Saturday, December 26, 2009

Fa La La La La....

'Twas the night after Christmas, and all through the house,
not a creature was stirring, not even a mouse.

And, of course, Big Trouble calling me because he had just thrown up in the bathroom.

Actually, to be more specific, I should probably say that he threw up on the bathroom.  I'm not sure of the chain of events, but it actually looked like he had executed some sort of spin in the process of losing his meals of the day.  He claims to have no memory of the actual event, so he's no help at all.

I always enjoy the moment when I'm standing and staring at the aftermath of such an event; my newly-awakened eyes are blinking in the shockingly bright light, and I have to get my semi-functional brain to figure out how to clean this particular disaster up.  At one point during the cleanup, I felt like one of those CSI people trying to piece together the crime based on spatter patterns, but I decided that this was neither helpful nor kind to my own stomach.

Luckily, he did manage to make it to the bathroom, so the bed was unscathed - a Christmas Miracle after all!

Otherwise, Christmas #1 (we have a couple others coming in the next couple of days with various relatives) was a big success, and we hope yours was as well.

Wednesday, December 9, 2009

Sometimes They Tell The Truth

I like to make things, and I have to say, I love the way the internet helps you learn how to do just about anything, from baking cookies to taping your drywall.  However, even though steps are given, and the author swears that the task is easy peasy, some things go better than others (cookies - excellent; drywall taping - less so...).

So, I was hunting on-line for some things to make for Christmas, and I came across about a jillion videos on YouTube (love YouTube) about how to stamp on candles:
1.  Stamp image on tissue paper
2.  Cut out image and place on candle
3.  Wrap a piece of wax paper around candle long enough that you can hold it in the back
4.  Use your heat gun (I bet a hair dryer would work dandy) to melt image onto candle.

Now, I've made quite a few items in my day, but these were probably some of the quickest and they really worked as advertised.  If you want to see a video, YouTube would take good care of you.

Tuesday, December 8, 2009

Saved by the L

Well, we're finally back in the land of DSL.  About 3 weeks ago our internet service starting getting a little wonky, and only working sporadically.  So, since I'm home these days, I dutifully got on the phone with our provider, who told me it was the power cord, and they would send me out another one, which would arrive in 3-5 business days. 

And in the meantime?  Oh yes, I was cheerfully told, you can go back to your dial-up connection.  Ahhh, the old days.  So, since everything takes about eleven times as long to work with the dial-up (and my cheapie self doesn't want to pay by the minute for the phone connection it requires), I have been skipping the internet for a while.  Luckily, the cord came in the mail yesterday, and we are back in business.

Luckily, not too much has been happening around Chez Necessity, but the other day Big Trouble was making Lego creations and bringing them out of his room to show them to us.  They were all combinations of 2 different things put together, and he created a name for them accordingly (i.e. he made a dird (dragon + bird), and trog (truck + dog)). 

Finally, he came out of his room with his last creation, and announced that it was a combination of a flower and a duck. 

He called it a "Fluck" and saved me from what would have been a wildly inappropriate fit of the giggles.

Monday, November 30, 2009

Home Again, Home Again....

jiggity jog.  Now that my library job is over, I am once again among the unemployed.  It was a really neat experience, and allowed me to get paid, and to put on my grown-up clothes every day and interact with not only students, but with adults.  Sadly, there doesn't seem to be another job lurking anywhere on the horizon, so at the moment I'm trying to get some Christmas gifts knit and crafted. 

There's always subbing, but at this point, the thought of getting those 5:30 AM phone calls to tell me where I'll be working that day (and not knowing what to expect when I get there) is excruciatingly painful to me; the whole concept goes rather against the grain of my control-freaky planning-ahead type personality.

So, instead I decided to stay home and eat an indecent amount of Veggie Straws (sadly, I succumbed in a moment of weakness in Costco yesterday, and now have a GIANT bag of these in my house.  They will soon be gone, which is why I don't buy junk food - I have zero self-control, and have learned that I just can't keep this sort of thing in the house - the same goes with Tootsie Rolls, but I digress...).

I did teach a flute lesson this afternoon; sadly, said lesson began with my student announcing that she hadn't had a chance to practice for the entire week.  I never quite know what my response to this sort of honesty should is so exciting to know I'll have to spend the next hour listening to music that desperately needs practicing.  On the other hand, I do get paid for 1 hour what I would make for a HALF DAY of subbing - and I didn't even have to wake up at 5:30 AM for the privilege.

Sunday, November 22, 2009


I am going to be 40 in March.  I don't mind turning 40, and in fact have been calling myself 40 for a while now (The Professor's birthday is 6 months before mine, so when he turned 40, I jumped on the bandwagon too).  Unfortunately, however, this milestone seems to be coinciding with everything I own breaking down.

About 2 months ago, my Kitchen Aid died (granted, it was almost 20 years old, but still...).  Then my cell phone's screen went completely blank and refused to return.  Then the toilet handle broke off, followed, in quick succession by the flapper in the tank.  And then, while standing in Michael's yesterday purchasing a birthday present for one of the bazillion birthday parties the kids go to (it's standard to invite the ENTIRE class to these things 'round here) the strap on my purse snapped off, sending it to the floor with a loud thump.

Do you think my life could qualify for some sort of extended warranty?

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

What to do on a Tuesday Night?

I know - go to the Humane Society and get a dog!  As it's been almost a year since we lost Sophie, we finally decided that it was time to get another dog.  We went to the Humane Society based on a picture they had on their website, but this little dog just sucked us in.  He was so friendly, and so odd-looking - he definitely looked like he needed us.  His name is Tobie - yes spelled with an ie - seems to match his offbeat look.

They told us he's about 8 months old (he's definitely young - really playful and chews on whatever he can find) and I would guess he's around 15 pounds, although I'm never good at guessing anyone's weight.  He's very sweet, and hopefully housetrained.  The Humane Society provided us with a crate and a bed, and he was very happy to hop right into the crate as soon as I set it up.

We stopped at Target for a bowl and treats, and of course the prerequisite squeaky toy, which he has pretty much squeaked since we got him home.  He and Big Trouble deserve each other, I think.  Maybe I'll put them both into a room with their noisy toys and they can wear each other out!

Welcome to the family, Tobie!

Monday, November 16, 2009

Not a Clue....

Well, we finally celebrated Big Trouble's 7th birthday with his friends.  For those of you playing along at home who know his birthday is in the very beginning of October, it was the earliest we could come up with.  He wanted a mystery party, so I made some funny invitations with magnifying glasses and a fingerprint (courtesy of yours truly) inviting 7 little children to come to his "Mystery Party."  Then, of course, we had to actually come up with a mystery!

As we live in a fancy schmantzy area, many of the birthday parties 'round these parts are held at a party location, or if they are at home, they involve a giant blow-up bouncy castle or a petting zoo for entertainment.  As we are not of the fancy schmantzy persuasion ourselves, we have to provide our own entertainment.

We came up with a backstory that some priceless pearls were stolen from Lady Dowrymple (myself) with the characters of Princess Clara and Princess Sara Pizzabox (Miss Serious and a friend) and Professor Wafflemeyer (The Professor, of course!).  We secreted clues around the house, and the kids had to figure out riddles to find the next one.  The jewels were finally located, with the Professor's fingerprints all over them, and I think a good time was had by all.

We made detective badges, played freeze dance to spy music, pinned the magnifying glass on the detective's hand, and created codes.  All in all, an excellent day, even if the power went out an hour before it was to begin (I had frugally planned to make pizza, but even though my oven is gas, it's got electric buttons, so the pizza place across the street, who did have power, came to the rescue).  Luckily the power came back on right before the quests arrived, and the birthday boy enjoyed his day.

P.S.  The Professor wrote some really funny clues - I've included them in case anybody is interested - he sat down and not 1/2 an hour later printed these out.  We cut each one out and put them in their appropriate locations.  I'm trying to convince him that we can parlay this talent into some sort of lucrative position, but I'm not having much luck...

If you wish to find the jewels,
you will need the proper tools.
Step one: find a growing green.
See the clue you've never seen.

Searching hard?  With all your might?
Look for music black and white.
Think of keys that make sweet sound.
And your next clue will soon be found.

Lady D. is in your debt.
You are close, but not there yet.
You've walked by me lots of times.
Find the book that's full of rhymes.

Pearls were stolen just today.
A mighty wind blew them away.
You will find a clue with ease,
if you search inside the breeze.

Never was a thief so bold,
to hide a clue inside the cold.
Go to where you feed your belly.
The clue is sitting by the jelly.

Dirty hands?  Make them shine.
Or the jewels will still be mine.
Solve this and you'll still have hope.
Go to where we wash with soap.

Getting close, detective buddies.
Time to finish off your studies.
Find the place where students write.
A clue is hidden in plain sight.

Boys impress the sweetest girls
with the gift of precious pearls.
The way to our dear Lady's heart
is pinned up there with paper art.

Saturday, November 7, 2009

A Week Already?

I can't believe how the time is zipping by - Halloween has now been over a week, and all we have left are an embarrassingly big bowl of candy on the counter (sadly, quite a bit less big than last week - and the kids only get one piece a day, so you can draw your own conclusions about where it's going....) and what is left of Mr. Pumpkin.

I figure if I'm going to have to drop 8 bucks on a pumpkin, we are going to get our money's worth. So, Halloween night found me slicing him up and cookin' him down. When I mention actually cooking a pumpkin to people around here, they look at me oddly, as if I just said we cook up our furniture. I like to think of us as not cheap, but rather like the Native Americans, we use all the parts of the pumpkin after the hunt.

The kids had a good time - Miss Serious dressed up as Pippi Longstocking - I fashioned a hat with wires and braided red yarn pigtails, and Big Trouble was an abstract painter, complete with palette, painter's smock, and a big curly french moustache (his request).

We went trick-or-treating with friends, and had brought some Fair Trade chocolate for reverse trick-or-treating. One of our friends (a true-red Republican) dubbed them our leftist-liberal chocolates, but we handed them out anyway. All in all, an excellent evening.

Wednesday, November 4, 2009

Minty Fresh

Although I haven't blogged in about a bajillion years, I have very few available words of wisdom, except for these: Whatever you do, don't get toothpaste in your eye. Just don't. And then, don't tell your husband that your eye is burning because you got toothpaste in it, because he will oh so helpfully ask you if the tube says anything about what to do when you get toothpaste in your eye. The same tube that you can't read, because - oh that's right - you've got toothpaste in your eye.

Monday, October 19, 2009


The weather is finally better. When it wasn't better (all of last week)it was cold, raining, and thoroughly nasty. My mom and I even had to cancel our much looked-forward-to jaunt to the Sheep and Wool Festival. Imagine how happy I was to see sun this morning. Then imagine my spirits quickly lowering as I realize the reason the sun is shining so brightly off my car is that is is covered in ice.

Now, this is a new car, and as it's only the middle of October I have yet to outfit it with any of the appropriate winter accoutrements such as an ice scraper. As I looked at my sparkly car, my first, optimistic thought was that it was just a thin, delicate little coating. This (perhaps misplaced) optimism was quickly dashed when I opened up my door and said ice let out a loud, cracking sound.

Then, I sat in the car and pumped up the heat and defrost. Ahhh, this will do the trick. Hmmmm.....still icy, and in fact it looked like I was sitting in an igloo. What's a gal to do?

I decided to go all McGyver - I opened up my purse and spied my credit cards! Five minutes later, the car was scraped and ready to roll.

I guess it's true what they say - "For everything else, there's Mastercard."

Friday, October 16, 2009

Oh the Weather Outside is Frightful.....

That's right - snow in mid-October. We didn't actually see any here, but a few towns north got a bit last night. As the weather is supposed to continue its downward spiral this weekend, I will sadly be skipping the Sheep and Wool festival in Rhinebeck. It's a really fabulous festival complete with thousands (I'm talking tourbuses thousands) of knitters all bedecked in their knitting finery. I do find it a little creepy that there are quite a few food stands offering various lamb dishes, when the real live article is bleating and looking cute just a few yards away, but that might just be the vegetarian in me talking. However, as the temperature isn't supposed to climb past the mid-thirties, and there is a little picture of rain/snowflakes (yes, snowflakes, which the web designer made to look cute rather than cold and irritating) on the weather site, I'll be giving it a miss. I can do rain, or I can do cold, but I really am not in the mood to do both.

Guess I'll just have to knit at home (where the heat is abundant and lovely - our apartment building seems to think we need a temperature akin to being in the Bahamas) and pretend my children are sheep.

Monday, October 12, 2009

Happy Columbus Day!

I don't particularly have any strong attachment to Columbus Day, but a day off always makes me happy. This year, we actually attended the local Columbus Day parade to watch Big Trouble march with the Cub Scouts. He joined a couple of weeks ago, and has only attended one meeting, but today was the big day. Unfortunately, the day began with me having to sew the many patches onto his new (and frighteningly expensive - I actually suspected that it was sewn together with gold thread, but discovered this not to be the case) cub scout uniform shirt. I made the tactical error of deciding to sew them on by hand rather than drag out the machine, because, as my thought process went, it will just be easier.

Dur. My typing is rather slow at the moment, because my fingertips are sore and tender after being poked numerous times with a needle that didn't want to go through the patches. They are now all applied and he made an adorable little Cub Scout. It was a bit on the chilly side today (even The Professor pulled his jacket out of the closet, which is always a sign to me that I am going to be freezing), but the parade was fun, and it's always interesting seeing the local culture, such as it is.

Back to real life tomorrow!

Wednesday, October 7, 2009

It's Awfully Dark

That was the thought in my head when I woke up this morning. It was raining, so I wasn't expecting it to be bright at 6:15, but I do remember thinking that it was awfully dark. I showered, dressed, and began making breakfast for me and the kiddoes when I noticed the clock over the stove read 5:45. I thought I was reading it wrong, but imagine my surprise when the microwave clock agreed with it. Were the appliances plotting something?

I ruefully laughed at my error, mistaking the 5 for a 6 on the clock radio, until I went back into my room and saw that it was a 6. Meaning the time button had been pressed and advanced the clock.

Now that it's finally my usual waking time, I am noticing that it's quite a bit brighter outside, and I have the feeling it's going to be a loooooong day.

Monday, October 5, 2009

Fakin' It

Well, I continue to teach technology (teaching myself first and then just relaying what I've learned....), and I guess I'm doing an ok job at it. Today there was a sub in for one of the teachers, and at the end of the lesson she asked me for some tech advice on her computer. Imagine how proud I was - both because she bought the whole tech thing, and because I actually gave her a correct answer to solve her problem!

Now for a more interesting question - who got hold of the camera?

Saturday, October 3, 2009

The Big 7

Well, one day late, but Happy Birthday Big Trouble! Every day for a couple of weeks he has woken up with the question, "How many days until my birthday?" answered by the inevitable, "Check the calendar." Well, the big day was yesterday, and the family party was today. We ate, we drank, we opened presents, and I think a good time was had by all, especially the birthday boy.

We were looking at old pictures of him, and it's amazing how his personality showed through in even those early shots. He has always been full of sweetness and humor, a good-natured little soul who looks out for the feelings of others.

We are so happy to have you as our son, sweet boy, and wish you a very happy 7th birthday.

Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Marian's Back!

I haven't had much time to myself these days, because I'm working!! Yes, that's right, a wage earner once more. I was supposed to start last week and shadow the exiting librarian for 3 days, but her baby had other plans. So, I started last Monday all on my own, and have been scrambling around ever since, trying desperately to look/sound/act like a library media specialist. I can easily pass for the "library" part of that job description, but the "media specialist" bit is more of a sticky wicket.

I am not a techie type person; I know how to use my computer, and how to do the things I need to do to go to my little websites. Now, however, I find myself teaching 4th graders how to use flash drives; this involves me having a meeting with the awesome tech assistant, writing myself a little cheat sheet, and then teaching the class. So far, so good. I think if I were teaching middle school I'd be in big trouble, but these guys are young enough that we are (sadly) about on the same technical level.

Next week I have to teach 3rd graders how to graph in Excel. That is, after I've taught myself....

Saturday, September 26, 2009

The Joys of Children

When I was planning a family, I gave a lot of thought to what my kids would be like, what things they would need, what we would do together - you know, all the happy, idyllic thoughts you have about children and what your life would be like with them.

It never once occurred to me that vomit would play such a central role in my life as a mother.

Now, I know I've mentioned vomit before, on more than one occasion. This is probably due to the fact that vomit figures so prominently. It boggles my mind that in all my planning, it never once entered my mind that I would have to get up in the middle of the night and scrape incredible yuckiness off a small child's sheets, pillow, arms, and anything else they happened to plant their hands on.

Then, of course, those incredibly lovely sheets, blankets, pillows, etc. need to be washed. Which for me involves a trek down to the basement laundry room, as I'm on the 4th floor of a walk-up building. We aren't supposed to do laundry at night, so I've developed a system (isn't is sad that this has happened enough times that I have developed a SYSTEM!!) and just stuff all the offending items in plastic garbage bags, seal them up, and wait for morning,

This morning, as all the washers are full, I am sorely tempted to actually pitch these bags into the garbage, but I think my cheapness gene wins over my disgusted gene on this one...

Thursday, September 17, 2009

Catch 22

Want a simple way to know if you are desperately in need of coffee? When the coffee you have just made comes out clear, it becomes glaringly apparent that you didn't actually add any coffee. But then, of course, in your most dire hour of need, you have no coffee...

Thursday, September 10, 2009

Let The Crazy Begin...

Things have been toodling along here at Chez Necessity. I got a start date for the new job (this is where I start freaking out, because until now, it hasn't seemed real. Now, with an actual date on my calendar, serious plans must be made....) and have been trying to pick up some of the detritus left around the house after summer ends - I don't know where we get so much STUFF, but it just keeps coming. Maybe it multiplies when it's sitting around on the floor.

So, I've been digging through closets, dresser drawers, and hidey holes to try to get things looking a little more together before MY JOB begins. I had visions of painting the living room, but there are some problems with the drywall tape - it's been separating from the wall for quite some time now, and must be attended to before any painting can occur. Unfortunately, I don't know how to do drywall tape (I did a spot in my bedroom a couple years back, and the results where not what they could have been), but I think I'm going to give it a shot. Also, unfortunately, this will require the moving of about a jillion books, the computer (and table) and the TV (and table). I just don't have that much mojo going today, so I made these instead:

No heavy lifting required!

Monday, September 7, 2009

Well It Happened Again

The kids started a new year of school! Even though today is Labor Day, the kids' school district decided to be all mavericky and start last week. I know Labor Day is late, but we have never gone back beforehand. I checked all the area school districts, and we seem to be the only ones. I was happy with it - they were ready to go back, and now they have some wiggle room if there are snow days. Miss Serious, being a 3rd grader, moved to a different school; though she was a bit apprehensive at first, she did announce that "Third grade is going to be the best year ever!" Big Trouble was as cheerful as ever to toddle off to first grade, and everyone already seems to be settled in. The Professor goes back tomorrow, and as I've got a couple of weeks before I go, I'm going to try to do some of the little jobs 'round the house that never seems to get taken care of when everyone's here and asking for meals and snacks around the clock.

I took the quiet time to finish these. They are from the Cascade Sassy Stripes I got in Cape Cod, and Big Trouble is very pleased with them. Now to start a pair for Miss Serious - she has requested anklets, so my lucky day!

Friday, September 4, 2009

Introducing the Newest Member of the Family....

Baby Blue (BB for short)! Now that I will be gainfully employed (at least for a while....), we needed to get a second car. We have been a one car family for 8 1/2 years now, and while it has required some planning and creative thinking, it has worked out well. It's saved us buckets of money, and helped us keep our carbon footprint lower. Alas, while the new job is only 7 miles away, they're highway miles, so it's not a feasible bike ride. So, after lots of research and angst, I finally decided on a car - a Honda Fit. It gets great gas mileage, and for the first time I was able to actually choose a color I wanted!! It's going to be my car, so even though it's a little girly, The Professor was all for it. It's also fun to drive, and small enough to park. We were looking at hybrids, but the cost difference was just too painful, and we'd have to drive to Guam (often) to make it up in what we pay for gas.

We have on-street parking, and when I brought it home last night I parked about eleventy miles away, which allowed me to keep my car away from others, and also to avoid parallel parking (haven't quite got a handle on where the front and back end, but I'll get there...maybe).

Monday, August 31, 2009

The Curious Tale of Marian the Librarian, conclusion

Part the Third:

Marian, our trusty but unemployed teacher, returned home after her sweltering interview, and drank about 11 gallons of water. She had luckily recovered from her odd day, and was thrilled to receive an early morning phone call the following day from a mysterious voice which bid her to come to one of the elementary schools to meet with the principal.

Marian was understandably excited, and as the interview wasn't for a week, she was able to research the school, learn the curriculum for 3rd and 4th grade, and generally make herself as employable as she knew how to be.

On the appointed day, Marian once more pulled on the offending pantyhose and proceeded to the school. She met with the principal and an administrator. Marian was dutifully prepared with all of her teacher answers, and the interview seemed to be progressing well. About halfway through the interview, however, the principal mentioned that one of the jobs they had available was the library/media specialist position, and asked how Marian would handle working in that capacity.

As Marian naively assumed that this was just a general inquiry, she searched her mind for what she knew of school libraries and/or media (which wasn't a lot), and gamely answered the ensuing questions. It soon dawned on her, however, that the questions were all now taking on a definite librarian flavor. It occurred to Marian that things had taken a rather confusing turn.

When asked if Marian had any questions for them, she asked about the available positions, and that she knew that there was both a 3rd and 4th grade position available. Thus, one can only imagine Marian's shock and confusion when she is told that these jobs have already been filled, but there is a library job available in the school. It now dawns on Marian that she has no idea what she's talking about, and as she is one who takes a bit of time to wrap her head around things, she is glad that the interview has come to an end.

Marian leaves the school in a fog of confusion and disbelief, and proceeds home. Even though she is not actually a librarian, she decides that it's a job that would be interesting and that she could do well. In fact, Marian knows that she has always had librarian tendencies (such as wardrobe, haircut, etc.), so perhaps this job is her destiny. Marian, is sad, therefore, when there is no phone call day after day.

Finally, to Marian's happy surprise, she receives a call to meet with a further administrator for another interview. While Marian is excited about the opportunity, the thought of having to answer more questions is appalling somewhat unpalatable. Imagine Marian's pleasure, therefore, when she meets with said administrator (again wearing the ridiculous and horrible pantyhose) and is offered the position of leave replacement for the library/media specialist.

The job starts in October, allowing Marian to attend her lovely children's first day of school, while simultaneously giving her time to learn how to be a school librarian. It's short-term, but is a foot in the door and steady work.

Marian rejoiced, the family celebrated with Italian food, and everyone lived happily ever after.

Sunday, August 30, 2009

The Curious Tale of Marian the Librarian, continued

Part the Second:

We rejoin our heroine, Marian, on the day of her job interview. Unfortunately, the interview date coincided with the hottest day of the summer, and Marian was forced to wear pantyhose on a day that was so hot her hair was sweating. Marian, dressed in her grown-up interview clothes proceeded to the interview, where she was met with a large sign proclaiming "Job Fair - Library."

This gave Marian pause. Job fair? Hmmm...She gamely proceeded to the library, where she was ushered into a room containing about 10 other poor souls also wearing clothes completely inappropriate for the tropical heat of the day. Marian hoped that they were here for other positions, but in her heart of hearts, she knew this was not true. She broke the painful silence and asked if they were all elementary teachers, and as she expected, the answers were glumly, "Yes."

The interviews were conducted on a simultaneous basis; desks were set up throughout the library, and 5 people were interviewed at once. It was something akin to speed dating, but Marian wisely chose not to make this particularly inappropriate observation to the principal interviewing her. After about 20 minutes, she was told to return to the holding pen, where she was met with about 10 new people who hadn't been there before, but also wearing equally uncomfortable clothes and expressions.

Marian, being something of a talker, broke the silence and again asked if they were all here for the elementary jobs. They were. One teacher, who was also clearly rather a talker, asked about what the procedure seemed to be, and Marian relayed what had happened to her so far today. The other teacher remarked that it seemed akin to American Idol, and Marian replied that they would probably have to run the Gauntlet of Fire at the end of the day. Only the other woman laughed, and Marian was saddened that the warm day and obvious stress had caused her colleagues to lose their senses of humor. Gauntlet of Fire, people - that's funny!

Marian was then called to meet with 2 more administrators, where she once again did her interview thing, and tried not to faint from the heat. At the end she was blessedly told she could leave, and she said her good-byes appropriately.

Little did Marian know that she would, actually, be running the Gauntlet of Fire, and that it would consist of her walk through the 9,000 degree parking lot while wearing pantyhose on a day when even the foliage was sweating.

What will happen to Marian next? Stay tuned for the final chapter in her saga....

Saturday, August 29, 2009

The Curious Tale of Marian the Librarian

Part the First:

Once upon a time there was a teacher, who we will call Marian. Marian taught elementary school for several years; she loved her job and her students, but her husband got a job requiring them to move away. Marian subsequently produced two lovely children, and stayed home to give them motherly affection (and snacks).

The years passed, and the lovely young children started school. Marian wanted to go back to teaching, with the hope of edifying both her mind and her bank account. Unfortunately, Marian made this choice the same year that the financial markets around the world decided to no longer function properly. This untimely event caused two things to happen - schools began laying off teachers in horrifying numbers, and teachers didn't retire because their prospects of retiring on the two dollars left in their retirement accounts were less than pleasant.

This made job hunting quite difficult for Marian. She arranged for good references and sent out many (MANY) resumes, but to no avail. She had one interview at the beginning of the summer, but they somehow managed to disregard her obvious charms and hired someone else.

Poor Marian! Labor Day was now looming, and she knew that if her fortunes didn't change quickly, she would be without hope. Then, she spied a posting for 2 leave replacement jobs for 3rd and 4th grade. They weren't for very long, but would get Marian a foot in the door in the district, and some steady work and money. Marian applied for these jobs and was granted an interview. Marian, in her excitement and innocence, had no idea what awaited her.....

To be continued....

Friday, August 28, 2009

Oh, And I Have a Coupon...

I love a bargain. I try to be careful with what I buy for many reasons - one of them is that we live in a 2 bedroom apartment with 2 kids, and anything that is purchased has to have somewhere to go. (The aftermath of Christmas, after the kids' presents get hauled up our 4 flights of stairs can be excruciating...) Another is that we are trying to be more aware of what and why we buy, and be less materialistic (it's going slowly...). The final reason is that we don't have lots of extra cash hanging about, so if we want to eat and pay the mortgage and all that other wild and crazy stuff, we have to watch our pennies a bit.

This brings me to my trip to Michaels last week. Miss Serious had a gift card, so we stopped by and browsed a bit. They're revamping some of their sections, and had big piles of clearance things, and as I do so love a clearance we dug through and I found a couple of stamp sets. They were a good price, and I thought I would get use out of them, but being me I hehmed and hahwed a bit before I decided to finally get them both. I also picked up a little tree stamp from the $1.49 section.

We toddled up to the cashier, and she started ringing up my purchases. This was the ensuing receipt:
Even though it's gloriously blurry (I have yet to figure out how to take a decent close-up with this camera), hopefully it can be seen that my final cost for these items (with tax, mind you) was 98 cents. That's right - each of the stamp sets rang up at a penny a piece. Now, as I am a person who is quick to make sure I mention it when I am overcharged, I also try to do the same when I'm undercharged. I figure fair's fair, after all. The cashier said that some of the clearance items are out of the system, so they just ring up this way and they've been told to leave it. And then, of course, I presented my 40% off coupon for the remaining $1.49 stamp.

For some reason, everything is more fun to use when it only costs a penny!

Thursday, August 27, 2009

I Think I Need More Friends...

Not because I'm lonely or bored, but because I've been making cards and they are now languishing in their little box. Birthdays are over for a while, and no holidays for a bit. Maybe I should send out Labor Day cards this year....

Summer is really flying by - the kids will be starting school next week! As we have never started school before Labor Day, and as every other district in the area starts after Labor Day, my (I thought) reasonable assumption was that our school would start after Labor Day. Not so.

The kids got their letters last week telling them who their teachers were, and giving class lists and so on. I got distracted by all of this information, and finally realized that the start date was Sept 2nd. They go back before The Professor this year, a fact which I think he is quietly enjoying (and I don't seem to be be going back at all, as the job hunt has not been kind. I know it ain't over 'till the fat lady sings, but I seem to be hearing some warm-up scales in the background....).

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

These Little Piggies Went to Cape Cod!

The perfect accessory for a 96 degree day - a hand-knit, wool sock. This is from some of the lovely sock yarn I got while vacationing on Cape Cod, and Big Trouble is so pleased with the result that he was willing to pull it onto his hot, sweaty foot to model for me. Now to finish the other one, and he can wear them to the beach!

Sunday, August 23, 2009

Well, It's Cooler Now

Yup - that's what was hovering outside our window yesterday afternoon. It has been rather warm the last week, and I guess the weather finally gave up. This began forming, and it was so dense that you could see it moving past. Quite spectacular, and the ensuing rain did cool things down, for which we are all grateful.

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

The Throes of August

Well, summer has really hit with a vengeance these last couple of days, and Chez Necessity is rather warm. When I say rather warm, what I really mean is really freakin' hot. Our fans have been running full blast, but they can only do so much. Luckily, tomorrow is supposed to be a much cooler 89 degrees, and, because life is relative, I'm really looking forward to it.

I put a couple of cards together, but probably should have done Christmas cards to try to fool myself into being cool.

Saturday, August 15, 2009

Life's A Beach

We have a really pretty, local beach about a 20 minute walk (unfortunately the way home always takes at least 30 minutes, and is replete with whining, but that's neither here nor there) from our house. It has a lovely playground, pretty walking paths, a sandy beach, a spray ground, and the harbor. Now, I don't let my kids actually swim in the harbor. When we first started taking the kids there, there was some sort of problem with the water quality, and every other day it would be off-limits for swimming. Being a harbor, it's kind of the depository of all the filth the ocean decides it really doesn't care for. I decided that if it's not safe for swimming on Tuesday, I certainly won't be dipping my toes in the water on Wednesday, no matter how many signs tell me it's ok; they have a really great little spray ground there, with water piped in from the drinking water line, and my kids have a blast in there. I don't think they realized that you could go in the water until we met some friends there one day whose kids jumped right in. The shocked looks of recrimination my children sent me were a sight to behold, but they're still not allowed in the water.

Yesterday we went to the beach, and I made the unfortunate tactical error of setting up next to the sexy moms. I don't like sitting by the sexy moms. I wasn't sexy even before I had children, and it is beyond me how these women are able to maintain the sexiness. There were 3 of them, all sporting diamond rings large enough to blind you when the sun hits them, and all 3 were wearing string bikinis with not an ounce of fat on them.

Now, we live in the land of the nip and tuck, and not being a nip and tuck gal myself, I'm never sure how to tell if one has been nipped and or tucked, but I've become pretty good at spotting breast work (is this a marketable skill???). Having birthed and nursed 2 children myself, I know from painful experience that one's chest, when left in it's natural state, will never be what it once was after such abuse. Now, while these women were not sporting BOUS's (for those Princess Bride fans, that's Breasts of Unusual Size) I did conclude that they must have all visited their friendly plastic surgeon for a little help.

I don't begrudge anyone this sort of thing, and if it makes you happy and you can afford it, more power to you. And I know that these women must spend countless hours working out to be able to wear such tiny bathing suits (I could probably have outfitted all 3 of them with the amount of material in my own suit), which I think is laudable.

But I definitely won't be sitting next to them again, if I can help it.

Friday, August 14, 2009

So Pretty!

On our first day in Cape Cod, The Professor spied a yarn shop we hadn't seen before (I actually noticed it because the two heavy-duty motorcyclists in front of us turned in as well. (They didn't stay long.) It was called The Black Purls Yarn Shop, and was off of 6A in EastSandwich, if you're in the neighborhood. (The official address is 685 Route 6A).

They had only opened a short while ago, and the shop was beautifully laid out with simple, black shelves for the yarn. It really set off the colors, and allowed you to browse through the yarn without being distracted. There was a nice mix of basic and more high-end yarns, and I even won a door prize!

Here's what I left with - from left to right: Cascade Pure Alpaca (absolutely lovely and soft - and part of my prize!), Debbie Bliss Pure Cotton (equally lovely, and the rest of my prize!), Cascade Heritage Handpainted Sock Yarn (I'm always a sucker for handpainted yarn), and Cascade Sassy Stripes (the kids both picked out the same yarn for socks).

I've never won yarn before, and let me tell you, it just makes it that much more lovely!

Thursday, August 13, 2009


I had some cards to mail out this week, so I got myself together, dug out my supplies, and made some things. I bought some new markers, and have been revisiting my inner kindergartner by coloring. Very soothing, and still fun as an adult.

I wonder if I can list good coloring skills on my resume......?

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

Trying Hard Not to Lose That Vacation Weight

Yesterday I decided that as I didn't consume nearly enough calories through mountains of ice cream and fried seafood on Cape Cod that I should produce some rich, high calorie food at home. I dug out my food processor and pasta maker, and the kids and I made a lovely pile of homemade fettucine noodles.

Many years ago, being younger and more foolish, I first attempted homemade pasta. I watched a chef make it on tv, and the dough looked beautifully simple to prepare - just put the flour on the counter, make a well in the middle, pour in the eggs, and beat gently with a fork, incorporating the flour. Easy peasy.

Until about 2 seconds after I put the eggs in the well, and they broke through the walls of the flour creating a charming mess all over the counter, floor, and me.

Enter the food processor - dump everything in, mix it up, and voila! Pasta dough ready to go with no need to scrape a pile of slippery goo off your kitchen.

I made Fettucine Alfredo with it, and it was yummy (even though Big Trouble decided he didn't care for it - I will never understand what makes them like or dislike something - pasta, cheese, cream, and butter - what's not to like?), and it made a tasty lunch the next day, too.

* My original reason for choosing this dish was that I had bought heavy cream a while back for a recipe I didn't end up making, and thought this would be a good way to use it. Unfortunately, I didn't realize that I had bought it quite a loooong way back, and it had congealed into something rather unpleasant. However, necessity being the mother of invention I discovered that you can make a great Alfredo sauce with half and half - I just reduced it for a bit until it was thicker like cream, and added butter and cheese until the consistency looked right. I know - not really the most efficient way to drop those vacation pounds, but life is short!

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

Vacation is Hard!

Last week we spent a lovely vacation in beautiful Cape Cod. We've gone to the same place for several years now; every year we ask each other if we'd like to go someplace else, and every year, we decide to go back. I can't imagine why - beautiful beaches, hiking trails, fabulous wildlife, great weather with cool nights, delicious seafood, and for some reason, the kids' favorite - the place we stay has free munchkins in the morning.

That seems to be the thing they mention as the highlight of their trip, making me seriously consider saving the long drive to Massachusetts and just hitting the Dunkin' Donuts down the street. (They are building one across the street from us - donuts within easy walking distance doesn't bode well for my thighs - maybe if I jogged there....)

We had great weather this time - we often have one day of pouring rain, but this year we only had a couple of sprinkles on one afternoon. We hit the beach, went on a nature hike at the Audubon, went to the Wood's Hole Aquarium and Oceanographic Institute, did a very odd scavenger hunt at the Edward Gorey house, took a boat ride, and ate more ice cream and fried seafood than anyone should put away in one week. (Oddly, and on a totally unrelated note, I seem to have gained four pounds - must have been the salt air.)

Now we're home and recovering. It always seems like a great idea to cram all this stuff into one week, but by the end, I'm pooped and ready to go home. It's always a treat to take a break from my real life, and an even bigger treat to realize how much I miss it and how glad I am to get back to business as usual, such as it is.

Wednesday, July 29, 2009

Mostly a Pile of Yarn

I struggled with a title for this post, because sadly I've discovered that a disproportionate amount of the time I want to title my posts simply "Well, Duh!" As I can't have eleventy-two posts with all the same name, I've decided that I can't use that one at all, even though it pretty much sums things up.

Summer is definitely in full swing, and it's finally really hot here at Chez Necessity. The weather has been very kind this year, and stayed at a pretty comfortable level until now. The humidity's been pretty good too, but that all seems to be over now. In an effort to both be green and save money on the old electric bill, we freecycled our air conditioner a couple of years ago (the woman who picked it up looked at us like we were nuts, and asked "Don't you know it's going to be hot?") and have been getting by with fans and drapes to cover the blinding amounts of HOT light that come through our windows. The amount of light is something I really like about this apartment, and one of the reasons we (well I - The Professor much prefers a more cave-like home, but he kindly humors me) bought this place. Unfortunately, this same amount of lovely light can make you feel as if you are sitting on the surface of the sun, rather than your living room in the middle of the day.

So, as it is so very hot, like any rational person I decided I needed to knit some wool mittens. These are from Mostly Mittens, and I've made a couple of patterns from this book. I really like it, and the patterns are spiffy. I always enjoy colorwork, and mittens are small enough that I can satisfy my need for an interesting pattern without having to spend 6 months on a sweater.

Sadly, however, I forgot one crucial component to making any item which someone is expected to wear. Yes, you guessed it - gauge. I can only blame the heat, because I knit quite a long way on this little (I do mean little) mitten before it occurred to me that it looked a tad on the small side, and that I hadn't bothered to check the gauge. Once I discovered that it would probably fit someone as long as they only had three fingers and a freakishly skinny palm (and I don't happen to know anyone like this) the lovely, tiny mitten now looks like this:

Well, duh!

Tuesday, July 28, 2009

But Don't Put Them in Your Gin and Tonic...

Summer is here, and that means that we get a farm share box every week. We joined a couple of years back, and it's been very successful. The food is organic and really fresh; we go once a week to the delivery site (it's only about 5 minutes away) and pick up our box. It's always like a little surprise to see what we get - most things are easily identifiable, but sometimes we get something that I have to look up (like garlic scapes). You take what comes in the box, which is good for me (although the children may disagree) because it gets me to try some new recipes and we get to eat something different than the same old things I tend to churn out of the kitchen.

Pretty much every week we get a handful of basil. The first year we joined the co-op, this little handful generally got shoved to the back of the refrigerator and forgotten, resulting in a little pile of black leaves in a startlingly short amount of time. Last year I decided to make pesto out of it, and it was very successful; we ate pesto all winter. Since it's generally a small amount of basil, it doesn't always make a full batch, but it doesn't matter, because I just take what I've got, freeze it in ice cube trays, and then bag the frozen cubes. Then when I need some, a cube or two comes out and gets plopped on my pasta. Voila, dinner is served!

Here's the pesto recipe I use, and it can easily be halved when one only has a little bit of basil:

2 cups packed basil (I use just the leaves - the stems are a bit fibrous for my taste)
1/2 cup olive oil
2 Tablespoons pine nuts
2 cloves garlic

Plop all these in the blender and whiz them around until you've got a paste. Then scrape it into a bowl and add:

1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup grated parmesan or romano cheese
3 Tablespoons softened butter

Mix it well, and either freeze or refrigerate. It keeps beautifully in the freezer, and lets you have a little bit of really yummy summer in the middle of winter when everything is rather gray.

Saturday, July 18, 2009

When the Kids are Away...

Mom and Dad get a quiet, quiet day. The Professor's parents kindly took the kids for the weekend, and after speaking to them on the phone tonight, it's apparent that they are having a wonderful time and doing everything possible, including swimming, a carnival, and a petting zoo. The Professor and I, on the other hand, have opted to be sloth-like.

Last night after the kids left, he was suggesting all kinds of things to do - museums in the city, hiking, etc. I, on the other hand, thought a day of a quiet house with nobody asking for a meal (or a snack, or another meal, or spilling something during a meal...) sounded pretty awesome. I had a tutoring gig this morning, and when I returned, The Professor announced that he had seen the wisdom of my suggestion, and we stayed put.

I even made some cards, and it was lovely to not have to clear the table off for the inevitable meal (or snack, or other meal); we ordered in Chinese and picnicked on the floor. It was one of my most favorite days, ever. I definitely miss them when they're gone; I've been home with them so long that I feel like my arms are missing when they're not here, but the time off is nice too.

We're picking them up tomorrow, but won't be bringing them home until all the meals (and snacks) of the day are done. Awesome.

Thursday, July 16, 2009

Toasty Toes

Several months ago my mother mentioned that her local AC Moore was selling off sock yarn really cheap, and asked if I wanted any. I, of course, answered quickly in the affirmative, and soon she presented me with a large (actually, very large) bag of yarn.

I really like making socks - they're portable enough to bring in the car or just stuff in my bag at the playground, and I've learned that I only like making plain ones. I've tried several patterns with cables, lace, and other fancy stitches, but apparently my attention span is happiest when I can just knit around and around endlessly, broken up by the occasional heel flap and toe shaping.

One of the yarns she got was Red Heart sock yarn. I was so pleasantly surprised by this yarn - it's lovely and soft, and the color changes are really neat. Not only does it stripe, but it makes a changing fair isle kind of color pattern in some of the stripes. One of my favorite things - something that looks complicated when I didn't have to do any work. Win win! Thank goodness, because I have a few (ok, more than a few) balls of it left in my giant yarn bag.

Wednesday, July 15, 2009

No Wrench Required

We got a new dishwasher about a year and a half ago, after our old one gave up the ghost and refused to distribute soap anymore (plus I think it was older than I am, so it had fulfilled it's useful life span long before we even got here). I love having a dishwasher. This is the first place I've lived (since leaving my parents' home) with a dishwasher, and I can't tell you the hours it has freed up in my day. It disturbs me that I have been given all these extra hours, but oddly, don't have any particular accomplishments to account for them.

I like the one we bought, and it's really efficient - it uses only about 5 gallons of water for the whole cycle. However, it has recently started grumbling at me. It started as a once in a while thing - like someone being just slightly annoyed and then leaving the room. In the last couple of days it has turned into a full-fledged angry fight about 5 minutes after it's turned on.

Hmmmm....I'm not a particularly handy person, but my dad is, so I gave him a call. He suggested taking off the sprayer arm and checking to see if anything was caught. Sounded good, so this morning I emptied it out, took out the lower basket, and realized that my spray arm is completely smooth on top. No convenient little bolt holding it into place that I could unscrew and thus remove said spray arm. I examined it a bit more, and discovered that the mechanism seemed to be threaded, and could be lifted, twisted, and then removed. I was so excited to have made this earth-shattering discovery, but was promptly disappointed to find nothing stuck in there which could account for my clearly angry dishwasher.

Off to Google (I love Google) rumbling noise in the dishwasher. It's amazing how specific you can get in your questions to find an answer. Lots of people seemed to have this problem with GE dishwashers, and the fix seemed silly. It involved only a twist-tie. It was easy. Can't possibly work.

Well, one twist-tie later, and my dishwasher is now my quiet, uncomplaining and faithful companion once again. Welcome back old friend.

Saturday, July 11, 2009

Out of the Mouths of Babes

Well, dinnertime came again here at Chez Necessity. It seems to have the annoying habit of doing that every day, and 'round about 6:00 everybody keeps expecting to be fed. Go figure! Now, I like to cook, but meals are an unrelenting part of being a parent. Before we had kids, The Professor and I were perfectly happy to grab a sandwich, plop ourselves down in front of the television, and call it good. And then those kids came along. Not only do they expect dinner, but breakfast and lunch too! Maddening - I've tried to actually cancel lunch a few times, but this has promptly been met with eye rolls, and the ever popular, "Oh, Mommy!"

Summertime is good, though, because our farm co-op kicks in, so rather than cooking the same 5 things every week, I'm forced to branch out a little bit and use what comes in our farm share. We are vegetarian (though we do eat fish) so I'm always on the lookout for something that not only appeals to me, but to the youngest members of this household (and the oldest - he can be unhappy with the best of them).

Thus, tonight I made tortilla and black bean pie from Everyday Food. I find most of their recipes are really great - they use what I have in the kitchen, aren't too fussy, and are usually pretty yummy. This was no exception. I did have some misgivings about the kids, however. I never know what will be a hit and what will cause them to create faces as if I just placed a severed foot on their plates. These misgivings were dispelled, however, when Big Trouble looked at his plate and happily said, "Oooh - nacho cake!"

His speech was a tad on the lispy side, as he lost his first tooth today. This tooth, mind you, has been loose for about 2 months, and as you can see in the picture the adult tooth had not only broken the surface but was about halfway in. We've been working on it all week, and today it finally dislodged itself (with a little help from The Professor and a length of cotton sock yarn. I love it when someone in the house asks me, "Do we have any string?" Ummm, yeah!).

I'm glad we were able to save him from having a double set of teeth, and hopefully the tooth fairy will get not fall prey to some of the previous difficulties she has had in this house and will visit him tonight.

One can only hope.

Friday, July 10, 2009

I'm Absolutely Positive I'm Pretty Negative

So, The Professor brought this book back from the library a couple of weeks ago, and as he was in the middle of something already, I took a crack at it. Although the title has the ring of one of those touchy-feely self-help kind of things, (something I have never seen The Professor's nose buried in, and thus was surprised when it was in his bag on return from the library), it's written by a psychologist (Dr. Barbara Fredrickson) distinguished in this field and is based on years of rigorous research. This is big with The Professor (being a professor and all), and whenever I mention a study or announce a finding someone's come up with, he always wants to know about the research it's based on. (Sadly, I am rarely able to tell him anything more conclusive then, "Well, they said...)

While it is written by a professor/researcher, it's a good read for those of us that have only the most minimal of understanding of both psychology and research methods. The crux of the book is that having positive emotions is important to flourish, not only emotionally, but physically as well. She actually has worked out through about 20 years of research that there is a ratio of positive to negative emotions that is important to reach - it's 3 to 1. She even has a test in the book (is it a bad thing that when I went to take the test, I sighed and announced that I was pretty sure it was going to go badly?) to figure out your ratio. Mine was 1.2 to 1. Hmmmm...seems I have a little bit of work to do.

She has a website where you can take the tests and even track your scores to see if you are getting more positive. It's a really interesting idea, and the book is full of useful suggestions that you can use in your everyday life. It's definitely given me some food for thought recently, even if I have staunchly refused to take the test again (I took it a second time and aced it - 3.4 to 1, but my answers may have been slightly affected by the fact that I was pretty bummed out by my first score and refused to see such numbers again...don't judge me).

It's kind of like starting a new diet - I'll start being more positive tomorrow; today I need to bask in a little negativity (or ice cream).

Monday, July 6, 2009

The Kindest Cut

Miss Serious did a wonderful thing today - she donated her hair to Pantene's Beautiful Lengths program. They make wigs for cancer patients, and this is the second time Miss Serious has sacrificed her long hair for them. We donated together about 1 1/2 years ago, but as they have a requirement that your hair be no more than 5% gray, I knew that I wouldn't be able to do it again (as it was, I was picking gray hairs out of the ponytail before I mailed it).

She now has a sporty new haircut, perfect for summer. I don't think it's been this short since she was really little, and I'm glad we're not going anywhere with a crowd in the next few days, because I know I wouldn't be able to pick her out - I keep expecting to see long, blond hair!

Wednesday, July 1, 2009


And it's true - the livin' is easy! The rain finally decided to give it a rest, so we got some lovely summer weather. Spring was such a bust that I am not in summer mode yet, but I realized that I better get myself there quick, as the kids are done with school and looking for something to do. Monday we actually put on suits and went to the local beach, and today we hit the free movies. Living in an affluent area but not being possessed of an affluent income, one must hunt for cheap entertainment; luckily The Professor and I have gotten quite good at it. My favorite is free, but I'll go for cheap, also. Camp for the kids is real big around here, and we are one of the few families that forgo the whole camp thing. As we're both home, it seems a little silly to send the kids off while paying dearly for the privilege, so we get to hang out as a family, and have a good time doing it.

One of the nice things about living in such a spiffy area is that there are lots of really great things to do. There are several nature conservancies (free) within about 10 miles, there are really nice parks on every other corner (free), and the library hosts excellent summer reading programs (can you say free?). While The Professor took the kids to their program this afternoon, I made these:

Friday, June 26, 2009

That Probably Wasn't What They Were Going For

I caught the preview for a show on shark attacks on PBS last night. The announcer stated that people shouldn't be so frightened of shark attacks, as they actually have more chance of being hit by lightning than being bitten by a shark.

I must admit, this did nothing to lessen my worry about shark attacks, but definitely ratcheted up my fear of being hit by lightning.

Thursday, June 25, 2009

The Big Finish!

Well, today was the last day of school; Big Trouble is no longer a Kindergartner, and Miss Serious is no longer a 2nd grader. They both had wonderful years, and I'm so grateful that we live in such a terrific school district. It's nice as a teacher to see my children not only enjoying school, but learning and thriving as well. There's nothing more wonderful than seeing kids excited about going to school.

On another note, I made a tactical error last night and made these:

We were out of cookies, so as I had some unsweetened chocolate, I decided to make some black and white cookies. I had never made them before, and they went together really easily. Unfortunately, it made quite a lot of cookies. And, I love black and white cookies.

Something I have learned about myself lo these many years is that I don't possess a lot of willpower, which is why I don't keep things like potato chips in the house. When bad food is not here, I cannot eat it. However, last night I somehow felt the need to conveniently forget this fact, and now I have a lot of really yummy cookies sitting on my counter (unfortunately, 2 less than I did when I first made them....).

Saturday, June 20, 2009

It's Officially Official

Waiting in my mailbox for me yesterday was a letter from the school district I interviewed with a couple of weeks back. (Actually, when The Professor buzzed up from the mailbox and said in a very ominous voice that there was a letter for me, my first thought was that we were getting audited by the IRS. I have an underlying fear of someday being audited, but I digress.) I had been expecting it, but the finality of such a thing is always a bit disheartening.

I have to say, I did enjoy the excruciatingly careful wording of said letter; I'm sure it's never a fun job to have to come up with such a thing, but I did enjoy that it not only commented on how extremely difficult their decision had been to give the position to another candidate, but that I was a professional of very high caliber and interviewed "wonderfully." Rather stunning that they still managed to offer the position to someone else, but, amazingly, they did.

School is ending in a week, so I decided to make some little notecards for the kids' teachers. Big Trouble's kindergarten class has been spending the year talking about peace, so I thought these would be nice. They are 3 x 3 cards, so I made envelopes to go along with them. After finishing the envelopes, I thought they looked a little plain, so I stamped the peace stamp on the flap and embossed them with gold. I thought they looked pretty spiffy, and then I folded over the flap (yeah, you know where this is going...)

Sadly, I did all four at once, so they all have the same problem. What's even sadder is that Big Trouble (who's 6, mind you), when handed the envelope this morning, immediately said (without folding the flap) "But it will be upside-down when you fold it, won't it?"

Maybe I should bring him along on my next interview.

Friday, June 19, 2009

Putting in the Hours

I've recently been reading Loud and Clear by Anna Quindlen, and it's brought back to me how much I enjoy her writing. She is probably most well known for her NY Times columns, but has also written fiction and non-fiction books, as well as a couple of children's books. Her writing not only makes me want to read, but it makes me want to write. And therein lies the difficulty.

Writing is hard. I find that writing is kind of like singing. Most people seem to think they can sing (judging from American Idol, which is like a train wreck - if I pass it when flipping channels, it's so painful that I'm compelled to watch, and then I feel slightly dirty...); you don't hear people walking around thinking they can play the violin. Clearly, one can't just pick up a violin and produce anything akin to music. But many people seem to forget that even though someone may be endowed with singing talent, those that make a career of it have spent a whole lot of hours working at it.

I think of writing in the same way. If you're at all literate, you learned the mechanics of writing in school, probably with some creative writing instruction thrown in for good measure. And when you read really good writing, it seems so effortless, much like when you listen to a really good violin performance. This leads one to think that all they need to do is grab a pen and some paper and write the Great American Novel.

Hmmmm....ever tried that? It's like trying to play a violin concerto without the benefit of the countless hours of practice. The power of language is extraordinary, and when it's used well by someone that has worked hard at the craft, it has the ability to make us laugh or cry, sometimes both at the same time. When a writer gets a turn of phrase just right, it's a joy to read. Sadly, it's much easier to read good writing than it is to produce it. I was trained as a classical flutist, but part-way through my conservatory training, I realized that there were people out there that could play in a way that I never could, no matter how many hours I spent in my practice room. I had enough ability to recognize this extraordinary talent when I heard it; unfortunately, my abilities didn't go so far as replicating it.

So, I sit at my computer (or with pen and paper) and do what I can. I saw a documentary a while back about a writer (whose name completely escapes me) whose day job is a scientist. Outside of work hours he manages to write fictional novels. (I know - showoff!) He stated that the hardest part of being a writer is putting in the hours to write. While I don't believe this is true (for me, anyway), it falls into the category of the concept of time spent in the practice room. Unfortunately, I seem to have the attention span of a flea these days, but maybe I can work on becoming a flea who occasionally produces an excellent turn of phrase.

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

Time Marches On

Well, after being in a funk for several days (as my job interview was last Monday and no calls have arrived to my home asking me to come work for them, my assumption is that they have gone a different way...) I'm back to the blog.

The kids had their Flag Day picnics on Monday. They were fun, and much less eventful than last year. I went to Big Trouble's and The Professor went to Miss Serious'. I have a feeling I won, because Miss Serious had water games at hers, but I guess mud is in the eye of the beholder. Big Trouble's featured a bouncy castle; it was brought by someone who actually owns one (people own way too much superfluous stuff here) and the party was hosted at a house that actually made me catch my breath the first time I saw it (Big Trouble had a playdate there - I always wonder how the parents feel when they pick their kids up from my apartment on the top floor of a 4-story walk-up. The kids think it's an adventure, but I have a feeling their parents have different thoughts going through their heads).

Luckily, as the job hunting is going slow (really slow) I got some things done:

Friday, June 12, 2009

Happy Flag Day!

I never used to know the date of Flag Day, as somehow it didn't seem to figure prominently in my life in any way, but the schools make a big deal about it. When I was teaching, we used to have an interminable assembly with all the local grand poobahs and what-not. It was bearable when held outside on a nice day, but when it rained it got moved inside to the sweltering hot (and when all those kids got together on a warm day in June things got a tad whiffy) auditorium. Good times.

Now that my kids are in school, Flag Day is a really big deal. We didn't realize this, and when we innocently arrived at Miss Serious' Kindergarten Flag Day concert a couple years back, we were unprepared for the masses of parents, grandparents, third cousins, etc. that arrived, every one of them attached to a video camera.

This year, sadly, as Big Trouble has been quarantined, both he and I had to miss it. The Professor took wonderful pictures and videos of the presentation in Big Trouble's Kindergarten and Miss Serious' concert. She did a wonderful job, despite the nerves which kept her up past 10:00 last night! All's well that ends well, I guess.

Tuesday, June 9, 2009

It's Gonna be a Long Week

I am generally a cautious person. I follow rules and guidelines, and try to act for the common good as often as possible. However, precautions have now landed in my living room for the week.

Big Trouble had a slight fever on Sunday. Whenever he is sick, his temperature generally shoots up above 102 without even a hesitation. So, on Sunday, when he went just above 101, we weren't concerned. He had a little bit of a stuffy nose and a little cough, so it looked like just a cold.

Monday, although he had no fever, we kept him home from school, as they ask that your child be fever free for 24 hours before returning to school. We also checked in with the nurse's office to inform her that he woud be absent, again, as per the guidelines of the school.

And this is where guidelines and following precautions came back to haunt me. Apparently, with the swine flu outbreaks, there is now a policy at the school that any child who exhibits any flu-like symptoms (fever and cough included) must either obtain a doctor's note before returning to school or must stay home for a full week. Now, my children have had the flu. I know what it looks like. This wasn't it, as he wasn't feeling unwell, and after less than 24 hours was fever free.

However, being the good citizens that we are, The Professor dutifully took Big Trouble to the pediatrician. We were then informed by the pediatrician that due to the updated guidelines, if any child has a fever (which he didn't at the doctor's office at this point) that if another cause can't rule out flu (like an ear infection) they are required to stay home from school for a week. She was very nice about it and apologetic, but it is what it is. She also shared the marvelous information that the waiting room was probably full of children with the flu, so by bringing him an (as per requirements) he had now been exposed.

So, we now have a doctor's note in hand saying that Big Trouble can return to school on 6/15. All I can say is: healthy child + small apartment + 1 week = Big Trouble.

Monday, June 8, 2009

All Done!

Had my job interview first thing this morning, and I think it went well. I didn't stammer or knock anything over, so pretty good in my book! The school is beautiful, and I think it would be an awesome place to work. They said that they will narrow the field down to 4 or 5 to teach a demo lesson (scary - never had to do one of those!) but would let me know either way, which I really appreciate. I was the first interview, and they said they will be interviewing all week, so hopefully I'll hear something next week!

My mom threw a baby shower this weekend, so I was able to divert myself from pre-interview stress by acting as kitchen help and making these:

And outside of the kitchen I made these:

Took the edge off, and made the weekend fly by!