Sunday, December 30, 2007

hockey mom ... with an attitude

[That's what it says on the hooded sweatshirt the kids gave me for Christmas -- it totally rocks!]

"Dude, what a great game! That goal you made was incredible!"

"Yeah, it was kinda crazy how the puck bounced off that guy's head and flipped in."

"Did you hear me cheering for ya when it went in?"

"Ummm, mom it was kinda impossible NOT to hear you; your screaming was echoing off the walls. Why do you have to be so loud."


"Well, I'm loud. I like being loud. And the your teammates' parents like me being loud. It's a bit of a joke that I'm the momma mouthpiece for the team. Besides Colin (the goalie) LOVES IT when I cheer for him; he waves up at me every time I give him a verbal standing ovation!"

"Yeah, well, you really don't have to be so loud. It's embarrassing."


"Yeah. Maybe you could tone it down a bit."


"OK. I'll try. But it'll be real hard. Remember, I'm loud. And I love watching you play. And I get really excited and I can't help myself. It's a bit of an out-of-body experience really. But I'll try. I promise. Maybe I'll save my loudest, most enthusiastic cheering for your little brother's games ... he could really use the encouragement."

Saturday, December 29, 2007

dirty little secret

Well, maybe it’s a dysfunctional clean secret.

The thing is my family is forced to live out of laundry baskets. Not for sleeping or eating, of course, but for the purpose of temporarily housing clean clothes. The practice of sifting through perfectly folded items of apparel in cleverly arranged chest of drawers is an alien concept to my family -- to find something to wear, they must all “fish for fleece” as the saying goes in our household. Folding laundry and putting it away (on a semi regular basis) is really unheard of around here. I mean, for criminy sake, they’re only going to get it all dirty and then I have to wash/dry everything all over again. What’s the point of that! Folding and putting away laundry is the most pointless waste of energy I can think of (well besides mopping floors and weeding garden beds – but that’s a disclosure I’ll save for another post).

So if I had a million dollars …

… I’d hire a friendly Ecuadorian laundress who’s happily supporting a humongous family back in Central America.

… I’d locate a professional organizer who could put my mess of a house into some semblance of order (especially my overstuffed and neglected dresser drawers, closets, attic and basement spaces).

… I’d donate heavily to my local thrift store, because if it weren’t for them, I would have despaired of disposer’s [AKA polluter’s] guilt a long time ago.

Even though this particular housekeeping practice may be rather dubious to most folks, I had to pick a system that made the most sense to my family -- even though it occasionally drives me crazy.

Sunday, December 23, 2007

ho ho *hack *hack *hack

Sorry I've been offline for so long (Pos, the nag-o-gram was happily received!) but I'm still under the weather and things have been brutally hectic in the run up to Christmas.

The kids and I had school up until Friday the 21st (the day of the big Christmas program. When you go to a church school, the Christmas program is a big deal). Needless to say, organizing dressier-than-normal threads for young boys can be a bit of a nightmare on the morning of said event. "No. You have to wear khakis. Then wear a belt for heavens sake! No, you can't wear a skater shirt -- wear this! Dude, you missed a button. Yes, you need to tuck in your shirt. You look like crap with it pulled out. Fine! Look like crap. See if I care!" All I can say, I'm awfully glad that my daughter has to wear a uniform to her school.

As a special treat for enduring yet another pre-traumatic Christmas program, I took the kids to a local shee-shee market and bought us all sushi! And then I had to promptly whip my house in shape (absolutely NO small feat of manic activity) and cook two big pots of Jambalaya for an informal dinner party that I was hosting for 9 adults and 10 kids. And poor Pos came home that afternoon with this evil cold, went to bed for a much needed nap and was unable to work his kitchen cooking magic for me. And the real shame is that I didn't drink nearly as much as I should/needed to and therefore I went to bed feeling a bit deflated.

Currently Pos and I are in a serious pre-Christmas scramble mode. We went last minute shopping last night and got some much needed stuff; however, the whole experience left me feeling overwhelmed, exhausted, and a tad bit discouraged with having to choose among all the picked over merchandise. And unfortunately it looks like I need to throw back a stiff drink and launch myself back out there one more time before I'm truly done. I won't even mention how much wrapping I haven't done!

And to top everything off, we've had not a one, not a two but a FOUR hockey game weekend this weekend with our hockey-playing boys. Me driving in one direction, Pos driving in the other and rarely the twain shall meet (except to the final game where the outcome is expected to be close). I try to bundle, I end up freezing. I holler and scream and lose what little of my voice I have left. In the end, however, there's joyous spectator fun to be had by all.

Well folks, that's a sampling of how nutty the last week and a half has been. I expect that after Christmas morning things will settle down to a nice dull roar and pajama wearing will be the order of the remaining holiday. We'll read, watch TV, snuggle, walk the dog, nap and in general slug about (as we're prone to do when we have time off).

I sincerely hope all of you have a Merry, merry Christmas and a wonderful new year and I thank you all for stopping by and visiting me on occasion. It's been a joy and an honor to share my life with you all and I look forward to next year's written adventures.

Best to you all!


Monday, December 10, 2007

waiting for the poop to drop

Yep, folks, more glorious pics of the pooch. This time some live action shots (usually while waiting for him to complete one of his daily constitutions!)

He's a regular pouncier -- look out if you happen to be a bag of kibble.

We've discovered a new use for the unused rope swing in the back yard: a self-propelled chew toy for a very sharp-toothed puppy.

"What!? You're supposed to do something in order to get a Beggin' Strip. Looking cute only gets you praise and people talking at you in funny little voices."

"Where's the ball, Max?! Where's the ball? Go get the ball, Max! The ball ..."
Posted by Picasa

not listed ... yet

Not on America's Most Wanted, Craig's List, or on eBay. So far so good.

These pics are for all my blogging pals who were (understandably) concerned about my mental health and were (understandably) concerned about the status of my pooch. Well, here he is ... in all his napping glory. Enjoy!

I lovingly refer to him as "batboy" when he crashes out like this.

Here he is with his brother, Casey -- the blond spaniel-like, long-eared wonder. You should see these two go at it!

Our stance was going to be "not on the furniture!" We were adamant about "not on the furniture!" We always looked down our noses when others couldn't keep their dogs off of the furniture.

We quickly caved, retracted our dictate and are now the proud partakers of crow; you can call us your friendly neighborhood hypocrites.

Posted by Picasa

Tuesday, December 4, 2007

slow and sure insanity

I am absolutely positive.

I'm going crazy.

In addition to feeling like crap, every time I try to sit down and attempt to write a post, I have to hop up and see what the puppy is into. I've pretty much given up on the pine green upholstered chair sitting in our living room -- let him chew it up if it gives me ten minutes of peace.

And bodily functions, I'm sick to death of trying to keep track of his peeps and poops every minute I'm home. He's already peed at least five times and pooped four times on my watch in the house and it's only been two and half weeks!

The kids try -- when they're home. The husband's a real trooper -- when he's home. However, I'm a guilt-ridden, house-bound nutjob with a (probably typical) puppy that's pushing me to the edge.

Even though this may not be as bad as sleepless nights harboring sore and cracked nursing nipples -- it's getting pretty damned close!

I wanted so bad to write about the drama of my fourteen year old getting her contact lenses last night ...

Couldn't. Had to freeze my butt off while waiting for one of the dog's innumerable bowel movements to occur.

I wanted to post an inquiry to you all, my blogging pals, about writing styles and ask you questions about how you deal with plagiarism

Couldn't. I had to clean up yet another doggy mess.

I wanted to chat about this morning's MarketPlace report regarding the U.S. economy and how the Europeans are flipping out about it.

Couldn't. I have to retrieve large fluffy stuffing from out of my puppy's mouth.

I wanted to post a nifty little poem about autumn and the endless chore of leaf raking.

Couldn't. Damned dog has figured out how to knock over the safety gate and bust through to the other side.

I desperately want to indulge in this mentally liberating activity of thinking, writing and sharing ...

But I can't ...
because my brain can't form coherent thoughts when I'm always worrying about the dog.

Saturday, December 1, 2007

I hab a coldt

pardon me while I blow snot into a tissue

oh rats! some landed on the screen.


I live in an infected house.

and I'm the last to be infected.

I'm sorry

mothers shouldn't get sick.

surely there's a dictate or universal law

prohibiting said state of maternal illness.

therefore, which lawmaker should I lobby

to make official

a decree

protecting moms against

possible germ invasions.

Monday, November 26, 2007

foggy -- *ribbit *ribbit

[an inside joke between me and my daughter!]

Today we had some major wacky weather in the burbs of Philly: a torrential downpour followed by some seriously spooky fog that lasted ALL day. I felt like I was living in Monterey, CA again.

I really don't know how people manage to drive around in that visually impairing stuff -- it's like trying to navigate through a Lord of the Rings movie set. However, while driving around with my son, we noticed that the oncoming cars and their obscenely elongated headlight beams were like an optical illusion -- as they were coming up over the hills, and i
n a blink of an eye, it looked like they were driving into an underground tunnel and then quickly resurfacing again. It was made even eerier with the ethereal lighting effect originating from the dense fog. That feature of the fog was kinda cool.

Regardless of cool visual effects, I'll be happier with better driving conditions tomorrow.

Friday, November 23, 2007

interesting proposition

I found this link while surfing the internet and found it rather intriguing.

Has me thinking not only about holiday shopping but regular all-year-round consumerism as well.

Hmmm ... but could it work and/or make a difference?

Thursday, November 22, 2007

Dear Santa

[Black Friday's almost upon us ... so here we go!]

Ok. I’ll stop stressing and get on with it.
I’ll make a list
and check it twice.
I know for a fact I’ve been more naughty than nice.

So being a friendly-like wife,
I try to oblige hubby
by giving him a Christmas wish list
which greatly helps him with his gift-giving process.

Now, don’t get me wrong,
I may be freaking out about how much money we tend to spend this time of year.
And I may go majorly berserko when I feel compelled to buy crap
and still more crap
when engaging in compulsory Christmas gift-giving practices.

But, hey, it’s the holidays and all the cool kids are consuming.

So without further ado, here’s Molly Gras’ Christmas Wish List for good ole’ Pos …

1) Black Mary Jane Crocs®, size 7 ½.
I know. It looks kind of funky. But I have a pair of Croc clogs and those bad boys rock!

2) New Microwave.
My current microwave is huge, looks like it belongs in a 1970’s kitchen, has disturbing burn marks on the inside edge, and has been making this alarming rattling sound when I microwave something for more than five minutes.

3) Pandora® Murano glass beads.
Bling! A magpie girl, such as myself, can never have enough of the sparkly stuff. For my birthday last year, many of my friends coordinated their gift-giving gestures and gave me a lovely, partially-filled Pandora bracelet. I love the thing! And it’s great because for every birthday, major holiday, anniversary, or any ole’ special occasion you can add a bead to your bracelet which becomes filled with special memories! So far, five of my best pals have bracelets, as well as my daughter, and it makes gift-giving a cinch.

4) Life is Good® pajamas.
I’m a sucker for comfy PJs. And I’m crazy for LIG merchandise – their little cartoon dog gets me every time! For some reason I always ask for pajamas for Christmas and for my birthday. I don’t know why. I guess it’s because I love to lounge around the house in appropriate and comfy sleepwear. Besides, the transfer to beddy-bye time is much more efficient if I’m already dressed for the occasion.

5) Nike or New Balance running shoes, size 7 ½.
I need new running shoes. The ones I have now have flattened toe and heel support – it’s like wearing pancakes. Ouch! Something you need to know about me is that I’ve never, ever been a part of the ‘marathon’ set, I’m more of a “jalker” – a lovely combination of walking and light jogging: just enough up and down momentum to reach maximum jiggle then a quick throttle back to minimum wiggle. It’s really a rather unattractive thing to witness which is why I prefer to “jalk” late evening (however I would rather be out in the dead of night – but unfortunately I can’t see the sidewalks then).

6) Long running pants (not the tight type – NO ONE wants to see what I’ve got in tight marathon pants!) and long-sleeved Under Armour® running shirts: pants – size not telling you and shirt –medium.
Because I insist on embarrassing myself in the neighborhood, I would like to camouflage my ample parts in strategically flattering active wear. And obviously I’ll need my active wear to have that subtle reflector striping to help stave off any unwanted car collisions.

7) Dansko® Risa suede boots, European size 38.
Boots. I’ve always wanted nice, comfortable, wear-to-work, wear-with-a-skirt-or-jeans boots. Every autumn, I always end up coveting the fashionable fall footwear of my working compadres. Coveting is a bad thing. I should do something about that. Therefore, I’ve decided to put this on my wish list!

8) Socks: in many colors, heights, and made of various soft materials.
Like PJs, I can never have enough pairs of yummy socks

9) This book from Amazon.

It looks rather geeky and bizarre, I know, but I’m in a bit of a research frenzy on this particular topic. I’m hoping to create a short curriculum based on this subject for the middle-school teachers I support as well as create a comprehensive PowerPoint presentation to educate the rest of the school’s faculty on it sometime in the spring. Therefore, I need relevant information; thus the need for this geeky book.

Well, Pos and blogger pals, here’s my attempt at listing my holiday wants and wishes. And although I abhor senseless consumerism and reckless consumption, I hope I’ve been able to justify to you all (but mostly to myself) what these material wishes may mean to me. Regardless of whether I receive one or all of my requests*, what’s really important is that I know that I am loved. I know that I have everything I need. And most importantly, I know that I don’t need stuff to make me happy.

*(Pos, please don’t even think about buying ALL of this stuff – we’re going to France next May! Have Santa fill my stocking with francs.)

$$$wishes: to be able to afford wonderful little gifts for each and every one of my friends
$$$sins: so far not one Christmas present has been purchased – it’s going to be light fare and a ‘cracker and ketchup’ December for this family
$$$goals: to have every well-thought-out and meaningful present purchased and wrapped before Christmas Eve – yeah, right!

Tuesday, November 20, 2007

time to stuff some mattresses

The value of a dollar is totally tanking.
The current exchange rate is horrid.
The Chinese are rattling their multi-trillion dollar piggy bank,
and are contemplating a currency shake out.

My visions of spending dollars this holiday season,
and then next year abroad as francs,
appears at the present to be rather foolish.
What's a middle-class American to do?

Swim across the Pacific Ocean,
paddle along the South China Sea,
sneak across the Guangzhou border,
and lie in wait for them to begin their massive monetary dump.

I'll snatch it by the handfuls and stuff it in every crevice I possess
then I'll slink back home and fill my mattress to the seams.
In the hopes that it’ll last for more than a week,
or a day,
or even an hour,
as I attempt the impossible --
try living the American Dream.

Saturday, November 17, 2007

update on baby

Max loves his fluffy new bed. He practically carries it around with him (of course, he sort of thinks it's a glorified chew toy -- but we're working on that). He sleeps in it when he's in his crate. He sleeps in it when he's at my feet while I work at the computer. He sleeps in it when the boys want him with up on the couch next to them. And right now, as I type this, his body is half sprawled out of it, his bat-like ears are flipped back and away from his head and he has the silly thing partially tipped over. He's simply a crack up!

Max is playing nice, peeing nice, pooping nice, eating nice and really getting the hang of riding in the car nice (the howling has diminished to low-level whimpering when the car is in motion). The kids love him. The hubby loves him. And most importantly, I love that fuzzy little guy -- I'm absolutely ga-ga for him!

Wednesday, November 14, 2007

big bucks but not for me

According to an Associated Press report that came out yesterday, the "economic costs of the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan are estimated to total $1.6 trillion ... for the period from 2002 to 2008".

1.6 trillion dollars!

A per family break down: it'll cost a family of four $20,900 to cover that bill.

20,900 dollars!

With that amount I could ...

pay for roughly two to three years of college for one of my kids.

pay off my van or car.

go home to Louisiana (with my entire family) at least a dozen times.

invest wisely and be set to retire.

buy nice shoes. Lots of nice shoes.

I really don't want to pay for bullets, or warplanes or for the burials of war casualties.

I am really not interested in footing that particular expense.

I certainly have enough of my own.

Tuesday, November 13, 2007

middle class crunch

I’ve made a fabulous discovery and, from now on, will be reporting frequent finds based on it.

I’m a big time listener of National Public Radio and generally never make the distinction between one segment hosted by any particular individual (unless it’s Terry Gross – she’s always so, I don’t know, smooth, sharp and completely prepared) over another.

However, as I was driving my kids to school this morning, an American Public Media’s Marketplace segment--Priced out of the American Dream--came on and grabbed my attention. Really, I let my van idle for a couple more minutes--while employing a puny ploy of shifting and re-shifting piles of bags that I frequently haul into work each day--in order to listen the conclusion of that program.

I’m glad I idled.

The host, Doug Kritzner, was interviewing Harvard Professor Elizabeth Warren—an academic associated with economics, personal spending and personal debt. She basically said that the America we now know and the standard of living we hold dear will cease to exist in the not-so-distant future.

“We’ve built this latest economic boom on borrowed money” she reported. “Consumers … have managed to stay afloat by using their credit cards and by taking out home-equity lines of credit.”

Ouch. This doesn’t sound good.

And by every account our consumption has gone up – way up. It has tripled in the last 20 years.

[One interesting note: American consumers are responsible for two thirds of the Gross National Product. That’s a hell of a lot of stuff we feel the need to have.]

“Have Americans been over-consuming?” inquired host Doug. “Surely a good chunk of that is discretionary spending”.

[You know … blowing their wad on big ticket items such as monstrous McMansions, gas-guzzling SUVs, expensive vacations and (to pick on a dear blogging pal) flat-screen Plasma TVs.]

No, reports Professor Warren, Americans are simply trying to keep a lid on those troublesome “fixed expenses” – mortgages, health insurance, car payments (in order to get to work—because it takes more than one income to makes ends meet), child care (because it takes more than one income to make ends meet) and, most importantly, taxes.

[Yeah taxes!! Goodness knows we can’t fund a gazillion-dollar war without them! *smile*]

And the scariest part is that a typical American family carries about two-months’ worth of income in credit card debt.

Ohhh ouch baby!

And because of all these money stresses and other financial aggravations, it’s quite possible that some people will delay getting married (or opt out altogether), and start families later (or opt out altogether) to avoid the above mentioned issues. And very soon some people may begin to employ that tried and true tightening-belt strategy and stop buying so much stuff for a while (or maybe forever) to lessen the above mentioned issues.

And because of such reactionary monetary thinking, many experts foresee an ugly set of consequences for our supply and demand type of economy.

Save and don’t spend = bad GNP. Spend and spend some more = obscene National Debt.

Either way, we’re all kinda screwed.

$$wishes: win “the big one”, invest wisely, and become a sage philanthropist
$$sins: Christmas is coming … I feel the sick urge to consume out of traditional necessity
$$goals: Christmas is coming … I want to start employing different and meaningful strategies of giving

Thursday, November 8, 2007

newest arrival

no, I am not pregnant (Thank the Lord)

But we are increasing the size of our family by one. I’m finally allowing our family to get a dog. I mean getting a dog -- this is huge! The fact that my children’s persistent begging, pleading and whining--pitted against my cast-iron will of resistance—winning out simply shocks me.

You should all know by now—via my sporadic, inconsistent, abbreviated, manic postings—that we’re crazy busy people. We are perpetual motion folks. I’m constantly donning the “Mom’s Taxi Cab’ hat in order to run the roads for my kids. I barely have time to scrub a bathroom much less scoop dog poop.

What the hell am I thinking!

I’m not thinking. That’s what.

Fatal error in judgment -- I held the puppy. That’s all it took. He is so cute, soft, fluffy, and adorable. He’s got the stubbiest little legs and the sweetest little face. He looks just like his mama and she’s such a lovely dog.

And my kids are to the moon with excitement over getting this puppy. The eight year old can barely contain himself.

But then the doubts and terrors start to take hold …

What about the vet costs?

What about the cost of accumulating stuff (i.e.: the crate, dishes, toys, leashes, collars, etc)?

What about the smell? The mess? The destruction of personal (and not so personal) property?

What about the HUGE lifestyle change that has to take place?


But then I remember. He is just so cute. I’m compelled to visit him everyday until we’re allowed to take him home. My kids are so happy. I’m pretty happy too. And he is just so cute.

This is very similar to what I went through before deciding to get pregnant.

And so far that’s turned out pretty good.

Maybe this will too.

We’ll see.

I’ll keep you posted!

$$wishes: to be able to budget for a professional pooper scooper
$$sins: slow down on new puppy purchases – he’s not even in residence yet!
$$goals: buy puppy chow in bulk – more economical

Wednesday, November 7, 2007

too much to say ... too little time

I had to work -- finish and coordinate reports.

I had to help a friend out -- put out some fires, as it were.

I had to make a side trip with my camera -- I'll report on my findings tomorrow.

I had to run -- literally, I had to get out and move my body.

I had to watch my little girl sing -- first High School Fall Choral performance, it was so cool!

I have to read to my baby now.

Good night

and I'll write tomorrow


Thursday, November 1, 2007

Criminals always come back to the scene of their crime

Appleton Township Police Log

2205 hours, Tuesday October 30, 2007 – Unrecognizable and strange covert activities occurring on the lawn of 1234 Ivydale Ave., Appleton Township. No calls were made to the police ... yet. Inhabitants of aforementioned abode – some: on the road, the rest: oblivious or abed.

2225 hours, same evening – Missing inhabitants: upon returning to abode, note strange apparatus lurking on front lawn in the vicinity of the front door. Apparatus approached with caution. Unidentifiable, therefore summarily dismissed as inhabitants enter the house.

0725 hours, Wednesday October 31, 2007 – Eldest female child reports to the rest of the household [with barely contained mirth] the proper identification of lurking apparatus on front lawn. A scuffle ensues and head of the household has to restore order before an official report can be made. After much deliberation, conjecturing and photo-taking, a sanctioned man-hunt is organized, lists of names are compiled and investigators are sent out to canvass the neighborhood and interview any acquaintances thought capable of perpetrating such a crime.

1730 hours, same day – Exhausted all possible leads. Seriously considering bringing in Scotland Yard. The trail is starting to turn cold …

1830 hours, same day – Inhabitants leave abode for annual pagan rites and rituals – disguises have been donned to discourage any more crimes being committed on their property.

2105 hours, Wednesday evening October 31, 2007 – The inhabitants of 1234 Ivydale Ave. return. They spot movement and suspicious activity next to “lurking apparatus” [see Exhibit A]. Cackling and witchy laughter is reported being heard near the scene of the crime.

Two unsuspecting culprits are apprehended attempting to complete their lewd acts of front lawn vandalism. Arrived at decision to not contact local police for handcuffing and reading of rights – the attempt would have been futile: all procedures would have been drowned out in gales of breathless giggles.

What follows is an abbreviated download of very long rap sheets on these repeat offenders:

Amelia “Don’t Call me Mutha” Snootz

[AKA - Rock’em Sock’em Snootz, Momma Lotsalove, Smack Mammy, to name a few]
~Serving a sentence of 8 to life for the unthinking crime of procreating
~Served time in Sing-Sing for flagrant Tupperware abuses
~Has been sighted lurking at automobile showrooms with decidedly possessive intents and has been known to toss small children aside in order to get at very good chocolate

Rayna “Will Steal for Good Shoes” Crumm
[AKA – Auntie Suga Mama, Origami Diva, Duchess Bad Ass, to name a few]
~Serving a life sentence for the outrageous crime of spoiling small children
~Served time in Alcatraz for flagrant moving box abuses
~Has been seen skulking behind the Stars Wars Lego displays at strategically-located ‘Toys or Us’ stores and has been known to hide her little white doggy in her purse to justify her cinnamon Scooby snack addiction.

1600 hours, Thursday November 1, 2007 – Upon further investigation, it has been determined that the two suspects held in custody would face the stiffest penalty: a well-established reputation as supreme mischief makers and the interminable consequence of having their infamous criminal records now accessible by the public.

The most unfortunate outcome is for the residents of 1234 Ivydale Ave. They are stuck with the realization that there is no way they can reconcile their genetic link to two such deviant offenders – they’ll continue to be tormented with the knowledge that genealogy is just one record that can’t be purged!

[Exhibit A]

Criminals always come back to the scene of their crime -- ALWAYS!

(Especially when they really like their work)

Wednesday, October 31, 2007

uneconomical language

Did you all know that I teach (and I mean that in the loosest sense of the word)?

I’m in the middle of writing Fall Term reports and I’m stuck trying to come up with palatable ways of expressing "progress", "achievement" and "challenges" without causing me to grimace, retch, and hide after reading what I’ve written.

I mean how many other ways can I say "Your son just can’t spell."

And I’ll let you in on a little inside joke -- I’m absolutely positive that parents don’t even bother to read the comments I write. They're only interested in seeing their kids’ grades. So what’s the point. In essence, that concise, flowery prose I struggle to write so eloquently ends up lining their trash cans. Beautiful.

On top of having to write comments, I have to calculate grades. Yeah, the whole grading experience – I absolutely despise – terribly inconsistent and a tad bit too subjective for my taste.

I struggle with the idea that Joe Rock’s overall spelling grade is pretty much based on a series of poorly taken tests. He may study, but the reality is that when it comes time to take the test he freezes up – he’s a frustrated mess having to face a blank sheet of paper lined with looming numbers running along the margins knowing full well that it’s a crap shoot no matter how you look at it.

So I end up giving him a mediocre grade for test anxiety? Yikes!

What about the dreadful realization that he simply can’t recognize a misspelled word – it’s a 50/50 proposition for him. Spelling, writing, reading, everything having to do with words comes down to wild guesses based on poorly internalized rules of spelling, mental mispronunciations of words and a fluctuating sense of word recognition. Double yikes!

My frustration comes from not being able jump into his brain and whisper "No dude, it’s S·T·RONG not S·RONG! How in the heck are you saying that word?!"

And don’t get me started on the whacked out spelling exceptions we have throughout the English language. My poor, confused students already have a hell of a time even as I try reassuring them that it really isn’t their fault – our language is just really messed up!

Take for instance, the long ē sound. How many possible letter combinations would you expect it takes to make that happen in some of our words?



Try TEN ways!

And those ridiculous combinations are as follows:

e - as in me
ee – as in jeep
e (with a consonant in between) e – as in Christmas eve
ea – as in meat
ie – as in chief
y – as in baby
i (with a consonant in between) e – as in machine
i – as in variation
ei - as in receive (‘i’ before ‘e’ except after ‘c’ and in words that rhyme with ‘day’ – come on and recite along with me!!)
ey – as in key

How’s that for messed up? And don’t get me started on how many combos it takes to create the long ā sound …

(psst ... it’s NINE!)

*sigh* Writing reports. I have to get back to writing reports.

Now how do you spell "spectacular" again …

[FYI - I use Word spellchecker! But look out! Those accursed homonyms get me every time.]
$$$wishes: pretty quiet on that front.
$$$sins: pretty quiet on that one too
$$$goals: "How do spell ‘filthy, stinking rich’?"

Wednesday, October 24, 2007

chest pains and heartache

Mini (and not-so mini) financial panic attacks.

Dinner out
great food
$60 for our share
plus a commitment of $33 for Cub Scout popcorn
that was hawked on their son’s behalf
dinner out
was it really worth it.

And their Christmas wish lists continue to grow.
$320 - Legos already requested … and counting!
$280 - basic Xbox gaming system plus $85 Guitar Hero II "game"
$82 - soft contact lenses
$$$ - parents’ trip to France

"How about we plan another fun-filled vacation down to Oak Island, N.C. …"
A brief and agonizing conversation with close family friends.
Four families. Two houses. One week. Playing at the beach with your best friends.
Not quite so priceless.
Roughly $1800-$2400 for the rental (split with another family); $300-$500 in groceries; $150 in gas to get there and back; innumerable small expenses that inevitably occur
Mucho dinero for the much-anticipated trip to France with husband.
Brutal, brutal call.

And the envelope please …
That’s what it costs to have an emergency appendectomy
when your insurance denies you coverage.
(but don’t you fret, dear readers, Pos was on the case …
that poor unwilling-to-be-identified-on-the-telephone insurance minion really got an earful!)
Let’s just hope his stern words translate into a final claim adjustment.

All of this
in less than a week’s time
and I’ve been good
and stayed away from Starbucks.

Let’s just hope I don’t develop an ulcer
and need hospitalization.
$$$wishes: to not be so damned middle class.
$$$sins: luckily, none to report. I’m too anxious to spend any money.
$$$goals: regardless of these "attacks", I need to express gratitude.

Wednesday, October 17, 2007

time budget

When it comes to time and money ...

I simply don't have enough.

I haven't had the time nor the energy to read all of my favorite blogs, respond as much as I'd like and my posting rates, well quite frankly, are pathetic.

I'm beginning to see an ugly trend here ...

my chaotic and frenzied life is totally messing with my blogger zen.

And to make matters worse I have to fight, nay scratch, claw and screech my way to get at the computer. I really can't believe I have to justify my well-deserved computer time with an eight year old, for heavens sake. Watching YouTube versions of animated Star Wars Legos just isn't enough of a priority for me.

I'm simply having a hard time with this whole arrangement.

And at work ...

they actually expect me to get something done.

therefore, no blogging.

$$wishes: It's 'charity giving time' -- for those of you who listen to NPR, our local station is having is triennial (sp?) fund drive and I'd simply love to give them loads of money to help fund their great programming.
$$sins: *gulp* spouse and I have a true Starbucks addiction -- I'm embarassed to say how much we've spent in just THIS MONTH ALONE on beans, snacks, and lattes. Let's just say that it'd be enough for a pair of VERY nice shoes!
$$goals: start budgeting and saving for middle son's orthodontics -- it's only a matter of time (more like months before I get the word!)

Wednesday, October 10, 2007

free verse frenzy

[the life of a post-holiday weekend mother]

Sitting backseat, relaxed and reflective
enjoying the fact that I managed to grasp more sun –
achieved more late summer, golden ku-luh.
Not knowing
or caring
what lies in wait
for me
at home.
Chatting and laughing
I pull into my driveway


I’m home.
Hauling, dropping, snatching, scooping, rearranging
little pieces, big pieces
before me
scattered all around me.
My stuff. Her stuff, His stuff. Whose stuff?
Load up, let’s go.
Back on the road again.

Rushing, rushing always rushing.
Persistent struggle against a
consistent spinning of the clock.

Made it. Just in time. One hour to find that perfect pair.
Yes. No. Yes. Maybe. No. Oh definitely no. The color’s all wrong.
Up one aisle. Down another.
My head’s spinning and I’m wobbling
upon two different heights of heels.
She’s convinced. These are the ones.
The color’s right and the heels feel nice.
And YIPPEE! They’re on sale!

Rushing, rushing always rushing.
A persistent, consistent battle.

Pick-up the friend.
Pick-up the son.
Drop off the kids back home.
Load the laundry.
Switch the laundry.
Make up the extra bed – for we have an extra child overnight.
Help fix dinner.
Set the table.
Eat our meal.
Then clean up the post-dinner mess.
Load the laundry.
Switch the laundry.
Repeat, as necessary, until the bedtime collapse.

Wake up. Get up.
Rotate individuals through the bathroom.
Socks. Where are my socks?
Don’t you know, my dear, we fish in baskets for our multi-colored fleece.
Hustle downstairs. Hustle through the pantry. Hustle through lunch-packing options.
Where is the bread? I don’t like that for snack. But I want to pack THAT for my beverage.
Rummage. Scoop. Rinse. Seal. Stash. Pour. Gobble. Sip. Slurp.
Pack your backpack. Put on your shoes. Have you fed the bunnies? What about their water?
Hurry up! Let’s go! This train’ll leave without you if you don’t get a move on it!
Load up, let’s go.
Back on the road again.

Rushing, rushing always rushing.
Our persistent, consistent battle.

Workday. School day. Play day.
Work. Teach. Learn. Snack. Work. Teach. Learn. Lunch. Continue to work.
Always one eye on the clock.
Resort. Repack. Rinse my cup. Relinquish another school day.
Load up, let’s go.
Back on the road again.

Homeward bound. But how long? Who knows. Never long enough.
Tea time. T.V. time. Lego time. Computer time. Reading blog time. Never enough time.
Load the laundry.
Switch the laundry.
Unload dishwasher.
Load dishwasher.
Read more blogs.
Oops! Lost track of time! Time to start collecting.
Load up, let’s go.
Back on the road again.

Rushing, rushing always rushing.
Persistent, consistent.

Sports over. High schooler picked up.
What? Sure, I can take another.
And another.
Certainly. I have room for another.
Drive this way.
And that.
Double back and drop off the last.
Chatting. Grousing. Laughing. Processing.
The ever-present music playing in the background.
Day slowly unwinding.
Arrive home and park. For a while.

Homework time. Shower time. Primp to get ready and go out again time.
Fix dinner.
Set table.
Shovel food.
Quickly clear the edible debris.
Oops! Lost track of time! Time to fly.

Bring cleats. Bring long socks and shin guards. Bring water bottle filled to the brim
Bring enormous backpack filled with unfinished homework. Bring cell phone. Bring iPod to while away the time.
[For a teenager, time is meant to be mutilated. To be killed.]
Hurry along you sluggish fiends. You scalawags and toe-dragging dawdlers.
Load up, let’s go.
Back on the road again.

Rushing, rushing always rushing.
Consistently, persistently late.

Drop off One. Then Two.
Back home for Three.
Homework. Do your homework. What do you mean ‘you’re done’? What about reading? What about writing? What about that missed period and capital letter?
Come back here. You’re not done. Don’t argue with me now.
Your T.V. can wait. Your Legos can wait. But my patience is at an end.
Though my work never, never ends.
Load the laundry.
Switch the laundry.
Unload dishwasher.
Load dishwasher.
Finally, read more blogs.
Oops! Lost track of time! Time to start collecting.
Load up. Always loading up. To begin the final collection.

Dark and winding, that same familiar road
rises up to greet me.
Meet me.
Thrice in one day.
The ever-present music continues to play,
as I contemplate the completion of my day.

Pick up One. Pick up Two. Three is at home with Calvin and Hobbes
and dad.
While I continue to drive
with conflicted emotions
that someday
this all
will change.

$$wishes: to buy more time [and perhaps Exxon/Mobil stock]
$$sins: I burn way too much gas: I AM the greenhouse effect.
$$goals: Less rushing. More reading, researching and writing

Friday, October 5, 2007

Se ya'll next week

I'm happy to report that I'm abandoning my family (husband and three children) for a girls getaway to the shore. I leave them to their unfolded laundry, piles of dirty dishes, Lego-strafed living room, trashed bedrooms, soccer tournament, homework-loaded weekend.

And I plan to buy Starbucks on my way there :)

$$wishes: a $15,000 - $18,000 windfall from the heavens ... husband needs a new (and way more reliable) vehicle.
$$sins: try not to spend all of the money I'm bringing along this weekend (fat chance!!) because that translates to less groceries for my family for the next two weeks!
$$goals: find a pair of shoes for my daughter's Homecoming Dance ensemble for under $45 (that miracle needs to occur when I get back on Sunday!)

Tuesday, October 2, 2007

there is a higher power ...

and he/she must like coffee.

In a desperate attempt to get a handle on the rest of my day ...

I broke down and headed to Starbucks for a much desired venti iced coffee -- nonfat milk, two Splendas.

So with guilt in my heart and dread at having to fish out my last five bucks from my wallet. I did it. Typical of me -- screw all good fiscial promises.

I justified it, however, by having just endured a thrift store/Halloween costume shopping spree with my 8 year old and knowing I still had a dentist appointment and soccer practice to get kids to, a field hockey game to attend and a high school play practice pick-up and delivery to make before I could call it a day.

[It's 10:00 p.m. -- and I just got home 15 minutes ago].

I really needed that caffeine. And I knew I could easily make more empty promises after a good night's sleep.

So I pulled into the drive-thru. Placed my order and sheepishly drove up to complete my transaction.

"Wow!" exclaims the barista, who also happens to be my lovely friend Katy, "Where'd you find the alien?!"

My son, trying to be all clever and funny, had on his "brand new" Halloween costume in the middle seat of the van and was hoping to get just such a reaction.

"Yeah," I quipped, "I frequently cart illegal aliens across state lines. You should've see the group I had in here last week!"

She laughs, hands me my coffee and proceeds to shut the window and begin taking another order.

"Whoa! Katy!" I shouted through the closed window. "You forgot to take my money," I say while waving my wadded up five dollar bill up to the window.

"Oh, Susie didn't ring you up?"

"Uh, no. I guess there was so much confusion, what with my carting an illegal and all, that she must have forgotten."

"Ah, don't sweat it. Coffee's on the house!"

I must have looked shocked because she simply smiled real wide and waved me off.

And it was in that moment that I knew my Higher Power forgave me my sin and weakness and wanted to give the best gift of all ....

free caffeine!

$$wishes: $150-$200 spending money for my girls' weekend this weekend to Avalon, NJ
$$sins: I'm serious this time ... no more Starbucks!
$$goals: dammit -- I really meant to get to the bank today and deposit that $25 (maybe tomorrow)

Sunday, September 30, 2007

Defining Money

Money – noun, any article or substance used as a medium of exchange, measure of wealth, or means of payment. ( viewed 9/29/07)

(Cutting out all the extraneous words and what are you left with?):

Money Substance – a medium measure of means.

A medium measure? How about a mediocre measure—especially when measuring personal value. I may know what the stuff looks like. I can even tell you what each coin and dollar is worth and how to make change. I certainly know how to spend the stuff. But what I don’t know is how to make it. You know--how to earn it or invest it. Make it grow. The whole money thing is so mystifying to me.

What makes it so mysterious in my world? It’s more than likely because of my awfully ambivalent attitude towards the stuff—ambivalent in how to earn it, how to keep it, and how to spend it wisely. I just don’t have an accurate bead on how the whole “earn-spend-save” cycle is supposed to work. And it torments me to no end.

Why such ambivalence and torment? Well for starters,

1 - I was never taught how to have a good relationship with money (I grew up surrounded by the stresses of living with insufficient funds)
2 - None of the adults of my childhood ever expressed an appropriate reason for needing money (constant refrain: “There’s just not enough” and “What am I? Made of money?!”).
3 - Personal financial priorities were never discussed and long-term financial planning was unheard of (e.g.: “What? You want to go to college? Yeah, good luck with that because we can’t afford that!)
4 - I always felt that money was semi-sacred and held in greater esteem than the very people who made up my family.
5 - I always, always, always hated asking for money because I knew the odds were tremendous that I would be told “no”.

Money IS the source of my anxieties, of my longings, of my insecurities, of my indecisions and my inability to take chances and find my true purpose in life. The issue of money cripples me at just about every crossroads I come to in my life. And I find myself more than a bit lost when trying to find the right direction to travel in.

$$ wishes: to have our 2007 Christmas budget (roughly $1,500) already in savings—yeah, that’d be a miracle!
$$ sins: weekly Starbucks addiction = $23—I really love to treat people to good caffeine; shoe issue = $45—damn but those sandals were practically screaming my name!
$$ goals: put $25 in savings—no more Starbucks until next paycheck!

Thursday, September 27, 2007

the rabbit hole

Well, here I go ... down the hole. And my life may never be the same.

This is my attempt to muse, ponder and finally write out all the things that torment me a daily basis -- namely all things relating to money and my frustrated relationship with it.

I plan to have fun with this adventure and hopefully I get to learn more about myself, get to process my dysfunctional monetary relationship and maybe get the opportunity to know other people -- if they care to join me on this crazy blogging ride.

So let's go ... and may we all end up at the best tea parties!

molly gras