot...all the way to where peta almost eats the nightlock berries (the 'stop!')... 

...with a side of mc hammer.

impressive, and the perfect way to start the weekend.

our first soccer game of the season is over and done, and i'm officially happy that fall is here!

we're off to buy some pumpkins...


a blue hue

Sunday, September 16, 2012

every since we moved into this house, i have been wanting to paint the piano room a different color. and i've had the color in mind for the last four years - a light, soothing blue. somehow, other rooms have taken priority and this weekend i finally got to tackle my front room.

when i was married, the girls' dad was, it seemed to me, almost always angry. i read something that said blues and greens were soothing colors, so i decided to paint our living room blue. i absolutely loved it. ironically, it made him quite mad. :)  a pretty shade of blue couldn't fix what was already broken, but i swore i'd have another blue room one day.

yesterday the girls and i settled on benjamin moore's ocean air. doesn't that sound soothing and happy? i didn't realize how fun painting could be when you have good helpers! it feels so good to have made the epic transition from a blah-ish purpley beige color...


go!!! a very mellow blue that makes the whole front part of our house feel alive! and welcoming! and comfortable! and happy!

i think jay ended up getting more paint on her than she did on the walls, but it didn't matter to me because hearing them laugh and chat and work together was worth the price of a million gallons of paint (with primer included - genius). and true to form for any room i've ever painted, i now need to go back and buy a pint of ceiling paint. :)

when we finished, the girls helped me rearrange the furniture, and i even installed a new light fixture (without incident). this little piano room re-do has given us a whole new space! the girls were more than happy to curl up in there to soak up the newness of it, and i think browning likes it, too.

i finally got my graded work back just after 9 last night, and i was pleased with my feedback. i had a very limited number of corrections to make to my thesis proposal, and i got it turned in early this morning.

my next (and final!) class is a pass/fail practicum, the girls are putting out our fall decorations right now, it's cool and rainy outside, and all day today i've felt like a huge weight has been lifted off of my shoulders...maybe it's the new blue hue?

whatever it is, i'm so ridiculously glad it's here. i hope it takes its coat off and stays for's welcome here for as long as it would like.

peace and pumpkins...

genius detector

Saturday, September 15, 2012

hi. it's me...the person who, nine months ago, vowed to post twice a week for a solid year...

it's me, the one who has barely managed to squeeze in a decent post-a-week for the last month.


oh well, on with the show.

so - if mensa made cold calls, i would have someone to add to their list.

i have a student this year who seems to be the stereotypical, wild-hearted genius. earlier this week, this sweet, blonde child tells me she's started writing a novel. this is always an insta-matic, guaranteed way to garner my attention, and usually this doesn't happen until sometime around christmas (with a capital c). this year, it happened on september 12th.

eccentric genius says to me, 'i started writing a novel this summer and i wanted to see if you'd mind reading it for me.'

also, i should go ahead and tell you that usually when this happens, the darling children present me with an immaculately drafted sheet of notebook paper - and sometimes the 'novel' spills over to the backside of the wide-ruled page.

'sure,' i say...

honestly i always say sure. i truly enjoy reading what my students have to say. it's an easy way for me to get to know them, and if they're offering it to me outside of an assignment, i want to know what they have to share with me.

this week, the novel was different. i was handed a very well-worn composition notebook and i was warned: 'it's kind of deep - all my characters have symbolic names.'

i take the composition notebook home (after a: explaining that i won't have time to read it during the school day, and b: promising to guard the composition notebook with my life), and....

...i'm seriously blown away, which wasn't at all what i was expecting.

this doesn't happen too terribly often, and when it does, i welcome it. 

the sweet, blonde child has carefully and meticulously crafted an incredible story in which, as she warned me, all of the characters' names have a symbolic meaning.

just to give you a quick run-down, the cast is comprised of the following characters:

time, a boy who can't seem to slow down
cloud, a boy who has a wicked omniscient perspective on life but is also quick to anger
sky, a girl with absolutely no fear and no boundaries
pain, who is the antagonist and has deep, molten eyes
music and verse, the twins who speak only in unison
care, who is the proverbial triage for all of the characters' mishaps and encounters.

witty excerpts like this one are meticulously peppered throughout the eight chapters she's written so far:

sky's quiet, whispering voice snapped time back into the blinding reality. 'come on, time. let's get you to care.' time followed sky's advice, half wishing he didn't have to go along the dusty path with the demon they called pain.


time jumped out of bed, ready to start a new day. he threw on a pair of dirty jeans, pulled a gray t-shirt over his head, stepped into his signature black boots, and walked outside ready to embrace the morning sun. instead, cloud greeted him on his front porch. 'i have something important to tell you, time,' thundered cloud.

i'm honestly a little envious that an eleven year-old mind can craft ideas like's kind of phantom-tollbooth-meets-greek-mythology-in-a-modern-day-setting.

the next day, she asked me what i thought - i told her i loved it. she wanted to know who my favorite character was and why, and she wanted to know if there were any parts i found difficult to follow. she told me she is going to finish it this year, and she asked me if i knew how she could get it published.

i told her i didn't have any idea, but if she finishes the novel, then we'll work together to find out what comes next. more than my envy of her natural talent, i'm glad she trusted me enough to let me read it, and i'm looking forward to seeing what twists and turns the story takes.

i guess whenever it's time for me to teach my kids how to write fiction this year, i'll need to find something fun for this budding author to do - not much i can add to her repertoire!

alright - the girls and i have a day of painting ahead of us, and i'm trying to be patient as i wait for last week's assignment grade to come in so i can complete this week's assignment (which was due last night, has been moved to tonight, and is really pushing the limits of my control-freak tendencies - especially since the class ends tomorrow and final grades are posted monday). one class left after this one...the end is near!

patience...and peace.

tis the season...

Saturday, September 8, 2012

when i woke up this morning, i let browning outside to do his thing and i got the best surprise ever...the weather was totally, completely dreamy. as in breezy. and cool. and perfect. nothing makes me happier than fall's arrival each year, and this morning was no exception. i took my tea and my nook out on the back porch and soaked up every bit of it that i possibly could.

then i checked facebook, and all signs pointed to a great weekend of college football. the first post i tuned into was from my dad, who was ready to work sound for the tulsa-tulane game today (i went to college in tulsa for a short time - go hurricanes!). he is a die-hard sooner fan, but more than that, he loves college football. a few years ago, he happened to be in the right place at the right time, and somehow he found himself 'subbing' for a friend of a friend on the fox sports sound crew. at memorial stadium in norman. after the game, as he and the crew rolled up miles of cable and tons of equipment, they asked him if he'd be interested in working more games.

to say he found his second calling in life would be a tremendous understatement, and to say he does it for the money would be nothing more than a lie...he still has his accounting business and he stays very busy with tribal affairs, but most weekends in the fall, he is standing on the sidelines of an ou game or a tulsa game, and he couldn't be any more pleased with having one of the best seats in the house.

tons of facebook friends posted about their own game day plans, and one in particular caught my eye, most especially because she lives in lubbock (where i went to college after tulsa - go red raiders!). 'i just watched a sorority girl attempt parallel parking in front of my house. there are no other cars parked in the street. how cute.'

this is totally something i probably did back in the 90's with my sorrority sticker displayed prominently on my back window, and it made me a little nostalgic. 

i am almost done with my crazy class - everything's due by next weekend. i just realized that one of my favorite faceless classmates is a sweet little grandmother who lives in lubbock, is a rockin' red raider fan, and has the exact same name as one of my best friends from college. when she told me which school she's at and which neighborhood she lives in, i wilted a little bit on the inside. i realized there is a high probability that my friends and i probably did something inappropriate in her yard during our time at tech, i now i feel really guilty about it. this is most likely something she doesn't need to know, but what a small, small world... 

alright - it's time to get back to my thesis proposal. the aggies have been sufficiently defeated (welcome to the sec), the red raiders will stream on espn 3 in the very near future (against texas state - i'm sure there's nothing rowdy going on in san marcos tonight), and i'll probably cheer for the longhorns tonight, too.

all in all, it's been a great day. i'm loving fall and football and everything else that comes with both of those...maybe i'll get out the fall decorations tomorrow before the girls get home!!


mini rebellion...

Sunday, September 2, 2012

i am 10.5/12 done with my grad school program (that's 87.5% for you math people out there). on october 26, i will be completely done and my children will be glad to have me back on the weekends. and i will be really glad have my regular life back. :)

i think there is a stereotype about teachers where they gripe a whole bunch about their jobs (or at least in my mind there is). occassional griping i understand; it's the constant stuff that i'm talking about here. i have always tried to avoid being a part of that stereotype because i really like what i do and i don't see much reason for complaint. plus i think that's a super fast way to make non-education people want to avoid you at all cost.

however, the course i'm taking right now has caused me to join the notorious ranks of gripers (and i promise i'll be brief with my rant). this is the hardest class i've ever taken. the program i'm in is labeled a non-thesis program, and in this class we are...writing a thesis proposal! the guidelines have been very vague, the feedback on assignments has been less than helpful, and i was starting to feel really unintelligent.

i was so frustrated that the girls and i decided a hike was necessary to burn off some of the tension this morning, and i knew it would help me gain some perspective. we went to mckinney falls state park which is only about twenty minutes away from home. browning went with us, and we had such a great time. there's something magical about being outdoors under a canopy of trees that makes me forget about everything that's bothering me.

in case you were wondering, i sure did have to lift all 120 pounds of him into my car when we were done because he was exhausted...but i think it was completely worth it.

when we got home, i decided to check out one of the discussion boards for my class and it turns out that i am not alone in my frustrations. other people's children are ready for them to be done. other people are frustrated with this course in particular. and my entire cohort has all but declared mutiny on the grading for this class. i'm kind of in awe.

an unexpected unity was created today, and somewhere along the way, each of us found our proverbial pom-poms from high school (yes, i realize one of those should be spelled with an n, but that has never made sense to me) and managed to send out a few encouraging rah-rah messages...and then a new thread started about how fun it will be when we all meet face to face as we walk for graduation.

honestly, i did not want to walk for my high school graduation, but i did under the pretense that as long as someone else was paying for my education, i would walk. which i figured was fair enough, and i did everything i could to get a full scholarship for my undergrad work so nobody could have dibs on having funded it...and i didn't have to walk. victory! :)

it's not that i'm anti-walking, it's just that these are all things i've always expected from myself, and i can totally do without all the fluff.

same song, different verse this time around. it would be fun to meet these incredible, faceless people who i've worked with online for the last 16 months, but maybe just for drinks. my idea of fun definitely does not involve a robe. or a funny hat.

when i finally decided to churn out the rest of tonight's portion of my non-thesis thesis, something awesome happened. i flipped the tv to tnt and guess what: ocean's eleven is on!! and now i know everything's going to be just fine. :)

in case you were wondering, it's hard to explain the ocean's concept to the cee and jay:

yes, we're going for the cute guys. 

yes, i realize the cute guys are also robbers and convicted criminals. 

yes, i realize that technically this makes the good guys the bad guys.

and yes, their cute factor is part of why we like them. they're witty, too.

but the best question sequence of all came from jay:

what happened to one through ten? and where in the heck is fourteen? 

touche, little one.

i've managed to cook my family a partially nutritious meal, and we're about to settle in for the night with the rest of ocean's. we'll probably follow that up with something of the disney variety. all that's left for tonight's assignment is to double check my apa formatting, and then i'm done.

for this week.

i sure am happy that tomorrow is all ours to tackle as we see fit, and i hope you'll do the same. happy labor day eve, everyone!!


glad you're here, september

Saturday, September 1, 2012

the first week of school is over and done, and we all survived! you know first day outfits are super important, and when we went shopping for school clothes, i very clearly remember both of them telling me, 'i'm not that into stripes right now.' i think half of the new shirts they got were, in fact, striped.

about five minutes after this picture, i was ready to walk them in for the first day. their school parking lot is always a zoo the first week, so we parked in a field and when i got out, i stepped smack dab in the middle of a huge fire ant pile, which was super fun and not at all painful.

all week my feet and legs have been itching like crazy, and i came up with a fire ant anthem: taylor swift's 'mean' really fits that bill almost perfectly...except for the part about being in a bar. everybody always underestimates t-swift. it turns out she isn't just whining about boys...her songs are more far-reaching (into the ant world).

another thing i realized this week is that i really missed seeing the sunrise this summer. it isn't that the sun didn't rise, it's more that i didn't rise until well after it soared over the horizon each day. the rainbow-hued sunrises i've seen for the last two weeks are such a humbling way to start the day, and it always makes me think of tangerine trees and marmalade skies...

it turns out that cee has missed the sunrises, too. she snapped this picture and texted it to me from the back seat to the front seat with one word: beautiful. i didn't get it until i was already at school...what a sweet little surprise!

the girls love their teachers, i feel like i have good classes this year, and i'm so thankful that we have a three-day weekend to recoup. this year is a little different because two of my favorite people are missing from the teacher mix, but they're with me in spirit...

it was pretty obvious that we were all worn out last night. the girls played really well while i worked on a paper and cooked dinner. apparently there is a talent show coming up, so they were singing and dancing and having a great time until i spoiled the moment by trying to take a picture of them. i managed to get one good one before the magic was ruined.

17 seconds before the magic died:

3 seconds after the magic died:

this has become a pretty typical scenario in our house, and basically jay's face says, 'achilles' heel? over.'

cee is still trying to figure out how to navigate her way through the waters of these more sophisticated sisterly annoyances, and sometimes i feel like i should remind her of the meaning of the word karma...but i know better.

alright, it's a beautiful morning and we are headed out to enjoy a beautiful september day! more soon...


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