Thursday, August 29, 2013

Off to College

My baby girl, my oldest, Sian, went off to college yesterday. As she's attending a university fairly close to us, Husband and I got to drive her there and help her haul all her stuff up to her third floor dorm room. We met her roomie, visited the cafeteria, and walked onto campus to get her student ID and find out where she can do her banking. I went to this university 20 years ago, and just about everything has changed since I walked those grounds and sat in those classrooms. The dorm rooms are reconfigured, the cafeteria has undergone a complete and lovely overhaul, and many new buildings have been added.

We were standing in a crowded hallway waiting for Sian to have her student ID printed and Husband asked me, "You look like you're enjoying this. Would you go back if you could?"

I don't know. Would I go back? If I went back knowing what I know now, I would miss my family too much. If I went back in time with no memory of my life since college, I'd end making all the same decisions I made the first time around and simply relive my life. No, I wouldn't go back. Nor do I expect Sian to have all the same experiences that I did. She's not me, and she'll make different choices and do different things. I just hope there are plenty of happy times interspersed with the inevitable drama of living with other girls, dating, and learning to take care of yourself as an adult.

I only went to the university for 1 1/2 years. I didn't finish my degree because I left college to be a missionary, and then I got married soon after returning home. I hadn't counted on meeting the man I was going to marry while I was in England; rather, I had fully intended to come back home and finish up my education. I have no regrets about my decision to marry and have children while supporting my husband as he finished his education and began providing for our family. I have been wonderfully blessed with love and happiness.

What more can a parent wish for their child than to be happy? Because she's always lived her life in a manner that allows her to respect herself and others, I think Sian will do just fine. It won't stop me from missing her, but I can sleep peacefully knowing she's ready for this big change and whatever she will face.

Tuesday, August 27, 2013

An Exhaustive Discourse On My Two Culinary Triumphs

I had two culinary triumphs yesterday. For the last several years, as my interest in complex cooking has waned, any culinary triumph is a miracle. So to have two in one day was almost too much for me, and I will now have to publicly pat myself on the back.

First, after years of unfruitful attempts, I produced a loaf of bread that had the crispy, crackly golden crust of a bakery loaf. Second, I successfully roasted a leg of lamb.

First, the thorough and extensive story of the bread: (you can stop reading now if stories of baking or roasting make you want to repeatedly pound your head on an unforgiving surface or stick spikes through your eyeballs. I would not want to be responsible for blog-induced injury. Just celebrate my triumphs with me for a moment and then go on about your life.)

Do you know how impossible it is to recreate steam injection in your home oven? I played with terra cotta tiles and spraying water onto the bread as it cooked, but every time you open the oven, all the heat escapes (as well as the steam), and it takes a good ten minutes for the temperature to recover. Leaving pans of water on the bottom shelf didn't help, either.

But yesterday, in a burst of culinary inspiration the likes of which I haven't experienced for a very long time, I pulled out my unglazed clay pot. I bought this clay pot from a thrift store about a year ago, knowing I was getting an incredible bargain; but even at that very reasonable price, I have only used it once in all this time. Yesterday, however, I suddenly realized I had the perfect ingredients for a steam oven (the original recipe calls for a cast iron Dutch oven with a lid, which also traps steam and is what gave me the idea, but I don't own a cast iron Dutch oven with a lid). I soaked the pot in water for 15 minutes while the oven heated up. Then I stuck the loaf of bread into it (my hands were wet, so that also helped create that crackly crust), snugged on the lid, and popped the whole thing into the hot oven. After 30 minutes, I took the lid off so the crust could brown. 15 minutes later, I pulled out this gorgeous, golden-brown loaf and put it on a rack. I could literally hear the crust cracking as it cooled.

Later, when Husband got home, I sliced off a hunk of it, slathered it in butter and Fortnum & Mason's Christmas Extra Jam Spiced Preserves ("Extremely full of plums, redcurrants, strawberries & raspberries") and presented it to him with a flair.

"Just look at that crust!" I crowed.

"It looks just like bakery bread. You bought this bread, didn't you?" he said with some unbelief.

"Remember that clay pot you wondered why I bought and when I was ever going to use it? Turns out it's perfect for baking bread."

He loved it, of course. Now he's having fantasies of enjoying fresh, crusty bakery bread every day, and I can't wait to play with different flours. Of course, I forgot to mix up a batch in the evening so I could let it sit overnight. But tomorrow, the heavenly scent of baking fresh bread (mixed with a slight undertone of wet clay) will once again bless the house.

Later in the evening, I pulled the leg of lamb out of the fridge, where it had been marinating in olive oil, salt, pepper, and rosemary all night. I roasted it directly on the oven rack and let the juices drip into a pan on the rack below. I don't buy lamb as a rule. I don't buy much meat at all, in fact, much less meat from darling baby animals. But the leg was a gift from someone, and I felt that the poor, sweet little lamby would have died in vain if I didn't make use of his leg.

It turned out really well, all tender and juicy, and so tasty when doused in mint sauce. We ate dinner and then I cut the rest of the meat from the bone and put the bite-size pieces into baggies in the freezer to be used later for a Greek pita filling and Indian lamb coconut korma. I'll use the bone and bits to make a broth. Then I will probably never eat lamb again.

I don't know...two culinary triumphs in one day is kind of exhilarating, and exhilaration can be exhausting. I don't even know what we're having for dinner tonight. I also just remembered I have a meeting at six o'clock, so my family will be lucky not to starve until I get back. It's feast or famine around here.

Thursday, August 22, 2013

Good-Bye For Now, Mark

At the end of February of this year, I got a Facebook message from one of my high school friends. "Call me," it said. "I have something to tell you, but it's not something I want to tell you over Facebook."

I knew immediately that is was about our mutual friend, Mark, the guy I blogged about on his birthday in this post. At the time I wrote that post, I had no idea of what was shortly to come. Mark and I had kept in intermittent contact by passing messages back and forth, but I didn't have any reason to suspect something was really wrong, though I had wondered about his lack of status updates and pictures of his girlfriend. Now, suddenly, my stomach was sick with the sense that something terrible had happened.

I called Caleb, feeling breathless. We greeted each other soberly.

"It's bad, isn't it? What is it?" I asked, my voice wobbling.

"I'm so sorry, Eva," he said. "Mark passed away in his sleep two nights ago."

I started crying, though I tried to keep my voice steady enough to talk.

"What happened? Why did he die? Was he sick? Why didn't he say something?"

Caleb told me that Mark had found out near the end of 2012 (right around his birthday, and right around the time I started thinking about him and wrote that post) that his liver was failing. He ended up spending months in the hospital, nearly dying several times and losing a tremendous amount of weight. Though he had tried to get himself healthy and stay alive long enough to get a liver transplant, he had finally lost the battle.

"I was able to visit him several times in the hospital," Caleb told me. "We had some long talks. He didn't want me to tell anyone because he was worried that people would judge him, I guess."

That made me feel awful. Of course I wouldn't have judged him! Didn't he know that? But Mark was always concerned about how people viewed him, and it was just one of his personality quirks that I didn't question anymore.

I sniffled a bit and Caleb was kind and patient while he waited for me to compose myself.

"That jerk. You know, I never fought with anyone else more than I fought with him." I was crying and laughing at the same time.

"You were very special to him, Eva. He talked a lot about you. Someday, when you come back up to Minnesota, I'll make you a cup of tea and we'll talk about it."

Caleb ended the phone call quickly after that, knowing I was very emotional. I sat on my bed and cried for a while. Then I logged into my Facebook account and re-read the last few messages Mark and I had exchanged. Sadly, they were from over a year before he died.

Mark and I never dated. We were never a romantic couple, though we spent a lot of time with each other during the times we weren't fighting. He and I as a romantic couple wouldn't have made sense, and that wasn't how we felt about each other; as it was, we were each others' sounding boards on the people we dated, our jobs, our life decisions. We talked for hours, watched movies, ran errands together, and saw a lot of late-night episodes of Married, With Children. And that was perfect for both of us.

He never let me touch him, though. We weren't huggy or snuggly in any way, and at times he seemed to almost have some sort of phobia about me touching him. I remember one time when he was driving kind of quickly around a curvy road and the force of gravity made me lean to my left. "Get off me!" he said, laughing, and pushed be back upright with his arm. He was never mean about it, but it did puzzle me, as I was not a clingy person and was never trying to snuggle up to him.

Once, in one of his messages to me, when he was feeling a little sentimental, he wrote how I was and would always be his best friend. As part of my response (which was more light-hearted than serious), I responded, "You never let me touch you, though, except for that prom dance [when my then-boyfriend, who was a college sophomore, and who didn't want to go to prom, took me to the part of the evening where all the prom-goers parade past in their finery with their dates. Mark, who was at the prom with his girlfriend, asked my boyfriend and his girlfriend if it was okay, and then led me out to the dance floor so I could say I had danced at my senior prom. It meant a lot to me.] and when you hugged me good-bye the night before I left for my mission. I would have hugged you more."

During the week after Mark's death, I felt him near. Of course I was thinking about him, but I could actually feel his spirit visit me throughout the days. It wasn't at all spooky; in fact, it was a very natural sensation. I missed him, but I didn't feel that he was all that far away. The veil between mortality and the spirit world seemed very thin.

Then, the day before his funeral, which I wasn't able to attend, I was sitting in church waiting for the last meeting to start. I was sitting alone, and as my thoughts often had during the last seven days, they turned to Mark. Suddenly, he was there, right next to me. I couldn't see him, but I knew without a doubt that he was there. And he hugged me. I felt enveloped in his arms for a few seconds. I sat stock still, the tears chasing each other down my cheeks as I sensed that he was expressing his love to me and saying good-bye. He was going now to stay full-time with his family, his parents and his sister, and especially his two children, as they celebrated his life and mourned his death. Then I felt his presence leave. The next day, I distinctly felt the veil draw closed, and Mark stepped forever into the post-mortal realm. I checked the time and saw that his funeral had recently ended.

I had started a post about him months ago, but it's easier to edit yourself when the emotion isn't so strong. There are so many stories I could tell about Mark, but I'll pick one that has to do with this picture. Mark had won some sort of contest sometime after we graduated from high school. The main prize was a free cruise, and one of the additional prizes was a free portrait. He said he felt stupid having his portrait taken alone, so he asked me to come with him. The photographer, assuming we were a couple, tried to get Mark to put his hand on my shoulder. We both laughed, and the photographer settled on having Mark put both of his hands on his knee. I tell you that because of what happened a few months later, which is when the following incident occurred. I'm just going to quote the letter Mark sent me in September of 1991, when we were both turning 20 and  I had started my second year of college in Utah while he was back in Minnesota (you'll recall that the internet was still sort of a twinkle in Al Gore's eye at this point, so it was either paper mail or phone calls back in the day).

"I was at this party that Joel was having at his dorm room. And as fate would have it, a female was actually talking to me. She had dropped her purse when she came in, so I was giving her a hard time about that. (AND I WONDER WHY I DON'T HAVE ANY GIRLFRIENDS?) Anyway, she thought I was charming, and we talked about various items which were exposed when she dropped her purse. To make a boring story longer, she told me that, because I saw what was in her purse, she wanted to look in my wallet. (GOOD THING I LEFT THE 35 CONDOMS I USUALLY CARRY IN MY WALLET AT HOME) Well, I gave her my wallet and the first thing she sees is the picture of you and me together. She gives me this 'look of death' and says, 'Is this your girlfriend?' I screamed  nicely told her that you and I are just really good friends. She paused for a moment, looked up at me, and said, 'Listen, I may be a blonde, but I am not dumb. Nobody gets a snuggle picture taken with just a friend.' 

"So now I am laughing at what she is saying, and I am trying to tell her with a straight face that we are just friends. Then she says, 'Look! You can't even keep a straight face!' I am trying to explain to her about my free cruise, and how I didn't want a picture of just me. Then I see Joel and I tell him to tell this dumb blonde who you are. Joel (WHO HAD ABOUT 492 BEERS IN HIM) says, 'I recognize her. That's the girl you got pregnant and then dumped.'


"So now this girl is having like 4893 cows and at the same time telling me what an ass I am and how I should be ashamed of myself. Needless to say, I slowly walked out of the dorm room with about 20 people looking at me. I found out the next day that Joel told everyone the truth and that the dumb blonde wished she wouldn't have been so mean because I was cute and charming. We have a date next Friday. Just kidding. I still have a boring life."

That's not the funniest letter Mark ever wrote to me. His letters usually had me laughing so hard I couldn't breathe. But it's a good story nevertheless, and it explains the "snuggle" picture and the consequences of carrying it around in his wallet to college dorm parties. I think he left the picture at home after that. It's the only picture I have of the two of us.

I have many memories of Mark, both good and bad, but they all add up to a sincere and deep friendship that grew as we grew and matured. As I said before, we fought a lot and could go weeks without speaking to each other, and there were times when I sincerely did not care if we ever spoke to each other again. He could be quite an idiot; but, well, so could I. And always, some little voice inside would tell me to soften my heart and get off my high horse, and eventually I would listen to it. Over the years, I saw him for who he really is, and I loved him for it in a way that goes beyond anything trivial and earthly. I believe he's found peace and happiness where he is now. He said to me once, "I love you. Very much. I am a better person because of you. Best prom dance ever? YOU."

Right back atcha, buddy.

Tuesday, August 20, 2013

A Poignant (But Pointless) Vignette

Sometimes the conversations you have with your kids are somewhat surprising. I say "somewhat" because poop comes up a lot, and after minutely dissecting that subject, you've pretty much covered most of the foul topics a small boy can come up with. The other night, I was in the kitchen putting dinner together and Little Gary was sitting on the floor by the pantry, playing with some of his toys.

"Are unicorns real, Mom?" he asks, and I can hear that note of sincere hope in his voice. I recall pictures of one-horn goats I have seen, but I know Little Gary is talking about magical animals that are named things like Honey Wings and have silver blood and talk to princesses and stuff.

"No, sweetie. Sorry, but they are creatures in stories."

He sighs. "I wish unicorns were real. I really wish they were real."

There is a pause. I scrape another carrot with a knife because the last of my three Pampered Chef vegetable peelers has mysteriously disappeared and I'm reduced to using paring knives for potatoes and cucumbers and butter knives to scrape carrot skins. I think about how irksome that is. The people I knew and lived with in England didn't use vegetable peelers, preferring to muddle along with paring knives. Consequently, that was how I had to peel all those pounds of potatoes I ate during my 18 month stint in an otherwise beautiful country. I found it a backward practice, though I suppose paring knives are much more traditional (and, therefore, somehow more solidly British) than newfangled peelers. I know people owned peelers over there, even back in the early '90s, but I never actually met one. My MIL still prefers a paring knife.

I finish the carrot and step around the kitchen island to the pantry to grab a couple potatoes, avoiding the stepstool that is useful but always underfoot.

"What do unicorn farts smell like, Mom?"

I furrow my brows to pretend I am thinking, but mostly I am trying to hide the fact that I want to giggle.

"Roses, I think," I say, and take the potatoes back to the island, where I shuffle through the utensil drawer to find the paring knife.

"Well, then, what do unicorn farts taste like?"

Which is when I ended the conversation and changed the subject. 

I don't mind talking about awkward bodily functions, but I have a strange aversion to my children using the word "fart." I know it's just a word, and it's not even one of the words on the list of Bad Words You Will Get Your Mouth Washed Out For Using In Any Other Way Than A Sober Discussion Of What Makes A Word Offensive. I think it's the way the mouth must form the word "fart" that I find distasteful. When you say the word "art," your mouth must open, turning the vowel into an open, beautiful sound. The "f", which requires your teeth to be placed on your lower lip, prevents the mouth from opening quite so widely, and the vowel sound is then flattened and distorted, the "r" becoming grossly obvious before the abrupt "t" ending. Plus, it's just so lowbrow. At least, that's how I see it.

When I was little, I couldn't say the word "lips." For some reason, that word made me blush with shame, though I can't even explain why except that the "ps" was somehow embarrassing. I'm proud to inform you that after much practice, I can say it now with only residual blushing. Lips. Lips. Lips. 

"What's for dinner, Mom?" asks Little Gary, who is finished playing and is now hanging out by the island, watching me chop the carrots into thin slices for the stir-fry. 

"Unicorn farts," I answer. He smiles.

Monday, August 19, 2013

Eva (With Opposable Thumbs): 0; Scanner: 1

There's a picture I wanted to scan, but my scanner, which is also a printer and copier (and currently with no ink, as we also have a laser printer that works far, far better), is being difficult. By this point, I'm convinced that some diabolical computer mind is at work here.

"Scan!" I command it.

"Out of Paper," it replies.

"I don't want you to print, I want you to scan!" I tell it.

"Out of Paper. Ha ha! And I already have an item in the print queue, so your commands are trivial," it shoots back, with just a hint of a digital snicker.

"Then with my ability to exert godlike control over you, I command you to delete and cancel and henceforth forget any items already in the print queue, which I didn't want anyway, and which some child accidentally added to the print queue because they didn't know exactly which printer to send the work item to." I am rubbing my hands together with glee, anticipating Husband patting me on the back for having figured out this little computer hitch on my very own.

"Deleting...," it says, though coyly.

"Now scan!" I yell, and I can taste the triumph in the back of my throat.

But my triumph is premature.

"Out of Paper," it replies.

So I compromise and put some paper in the paper tray. Maybe if it has some paper it will try to print the item in the printing queue (though blankly) and then I can get on with my work. I hit the flashing resume button and the machine goes through a few moments of promising shifts and clunks.

"Scan," I command once again, but I think the machine can hear the slight hint of desperation in my voice.

"Out of Paper. I will now commence flashing the resume button again. And yes, the work item in the queue is still deleting. Your attempts to further cancel or delete this item will be futile as I can spend forever deleting something. In fact, I will still be deleting this item when you are laid, cold and stiff, in your grave. Plus, I'm now going to inform you that another item is scanning, so you'll have to wait until that's finished before I scan whatever piece of garbage you've stuck on my scanning bed today. But have a nice day."

Yes, I know there is a way to bring this beast to submission, and yes, I know that techy sorts of people would know immediately how to do this, Husband included. When he gets back from work, it will take him all of 30 seconds to show the scanner who's boss. My only consolation is that the machine may have won the battle but will not win the war.

To make myself feel better, I will now go slay some work writing, laying four or five newly minted blog posts on the alter of the great and terrible SEO god, and they will not only be acceptable but will achieve very high quality analysis ratings, as per usual. Stick that in your paper tray and shove it, HP Deskjet F2110.

Thursday, August 15, 2013

Accounting For My Time

This hasn't been an incredibly productive summer as far as I account for my own productivity. I've written dozens of articles and helped plan and execute a very enjoyable vacation, but I haven't produced anything that I can really hold up and say, "Look! I did this!" Housework never stays static and meals are consumed, but the fact that my kids are still alive is at least a good sign.

Husband has been very productive in the ways that he counts productivity, and as he couldn't do it without my help, I guess I can take some pride in my efforts. He claims it was the green juice I've been feeding him every morning that finally helped him overcome the block he's had on planning his new series for middle grades. He now has a plan and has written almost 1/3 of the book. It delves into the realm of Norse mythology but doesn't mimic anything having to do with Percy Jackson or other currently popular middle grade fiction. The protagonist is a 12 year old boy who knows some sleight of hand and will end up on a really magical quest. Boys, magic, and quests. Exactly the things middle grade boys are asking for.

As for me, for the first time in 18 years, all my children will be going to school for the full day starting in a week. This means that I will have, in theory, about eight hours a day to produce something of worth that is not tied to cooking or housekeeping. Or, at least, not only tied to those things.

While the temptation to a) feel guilty that I am not homeschooling all my children, and b) watch Bollywood movies is strong, I'm pretty excited about it. What did I do before having kids? I can't remember. What will I do now that I have some time on my own to pursue my chosen activities? Try not to waste it.

Here's a tentative list of what activities need to be included in my days:


  • Scripture reading and prayer
  • Exercise 
  • Preparing healthful meals
  • Work writing

Other Stuff:

  • Researching how to get my degree at long last and what I need to major in in order to get a Master's and Doctorate in Ancient Scripture (more on that in another post). Also Architecture. Study.
  • 30 minutes of cello and/or piano practice a day
  • Deep cleaning the house one room at a time while listening to talk radio. Sadly, one cannot clean and watch Bollywood at the same time unless one is fluent in Hindi and is not reliant on subtitles.
That will probably take all of my time when you factor in unexpected incidentals. One must be flexible, after all. I'm just hoping that when I lay my head on the pillow at night and account for my day that I can be satisfied and pleased with my progress and productivity.  

Wednesday, August 14, 2013

Family Portrait Time

One of the neighbor girls is doing a project for Young Women. She asked if anyone wanted to have their family photos taken, and since she's an excellent photographer and we hadn't had a family portrait taken since just before Joseph was going to be born (and yes, I looked incredibly fat and bloated at nine months. Not my favorite pic of all time), I was intrigued. So I swallowed my vanity, told myself that it is stupid to wait until that mythical time when I'm my ideal weight again, and volunteered our family. Here are some of the results.

Back row, from left to right: Sophia (14), Sian (18), Little Gary (just turned 6), me, and Husband.
Front row, left to right: Joseph (9), Elannah (12), and Gabrielle (16).

My kids.

There is a big fire burning on the other side of the western mountains, so the light during the day is this lovely golden shade as the sun shines through the billows of smoke. In this case, the sun was also just beginning to touch the top of the western mountains on its slide into night.

We look so relaxed, as if we always get our photo taken. The reality was that Joseph and Little Gary weren't all that cooperative, and Marmite the Dog, who didn't want to be left behind, kept trying to climb on everyone. But our neighbor was very patient and now we have a new crop of family portraits to enjoy.

Friday, August 9, 2013

My Own Personal Syndrome: Facebook Rage

I have been suffering from something I've finally named Facebook Rage. It's kind of like Road Rage, except that I'm sitting at home looking at my computer screen and no one is in danger of getting shot. It's just this formless, burning heat of rage I inexplicably feel whenever I open up my Facebook account. It's not even directed at anyone except, maybe, myself.

Bear with me as I work this out aloud, as it were.

Obviously, social networking sites like Facebook have changed how we interact with each other. We can now tell each other everything about our lives without the need to see someone in person or write a letter, and we all share, share, share. We share our triumphs and our sadnesses. We share pictures of our dinners and our passing thoughts and our funny experiences. We share inspirational quotes or quotes designed to make a point about our particular beliefs. We share our photos of family and friends and the good times we're having. We share our opinions about politics and social issues. And then we don't just share, but we want feedback and we want to respond to things others have shared. We share what we think about what others have shared.

It's like having hundreds of people simultaneously demanding your attention. You never know if it's going to be something important or something completely and utterly insignificant, but the voices are all there, clamoring away in your head. For an introvert--even an introvert with the ability to operate pretty well in an extrovert's world--it's a nightmare. For someone who is empathetic and concerned about a friend's well-being, learning of so many sorrows and worries without being able to solve them is stressful and also a nightmare.

I'm not saying it's wrong to share all that and enjoy hearing from others. If I don't like it, no one is forcing me to log on, right? I have a choice about having my own account and whether or not I choose to spend some of my time scrolling through my news feed and giving my "likes" and making a comment here and there. So what is my problem?

I think my problem is the culture that social networking has fostered. In general, we are simultaneously more open about everything in our lives while drawing further and further away from physical interaction. You can have a relationship with someone on Facebook that is completely different than the one you have in real life. You might laugh and joke online with a Facebook friend who lives near you but barely take the time to speak to each other at church or at the grocery store. While we deliberately share so much online, we also work to reduce our face time with the same people who are our Facebook friends. We say it's because we're too busy anymore, but I think there's another issue going on here.

Social networking allows us the psychological comfort of creating a persona that we like. Remember the old Jetsons cartoon, where phone calls were like Skype? How futuristic! But when Mrs. Jetson received a call from someone before she had had a chance to put herself together for the day, she grabbed her handy mask and held it in front of her face. The caller saw her as perfectly made up and carefully coiffed when the reality was that she'd just rolled out of bed.

Our social networking lives are like the mask Mrs. Jetson wore. We get to choose how we present ourselves, sharing some things and keeping other things hidden, but it's all under the guise that we're being open and honest about everything. I think it's affecting us, this strain to retain a carefully crafted image against the possibility that people will see the real, messy mix of contradictions that makes up who each of us we really is.

Or maybe it's just me. This could all be coming from my own very personal perspective of both hating and loving being known. After all, I write this blog, which suits my extrovert tendencies, but I don't advertise it, which suits my introverted (and definitely dominant) self. I only know if someone reads anything I write on this blog if they leave a comment or tell me in person. And I'm fine with that. I certainly don't share more than a fraction of what I'm really grappling with in my head and heart on this blog, and I delete more than I post. If you don't know me at all, I can choose what you do know about me. You might make guesses and assumptions about me based on what I write and how I write it, and you may be right or wrong about those guesses, but until I meet you and you know me well, it's all just conjecture. I control the content. Sometimes I like that, and sometimes I'm done with it entirely. That includes Facebook.

Bleah. I'm not sure how to wrap this up, and now I need to run off and drive a couple of the girls somewhere they need to go. Seems like a good enough reason to quit abruptly and get away from all this deep thinking. I haven't even adequately addressed the Facebook Rage issue. I'll leave that to you, gentle reader, to come to your own conclusions.

Thursday, August 8, 2013

Stay Shiny, My Friends

I promise I've been doing stuff. I even took pictures of some of it, which absolutely proves I've done stuff. I haven't, however, posted the pictures to Facebook, so one could argue that nothing is actually proven.

The stuff I've been doing yesterday and today (aside from the usual stuff of writing and editing and dealing with bored children who don't find their chores sufficiently exciting) is standing in lines getting my girls registered for school. There were fewer and shorter lines since the school district had everyone register online this year and only show up physically to have yearbook pictures taken and to claim a locker. You could even pay the fees online, though a $3 charge was added for the convenience.

Speaking of fees, that's some stuff that made me choke. Considering that we pay property taxes, you wouldn't think the district would need to charge each child so much to attend public school. In years past, we've had to fork over around $600 to send three kids through a year of junior high and high school, and that's just for normal classes and not for any clubs or sports teams. This year, the total only came to around $400, which I still consider an obscene amount when my budget is so tight. I could go on some sort of rant here, but I will control myself for your sake.

As I was going through the whole registration/fee shock stuff, one of the ladies at my bank complimented me on my earrings and then informed me that there was a temporary tent offering $2 jewelry set up in the parking lot by the Little Caesar's Pizza. She happily showed off her very cute new necklace through the drive-up window.

What a dangerous thing to tell me, considering I am a complete sucker for jewelry. I don't own any expensive stuff, as I can't make myself spend more than $5 on any one item, whether it's a necklace or earrings or bangles. I realize that these are completely frivolous and selfish purchases, so I lessen the guilt factor by keeping it cheap. In other words, if you decided to burgle my house, you'd get yourself shot for nothing. So it was with a certain cheapskate pleasure that I bought for $2 a brand name necklace that was originally priced at $30. I'll have to go back to the bank and share a moment with the like-minded teller (girlish giggle).

I was going to veer wildly and without an appropriate segue into something else about Facebook at this point, but my post is already lengthy enough and I'm in danger of deleting it entirely because my hyper-critical editing voice is taking over. You're welcome. But I think that the information about the $2 jewelry tent (which is there until Saturday) should be enough to justify every word you have had to read. Cheap retail therapy and shiny things should never be underestimated.

Saturday, August 3, 2013

So Sue Me

I paid off my library fine and then, with a gleeful heart and a lightness to my step, checked the stacks for the latest books in Alan Bradley's Flavie de Luce series. Happily, there were copies of all the books I hadn't yet read.

Needless to say, the laundry didn't get done, the kids were starving, and we had no clean dishes in the house. But, oh, the joy!