Happy Spring

Wednesday, March 26, 2014

Yesterday, the morning sky completely took my breath away. It was perfect - cotton candy hues of pink and blue, tinted slightly orange in places by the sun. It's the same Hill with a View that I've been in love with for the last two {+} years. If you don't go over it heading west at just the right time with just the right mindset, there is really no way you can appreciate its beauty in the same way I do. But I love it with my whole heart, and I miss it on overcast days like today.

Yesterday when I turned from west to south and away from a face-to-face view of the cotton candy sky, I flew directly underneath a rainbow of birds. Has that ever happened to you? There are fields on both sides of the roads on my way to school, and a few of the fields have huge flocks of birds that ebb and flow with whatever it is that floats their collective boats (which is not to say they are flocks of huge birds...I think they might be crows or grackles, or maybe just black birds). It's really an amazing display of nature to watch them take flight and land again on their perches (usually power lines), but yesterday they actually flew over me like a rainbow. So cool, and such a great reminder of my little place in this great big world.

Yesterday, we had the perfect weather. Warmish, but not hot. Coolish, but not cold. Sunny. Perfect.

Yesterday, I got two really cool gifts. First, I got a STEM kid!! Jay applied to the STEM program in February, and yesterday we found out that she was accepted into the program for her 4th grade year. Way to go, Jay!! Second, I got a clarinet player!! Cee decided to be in band next year, and last night was "instrument selection night." I am so excited for her to experience everything that is the world of band!

Both of these things will change the noise level and chill level in our house substantially, and I'm looking forward to engaging projects and a good set of earplugs (I kid, I kid...).

And today, after 19 heart-wrenching, conspiracy-ridden, angst-filled days (approximately 456 hours, or 27,360 minutes, or worst of all - 1,641,600 seconds) of nearly nonstop news watching, I have finally reached the point of burn out for all news about Malaysian Flight 370. I should have realized I was watching too much coverage when Cee casually mentioned "370" last week when someone told her they were flying out of town. Or when Jay started writing a short story about Zombie Planes in the Indian Ocean. I know this is a sad time for many people, but I have to throw in my towel of interest. After all, there are mudslides, burning buildings, torrential floods, disgruntled Russian leaders, and celebrities doing newsworthy things (like consciously uncoupling) that I can more evenly distribute my energy toward.

And there is Season Two of House of Cards to finish.

I was shocked at what Francis did to Zoe in Ch. 14. Shocked!!

Before I close the door on "370", I would like to thank CNN for introducing all of us (ad nauseam) to the word nefarious.

I hereby vow to never use that word.


{door closes}

And that's all I have for you tonight.

Peace and fictitious White House scandals...

Dear June

Friday, March 21, 2014

Dear June Bugs,

(Or phyllophaga, order of coleoptera, as I've heard you like to be called in formal settings...)

In case you haven't been informed, it's only March 21st.

You're a little early to the party, and that is in direct violation of Emily Post's Party Manners 101.

According to my etiquette resources, arriving early is a major faux pas, and you should actually aim to arrive between 5-15 minutes of the time posted on your invitation (which, by the way, I did not send to you). I did some calculations, and this makes your suggested arrival time somewhere around July 4. 

There are a few other pointers you might want to review including moderation, staying out of the kitchen, being a helpful guest (not a harmful one with those powerful mandibles), and most importantly - leaving with the pack. Here's a link for you to peruse as you travel back to wherever it is you came from. 

Tremendous thanks for your consideration of this matter.


P.S. - Sorry about your fallen comrade. I was not expecting him this early, and my shoe accidentally turned into a mortal weapon.

The Dreaded Phone Call(s) I Never Knew I'd Have to Make

Tuesday, March 11, 2014

Our day started out as a fairly normal one - trampolines, raking leaves, and general silliness.

Just before noon, things changed.

They changed big.

They changed in a way I never could have imagined, even in my wildest dreams.

Jay: Oh My Gosh Mommy, I have an announcement to make!! This is a big day. Justin Timberlake has just grown a wee wee!!!

After a couple of targeted and narrowing questions, I realized that she was talking about her hamster (he undergoes frequent name changes), and something was definitely wrong with...errrr...it.

A few hours of distractions and general avoidance later, we got back home from errands and discovered it  was still out. I told the girls that it wasn't like puberty; I explained to them that it was more like Browning's lipstick (which usually has the respect to go back into hiding after being called out)...then they understood, along with me, that something weird was going on with the little guy.

I was thinking we were in the middle of a bad Cialis side effect kind of situation, but then we Googled. I'm not saying this was the best thing we could have done and I'm not saying I'm proud of this, but after a few dicey Boolean searches, we landed on a bit of a gem:

Judging by the fact that it only took Google .31 seconds to return page one of 3,490,000 options for me, I felt much better knowing we weren't alone in our quest to solve Justin Timberlake's issue.

The second link led us to a third link on how to take care of rat's privates. At that point, I was hundreds of miles outside of my comfort zone.

Fluffy hamster named Justin Timberlake : tolerable :: Rat with a captial R : absolutely intolerable

Cee started to nervously giggle.

Jay started to cry.

So I did what any reasonably sympathetic parent would do - we moved Justin Timberlake from the happy land of CareFresh Confetti, toilet paper tunnels, and hamster treadmills to the land of ICU with a white washcloth, food, and water (because according to one of the websites, all the confetti can be really bad news for it).

And then I called our vet. Except until they answered, I had no idea what I was actually going to say (big mistake).

XYZ Animal Clinic, how can I help you?

Uhhhhh, can I speak to a vet tech, please (I decided a receptionist probably wouldn't take me seriously)?

I am a vet tech - how can I help you? 

Okay, I swear this is not a prank phone call (nervous chuckle), but we have a three year old dwarf hamster who.... (you get the idea...)

{ridiculously long pause}

We only deal with cats and dogs. We don't really specialize in rodents. 


But I know someone who does!! Just give XYZ Pet and Bird Hospital a call and they'll take good care of you!

Obviously this meant:
a) Strike one
b) Jay was still crying
c) Cee was still nervously giggling
d) It only took Google .07 seconds to return my querry for a phone number
e) I would have a second chance at humiliating myself on the phone
f) All of the above

If you guessed F, you are awesome. And correct.

We called and went through the same routine, except this time "vet tech one" took me seriously and quickly expedited my call to "level 2 vet tech/hamster support specialist" who was willing to listen patiently to me as I awkwardly stumbled my way through the second explanation of Justin Timberlake's dire straits.

She was much more empathetic and very seriously explained to me several of my options (which included cleaning the area with warm soap and water using a q-tip, icing the area down, and applying olive oil as I tried to return the body part to its intended location) - all without missing a beat. It's like she talks to people about hamster junk all day long.

At this point, I was stifling nervous giggles and pushing away tears of horror.

But she was all business, and she scheduled me for an appointment tomorrow at 8:40 am. Just before we hung up, she asked me for the hamster's name.

Justin Timberlake, I told her solemnly (after deciding to spare her from his various aliases).

Okay, well we'll see you and Justin Timberlake tomorrow at 8:40. And the visit will be $68.43. We take cash, checks, and credit. 

And just for a nanosecond, I felt a tiny little bit like Jessica Biel.

I smiled.

After I hung up, I realized that anybody who quotes medical prices to the cent is automatically questionable. And spending more money on a hamster than the cost of owning him for nearly three years was absolutely out of the question.

Then I looked up and saw this...

What do you even do with this?

I'll tell you 3.5 things you don't do: you don't wash it with soap and water; you don't ice it; and you don't put a cooking necessity on it and try to push it back in.

The one thing I decided I could do was give her a huge hug and a kiss and tell her that everything will surely be okay, and we have to have a little bit of hope.

She said, "I hope he doesn't RIP."

I said, "Do you know what RIP means?"

"Yes - Rest in Peace. Like die."


"I mean I don't want him to die. But I do want him to get lots of good rest and have peace and get that nasty thing tucked back into his tummy. Rest. In Peace. It works in other ways, too, mom."

Fair enough, little one. Fair enough.

So, Justin Timberlake, here's to hoping you get some rest...


Update, March 12 (9:51 am):  It's a Christmas miracle. Operation Self Retraction is a success. 

Stephen Colbert

Friday, March 7, 2014

My high school tennis coach was a cool guy who was really good at what he did. He was also my World History teacher, and he was good at that, too.

Now he is the Principal at Wylie High School (which is ever so slightly northeast of Dallas), and it is no surprise that he's also incredible at that.

He's the biggest supporter of kids I've ever met in my whole entire life. Rachel's Challenge plays a huge role in everything he does (I'd encourage you to grab a case of tissues before you click that link...trust me). 

And tonight he is on his way to Indiana from Texas. 

Why does that matter, you may be wondering. 

A freshman from his campus is missing, and I cannot imagine how distraught he must be right now, along with the family and friends of the missing kid. 

Whatever your "thing" is, be it prayer, positive thoughts, good intentions, or otherwise, I hope you will (in your own way) support his journey to Indiana where he will spread his strength and compassion in an effort to help find this missing child. 

As a mom, I cannot imagine how much it must hurt to search for your child. 

As a teacher, I cannot imagine how much it must hurt to know one of your own is missing. 

If I was in charge of the universe, I would do away with evil - just like that. 

I hate when people are in pain, and this is no exception. 

Even more, I hate when bad things happen to good people. 

Take that one step further, and I feel kids should be immune from trauma. 


With that said, here's hoping for peace...

Update - March 8, 12:30 pm - He was found safe and sound!!!

I Hear Voices

Tuesday, March 4, 2014

Today's post is supposed to be about voice.

The writing kind. Specifically, I'm charged with explaining how my voice is the same as the real me and how my voice differs from the real me.

Now might be a good time to tell you that "parameters" have never been my thing.

Voice. That's all I heard, and I'm blaming loose interpretation for what's about to happen.

Jay, my freshly-turned-nine-year-old, showed me something cool with my new phone last week.

Prior to my new phone, I've never had free reign of Siri.

Sure, I've talked to her on the girls' iPads before, but she has never been fully at my disposal...until February 8th of this year.

I never understood what the big deal was with her. After all, it was just a female voice who told you what you wanted to hear and answered your questions.

Jay turned my world around when she showed me that I could turn Siri into different people from different lands, and I've suddenly found myself in the midst of a language explosion!!!! And it's glorious!!

It's slightly boring if you ask Siri things in English.

Also, when you talk to Siri in English and you're ten years old, she sometimes misinterprets what you said into something horrible. It's all fun and games with Siri until you are trying to get your ten year old to forget about the Viagra related ads that suddenly and unexpectedly invaded her device (a la Siri) when all she really wanted to know was "how to do a hard magic trick."

Therefore, if you want to make things more interesting, you can talk to Siri in Spanish...

Or you can talk to Siri in French...

And you can even try to talk to her in Italian, although I'm sure my dialect is slightly off since I apparently asked her something about pasta and my aunt who lives in Florida and Thailand.

How does she even know about my aunt who lives in Florida and Thailand?

I don't know. But I do know that I'm about to tell you the best thing about Siri.

You can make Siri speak in British with just a couple of super simple clicks. Are they even called clicks on the iPhone?

There's always been something about a British accent that stops me dead in my tracks.

British person it is.

In the meantime, I've determined that, without a doubt, I am absolutely monolingual.

So that's my take on a prompt that asks me to write about "voice."

I love language.

Absolutely love it.

A friend of mine went to Italy about a month ago. I tried to be fancy and wish her a happy 20th anniversary - in Italian. I said something about making good memories. Do you know how "make memories" translates in Italian?


Isn't that just super divine? The beauty of translation is precisely why I love language.

Today I watched a kid talk with his mom in ASL. He was explaining to her about his schedule. She didn't know the word "schedule," so he took a different route and explained it to her as periods...1st, 2nd, 3rd, and so on; and then it made perfect sense to her.

This was so interesting to me - I love thinking through words and phrases that are lost in translation in verbally spoken languages. Today was the first time in my life I realized that words and phrases can be lost in translation in non-verbal languages, too.

I'm genuinely intrigued by this. I refuse to succumb to Google to find the answer because I am determined to deductively reason my way through this on my own.

The gauntlet has officially been thrown (even if only by me).


Five Things

Monday, March 3, 2014

A few years ago, I was introduced to the concept of NanoWriMo which takes place each November. The goal is to write a novel in a month. I've tried it several times before, and I've never finished it...I swear I will some day, though!

BlogHer started something similar that seems much more attainable - it's called NaBloPoMo, and I guess I'm going to give it a try. I've been kind of a lackluster blogger lately, and maybe this is the spark I need to get going again.

Today's prompt is to write five interesting things about yourself. I've never been good at these things, but here we go!

1. I am happier in life right now than I think I've ever been as an adult. I know usually when you hear people tell you how happy they are, you instantly doubt the validity of their message. Don't let that be the case here - it is just the simple truth! I love my girls - they are amazing and they are forging incredible paths for themselves. From basketball to grades, from soccer to jump rope, from DI to friendships, they make me prouder and prouder with each passing day. I love my job - I have wonderful coworkers, great students, and the best role models. I love my friends - love, love, love them. I love my home (finally!). I guess to simplify things, I've finally realized what it means to be blissfully content with where you are in your life. It's a pretty fantastic feeling!

2. I love my dog, and I love taking pictures of him. I took this one on Thursday night before I went to bed.

I think I have passed along my love of taking his picture to Jay. She took this picture of him yesterday, and it really shows her perspective. Actually, while she was holding my phone, she kept saying, "Want some food, boy? Want some food?" Miraculously, "food" is the one word in his entire vocabulary that hasn't been wiped away by his selective deafness. Go figure.

3. My childhood was not all peaches and cream. It was rough...really, really rough on many different levels, and there are only a very small handful of people who know the full details. I don't mean rough like I didn't get the Cole Hahn boots I drooled over for months or that I was told no too often.

I'm talking about the kind of rough that leaves scars that won't ever fully heal. I know it seems like the easiest thing to do would be to let the past be the past and to stop dwelling on it. But it's not that easy for me. There are some things that happen in your life that grow roots so deep inside of you that they eventually become part of your fabric. Writing has helped me through some truly difficult times, and I hope some day I am able to write about the early chapters of my life. Right now, though, it's just not something I'm ready to do yet. Someday...maybe...

4. Because of everything in #3, I've learned the value of making lemonade from lemons. Before I ever realistically considered what kind of mom I would be, I knew one thing for sure: I would be the mom who broke the cycle of everything I grew up with, the mom who showed her children what it meant to empathize, the mom who taught her children to respect themselves and to set high expectations for themselves.

Before I realistically considered what kind of teacher I would be, I knew one thing for sure: I would be the teacher who kept her eyes and ears open and noticed when things seemed "off" with a kid, even if just a little off...because when things seem off and you follow your gut, you might find that you're able to help a kid who doesn't know where to begin to start helping themselves. Every kid has a voice and story; sometimes they just need somebody who's willing to ask if everything is okay or if they need to talk.

5. Although I sort of loved the Sochi Olympics, I didn't love that the Olympics made The Tonight Show start at 11 instead of 10:30 for a whole entire week. There is a gigantic time warp that happens in those 30 precious minutes. I was super happy last week when I could finally watch Jimmy Fallon from 10:30-11:30. It's the little things, y'all.

And I am off the charts giddy about the rain that I can hear bouncing off of my roof right now and the temperatures that are diving into the freezing range. Delayed start tomorrow means we get a couple of extra hours of sleep - I don't think there's anybody who could complain about that!

Sorry if this post was too much or too deep or too whatever else. I've been wanting to write about #3 for awhile, but I am just not ready to take the full plunge. Maybe this type of writing is the same as dipping your toes into a cold pool. It stings at first, but after awhile, it isn't quite as bad...


Oh my gosh, Tina Fey is going to be on the set with Jimmy Fallon soon!! So...that's all I've got for now. Peace...

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