Wednesday, December 28, 2005

The Aftermath

Now that the living room is ankle-deep in toys (both Offspring's and JF's), I thought I'd take a moment to check in and see how all of you are.

Did you have a nice holiday? For those of you celebrating Hanukkah, I admire your stamina. I'm wiped out. Did you enjoy the time with your families? What gifts were the big hits?

I have been very fortunate. I live in a wealthy nation, surrounded by people who love me. I am in no mortal danger (unless you count my overly gaseous husband) and I'm free to speak my mind, either here on my blog, or in person. I'm relatively healthy, and so are most of my loved ones. I have wonderful friends, a job I enjoy, and money enough to pay my bills and buy a few extras. I'm a very lucky individual. Thank you, Lord, for heaping these blessings upon me. I may not seem appreciative all of the time, but I am. I truly am.

Thank you, Blog friends, for all of the support that you have shown me. Thank you for your constant encouragement, and your many kindnesses. I wish you all a wonderful 2006, and many of your own blessings, both big and small.

Friday, December 23, 2005

These Are a Few of my Favorite Things

With Christmas and the beginning of Hanukkah sl close upon us, I wanted to take a minute and talk about the things I like most about the season.

First off, I like the excitement of the children. Whether it's my own child, or my charges at school, I love seeing the wonder as it dawns on their faces. I love the exclamations of joy, and the happiness that seems to encompass all around.

I love all the searching for the "perfect" gift for someone. I love baking all the goodies. I love spending time with my family. I love the sense of togetherness and "all is right with the world" that I see around me.

Now, JF is convinced that I'm a hopeless optimist, and he's probably right. Scrivener is busy pointing out what, exactly, is wrong with our so-called leaders, and Peripatetic Polar Bear got robbed. Yes, I know terrible things are happening out there, and while I'm not ignoring them, the good of this time of year always seems to override the bad. At least, in my little corner of the world (and in my mind) it does.

I love having a Christmas tree. I bought new lights this year for the tree (LEDs, yay!) and only bught two strands, rather than the three or four we normally use. JF exulted over the fact that we no longer had a "frickin' glow tree" in the living room. Apparently, I like frickin' glow trees, too.

I don't have all that memories of Christmases growing up. Not because they weren't good, or anything, but because I'm lucky I can remember my name most days. And, it's a real good day if I can remember that the clothes go on with the seams on the inside, and where the hell my car keys are. (I once found my car keys in the refrigerator. I'm at a loss to explain how they got there in the first place. Don't ask. If you're like me, it'll just make your brain go all hurty.)

For those of you that can remember, here's a little Christmas meme:

1) What is your most vivid memory of Christmases/Hanukkah as a child? (This can be good or bad, whichever you want to play it.)
My answer -- My grandmother had a split level house, and it was set on a sloping hill. I remember being at her house for one Christmas when I was small, and actually waking up with snow on the ground. (This **never** happened.) We went sledding on the hill, and I remember the sensation of flying.

What is your fondest memory of Christmas/Hanukkah as an adult?
I think it would have to be making the holidays special for my daughter and husband. I especially cherish the first Christmas where Offspring really participated. She was almost 2, and the delight she took in the tree, and the gifts, and in Santa was a joy to behold.

3) What was your favorite gift as a child?
I can't remember a particular favorite, but I do remember getting a plastic cow that drank water out of a trough and mooed very loudly. (JF thought I was insane when I related this gift to him several years ago. We had to get online and prove that there really was such a thing.)

4) What was your favorite gift as an adult?
The ones my daughter bought with her own money. When she was in first grade, she bought me a butterfly pin, and she picked it out all by herself, with her own allowance, and even wrapped it all on her own. I think it was the fact that she worked so hard to make me happy.

5) What's your favorite holiday tradition? (This can be a well-known one, or one just from within your own family.)
We all joke that my mother-in-law could burn Jello. Actually, there's some truth to that joke -- she really can't cook. So, we always go to her house for Christmas Day, and then go to a local Japanese restaurant for "Christmas Dinner." It started because the Japanese place was the only thing open, and it's now become a tradition.

6)What's the one thing you have to eat for the holidays?
Lately, I have to have the infamous "Praline Cookies." I got the recipe from a co-worker last year, and they have quickly become a favorite.

Anyone who is interested is welcome to keep this meme going, either here on on your own sites.

Everyone, have a good holiday, and spend time with the family.

Thursday, December 22, 2005

What's the deal with the clothes?

Several bloggers I know have mentioned children's clothing lately. Phantom Scribbler recently ranted (in a good way, though) that young boy's clothing is sadly devoid of bright colors. Her son, LG, is a big fan of bright colors, and bemoans the fact that all of the jewel-toned clothing are destined for young girls. A great many of her commenters agreed with her, and her son's feeling.

I mentioned my end of that same sort of complaint. Now that Offspring is out of the "child" stage, and into the "tween" stage, there are very few clothing choices for her that I like. There is the propensity for dressing young girls up like slutty models. There are very few places I can purchase clothing (especially on a budget) that won't make my way-too-young daughter look like a drunken sorority sister on the make.

The shirts are cut very small, accentuating breasts (or what could become breasts) and showing off a slice of midriff. Never mind that I don't want my daughter to wear shirts like this to begin with, they also aren't allowed at school. So, why should I spend hard-earned money on clothing she can wear only on weekends?

The pants are just as bad. If they aren't riding so low as to provide us with (to bastardize a phrase from Phantom's comments) "an elevated risk of buttcrack", they are so skin-tight that normal children can't breathe or eat while wearing them. Granted, my child is no string bean, and she could deal with some extra exercise, but she's not all that hefty. She shouldn't have to worry that she can't wear a certain type of pants because she's "too fat." She told me the last time we went shopping that she didn't like half of the choices available because she didn't want to run the risk of being teased due to how she looked in them.

And the retro clothes! Ugh. Bellbottoms were designed in one of the seven circles of hell, I'm sure. (Probably by the same dastardly little imps that design Plus Size Women's clothing, but that's another rant...) The "peasant" look only looked good on waif-like hippie girls then, and it's still true today. My daughter fell in love with a purple peasant outfit, and like a dutiful mother, I bought it for her. It's too thin to wear to school, and she hates the shirt because of all the smocking and gathering. It's not a flattering look for her, but I love her, so I bought it. I tried to tell her when she asked for it that it wasn't going to get worn a lot, but to no avail.

I don't like the Courtney Love/junkie look. I don't like the unwashed hair and clothes that look like they've been slept in (and barfed on) for a few days running. I don't want a miniature model. I don't want clothes that are aimed at making my daughter look as if she is a hooker in training. I don't care for the idea that a randy seventeen year old boy can't tell from behind that my child is only ten because the only clothes that are available to her make her look much older than her years.

I want some clothes that my daughter can wear that are age-appropriate. She's almost ten. I don't want her to look fifteen, or fifteen-trying-to-look-eighteen. I want clothes that she can wear to PE class, and get dirty. I don't care if they're brand name or not, as long as they're good quality. I want clothes that will wash fifty-seven times without falling apart or unravelling. I want clothes that don't shrink into toddler sizes the first time you wash them. I want clothes that make my little girl look like what she is -- a happy tween with better things to worry about.

Monday, December 19, 2005

Can't Stand the Cuteness!

Okay, so all of you know that I teach kindergarten, right? This, of course, is the time of year when our little darlings are busy as beavers, constructing all those lovely little items to bring home to you, the doting parents. In the last few school days, we've made wreaths, candy trains, gingerbread houses, 3-D christmas trees, ornaments with the kids' pictures on them, colored countless holiday themed pictures, and made (and ate) decorated cookies. Needless to say, the kids are about to spontaneously combust from all the excitement. Today, they got yet another reason to hype them up beyond all rational thought. Not only was it the last day of school, but it was also the day that Mrs. K broke out the red lipstick.

Now, I don't normally wear a lot of makeup, and there's good reason. I take you back to when we had school pictures made back in, like October, and one of my little angels says, "Mrs. K, what's wrong with your eyes? They're all spiky and scary!" Plus, I did so much theater for a while that my face really can't stand to be covered under all that goop, and it rises up in retaliation when I do try to subdue it with said makeup.

I have one little boy that I adore. I know, I know -- we're not supposed to have favorites! We all do, even though we aren't supposed to. It's not that I don't love all the rest of them, too...but this one little guy is just cuter than anything. He's very quiet and shy, and very sweet. He always finishes his work first, and sits quietly until we tell him what to do next. He has excellent manners, and is just a treat to teach. I've been trying to drag him out of his shell all year -- trying to get him to warm up some. His mother says he talks about his teachers all the time, but we see little of it at school. Since he's so well-behaved, I have been teasing him that I was going to bring my reddest lipstick to school and kiss him all over with bright red lips. He thought I was kidding.

Today, I broke out the big guns! The dreaded red lipstick. You would have thought that I had broken out a bottle of acid and the whips the way they screamed when I fished it out of the bottom of my pocketbook! I called my favorite little guy up for a kiss, and he made like a turtle on me. He put his head down into his jacket, and wouldn't come out for love nor money. I told him that I wouldn't kiss him if he didn't want me to. He didn't. I let him go. But all those other rascals got big red lips on their cheeks! They all snickered and guffawed at each other. I told them they were magic kisses, and they'd get a special Christmas wish if they left them on all day. All except one left school today sporting a bright red smacker on their cheeks.


Offspring has discovered her weasel-like nature. The other night, while she was getting ready for bed, I told her to go on and brush her teeth, and I'd be there in a minute. She said "Okay!" and scampered off to the bathroom. When I went back to her room a few minutes later, expecting to find a scrubbed child ready for bed, she was lounging on the couch in her room, watching her TV. I said, "What happened to tooth brushing?" She said, "Oh! You meant now?" Well, duh. She went to brush her teeth, and came bopping back a few minutes later. Her jaw dropped open when I motioned her towards her bed. "But...but....what about a story?" I explained to her -- "That time that you spent, watching TV instead of brushing your teeth? That was your story time. And you wasted it." She looked shocked, but started to climb the ladder to her loft bed. "I hate it when you find loopholes!"

Thursday, December 15, 2005

The Sounds of Silence

OK, so I've not been blogging any lately. Blame it on the busy holiday madness. Blame it on all the thousand little projects we're making at school. Or on all the work I've been doing on my Secret Spoilee's gifts for Andrea's Winter Holiday of Your Choice Gift Exchange. Or all the extra shopping and baking.

Hopefully, all that will change soon, as there's only 2 more days of school, and I plan on mailing my package for my Spoilee by Saturday. (Only slightly late, as the deadline is today. It's kind of hard to do when I'm in school, and the Post Office is usually closed by the time I leave my school, and pick Offspring up from hers.) I should soon have more content for my regular readers, whopping crowd of seven that you are.

I have, as instructed, taken pictures of my gift package in construction, which I will post when allowed; and I have some pictures from my class that I might post when I get some free time. We made gingerbread houses in class today, and those are always fun. I will be able to both post more and read more over my Winter Break.

Hope all of the Bloggy Buddies are doing well, and having a warm winter. :)

Thursday, December 08, 2005

The Tale of the Spoiled Kid and the Late FedEx Truck

As many of you are aware, the Offspring (the fruit of m' loins) is indeed a spoiled kid. She's spoiled in the way that the first-born grandchild of 4 sets of grandparents can only be. She's not *mean* spoiled, but she's been doted on from in utero. Both JF's and my parents are divorced, so that means she has: my mother and stepfather; my father; JF's mother; and JF's father and stepmother. The only set we don't see on a fairly regular basis is JF's father and stepmother, but that's another post entirely.

My father, who lives one state away in CityOfMyBirth, absolutely adores his only grandchild. She is the apple of his eye, and he would move mountains for her. He has contributed to her spoilage factor greatly by seducing her with gifts and money and trips to the zoo. In short, his job as grandfather is to make her think that he's WAY cooler than I ever made him out to be. He is succeeding.

He discovered the Vermont Teddy Bear Company some time ago, and has since invested what seems like thousands of dollars on these bears as gifts to his beloved (spoiled) granddaughter. I knew he had ordered her yet another (frickin') bear as part of his Christmas gift to her. He had warned me to be on the lookout tonight for the Fed Ex truck, as today was the date it was to be delivered.

Tuesday evening, we go to Girl Scouts for our normal weekly meeting. We return home about 8pm, and come in the house for dinner. At 9:15, Offspring heads off to bed. At about 9:40, JF decides he needs to go look for something in the car, and discovers a box on the doorstep. There had been no box there when we returned home at 8pm. The FedEx truck must REALLY be backed up with all of the Christmas deliveries, to be out so late!

So, we set the box aside for Monkey Girl to open in the morning. Needless to say, when I told her the next morning that she had a package waiting from Grandpa, that was the fastest I'd ever seen her clamber out of bed.

She opens the box to find these lovelies. Grandpa, you spoil her unmercifully. (Plus, you're making us all look bad! Stop it!)

Oh, well. Things could be worse, I suppose. I'll just be grateful that he's still here to spoil her.

Friday, December 02, 2005

The Hypocrites are Out There....and they're coming for me

You know how some days, it just seems like the world is conspiring against you? As the witty Edmund Blackadder once pithily stated, "Once more the Devil farts in my face!"

As I mentioned, I am trying to watch what I eat. While at school today, my coworker, who knows I'm trying to be more healthful than slothful, offers me an ice cream. It wasn't deliberate sabotage, but it sure felt rather Puritannical of me to say "no."

And, speaking of mixed messages, when I passed through the staff work room this afternoon, there were brochures and coupons for a new health club and personal training sessions lying side-by-side with coupons for discounted and free pizzas. Isn't this like offering jello shooters at an AA meeting? I suppose they figure you could gorge on the pizzas and then head off to the spa to either be sick or to work the pizza off.

Another sound bite in the saga of Hypocrites Are Out To Get Me today was the coworker that laid into me a few weeks back not only *spoke* to me today, after weeks of icy silence, but actually managed not to sound like she was being fed ground glass in order to pretend to be polite. All in all, it was a rather Bizarro World sort of day.