Thursday, September 24, 2009

Toot My Own Horn

Not really my horn, but Sam's. Mah Boy.

Mark called me at work to tell me that the science teacher had called this morning. That had me worried a bit.
But Mark said that she simply wanted to tell us what a great student Sam is, that he's her best student (Mark's paraphrasing) and she really enjoys having him in her class. That he even helps his classmates in class. I reminded Mark that Sam's Civics teacher said the same things.

Night before last, Sam was at the sink doing dishes (I know, right?) while I sat at the computer looking up animal phyla and calling out the facts and characteristics to him. I was just as engrossed in it as he was, all nostalgic over my favorite phyla and names from biology: Platyhelminthes (so fun to say!) and Echinodermata and such.

We were especially interested in the Cnidaria because the name comes from the Greek word "Cnidos" which means stinging nettle. And we have lots of experiences with stinging nettles, so it was helpful to our remembering that they are all armed with stinging cells called nematocysts. E.g. jellyfishes, fire coral, and the like.

Mark walked into the kitchen to find us excitedly babbling on about flatworms and liver flukes. Good times.

The big debate lately has been whether to get Sam a cell phone or not. Keeping in mind that Sam was halfway nicknamed the Amishman last year for his lack of gadgetry, we are not known for having or providing the latest in technology.
Ya, there's a Wii (from grandma) and some Flip Cameras (from Santa) , but they're all extraneous non-necessities. Aggie wants an iPod, but she knows you don't just get an iPod for no reason just because you want one. You put it on your very selective Christmas list and put out hints for the 6 months prior to the holidays, and then you probably get it.

So a cellphone was not even a consideration until this year. And a very reluctant one at that. The problem arose with Cross Country, a lovable but scatter-brained Cross Country coach, and an unpredictable calendar of events on the school website. Sam would say things like "We might have a meet tomorrow, but I won't know until I get there." Huh? And "I don't know where we'll be or when we'll be back."

And there was also the fact that I had to repeatedly email and call to even find out what the hecks was going on in the beginning of the season. Here, turns out practice had started for a week or two and no word from the coach. I'm fairly convinced we never would have heard anything had I not made a pest of myself. But I digress.

Cellphone. Big major 3 week study of all the available options. I need to know where Mah Boy is. Not at all times, but pretty close. And I need it to not cost lots and lots of dollars. But it probably will and I've broken the seal on the Cell Phones For My Kids.
So I'm feeling a little defeated, a little like a sellout, and a little excited to text back and forth with Mah Boy.

Saturday, September 19, 2009

Cooper's Lake Cross Country Invitational

This is Sam's first year of Cross Country. I'm pretty proud and excited about it. I ran in high school, too, but I think Sam actually has a chance of being good at it. Plus it's something he and I both like, so that's nice.
Action shot! Uphill right away.
Aggie was cheering him on. Lily was criticizing him for not being first.
He was somewhere around 304? in a race of 415? I believe he's improved his time in every meet.

Have a good weekend!

Thursday, September 17, 2009

For Becky. With A Twist.

After neglecting my bloggy duty to post photos of my booty ( it's a jingle!) I'm trying to make up for it here. And I don't mean my caboose, my rump, or the junk in my trunk. (Honest, it's just pouring out of me!) I mean what I snagged during my recent transformative shopping trip.
So I had this fun idea to post photos of myself in different outfits, some of them from the shopping trip and some of them from scratch, and then everyone could guess which was which.
What actually happened was 3 consecutive nights of Open House from 7pm to 9pm. I forgot to get photos of the first part of the week, balled up the dirty clothes, and haven't washed those yet. I realized that what I actually bought on that shopping trip was 3 cardigans, 2 black and 1 fuschia, 2 blouses, and a necklace. Not exactly a new wardrobe. OK, I also bought a bra (trusty Playtex nude,) some pantyhose (grossssss! and I didn't wear them. Gross. Just couldn't bring myself to do it. Wore black tights instead,) a little black dress (to be worn with the pantyhose but it didn't happen,) and a cheap pair of black comfortable heels. Still not a new wardrobe.
But! Fact of the matter is, I still looked way more put together and presentable with those little additions than I would have without.
I learned from this that I am hopelessly not a shopper. But I also was inspired to take another look at the clothes I already had. Try to juice them up a bit, you know. Give them another chance. (Because who has high fashion expectations of an insurance agent?)
So the point of the photos, since I didn't get the guessing game together, is to show you my cheap stuff. It gets me by really well. Walmart top $11, handmedown skirt from my sister, shoes on clearance for like $15 (give or take, I got both pair on clearance plus one pair was also 50% off. Score.)
My working theory on shoes is, while I totally follow the belief that you shouldn't wear cheap shoes, I feel that as long as they don't look cheap when they're new you can wear them until they start looking crappy. Which is obviously going to happen a lot sooner with cheap shoes, but you still got by spending less money even if you have to replace them sooner.

Shirt by Target. Meh. My Daisy Fuentes trousers. Eh. The other pair of cheap shoes. Weh. And! My $15 Banana Republic necklace which I'm wearing with nearly everything because it reminds me of the beaded chains that hold eyeglasses, like my grade school librarian wore, and therefore I feel smarter and bookish. Super professional. So is my mussed up hair. I actually sneaked in a jog, took a quick sponge off and then put these clothes back on to go to Open House. So a little extra "dewiness." Is that a word? Dewy-ness? Dew-iness? Sweaty.
Which reminds me- I was totally stressing prior to that trip to Home Office that my naturally curly hair was not professional. (I'm serious, google it. I'm not the only one thinking it.) It looks icky in these photos, but anyone else have an opinion on curly hair and professional? I ended up deciding "Too bad. I'll do the best I can with it." And of course I was the bell of the ball. ;)
Since we're talking clothes and shoes. Mark's grandfather so generously gave these to Sam. Because what almost 13 year old young man doesn't long to wear his great grandfathers pleather loafers?
This isn't about the outfit, it's about the booboo. Right leg. Check it out.This (and some road rash on my shoulder. actually "tree rash" would be more accurate.) is what you get when you're practicing swinging up from the ground onto the horse's bare back (and I'm getting pretty good at it BTW, from the ground!) and it takes off (brideless of course because you're just out pissin' around in the field) and unstoppable through the trees. Yes, I'm sort of proud of it. And I was just about healed up from two separate bouts of nettle stings and welts, too. Don't worry, it wasn't as dramatic as it sounds. And! I didn't fall off or have to bail. So, it's all good. The Great Pumpkin made his delivery today! Pretty pumpkins.
Freaky pumpkins. And the best part about the pumpkin delivery, The Pumpkin Bin Village that the kids construct on the porch from the empty pumpkin bins. These will be modified, decorated, YoYo the cat approved, and possibly camped out in. Good times.
But first you have to do your "work" as noted here in Lily's notebook.

All along I could've been learning about scheduling and priority management from Lily. Who knew.

Monday, September 14, 2009

I Drank The Kool-Aid. And Then I Went Camping.

So I went to my "Priority Management" seminar and it was good. An intense 2 1/2 days and I'm thoroughly brainwashed.
But first I went shopping, and that was fun. Kind of. Until then my work wardrobe consisted of some carefully (ha.) selected Target clearance items, hand-me-downs from my younger sister, and a pair of Daisy Fuentes black slacks from Kohls. Ya, chew on that for a while.
Didn't really enjoy the wardrobe. It was all about function and getting by. I knew it was wrong, but I did it anyway. Forgive me.
So I knew I had to step it up for my trip to the Home Office to rub elbows with all the bigwigs and gurus. I was going to have to overcome my dislike for shopping, my aversion to the sweaty dressing room misery of trying & trying & trying to find something that doesn't look lame or cheap or ill-fitting, my miserly ways of immediately judging a garment as "not worth that much money, I can get the same thing at Target for much less."
And I wasn't trying some massive overhaul. I was just headed to the Banana Republic outlet store.
Long story short, it was all Pretty Woman, with me walking in to the store bewildered and helpless, and the sales person helpful and complimentary. Wait, that's not Pretty Woman, they were mean to her...But the gal did seem to have a lot of fun picking out clothes for me to try and then oohing and aahing as I tried them on for her.
I'm still stinging from the amount of money I spent, but I did look very presentable for the seminar.
And though the days were intense, arriving at 7:30am and class til 6pm, I enjoyed the challenge, learned some really helpful stuff, and got to mingle with some really great folks.
And then I went from Miss Fancy Business Pants to...

Camp Middle of Nowhere With No Shower For 2 1/2 Days. Except this year I cheated a little and took a quick sponge-off in the Winnebago shower.
We were deep in the Susquehannock State Forest area of Potter County Pennsylvania. This is my 3rd year for the trip.
The first year, Mark, who had been there several times before, suggested we go along on the annual Labor Day weekend camping trip. Up to the Wagner's Cabin. Stop me if I've told you this already...So I'm picturing a little cabin in the woods, with all the amenities, like something you'd rent from a campground. Charming, you know?
What I found when we arrived at 2 o'clock in the morning after travelling eons on a remote and precarious gravel road, was a sturdy looking shed of a building and a matching outhouse.
There I was in the middle of nothing, damn cold September mountain air, a bladder full of Sheetz coffee from an endlessly long trip, and I am confronted with the outhouse. What the hell?
I was in a panicky shock. Mark was suddenly faced with his decision to omit this very important information in his description of the camp. He said he knew I wouldn't have come if he'd told me about it. Well, Ya.
But. Yet another long story short, once I relaxed, it was a total blast. Not in an exciting amusement park kind of way, but in a free to enjoy the sweet camaraderie that comes from sharing an outhouse and preparing meals together. The joy of watching the kids and dogs run free. Catching salamanders and frogs: Building their temporary home:
There used to be a little plastic baby pool for this purpose, but it went missing.
And then turning them all loose on the last day.
Playing in the yard all day and all night. Aggie can touch her feet to her head. I learned that on this camping trip:Big kids playing with little kids:They had the most intense game of Release on Sunday night. (It's like Jail Break, I guess?) It went on until after midnight, 9 kids from age 7 up to about age 19, and they all played with the same enthusiasm. Even the dogs got in on it a little. (Sorry no pics, too dark. And I was busy sitting by the camp fire eating s'mores and doing nothing.)
Earlier that day Sam took me on a hiking adventure. Now he's been to camp more often than I have because the men all go on their Men Trip the day after Christmas, so he was more familiar with the trails. I was trusting him to go the right way.
What I didn't know was how much Sam likes to blaze his own trails. Up cliffs.(I was fairly terrified.) And across streams. (Sometimes we even used a bridge.)(We both peed in the woods somewhere around here.) And through monstrous nettle patches.This wasn't the nettle patch. It was up on the never ending mountainside Sam climbed leaving me behind on the trail yelling 'Sam, Sam, Why won't you answer me?!' and then finally climbing up after him only to find myself surrounded by stinging nettles. Then I heard him yell that the path he was looking for wasn't up at the top and that we'd have to go back. Through the nettles.
And then I said 'I want to go back to camp!' Wahh!
And then we had steaks on the grill with the wild mushrooms Mark found, oyster mushrooms and this Lion's Mane, my new favorite:
Super Fun Camping Extravaganza: Home again, home again, to my farm peeps:
Pigs acting like pigs:
And RoboKitten. What are his prime directives? Drink milk, hop around all nimbly bimbly from tree to tree, and fight crime.
You weren't expecting that ending were you?