Tuesday, December 29, 2009

YEAH, we got the camera back! (and Christmas pictures)

First of all, I must show you all the apparatus used to fish out the camera because it's pretty high tech:

A driveway stake...
and a wall hook tied to a piece of string:

That and a magnetic flashlight that adhered to the back of the fridge, along with the brilliant teamwork of me and T, got us back our camera. As I said to several people, think of an old movie with the scene of kids getting a dime of a sewer grate with string and a piece of gum, and that's about the long and short of it.

Thus we had the camera ready for Christmas. This year we once again did the great Christmas Road Trip, but it wasn't nearly as taxing as it has been in past years; we just went to my mom's, my grandmother's in Batavia, and back to my mom's on the actual Christmas day. Christmas Eve we go to my dad's and this year I had the opportunity to speak German to the exchange student who spent the evening with us and Spanish to my stepsister's parents, who are from Spain. Fortunately I remembered just enough not to 1) make an ass of myself and 2) understand about 3/4 of what they were saying. Makes me excited to use them again, in some capacity. It's so true that if you don't use it, you lose it. Have to look into that for 2010, find some opportunities.

But I digress. We had a lovely time seeing all the family we have, direct and distant, biological and situational (through marriage, friendship, etc.). This year we made a lot of our presents, cheese bread and cinnamon raisin bread for everyone except my sister C, and I can't say what I made for them because I haven't given it to her and her BF yet--they spent Christmas in D.C. with his family. We missed her a lot, but I know she had a great time with J. By the way, the bread was ridiculously easy to make, so let me know if you want the recipes and I'll post them. All you need is a loaf pan, yeast, flour, sugar, salt, and a few other easy ingredients. I would post pictures, but the bread was eaten too quickly, so that gives some indication of how it tasted. My FIL also enjoyed it--we got to see him on the 26th. And on Sunday, we rested. All day.

Here are just a few pictures for you to enjoy. Hope all those who celebrate Christmas had as wonderful a holiday as I did.

Mom and R

T and me--he's wearing the jersey I gave him, and I have used the hair straightener he gave me (seriously, it rocks)

Tree at my grandmother's

My sister M and her husband C

C wearing his new blazer, the scarf he gave my sister, and R's new hat we gave him. Quite the ensemble, yes?

Penny in her Christmas bandana

Our tree! Isn't it beeyewteeful?

Utterly random wondering

Scarlet Lily's recent post brought to the surface a question that has swirled in my own personal Pensieve for a while: What is with the rash of celebrity perfumes? Seriously, why the mania to be immortalized in scent? What does it do for your celebrity cache? And good Lord, not to sound snotty, but would I ever admit I wore a scent created by KISS? (It's true.)

Let me just throw out a few of the celebs who either have their own scents or endorse them:
  • Carlos Santana
  • Michael Jackson
  • Alan Cumming
  • Enrique AND Julio Iglesias (separately)
  • Debbie Gibson, briefly in the early 90s had "Electric Youth" fragrance
  • Tim McGraw
  • Victoria Beckham (yikes)
  • Clive Owen for Lancome
    - Note: Lancome has a number of celebrities as the faces for various scents, including Uma Thurman, and Kate Winslet
  • The Olsen Twins (double yikes--HAH)
  • Jeff Gordon
  • Luciano Pavarotti
  • Paris Hilton
  • Kimora Lee Simmons has two called "Baby Phat Goddess" and "Fabulosity"
That's only part of a list. I just don't know what to make of it. I know Liz Taylor's "White Diamonds" has lasted the test of time, but I don't see Hilary Duff and Usher's scents doing the same.

What say you? You have to admit it if you've tried any of them, too.

P.S. Gloria Swanson has one called "Youth Dew". I find something incredibly wrong with that. I don't know why.

Monday, December 21, 2009

Something to do today

Go click on the Free Rice banner on the right-hand side of my page and play for a while, and donate rice to those who need it. You can learn new words, do some math, expand your geographical and art knowledge, or polish up your foreign language skills by clicking on "Subjects" at the top.

Take a few minutes away from Facebook to play constructively! That way your boss can't question it. :-) Have a wonderful Monday.

Friday, December 18, 2009

Taking Stock

I haven't even had time to read others' blogs, much less really post to my own. The time between Thanksgiving and Christmas for a teacher flies at breakneck pace, and I just finished up my last ever certification class, so that's one part off my plate. which is nice. Don't get me wrong; I love what I do, but I think when you mentally prepare for something that's coming, like a break, you get into a certain mindset that's hard to get out of. I've felt alternately Grinchy and supremely Christmassy at different times over the last few weeks.

Last weekend I went to a memorial service for a family friend who died of breast cancer. She was 41 and left behind a loving family, including her husband and four year-old twin boys. Wait, no. Don't get too sad. Yes, of COURSE it's tragic. But I went to her service and realized just how much she did with her life, every day, even though she knew it was limited. She fought her cancer for about seven years, if I remember correctly, and it even went into remission for a while. As her husband so eloquently said at the service, she faced each day as an exciting challenge and did so with a good deal of grace and optimism. She didn't ignore what was happening to her; she just didn't let it rule her life. Every time I saw Gyda, she had a smile on her face and she lit up a room; the number of people there to bear witness to her life demonstrated just how much she affected those she came into contact with. What touched me most was that her husband pointed out to his boys that all the people in that room loved Mommy and would help them remember and love her.

It just put a lot into perspective. I'm so grateful for what I have, grateful that we had to make room in the refrigerator last night for the food we'd just bought. I have so much that I try not to take for granted, although I have my moments, just as anyone does. It's funny that at the holidays, this time of "peace", I and others feel so frantic all the time. I haven't gotten my holiday cards out yet, and I have friends who made SURE they were there on my doorstep on December 1. I'm trying to keep a budget but not shortchange anyone. I don't know if it's consumerism that makes us all crazy because we buy into it (hah! I made a funny!) or what? The kitchen is a constant mess, along with other areas of the house. If I hear one more "news" story about Tiger Woods that doesn't involve his performance during a golf tournament, I will go completely insane. I feel that friends I attempt to make contact with don't return my phonecalls, and I wonder if it's that they're simply busy or it means we're slipping away from each other. I keep meaning to exercise but something always gets in the way, whether it's school or grading or grocery shopping or my own lack of motivation. The other night I was in a hideous mood for no reason I could put my finger on, my head full of doubts and negative thoughts.

I don't know where all of this is going. The two paragraphs seem to completely contradict each other. But I guess what I'm trying to express is that I think we all need to find our tiny moments of peace and serenity when and where we can get them, and we need to remember that what's important is how we live our day to day moments. At the end of your life, nobody cares if the kitchen was clean. So I leave you with something that the King of Consumers, Starbucks, put together. It's actually pretty fantastic, so enjoy. Enjoy each other.

Monday, December 14, 2009

Wednesday, December 2, 2009

How Amazing is This?

It's right out of the Jetsons! Or something that actually depicts the future. Erm...The Matrix? Star Trek? I, Robot? Take your pick; this is pretty mind-blowing, I think.


Does anyone think the gigantically full moon had anything to do with my mood yesterday? I do. It's like a movie moon, it's so huge and bright and sharply defined.

I have already had some lovely, kind responses, so thank you. And I'm fine today, really; I'm good about 90% of the time and I wrote that post in the 10% that I'm not. But I'm still glad I did it.

You understand.

P.S. I have already received two holiday cards. Way to be on the ball, people!

Tuesday, December 1, 2009


So in my banner I write about how I put things on this blog so I won't send those who love me screaming into the night. But I never do that. I keep it all light, for the most part. So here it is, at least some of what I'm thinking. It's a bit of a pity party, but I'm getting it off my chest and they're my feelings, so leave the judgments elsewhere.

Heard today that one of the teachers who has been out for six years on maternity leave wants to do a job share (half the day) with another teacher who's currently out on maternity leave as well. If the other two who do a job share currently go for it again, which they probably will, this means no positions are open next year. Mind you, two MORE teachers in my department are pregnant and will probably take a year off, so that's good if I get one of their positions. But it just reminds me of how completely tenuous my position is here. I try never, ever, to talk about my job too specifically on this blog, but I'm just so tired of watching other women do what I so desperately want to do: Start a family and take off a little work, and then have a job to come back to. I'm going to be 33 years old and I've got people telling me I should do fertility testing in case I have trouble conceiving because I'm not getting any younger. I know full well how old I am. Eff off.

On the one hand, every time I've freaked out about my job situation, I have been extremely fortunate in that I always found a job. I know I'm good at what I do, plus I'm getting a second certification in Special Ed, so I should be able to find something. Selfishly, I would love to stay in the same building I've been in for the past 2 1/2 years and not start over again, putting myself at the bottom of the totem pole, at risk for budget cuts and adrift once again. I know I shouldn't complain because in an unbelievably difficult market, I have a job. I'm pretty sure I'll get one somewhere next year with my credentials. I just have those irrational fears that get in the way, my stupid biological clock's ticking (and I thought it was a MYTH...it's SO NOT, for me at least), and I know it's logical and right to wait until May when I know more of what's happening to me next year, but I'm damned impatient. I feel this also makes me sound as if my current life is unsatisfying or insufficient; it's not at all. I know how deeply fortunate I am to have the home, husband, job, and life that I have.

I just get scared and jealous, if I'm being totally honest. I feel that part of our life is on hold due to circumstances totally beyond our control and it makes me insane. It's not anyone's fault that things are this way. I've had people blame my husband for my frustration, and I find that unfair and wrong and none of their business. This is how I feel right now. Later, I'll be fine and I'll deal and I know everything will work out. In my head, I know that. But I got on Blogger at a weak moment and here it all is, raw and mostly unedited. It's also Tuesday, and for some reason Tuesdays kick my butt. I think it's because on Monday you have the cushion of the weekend but once it's Tuesday, it's just...Tuesday.

However, I have good hair today and a sweet puppy waiting and a loving husband and leftovers in the fridge, and that's saying a lot. I'll go with that. It's more than enough.