Friday, August 27, 2010

Internet Hodgepodge--August 28

I'm linking up with Mandi at It's Come 2 This for Saturday Stumbles. Here are some ideas, recipes and posts I liked this week:
We are THAT Family linked to this great Back to School Survival Bag (from Everything Pink)--great idea!

I want to try this recipe for taco soup from Happy Sahm World.

I want to remember this post about an mp3 workout.

Here's a great list of Organizing Tools from Simple Organized Living.

Lipstick Moments at Rants from Mommyland. Great little piece of perspective.

Falafel and tzatziki recipes from Real Food Little Rock. Looks yummy.

Check out more favorite posts at It's Come 2 This. Have a great weekend!

Five Question Friday--August 27

I've been busy cleaning in anticipation of L's teachers visiting us this morning. Now the visit is over and I can trash my house and do a little blogging. I give you Five Question Friday hosted by Mama M....1. How many pets do you have?
None, I'm not a pet person. I can't even handle the (human) responsibilities I already have, I'm not willingly adding more!

2. If you could switch places with anyone in the world for one day, who would it be?
Hmmm. Maybe a college student? I loved college--no responsibilities other than to occasionally go to class or write a paper. Oh to sleep till noon--those were the days!

3. What is your favorite money saving tip?
Don't be brand-loyal. Buy the brand that's on sale or buy generic, whatever is cheapest. {At this point I'm only loyal to a few brands--Jif peanut butter, Eggo waffles (possibly a few more I can't think of right now). In those cases, I've tried other brands, I've tried generic and there's a difference. (Safeway waffles were barely edible!) I was loyal to Aunt Jemima syrup for a long time but recently switched to generic. It's not as good but it's worth the savings and getting that racist brand out of my house. Sorry, I'm rambling.}

4. What do you want your kids to be when they grow up?
Our top priority is to keep them from being lawyers (our profession)--it's awful! Mamas, don't let your babies grow up to be lawyers. Otherwise, I don't care. I'd like to steer them to something that fits with their interests, something that doesn't require expensive schooling. No educational debt. Something that will likely always be in demand, like computers or nursing.

5. What is your favorite quote?
From scripture, Phil 4:13--"I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me."

From a human, Eleanor Roosevelt--"You must do the thing you think you cannot do."

For more Q&A fun, go here.

Thursday, August 26, 2010

MPT12--Tenth Grade (Performing Arts edition)

This is the 12th in a series of 15 posts recounting my childhood. (To see parts 1 through 11, click the label "MPT" in my sidebar.) Today's topic is Tenth Grade. I've been singing and dancing since I was born--I can't help it, I cannot listen passively to music. ;-) Also, I lived near Chicago so (thanks to my generous parents) I grew up going to Broadway musicals (traveling companies) downtown. So naturally I wanted to grow up and be on Broadway. Just one problem (talent notwithstanding), I'm painfully shy. When I was in 7th grade, this woman named Kimmie decided our little junior high (MM) and the other little junior high (SR) would put on a musical together and she would direct. (I think Kimmie was a mother of someone at SR, I totally don't know.) In 7th grade, the musical she put together was "The Music Man." So you'd think, what with these Broadway aspirations, I would jump at the chance to be in the show. Nope, I was too shy to audition.

In eighth grade, the musical was "Annie" and this time I worked up the guts to audition. {I have to mention here, that I loved the musical "Annie" and once my neighborhood performed the musical in our basement and as I had the best voice (of the 7 or 8 of us) I played the lead role. LOL} You could audition alone or in groups and I had my solo audition all planned but at the last minute, two friends (Jane and Jill) convinced me we should all audition together. I was a shy and awkward mess but I thought I sang pretty well. Jane got a call-back but Jill and I did not (but since this was junior high, everyone who auditions gets to be in the show). Turns out Jane got one of the lead roles--Grace. Jill and I got matching roles as maids. (My one line was "the silk, no the satin sheets I think" in the middle of the song "I think I'm gonna like it here.") At the time, I was confused and a little bitter that Jane and I had sung equally well (in my opinion), but she got the big break, but now I can appreciate that Kimmie would have seen my extreme nervousness at the audition and known better than to give me a large role. Duh!

In 9th grade, I took Freshman Acting and in 10th grade I took Sophomore Acting. At the time, I thought anyone could act. I figured we act all the time in real life--we pretend to like your new haircut, we pretend to like a gift when we don't, etc. But it was in 10th grade that I finally realized I can't act.

Freshman Acting was an easy class, we did some improv (I'd say in hindsight that I'm better at improv than line-reading), we did dramatic readings of poetry. No big deal. In Sophomore Acting, however... well, first of all, I was in class with some great actors, some of the best in my graduating class: Sandro, Erin, that other guy what's-his-name. That gave me a little perspective on my own (lack of) abilities.

The whole class would be performing the play "The Glass Menagerie" with different students in each scene. We were supposed to audition for 3 scenes, I only had the nerve to audition for two. In the end, I was cast as Laura in the smallest scene, I think I had 5 lines--and even those, I just couldn't deliver well. What the heck was I doing?! Anyway, the play went off without a hitch, but I did finally catch on that acting was not my thing and I quit the class at the semester break.

I was still very much into singing. I loved performing in choirs, no solos required! In 10th grade I was in Musettes, the sophomore girls choir. (As I mentioned last week, anyone could be in freshman or sophomore choirs without auditions. Tons of girls participated in Freshman Girls Choir' fewer participated in Musettes, I believe there were only two sections.) My director was Mr. Klinka, who wasn't the best choir director I've ever had but he was a nice guy and we had fun. It was early in the year when I switched from being a soprano to an alto (I think I had a cold on the day we were figuring out voice parts, so I didn't have my high notes)--and I fell in love with all the harmony and was an alto ever after. :-)

I don't believe I've mentioned in these piggy tales how much I hated Physical Education. In Illinois, you had to take PE every single day. (I was shocked, in college, to learn that this was not the case in other states. I met people who had PE once a week or only one trimester per year. I was so jealous!) In 9th grade, we cycled through various PE courses like swimming, running, basketball. Finally in 10th grade, I was allowed to take Dance for one semester. Anyone could take beginner dance, thereafter it was by audition. (Second semester, I had to take regular PE, I took running or whatever it was called and then never took PE again. Woohoo, it was dance forever after. Yea!)

I was in Beginner Dance with my friend Jenny and loved it. My teacher was Mrs. Gans. It was a mixture of ballet and contemporary. We learned a few foot positions, did some twirls, nothing too tough. I knew I wasn't a great dancer, but I had rhythm and was right in the middle of the pack--not the best dancer but not the worst. When we auditioned at the end of the year for Intermediate, I made it (woohoo!) but my friend Jenny did not.

At the end of sophomore year, we had auditions for next year's choirs. The choices for girls were: Girls Chorus (the default for anyone who didn't get into one of the better choirs), Choir Opera, Concert Choir, and (the best of the best) Swing Choir. I auditioned for all three and ranked Swing as my 1st choice, Cho-Op as 2nd, Concert as 3rd. And I checked the box that I only had time for one choir (although if you make it into Swing, you are expected to also be in Cho-Op or Concert).

Swing Choir was elite and small--maybe 8 girls and 8 guys. Mr. Bachmann was the director. At the beginning of that audition, we did scales and I had an icredible range that day, I kept singing higher and higher notes and even Mr. B was surprised ("you're an alto?!") and then I went to sing my prepared piece--and lost my voice! Seriously! I guess all the scales and high notes stressed my voice, because I couldn't sing anymore. Mr. B encouraged me to finish the audition another day, but for whatever reason, I never did. I don't really regret that. I tried again the next year.

Choir Opera was the class that puts on the big musical each year. If you want to be in the big musical, you have to be in Cho-Op. I still had musical-theater aspirations, so I really wanted into Cho-Op.

Oh, I'm having flashbacks! I auditioned for a few plays and musicals those first two years of high school. (Keep in mind, this was a huge school, each year there were several productions.) I never even made the call-backs. Again, what was I thinking?! LOL

To get into Cho-Op, you had to sing plus either dance or act. Which meant I needed to find a monologue. I was totally a fish out of water on this one. I got a book of monologues from the library and chose one where I was like a waitress in a diner. I'm sure it was awful, but my singing got me in.

Okay, I didn't plan to write this story, and I know this post is already enormous, but I have to explain how I ended up in Concert Choir. The day we were supposed to find out which choir we got into, I didn't get my results. The letters were sent to advisory and I had no letter. I was distraught, hysterical (well, I don't think I cried at school, just once I got home). I thought I would have at least made Concert Choir (no acting required). It was a crisis. I knew I wasn't the best singer, but I thought I was good enough to make it into something and I really DID NOT want to be in Girls Chorus--it's for losers. (Oh the melodrama! I hate that I was such a brat that night saying I wouldn't be in Girls Chorus, I'd rather NOT SING than be in Girls Chorus. Shame on me!)

The next day at school, all the rosters of the various choirs were posted in the music hallway. Everyone was crowded around the board and I just started frantically searching for my name--I didn't even look at what choir each list was for, I scoured them all for my name. When I found my name (which was relief in itself) I looked to see what choir it was--and it was Cho-Op! My big dream! I couldn't believe it!

I headed into Musettes and for whatever reason we were watching a movie that day with another choir class. Well all the emotions of the last 24 hours flooded over and I started crying. Mr. Smith, the director of the other class and leader of Concert Choir, noticed me crying and asked what happened. I told him how I didn't get a letter the previous day and I didn't think I'd made it into any choir, but now apparently I was in Cho-Op. He apologized, confirmed I did indeed get into Cho-Op and in fact I would've made it into Concert Choir too (what? wow!) if I'd said I could be in two choirs. He was so nice and I was so thrilled that I asked him if I could do Concert Choir too and he said he could arrange that.

Without giving too much away, my junior year I was in both Choir Opera and Concert Choir and of the two it was Concert Choir I liked the best. Mr. Smith and Concert Choir were the best things about my high school experience. So sadly this "no letter" fiasco was necessary for me to be in the choir I was meant to be in. It really was one of the worst days of my high school life. It is only in hindsight that I see the Hand Of God and that, because I had ranked Cho-Op higher, I needed this drama to get me into the right chorus. Thank you, Lord!

Okay, I think that's all for this week. Check out more sophomore tales at Mommy's Piggy Tales and tune in next week for junior year. Thanks for reading!

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

A Few Small Changes

Okay, yesterday I talked about how we're taking L off of wheat. (We tried the GF spaghetti tonight and everybody liked it. The kids gobbled it up!) Here are some other changes I'm working on.

I need to do something about my appearance, I'm just not happy with myself right now. (The pictures snapped of me during vacation confirm my yuckiness.) I've cut down all the food I'm willing to cut down. I've broken my Twizzler habit, but I "need" my ice cream snack at night. My meals are fine (well, I should probably watch my portions) and my 4pm snack is okay if I stop after the pretzels and maybe a couple Hershey kisses. Since I'm not willing to "diet," that leaves exercise.

Inspired by this post (hat tip to Oh Amanda) to try small steps, I'm trying to incentivize the plan I've had for a while--to walk/move for 10 minutes a day. Turn on my iPod and just dance/pace/whatever. Right now, my "plan" is to do it at 10:30am, L gets a bottle at 10:30 like clockwork, so now I just have to remember.

Okay, the incentive: I made myself a sticker chart. 10 minutes of "exercise" gets me a sticker. 10 stickers equals a dollar. So I can treat myself at the dollar store (or iTunes) or "save up" for something bigger.

I came up with this plan early last week and I've only earned 2 stickers so far. Yep, I'm going gangbusters! A journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step. Obviously, this isn't going to drop me several dress sizes, but maybe I can fit better into the shorts I'm currently outgrowing. And it's healthy, right?

I have taped a little list to one of my kitchen cabinets reminding myself of my little goals. It says "Just for today"--so I don't get overwhelmed by big goals/projects. Right now the list has 4 things, including to exercise at 10:30. "Drink Coke only at meals"--because I can easily consume 3 cans a day, when my goal is 1.5 (half a can per meal). I'm trying to stop myself when can #1 is empty during lunch, but honestly I usually pop open another if I haven't finished eating. So now I'm really trying to stop after can #2 is empty at dinner. I allow myself to drink a few sips with my snack at 4 because I'm eating. Anyway, reducing my Coke calories also increases the amount of water I'm drinking, so that's all good.

"No grunting" is another reminder on my kitchen list. I've developed (and passed on to my kids) a grunting (or actually growling) habit. Here's a common scenario: I check on L who's been washing his hands for a long time, "okay, dry your hands," I say and L replies "I haven't gotten soap yet." Grunt. I don't want to go through life grunting nor do I want my kids to remember me groaning all through their youth. And because L knows I'm working on my grunting habit, he can take me seriously when I ask him to stop grunting.

Finally, "L sips" is on the list. We've gotten totally off track trying to move him from bottles to straws. Time is of the essence as the school days get longer and he has to drink his formula at school or he is a crabby mess by the end of the day. Thus, the goal is to have him drink a couple ounces from a straw once per day (an activity we've nicknamed "sips"). He has a neat reward chart where a pirate moves from 1 to 10, each time he reaches 10, he gets a quarter for his piggy bank.

Back to my appearance issues, I've started wearing makeup semi-regularly. I tried this once before a few years ago but stopped because I just don't feel comfortable, I feel self-conscious and fake and like everyone can tell I'm wearing makeup. Isn't that insane? I'm 35 years old, I'm entitled, even expected, to wear makeup. So back then I was using foundation, this time I've been using tinted moisturizer in hopes it's just a little lighter, less obvious whatever. But I now find myself having the same ambivalent and self-conscious feelings. I was pondering this on the way to speech (while wearing makeup) and wondering why I'm more self-conscious wearing makeup than I am when all my zits/blotches/scars are on display (i.e. without makeup). Right now, part of my motivation is that I spent $14 on the moisturizer so I better use it! That and the SPF is good, right?

Any advice on any of these goals/issues?!

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

Top 10 Tuesday--Things I Bought at Whole Foods

Yesterday, the kids and I stopped at Whole Foods after speech to stock up on some Gluten Free products. L is officially (according to the patch test) allergic to wheat, but he's been tolerating a small amount of wheat (like breaded chicken nuggets) for a while now and we (okay, I) have probably become a little too liberal--he's been eating bread, waffles, pasta, pizza--and finally Hubby and I noticed some things. Hubby noticed some itching and that L sometimes said his tummy aches. I noticed his behavior went from bad listening to no listening. (I'm not saying gluten = bad behavior, but maybe wheat = discomfort = bad behavior.) In any event, Hubby and I decided it was time to cut way down on the wheat and see what happens. But then L was left with very few foods he eats (mainly Pringles and chicken and Rice Chex)--so I headed to Whole Foods to see what I could find. Here's what I bought, in fancy Top Ten List form:

1. Conte's Gluten-Free margherita pizza. As if on cue, Real Simple magazine's September issue rated frozen pizzas, including gluten-free and Conte's was the winner in that category. We had this pizza last night (me and the kids, Hubby ate leftover chicken) and I was impressed. Great cheese/sauce/garlic flavor, if it weren't for the crust it might have been my new favorite frozen pizza. The crust is made of rice. The flavor is pretty bland and the texture is almost melt-in-your-mouth (not really what I want in pizza crust) but overall, two thumbs up. Oh and both kids liked it too. It's expensive (isn't everything at Whole Foods?!) at $9 for a pizza that doesn't even feed the whole family.

2. I also got another brand of frozen pizza to try: Glutino GF duo cheese pizza. ($6 for an even smaller pizza.) We'll give that a try soon.

3. Van's GF waffles. I tried Van's apple cinnamon waffles on L a long time ago and he could tell the difference from our usual Eggos, but that was before he fell in love with maple syrup. This time I got the original flavor and drowned it in syrup and he's a big fan. Woohoo!

4. Erewhon cocoa crispy brown rice cereal. L has eaten Erewhon's crispy rice cereal for a long time, it was one of his first real foods, but he's been bored of it lately. So when I spied this chocolate version (and confirmed the absence of corn syrup), I thought it would be a good way to get both kids interested in breakfast again. And I was right, both kids love it. Score!

5. Jo-Sef GF cinnamon cookies. Another area where we've been too liberal with the wheat: dessert (cake, cookies, pie crust etc.). I let L choose from the selection of GF cookies and it took several tries to find one without corn in the ingredients. {For those of you just joining us here, L is also allergic to corn.} But Jo-Sef came through. And turns out, they're yummy. All of us enjoyed a cookie or two last night. :-)

6. DeBoles GF rice spaghetti style pasta. Spaghetti is one of L's favorite foods so it would be cruel to eat it in front of him, which means our whole family will be switching to wheat-free spaghetti. Whole Foods had a bunch of choices made from rice, quinoa or a mixture of things. I chose this rice one because some of the others had too much fiber (which angers my IBS). We'll see how it tastes....

7. Annie's rice pasta and cheddar (i.e., GF mac 'n' cheese). Sometimes L loves mac 'n' cheese, other times he says he hates it (he does this with so many foods, it's very aggravating) so I was thrilled to spot the GF version. Haven't tried it yet, but I hope it's a hit.

8. Gluten Free Pantry favorite sandwich bread mix. I asked a gluten-free facebook friend for a bread recommendation (I was thinking I'd just buy a loaf) and she said that pre-made loaves taste bad and this mix makes the best bread. Sucks that I have to make my own bread, but I did once try a GF loaf from Whole Foods and it was inedible--so I'll take her word for it and give it a try. I'm thinking even if it's only mediocre, I can turn it into french toast sticks, which L likes. We'll see.

9. Seventh Generation disinfecting wipes. This was an impulse purchase because there was a big display and I'd just read Diaper Diaries review so I thought "let's give it a try."

10. Acidophilus. This one's for me. I've been taking acidophilus since a stomach bug in January--I find it helps my IBS.

Wasn't that fun?! Head on over to Oh Amanda for more Top Ten lists!

And I'll keep you posted on how our wheat-free experiment works out.

Saturday, August 21, 2010

Week in Review--August 21, 2010

Back from vacation but still two weeks "off" before school starts, it should have been a pretty easy week, just speech on Monday and Wednesday. But L's GI office called on Tuesday and offered us an appointment the next day. Thus, suddenly Wed. was going to be crazy--GI appointment at PCH (downtown Phoenix) at 10:30 am and speech in north Scottsdale at 2:00 pm. So I was hoping we'd make it home by 12:30 (allowing for an hour at the doctor's plus drive time) and leaving for speech at 1:15. In other words, it would be hell.

Normally, when something comes up like this, I tend to cancel speech, but as we'd just missed two sessions for vacation and they have a policy of dropping clients if attendance drops below 80% in 30 days--that wasn't a viable option this week.

So Wednesday comes and it was a nightmare as expected. The first IBS episode happens after we pass Dollar Tree, I take 2 Imodium and stop at my usual McDonald's bathroom. Back on the road, we hit construction and I get another episode and there's nowhere to stop before PCH, so I pop another Imodium, make it through the construction and eventually get to the hospital.

Although it felt like we waited forever (and the waiting room was packed), it wasn't even 11am by the time the doctor came in. So that was good, we made it home about 12:10, moved straight into lunch, and made it to speech, exhausted but on time.

We were like a traveling circus at the doctor's office. In the waiting room, my kids were jumping off the furniture and squealing like banshees. In the exam room, I'm trying to talk to the doctor while L and T wrestle on a chair. And I'm a mess because the whole thing gives me great (IBS-related) anxiety. Circus!

So having survived Wednesday, I promptly do nothing on Thursday or Friday, can't even manage to take us to the grocery when we run out of whole milk, I just feed T skim milk instead. Fail.

Saturday was "workday" at L's preschool. Two hours passed super-slowly as I bleached toys and cleaned a fan and generally tried to make myself useful. Never mind that I don't clean my own home, I cleaned up the preschool. Thank you, Hubby, for not pointing out that irony. Bright side--I met several nice moms from L's class.

GI Appointment

All four guaiac cards were negative. I asked for a "big picture reality check" because hello, my son is 5 and drinks a bottle and poops in a diaper. First, she said these issues derive from a medical problem. Second, "we messed up" on behavior (her words--I think she means we didn't break the bottle habit soon enough, on her advice) but we are all grateful he never needed a tube (amen to that!). We talked about the poop issue, which she called a normal developmental stage, and told me a few tricks to try including a laxative. She didn't have any new input on the getting-through-the-school-day issue, I said we're sending a lunch box full of food plus a thermos of Neocate and he's just going to have to figure out that if he's hungry he has to either eat or drink.

The young girl in the waiting room in a wheelchair with a breathing tube gave me a "big picture reality check" too. Things could be a lot worse!


Before our vacation, I checked out 3 Jane Austen spin-offs from the library.

I started reading An Assembly Such As This thinking it was a Pride & Prejudice "sequel" but it turns out that it is a retelling of P&P from Darcy's perspective. No thanks, I won't be reading that.

Next up, a P&P sequel called Desire and Duty. I read the first page and a half and set it down because it was so poorly written.

Book #3: Jane Austen in Boca, a modern-day P&P that takes place among retirees in Florida. I loved her Jane Austen in Scarsdale (see my review here) and this time I enjoyed that she was describing the culture and manners of a society I knew nothing about. Sadly, I just couldn't get into the saga of an old folks home and I gave up. (Also, the plot departed too far from Austen for my taste.)

So I picked up Desire & Duty again. The writing style is awful, painful sometimes, but I like "hanging out" with my friends from Pride and Prejudice and the plot follows Georgiana's quest for a mate--and the book (thankfully, because the style is so lacking) is plot-driven (no analysis of culture or manners) so I can, for the most part, ignore its faults. I'm not loving it, but I'm enjoying it.

All this puts into perspective Pride & Prescience that I read last month (and partially reviewed here). When I finished the book, I was disappointed that the "solution" to the mystery involved the paranormal. Lame, I thought. Now, I think I will forgive that shortcoming because the style was the closest to Austen that I've yet read. Or at least she's readable. Anyway, I'm willing to try her next novel in the "Darcy mystery" series.


We just finished "The Last Station" starring Christopher Plummer and Helen Mirren as Mr. and Mrs. Leo Tolstoy (technically Count and Countess, but whatever) at the end of his life. We loved this movie! My husband is a huge Tolstoy fan, which helped because at the beginning I didn't know what was going on. (Don't worry if you don't have a Tolstoyan to watch it with, the movie explained everything a few minutes after Hubby did.) Great acting, fast-moving story that was almost a comedy at some points, fun to watch. And Paul Giamatti, James McAvoy, a little love story among the younger characters, made for many surprises. I highly recommend it (and would like to see it again, maybe even own it, so two thumbs up).

That's what I've been up to. Another school-free week ahead but it will probably be full of errands. Lots of cooking, I'll try to post my meal plan tomorrow.

Friday, August 20, 2010

Five Question Friday--August 20

1. Do you have any nicknames and if so how did it come about?

I've never had a good nickname.:-( My husband and I call each other goofy things like crazyhead and pookie. Lame, I know.

2. What is your birth order amongst your siblings?

I am the second of 4 girls. So older middle child. I've got the middle-child-Jan-Brady-syndrome for sure.

3. In a movie of your life, who would play your significant other?

This is a great question, I can't believe I haven't thought of this before, since I've known for a long time that Sandra Bullock should play me. But my husband? That's a tough one! After much thought, I've come up with Brendan Fraser. {photo credit} They have a similar build (although truth be told, Fraser is taller and Hubby is slightly heavier) and brown hair and light eyes (Hubby's are green, can't tell what Fraser's are). So there you go.
4. What is currently your favorite song?
Another tough one because so much depends on my mood. I'm going to say Train's "Hey Soul Sister" because it's current (I wouldn't want you to think I was out of date or anything)
and I can listen to it over and over.

5. Are you saving your money for anything right now? Big or small purchase?
Honestly, we don't have two cents to rub together so I'm not really saving, but I am on the lookout for a new diaper/messenger bag for everyday.
Go here for more Q&A fun. Thanks to Mama M. for hosting! :-)

Thursday, August 19, 2010

MPT11--Ninth Grade

This is the 11th in a series of 15 posts recounting my childhood. (To see parts 1 through 10, click the label "MPT" in my sidebar.) Today's topic is Ninth Grade.
Ah, high school. The bad old days. ;-) Sorry, like many people, I didn't like high school. I went to an enormous high school. It was public but it was a top-notch school--best facilities, best teachers, a great education. However, it had a "best" mentality. You were golden if you were super smart, super athletic, super singer/actor/violinist etc. The rest of us, well it was hard to be mediocre.

I had been considered the smartest girl in my class through junior high--a big fish in a small pond, if you will. Then I hit high school, and while I was in honors-level classes, I got a C on my first English paper. Gasp! I immediately felt the pecking order and I was suddenly on the bottom.

Now, I've just finished up two weeks of downer memories with my cliques series, so I'm determined to share the best memories of each year through high school. Let's see what I can come up with from freshman year....

Good Things
My high school had an advisory system--it was basically "homeroom," the first (short) class you went to each morning. We had the same advisor and classmates for homeroom all 4 years. Oh and it was single-sex--so my advisor was a woman and the class was 20-some girls. I didn't love all the girls in my advisory, but I did like Mrs. Liebing, our advisor. And one girl (Janet) became a close friend, and my BFF Amy joined our advisory junior or senior year (changing advisories was unusual but there were special circumstances that allowed her to change and she chose to join me, hurray).

In fact, on the very first day of high school (I think it was the first day), I became friends with Meg in my advisory and we ended up in the same acting class that day and made plans to hang out after school. Woohoo! Meg didn't end up being a close friend, but it was great to get off to a good start. {I've always been an introvert so it took an extrovert like Meg to instigate friendship and plans. Thank you, Meg, for your gift of immediate friendship!}

Mr. Oetter (spelling?), my English teacher. He was young (and cute) and fun. I remember one day we were acting out a scene from the Odyssey and some character's testicles get cut off and suddenly he threw two little ping pong balls across the room as if they were you-know-what. Hilarious!

Freshman Girls Chorus. I don't know if I've mentioned in this series before that I love to sing. It's my favorite thing, I sing all the time, if you pass me in a store you might hear me singing along to whatever's playing on the sound system. In high school, I could sing pretty well. Again, I wasn't the best, but I could carry a tune and had (especially by junior and senior year) good tone quality. I started out a second soprano but my sophomore year moved to alto and I loved it. Even though I had enough upper range to be a soprano, I loved that altos provided the harmony, I love harmony, so that's where I stayed forever after. Go altos!

Anyway, back to 9th grade. Anyone could be in chorus during freshman and sophomore year (after that, choirs were by audition). Tons of girls sang as freshmen, such that there were like 5 classes of Freshman Girls Chorus. (You'd practice all the songs in your class and then come together as an enormous group to practice and sing together for concerts.) My choir director that year was Mr. Bachmann and he was awesome, I really liked him.

Since I went to this great big high school that had every program imaginable, we put on huge concerts. In the winter and spring we had huge concerts that included all the singers (at least 200 kids, I'm guessing) plus all the bands and orchestras. {I wish I could find a picture online. Nope, no luck.} Anyway, the semi-annual festival concerts were tons of fun.

What else? I took a fun Social Studies course in 9th grade called Comparative Political Systems--we studied the US, USSR (oh yeah, this was the Cold War baby), and China. The content wasn't super fun, but my teacher (Mr. Sheets) was, and my current-day BFF Karen was in that class. She had gone to another tiny junior high that my tiny junior high did "exchanges" with so I'd met her before and recognized her in CPS and that's how our friendship blossomed and today she is my closest friend. :-)

Ooh, I just had a naughty memory. In 9th grade you are required to take Study Hall, which every one hated. I think it was Karen (or maybe a different friend) who figured out different ways to get out of it. You could get a teacher to sign some slip letting you out of study hall and we would go to Mr. Sheets and asked him to sign these slips with our various excuses. He would always do it for us and this got us out of several study hall sessions, until I think someone caught on to us and we had to stop. Oh well. It's not like we left campus and sprayed graffiti. I think we just hung out in the rotunda or something. I can't even remember! Anything to get out of boring old Study Hall!!!!

Okay, I think that is the extent of my 9th grade (good) memories. For more 9th grade stories, be sure to check out Mommy's Piggy Tales. Tune in next week for sophomore year. Thanks!

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

Top 10 Tuesday--Vacation Highlights

The kids at Scripps Aquarium

As I mentioned yesterday, we were on vacation last week, so I wanted to do a quick roundup of the highlights and what better way than a Top Ten List. We were in San Diego so there was lots to do, however my mother-in-law doesn't like people to use her house as a hotel, so we did short bursts of tourism in the mornings and spent the rest of our time with the family. Here are the highlights..... 1. Cabrillo National Monument. Spectacular views! The kids enjoyed walking from the visitor center up to the lighthouse. Daddy and L went up the winding staircase to the top of the lighthouse while T and I stayed downstairs and in the museum area next door. Then we went around the back to look at more great views and enjoy the gorgeous weather. The kids had lots of fun. {There are tide pools in another area of the park, but we didn't attempt that this time around.}

2. San Diego Automotive Museum in Balboa Park. We chose this outing because of L's love of all things cars, but we were slightly disappointed to find almost all the cars roped off. 5-year-olds are all about the touching. But they did have a car and motorcycle to sit on in the children's area and a 100-year-old car to sit in. T was unimpressed, but L walked around with Daddy and enjoyed the museum, I think.

3. Scripps Aquarium. No Sea World for us--too expensive and our kids don't last more than two hours, so for our Fish Fun we headed to this aquarium. In addition to lots of small and one big tank, there are tide pools outside that the kids loved exploring. L also liked the shark tank and there was a water table the kids could play at (they could set up barriers to make currents and L loved sending boats down the paths and yelling "I win!"--a big hit).

4. San Diego Air & Space Museum. I was really impressed with this museum, I couldn't believe how many aircrafts they fit into this relatively small building. I was assigned to follow T, who wasn't interested in the planes, she preferred to run around the atrium. L liked running around too of course, but Daddy managed to walk him through most of the exhibits. There was also a tiny plane for T to sit in and a helicopter for L to climb in, so it was a good time.

5. Star of India or as L calls it "the pirate ship." Hubby's sister took L on this outing last Thanksgiving and he loved it so we had to do it again. (I stayed home while T napped so L went with Daddy and his aunt.) His aunt was so awesome to get him a pirate hat and telescope (and gun that I wasn't thrilled about) and he had a fabulous time exploring the ship and pretending to be a pirate in the model ship below deck.

6. The beach of course. We like Mission Bay. {My husband says the bay is not the same as a beach, but I say if water meets sand, it's a beach.} The hit of the week! They played in the water, they played in the sand, T loved being pushed on the swings (this part of the Bay we like has a playground on the sand as well for extra fun). Super fun! The only downer was the air and water were both cool and we couldn't stay more than two hours for fear of freezing our children.

7. No trips to the ER. No, we don't have a history of tragedies on vacation, but staying in an unchildproofed house plus all the time my kids spent running sock-footed on the linoleum floor, it's a miracle no one was harmed.

8. The kids pooped semi-regularly. L did not poop the entire time we were at the in-laws' last Thanksgiving so we wondered how it would go this time. Without going into details, I'm happy to say he stayed regular. T, however, skipped a few days in the middle of the week that had me literally praying for poop and the Lord did provide and our trip continued.

9. Great weather! Obviously a major reason for vacationing in San Diego in August is to get away from the Phoenix heat and SD delivered. Gorgeous 70-degree days and light breezes and blue skies and no rain (except overnight). Fabulous!

10. No housework. Well, I did a couple loads of laundry and I washed bottles by hand and of course there was the extra child-supervision, but mostly it was a huge drop in housework from my usual routine. And zero cooking--wahoo!
I know I'm fashionably late, but I'm linking up with Oh Amanda. Go over there and check out more Top Ten fun! :-)

Monday, August 16, 2010

Menu Plan Monday--August 16

Last week I was on vacation, hence my lack of posting (though I did manage to link up my piggy tale). Did ya miss me? Meal planning was a little easier yesterday because we'd been away so we hadn't eaten any of our old favorites in at least a week. So here's what we're making this week. Sunday: hamburgers, tater tots, veggie pouch
Monday: flautas, black beans, Lipton rice
Tuesday: mayonnaise chicken, Lipton noodles, veggie pouch
Wednesday: steak, mashed potatoes, veggie pouch
Thursday: enchiladas, Lipton rice
Friday: grilled pizza

{Obviously, I don't have a problem with processed foods. What can I say? In this season of life, I do quick side dishes!}

For hundreds more menu plans, visit Org Junkie. What are you eating this week?

Thursday, August 12, 2010

MPT9--Eighth Grade--Cliques Part 2

This is the tenth in a series of 15 posts recounting my childhood. (To see parts 1 through 9, click the label "MPT" in my sidebar.) Today's topic is Eighth Grade. Last week I started talking about cliques and friendships and just generally the cruelty of tweens, here is part 2 of that saga.

My homeroom teacher in Eighth Grade was Mrs. Brady, an old woman who'd been teaching forever. A seasoned veteran and one smart lady, she taught social studies which was primarily civics that year. In fact, it was the year of the 200th anniversary of the Constitutional Convention (1787-1987), so we did a lot of stuff around that. Again, switched classes. I loved Mr. Monroe for English (or I guess we called that Language Arts); Mr. Goodspeed was the new science teacher, young and cute, all us girls had a crush on him and he went on to marry our 7th grade math teacher, Miss Hogan (yea, I remembered her name); I can't remember the name of my French teacher. We had an AWFUL new art teacher that year, Mr. Little, he should never have been allowed to teach--he hated kids.

In 7th grade and entering 8th, my best friend was Liz. We would pass notes between classes. We were a foursome with Jina and Julie and we all had nicknames for each other. I was Frisbub, Liz was Caroline Squared (can't remember the nicknames for the other two).

Not long into the new school year, things got weird. I don't remember the exact turn of events. There was some weirdness at a Bar Mitzvah I think and then I talked to someone else, I think it was Kristen, about "hey, that was weird at the Bat Mitzvah" and she was like "I don't think Liz wants to be your friend anymore" and then somehow we set up a before-school meeting between me and Liz. Ugh, it was an ugly time but the gist of it was Liz didn't want to be my friend anymore, she wanted "space," whatever that means when you're in a 40-person class together.

That was soon followed by Jina breaking off her friendship with Julie.

Soon it became apparent what was going on: Julie and Liz were moving into the popular clique. (Apparently one could not do that and be my friend at the same time.) I don't know how these things work, but somehow it was established that the other clique, the other lunch table, was he popular one and we were, I don't know, unpopular, uncool? So the girls in my group tried to make their way into the popular group.

I won't say this wasn't painful, it was awful to lose these close friends and feel left out. But I was also smart enough to realize, hey, this is 8th grade, next year we are moving into an enormous high school (2700-students-enormous), all this clique baloney wasn't going to last, we weren't going to see many of these kids again and what clique you were in wasn't going to matter in a few short months. So I did not attempt to join the popular club.

Instead, I became an "outcast." I don't remember who named us that--did we name ourselves? Is this a name I called us at the time or only in hindsight? I think there were 5 of us after the dust settled. Me, Julie, Jenny, Naomi, but I can't remember who else. I'd have to pull out my yearbook and I'd rather not. Maybe there were only 4 of us. What confuses me now when I look back, I can see why the other girls were left behind--the tomboy, the black girl, the girl who spoke broken English. Why was I there? Certainly I was a nerd. I was the smartest girl in my class, wore glasses, was tall/skinny/flat-chested. Was that enough to qualify me for outcast status or was I just swimming against the stream and refusing to suck up to the popular kids? I don't know! I'd like to think we were just the strong ones who didn't care about popularity--and in a way we surely were, because we weren't kissing anyone's butts to belong. But with wisdom and age and a history degree, I've learned that the ones singled out for things like witch trials tend to not fit in with societal norms. What was my stigma? My scarlet letter?

So that was 8th grade. I hung with the outcasts, but I didn't totally disconnect from Jina and Liz either. And in the end, I was right--none of this baloney mattered when we entered high school the next year. We were a tiny feeder school into an enormous high school. I made new friends and left that drama behind.

But even though it didn't matter in the end, it still sucks. It sucks that we did this to each other, treated each other this way, cared about popularity rather than connection and friendship and bond. I hope that I've learned lessons that will help me help my children navigate these stormy waters when the time comes.

And so I don't leave you on this downer note, I'm happy to say I have reconnected with all my former besties, Jina, Liz and Julie, so it's all good. :-) (Yea for facebook!)

Next week we enter the high school years. Ooh fun. For more 8th grade stories, visit Mommy's Piggy Tales. See you next week!

Friday, August 6, 2010

Cards for Donya

My Blessed Life is organizing a birthday card drive for a sweet woman with Down Syndrome. Her name is Donya and she's turning 50 years old. :-) Please go read this post to learn more about making this an awesome birthday celebration!

I have a cousin who has Down Syndrome {he's 24 years old and doing awesome, he graduated from high school, has a job, helps with the high school football team, and he is just a joyful person and a blessing to everyone who knows him} so this is near and dear to my heart. I hope you'll consider sending Donya a card to mark this milestone birthday! Don't worry procrastinators, there's plenty of time--her birthday is August 18th.

Thanks! Have a great weekend!

Thursday, August 5, 2010

MPT9--Seventh Grade--Cliques Part 1

This is the ninth in a series of 15 posts recounting my childhood. (To see parts 1 through 8, click the label "MPT" in my sidebar.) Today's topic is Seventh Grade. First off, I'm having a tough day. I forgot to defrost the chicken for the crockpot (I hope I can get it defrosted enough to have the crockpot started by noon); I was planning to go to Walmart but I realized (1) I forgot to defrost the chicken and (2) I don't have a full list written. T has been waking up super early and screaming bloody murder and this morning she's been super cranky so I just put her in her crib for a morning nap (she hasn't had one of those in a long time). She's crying now but hopefully she falls asleep. Either way, I have to scramble to write 7th and 8th grade today as we're going on vacation soon and 8th grade will have to auto-post....

All of this to say that I've decided to make 7th and 8th grade a 2-part series about friendship and cliques. I was inspired by several piggy tales last week that talked about the awkwardness and the fickleness of friends and cliques in the junior high years. And I have several stories on the subject.

My 7th grade homeroom teacher was Mrs. Peters, another middle aged woman with grown children. Very kind, I liked her a lot. She also taught social studies and maybe English, I can't remember, oh and French, so I guess I had her for several subjects. 7th grade had its own hall in the 7th-8th grade wing of my 4th through 8th campus. We felt very grown-up switching classes. I had Mrs. Tritch for science, Miss {oh my gosh, I'm blanking on her name, it'll come to me} for math. What am I forgetting? P.E. (Mr. Berardi, now a Facebook friend), Art (Mrs. Felton, total hippie freak, taught us tai chi while waiting in line, very cool), Home Ec/Wood Shop/Computers (Mrs. Freesma), Music (Ms. Lundberg, a friend's mom, loved her!).

We did some short story writing in 7th grade. I wrote "The Man in the Wheelchair" as well as a story about a kid who couldn't get rid of his hiccups. I wrote the latter for a contest--we all had to write a story for this contest and I wrote this one about hiccups (not my best work!) and Mrs. Peters called me over and told me she couldn't submit that story because the character died. Yep, I couldn't figure out how to solve the character's hiccup problem, so he died. Oops. She asked if I'd mind submitting the Wheelchair story instead. That's what we did and I won a prize! Not first place or anything, more like honorable mention, but it was still really cool.

All these years, Kindergarten through 8th grade, I went to school with the same 40 kids (give or take--some would come, others would go, but about 35 of us stayed the same). There were some I was always close to (Julie) and some I was never really friends with (Amy), but in 6th and 7th grade, the cliques really started becoming more apparent and stark. The girls divided roughly in two, I specifically remember at this time starting to talk about the 2 lunch tables and knowing who sat where. So there were 2 cliques (I'm just talking about girls here), but there were roughly the same size and roughly, I don't know, equal. Some of the girls in the other clique had "boyfriends" so maybe they were "cooler" all along, but the "cool" thing was more of a big deal the next year.

Now, here come the painful memories, how we treated the less cool boys. I don't know if the boys had their own cliques or if this was as simple as who was cutest, but there definitely were (to us girls) the cool boys and the dorks/nerds.

Enter "7th Grade Social Dancing." This was an extracurricular activity, but everybody did it. It was at the school gym (once a week? once a month? don't remember). Teachers were brought in to teach us ballroom dancing--waltz, fox trot etc--presumably to teach us manners and social graces etc. Generally, I think I enjoyed it, but there were several awkward moments when we'd have to pair up. Thankfully, most of the evening our partners were assigned, but there would come the inevitable "boys choice" and "girls choice" dances and UGH, you didn't want a boy to think you liked him, you didn't want to be picked last, yadda yadda yadda. And I hate that I scurried to get with a cute boy and hated when I got stuck with a "nerd." I remember one time I got paired up with Seth, one of the "dorks," and at the next intermission I went over to my girlfriends and said how gross he was {I'm cringing as I write this, I'm so sorry Seth, I was an idiot!}, I wiped my hands on a napkin and to be all dramatic I waved the napkin and said "this is not a sanitary napkin" (which of course made us all laugh because I'd unwittingly referred to a feminine product, LOL)--as if he had cooties or something. Bad, bad, bad!

Oh how I wish I could go back and tell my 12-year-old self to like the uncool guys, to be kind to the outsiders. I could have been kind to Seth and Greg and whomever without it becoming a "boyfriend/girlfriend" thing. It would have been easier to just walk over to one of the less cool guys for partnering than to linger awkwardly. Oh the awkwardness!

By the way, I was taller than a lot of the boys. I know I was 5'5 at the end of 8th grade, not sure how tall I was in 7th, but a lot of the guys hadn't had their growth spurts yet. One day in social dancing, I was paired up with a shorter boy, Jordan, and as he had to spin me, I was so tall, his arm brushed against the clip in my hair (oh those fun '80s clips) and it fell out and embarrassed us both.

Meanwhile, one of the "nerds," Brian, liked me. We all knew he liked me, but I didn't "like" him. I liked him as a friend, he was a super nice guy and we'd been friends forever, but then he got a crush on me and I was cruel and I hate myself for how I treated him. (Nothing terrible, I just could've been so much nicer.) And of course it took till senior year of high school to realize it's about personality and not looks and we were in the same calculus class and then I started to "like" Brian but it was too late and he had figured out I wasn't so great after all.

For my part, I had a crush on this guy Cory for years. Literally, 5th through 10th grade, and he never gave me the time of day. I still dream about him occasionally (like this morning, I blame these piggy tales) and want him to like me. I wake up and I'm like "I'm 35 years old and happily married, why do I want this guy to like me??!!"

So anyway, that's part 1 of friends and awkwardness in junior high. Tune in next week when the real "fun" starts. And head over to Janna's for more 7th grade tales.

Blog Hop '10

I'm so excited to join this year's Blog Hop, hosted once again by Robin at Pensieve! I, of course, am not at BlogHer. I am sitting here in my little bedroom "office" while my kids watch {she says in horror} Barney in the other room. Thanks for stopping by my little corner of the web!!! Welcome!

I am "Eos Mom," {so-named because my 5-year-old son has Eosinophilic Esophagitis, more on that in a minute}. I live in Phoenix with my husband and 2 kids. My son "L" just turned 5 and my daughter "T" is almost 2. I'm a SAHM. If you want to read more about our everyday life, check out my "week in review" posts (that aren't really weekly, haha).

As I said, L has EE, which basically means if he eats foods he's allergic to, his esophagus erodes and bleeds. That made him very sick in his first year of life, but now he's outgrown several allergies and we just keep working on getting him to eat more foods. You can read more about that journey by clicking on my "ee" and "feeding" tabs.

Oh and both my kids are in speech therapy. You can read about L's apraxia or T's speech as well.

But mostly I like to blog about fun stuff, like movies. Hubby and I recently set up our tv so we can stream Netflix instantly so we watch a ton of movies and I like to review them here. I'll also tell you about the books I'm reading and tv shows I'm watching.

Thursdays, I'm blogging my youth with Mommy's Piggy Tales. This has been so much fun--to remember and write about my childhood and then read similar stories from other women. Today we'll be writing about 7th grade.

Fridays, I love the Five Question Friday meme. It's a chance for me to ramble on various fun topics. Love it!

And lately I've started sharing some "linky love" or favorite posts and recipes I've found around the blogosphere for Saturday Stumbles.

Thanks so much for stopping by! I hope you'll poke around a bit and see if you might want to visit again or {joy of joys} follow me. Be sure to leave me a comment so I can visit you in return. Now, I've got to wrangle the kids and get us all to Walmart. Happy Hopping!!!

Wednesday, August 4, 2010

Internet Hodgepodge--August 21

This is a multi-week edition of linky love because of my vacation. {I've decided to name these posts "internet hodgepodge" because they are always all over the place.} Check out more favorite posts over at It's Come to This.
Dear Gisele, have a sandwich and shut up. Amen to this post from stark.raving.mad.mommy.

A Pirate Adventure. Love love love this idea from Oh Amanda, I want to copy it down to every detail. L is very into pirates so this would be right up his alley. :-)

Morning sickness relief from the newly pregnant Momedy. {I do not ever plan to be pregnant again, but you know the saying "men plan and God laughs." So if the Lord gives me a surprise 3rd child, I will definitely want to remember this remedy.}

10 ideas for keeping kids busy while you cook from Saving Those Dollars.

I love this list of Micro-Indulgences for $4 or less from The Dabbler.

I really like this budgeting bulletin board system. I need to do this to track expenses without going to a cash system.

Homeschooling is not optional. I know others have linked to this already, but I just read it myself. This is my philosophy as well--whether or not you send your child to school every day, all parents must be (one of) their kids' teacher(s).

Such an easy and cute craft, great for gifts: washcloth cupcakes.
Alright, that's all I've got. {I'm so proud of myself for not waiting to the last minute this week!} Now go visit Mandi for more linky love!