Sunday, December 30, 2012

Proud of you Boys

One plays music all day every day and one plays ball all day long.

Illinois Blizzard

I have not seen much weather since moving to Illinois from Buffalo in 1996, but last week, I had a little scare.   On Wednesday night (December 19) we were hearing tell of a 2-4" snow fall coming in Thursday afternoon. Thursday was the last student day at my school, and the last day of finals.  They rearranged the schedule so that all finals were taken first and second block of the day, and a 1:45 early dismissal was announced.  No problem, I thought, I lived in Buffalo 7 years and survived a few weather incidents.

I drove to work Thursday morning in a light rain, pretty tame. The day was really busy and I wasn't looking outside to see when it started but sometime in midmorning an announcement was made we would now be dismissing students at 12:45 and staff could leave 10 minutes after that.  Maybe about noon I looked out and it was snowing, still no big deal... At 12:45 Pat called me from Macomb to ask how things were in Galesburg because they were pretty bad in Macomb. Honestly, that shook me up when Pat said I should get out of town.  I split and got just ahead of the school busses.  Even then it must have taken 10 minutes to get up to the corner of Henderson St. (3 blocks).  On Henderson, the traffic was really slow and roads snow packed already, and slick. I finally got to the entrance ramp to highway 34 and I was moving at about 40 miles per hour, though there were white outs and it was scaring me somewhat. Also, my windows were full of slushy snow and it was overall very hard to see. I kept the radio on as it was better company than my own thoughts. I was about 2-3 miles down the road, and without warning there's a truck jackknifed about 1000 feet (?)ahead of me and blocking the road. I could see another truck and cars past that spun out and off the road. Luckily I was just at the last exit back into Galesburg (Main St.) so all traffic was exiting.

Time for a quick decision: re-enter the freeway, or pull into town and spend the night.  Into my decision went the following:
I might make it to the next town, where I had a feeling I would be stuck in a motel, however, the visibility was terrible, I am not fond of white outs, and my windows were not clear.
I have a friend in Galesburg who has offered me respite anytime I need it, but she would be coming from her job the way I was going.
I had less than a quarter tank of gas, not enough to keep me warm all night which I considered a distinct possibility.
I had work the next day.
I called Pat with all these things running through my head, and he agreed with my assessment to just stay put.
I pulled off the freeway and back around to the first motel I saw.  At that point, the driving was just getting worse.  I called my friend from the parking lot (in case I had to secure a room) and she was on the road and said it was horrible, but I could stay there whether she made it or not> After buying some pajamas at Target, I proceeded across town and pulled into McDonalds near her house. I had now been mucking around for about an hour.  The snow was piling up and people were taking shelter, there was slipping and sliding everywhere.  Very dangerous even in town.

Val got home around 2:00 and I brought her and her son some food, and we had a whole afternoon and evening ahead.  It seemed really weird. Normally, if I stay there it's 5:00 or so when I get there.  She asked if I like to sew and I said "not really" but she showed me a pajama pants project she was working on for Christmas presents. I sewed on the cute puppy dog buttons while she ran the machine. We watched a really sappy made for TV movie, which I kept making sarcastic remarks about, but I think she really thought it was good, and it did keep my interest. After dinner and newspaper reading, I went to bed.

Got to work a little late, in my same clothes. I was told at noon that the road home was still closed, but I didn't believe it and left shortly after lunch.  I counted 7 cars still off the road on highway 34 and 35 cars off the road on 67.  Apparently, on that second stretch there was a pile up that caused people to indeed spend the night in their cars or makeshift shelters, who were not lucky enough to get rescued by the state police.

So, I have to say my judgment was good, and thank goodness for my generous friend who put me up for the night. It was quite an adventure!

And Dad, you do have exclusive permission to edit and print this in the Family News, as you see fit.

The F Word

Here is my rant for the evening, and I'm only picking on rappers because I'm listening to a song a friend was listening to on Spotify. I've found a lot of good music this way, I would not have otherwise run into. Can't Dr. Dre, every movie I've seen in the last 10 years and the kids on the basketball court and the hallways at school be a little more creative?  My dad has confirmed that the F word has been around since at least the Korean War.  So, it's not really that impressive to say it all the time. Apparently, it is just another word used liberally in the youth vernacular. For myself, besides embarrassing my children and getting fired, my main reason for refraining most of the time from saying it myself is not that I'm particularly offended by it, but that overuse reduces the impact of saying it.

Since we are often told not to complain without offering a solution (or three for my new boss), I would recommend people who like to swear make up a new word.  Here's what I'm thinking of saying to students whom I overhear using it, as we are supposed to somehow stop it, "hey this is an educational facility, and we've all been educated on this word a long time ago, can you think of something else to say?"  My third solution is well, I don't have one.  Maybe I could write to Matt Damon and ask him to help start a campaign in Hollywood to eliminate the F word.

Don't get me started on the N word and the G word either...but i am open to suggestions for response to "that's so gay."  Usually i say something like, "You think it's happy?"  I'm glad you think it's happy.

New Year's Eve

I'll just make this quick, since I mentioned Miss M.  I invited her over for New Year's Eve (she's been asking to visit in the evenings when I am usually too exhausted to be much company).  After poking around on the Internet for ideas I came up with this plan. The only drawback is, she will keep asking to do this again and again and frankly, it's a little more effort than I am usually willing to exert.  I know this because when I did the first treasure hunt around the house and yard she kept asking to do it again. I did not oblige until our last visit before Christmas when I incorporated her gifts into the hunt.

So, here's the plan:  We will have envelopes labeled with every half hour from 7:00 - ??  Kind of like a countdown thing with fun stuff to do in each envelope.  This is what I have so far:

7:00 Scavenger hunt
7:30 Uno game with automatic card shuffler borrowed from my mom (she loves that thing)
8:00 Bake cookie stuffed cupcakes
8:30 Manicure and hand massage
9:00 Time  Capsule

9:30 Help Susan put away Christmas decorations (this will be about the time she'll ask to go home, hopefully)

Saturday, December 29, 2012

Miss M and me on 12/16 the day we made ornaments and cookies.  She gave me my gifts, gourmet coffees, homemade cookies and a gift card!  Too much!  Oh yeah, we discovered we have matching shirts (in different colors) so we wore them on this day.
I am looking for "fun activities for New Year's Eve" to do with her. So far, I have Scavenger Hunt, maybe a time capsule, and making a food item.
I haven't posted a picture on this blog in forever, because I basically forgot how to do it.  I think I found a new way but it will probably only post at the beginning instead of inserting it wherever I want.

Sunday, December 09, 2012

This is really just for me, so I can't recommend anyone reading further.  I have been reading a lot of YA (young adult) fiction lately, and even a fourth grade level book.  I've been researching selective mutism, a disorder one of my student has. It causes a lot of people frustration, because they know she can talk in some situations and not others. This makes them believe it is a conscious choice or even a game. I have even been guilty of some of these feelings. 

The first book I read was called "Cut" by Patricia McCormick.  A teenage girl is situated in a therapeutic inpatient treatment center because she had been cutting herself, and has gone mute. In this case, she is not talking to anyone and it gets a little awkward in group and individual therapy, but she is really having a difficult internal struggle.  Come to find out she has blamed herself for her brother getting sick and almost dying, when in fact her parents were rather negligent, one having gone to a bar. She slowly realizes this and begins talking and making progress, before abruptly running away from the facility. She calls her dad and they have a come-to-Jesus, and she goes back, determined to work harder on her recovery.  What I liked most about the book was the author's voice and candid humor about the treatment center and the characters there.  I also was interested in how therapy was handled.  Lucky for me, my student is able to talk to me.

I'm about half way through "Speak", the story of girl who enters high school after busting up an underage drinking party over the summer. She is now outcast from any social group, but it is a little more vague about her inability to speak. No one is confronting her about it, or making problems in school over it, it is more hinted at.  She does speak at home, and with a new girl she meets. Again, the descriptions and characters are humorous and spot on sketches on the life of a teenager. 

I often think of a boy Cal knew in daycare whose parents invited him over expressly because he was the only kid Mikey talked to. He wasn't speaking in daycare and not sure how much he spoke at home.  I wonder what became of him.

So, I'm concerned with my midde age paunch and recent weight gain, 10 pounds over my former limit.  On the plus side I do the following activity weekly:
Aqua Fit class, 45 minutes, 3x
Walk, 45-50 minutes, 2-3x
Lift weights, 30 minutes, 1-2x
Elliptical, 40 minutes, 1-2x
Yoga, 10-15 minutes, 3x

I eat a healthy breakfast everyday: Greek yogurt and a banana on weekdays, oatmeal with cranberries, splenda, and skim milk on weekends.  I bring my lunch most days (leftovers or sandwich) and cook at home nearly every night.

Problem areas:
Binging on sweets mainly in the evening
Snacking nearly all the time, anything from kettle corn to apples, oranges, granola bars. 

Saturday, November 03, 2012


I just noticed that blogger is underlining certain words in my blog and turning them into ads, if you click on them, or even hover over them.  That might be cause to rebel, because god knows blogger needs my fan-dom to sell things (like flu shots). 

It was a funny, quiet day. I had nothing on my agenda.  Jojo had a jazz concert this evening, but I've been to Bloomington Normal just about enough this fall and another 4 hour drive was never really in the cards. Instead, Pat got some plastic on some west facing windows, cleaning them and the curtains which badly needed it. 

I've enjoyed catching up on some other blogs today, when taking a break from my Kindle book, "A Discovery of Witches."  A bit predictable, the witch and vampire will be getting together.

Sunday, October 07, 2012

Columbus Day Weekend

Nice (for me) that public schools still (sometimes) get Columbus Day off.  I sure feel like I needed a 3 day weekend.  Either, my students are struggling more than usual, or in my third year, I am being sought out more, I don't know, but I feel I've been going hard at work for weeks now.  There is always that getting to know you period in the beginning of the year, where I question am I handling things right with the new students and sometimes the familiar ones? 

Friday night I got four books at the public library for the three day weekend.  I had just finished "Gone Girl" by Gillian Flynn- that was some crazy sh--.  I waited a couple of months for that one to be available.  These four books were by familiar authors, but I wasn't sure if I would like them, so I took out four at once.  Almost done with the first.  So when I went outside to walk to Walgreens in my hobo chic staying in outfit this afternoon, my eyes hurt and I realized I need to mix it up more, though I have cleaned and been to the Y, the salon, Hy-Vee, Walmart, Niemanns, Walgeen's, Sullivan Taylor, Kmart, The Crossing, Dairy Queen, and my dad's house since leaving work on Friday.

My mom and Pat coincidentally have been in Florida this weekend.  Pat to attend his nephew's wedding in Panama Beach, FL and my mom traveling with Betsy and Nephew 13 to Orlando for a week of amusements at Universal Studios.

Sunday, September 23, 2012

Productive Weekend

Late in the day Friday I decided to make the trip to attend one of Boy19's jazz concerts after work. I had held off a decision and see how I felt.  I had had a busy week with a blood donation and flu shot the night before. Sometimes by Friday I just want to go home and chill and this little trip would make about an 18 hour day.  I had a challenging but invigorating day so I decided to go for it. 

I got to Normal about 4:45, plenty of time for dinner out with Boy19.  We invited his roommate but he had marching band practice.  Boy19 chose Outback Steakhouse, a place I unbelievably had never been. I wasn't in the mood for steak, but it's not about ME now is it?  When we pulled up I saw a quaint Indian restaurant and asked if he would like to try it, but he was afraid the spicy food would  dry up his mouth for playing trumpet??  So, in we went.  The loud music and noise from all the diners was reverberating through my bones, but I soldiered on.  Boy19 enjoyed his "Chicken on the Barbie" and we shared a yummy guacamole and crab appetizer, but I could only eat a few bites of my salad entre. 

We got back to campus just in time for his dress rehearsal while I took a nap in the parking garage.  The concert began at 8 pm and the program looked rather short, five pieces for Jazz II and six numbers for Jazz I, which it turned out I had miscounted; there were seven.  I had forgotten how long one improvisational jazz tune can last...Boy18 sat with me during the Jazz II set. I studiously took notes,which I always do so I can comment afterwards on specific details and impressions I have.

Boy19, oh what the hell, he's a grown man.  Jojo shared lead in the Jazz I band.  This apparently doesn't entitle you to solos where you walk up front to the microphone, or even solo from your place in the band much.  I was busy taping one song with the Ipad and almost didn't notice he did have a short solo.  They were pro.  I thought Jazz II sounded good until Jojo's group played. Wow.  Very proud mama.

The two hour drive back home was pretty monotonous but I listened to this buttery voice named "Delilah" who was sending out romantic songs for lovelorn middle aged lonely hearts (from what I could tell). 

Saturday night I was out late again chaperoning an unnamed high school homecoming dance. For the first hour I took money for those who had not purchased tickets in advance. The going rate is $15 in case you're interested.  I also marveled at the how the administrator checked ID's and commanded the young people to her will, and the teacher who found the forms for the guests who were not students.  We were absolutely slammed with students for 45 minutes straight, and there were ticket takers at other doors.  I had no idea.

Pretty much as expected, the new dirty dancing has the girl rubbing her behind against the boy's frontside for three hours straight.  I was waiting all night to hear the song "Gangum Style," the youtube sensation I recently discovered.  There was also a fun song where the kids do what looks like a line dance; Cal tells me it's called "Cupid Shuffle" which is about five years old so I guess I am not so down with the times. 

I feel I earned my $50 by breaking up two extended tongue entwined interactions, one ridiculous display of three year old horseplay, two boys whose hands were dangerously close to the fire alarm, and circling in and around the dance floor for two hours straight.  Afterwards, I helped tear down the pretty cool decorations before arriving home at 1:00 a.m.

That brings me to today.  However, I am really needing to get my clothes and self ready for another work week so here's the unembellished version of my productive day: visit parents, clean oven, wrk out, drop off snack for theater party, get gas, take nap, go to the library, make lasagna, eat lasagna, take walk, watch football, read blogs, write blog, say good night.

Good Night!

Saturday, June 16, 2012

SIU Visit

When did my little Momma's boy who followed me from room to room and put his arms around my neck and wouldn't let go turn into the 5'11" and growing surly young man who is old enough to go on a college visit?
After driving five hours we arrived in Carbondale and the good people there gave us some sage advice: most of the motels in Carbondale are, how can I say this, temporary crack houses, or places you take your new ‘friend’ for a few hours. I asked a biker guy if he thought the Comfort Inn would have bed bugs and he replied, “Pretty much anywhere in town you’re gonna have a problem with critters.” Oh great. He directed us to where he thought we were going on the East side of town, and turns out the Comfort Inn is only 19 months old, not long enough to get bed bugs, right? I checked just in case, though it was really, really nice and clean.
After dinner at Panera and noticing the maroon polos and SIU license plates, we lucked onto campus by accident. We heard music and saw people flooding towards center of the university with coolers. We got out and walked along, noticing open alcohol all around, amidst the families, students and elder community people. The full moon was out, a band from Chicago was set to take the outdoor stage and we decided to head on over to the new football stadium.
Two guys were hosing off some dirt in front of the stadium and said we could go on in. Later I talked with the night shift worker and he was an honest to goodness good guy. How easy for him to make a good impression of the school and town of Carbondale, as being somewhere I would send my son. The turf stadium with box suites was really nice and we were directed over to the basketball arena across the parking lot. Both beat the pants off what WIU has for athletic facilities.
Blogger has changed and as I mentioned last post, I don't like change very well.  I've had a few thoughts rattling around in my brain recently. One has to do with getting old, the other about my children growing up.  The third, which is not worth focusing on, about needing to be happier, not liking my attitude lately. 

Taking some laundry out of the machine the other day, I was struck by how long Boy17's baseball pants have gotten. It seems like he was the same size of baseball pants for literally 10 years, and suddenly, he has these super long baseball pants.  Now the boys are 24, 19 and 17 (almost 18). Sometimes that makes me happy, when I think about how much I wouldn't want to be changing diapers or chasing toddlers around, or even going to another school event.  I have become far too selfish and self absorbed for that. 

So, getting old.  I noticed a few telltale signs.  One day I was lying on the couch having an allergy attack, and was too lazy to get up to throw away my kleenex, when I instinctively tucked it into my sleeve.  Gasp, that's why old people go around with kleenex up their sleeve, one disgusting activity I thought I would NEVER engage in.  Well, I have.  It was almost enough to motivate me to get it up and throw it away, but not quite.  Then I noticed I have a pile of clothes in my room which are only slightly worn.  Gasp, I am wearing dirty clothes!  I even pick them up off the floor sometimes and put them on.  To top if off, I don't always wash my hair everyday.  I feel like it's just "drying out" too much. Gasp, all of this leads to me occasionally get a whiff of myself smelling like a grandparent. 

Perhaps these persistent thoughts are what is causing me to feel unhappy, negative and worthless.  I am glad I discharged them to this blog, because I was so convinced they would just make fascinating blog material. Cognitive behavioral therapy says I can just change those cognitions and be happy. Metacognition: thinking about your thinking. So that is my little goal for today. 

Thursday, April 26, 2012

End of April

It's almost terrifying to be posting here.  I think the format has changed again and I am such a creature of habit.  I am having trouble navigating around blogger. 
This is more of an Arm Meat post, but oh well. We had our last senior night last night (baseball).  It was anti-climatic.  Tonight was Mr. Bomber and boy17 was a contestant. He had some pretty good bits (causual wear, cheer, formal wear) and his talent was pretty funny. If I get fancy I'll try and post the video.  There are so many things to do before graduation and I am happy to say my kitchen is 100% remodeled.  A very amazing transformation (and seven weeks of chaos). Actually the chaos the rest of the house was thrown into is still existing. 
Boy19 is finishing up his freshman year of college, but at this moment I can hear him and his girlfriend giggling in the back room.  She emceed the Mr. Bomber show tonight along with Peppermint Patty. 

Wednesday, April 18, 2012

It's been slightly over one year since I blogged???? I ran into a problem that deterred me terribly. I would be typing along and get some really great material going, then go to publish and it wouldn't publish. It just stayed like a draft. I could copy and paste, and send it to "The Family News" but that was about it. I'm going to push the magic button before I get too invested in this and see what happens.