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Wednesday, August 31, 2011

First Day of School (Abby)

Third Grade. I can't believe it. And it took a certain amount of convincing the staff that I wasn't a stalker with a camera, but I managed it (I started this blog mid-school-year last year, so they had not seen me wandering the halls with my camera before). But I got permission from the parents of the photographic subjects posted here, and I never print last names or specific locations. I love my kid's school and I want that fact known, but not to the point where everyone and their brother knows which school it is, you know? They are great - from the office staff through the teaching staff, custodians, you name it, we love Abby's school. I even had a gossip session with a couple other moms in the girls' bathroom about how great the teachers are, especially (said the mom with the most experience) the third grade teachers. It was a little surreal, lurking in the girls' restroom gossiping; I was expecting us to check each others' mascara at any moment.

We got to see Abby's second grade teacher, Ms M., who actually got Abby interested in spelling and in reading just for fun last year. We got to see Abby's first grade teacher, Ms. E., who (thank goodness) is back on traffic duty this year. She's a teeny tiny little thing, so gentle with her first-graders, but where recalcitrant parents in the pickup circle are concerned... she takes no prisoners. And the librarian, and the gym teacher, and the music teacher, and the PTSA moms and dads. We watched the welcome-back assembly and the kids clearly enjoyed it (although there was a bit of groaning from the oldest kids when the prize their school had won from Target turned out to be $500 worth... of books).

I got several more pictures but have not gotten permission from their parents yet. There were a number of kids whose parents' permission I do have, but I did not get their pictures (because I'm not that stalker-with-a-camera). The young gentleman to the right (below) for instance is Abby's friend (and former "fiancee") and I have permission from his parents. She does like the skinny blond boys. The little girl to the left (also below) mugging with Abby we've known almost as long (again, from preschool); she and Abby have this odd relationship where they are Best Friends Forever... until they're not.

Abby and Amelia

Abby and Abbey
So, parents, employees, and other denizens of My Kid's School... I'm not a stalker. Just a parent who's pleased and proud that her child goes to a good public school. And yeah, I am updating with another pic, having gotten permission from another parent. Abby and Abbey were in the same class last year and the coincidence of names amuses them both. A lot.

Tuesday, August 30, 2011

Back to School Rituals

We kind of broke up our back to school stuff this year - glasses one day, clothes another, like that. But today is the Last Day before school starts for the year. Abby plays hard, so we waited until today to get our nails done.

We went to my favorite nail salon. Abby has had manicures before - it's how I cured her of sucking her thumb - and this has become Tradition. But this was her first Real Pedicure. She's too short to have the chair massage and the pedicure at the same time, so they propped her up with pillows behind her back and did her feet, and then removed the pillows and shoved her back so the chair could do its thing. Since there was another girl her age there with her aunt, and they seated the two girls next to each other, a fun time was had by all. My fingernails are Java Mauve and Abby's are Teenage Dream. My toes are Silent Mauvie and Abby's are Last Friday Night (although hers have flowers painted on her big toes in yellow). My favorite is Dusk Over Cairo, which is apparently discontinued from brick-and-mortars in our area, so I'm going to order some from

After our nail date, we went to her school open house, where we meet the teacher, drop off extra supplies, that sort of thing. She of course was all about going to the playground, but I managed to stave that off until the end of the function. Right now Abby's out having her Last Outside Free Play before summer officially ends, and Lizzy and I are watching "baby shows" in the living room. Good times.

Monday, August 29, 2011

The Sister Sitch

This post will be in Unusually Large Print.

My sister called my mom around 9:30 this morning, in major pain because of a badly scratched cornea in her right eye. My mom (who had my kids) called me, telling me that Steph's eye was hurt and she needed to go to the doctor. I asked if she'd like me to take Steph to the doc and she - having not thought of that - said she'd get hold of Steph and let me know. So an hour later, I got to Steph's place (Steph's daughter Lucy being at daycare and husband Larry at work) and picked her up. Sympathy tears just looking at her, because her eye was all weepy. I've had LASIK - which is essentially elective cutting of a 3/4 circle in the cornea to lift it up like a flap and then use the laser underneath the "trapdoor" to correct vision - so boy, could I sympathize. That stuff hurts. And I at least had had Valium to get me through it. Yikes.

So we got the the eye doctor and she got the little bandage-contact slapped on there and assorted drops for infection and pain and all and the difference was remarkable. One moment my sister is looking all bloodshot and weepy and the next she was - while not 100% - at least functional

And she was nice enough to take me out to lunch. I would've done it without lunch of course - that's what family and friends are for - but it was very yummy food. And nice conversation, which we don't get often, because there are usually one to four children ranging in age from two to 11 in our midst (and spouses and our mom and everyone else), and while we love them, we don't very often get Sister Time. Not happy that Lucy's two-year-old Fingernails of Doom nailed her mom. But once we got the urgent bit out of the way, it was kind of a nice time.

Sunday, August 28, 2011

Only the Pet Can Save us Now

On the way home from picking up Abby's new glasses - we are really taking this back-to-school thing piecemeal this year - she started doing her movie-announcer voice. It was such a hoot that I offered to record it and upload it. It's our first attempt at video - I used Windows Live Movie Maker - and it's very quiet. But Abby in her perky-goth eight-year-old cuteness is worth it in my opinion. I'll post the text so you can tell what she's saying... and next time we'll jack the microphone volume up high.

"Out of the darkest depths of time...
Only one creature can save us from the Evil...
Is it a pillow?
Is it a pet?
Or is it... a Pillow Pet?!"

I'll take pix of her in her new glasses - both pairs - later tonight or tomorrow and make another post. This one was a one-off.

Saturday, August 27, 2011

...And the Livin' is Easy...

Porgy & Bess (Reis) (Rstr) (Mlps)
I have had the song Summertime, from the musical Porgy and Bess, in my head for about a week. Part of this is that I'm taking a class in cultural diversity so I had racial controversy on my mind. Part is that I sing my own lyrics to this tune as a lullaby, and have every summer since Abby was about eight months old (so eight years now). And part is that it is in fact summertime in Seattle, and even the weather is appropriate (finally). It's kind of a spooky song really - in the same sense as the "Now I lay me down to sleep..." prayer. But the tune is still beautiful, in Gershwin's smoky-jazzy way, and I really enjoyed singing the real version while puttering around the house. Usually under these circumstances I'm more of a Too Darn Hot kinda gal - that one is from Kiss Me, Kate. I do know my Broadway as a rule.

In spite of the hard work we've done here lately, and the joblessness and new classes and so forth, in many ways the livin' is easy. I can't speak as to whether the fish are jumpin' or the cotton is high, but I'd like to think my girls' daddy is rich and their mama's good lookin'.

Summertime and the livin’ is easy
Fish are jumpin’ and the cotton is high
Oh your daddy’s rich and your mama's good lookin’
So hush little baby, don’t you cry
One of these mornings
You’re goin’ to rise up singing
Then you’ll spread your wings
And you’ll take the sky
But till that morning
There’s a nothin’ can harm you
With daddy and mammy standin’ by

Friday, August 26, 2011

Fair Enough

Abby rides a pony
We spent the bulk of the day today at the Evergreen State Fair. In general a good time was had by all, even allowing for undernapped and overexcited Lizzy (nearly 4) and Cousin Lucy (just 2). Their mutual meltdown at about 2pm did provide a natural ending to the day. I don't have any pictures of Lucy or her mom here, because I've been requested not to share them publicly. Fair enough.

Abby had a few things she really wanted to do - she wanted to ride a Ferris Wheel and the "swings" (the ride called the Yo-Yo) and go in the Fun House. Her dad wanted her to go on the pony ride and get a picture to go with the ones from previous years. Lizzy wanted to "wide the hohsies and eat cohn on the cob". I don't speak fluent Lucy, but I think mostly she was interested in "Lucy see an-muls". We managed all of this and a bit more (like face-painting) except for the Fun House. Fair enough.

Lizzy eats Fair corn
Lizzy rides the carousel
When the attendant handed Lizzy her corn on the cob, she promptly dropped it. The server was kind enough to get her another, free of charge. Abby made the slightly insulting remark that fair corn is better than mine, but subsided when I pointed out I do not have a vat of melted butter to dip it in.

All three kidlets enjoyed the carousel, but as Lizzy (and Lucy for that matter) is too short to go on any of the other rides unless we went all the way over to the kiddieland section on the other end of the Fair Grounds (and also both younger kids melted down at that point), we just did the last bit, with Abby and me on the Ferris Wheel.
Abby rides the
Ferris Wheel

And then we took Abby to her dad's place (along with the picture of her on the pony). On the way there we got a call from the glasses place saying her glasses are ready. Can we come in this weekend? Sure, how about Sunday?

You know what the lady from the glasses place said?
"Fair enough."

Thursday, August 25, 2011

Block Mom, Take Two

We're very popular among the neighbor kids. 

Part of this is simply that our kids are popular with their peers. They're basically decent kids and since the older two are fairly responsible about things like not-playing-in-traffic, they spend a lot of time outside (weather permitting) with the rest of the neighborhood.

But I'm not stupid; I know the attraction is more visceral than that. It's primarily two-fold:
    Otter Ice Pops - Assorted, 100 count
  1. We give out Otter Pops. This is self-explanatory, although some of the kids have not yet quite grasped that we only give them out a) when they are with one of my kids (we don't just give them out to random children dropping by unless they intend to play/help clean up) and b) between lunch time and dinner time (we don't provide them in the morning or after our kids are in for the night - usually after dinner).
  2. We keep a Treasure Box. I've explained this before in passing, but basically, rather than a specific allowance or pay-for-chores, our kids are expected to do some things just because they're part of a family - clearing the table, basic tidying, the bigger kids putting their own clean clothes away. But some things - like cleaning their room to adult standards or sweeping and mopping the kitchen floor or watching Lizzy while I'm in the shower - net them a Treasure Box Pick. When their friends help, they get a pick too. The Treasure Box is filled with stuff from the dollar store mostly, or the Target Dollar Spot - stickersbandannas, decks of cards, temporary tattoos, those gel hands that stick to the wall and "crawl" down, jump ropes, Nerf balls, Frisbees, bubbles, etc.
The kids' usual partner in Treasure Box Crime is Kiki, who has been a frequent guest star on this blog. But all the neighbor kids within a certain age range - maybe six to eleven - get into it at some point. Abby and a seven year old friend of hers just finished cleaning her room, and then went out to play. He's staying for lunch and they both think this is super cool. Lizzy earned a pick helping me sort laundry. I'm job-hunting and doing my online school work and supervising the kids and cleaning up from the Garage of Doom.

This is what the Last Week of Summer Break should be.

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Back to School Clothes

My mom took Abby to the shoe store and got her shoes and socks and shoelaces and so forth. And then to another store to get a top and then some leggings for under her skirts and dresses (Abby likes to spend a lot of time upside down on the play ground, and she likes to wear skirts, so...).

And today I took her to Saturday's Child, to spend some of the credit we earned last week. I had $110 in credit - and that's a lot for this kind of store - so I knew we'd do well. And oh boy, did we!

  • 1 denim jacket with butterflies embroidered on it
  • 1 pair brown dress flats
  • 6 long sleeve tees (5 in varying shades of pink and coral and lavender - this is Abby after all and one in blue and green tie-dye)
  • 2 short-sleeve hoodie tees, one pastel pink/brown and one black with neon legend saying "Remember Me. I'll Be Famous."
  • 1 short-sleeve oversize tee, purple, with butterfly design
  • 1 dark gray hoodie with an argyle design where some of the argyle diamonds are heart shaped (in - what else - hot pink)
  • 1 pair long denim shorts
  • 1 knee-length olive/khaki corduroy skirt
  • 1 navy blue skirt with blue and gray embroidered flowers
  • 1 pair blue jeans, ankle length
  • 1 pair brown leggings with rhinestone  at the hem
  • 1 dark blue vest to be worn over tees
After my frequent-flyer Facebook-fan discount, this all came to just under half the $110 in credit I had in my account. There's a reason I love this store.

So between all that and the stuff that still fits her from last year - which we tried on after we got home - we're set for most of the school year. And that feels good.

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

Healthy Jenn and a PSA

So a couple weeks ago, in addition to all the other hoo-rah going on, I had a fasting blood test because of a new blood pressure medication. They want to make sure that I still have enough potassium - lack of it is a common problem with most medications for hypertension - and because I have a lot of risk factors for other issues (because I am obese and asthmatic and starting to er... get a little older), they check for All The Rest Of It while I'm there.

And they found... nothing wrong with me at all.

My sugars, electrolytes, cholesterols, and all the rest of it are "within normal parameters". Even on the healthy end of those parameters. As always, the only thing I'm low on is iron, and even that is not low... just borderline enough that if I donated a pint to the Red Cross - which everyone should do if they can (or to your country's equivalent) - then I'd be low (so the aforementioned Red Cross and therefore the Puget Sound Blood Center will not take my blood).

I'm basically healthy.

And that feels good.

And just because I can, and I don't want to post a pic of my lab results because, well... ewww, here's a new pic I have not included in my blog before, although a lot of online friends have seen it. Poor tired baby.

Monday, August 22, 2011

Another Day, Another Task

Or a week's worth of tasks. Maybe two.

We have a ton of boxes in our apartment, from last week's Enormous Garage Cleaning Project. Today, with the kids at Grandma's, I managed to organize the storage closet off our porch, hang a candle holder, a decorative plate holder, two toy hammocks, and two bamboo wind "chimes". I also managed to put away all the empty boxes, do my Monday job hunting activities, and start my second week of school activities.

Tomorrow Abby has a friend coming over at noon, and staying until five or so. This friend has been calling us all summer and this is the first time we've been able to arrange a play date. Grandma and The Nest will have my two until around that noon hour, so tomorrow I get to cram as much more cleaning as I can handle, running errands, and schoolwork/job hunt work between nine and noon, because then we will have a guest. I can do laundry in the afternoon while Abby and her friend are either locked in their room, or out playing with neighborhood kids, depending on the weather.

Because yeah, it's raining. Again. In August. Welcome to Seattle.

Today I got quite a lot of that done, because Abby and Lizzy were at Grandma's. And Abby's friend from the sleepover a couple weeks ago was there too - she's a neighbor of my mom's - and she and Abby made this amazing creation. Not bad for a couple of eight-year-old girls with nothing but paper, safety scissors, tape, and imagination. And the picture does not even show the "back yard", with a creek and a bridge. Crafty kids.

Sunday, August 21, 2011

Back to Normal Indeed

Abby and Leanna think we're super* mean. I mean, really, we made them clean up their room. And their bathroom. And the living room as best they could around the boxes the adults piled up in here. And then... then we made them go back and clean up the junk ("it's not junk!") they dumped in their closet in the hopes that we would not look there. How could we cut into their play time? All they want to do is go outside and play. And we're making them clean up! It's not like they meant not to do it last night when they were asked to... they were too tired.

From playing outside and swimming at the pool and wading in the creek. But that's not their fault.

And they are using the -a suffix, the ones that preteens and teens have used probably since cave-moms made their cave-teens clean up their corner of the cave. You know, the "Mo-om! I can't do that now-a! I need more time-a! I can hear you laughing at me-a!"

You've heard it in the movies (see below). That whiny teenage (or preteen) screech that make parents want to shake them-a. And the emphasis makes it practically iambic tetrameter.

*No italics were harmed in the creation of this post.

Saturday, August 20, 2011

Back to Normal

This process is ongoing.

We did take a bit of a break today, in that we did the last bits of the required work on the garage and then backed off from the slinging of boxes. I did the back porch to make it safe for Lizzy to play, and Laston brought in the last of the stuff from the van (we live on the second floor - no elevator - and there were two van loads left. Whew!). Abby and I took books to Half Price Books, stuff that we could not sell to St. Vincent de Paul, and then went to order her glasses. Laston did his weekly lunch-concoction shopping and I started dinner. The kids and I went swimming while Laston did things around the house. There are still boxes piled everywhere, but I really do feel like we've accomplished a lot. I can do a bit each day, more when the kids are at Grandma's/school/preschool.

Right now I have dinner going and the dishwasher running, and Laston's taking a break. The bigger two are cleaning their room in the hopes that they can have "girl night" (this consists of girly movies and cereal mix they have dubbed "nut-free trail mix" and doing each others' hair). Leanna asked me to "keep Lizzy out while we clean" and now Abby is fussing because "Lizzy gets to watch TV and we have to clean?!" They've gotten distracted from cleaning by concocting "girls' night outfits", with Abby as a vampire (natch) and Leanna as an "island girl".

The place is a mess, but things are Back to Normal.

Friday, August 19, 2011

Holy Moly... That WAS a Project!

Not this kind of moly (except in the etymological sense).

So as you have read here and here, I spent the week my children were out of town trying to clean out our garage so we can drop it from our lease, thereby saving slightly more than our rent increase this year. But it's been a busy week - even though my mother, the wonderful grandmother that she is - had the kids for a whole week. I thought yay! I'll sleep in on Monday and then get crackin'! Laston's had a - shall we say - extra busy week at work because half his group is training, which leaves the remaining half to do the work of - well - twice as many people.

Sunday I could not sleep. I can only assume that although my conscious mind was thrilled to have the kids away for a week, my mama-radar was going haywire. I slept in Monday, went to a meeting at the local branch of my school, had a phone interview (cut short because I have not completed my degree) and did some work on the garage. I did my first day's assignments and my job hunt for the day. Laston worked late.

Tuesday I did my first full day of school, job hunting activities, and did some of the garage. I also had a phone interview and broke my tooth (these two events are not related). Laston worked late.

Wednesday I did some work on the garage, went in to have them look at my tooth, and they pulled it. Then they told me not to do anything "strenuous" for the rest of the day, to eat only soft foods (preferably liquids) and no carbonation. So that day was a wash as far as the garage went. I did my schoolwork and job hunting activities. Laston worked late.

Thursday I did some work on the garage but I was much slowed by the fact that I was sore and living on soy protein shakes. I lost the patch they put on my tooth socket so they had me come in for a look. I did my schoolwork and job hunting activities. Laston worked even later. Then Leanna's mom and the other ladies from Millennia Ministries came and picked up a bunch of furniture. Laston helped lift and carry, and used his ever-present Leatherman tool to remove table legs and so forth. I went through all the kids' clothes to distribute them to assorted places while I watched Stargate: Atlantis on Netflix. I graduated to boiled eggs and pasta by bedtime

And then there was today. Hoo boy, today. Mom and the girls came home by the rather roundabout method of going to the game farm. On the driving tour, they are given bread to feed the animals. Lizzy ate hers. I started on the garage early and worked at it all day. Friday Night Gamers showed up while I was at Saturday's Child taking things to trade in (where I got enough credit to buy Abby's back-to-school clothes - thanks, Debbie!) The Gamers helped Laston and me move the rest of the stuff into our apartment. This involved a lot of sweat - Gamers as a group are not particularly fit, Action Heroes notwithstanding.

So now I have two and a half hours to finish my Friday school assignment (I already did the reading), and tomorrow, after Laston comes home from his extra half-shift, we have to grab the two odd-sized boxes, the ladder, and the empty boxes from the garage. Then I can turn in the remote and take Abby to choose her new glasses. And then spend the next few weeks going through these boxes in between school assignments and work searches.

The Gamers and the kids had pizza. I've graduated to pasta with sauce. Now we're back to our normal Friday night; Abby and Leanna are in their room watching big girl movies and they'll fall asleep watching.  Lizzy and I are on the couch with Bob the Builder. Laston's in bed because his half-shift starts at OMG-thirty. All is well.

Thursday, August 18, 2011

A Breather

I've been going strong most of the day. Still unloading my garage because the remote has to be turned in tomorrow before six PM. Laston worked overtime - and we need the money with me not working, so no objections here - so I have been doing it myownself and I'm wiped out. But I still have one more (van)load to take tonight and I need to meet Leanna's mom down at the garage at seven (she works for Millennia Ministries, the charity to which we are bequeathing a lot of the bulkier stuff - some furniture, for instance). And she's bringing Leanna with her to go through her stuff - there are some toys in there she hasn't played with in years and while I feel okay giving my own kids' (8 and almost-4) forgotten stuff to charity (if they have not been using it and would never miss it), I don't feel right making that choice for someone Leanna's age (over ten). If she and her mom don't want it, Millennia can have it.

However, just at the moment I needed a breather. Although my mouth is feeling about 140% better than yesterday, I find myself tiring easily (this may be due to me only having had clear juices, tea, and a single slice of buttered bread in teeny tiny bites all day long. Oh, and one egg.). So I'm taking a little break for sustenance and rest, and then... back to the grindstone.

But my home will be so much less cluttered by the end of this.

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

Now I Know Why They Call It Laughing Gas

And I still love my dental office.

That tooth that I thought I cracked? I did. Fractured it vertically all the way down to the root. So they had to extract it. In pieces. This made me a trifle nervous, but I've had two c-sections in my time, and LASIK, so what's a little dental surgery? The worst part - for me (YMMV) - is the smell of burning tooth as that drill applies friction. Guess what? You can't smell burning tooth with the little gas mask over your nose. Bonus!

Nitrous Oxide is my new friend. And yeah, "laughing gas" is an appropriate nickname for it. The dental office I use (and love, see?) has a very multicultural staff, and my dentist and hygienist today both had soothing Mexican accents. In my laughing-gassy state I cracked up every time the dentist asked me to open my mouth (because Dora the Explorer was yelling "¡abre!" in my head) and every time the hygienist asked me to breathe deeply through my nose (where Rosita and Elmo were singing "Respirar").

Yes, I do watch too much children's television. At least I'm keeping up my Spanish language skills.

In any case, after they drilled that baby out and built up the bone underneath and sutured it, they gave me instructions (cool drinks, soft foods, don't overdo, here take these prescription Motrin and Amoxicillin capsules - the usual) and sent me on my way. I guess I'm doing the indoor stuff on the garage-cleaning today while this heals. And having noodles for supper (and they won't be al dente).

 While I was out my mom sent me more pix of my kids at the beach. And that makes days spent at the dentist - even though I love my dentist I'm not fond of the procedures - worthwhile.

ETA: And then... the suture came out. Thankfully, this was during business hours, because I really don't want to have to call in an emergency dental strike. Now, I love my dentist, as I've said up top, but I don't actually want to see them more than once a week or so if I can help it. But in I went, and they took the gauze and slapped on a patch that looks and feels (and tastes) rather like very soft Silly Putty. As long as it stays on for a day in order to protect the previously-sutured spot, I'm good. And now, back to my warm-not-hot noodles and my applesauce.