Monday, June 28, 2010

Oh, the Shame.

First of all...  ok, I know you were all being nice to me because the end of the year was a little crazy with school and the car accident and TR's pneumonia, but jeez, Bloggy Miyagis, one of you could have mentioned to me that my new profile pic totally looked like a snot.  (!!!)  I was trying to update since my old picture was kind of... old... but since I am usually the one behind the camera, I don't have many pics of me.  So I snapped a quick one and posted it without paying much attention other than it wasn't fuzzy.  And then yesterday I actually looked at it.  EW!  Next time I post such a smarmy pic, someone please tap me on the shoulder and kindly whisper in my ear.  Or yell in my general direction from your far-off state, whatever.  It's best for both of us, really.  So until I come up with a decent picture that is more like me (although I am tempted to post a pic like this, since this is so obviously what I am like:) I have ousted SnotPic for a dangerous pen.
Anyway.  While I was searching for a flouncy Cinderella pic, I came across these pics from the Rochas Fall 2006 runway collection because the person who posted them happened to mention that they reminded her (him?) of Cinderella:
Look at that bird detailing!  I am in love.  I totally wish I had these dresses.  Can you say MOCKINGJAY???  These would totally be Katniss approved, no?  And anyway, zombie models.  I mean, come on.  This runway show was obviously made completely of WIN.

Thursday, June 24, 2010

Memoirs of a Mom with a Car Cart

Exhibit A:  The Car Cart

I know what you're thinking: UGH, whose idea was it to make this monstrosity of a cart?  Whenever you see these in the grocery store, you shudder and steer your own normal cart the other way.  Don't you.  Yes, you do.  Why?  The car cart is big, virtually unsteerable, bangs into everything, and clearly contains humans small enough not to realize that we keep arms and legs and long, curly hair inside our vehicles at all times for a reason.  

I can tell you this from experience:  Moms do not want to drive the car cart.  Dads don't drive the car cart.  You never see that.  It is so front-heavy and full of unpredictable toddler that you can't really blame people for turning their carts away and heading quickly in the direction opposite the food they are actually looking for.

On the morning of Father's Day, I drove the car cart.  I took both girls to the store to grab some bacon for HH's celebratory breakfast whilst he slept.  Now, Tootsie Roll is generally fine in stores.  She is 7, and although she sometimes grumps that she has to walk (yes, I expect the slave driver comments to come pouring in, I have my armor on) and she wants everything, she is also big enough to know that she is big enough to walk and even she gets tired of my pre-recorded response, "Put it on your birthday list" (which works just as well for Count Chocula as it does for the newest must-have Silly Bandz).  Curly Jones, on the other hand, is just at the age where she wants to do everything herself, and keeping her safely in the small seat in the front of a shopping cart is generally an exercise in futility because she can unbuckle and stand up.  Unlike Toots, she wants to walk, but if you have ever tried walking around a store at 3 yr old pace where exciting things line every shelf at 3 yr old height... yeah, it's not exactly the most efficient shopping experience.

So there we were, with CJ in the car cart and TR complaining beside me.  When you shop by yourself, other shoppers do not generally go out of their way to talk to you (at least not in New Jersey).  But the car cart is an attention magnet, eliciting comments from just about every person you go by (well, at least the other people who are awake and in the grocery store at 7am on a Sunday), ranging from, "Are you sure you can drive that thing?"  to "Don't crash!" to "Whoa... aren't you kind of young to have a license?" (not much of a range is my point) all directed at the youngster in the car.  People mean to be friendly, but said kid in car ignores them because they can't see anything from the car cart except maybe the person's legs.  So Car Cart Mom smiles, secretly cringing at all the crashing comments, seeing as the weekend before, Tootsie Roll and I were in a car accident that shook her up a lot.

I managed to wrangle the car cart to the card aisle to pick out some Father's Day cards (better late than never, I know).  The aisles are not super wide, but I was able to put the car cart all the way to the right of the aisle (on the birthday card side) and leave plenty of walking space on the Father's Day card side.  A few people came by and picked out cards.  Finally, one woman approached from the opposite direction and literally ran her body right into the front of the car cart, pushing it away from the birthday cards.  Startled, I said to the woman, "Sorry, I'd be happy to move the cart if you need to get a card."  She sighed (not just audibly, it was like a stage sigh) and said, "Yes, obviously."  So I went to move the cart and she started to go behind it and stare at the Father's Day cards on the other side of the aisle.  I said, "Oh, if you need one of those, why don't you just go around to the other side?" meaning there is a reason I have my cart pushed all the way over here to THIS side, taking my chances with a 3 yr old within reach of about ten million birthday cards.  But I said it nicely, because I don't want to be in someone's way with my giant car cart.  She replied, "YES, WHY DON'T I DO THAT,"  walked to the other side, where she had a good several feet of space in which to gaze annoyedly at the Father's Day cards and literally bang her body into my cart on purpose about six times.

Now listen.  I don't want to be driving the car cart.  I don't want to explain for the umpteenth time that you cannot get out while the cart is moving.  I don't want to hear everyone's comments about driving.  I don't want to listen to my big one whine about why my little one gets to do everything.  By the time we got to the checkout (which is almost impossible to drive the car cart through), I was still just feeling a little bit like a wounded puppy, wondering why people decide to just be nasty for no reason, when another woman, shopping by herself with no kids, gave me the most empathetic look and said, "I've driven that bus."
Thank you, fellow Car Cart Lady.  You have no idea how I needed that.  Oh,what we do for bacon...
Happy Father's Day to my Handsome Hubby :)

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

Checking In

Summer vacation!!!! Right?  Wait... not yet.  School ended on Friday but this week I am moving everything to my new classroom (wow, you don't realize how much stuff is in a classroom until you have to move it all, lol) and also caring for my sweet Tootsie Roll, who, we found out today, has pneumonia and an ear infection.  Poor thing has missed most of her last two weeks of school and is hoping to get in for her last half day this Friday.  We'll see. 

After this week, when I am moved and she is feeling better, hopefully some writing time! (Until the next crisis...!)

Thursday, June 17, 2010

Thank You!

I am home from school with Tootsie Roll, who is missing a fourth day of school in a row (ugh!) due to a fever that just won't quit.  I took her to the dr yesterday after she had a bad bloody nose along with the fever but they just think she has a "summer virus" (which sounds oddly like a summer holiday, lol).  I'm not too worried, she did finally start coughing, which is not normally something to be happy about but they were only concerned about the fever if it didn't have cold symptoms with it and, hey, here they are.  She has one more week of school but my last day is tomorrow so I am really hoping I can get back - I would hate for my school kiddies to end their first grade year without their teacher for the last 3 days (HH stayed home with her Mon & Tues)!  But whatever will be will be... HH can't stay home tomorrow because he teaches high school TV Productions and is his district's A/V Coordinator and it's their high school graduation... they kinda need the whole microphone/video thing, which is a bear to set up outside.  Well, anyway, one day at a time.  Hopefully this fever will find something better to do tomorrow, although Tootsie Roll hopes not, as she feels pretty fine and is enjoying hanging out with Mom, playing Wii, and demanding drinks "because I'm sick". ;)

Aaaaanyway.  I wanted to say THANK YOU for a couple of books that I won in contests not too long ago, after just winning Stephanie's and Num8ers.  I'm on a lucky streak! :D

Thank you to Kristin Rae for a signed copy of The Wolf Within:
Thank you to Charity Bradford for these yummy writing books:
And, finally, thank you to Andrea Mack for her 50th of 100 reads:
I'm very excited for school to end and summer to begin to I can dive into my new treasures!  Thanks again, ladies!!!

Monday, June 14, 2010

So life is a little busy crazy right now.  This past weekend was Tootsie Roll's dance recital...
We got  into a car accident on the way to the recital and the guy who hit me scared the heck out of her by screaming obscenities at me like a crazy person (including the fact that this is the fourth time this year he has smashed his car) until the police arrived and made him stay with his car.  Fortunately, the police were wonderful and even gave her a teddy bear.  Our local police are really wonderful.  I was a backstage mom for the show, which meant that we were supposed to be there pretty early, so fortunately even with all this happening, we made it in time for the show (also fortunately the other backstage mom for her class rocked).  She was AWESOME in both of her dances and I owe a huge thanks to my family who came to see her, many of whom sat through two entire (almost identical) shows.  Kudos to Curly Jones, too, who was only supposed to be there for the first show but as Handsome Hubby valiantly missed the recital to deal with my car, him bringing her home after one show was obviously not happening and she was really good sitting through both shows.

The next day was Philly Comic Con, which will have to be a post in and of itself, but suffice it to say it was our first time going, we did dress up (heck, if you're gonna go, go big and have fun!), and it was an absolute blast.

This week is my last week of school, which is incredibly busy, plus I am moving into a new classroom for next year, so I have to pack everything and move it all.  There is a whole lot of stuff in a classroom, lol.  Anyway, I am NOT at all complaining because it is a voluntary move into the largest classroom in my entire school (!!!) and I am super excited.  I will have to show you pics of my current (decently sized, not small) and soon-to-be (huge gimungous) classrooms.  That is, when I have a chance to catch up on blogging, since report cards are also due on Wednesday and I am done everything but the written comments, which of course, are the lengthy part.

I am so looking forward to next week and summer beginning, to spend time with my hubby and kids, to CLEAN my poor, neglected house, and to WRITE LIKE A MUTHA.  Yeah, I said that.  Anyway, I will probably be popping around the net randomly this week when I need a break from the madness but I should be more regular after this week (no Activia necessary).  Yay!  See you all soon!

Friday, June 11, 2010

Writers, Cut the Crap.

I recently cut a bunch o'inches off of my hair, which is really not a big deal, I do it every time my hair gets long, but I am realizing that it was the beginning of a trend.  I get in these phases where I want to simplify, purge, cut out what is unnecessary, declutter.  Know what I mean?  I haven't had a lot of time to really get to it, but with school ending this coming week, I see some glorious weeding out in my future.  I already have 4 donation bags ready to go to the Lupus Foundation, and by the time they come for their scheduled pickup on the 17th, I hope to have more.... although that is the day before school ends... and I do have report cards to do this week, so... we shall see.  But I digress.

Smart writerly people, when they give advice, often say to write with as few words as possible, use only the words you need, say things as simply and cleanly as you can.  In other words, stop cluttering up your writing with unnecessary blah, blah, blah, and get on with the meat of what is happening.

Dangerous as I am, I kinda hate it when I get writerly advice.  There.  I admitted it.  Honestly, part of me always asks (silently) if specific great writers had that many people telling them how to do their work.  Now... before you go wondering who I think I am to buck all of the people who actually know what they are doing, let me say that I am well aware of my naivete` (which is sort of an oxymoron, I suppose).  Here's the thing.  I am a completely novice writer, and I write because I love it, and I know that I still write for me.  Wise, published writerly types always say that good writers need to grow out of the stage of writing for themselves and learn to write for their audience.  Well, since I don't have an audience, per se, I still write for me.  I do know that, in time, I will grow into a more professional attitude (I hope.  I guess.  Maybe?) when I actually start having people read my writing and make suggestions and tear it to pieces.  But I think I need to go through that firsthand to have that epiphany.  At least I know it's coming.  Maybe foresight will at least soften the blow. ;)

Anyway, I have gotten off on a tangent, which is funny, because my whole point was about using only the words you need.  So as I said, I typically roll my eyes at Writers Who Tell Me How To Write (and I will relish doing so until said epiphany beats me into submission).  Here's where I was going before I derailed myself:

Last week, the Brownie troop that holds its meetings after school in my classroom had their last meeting of the year.  They are lovely, and they gave me a card and a huge, delicious bag of chocolate to thank me for letting them use my room.  Feast your eyes:

I am a chocolate lover, so this gift was insane to me... 50 squares of chocolatey, caramelly goodness!  Ohhh, the love.  I left school, got in the car, put the bag of chocolates on the passenger seat.  It begged to be opened on the way home, so at a red light, I indulged its very demanding whims, opened it, and drew out a perfect, foil-wrapped square of 60% cacao dark chocolate with a caramel center.  I turned it over to open it, and was struck by the words on the seam of the wrapping, which read, "Lift and pull to open".

Lift and pull to open.

Really?  Do I really need printed directions to remove the foil from a square of chocolate?  Without them, would I have sat in my car, dastardly foil wrapping blocking the chocolatey goodness from reaching my mouth, unsure how to overcome this horrendous obstacle?

Then I got to thinking about all of the ads everywhere around us, the "caution, contents hot" warnings on coffee cups, all the junk mail waiting for my arrival at home.  I thought about how much of my Time Magazines or MSN online I actually read and how much print is just... there... for me to wade through to get to the good stuff.  It's no wonder educational standards now include critical reading, and teachers teach students to think about the author's perspective, who pays for a particular ad, how to understand the spin put on a speech or an article.  How marketing works to make you think you really want or need something.

And then I thought about novels and the idea that we read them for enjoyment, for entertainment, for interesting ideas or new directions of thought.  And I thought about how novelists are sparse with their words because we don't want to have to wade through noise like we do in almost all other print to get to what's important.  A novel isn't going to have printed directions on the cover telling me to hold the book in one hand and open the cover, then read the pages in order.  A novel generally assumes I have a brain and often presents an idea without telling me what my opinion is.

So, yes, great novelists.... I agree with you.  Write only the words you need.  Cut out all the crap.  And may all my future writing epiphanies come to me over chocolate. :)

Wednesday, June 9, 2010

It's My Own Retail Wednesday!!!

This one's for you, Rebecca, to whom I am still planning on sending a superspecialsomething, but got a bit sidetracked by life.

I do not work in retail, so this post is a little bit misleading but I had my own retail misadventure today and I had to share.  Because it is Wednesday.  If I could share with you half the things that happen in first grade on a daily basis, you would die laughing/gasp in horror/both, and sadly, it would not be viewed kindly by those who pay my bills... so, in order to stay gainfully employed, I shall regale you with other tales.

The scene: Large, nice chain supermarket. 

The characters: Me, 17 yr old (my guess) deli boy, store manager

Me, to Deli Boy (DB):  Can I please have a price list for party trays?

DB: Uh, can you explain that?

Me: You know, like a list of prices for ordering a deli tray for a party.

DB: You want to buy some paper trays?

Me: No... you know when you have a party and..

DB (interrupting, with a knowing wink): Yeahhhhhhhhh

Me (ignoring, it's 9:30pm and pouring rain, I want to go home): ... and you want a deli tray for your guests?  Like.. a tray of lunchmeats and rolls?

DB: Yeah.... we don't sell that.

Me:  No.... it's not something you sell.  (Knowing full well they do party trays)  It's a list of prices.  How much it costs to order a tray of lunchmeats and rolls for a party.  You know, like if you're ordering  a tray for 15 people it costs this much.  If you're ordering for 25 people, it costs this much...

DB:  Yeah... um... we really don't sell that.  But let me go ask someone.

(Me, waiting and waiting and waiting and waiting and wanting to walk away but he finally returns and hands me a book).

DB:  This is all we have.  (It's a book on counting calories).

Me: No.  Um... (trying to think of how else to explain)

DB: Let me get my manager.  (walks away.  Returns with older man.)

DB to Manager:  This lady wants to know how many people to serve at her party.

Manager (looking at me like I'm an idiot):  Well, how many people did you invite?

Me:  Nevermind.

Monday, June 7, 2010

Oh No She Di-Ent!

Soooo... Lisa Gail Green over at Paranormal Point of View issued me a challenge.  Well, not a direct one.  She did, in fact, a lovely thing by featuring this here blog on her own awesome blog, which, by the way, you should go and visit because, seriously, her blog is a hoot. (That last sentence, by the way, did not eclipse my comma record of eight in one sentence - and even better, that one was in a WiP).  So, yeah.  Where was I?  Oh.  Right.  Lisa's challenge.  Well, here's the thing.  If she is going to feature my blog, new people might actually come over here, ya know?  My old friends, you are well aware that as a teacher, I have been posting random little things like pictures of my children to distract you from the fact that I have not written any actual meaty blog posts of late, because this time of year, TeacherMommyWriters look a little bit like this:
So my challenge, as indirectly issued by Lisa Gail, is to write something.  Anything.  To assure any new visitors that my blog can be slightly interesting.  So really, Lisa Gail, this post is all about saving face so that your lovely visitors don't think you have lost your mind by sending them over here to my recent Bermuda Triangle of blog posts that have all been started and interrupted by schoolwork, children, report cards, marking papers, babysitting the little girl next door, pulling bark out of Curly Jones' mouth... and so on.  I am currently yhe Queen of Unposted Blog Drafts.  (I am currently writing on the back deck as Tootsie Roll and the neighbor child build a bug house and Curly Jones runs around the yard proclaiming "I AM A SUPERHERO!")

So first... to answer Lisa Gail's question about my identity.  Am I, or am I not, as my background may have you believe, the Wicked Witch of the West?  (Or, at least, a witch?)  I will let you decide based on the following:
    * I do actually have a pair of those exact striped stockings, although they are for an American McGee's Alice costume. (Which I shall debut at this year's Philly Comic Con... I have never been to a Comic Con before so I figured why not go big and dress up!)

    Clearly American McGee's Alice and not Tim Burton's Alice.  Big difference to this here Alice obsessor fan.

* I am a teacher, and although I'm not sure it ever says that Elmira Gulch, who "becomes" the Wicked Witch in the movie, is a teacher, she sure looks like a schoolmarm.  Hopefully I do not.

     * I do like owls and owly things.  I'm not sure how witchy that really is, but it seems like it, no?

     * I dislike cats, which would be sort of anti-witch establishment.

     * I have won a whole bunch of bloggy contests in the past few months... spells?  I'll never tell...

     * Lisa Gail wondered whether it takes magic to get done all things teachery and mommy-y and writery at once and I have to tell you that I wish I had spells for keeping all of those balls up in the air at once, but often my writing suffers.... my blog suffers... my house suffers (my house nods violently in agreement).  I do happen to keep on top of most of it with my incredible powers of Type A.  Which is not nearly as fun an answer. ;)

     * As to whether the Pen I am dangerous with in my blog title is really a wand... well... if I ever have a book ready to send out on submission... I'll let you know... or see cartoon above.

Thanks, Lisa Gail, for the lovely feature!  I must now write another entry which has been rattling around in my head all day, so look.... after a good long shot of nothing... you have inspired me!