Saturday, October 27, 2012

Pinterest (Grateful, Day 11)

Like Epinions and Facebook before it, Pinterest has captured my heart.  As an art teacher, I can always find something to inspire me for my lesson-planning sessions.  Ditto for my meal-planning sessions.  (Also my snarky-quote-finding sessions.)  Now that I'm back in the classroom (yes, I'm working in the kids' school in the afternoons...) there are bajillions of management and organization ideas at my very fingertips.

It's heartening to see that there is nothing new under the sun, an that somebody's already pinned an easy way to do most everything.  From  papermaking (yup, that's tomorrow!) to homemade pretzels (in lunchboxes this week...), Pinterest has me covered.  Are you hooked, too?  I'm always looking for new people to follow!

Thursday, October 25, 2012

Good Drugs (Grateful, Day 10)

Today I am grateful for Excedrin.  More when my brain has returned to its normal size and location.

Wednesday, October 24, 2012

That little voice in the back of my head (Grateful, Day 10)

So yesterday, I decided to be a Good Mom.  I would make dinner in the crockpot...a thick, hearty split pea soup.  I chucked some split peas, carrots, onions, and beef bones into the crock, set it to low, and went along my merry way.  Come suppertime, I took the crock off, pulled out the bones, and stuck the immersion blender in the pot to hide all the veggies before the kids got a look at it.  Satisfied that there were no longer veggies in evidence, I set the soup on the table to cool and headed laundry-ward.  Once the laundry was flipped, sorted, folded and piled, I meandered back to the kitchen to put the soup in the fridge.  I closed the fridge door, wiped down the table, and I heard that Little Voice.  "The soup was kind of solid, Wendy.  What's up with that?"  I stopped and considered. That Little Voice is pretty slick sometimes.  I opened the fridge and inspected the Corningware cube o' soup.  There probably weren't enough split peas in there to justify that level of solidity, so I revisited my ingredient list.  Peas, water, onions, carrots...bones.  Was it possible that---I darted to the freezer and inspected the remaining packages of bones.  Glancing at the label, I confirmed my worst suspicions.  And retched.  "Bones for P'tcha," read the tidy white label.

Even the dog wouldn't touch it.  (For the record, the dog will eat his own vomit. For fun.)

I am so grateful for that Little Voice.  And, yes, we had pasta again.

Tuesday, October 23, 2012

Drive-Throughs (Grateful, Day 9)

I didn't begin to appreciate the beauty of the drive-through until after the birth of my first kid.  That whole sleeping-kid-in-and-out-of-the-carseat to pick up one prescription/cash one check thing didn't work real well, and I thought I was properly grateful.  Then came kid number two, which, if you do the math, means that I had a newborn and a precocious 2 year old in tow when I set out to do my erranding.  And I thought I was properly grateful.

"Properly grateful" didn't actually roll around until I had 5 kids under twelve and I was 23 months pregnant with number 6.  And we were living in Rochester (big change from Florida, folks!) and it was 4 degrees outside.  And there was 10 inches of snow on the ground.  And the library, bless them, had a drive through window, which meant I could keep my swollen, boot-clad feet dry while I returned previously discussed stacks of invariably overdue books.

Yep, that's grateful.

Monday, October 22, 2012

Teaching What I Love (Grateful, Day 8)

I started teaching in '92, and worked long, hard days.  I spent my evenings preparing, shopping, pimping my classroom and reading trade journals.  I loved it, but was daunted by the paperwork, the meetings, and the red tape.  The kids were amazing, and there were flashes of pure joy that made everything worth it.

Over the years, there have been kids who have changed me, moved, me, and made me laugh.  There have been others who made me question my sanity, my career choice, and my ability to make it through the day without teaching them some vocabulary words that weren't in their workbooks.

Right now, I've hit a sweet spot; I'm teaching what I love to kids--and adults---who want to learn it.  I work from home, plan my own hours, and set my own curriculum.  It's exhilarating and I love it in a way that I didn't think possible.

Grateful doesn't begin to describe it.

Sunday, October 21, 2012

I'm Not in High School Anymore (Grateful, Day 7)

You just cannot begin to know how profoundly grateful I am that high school is over.  For me.  (Not that I didn't enjoy it, or that I don't look back on it fondly or anything.  But my kid is a junior, and oh. my. gosh...the drama! )

That is all.

Saturday, October 20, 2012

Daniel (Grateful, Day 6)

We've moved three times since 2006.  Before that we'd lived in Miami for a dozen years, and I was just about able to get myself home from the library, the grocery store, and my favorite thrift shop without getting hopelessly lost.

In '08, on the way home from Des Moines, we stopped off at Best Buy and got a family GPS. My world changed in ways both innumerable and wondrous. Two years later, after a disastrous day-trip with too many children through the Poconos sans digital navigator, I got my own GPS to keep in the van.

Although she's gotten me out of a plethora of sticky situations and slightly shady neighborhoods, I've had a bit of a personality conflict with Leslie, the somewhat snarky voice inside the magic box.  Oftener than not, I've found myself ranting at her en route to wherever: "Recalculating, are you?  D'you think that might have something to do with the fact that you told me to turn 10 seconds after we passed the exit?  Hmm?" (This provides endless entertainment to my brood and my fellow drivers.  Really, folks...that's why I'm here.)

Leslie was stolen from my car early this fall, and for the next 10 days or so I relied on Google Maps to get me to all of my exotic destinations, including the pediatrician and an ill-timed workshop in a part of the city I'd never so much as heard of.  When my shiny new GPS arrived, I found the delightful Daniel inside.  Daniel is from the UK, sounds like a cross between Sean Connery and Hugh Grant, and is far less bossy than old Leslie ever was.  He's a pleasure to listen to, and makes mundane things like exit ramps vastly more interesting than they should be.  (Only took me a week to figure out what a "slip road" was...)

Friday, October 19, 2012

The Library (Grateful, Day 5)

If the public library had a frequent-flyer program, I'd be in business.  Lucky for me, all of my kids consider a trip to the library a big treat...even though we're usually there 3 times a week.  They know the librarians by name at our regular haunts, and they figured out library etiquette ages before they got the hang of potty training.  On an average, I have between 80 and 100 items checked out at any given time--the littles and I share a card---and have about a dozen items on hold.

Early on, I discovered that I was a crappy read-aloud-mom.  I lack both the patience and talent to conduct a really good reading of an actual novel, but found that my kids were entranced by books on tape.  We devour them, and my guys have the vocabulary to show for it.  (Akiva sported a British accent from the time he was four till he was about seven...thanks, Jim Dale!)  They all read with expression, know the value of a well placed comma, and have been exposed to hundreds of books and concepts well beyond their reading levels and our budget.  We can even download free titles digitally for their MP3s!

Before Pinterest, the library provided the only feasible way for me to explore a new medium---from beading to cake decorating ---without going broke.  Roughly half of the items in my current return pile are non-fiction; design manuals and cookbooks snuggle alongside dog training and metalsmithing guides, at the moment.

We've moved around quite a bit in the past 8 years, and been exposed to some remarkable libraries.  Miami, Rochester, Des Moines, and now Milwaukee have all had tremendous benefits to offer our family.  I'm grateful beyond words for the wonders the library has brought into our home, and for the many pleasures of book-hunting, puzzle-doing, and librarian-shmoozing when we visit our faves.

Thursday, October 18, 2012

Big Kids (Grateful, Day 4)

I started working out of the house last week, and I discovered just how much I accomplish in three hours. Because when those three hours of productivity were suddenly swept away, the whole. house. fell. to. pieces.  

Enter Thing One and Thing Two, who have stepped into the breach with their typical aplomb.  Floors have been swept, dishes done, meals made, clothes washed, and homework signed while I staggered around, trying to get my bearings.  They've been duly compensated, of course, in Snapple and sunflower seeds, but I'm pretty sure they would have done it for free.

It's been a crazy week. We're a little further from chaos than we were, and there's a light at the end of the tunnel.

Wednesday, October 17, 2012

Benadryl (Grateful, Day 3)

I had insomnia in college.  Once I had my first kid, though, the idea of not sleeping when I had the chance was entirely ludicrous. As the parade o'kidlets continued, I was grateful to report to all and sundry that I got at least 8 hours a night, no problem.  Until this year, when my old pal Insomnia came back with a vengeance, dropping in each morning at 3 and keeping me company through the wee smalls.  I counted sheep.  I made lists.  I read the entire Anne of Green Gables series.  I played Words With Friends with my peeps in other timezones.  I cleaned toilets.  I tweezed my eyebrows (a bad idea at 4 AM). Finally, I gave up and took two Benadryls, and slept through the night.

Problem solved?  Probably not.  Crisis averted?  You betcha.