Monday, January 31, 2011

in case you didn't hear

We had a birthday party here tonight. Shi's birthday was yesterday so we celebrated tonight with funfetti cake with funfetti frosting. I had no idea how easy and colorful cake could be, but how can you go wrong with sprinkles in and on the cake?

And she seemed to like her gift.

Today is Cailin's first birthday. So hard to believe how fast time goes by. She can show you "one" and is taking a few hesitant steps here and there as often as she feels like it.

Got to spend several hours with little girls on my lap. The best. Note--various girls on my lap all evening. Cannot beat those little sweeties so close.

Oh, and in case you missed it, I totally kicked butt just dancin' tonight. Not sure how anybody could have missed the celebration. Won three songs in a row. Against far younger opponents. I mean partners. No I wasn't dancing with the girlies. Although they can really bust a move for being so young.

I have to go soak myself in hot water so I'll be able to walk tomorrow. And so my arms don't fall off.

Friday, January 28, 2011

willie nelson is singing in the background

I found this poem while sorting through a pile of papers. It was in a bunch of things my gramma had clipped out of the newspaper over the years. It makes me a bit sad to think that this poem spoke to her enough that she clipped and saved it...

I Know Not Why
by James J. Metcalfe

I know there have been many times...That I have made you cry...But if you asked me, honestly...I could not tell you why...I could not answer you at all...And I could not explain...Why I have drawn aside the sun...In favor of the rain...I really love and cherish you...And deep down in my heart...I would not know which way to turn...If ever we should part...And yet I do the foolish things...That fill your eyes with tears...And give so little of myself...To help you through the years...When all the while I love you, dear...And whether old or new...The only hopes and dreams I hold...Are those I have of you.

about school

Earned so far:

Associate of Applied Science degree in Paralegal Studies
Associate of Science degree in Economics

Still to come:

Bachelor of Science degree in Legal Studies
Minor in Business Management

And because I'm a total over-achiever:

As part of the Bachelor's degree, take the required courses that will allow me to take the Real Estate certification test. Not because I've ever had a screaming desire to sell real estate, but because it's there and we all know I can't pass up an opportunity.

Oh, and as part of the Bachelor's degree, I'm also taking a couple of marketing classes in the entrepreneurial field because there's this stretch of highway between my school and my job that has no--absolutely none, not one--gas station or 7/11 or bathroom and I keep thinking that if I come into a small fortune and decide to give up my day job and my real estate agent plan, I could always buy some property along that stretch of highway and build a gas station/minimart/place with bathrooms and have my own business. It would need to have a Subway or something healthy like that in addition to Little Debbie's and Diet Coke.

So. That's my career plans. Briefly.

Thursday, January 27, 2011

there's this and there's that

I think I mentioned I'm a senior in college, right? These are things about my school:

1. It has these really cool hand dryers in the bathrooms. Dyson. (that will probably only mean something to Jr.) They dry your hands in like 12 seconds and make your skin look like you're in some commercial for airplanes that let you hang outside the windows. So cool.

2. The toilet paper in the bathrooms is the thinnest paper I've ever seen. Not so cool.

3. Most of the time, my classes are okay, and my classmates are okay. Sometimes though, I have to remind them that there is more to life than FoxNews and if they (or my instructors) use phrases that have been coined by people who talk on Fox News, that, in and of itself may be offensive or at least a little irritating.

4. I'm old enough to have earned the right and obligation to say if something is offensive or at least a little irritating. Which might make me offensive or irritating, but that's how it goes.

5. I've passed calculus, so pretty much everything else is cake. I'm working on a motto--that might be it--I've passed calculus, so pretty much everything else is cake. Something about the last three semesters being almost all math, all of the time, has made this semester seem so much easier. Might come back to bite me on the butt when I take my first tests and realize I should have studied more, but, well, for now, I've passed calculus, so pretty much everything else is cake.

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

shopping and gorilla super glue

You know how I am about lists, right?

So Jr and I went shopping on Sunday with my list from Alicia Richmond from my closet cleanout/outfit creation event. Let's just say that I didn't find everything on the list because I a) ran out of time, b) thought I'd only spend $100 or so that day, and c) well, I did get nearly everything on the list and I spent waay more than planned.

But shopping with Jr is always a blast. And I am all about finishing off my list, right? So, check, check, check!

Jr and I only picked up a few things that weren't on the list--an adorable jacket that was a steal, and a bunch of jewelry that was such a deal-80% off for some of it--that we couldn't pass up. I needed some chunky wooden jewelry and found just such a bracelet that came with a cute companion bracelet that was metal with an ivory and brown inset. I'm pretty sure that the reason that particular set of jewelry was such a deal is because the ivory and brown part was unnoticeably broken when we bought it--and it broke into four pieces when one of the girls dropped it on the carpet.

This is where the Gorilla Super Glue comes into the story. Last night, I got out my little bottle of Gorilla Super Glue. It's a little tiny, harmless looking bottle. I squirted a bit of the glue on the metal part of the bracelet and slipped one of the ivory and brown parts onto it. Squirted a bit more glue on it, a little more ivory and brown. More glue, more ivory and brown. And final bit of glue and final ivory and brown. Seems simple enough, right?

I'm squeezing the ivory and brown sections together because they're a bit loose, but it's all looking good.

Until I realize that the glue is oozing out around the edges and onto my fingers and thumbs and onto the bracelet--and did I mention the Gorilla Super Glue sets up in 30 seconds or something really quick like that? And the bracelet and I are becoming one? Along with the bottle of Gorilla Super Glue. And the tissue that for some reason I thought would be good to use to wipe off the excess Gorilla Super Glue. But it turns out that tissue isn't really good for wiping off excess Gorilla Super Glue. And water isn't good for wiping off excess Gorilla Super Glue either. Nor is hot soapy water.

It isn't a good idea to try to pull the bottle of Gorilla Super Glue off of your thumb either, unless you want the little teeny writing on the bottle of the Gorilla Super Glue to stay on your thumb where you will be unable to a) remove it or b) read it. Even if it happens to contain the instructions for removing Gorilla Super Glue from your skin.

So then, I thought, hmmm, do I call Poison Control about this situation? And then I remember Google--place with all the answers--so I Google "Gorilla Glue" and one of the first options is "First Aid" and I just have to chose one of the four options: Removing Gorilla Super Glue from your skin, What if I get Gorilla Super Glue in my eyes? What if I swallow Gorilla Super Glue? or What if I breathe in Gorilla Super Glue?

Let's just say that I was so relieved that a) the Gorilla Super Glue was dry enough that I didn't stick to my computer keys, and b) I only got Gorilla Super Glue on my hands and not in my eyes or mouth or nose or lungs.

Turns out that Gorilla Super Glue may be removed by gently rubbing the skin under warm, soapy water or by rubbing with acetone. That warm, soapy water thing? Doesn't work when the Gorilla Super Glue is dry. And the fingernail polish remover I have in my house? No-acetone formula, which is more gentle for the nails. And doesn't remove Gorilla Super Glue. But at least I didn't stick to the hot or cold water taps or the fingernail polish remover bottle or the cottonball I used to try to remove the Gorilla Super Glue.

According to the directions on my thumb, and the directions online, it appears that the most important thing is to not try to peel off the Gorilla Super Glue. Rubbing is okay. Peeling is not.

Sanding worked really well on the ivory and brown and metal part of the bracelet. Well, not really sanding, more filing, like with, of course, a fingernail file. Emery board is what I used to sand off the dried excess glue that was on the bracelet. But I did not use it to file the excess glue and tissue that was on all of my fingers, both of my thumbs, and also dotted about on my hands. But not my nose, mouth, or lungs, so see, that's good.

And tonight, just 24 hours later, I think almost all of the Gorilla Super Glue has been rubbed or washed off of me. I am so relieved to not be stuck to the bracelet and the bottle of glue and the tissue and the hot and cold taps and the fingernail polish remover and the cottonball and my computer keys and GusGus and JoJo and maybe a cat or two and who knows what else.

Not sure I can wear that bracelet now...

Friday, January 21, 2011

my christmas present from jack

please disregard the jeans under the skirt
ps most of the stuff in this photo is no longer in my closet

I spent this afternoon enjoying one of my Christmas presents from Jack.

I think I mentioned a couple of weeks ago that we hauled a full car load of clothing to The Road Home, right? That cleaning was in preparation for today's visit from Alicia Richmond of Chic on a Shoestring.

Jack made arrangements for Alicia to come to our house today to tell me what clothes to keep, what else to get rid of, and what to put together with what so that I look good.

I was a bit apprehensive. I mean, I know what I like, right, and even if my dad thinks I have lousy knees, you know, what does he know anyway?

But, I had nothing to worry about. It was fun and Alicia was so good at what she does. She quickly figured out what shape my body is and pointed out that I have great legs! I love her!

Okay. Enough words. Let's have some pictures.

These three dresses all look better with my shorter length cardigan instead of the longer one I typically wear.

I would never have thought to pair the cranberry cardigan with my gray shift.

Another brilliant idea--the brown cardigan with my green shift. Add some chunky wood jewelry and I'm set.

And I would have never thought to pair the brown tweed skirt with the blue sweater, but it looked great!

A pink cashmere sweater or a pink fitted shirt works with either the gray pencil skirt or the wool plaid skirt.

I never thought about pairing my taupe suit pants with anything but my taupe jacket, but they look great with the brown cardigan and that print top that showed up in an online order from Kohl's. I didn't order it but it was inadvertently included in my order and Kohl's customer service told me to keep it as their gift.

And then there's the brown tweed skirt with the cream tank and the green sweater I bought at Ann Taylor a couple of years ago. I'd never been able to figure out how many buttons to do up, but I think Alicia got it just right!

Alicia mixed my neutrals with the colors I have in my closet but haven't been able to feel comfortable wearing. She also suggested jewelry and accessory options and gave me a list of items I can purchase to increase the number of outfits without huge expense. She also gave me a great list of style tips. I highly recommend Alicia if you want somebody who can help you wear clothes that feel good and look good and don't cost a fortune.

Sadly, these are some of the items that will no longer be a part of my wardrobe, but they are not my friends. I think there are a couple of things that could be good friends with certain people who have been in my closet before, so hey, if you know who you are, stop over soon and pick them up before they find a new home that isn't your home...

Yes, Jessie, that striped sweater is calling out for you

and Shi, I think the raspberry sweater wants you!

Thursday, January 20, 2011

pay attention

I feel once again blasted by all of the commercials for medications--ads for drugs that I might need, likely must need--for all sorts of ailments, most of which, gratefully I've never even heard of. I can't believe how often I'm informed of some drug I might need while watching the evening news.

But can I just say to you, dear readers, please, please, please listen to those warnings the pharmaceuticals have read ever so quietly, and read that fine print in the ads in the magazines and on the receipts when you pick up a new prescription.

Pay attention and think seriously about whether or not the risks are worth the benefits you are promised by use of the medication. Pharmaceuticals don't spout those warnings willy-nilly. I don't think they want to warn users about risks that don't exist.

So please, pay attention, and choose wisely.

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

now i'm really irritated

This new school of mine. Sheesh. Tuition was due today. I whipped out my Visa and brought up my account online. And that is when I realized--MY SCHOOL DOESN'T TAKE VISA.

Whaaa??? American Express yes. Mastercard yes. Discover yes. Diners Club yes. Seriously? Diners club but not Visa?


So of course, I forgot all about paying tuition until I was almost home from work. I stopped at one of the banks that I have a Visa with so I could get a cash advance to deposit into my credit union checking account and then pay my tuition. Turns out that that Visa has a couple of cash advance rules--1. Limits on cash advance amounts and 2. If you ask for a cash advance that is higher than your cash advance limit, you will be declined and can't ask for another lower cash advance until tomorrow.

So I began my search for another of the banks that I have a Visa with, finally caving and calling Jack so he could check on the web for a bank location. Not one of those located anywhere near my credit union. Of course. I spent the next 27 minutes driving in the wrong direction and then another wrong direction and then another wrong direction, trying to find an open bank location. I finally found one up by the mountains, and amazingly, I had sufficient cash advance available on this Visa and the delightful tellers counted out the money.

I race to my car, whip out my blackberry and call Jr--over and over and over and over until he finally answers--because I know he is working at the credit union and if ever there is a time I need a favor from one of my kids, it is right now, because I seriously do not want to pay the $100 late fee if I don't get the tuition paid today.

Jr says none of the tellers still have their drawer out, except for him, and he can't do a transaction for me, but he assures me I can deposit the money into my account via the ATM and he can lift the hold, so at this point, my tuition is almost paid, right?

Except, that's when I realized that Jr has my debit card--not a big deal, right--except that when I call him to point that out, he remembers that my debit card is on the bar at home where he left it this morning. Crap. But he points out that we can deposit the money in his account and his coworker can lift the hold and voila! it's all good again.

But. Turns out his coworker doesn't have the proper authorization to release the hold.

So I come back home and Jr has my $1800 in his account until tomorrow morning.

Until I realize I can set up a student payment plan and pay just a couple of hundred dollars tonight and then pay off the rest either in three easy payments over the next three months OR totally pay it off tomorrow.

So there you go. No Visa. Totally messed up. But paid.

But what's really bugging me more than any of that is that at the first bank there was a young woman who seemed familiar and even more so when she said, "You don't remember me, do you?" and that's when I realized who she was and we chatted and she tried to help me but I needed to wait on the phone for eight minutes to speak with someone in India (true) who couldn't raise my cash advance limit or authorize a second attempted cash advance but will get back to me in a few days to increase my limit--and the worst part of it all is that I can't remember that helpful familiar girl's name and I refuse to call Stu and ask him because that would mean I am totally turning into my mom who does that to me all of the time--"Do you remember so and so who lived blahblah--you know, they had kids your age or your brother's age--blahblahblah?"

I'm not doing that.

After I got home and paid my tuition, Jr and Jack came through by showing me this video that includes my big brother (the guard with the great hair) in it that cracked me up, and may or may not be real, but turns out I'm not really all that irritated at all. The drummer pointed out that there's no way that guy could have gotten away from my bro.

Monday, January 17, 2011

one sweet kid

Yesterday morning, I awoke to freshly made crepes with homemade raspberry jam.

Yesterday for dinner we enjoyed beef bourguignon with roasted red potatoes and a crusty french bread.

I didn't make any of it. Jr did. All of it. I love his love of all things french. And his fondness for cooking.

And especially him. Thanks, kid.

Sunday, January 16, 2011

more about gdog

Last night, Gus and JoJo were outside, and Jack, Jr, and I were downstairs watching Arrested Development reruns on Netflix. For some reason that no one can explain, Little Black Cat Louise came into the theater room, hopped up on my lap, and began rubbing up under my chin just like she did before we got Gus. She hadn't quite worked herself up to a purr when Jr said, "Hi Gus." That's all he said. Hi Gus. Gus wasn't in the house. But Weezer stopped, instantly hissed, and bolted from the room, back into the storage room that she and the other cats have claimed as theirs.

That is the effect Gus has on the cats. I suspect it is his nonstop barking at them as well as his attempts to jump up and on them that has caused them to refuse to participate in the bff project anymore. I'd like to think that given enough time, Gus and the kitties could become friends, but it may take more time than any of them have in this life.

Things to know about Gus
  • He really has no interest in chasing balls but loves to hang onto JoJo's neck while she runs after a ball
  • He thinks he can jump from one shelf vertically onto the next shelf up and has convinced the cats of that ability even though obviously, he's never been able to successfully complete this trick
  • He has figured out that the bathtub has water in it and since he isn't tall enough to drink from the toilet, he instead leaps into the tub regularly and waits for the water to start flowing even though he has clean water in a bowl in the kitchen which is always a total surprise to him, like he's never seen it before and is puzzled when it magically appears
The dog was shortchanged when brains were being handed out and I mean that in the kindest way possible--
  • He can't remember anything except a few of his people--well, that isn't totally accurate; he learned right off how to catch human food when tossed at him. Yep, we taught him that.
  • He seems to hear stuff that nobody else hears, and he is always quite certain that we need to be alerted to that something, so he leaps from the piece of furniture he's sitting on, races to the front door, and races back, barking wildly all of the way, but making sure nobody could possibly think for a second that he's going to be the one barking at the door scaring off whatever has caused the commotion he thinks is ongoing because he certainly is not going to wait around for some big scary noise to get him. It used to be that whenever Gus heard something and started barking and leaping about that JoJo would immediately join in the warning. Not so much now. He's a bit dramatic.
  • He also missed out when the sense of smell was being handed out. Probably wouldn't be so obvious if he didn't live with JoJo who seems to have an ultra-developed sense of smell. If Gus doesn't see you throw a bite of food to him, it isn't there to him. Even if it's under his foot. Jo, on the other hand, can circle the yard and locate the ball you threw most recently from the other dozen strewn about even if it's in the wading pool or a clump of grass or behind the shed.
Some of my favorite things about Gus are:
  • He learned right off how to jump up into my arms while I'm standing up and has taught himself how to turn a jump into a somersault for those times when I'm not expecting him to leap into my arms
  • He is quite simply adorable when he stands on his hind legs and does his prairie dog imitation
  • He loves to snuggle up and give kisses--the other day I saw him laying next to Jo with his paw across her nose, licking and cleaning her eyes as though she were his baby. That was total sweetness compared to their occasionally intense disagreements over rawhide bones.
One of the oddest quirks about Gus is his determination to rid the world of bugs. He is fascinated by the buzzing things in the gardens during the warm months, and even during winter with all of the snow, his normal pattern upon going out back is to run immediately to the dead clumps of perennials in hopes that something will be flying or crawling around so he can pounce on it and end its life.

In addition to his other issues, Gus seems to have extremely poor eyesight. Every now and then, he finds a spider in the house and will knock it off the wall and eat it before the spider has a chance to escape. He's so quick that way. And just last week, I watched him pounce on and eat a piece of lint on the bathroom floor before it could get away, and later, he also carefully licked a freckle on my collarbone, doing his best to try to remove it.

With all of the issues he deals with, you might think that Gus would be a bit sour on life. Certainly, he could suffer from the little dog syndrome and he could feel bitter considering that he has an overdeveloped sense of hearing accompanied by a huge imagination and nearly no eyesight or sense of smell. Occasionally he gets a bit testy with JoJo, especially when she's holding him down and squeaking one of her balls on top of him or when he's working on a rawhide chew and she casually strolls by and distracts him by whispering "here, kitty, kitty" and then takes his chew while he explodes across the room in search of the cat. But most of the time, considering everything, he's a pretty good sport, even when he forgets to put down his back leg while running and even when he can't slow down and races full speed through the kitchen and slams the wall when he can't quite make the turn into the hallway. He's easy to pick up and comfort and then he's off again.

Besides, small dog = small poop.

Friday, January 14, 2011

little bits of chicken

So tonight, I'm feeling really crappy, not like fixing dinner, but during the NBC news I kept hearing a commercial over and over about a great deal on a bucket of KFC, so I suggest to Jack that maybe he could pick up something like that for dinner, which he does.

We eat our KFC, Jack and Jr and me, and as we're finishing up, Jack puts a little bit of chicken on my plate, so I eat it. Then he puts a couple more little bits on my plate, and I'm thinking, well isn't that nice of him to make sure I'm getting enough protein, and then he looks me in the eye and asks what I'm doing, eating that chicken he's cutting up for the dogs--you know, Jo can have his plate and Gus can have mine.

Silly me, thinking it was for me just because he was putting it on my plate. So funny.

just two things

Can I say that:

1. I really do not like it when Blockbuster sells my boys a theatre-size box of stale Jr Mints--you know the kind, right, where some are stuck to the inside of the box and some are hard instead of soft inside minty goodness?

2. The cold won. I went to school and then went to Jessie's and then went to school (to get my add card stamped by my advisor because the advisor's office isn't open until 9:00 and isn't open on Saturday, the other day that I'm at school) and then went to work--and then collapsed on my bed around noon today and didn't even have the strength to tell Gusgus to please quit barking at the imaginary voices in his head so I could sleep. I slept the whole afternoon and feel so much better now.

3. Yes I know I said two, but I have one more. Why do students have to park so far away from class and employees get the closest three parking lots? Especially sick students? Older sick students who have a kick-butt cold and don't feel like walking in the snow down two flights of stairs and down a sidewalk that slopes downhill another two flights of stairs that only puts them on the second floor of the building that they need to be in and then yes, down another flight of stairs? And that walk is what I paid premium parking fees for. As I was trudging down the last set of stairs, it occurred to me that I would need to walk that same path to get back to my car but uphill. Argh. I tried to feel good about the walking that I would be doing for the next 15 weeks and how fabulously in shape I'll be. But mostly, I just wanted to know why the employees get to park up close. Customer service, people. When I worked at Sears, I had to park in the lot furthest away from the store. Perhaps today I was a bit out of breath from the cold--in my body and outside there on the pathway to my car. And now, I'm worn out from that little rant. Back to bed for me.

on being the mom, with a cold

Two days ago, I woke up feeling fine, and then involuntarily swallowed, realizing my throat was clogged by two racketballs. Or, at least that's what it felt like, and my first thought was, crap, I'm sick and I'm going to feel like this, specifically, throat-clogged sick, for at least three days. There goes my perfect attendance at work this year.

Laying in bed this morning, I realized that this is not the worst cold I've ever had, and that is quite amazing, because until now, I think I've always thought that the present cold is the worst ever. This one has the throat clogging issue accompanied by some aching and nearly non-stop runny nose and eyes, which are the reason why I'm awake before the birds and sun today. I have likely exposed all of my co-workers and will expose all of my classmates today and tomorrow, in my foolish effort to be stronger than the cold and an even stronger effort to have perfect attendance in 2011. Oh well. Apologies to my co-workers and classmates--I have and will continue to wash frequently and cover my nose and mouth--did I mention the frequent sneezing?

While laying in bed this early morning, trying to determine whether I should rise and locate tissues or stay under the warm cover of dogs and sheets and blankets, hoping the running would subside, I considered again the recent shootings in Arizona.

When my firstborn was three years old, I vividly remember telling his pediatrician that he was asking questions nonstop and wondered what I should do with that. The good doctor responded that I should answer all questions, enthusiastically, because that would encourage curiosity in the boy, which would stimulate his desire to learn, and cause him to grow up smart.

When my second child was three, I vividly remember telling her pediatrician that her older sibling was extremely frustrated with her because she had realized that she didn't have to do everything her older brother told her to do and he didn't like this change in events. He liked being the decisionmaker, the play planner, the boss of her, but she, well, she didn't. She was an individual who liked to decide and plan and boss too.

That wise, young pediatrician gave me the best advice of my parenting career. He told me that as long as they were not physically harming or publicly humiliating each other, I should let them work it out themselves.

Because there are people physically harming others and publicly humiliating others, the mom in me wants to step in and separate the kids and send everybody to time out. It feels like it's time for everyone to sit down at the kitchen table and write a list of ten things they like about their opponent and then give the other person a hug and say I'm sorry for being so mean and for causing you so much pain. Because even if this is America and anyone can say whatever he or she wants about anybody else, and even if there are mentally unstable people who hear voices of people who aren't there and think irrational thoughts and behave in irrational ways, and even if no one is to blame for those irrational acts but the actor himself, the mom in me still wants everyone to get along and stop the bickering before we have to turn this car around and go home and take naps.

Tuesday, January 11, 2011

i can't stop

The shootings in Arizona are still with me.

I keep running it through my head and this is the latest I have:

1. Gun laws--really do we need semi-automatic handguns in the hands of anybody? I know cops have them and bad guys have them, but really do we need them?

2. Freedom of Speech--vital right given to us all--but doesn't some level of responsibility come with it? Even if you eliminate this latest tragedy, hasn't there been an increasingly larger amount of negative, hateful, mean-spirited talk spewed in the world and a huge increase in the number of ways we are all assaulted--not just in politics but all over the TV and the radio and the internet and the facebook and on and on and on and example after example after example of people behaving badly while others nod and agree and smile and a few make money from the bad behavior?

3. He's a madman--really? That's the best we can do? Blame it on the crazy and walk away? I read several articles yesterday that pointed out that research shows that mental illness--bipolar disease and schizophrenia, the two mental illnesses that most commonly include hallucinations and delusions--is not typically associated with violent behavior. The level of violence increases only slightly in association with mental illness. Most violence is associated with alcohol or drug abuse. Yet the media will scream, "MENTAL ILLNESS--CRAZYMAN" leaving us feeling vulnerable and uncomfortable and afraid of those who are truly ill and deserve compassion.

4. I'm trying to not take one side over the other politically. I really am. But. I can't help but wonder how the side of the aisle that is so determined to pin this attack on crazy is also the same side that is so determined to cut social spending--the very social spending that provides the care needed for those who suffer from debilitating mental illness. Really?

Sunday, January 9, 2011

i just don't get it

Every time I think about the congresswoman who was shot yesterday in front of a Tuscon Safeway, I feel physically sick.

I want to look away when I hear the debate on TV over whether the shooter was influenced by the hate and lack of civility in congress and the media or whether one side of the aisle is using the shooting in a political manner.

What is wrong with us? We are spinning out of control, down, down, down.

i admit it

I'm exhausted. I need to get back to work to rest.

I attended my first class Friday morning at 7:00 am. Yes, it's 35 miles away.

I had hoped to be able to maybe attend only occasionally or perhaps even test out, but no, this class (in which I will learn over the next 16 weeks to write a really good resume and cover letter) requires attendance every week because half of the grade is based on attendance.

After class on Friday, since it was an off day, I headed one exit south to Jessie's for a quick visit with her and the girls accompanied by homemade oatmeal applesauce muffins and o.j. It was very nice.

Next, I headed home to finish cleaning out my closets and sorting through the clothes and coats, eventually filling up my car with clothes and coats that Jack and I dropped of at The Road Home. I thought about taking a picture of the embarrassingly large pile of empty hangers, but instead hauled them to the garage. Meant to take them to the trash, but got distracted, so if you need any hangers, I know where you could score a bunch.

It seems like there was a bunch of cleaning and laundering and such, but it escapes me right now.

Saturday morning, it was back to school at 8:00 a.m. for my Race & Ethnicity class followed at 10:45 by my Business Law class. I'm going to try to withhold judgment on the classes for now, but let's just say that after the first class I wanted to discipline several classmates for how totally clueless they seemed to be, but maybe that's why we get to take this class, right? The second class was a total exercise in biting my tongue, although it probably didn't seem that way to my classmates or teacher. For most of the two plus hours, I wanted to ask him to site his sources because it felt so questionably biased, like maybe I had entered the wrong room and was in conservative news 1010? I don't know, it was just discouraging. But I will persevere, I will continue to attend, I will raise my hand and my voice as often as, well, as often as I can, even if the three kids behind me continue to sigh and moan every time I speak.

Saturday afternoon was spent cleaning and making a yummy dessert for later after dinner with Colleen and Gary and then just dancing with them and Sugar and Fenton. We haven't had a fun night out with friends like that in I don't know how long.

Today began with breakfast with Stu and his family and the drummer and his girl and Jr and Jack. It is good to eat together. And then just dance together. And then nap before Jessie and her brood came up for dinner and more dancing.

Food and dancing and school. That's my life. Not so bad, really. Pretty great, really.

Wednesday, January 5, 2011

did i mention

1. I completed my associate's degree in economics.
2. I cleaned out the storage room downstairs.
3. I begin my senior year in college on Friday morning at UVU. That's 7:00 a.m. Friday morning. I may need to sleep over with some of the girlies every Thursday night for the next 16 weeks.
4. I moved the girlies' toys from the hallway closet into the toy bedroom closet and sorted through the heaps of clothing I'd packed into the bedroom closet so I could donate most if not all of the pile.

Okay, I haven't sorted through the clothes yet, but I am very close to sorting. And donating. So if anybody wants anything from that closet to recycle into something cute for a young girl, they'd better hustle on over here before Sunday.

I'm just saying.

Oh and I was just kidding about the sleepovers. Unless I'm invited...

Tuesday, January 4, 2011

am i alone here?

Am I the only one who is feeling discouraged by the following items in the news today:

1. New session of congress about to begin. Lots of assurances that all changes of the past two years will be canceled and replaced by certainly better changes.
2. The commander of a Navy ship made videos that should have been used during how-not-to-behave training but were instead considered entertainment.
3. Yet another black man who spent 30 years in prison for a crime he didn't commit was freed and his conviction overturned thanks to DNA evidence.
4. Thousands of black birds were found dead in Arkansas and Louisiana.

Sunday, January 2, 2011

me and cats

My love for cats goes way back.

The first cat I fell for was a stray kitten that followed me home from first grade. Or perhaps I saw it on my way home from school and noticed it walking behind me for a few steps because that's what kittens do, and then I picked it up and carried it the rest of the way home with me.

I don't remember having a plan about how I would take care of it and I didn't think of it as stealing someone else's kitten--I just thought it was adorable and I wanted it, so I kept it. After all, I was only six and it was cold outside and obviously it wanted to be with me, right?

Somehow, I got the kitten past my mom's ever watchful eye and into my bedroom. Even at that tender age, I had figured out that there was a high likelihood that she would say no, go put it back where you found it (remember, the day-after-Halloween trick-or-treating with my younger brother had already happened and I sure didn't want to go through that nightmare again and have to apologize for taking something that seemed so reasonable for me to have), so I closed my bedroom door and played quietly with the kitten for the rest of the day. Looking back, it is amazing that I got away with that part--the closed door part--because my mom was a huge fan of leaving the bedroom doors open--well, except for when she wanted the doors closed and kids in their rooms being quiet, so she'd close the door and hook the latch she'd installed at the top of the door. At some point in my life, I realized that not everybody's mom locked them into their rooms, but at the time she did it, it just seemed like one more way that she was clearly in charge, she was big and I was little, get used to it.

Anyway. The kitten. We played all afternoon together and I fell madly in love with this sweet little fluffy baby. When my mom called us to dinner, I panicked just a bit, but then realized I could just close my bedroom door and the kitty would be there, safe and sound, when I returned.

I had never finished my dinner so quickly. Because I was so young, I wasn't allowed to help with the dishes, so as soon as possible, I slipped away from my chair and headed back to my room.

That is when I realized I had adopted a magical kitten. It had disappeared. I was totally baffled. I knew I'd shut the door tight and nobody had been in my room, but the kitten was no where to be found. I was heartbroken and convinced that not only had my mom found the kitten and disposed of it, but she was being extra cruel by not even admitting it to me.

I began quietly weeping. And that's when I heard the little mew. Startled, I looked around, certain that my brothers must be in on the joke and were playing an even more cruel prank. But they were nowhere in sight. I listened intently and heard another mew. I began calling, kitty? kitty? and before long, I located the kitty. It had scaled my closet shelves and was up on the top shelf, high out of my reach.

It was about this time when my mom poked her head into my room and found my tear-stained cheeks. She followed my gaze to the top of my closet at about the same time that the kitten mewed again. I believe her response was a combination of: "What is that doing in your closet?" and "Oh my, what a cute little kitty." My explanation tumbled out--it followed me home, it's so cute, I love it, can't we keep it, as my mom coaxed the little fluffball off of the shelf and into her arms.

I had never before seen my mother behave so tenderly. You see, she has a soft spot for kittens too.

She was amazed that I'd been able to keep it from her for so long and explained that we could keep it but it would have to live outside. We got it a bowl of milk, which it eagerly lapped up. At some point, my mom found some yarn and showed me how kittens like to chase things, and after all of the feeding and holding and playing, I heard the kitten's rough purr for the first time. I was smitten with kitty love.

I remember feeling very sad about not getting to sleep with the kitty that night, but my parents assured me it would be fine outside and I could play with it when I awoke in the morning.

I'd like to say that I had that cat for many years, that we spent lots of Purina kitty chow moments. Unfortunately, the kitten had an accident that involved my dad's truck. My parents were devastated when they told me about it. Within a very short time, my mom found a new kitten, Mimi, a Siamese, who lived for several years and was followed by Sammy, another Siamese, who lived until I was 19.

Yesterday, I decided to clean out the storage room in our basement where the cats have been living since Gus joined our family. Let's just tell the story in pictures:

My injuries were not life threatening. As much as I like Gus, sometimes, I wish he would just shut up about how much he wants to play with the kitties and maybe even just let them sleep on my bed with me occasionally. That would probably help out the 3:00 am wakings. There's nothing like sleeping with a cat curled up next to your back or legs to help you feel safe and warm. I learned that back in first grade.

Saturday, January 1, 2011

the ballet 2010

Jr and the girls and their moms and I went to the ballet for yesterday afternoon's matinee performance of the Nutty Nutcracker.

This year's Nutty performance included cameos by Marilyn Monroe, Elvis, Dolly Parton, Willie Nelson, Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers, Dracula, the Hunchback, Dorothy, Gene Kelly, Lady Gaga, Madonna, Cher, Beyonce, Brittney Spears, Frankenstein's monster, the Bride of Frankenstein, Darth Vader, Han Solo, Jackie Chan, James Bond, Kevin Eubanks, Jeanie and Major Nelson, and many others I can't remember right now.

The Nutty ballet would probably be more entertaining and less confusing to the girlies if Elmo and Dora and the Disney princesses were performing, but we all seemed to enjoy it just the same. My favorite moments were:

1. Audrey's delight by the Gene Kelly "Singin' in the Rain" segment. She's only three.
2. Breanne and Audrey's discussion, accompanied by much "shushing" from Jr, regarding whether the dancing girl was named "Jeanie" or "Jasmine" and whether she was a genie or a princess. Breanne wasn't budging: Her name was Jasmine and she's a princess.

photos from Shi's facebook page