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!

Saturday, June 6, 2009

Big Trouble, Big Bruise

Big Trouble gave himself his name; when he was around 3, he announced his entrance into a room with the phrase, "Here comes Big Trouble!" He's actually a very sweet, relatively gentle boy, but still being a 6 year old gets into his fair share of nonsense.

We've been lucky here at Chez Necessity - the kids have had no major injuries to speak of - no stitches, broken bones, or major wounds. We do all get our fair share of bruises, however, and Big Trouble bestowed a lovely one on his head last night:

He apparently was picking up his washcloth off the bottom of the tub in the shower (with his eyes closed, mind you) and whacked his head on the soap dish. The Professor iced it up right away, while I looked up concussions on the computer. As he wasn't twitching or turning funny colors, we let him go about his business. This morning it looks like this:

It matches the one he got on the other side. When he came home from kindergarten last week, he had rather a big goose egg on his forehead. When questioned what happened, he answered cheerfully that another child had kicked him in the head. Although I was picturing some sort of roundhouse action on the playground, it was apparently benign, occurring while they were lying on the floor listening to music and one child caught him in the head by accident.

Good times, good times....

Friday, June 5, 2009

Well, At Least It's Not Boring

Had a bit of excitement here at Chez Necessity this week. We own an apartment in a co-op building, and about 4 years ago we had a pretty major fire in the building. It happened at around 9:00 at night, the kids were asleep, and when I looked out our window I saw firemen running across the street with hoses. Running with hoses is never good, so we grabbed the kids and the dog and got out. I, of course, had decided to take an early shower and get into pajamas. Nothing more fun than standing on the street with all your neighbors wearing pajamas while every single other adult is wearing actual clothes (or firefighting gear...). It was a major fire, which completely gutted about 7 apartments, but thankfully no one was injured, and miraculously our apartment was spared - we didn't even have smoke damage.

After the fire, as one can imagine, everyone was a bit on edge, and there were lots of false alarms which required everyone to exit the building, probably around 7 or 8 times. I've finally gotten to the point where my heart doesn't start racing when I hear firetrucks on the street (a rather frequent occurrence, as we live on a busy street near about 7o fire stations), so imagine the jumps my heart took when, on Tuesday night, I looked out the window and saw a fire truck pulled up in front of the building. Of course it was night, and the kids were already in bed. We got their shoes (and my purse - didn't bring it during the real fire, and learned to always bring your purse) and as the firefighters were evacuating us, we quickly removed ourselves.

Turns out there was a gas smell in the hall, so the firefighters were called. They finally found the leak, and it turns out it was very small and of no danger at all. Excellent.

And then, somebody went across the street to get a piece of pizza, and reported that he smelled gas across the street. This caused the firefighters to throw up their hands and glance heavenward (neither of which I enjoy seeing firefighters doing) and they headed across the street. It was eventually decided that all was well with our building, and we brought our sleepy kids (actually, I was a whole lot more sleepy than they were) inside.

Today, the street looks like this:

Yup, that's a big old whole in the middle of the street with a worker standing in it. Guess our little problem helped find a slightly bigger one!

Thursday, June 4, 2009

How Many????

Today is my grandparent's 65th wedding anniversary. Yes, you read that correctly - 65! We got to see them over the weekend and were able to celebrate this momentous occasion. As my mother says, "That's a long time to be civil to somebody." Never was a truer word spoken.

We all love you, Oma and Opa, and were so glad we were able to celebrate with you. We wish you many more!

Monday, June 1, 2009

Yes, I Still Knit

Case in point. These are made of a lovely German yarn called On Line Supersock Summer Color. It's a wool/cotton/polyamid blend, and was quite nice to work with. I like it quite a bit better than Sockotta, which was tough on my hands. I started these on the plane to Florida, and got through most of one leg in straight stockinette before I decided that the cotton would make them too stretchy without ribbing. So I ripped them out and began again on the plane trip home. They knit up very soft, and I think will be nice for spring. The colors are pretty, and interestingly they actually lined up for the second sock. I don't try to match my sock stripes - I figure when the colors are this wacky, matching stripes won't really be the issue - but when I started the second sock, the stripe progression was almost in exactly the same place. Cool - I always like it when I can achieve something that looks complicated with absolutely no work on my part whatsoever.