Brian, contemplating the true meaning of the holidays
Originally uploaded by Kimmy Crack Corn
Congrats to my roomy.
I know I have missed a week, but last week I couldn’t write because I was too worried about my six-month dental checkup. Of course I have to go BACK tomorrow, but I was instructed to try out my valium tonight just in case I have an unexpected reaction. I am a pro at pre-dental valium, but still they make me fast and “try it out the night before” each time I go and “bring a driver” and do I “feel comfortable taking valium? Really?”
The short and adamant answer to that question is YES. I feel VERY comfortable taking it.
And isn’t that the point? If I felt UNcomfortable, then it would kind of defeat the purpose, right? I mean, to me, the very definition of UNcomfortable is being anywhere within earshot of a dental drill. Smelling it just about does me in. So taking the valium does take away some –though not all—of the UN. I may take two just to see if it’s like one pill for each letter: the first pill takes away the “u,” so you’re just ncomfortable. But if you take the second, then your just plain old comfortable, no prefix necessary.
However, you didn’t wait two whole weeks just to hear about my bottom left molar did you?
No you didn’t, but just to clarify: It’s not even a cavity. It’s just that my filling is old and it needs some repair work. And at this point, if they told me that I had a strange but harmless fungal rainbow growing in my mouth with a village of microscopic mites living under it, then I would just smile and say, “Here’s $500. Please suck out the fungus and evacuate the mites after I’ve popped some valium and we’ll all be fine.”
Anything to avoid another double decker root canal.
Tonight John and I attended a Christmas party which is an annual celebration of people who USED to work at my school. I am the only one still there! John spent the entire evening chasing Buddy the Poodle and rearranging the ornaments on the tree. They had white carpet. And cranberry juice. Good thing I had that valium.
Well, I gave my last test yesterday, so now I’m in the crunch numbers phase. I have wasted all manner of time and energy creating these fancy Excel gradebooks with if/then equations only to find at the end of my crunching that doling out As and Bs really doesn’t require math. It just requires a quick glance at the pile of holiday and thank you cards (some of which were accompanied by gifts) piling up beside my desk at work. I figure something like this is fair: Cards are worth an extra letter grade up from whatever I think you deserve. Card and gifts are an automatic “B.” If the gift is cute or useful then it’s an “A.”
And just for the record, a 19-inch “Fitz & Floyd” sectioned server with a pig-shaped dip bowl in the middle is not my idea of an “A” gift. A chocolate bar, on the other hand, might be, depending on how big it is, and what quality of chocolate.
Today I got a very interesting and horrendously written email from a (writing) student, which I have pasted below for your perusal (everything has been left intact):
Dear \ Kim
i would like to write this letter without any grammer ,so
i would like to say from student to the best teacher in the world , thank you about all what you did for me for your help ,your pation and your advises.
without you i couldn't reach to this level of writing ,and im sorry because i'm wont see any more because my next classes will be in southeast .
but all of us (Hany, Magdy and I will remember you ).
please when you finish our records seent it to me , because i c an't wait until Dec19,2007
thank you so much .
I hope to see you later .
Good luck with main camps's students .
That's "bye bye" at the end. He's about two levels below freshman composition. My favorite line is, “without you i couldn’t reach to this level of writing.” That really means a lot despite the fact that (1) he isn’t capitalizing the singular first-person pronoun, (2) he misspelled the word grammar (for crying out loud), and (3) he is using “advice” as a count noun. This student has spent the semester slinking up to my desk after class to ask me what he refers to as “personal” questions. At first I was a little worried to even listen to the questions, but since the first one was about whether or not English has a word for the urine of a pregnant camel, I quickly discovered that “personal” can have a lot of different meanings in various contexts. Apparently, in Somali, there are lots words for various camel parts and occurrences (because, obviously, they have a lot more dealings with camels than we do and thus need a lot more words to describe these various, um, things). Pregnant camel urine has lots of useful functions, so a one-word English gloss would do us all a lot of good, don't you think? Of course.
In Gooseworld, there is lots of news as always. He is feisty as all get out these days … ordering us around, being asked to try it again in a nicer tone, trying again in a fake nice tone, being asked to try yet again, etc. The ugly incidents usually involves orange juice or the TV. Today was a TV OFF day because last night when Brian told him to turn it off and come to dinner, John tried to give him a spanking.
Needless to say, it was not a successful child-to-parent disciplinary interaction. Subsequent screaming and writhing occurred, and the fete finally came to an end 20 minutes later. I had already finished dinner and was cleaning up.
Then tonight at the party with the white carpet and cranberry juice (and valium) and what have you, he was a perfect angel even though he had lots of cheesecake, a candycane, and two cheese cubes for dinner. I have stopped trying to understand the connection between diet, good/poor disciplinary procedures, TV, sleep, mood, parental attention, personality, and moon phases. Kids are just 100% UNpredictable. And I don’t think even two valium can take away that prefix.
Enjoy the frenzy of the month!
p.s. Thanks to Aunt Myrtle for the "Sleepin Snowman" as seen in the first picture above ... as soon as he saw it, he said, "Ooh. A Snowman. Can I sleep with it?"
This is what happens when you try to do it yourself.Stay with me. I promise that later on in this post, in an area that is NOT for the faint at heart, there are really cute pictures instead of me just blabbing on and on.
So yeah. I tried to get him to pose for a holiday card and this is what happened.
But then ... tonight ... while eating an angry-looking asparagus spear mixed into a delicious, low-fat stir-fry meal ...
I had a vision of The Perfect Holiday Card. Which you will get in the mail in a couple weeks.
Yes, that last sentence was a fragment.
Tonight, we went to the mall. And of course you know who was there. And since The Goose doesn't really know very much about HIM (I'm trying not to be Scrooge, but it's really hard to hold in all of my angst about the materialism, and monogrammed Christmas outfits for the whole family, and ridiculous fluffy red costumes, and fake mechanical elves and whatnot), I decided that tonight might be the night to introduce him to St. Nick. It's one of those "I'd-rather-he-hear-it-from-me" things.
So we walked over casually to the huge, fenced-in display, and I told him about how some children like to stand in line so that they can get the opportunity to sit in Santa's lap and tell him what they want for Christmas. And I said, "What do you want for Christmas?"
He said, "What month is it?"
I said, "Well, it's November still, but in a couple days it'll be December, and that's when Santa Claus comes."
Don't ask me WHY? I don't know WHY. I just ... it's just ... CONFESSION: I never believed in Santa Claus. We didn't have a chimney .... it wasn't a plausible scenario ... the Easter bunny is another story altogether ... but reindeer and a sleigh just didn't, um, fly with me. As a child or now.
So he says, "He looks scary."
Relieved, I say, "OK ... let's just go to the indoor playground."
And we do.
And then, after only 4 minutes of playing, he comes over and starts putting on his boots.
"What are you doing?" I say.
"We needa go see Santa."
"OK," I say, like it's no big deal. Like there's not some little DEVIL on my shoulder saying, "You're giving in to popular culture ... you're perpetuating a ridiculous myth and using bribery to enhance good behavior ... you're--" and then the angel cuts in, "YOU'RE BEING NORMAL. IT IS A LOVELY FABLE THAT AMERICAN PARENTS PASS ON TO THEIR CHILDREN. ST. NICK IS A LONGSTANDING TRADITION AND HE'S GOING TO HEAR ABOUT IT ANYWAY ..."
So we go.
And we stand in line for the better part of half an hour. Then, with only two kids in front of us (one who actually didn't have on an obviously planned outfit), I'm staring at the price poster trying to figure out how to get outta there buying the LEAST expensive photo package, I hear, "hee hee hee."
I look down. And there he is standing with his pants around his ankles. That stinker dropped trou in the Santa Claus line. I saw the little boy behind me scurry behind his mom's leg and whisper, "LOOK!"
Trying to remain calm, I bent down, hugged him EVER. SO. GINGERLY. and said, "Pull up your pants or we will exit the line IMMEDIATELY and there will BE. NO. SANTA. CLAUS."
And then I felt my face burn BRIGHT RED. Which is CHRISTMASSY!
The next thing you know, it's our turn. So he saunters up to the big man and stares. Santa says, "Hi little man. What's your name? Whaddaya want for Christmas?"
"John. A jackhammer," he replies.
"Wha? A jack-in-the-box?"
"NO. A jackhammer. But not a big one. Just a little one. It's a tool, not a toy."
"Oh. A jackhammer? OK. Well, what ELSE do you want for Christmas?"
Cue Mama: Well! Let's take the picture now! Smile! Show us your teeth! Say CHEESE! Yay! All done!"
In other news ...
Brother & Little Bitty came over last night.
And then of course there was THANKSGIVING:
Serious card game with my cousin's kids.
And last ... to leave you with a smile ...
In our backyard, we have ...
And there's nothing Bah-Humbug about that.
Brian’s working hard.
The house is coming along.
Bronchitis no more!
I have never been
This ready for Thanksgiving
Better yet Christmas.
*(Does broccoli have two syllables or three?)
Well, fall has finally arrived! We have three (stolen) pumpkins, two mums, one gourd, and one new house! Yippee!
Today I met with a husband/wife painter team who refer to one another as "Pie" -- short for "Sweety Pie" -- and who strongly believe in red kitchens, color "hopping," and wild bathrooms. Luckily, they are also the cheapest estimate I have found and can start (and finish!) on Saturday.
In other news, it has been raining.
Note to interested wannabe grammarians: the pronoun "it" in the previous sentence has no antecedent and is commonly referred to as "dummy it" by linguists.
There is lots of news, but I think that under these circumstances, quotes might be better than long-winded stories :
I think you get the picture. It's been some kind of week. And now, on top of it all, I've decided that I don't like the book that I chose for my Book Club. I'm telling you ... if life gets any harder, I'm just gonna check into a "center" and get a job putting little cherries on cupcakes.
I wish California could get some of our rain.
You know that you’ve found a happy school home for your child when he’d rather help Ms. Catie set out chairs than kiss you goodbye. I have to drop him off so early that even the director is not there yet. Only Ms. Catie, who dutifully feeds him BOTH breakfast AND lunch three days a week.
Poor Ms. Catie. I fear she has expectations even higher than mine: two weeks ago she sent home a homework assignment sheet that read, “Have your child draw a picture of him/her self playing with his/her ‘baby.’ Then, ask him/her what his/her favorite part of ‘Caretaker Week’ was and write it down in a complete sentence below the picture.” John drew a triangle and said that his favorite part of Caretaker Week was the horses.
But Caretaker Week has even more good parts to it. Since this preschool is a “cooperative,” we are required to do various tasks such as clean up after unsuccessful fundraisers, serve on "grounds" committees, and make meals for families with new babies. So of course I signed up to make a meal for John's friends, Ben & Sam, whose mother just had a baby girl. After volunteering, B&S's mother promptly informed me via email that they do not eat pork. Fine, fine. Pigs are fairly disgusting animals.
So, I was all proud of myself for signing up for a delivery time that coincided with my Fall Break. I spent most of Monday afternoon preparing the meal ... you know that I couldn’t just pick up a rotisserie chicken and some coleslaw. I had to attempt Cappellini Pomodoro with fresh basil and green onions from my dead, wasp-infested garden. Just gathering the ingredients nearly required me to take a tablet of the anti-psychotic variety. And then—mind you, I was on fall break and going WAY beyond the call of duty—I had to wake up The Prince from his nap and rush the meal to the center by 5:00 p.m. On my way out the door, however, the New Baby Meal Coordinator/Way-Too-Happy Room Mom called to say that the family had gone on a spur-of-the-moment camping/rock climbing trip in Appalachia and could I please bring it either the following day or next Thursday? I chose the following day of course, since the meal was already made.
Now let me pause here for a minute and take a poll: How many of you would attempt even a well-planned camping/rock climbing trip with a newborn and 3-year old twins … MUCH less a fly-by-the-seat-of-your-pants one???
So I took the meal the following day (yesterday) only to discover that Sam and Ben were not even there. Nobody knew where they were and nobody knew if anyone was coming for the food. So I left it in the director’s office and asked the two-year old teacher if she would put it in the fridge in case they never showed.
And today when I went to pick up The Goose, I noticed that the entire meal was sitting there on a table in the director’s office, exactly where I left it.
I'm not annoyed that I risked my life braving the vegetable garden, or wasted my time cooking, or spent my money buying iron-fortified pasta and organic San Marzano tomatoes. I’m just disappointed in the level of parental cooperation, and I'm wondering if I can hold a family with twin preschoolers and a newborn accountable for much of anything.
All my life I have been questioning myself about why I continue to be an overly-contributory citizen of every community of which I am a part while others just go around having babies and rock climbing and participating in all sorts of other irresponsible activities.
Sorry, I really meant for this to be all about how funny JEB is these days. Earlier this evening he told me that if I didn’t get still and quiet he was gonna “pop my butt.”
Probably one of the more important events of late (besides consistent potty pooping and butt popping) was our (LAST EVER) trip to the pumpkin patch. So traumatizing was the event that I have already arranged for my 2008 electronic calendar to send me an email on October 1st of next year saying, “DO NOT EVEN THINK ABOUT GOING BACK TO THE PUMPKIN PATCH.”
Here is a photo of John and his friend Elliott (remember the tractor/head gash incident at the birthday party – well, Elliott has, thankfully, recovered quite nicely) just outside the portapot after Breakdown #1 of the day.
There were subsequent breakdowns in the John Deere Tricycle Area, the Troughs Full of Corn (that you can scoop up with empty Gatorade bottles) Area, and in the actual Pumpkin Picking Area where there are lots of aggressive bees, frustrated parents, and over-tired children. I saw one Mother kneeling down in front of her preschooler saying, “UN. BEE. LEEVABLE. UN. BEE. LEEVABLE. You wouldn’t pee in the potty, but you just pulled down your pants and pooped in the pumpkin patch . UN. BEE. LEEVABLE.” Indeed.
We hightailed it outta there.
Confession: So fast did we hightail it that we ended up inadvertently stealing three pumpkins and a small gourd. Don’t worry, I have already mailed them a check with an explanatory letter that is sure to make their scrapbook.
I solemnly promise to you that I do not intentionally make things more difficult than they should be; however, the title for my autobiography (for publication after I’m done with my second term as First Mother) is Mountains & Molehills: The Struggles of an Earnest First Mother.
Here are some recent conversations we've had:
(Photo note: Costume found on consignment for $5. He went straight to it and said, "This is the one.")
What do you want to be for Halloween?
An orange farmer.
Oh. Like the ones in Florida?
No, like an orange farmer.
OH! Like a farmer who is orange?
Good eye, Mom!
To the tune of "Are You Sleeping?" ...
Red is rojo
Red is rojo
Are you sure that orange is "morado"?
Yes ma'am. We learned it in music class.
It's time to go upstairs for bed.
WE CAN'T GO UPSTAIRS AND GO NIGHT-NIGHT BECAUSE BOYS AND GIRLS GET SAD AND THEY WANNA PLAY BALL AND LISTEN TO WOO-HOO SONG AND I'LL GET REALLY MAD.
Do I have anything in my teeth?
Just some broccoli over there on the right side.
We close on our house next week!
Until then ...
Onward, upward, and sideways.
Right. That angel? How could anyone think he's a handful?
OK. So he hasn't been napping at school and tomorrow's the day that Mama goes in to find out WHY there is never a peaceful, closed-lid crescent moon hanging over his name (the class indicator that a nap has been taken).
You'll be happy to know that I have now fixed my Flickr account so that you can actually see the photos! I just realized that I had my privacy filter set so high that not even the happy wire-tapping people in the White House would be able to see them. So now you should be able to click that link I provided in my previous post and see all the birthday party pics.
For general pics, click here.
Sorry, I'm tired. Buying a house is hard work. You have to sign all these papers and your hand just hurts by the end of the day. My life is so hard.
Next week I may be absent, but I'll make up for all of it; I promise.
Or so his birthday boy shirt says.
We had the party! And only one kid cut his head open and had to get stitches! A well-planned event indeed. Click here for all the photos.
In other news ...
There was a Fall Fundraiser at his school on the same weekend that all the grandparents were here. (Lucky school!) And they had karaoke. And he is his mother's son.
When the little girl superstar passed him the mic, he sang out:
And we beamed with pride.
I'm pooped. More next week ...
... but we made it.
Thank goodness for antibiotics for Mama.
And Dads and Grandparents.
This week was really fun. Let. Me. Tell. You. Laryngitis (let's be clear: SEVEN DAYS OF KIMMY SILENCE) that almost turned into bronchitis until a Z-Pack got involved. Remember that I teach English as a second language ... audibility is kind of required. (Note to future laryngitis sufferers ... the following remedies--as advertised by that Quack, Dr. Internet--DO NOT WORK: gargling salt water, drinking cider vinegar, maintaining a diet of nothing but menthol throat drops, overdosing on vitamin C, and sipping licorice root "throat coat" tea laced with honey (for 7 days).
ANTIBIOTICS, on the other hand, ARE LOVELY.
So, thank you immensely, Dr. Alexander Fleming (Scottish bacteriologist who studied penicillin); you have saved my most dear personal relationships (in addition to millions of lives).
Thank you also to well-meaning students and colleagues who suggested (on a constant basis) that I try gargling with salt water or sucking on throat drops. I'm not a complete idiot, but thanks for verifying.
Also, thanks to Aunty Amy for the new computer! It was a lifesaver when Mama was mute, mean, and mad about it all.
And of course, thanks to The Goose (and The Husband) for not moving out.
Birthday party pictures to come ... stay tuned.
His 3rd birthday present. Brand spanking new from Goodwill. Not a scratch or a dent (yet). The training wheels did not come from Goodwill, so don't get all worried about us not buying him anything new. He was more thrilled about me bringing cupcakes and juice boxes to his school and getting a free orange balloon at Kroger.
But boy can he ride that thing. Rode it all the way to the other end of the park and back today (except up the hill).
I, on the other hand, am not very amazing these days. My back is finally better, but now I have laryngitis and am completely inaudible. It's gotten so bad that I've resorted to writing everything instead of whispering. But that's very confusing to certain little guys. He must think that I am also deaf, because he'll just stand there and stare at me laid up in the bed and say, "Mama, MAMA, MAAAAMAAAAA!!!!" until I attempt to answer. Then after I squeak out an answer, he'll say, "Does your throat hurt?"
Yes, it does.
Did it stop me from teaching for four straight hours yesterday?
No, it did not.
I've been rendered mute by noncount nouns.
The house hunt continues. I'm becoming at least a little bit more hopeful, which probably means that we'll end up renting. Que sera, sera.
There isn't much other news, so I'll let y'all go early this time.