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Archive for August, 2012

Legitimate Brownies


Last week was straight out of Hades as far as work was concerned. I continue to be amazed at what people will say and do in the workplace. People seem unable to contain their bad behavior and bad attitudes. Most will not loose it to the degree of the Empire State Building shooter, but gee whiz . . . there are more than enough who will bring the madness, and I dealt with my fair share last week.

In order to soothe my soul, I cooked and baked this weekend. I was on my feet a lot, but it felt good and it was worth it. Well, the black bean brownies were not worth the time and effort spent. Actually, I take that back . . . Mae likes them. It worked out because I took a pound cake from the freezer that Jay loved (he said it was "overgood," which I translated to mean "You outdid yourself!"). Mae dislikes pound cake, and the brownies allowed her to have a treat of her own. For the record though, black bean brownies are not legitimate brownies. And, I am not Todd Akin. I know brownies and I know how they are made.

I had planned to have a small cook-out on Saturday evening. I canceled it on Friday after I realized that I would not have the energy to pull off anything decent. I did spend some time on the couch this weekend, including catching up with a favorite friend who was visiting from LA.

The school week ended so-so for Mae. She said she cried four times during the week, twice on Friday. She complained about mean teachers and students, and people were never like that at her old school. Of course. I reminded her that the first week of school last year was also hard and she cried a lot. She didn't believe me.

By Thursday, she was already tired of the cafeteria food. Hubby said, and I think he's right about this, if she doesn't want what's on the school menu, she needs to pack her own lunch. He and I both detest packing lunches for the kids. We are loving the cafeteria!

Lunch woes aside, I always expect the first two weeks at a new place or in a new routine to be rough for Mae. If she's complaining still in week three, I'll look at it differently. I did send her teachers an email, as the school counselor recommended, expressing my interest in meeting with them and giving them heads up about some aspects of Mae's personality. I received a nice reply from the woman who will be Mae's homeroom teacher.

A good start, I thought. Then, Hubby and I missed back-to-school night, for which I felt like a louse. Now, I'm worried that we look like uninvolved or uninterested parents. This means I need to prioritize getting out to the school.

Aftercare seems to have gone ok, especially since there was little homework to do and thus lots of play time. Unfortunately, the place has a huge candy and snack sales operation. Mae made a good argument, or so she thought, for eating candy everyday. Brain neurons need glucose, and you have to get the right amount or your brain will not function properly.

Jay is enjoying himself at home. He is taking advantage of my mother by declining meals and then asking for snacks all day long, claiming that he's hungry. And, we have allowed him to stay downstairs or read longer because he doesn't have school yet. The grin on his face when he comes back downstairs after Mae is asleep is just plain funny. It's the "I'm getting over" face. I asked him not to tell his sister about this because it will upset her. So far, I think he's been quiet about it.

I would rather not ask him to keep a secret. However, that girl would never let us hear the end of it.

I'm turning in, calling it a night. I'm feeling ready for a new week, hoping it will be kind to me.

Bending and Chewing


Tomorrow is the first day of school for Mae. Already! Jay has another two weeks of summer vacation. Mae has let us know already how unfair she thinks this is and I’m sure she’ll expound upon that thought over the next two weeks.

Last Thursday, I picked up the school supplies for both kids. I visited two stores and spent two hours and 75 bucks shopping for a third grader and kindergartner. What ever happened to plain old paper and pencils? I don’t remember using a highlighter before high school. Also, Mae’s third grade list called for “grading pens.” Fortunately, I saw a teacher I know in the school supply aisles. She told me any colored pen would do, just no blue or black. So, why do they need grading pens and colored pencils?

When Mae and Jay were both at private school, I thought tuition could have been stretched to cover the costs of tissues and hand soap. For Mae’s public school classroom, we’re asked to take hand sanitizer and disinfectant wipes in addition to nose tissues and hand soap. I give up on trying to understand this.

Mae’s school hosted a meet-and-greet last Thursday. I met the four third grade teachers and school counselor, and my initial impressions are all good. I had a good conversation with the school counselor. I asked if she’d be willing to be a safe place for Mae if she has difficulties during the school day. I asked also what’s the best way for me to communicate to the third grade teachers Mae’s strengths and weaknesses, and what has worked in terms of managing her. The counselor recommended that I send an email this weekend with some bullets and then follow up with a meeting request once things settle down a bit. She described the third grade teacher group as nurturing. That was good to hear, and she herself strikes me as a good listener and thoughtful person.

Mae and I talked today about this transition to a new environment, rules and people. She seems less nervous than I am. When I asked her what it means to be a good student and friend, she said all of the right things. So, in the words of Kahlil Gibran, I guess it’s time to bend the bow and let the arrow go forth.

My mother arrived yesterday for a two week stay. So, one of Mae’s gripes is that Jay will have more time with Nonnie than she. Ironically, I suspect that Jay will be pining for Mae all day long; he’s still pretty attached to her. This is going to be a challenge for him and Nonnie, keeping him engaged all day long for two weeks.

Hubby began his green smoothie revolution last week. The kids have been great about it, even though they haven’t liked every recipe. Yesterday, he convinced Nonnie to try a kale and fruit cocktail. This is a woman who brought canned sausage and canned salmon in her suitcase from SC, and brought a cooler with oxtails and sausage pudding . . . on Amtrak.

As Hubby was gathering the ingredients, Nonnie said she would prefer to cook her kale with fatback. Surprise of all surprises, she liked the smoothie and said she would be willing to eat more . . . and try it herself back in SC! At one point, she did say Hubby should have put butter in the blender too. She was kidding, I think. I’ve been enjoying the smoothies myself, though I haven’t had one that was filling enough to substitute for dinner. We have to work on that. Plus, I realized last week that there is something about chewing that makes me feel like I’ve eaten. I like that feeling.

Making healthy choices seems to get harder as I get older, which is the opposite of what I expected. I skipped my last yoga session on Thursday, my excuse being that I needed to buy school supplies. An hour of yoga is a lot! I think 30 minutes would be more my speed. I’ve continued going to the gym, though I know I can and should work harder than I do if I really want to get rid of my “fatty” stomach. I see a personal trainer in my future.

I made it to the gym this morning. I’m now waiting at the hair salon while Mae gets her back-to-school ‘do. Then, it’s on to lunch with my mother before the final hours of getting ready for what will be a trying week, at least for me. Some chewing will comfort me as I prepare to pull back the bow.

So Glad We Can All Agree


I have a daughter that will eat oranges and won’t drink orange juice, and a son that will drink orange juice and won’t eat oranges — just one way that they purposely complicate things that have no reason to be complicated.

So, I was very much interested in seeing how they would react to orange cranberry muffins. Score! Both kids ate the muffins. Yay!

In addition to the muffins, I made a sour cream citrus pound cake for my mother-in-law’s birthday. I actually split the batter to make two cakes and froze one for a cook-out in a couple of weeks. After that, I’m taking a break from sweets for a while. Jay told me this weekend that my stomach looks “fatty” and asked why. Bad enough he said it. Why does he need to know how it came to be this way? If I were a cruel person, I would have said, “It’s all you and your sister’s fault!” One day, I may tell them that.

We’re expecting a fancy blender to arrive in the mail on Tuesday, at which point Hubby is going to try to overhaul our diet with green smoothies and juices. It would be awesome if the four of us could have juice for dinner every night. Besides the health benefits, meal planning and after dinner clean-up would become easier and faster (right?). That’s ambitious; so, I’ll set my first goal as having juice for dinner myself at least 3 times a week.

We’ll see.

Summer, Come Back Here!


I-yi-yi. Summer is slipping away and there is nothing I can do to slow it down. I took mental inventory last night of the remaining fun things I wanted to do this summer and how many weekends we have left. It’s not looking good. We were on track, too, until we met a family at the beach last Saturday and the mom told us about two new must-do places to visit. So, the next three weekends are going to be jam-packed, my house will be a hot mess, and junk food will be a substantial part of my diet.

Oh, wait . . . . that’s actually kind of normal.

Curtains and Barnacles


I earned the title of “Best Mommy Ever” just for tying old curtains to Mae’s bunk bed to create a fortress for her. I’ll be awesome at least until I wake her up in the morning, at which time she’ll treat me like a bad cold.

Earlier tonight, I almost got on her bad side because I was taking too long to get her a cup of water. She told me calmly , “If I were you, I’d be done by now.” I’m so frigging tired today that I just gave her a mean look and left it at that.

I had the rare opportunity to help Jay with his bath tonight, which made for an insightful etymology moment. I reminded him to wash his penis and testicles. He said, “What are ‘testicles’?” I pointed. He laughed and said, “Oh, they feel like balls.” A few minutes later, I asked him to finish rinsing. He said, “Ok. I have to rinse my barnacles.” I corrected him. He said, “I keep forgetting.” And, now it makes perfect sense to me how it came to be that one word got substituted for another.

Raising kids is such a soup of awesomeness, awkwardness, and awfulness. From one day to the next, you don’t know what you’re going to get. Amazing.

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