Sunday, May 31, 2009

Heading Sweatily into Summer

We've been getting what seems to be more than the usual amount of rain (or "moisture," as the natives call it. Husband and I can't help but giggle whenever they say that) this year. Those in the know are telling us that this is actually normal rainfall when we're not having a drought. I am not minding it at all. If we can put off the seriously hot, dry days that I know are coming, I'm that much happier with life.

The girls are nearly done with school. Sophia, my Child Three, has worked very hard to reach completion in her homeschooling studies, as has Sian, Oldest Child. Sophia has done more in a day than she thought was possible, proving to herself that she will be happy when summer comes.

I, on the other hand, have the usual mixed feelings about summer. Not only is it a hot and sweaty time, but the kids spend an inordinate amount of time being bored. I've written about this before, so I'm not going to belabor the point any more, but you know what I mean. A columnist in the Deseret News wrote about how sad it is that he doesn't see kids playing outside any more. He attributed it to the fact that kids are now so involved in scheduled and structured play activities, such as sports leagues and lessons of all kinds, that they don't get to just play and be kids. I can guarantee that's not the case with my kids. I'm just afraid to let them run unsupervised outside.

When I was a kid, I ran all over the neighborhood and even the city. My hometown in Northern Minnesota is not in any way comparable in size to Salt Lake, but we still lived in a city. I would be gone for hours: playing at the park, skipping stones in the creek, taking the bus to the library, forming detective agencies and doing investigative work. We went home when we got hungry or when it got dark. We were wary of strangers, but we weren't scared.

Since then the crazies have emerged. Now that we are parents, we're scared to let our kids run free outside because of that possibility, remote as it may be, that some unscrupulous person will snatch one of them. The thought of it sends horrors through all of us. A teenage girl from our church congregation was walking home the three blocks from the main road to the road on which she lives, in our neighborhood. She was followed by a strange man who harrassed her right up to her doorstep. She was so flustered she didn't know what to do, but after she told her father, the police were called. There have been a couple attempted abductions at the junior high right around the corner from our house, a man or men in a truck who tried to force girls into their cars. This is a decent neighborhood, not a slum. Why are these things happening?

Don't answer that. I think we all know the answer is complicated and sad. I just had to spout off for a minute.

In other news, Elannah, who had that nasty accident with the glass-embedded hill last summer, has seen great improvement in the appearance of her scars. They have gone from an angry red to a light pink. They are hardly visible any more, which I really never thought was possible, given the sheer largeness of them. After the year mark she will be able to wear shorts and swimsuits without also putting on leggings, a fact she is still trying to come to grips with.

Husband is almost done with his book. He also still has a job, for which we are very, very thankful. He will be teaching all four tracks at the same time next year at his year-round school. This year he was teaching two tracks at the same time, so at least he's had some practice in scheduling. Because he has all four tracks, he will have only a couple weeks off this summer. My in-laws are visiting for part of it and we are thinking of actually taking a vacation to Somewhere Else during the other part, even though Gabrielle and Sian will be at Girls' Camp.

That's the news. Other than the fact that I've been studying near-death experiences and reading that awful -- yet compelling -- book that MKShelley sent me, that's what's going on in a nutshell.

Monday, May 18, 2009

"MOM! I just don't get it. Waaaaahh..."

This week and next I will be concentrating on getting my homeschooled children to pass their current grades. When I check their progress, I realize that we have about 8 school days to get them fully up to date.


My 10-year-old will now be working a full 8 hour day. Wish her luck. It's not like we haven't been doing the lessons and getting stuff done, but there's just so much to do. And we don't have the luxury of taking many breaks during the day. Somehow, the public school system says all this stuff has to be crammed into their heads by June 8.

This is why I leave being a school teacher to my husband. I don't know how he does what he does. Yes, there are different methods of homeschooling, but I am stuck in this one for the rest of this school year.

Anyway, I probably won't be posting for a while, just so I can deal with the work. I also have to deal with the horrific guilt that occasionally threatens to overwhelm me because I am sending all the kids back to public school next year. It's my fault for thinking too much about the state of public education and the liberal agenda of the government and the NEA. No big.

In parting, I leave you with this:

Things I Never Thought I'd Hear Myself Say #5: "This had better be mud smeared all over the bathroom floor!!" (Shouted Sunday, May 17, 2009)

Sunday, May 10, 2009

No Coupons Were Used in the Making of this Posting

As many of you know, a coupon craze has hit Utah moms. All of a sudden there are newspaper articles, TV spots and all kinds of hints and tips being passed around by wide-eyed and earnestly well-dressed women in Mommy Outfits (solid T or polo shirt with capris and sandals, and very cute A-line bobs). For a while I was thinking I was missing out. I mean, when you check out some of the blog postings and find out how much people are saving, you start thinking you should get yourself ON this bandwagon already.

I am frugal. I don't like paying lots of money for stuff. I am mostly okay with generic brands. I usually cook stuff from scratch (hence my love/hate relationship with cooking after a solid 14 years of being a domestic goddess (*snort*). How many meals is that? Hmmm. About 15,330, give or take a few when we got takeout.). And I have found places to grocery shop where I save a dime.

But am I not as righteous and frugal as I should be?

Then I read this posting and laughed and laughed. So I thought I would share with all of you my own amazing savings. And I did it all without coupons!!

(Above photo): I payed $60.85 cents for this stuff. I got grapes, pasta salads, broccoli florets, Danimals smoothies, Go-gurts, mushrooms, cookies, 4 dozen eggs, instant pudding, butter, lactose-free milk, Cool Whip, crackers, 20 pounds of apples, salsa, eggroll wrappers, lunch meat, cereal, parsley, and some Gouda cheese.

This is the part where you fall down in astonishment and wonder at my brilliance. Aw, gosh. But I admit that because I am the primary grocery shopper in the house, I know the prices of things inside and out, so I can spot a bargain at ten paces. The place where I bought this stuff is a discount grocery outlet. Sometimes they have great prices on certain items. I don't buy the stuff that isn't a good price. For instance, you wouldn't ever catch me buying pre-packaged pasta salad or Go-Gurts at retail price. Not worth it. The Go-Gurts are gone in approximately 2 seconds unless I stand in front of the refrigerator in the kitchen with a rolling-pin at the ready. There is some careful rationing involved there.

On the other hand, I spent about $20 for these two items from Costco. I use them all the time. But I did pay retail. Yurgh.

Thursday, May 7, 2009

Worst Movie Ever: Junior High School

MKShelley found the worst book ever. She's kindly sending it to me so I can have my own eyeballs seared out of my head with bad writing. To return the favor, I'm posting some clips of the worst movie ever made: Junior High School.

Filmed in 1978, this musical stars P. David Ebersol as Jerry, a new 7th grader who falls in love with Lori, the prettiest blond haired, bad actress, no-bra-wearing girl at school. Jerry wants to ask Lori to the big party (which is being thrown by none other than a teenage Paula Abdul!), but is having a hard time popping the question.

This movie was the source of much entertainment and hilarity during my teen years. Whole nights were dedicated to mocking it. I know that when you watch these clips you will want the DVD. I don't know if you can get the DVD. I do know that you can buy the VHS tape for $295.00 from Sigh. I should have kept my copy.

"Party" clip (starring Paula!)

"Do As I Say" Clip. Jerry's best friend gives Jerry some sound advice. I especially love the part at the end of the song where they stand and only arouse the attention of the teacher. In this clip you will meet Lori.

Get ready to do a hoe-down! And ooooh, don't you just want to smack that Vicki?

Jock strap instructions, and Paula does jumping jacks.

Legalized torture.

"Shhhh" Clip.

Poor Jerry. Just hang on, little guy. Good news will come. (Try not to throw up at the suspense here.)

The Finale. Didn't every junior high school drama end up so nicely when you were that age? And Keith finally gets what's coming to him! (Sophia, Child Three, made me rewind and watch Keith's reaction about 10 times just so she could laugh hard enough to stop breathing.)

Hope you enjoyed that. Don't worry: you're eyeballs will be back to normal in about 48 hours.

Monday, May 4, 2009

Back in Black

On Saturday, surprised to find myself alone in the car while running errands, I decided to stop at the mall and find myself a black shirt. See, me and Leslie Sansone have been power walking and firming for a while now. She marches away, spouting all kinds of wonderfully optimistic and upbeat praise for the fact that I've made the first good decision of the day by getting in a workout, and I smile and nod as the sweat pours off me. After 30 minutes of power walking and 30 minutes of firming and toning, I turn off the DVD feeling righteous and uplifted.

It helps that I've lost a lot of inches. Within the first couple weeks my clothes started getting looser. Now I can't even wear one of my skirts to church because it slides right off of me. Even my favorite jeans can be pulled off with a firm tug. It's enough to make a girl giddy, except for the fact that I'm not losing the lbs. I tell myself that it took a lot of years to put on the baby weight, it will take a while to get it off.

Meanwhile, I've got a waist again. Since my only usable church skirt is not a solid, neutral black, I needed something to wear with it that didn't also sit like a tent on me. And so I found myself walking briskly into J.C. Penney and perusing their offering of black blouses. I found one that looked likely and went to the dressing room, knowing in my heart of hearts that it just wouldn't fit, that I would look in the mirror and shudder in horror. But, surprise of surprises, not only did it fit over my trouble spots but I looked SKINNY! I was so sure that I was looking into a trick mirror designed to make you look skinnier (and I seriously wouldn't put it past them. Think of the increased sales!) that I kept dodging around and trying to find the spot that showed the real frumpy me. Finally, I just accepted it, walked out and bought the blouse (which happened to be be 50% off. I mean, how much good luck can a girl have in one day??). With a bounce in my step, I went back to my car and finished my errands.

The question burning in your minds is this: so was it a trick mirror? When you got home, did you try on the blouse and realize that whatever vision of thin you saw in the mirror at the store was not, in fact, representational of the real you? The answer is: no. Whoo-hoo!

I'm no supermodel. Okay, I never was; but I'm happy to see that exercising is not actually a meaningless torture. I feel good and it sure is nice to drop a size or two. Now if I could just stick to eating healthful foods in reasonable quantities... My downfall is portion control. Sigh. I'm getting there.

I just had to share that moment of triumph.