Wednesday, September 30, 2009

imagine me poking myself in the head and reciting stupid stupid stupid

Tony always says, "quit signing up for stuff", except I think his 'stuff' rhymes with smit.

I am a teacher.
I am a teacher of high school-ers.
I get paid to make a fool of myself nearly daily to drive home any point (visualize me standing on one foot balancing dramatically and exclaiming HOMEOSTASIS to 15 & 16 year olds).
I am a teacher of high school-ers in a brand new spanking school (yes, James, a school of mythical creatures). A school that is trying to build school spirit with adolescents that have been uprooted, miss their friends, miss their routines and are missing an opportunity to make history.

So when we were asked to volunteer to act a fool as cheerleaders totally SNL-style, I signed up.

Then they practiced while I facilitated a science department meeting.

I read the notes. Re-read the notes. Read between the lines and discovered that the SNL portion of the skit was only act I. Act II requires skill that left my spirit fingers, split making thighs and flyer-confident-air-born-body about 2 kids ago. What did I get myself into?

So I dug out my cheer leading skirt, smiled when I could still zip it up and practiced some high kicks. I then laughed myself silly as I caught the reflection of me trying in vain to replicate the jump that got me on voted onto the little squad in high school. Nadia put on my other skirt and busted a move as only she can. (Only briefly did I contemplate mimicking her routine). As the two of us cheered for Aidan's Spitting Cobra DanceBall Team (what the what what?) I decided that I will act a fool to the best of my ability and hope some how, some way it inspires some sort of spirit in those kids.
Clap-it, oh yeah, clap-it like there is no tomorrow.

Sunday, September 27, 2009

somewhere between a plan and reality

I have been anticipating this past weekend for some time now. Tony and I were planning a trip to Baker City, Oregon to complete a rather mundane task, picking up some beams that Tony plans to use to shade a budding nesting area on the hill in our backyard. To some a six hour round trip flanked by another round trip to Dayton to deliver children and pick up a borrowed pick-up and trailer might seem like a chore. For me, 7 total hours of conversation with the love of my life is pure delight.

The plan...

Well the plan was simple. Awaken early, drive to Dayton, enjoy a lovely and balanced breakfast that my mother would prepare, exchange the a gift of grandparents to our children with the gift of serenity in a lengthy car ride for us, hitch up the trailer and off we would go. I anticipated the layered conversation to accompany breathtaking views as we traveled up Cabbage Hill and through the winding tree-lined roads. We would talk, we would laugh, we would marvel the wonders of parenthood, we would commit to do better, be better, live better, and by way of disconnecting from others we would reconnect with each other. We would be home by five, early enough to guiltlessly languish over dinner and then out to a movie. We would wake up late and have breakfast out then go to Dayton to enjoy the outdoors and the company of my parents while we bucked bales and ate BBQ.

The reality...

We left home a half hour late but knew it would be easy to make up the time. We scarfed down gigantic whip cream and chocolate laden buttermilk pancakes, bacon and scrambled eggs and I waddled outside on my best date-ready-peep-toe heels? With Grammie gone to a funeral, Aidan took advantage of the indoor solitude to simultaneously watch TV and play his DS game while Nadia, pinging from her sugar high, learned the value of righty-tighty, lefty-loosey as she helped Papa Ike change a flat on the trailer. We loaded a spare and laughed a little as my dad offered us a second spare, just in case. The tail lights on the trailer were giving Tony some trouble and even though we headed down the worn Main Road just two hours past our anticipated departure, we knew we would still make it home before dark.
We were sucked in so fast we were not able to veer enough to make our connection, our conversation was stifled by the enjoyable audible copy of The Lost Symbol, and while the story was captivating it was not a suitable replacement for the conversation I had imagined. The flub-bub sound of tire tread flopping down the road was enough to tear us from the story and on an exit to Wildhorse Casino we gingerly pulled the borrowed truck's trailer up onto a fallen speed sign to utilize the spare. Our breathtaking vista was overshadowed by the breathtaking anxiety simmering between a ticking clock, no spare and the responsibility of borrowing a truck. As we heard the unmistakable sound for the second time we nodded to give Schwab-ies some of our green to get us back up and running in LaGrande.
As we lumbered through Baker City's historic downtown we had calmed enough to appreciate the restored homes and, beyond the Main street, the curving countryside, that is until we reached the craigslist fella's home. It sat beyond the top of a very steep, very slippery, very sheer, hillside. Being of a modern age we flipped out our phone to call on him. There is not cell coverage against a sheer wall of rock apparently. With me in my heels, I did not want to trek up the hill on foot, so we drove. That is to say we held onto any solid surface we could find inside the truck while praying that our trusty eight wheels would cling to the round rocks that lay the exact width of the axle and moved ever so slowly up, back, up, back and up until we got to the top. And there we sat with the realization that we just climbed up an anonymous hill without leaving directions, phone numbers or name of the potential Mr. Crazy who made his home where only the invited dare come. I wrote my children each a dying note on a scrap of receipt while I sent my loving husband out to meet Mr. Crazy himself. Mr. Crazy ambled out of the tin-clad home and into his Caterpillar tractor while Tony got back into the car and started back down the cliff. (I had my little notes as peace of mind to clutch this time in case it was the cliff that got us instead of Mr. Crazy). The two men-folk, with the aid of the front loading Cat, loaded the long awaited beams onto the back of the trailer on the flattest little flood plane at the bottom of the hill. I, in my heels, didn't get out to help.
We were then 3 1/2 hours past schedule. The sun was slipping. The lights were still not working. My pancakes were digested. My belly was waiting for dinner. My parched lips were waiting for water. But the light was fading and the anxiety of meeting the front end of a car with the light-less back-end of the trailer, or worse, a too helpful State Trooper was pushing us forward. We stopped ever so briefly back in Wildhorse to get a boring McD's burger, some diesel and two lame little plastic gold emblazoned flipping mice as PrePrizes. We pushed on and as we slid into Kennewick we did meet Mr. Helpful State Trooper. He gave us a warning for the lights, a reminder that the truck tabs are due, a little lecture on the legalities of choosing to go home anyway or the possibility of theft, and a mild heart attack as we realized that we never asked my Dad where the insurance or registration cards might be. Feeling like teenagers who borrowed the car without asking, we called my dad to tell him. Tony wiggled the lights and got the hazards to work. We were done taking chances so my brother came to tailgate us home. I ate every cookie I could find when I got home and woke up at 5:30 the next morning.

I am sure that as the days grow shorter and then longer again, and the pergola looms protectively over my family I will romanticize this trip and remember it closer to the plan than the reality.

For now I have a pile of beams to shake my head at.

Sunday, September 20, 2009

an abscess and an attitude

What do an abscess and an attitude have in common, you, my funny little friend, might ask?

Both are festering in my sweet little Nonikins.

First, the abscess...
I will spare you the most gruesome, puss-filled, gaping hole details. Suffice it to say that my little sweetems has an abscess the size of a ping-pong ball very near where the sun doesn't shine, or shouldn't shine anyway. Her poor tush has seen more than its fair share of daylight over the weekend, and more than a fair share of people have returned the favor to the tush. Antibiotics, pain reliever, sits-baths, warm compresses, and a great deal of attention were prescribed and I can report that they are working.

Secondly, the attitude...
I promise you I am trying to temper my reaction to the fist clenching, keening of "AAAAAAAAAAAAAIIIIIIIIII-DAN!!!!", feet stomping, wailing "No one listens to me" like you own the cleaner aisle of Walmart, and the dreaded back talk with the knowledge that there is a gnarly, rankling pathogen wedged betwixt her cheeks.

Really I am trying to be patient.
I can't help but wonder though if they make an antibiotic for attitude?

Sunday, September 13, 2009


a clean and fresh refrigerator.

Sure it may sound a little lame, perhaps like we had nothing better to do this weekend than to scrub our cooler like there was no tomorrow, but it was satisfying. Whenever there was need for a drink of cool water, a sneak of a strawberry, milk to dole out for the children, a craving of Tapatio by Aidan that drew me back to the fridge ,I couldn't help but feel a satisfaction of team work. Without verbal agreement, Tony and I systematically unloaded, scrubbed, wiped, reorganized and straightened the interior of our fridge. We didn't need a contract of who would do what or how it would be done. When the less than fresh smell of shrimp nearly knocked us clean off our slippered feet, we pulled together the team's finest smell-eradication-skills we could offer.

It is not that we didn't have other highlights. Watching Nadia try her toes at her first Irish Dance class was wonderful. Fulfilling Aidan's week-long dream of having his own set of marbles was gratifying. Beaming as Nadia shook her unabashed groove thing every time the Chiawana Marching Band played at the inaugural game was delightful. Marveling at the ingenuity and questioning the thinking of designers while discussing with Aidan the most important features that make a house a home as we toured a few Parade of Homes was inspiring. Spending an hour curled on the couch while Tony and Nadia played in the garage was rejuvenating. Enjoying a bonfire and wonderful conversation while children played in the dark (and never succumbing to the taunts of a smore) was pleasurable. Brewing tea in a beautiful new teapot was delicious.

All of these moments hold their singular brand of special, but the blue ribbon winner of satisfaction the beauty of organized and sparkling condiments, the eager Tupperware containers awaiting lunchtime duty, and the sweet smell of nothing as the thick sound of rubber pulling from the door frame fans the fridges' cool innards toward my nose.

Wednesday, September 9, 2009

this and that

While he did that... They did this...

and what did I do you ask?
I, well I did a great deal of practical things. I documented these moments for example. I made roast beef with garlic from Nana Becky's garden, carrots, mashed potatoes and the kind of gravy that makes you want to bury your tongue in the gravy bowl (exactly like my mom taught me). I watched Cake Boss and learned about the Italian American culture. I checked on Tony's progress offering my ever-so-appreciated suggestions and innovative yet occasionally completely useless for one reason or another solutions as I am want to do on so many projects. I languished in this fall day by just enjoying the crazy obstacle course that Nadia set up instead of thinking about the negotiation I was sure I would need to do to get it picked up. I mourned the passing of summer warmth just a little but looked toward the crisp temperatures for the Halloween costumes, 1st annual Pumpkin Party, Chicago visit and new rhythm of a school year they promise to bring.

Saturday, September 5, 2009

a back to school special

Good morning to you.
Good morning to you.
We're all in our places,
with sunshiny faces,
and this is the way,
we start a new day!

My mom sang this song to us in the morning for as long as I can remember. She has a much better voice than I do, but I sing this to Aidan and Nadia anyway (and a jazzy little ditty about a bird on the mornings we need a little spring in our steps).

The first day of school was no different. Our routine began without a hitch, well except for the not so minor or classy temper tantrum I threw in the parking lot of the elementary school when I could not park my car and get to my children that we won't talk about.

Aidan was grinning from ear to ear as I walked him to class. He was excited to see his friends from last year and greeted them as we walked up. For those that know my let-the-people-come-to-me son this is a progressive step. He had an eventful week as a second grader that included a migraine, a new fascination with marbles, and a couple of stars for great behavior. Leave it to him to create adventure.

Nadia reported that she has not learned anything in first grade yet because "it takes a while to learn things Mom". Just as I finished typing that statement I watched her roll down the road like a pro on her bike that she just taught herself to ride, singing "I'm ridin' a two wheeler" at the top of her lungs. We took the training wheels off last weekend and made one great attempt at teaching her to ride. Maybe it is not teaching she needs, but freedom?