Monday, April 28, 2008

Oh so exciting - NOT!

There is just not much going on here. Our HS students have gone home. We had fun with them and Big E especially was thrilled because they enjoyed playing Wii AND frisbee in the back yard. He got his wish!

The weather is cool after having beautiful, sunny 80 degree days last week. It's barely in the 50's today and cloudy. So last week, unseasonably warm, early this week unseasonably cool. Later this week we should be back to normal in the mid 60's. You know it's slow here when I have to talk about the daily weather - no storms or earthquakes, just plain weather.

Sous Chef is having eye surgery on Friday. I expect all will go well and he should be back to his usual self in time to go to school on Monday.

I talked to my best friend today about grammar and accents. I HATE it when people use bad grammar - either when speaking or writing. I REALLY hate it when papers come home from school with grammatical mistakes, misspellings, etc. I go on the assumption that it was just a mistake and is not a reflection of the knowledge of the people teaching my children. I do believe that, but it still drives me nuts. Of course, while writing this and correcting my errors as I go, I realize that I also make these same mistakes. When I read back over some of the stuff I write and see an error, I shake my head and hope no one noticed. Then if I have time, I go back and correct it! It's bad to drive yourself nuts (I prefer to blame my craziness on others) and that's what happens when I find my own writing mistakes.

I think the spiders are back. I have killed several little black ones wondering if they are the offspring of those big hairy black ones I took on last year. Then, last night, I fell asleep on the couch. I woke up about midnight and saw something moving QUICKLY across the floor. I turned on the light, said something along the lines of "SHIT" and got a shoe and took out that spider. I am fairly sure he was running in the dark of night because it heard about what kind of spider hater I am. All I can say is "oh my, help me through this spider season!" I may have to call and exterminator.

Thursday, April 24, 2008

This is why we do it.

I have had more than one person say "I would never do that" or "That seems like a lot of work" when I have talked about having these two students come to stay with us or when we hosted the student for a week with the Up With People program.

Tonight, Big E and I picked up the two high school boys. They are both very cute, outgoing and friendly boys. I think they were relieved to discover that, even though they are from two very different cities and schools and two different grades, they have a lot in common - they both wrestle and are distance runners for their schools in addition to their involvement with their school government/student council. Anyway, while Big E and I were waiting to meet them, several other families were also waiting. Big E was getting so excited and started asking about why they were at our high school, what activity brought them there, do they do this in other states, does this happen every year, etc. Then he said: "I want to do this when I am old enough." Sous Chef made a similar statement last year when I took him to the Up With People show at the end of our hosting week.

This is why we do it - why we open our home to strangers and take care of another parents' child. These are the types of role models I want my children to meet and have in our home, even if for a very short time. Young men and women who are leaders in their schools and communities, who are going "out into the world" to have experiences outside of their home, city and schools. And I want my children to know it's ok and to have the confidence to leave home - for a short time, for college or to live in a place where they will experience a new way of life, meet new people and learn new things. I will miss them when/if that time comes, but I would hate for them to miss out on the wonderful opportunities these experiences bring!

I would have guess 1990 ... or after

Last night I was playing at the park with CJ while Sous Chef had baseball practice. CJ made friends with a little boy and they played the entire time together. While I was pushing CJ on the swing, the little boy's parents came over to push their son. I ended up talking with them for a while and found out the husband graduated from a HS in a different suburb of the same city I grew up in. So we chatted about that and he mentioned he graduated in 1988. I told him I graduated in 1986. He looked shocked for a moment and then said, "I would have never guessed you are older than me. I would guessed you graduated in 1990 .... or probably even after that. I certainly thought you were younger than me." Hhhhmmm...is it good to be flattered that you look like a THIRTY SIX YEAR OLD instead of the forty year old that you are?

Our high school students arrive this evening for the student council conference. Big E is super excited to have some older boys in the house and is already planning Wii competitions with them. I have tried to explain they really aren't here for hours at a time and they may just want to rest when they are here. I think all he hears is "I am SURE they will want to play hours on the Wii and then run outside with you to play baseball and disc golf!"

Wednesday, April 23, 2008

Oh shit!

Sous Chef has been watching some videos on YouTube, mainly Pikmin, which is a Pokemon character. You would think most of these would be child friendly, being Pikmin is a child's cartoon character. It's important to always remember, though, that some people making videos, even with a child based character, don't always have the best interest of children in mind. One of the videos has the character using the word "shit." Once this came to Motorcycle Guy's attention, he told Sous Chef he is no longer permitted to watch YouTube without prior permission and a parental screening of the video. The fact that Sous Chef was hearing the word "shit" was not really a huge ordeal. He's heard it before, he'll hear it again, but it just reminded us we need to be more vigilant of what is on the 'net. The funny part of this story is the conversation between me and Sous Chef regarding these videos.

Sous Chef: Dad said I can't watch YouTube anymore unless I ask a parent first.

Me: Really?

Sous Chef: One of the Pikmin videos was using bad words.

Me: What words?

Sous Chef: Well, one of the words you say a lot.

Me: What's that? (Though I already knew the answer.)

Sous Chef: "Oh shit."

Me: Yeah, I do say that a lot.

I can't really quote what Motorcycle Guy said during this conversation because I don't remember, but if it's like any other conversation around my bad language, it was something along the lines of: "Mom needs to watch her language, she talks like a truck driver sometimes. Just because you hear her say it, doesn't mean it's ok for you to say." Ok, he may not have made the "truck driver" comment, THIS time anyway, but that is the general version of him critiquing my potty mouth.

Tuesday, April 22, 2008

High school boys

Starting Thursday, we will have two high school boys staying with us for a few days. They will be attending the 55th Annual Ohio Association of Student Councils State Conference at our high school. Over 700 middle and high school students from around Ohio will be attending. One of our students is from Columbus area and the other is from the Akron area. The one student is a Freshman, so I think the other one will be, too, but I don't know for sure. I spoke with one of the families last night and they seemed relieved to hear from the family their son would be staying with. I have not had a chance to speak with the other family yet. Most of the time with the students is spent in the car shuffling them back and forth, but they will be here for a few hours Thursday night and a few hours Friday night before going home on Saturday morning.

Big E and Sous Chef are excited to have boys coming to stay with us. The last time we hosted a student for a week, it was a girl. I hope in the not too distant future to be able to host a foreign exchange student for the school year!

Monday, April 21, 2008

So sad.

Saturday late afternoon, I was driving past our community center and talking on the phone to my best friend. I had to pull to the side of the road because of the emergency vehicles coming my way. They drove into the community center and I honestly have never seen people get out of an emergency vehicle and run as quickly as these people were. I told Lora, "There is something going on at our community center. I hope no one drowned." On Sunday morning I was watching the news. They reported a 4 year old boy was found floating in the pool. They had revived him after 20 minutes of CPR and he was breathing on his own at Children's Hospital. An hour or so later, the news reported that little boy had died. It took my breath away when I heard that.

This family is certainly in my prayers.

Friday, April 18, 2008

Little Eartquakes

For the second time in my life, I experienced a small tremor due to an earthquake whose epicenter was hundreds of miles away. The first time was when I was in junior high (or maybe high school) and I was sitting in my room doing my hair at my dressing table. The mirror started shaking and it really freaked me out. I ran out of my room and as I was running down the hall, I heard my mom say to me "get off the back of my chair." She thought I was balancing on the chair rung, causing her chair to move. Our neighbor, who was sitting across from my mom was looking very odd, as I was not on the chair and she couldn't figure out why hers had moved, too. My dad came in from outside and between us, we thought maybe there had been a plane crash that caused the earth to shake since we only lived about five miles from the airport. In the end, it was indeed a tremor due to a quake miles and miles away. I honestly don't remember where the epicenter was.

This morning, I felt another one. It was not as strong as I remember that first one. This epicenter was in the Salem, IL area, about 300 miles from where I live. It was about 5:35am, I was laying on the couch (a result of being a poor sleeper at times) and I had the TV on. I was "asleep" - at least my 5:35am version of sleep, which is somewhere between not fully awake, but not in REM sleep either. I felt the movement and thought "Oh, the cat just jumped on the bed." Then I thought, "Wait, we don't have a cat." I opened my eyes and looked around to see if Motorcycle Guy or one of our kiddos was near by that would have caused some kind of movement. Then I chuckled and thought, "Maybe it was an earthquake" but really thinking "it's all in my head." I fell back to sleep and when I woke up about an hour later and they were indeed talking about it on the news and confirmed an earthquake in Illinois near the southeast IL/IN border. Too funny.

Here is the story if you would like to read it. I had to crack up at the title, because while it was a tremor and we don't feel them too often around here, so of course it's a big deal, the title is a little misleading by saying "Earthquake Rocks the Tri-State." Having a good friend who has lived in LA most of our adult lives and has received at least one phone call from me over the years to confirm she is alive and well after life threatening earthquakes and having my best friend live in LA for about a year in the past, I can guarantee, what we experienced did not "rock" the tri-state. It was, however, still exciting for me to feel the tremor!

Thursday, April 17, 2008

oh, the bus!

I know many parents are terrified about their children riding the bus to school. These reasons vary from parent to parent, but include: topics discussed on the bus (sex and boy/girl stuff, Santa Clause, etc.), bullying and other bad behavior. My kids seem to enjoy the bus, one of them a little too much. I have had two phone calls now about Big E misbehaving on the bus. It usually involves him trying to talk to the people around/behind him, which means he has to lean into the aisles or stand up to talk to the other kids. He sits in the front row since that is the seat he picked on the first day, not realizing that would be his seat for the remainder of the year (next year I expect he will choose differently). So the 2nd time I get the call, the bus driver said she was going to write him up and have him talk to the principal. I let Big E know this would happen and he was quite nervous. I explained he had two options - one was to talk with the principal and bus driver about how to resolve the problem, which was to move him into the seat with the girl he likes to talk to. He didn't like that option because he likes having a seat to himself. I told him he can't have it both ways, so he needs to figure out something else. Or that left the second option, which was to stay in his seat and not talk to anyone that he couldn't talk to without turning around, basically that meant he could only talk to the bus driver, and I don't think she is overly interested in talking while driving. As it turns out, he took the mature route and talked to the bus driver the day after the phone call. She told him she did not want him leaning OVER the seats to talk, which apparently he was doing but he thought she was mad because he was leaning into the aisles. She said kind of turning into the aisle would be ok as long as he is not standing up or blocking her vision. She agreed that since he came to talk to her about it, she would not send him to the principal. He was so relieved.

This brings me to my other observation. I know so many parents who would have been in an uproar and would have called the school to bitch and moan that their precious little child was being reprimanded for ANY reason, let alone by a bus driver. Motorcycle Guy and I both have chosen to sit back as much as possible and not be "that" parent. We have yet complained to a teacher or school official for any reprimands our children have received (and they are few and far between, which makes this pretty easy). If and when the time comes one of our children really need us to get involved, we will. For us, that would mean a teacher or administrator who is blatantly rude, mean, attacking, singling out our child or something along those lines. But for those situations where there are reasonable rules to follow and our child has chosen not to, they will have to learn to suffer those consequences and/or take care of it on their own as much as possible. I think Big E handled this very well and realized how easy it is to get things cleared up if you are just willing to discuss the issue with the person who is in charge.

Tuesday, April 15, 2008

Boston, Suicide and $54

We finally have our answer and we will not be moving to Boston. While we were looking forward to the potential of east coast living, I think everyone here is ok with not moving. Maybe another time. I am a firm believer that everything happens for a reason and I can only assume there is something else out for us. I look forward to finding out what that will be! I'm still holding out for somewhere warm, but unfortunately, that usually means the south, which does not appeal a whole lot to me.

In January, I wrote about the local family who became vicitims of their husband/father when he killed the mom and then set the house on fire, resulting in the death of the four children. Last night, Michel Veillette, the father, committed suicide in his jail cell using a sheet and a towel rod. It's an all around sad story. We will never know all of the details that brought on all of these terrible events. Read the story here.

Now the $54. Damn, gas is getting more and more expensive! For the first time ever, or at least that I can remember, it took over $50 to fill my gas tank, and that was with $.10/gallon off! This sucks. I think I will start staying home. Ok, not really, though I might be willing to stay home a little more than usual, so I can stay in my pj's all day!

Monday, April 14, 2008

Runaway Weekend

This past weekend I went away with my moms group. We didn't go far, just to Northern Kentucky. We started on Saturday with lunch and a little shopping. Then to the spa for some serious relaxation and a couple of drinks. My toes look great and my eyebrows are totally under control now. I can actually wear eyeshadow without being into my brow line! We then went to dinner and back to our hotel for some girl talk and drinks. The police/rent a cop even made an appearance at our room telling us to keep it down. We really were NOT being that loud and we think he had the wrong room. There were several groups of people - prom night, weddings, etc. - and they were much louder than we were. On Sunday we went to breakfast and to see the movie CARAMEL. It was good.

Friday, April 11, 2008

The Graduate

Who doesn't love this movie? It was on AMC three times during the last 12 hours. I have seen the last 45 minutes of it twice and recorded it this afternoon so I can watch it whenever I want. It's not only a good movie, but all of the music is by Simon and Garfunkel. As a kid, my mom would play her Simon and Garfunkel albums for me when I couldn't sleep. There is not one song in The Graduate that I don't know almost all the words to. Now I am going to have to dig out my own Simon and Garfunkel CDs and maybe even my Paul Simon music and listen to it in the car.

Thursday, April 10, 2008

A City Mourns

Yesterday, our city watched as two local firefighters were laid to rest. The captain, Robin Broxterman, was the mother of two daughters and was engaged to be married. The firefighter, Brian Schira, who died with her, was only 29 years old. I watched a good deal of the funeral mass and then the graveside service on television. They estimated 1500+ people attended the mass at St. Peter in Chains Cathedral downtown and even more at Spring Grove Cemetery. The roads were closed from the funeral procession in Colerain Twp. all the way to the church and then from the church to the cemetery. Thousands of citizens and firefighters from across the nation lined the streets, Colerain schools closed for the procession. It was a beautiful and moving service and made me proud to live in a community so willing to support their neighbors.

Unfortunately, this scene will be played out again in about two weeks, when the remains of local soldier, Matt Maupin, return to the city and to his family. He was captured in Iraq four years ago after an attack on his convoy and his remains were recently located and identified and his family was notified last week.

Tuesday, April 8, 2008

Cure Chiari

Over the many years of knowing about, living with and having surgeries for a Chiari Malformation and it's secondary complications, I have experienced the usual funny look on people's faces when I talk about it. Then the questions and comments: "What is that?" "I've never heard of that." Over the years, I have had the "privilege" of knowing only two other people with a Chiari malformation. One was a past neighbor friend's son and the other is the daughter of a woman who recently joined the moms group I belong to. Her daughter also has spina bifida, which is not uncommon in Chiari patients. However, the other day Motorcycle Guy came home and said he saw one of those magnetic ribbons on a car that said "Cure Chiari." Then on Sunday, I saw a minivan from Indiana that had the same ribbon and a sticker for Conquer Chiari. I wanted to pull up next to this van and roll down my window and scream "I am a Chiari survivor!" Ok, maybe not those words exactly, but I wanted to talk to this family and see what their experience is with Chiari. Really, I just wanted to hear their story. To have a "disease" that is not common or heard of can be hard and only adds to the challenges. No support groups, no learning from other's experiences, no vast research to determine the best course of treatment. I hope with these ribbons and bumper stickers, that will change for future "survivors." I hope I can help in some way.

Monday, April 7, 2008

Graeter's Ice Cream and Skyline Chili

Two things we really missed while living in Kansas were Graeter's and Skyline. Both are locally "famous." I love Graeter's, but since I am not an ice cream lover, I have never really cared much for other ice cream places. Basically, I went three years without eating much ice cream (except for the time my best friend sent six pints of Graeter's to us in Kansas. Then I went nuts eating ice cream!). I really missed Strawberry Chocolate Chip, which was a seasonal flavor of the month and at the time we left Ohio, it was offered only two months out of the year. We moved back in July of last year, to discover two things about Graeter's. They now offer their seasonal flavors/flavor of the month, for three months at a time! "Yahoo" was all I could think. The second thing we learned was that three month period ended in June. We were three days too late! So I have anxiously been awaiting April for the start of the three month period of strawberry chocolate chip ice cream. These are not your usual chips - they make Nestle's chocolate chips look so wimpy. These are chocolate chunks, similar to taking a Hershey's bar and breaking it up into large pieces. It is heaven. I went to the Graeter's by my house yesterday, along with a book. I sat and read and ate a DOUBLE scoop of my favorite ice cream. It was so good I had a hard time focusing on my book. Of course, I couldn't leave without buying a pint and some ice cream cones. Motorcycle Guy will enjoy what I don't devour first.


As for Skyline, I don't think any of us missed that more than Sous Chef. If there is any doubt how much this kid loves Skyline, check out the picture below! I'm fairly sure if his tongue were long enough, he would lick the extra off his face so there wasn't any chili going to waste. Notice he has some splashed on his forehead and just below his eye. There is also some still stuck in his teeth!

Sunday, April 6, 2008

Cool purchase

Big E's teacher from when we lived in Overland Park, Ms. McKnight, started a store on Etsy. I bought these cool magnets from her store today. All for only $15.75 including shipping! Check her out at: Betsy on Etsy. I am keeping the silver clip ones with the blue/green stones for me and the ones in the tins are going to Big E's and Sous Chef's teachers. Hmmmm...I should have bought some for CJ's teachers!






Saturday, April 5, 2008

Fifth Grade Social

I kept referring to this as a "dance" and was repeatedly corrected. I see now, why it is NOT a dance. I worked the concession stand last night at the fifth grade social. It was fun and I would do it again in a minute. The theme was "Under the Big Top" or something circus like and they had it decorated and had circus food - snacks, cotton candy, popcorn. They also had a juggling show, face painting, karaoke (yes, the kids DID do this) and other games. There was music, but no dancing. There must have been 200 kids there, if not more. I am amazed at the "status" items fifth graders have and I noticed it more with the girls - Coach and Dooney & Bourke purses, the clothes, shoes, haircuts ... the list goes on. While I am a total Coach whore, I didn't have my first Coach purse until I graduated from college! It is already so easy to see the kids personalities - jocks, punk rockers (there were a few mohawks "in the house" but only one that was long, spiky and tinted light blue), prissy girls, athletic girls - you get the picture. They were all very polite though, at least to us when they wanted a drink.

When we left, Big E's friend came home to stay all night at our house. They were in the back of the van talking. Big E asked the boy if he saw the juggling act. I couldn't help but bust out laughing with the response. He said, "NO WAY, I HATE clowns. I will never go to the circus. They totally FREAK me out and I stayed as far away from that juggler as I could." All of us thought it was funny, but he clearly didn't want anything to do with clowns. They were also in the back whispering about a girl that Spencer must like and had his picture taken with. I couldn't hear it all, but I did manage to hear "she was nervous. We were both nervous." I casually turned down the radio a little so I could hear better, but then they just talked lower.

Hhhhmmmmm....I'm going to have to check into that bionic ear.

Friday, April 4, 2008

well said

I saw this bumper sticker today and thought "that is so how I feel about many things in our current times - local and national news, politics/government leaders, Iraqi war and more."

It said: IF YOU AREN'T TOTALLY APPALLED, YOU HAVEN'T BEEN PAYING ATTENTION.

Thursday, April 3, 2008

GROSS!

While we were in New Orleans, CJ came down with a pretty bad cold. My parents kept him home from swimming lessons and school, as he just wasn't himself - laying around a lot, napping, coughing a lot, being stuffy, etc. Yesterday, he seemed fine. He had a runny nose and a cough, but that was all. We went about our day, going to playgroup and out to lunch (maybe I should have foreshadowed what was to come when he only ate chips and salsa for his lunch). We did take a nap, which is not unusual for him, or me. Later in the day, we were driving home from dropping off Big E at a friend's house. Out of nowhere, he starts vomitting profusely. I have never seen so much vomit come out of one person. Sous Chef was in the van, gagging, choking and saying to himself, "look away, Sous Chef, just look away!" Of course, looking in the other direction didn't drown out the sound or hamper the smell, so Sous Chef kept on gagging. I got home, made him undress in the driveway and immediately put him in the shower. While he showered, I took off the car seat cover and along with his clothes and the cover under the car seat to protect the adult seat, off I went to the water hose to at least wash off the chunks before throwing it all in the washer - for three rinse cycles and then a full wash. In hot water.

Once we got settled in the house, I told CJ if he has to get sick again, to go to the toilet. His response was, "yes, next time I need to, I'll go choke in the toilet." Today, he has had one major rectal blowout in the toilet. When I said, "it looks like you have diarhhea now" he responded with, "yes, that's why my butt vomitted into the toilet." He's so cute.

Wednesday, April 2, 2008

Cocktails to Go

How can you not LOVE a city where you can eat dinner and get your cocktail to go? Or walk up to a window, buy a drink and keep on walking - with your drink, in public and no one wrestles you to the ground to arrest you for an open container? I was reminded on this trip why New Orleans is such a wonderful place to get away, relax, enjoy the sites - people, architecture, history - and DRINKS! If you have not been, I would recommend New Orleans to anyone. If you take your children, however, be prepared. Larry Flynt's clubs, and many, many others, are everywhere, basically porn pictures are in front of all of the strip clubs on Bourbon St. and the strippers are frequently outside lurring men, and women, in. So if that is something you would not want your kids to see, you are forewarned. New Orleans makes Vegas look tame, in my opinion. (And yes, we have taken our kids to Vegas!) We had to laugh when one little boy was asking his dad, "Tell me again why there is vomit on the sidewalk?"

With all of that, even though the burbs are like burbs everywhere, I don't think we will be moving. Motorcycle Guy and I both make many decisions based on our gut. In this case, there are too many high priority items - education, long term effects of transferring with the spin off company, etc. - that tell us "DON'T GO!" The suburb we liked best was very nice and is a lake front community - on Lake Pontchatrain. The same lake that had a storm surge (it feeds into the ocean, so when the ocean had it's storm surge from Katrina, so did the lake), the city next to Mandeville, where we also looked, flooded. Mandeville had a lot of storm damage from winds and rain, but no flooding. Next time that may not be the case. Though it's similar to all burbs, it does have a different feel that I can't explain. Like all large suburbs I have been in, there's lots of strip malls, commercial property, suburban sprawl. With the flat terrain and vegetation, it reminded me very much of Florida when you are not right along the ocean. Of course, as I told Motorcycle Guy, a lot of the things that were making me apprehensive about moving to Kansas were exactly what I have listed here - suburban sprawl, strip malls everywhere, not feeling very warm and fuzzy - and I ended up loving it there. But the education was good and it was a 1-2 year, which turned into three years, assignment, which meant if I hated it, we would be moving on. With NOLA, it's a permanent move, assuming if whoever buys the spin off in three or so years would keep Motorcycle Guy on. I think we have decided this is a great short term move, get quite a bit of money out of it with signing bonuses, annual bonuses, salary increase, stocks, etc., but long term, who knows since the future of the company is unknown. Then we may find ourselves in NOLA without a job or being transferred again with a new company. If we did not have kids, though, we would so be there, living in a loft in the French Quarter. That would be SO dangerous. AA would have a new customer - me!

Here are some pictures of our trip:

The Causeway - this is a 24 mile bridge that takes you from New Orleans to the North Shore over Lake Pontchatrain, which is a "brackish" lake, which means part fresh and part salt water. It's a weird feeling to be on a bridge and not be able to see land anywhere around you. The end of the Causeway comes out in Mandeville, where we were looking as a possibility to live.


This is me in Mandeville with Lake Pontchatrain behind me.


I am ha-ha-happy!

Why I am I happy? Check out the sign above my head!



This says it all!


You can't go to New Orleans without getting a picture of this!


Here's Bourbon St. at sundown.


My kind of entreprenuer!