Wednesday, May 31, 2006

04/26/06 - Schools

One other thing in April, then I can go get a few winks of sleep before dawn... but without having gotten to the recent stuff I really needed to write about to begin with, either, darn it! Ah well... perhaps the urge will pass while I'm whittling my memoirs onto the screen. :)


What would YOU think if your child was in a school where the principal of the school said.. to your face.. that they really didn't have any faith or believe that your child could ever improve? I don't give a damn who your kid is or what their issues are... whether they're straight A perfect children or whether you've birthed the most awful hoyden that ever crossed the hallowed threshold of that sacred institution. Teachers (& teaching staff... like principals, superintendents, etc) are one of the professions that we trust in to continually offer Hope. Support. Guidance. A way to a better future for EVERYONE. We very much put in their hands the intimate hopes and possibilities of the thing most precious to us: our children.. and as a result, we also trust them with the dreams and the future of our entire nation. They're not ALLOWED to give up on kids. Even if as a person, in their deepest private heart they think someone is lost, professionally speaking they have no right to EVER make a statement like that out loud. Or even think it, in my opinion.

Wasn't B... she's been doing fine, and her teacher this year (Mrs. Kramer) has been WONDERFUL! But that's absolutely not the point. The leader of the school sets the tone, & that's not the sort of leadership I want my child to be under as long as I have a better choice.

So this month we went looking for some other options. We took a couple of tours, interviewed a couple of schools... and next year, our kids will be going to a different school. One with a principal who sounds as though she looks at the world through eyes a bit more like ours, and to whom we both immediately took a liking to. It's more inconvenient than where we were, but I think it's a better choice. I went to the same school all my life, and I really wanted to be able to give B that, too, although I know the world is changing. She'll have to change schools again in high school anyway(there aren't many that go K-Sr anymore) & I suspect our lives may change again in terms of geography or makeup before she's done, making yet another change probable. She's really good at making friends, though, and at least for now she'll still get to see some of her old friends at soccer & T-Ball practice as well as at daycare in the summer, so with luck & love all will be well.

Dang.. there goes my alarm. No rest for the wicked! :D

04/23/06 - 04/29/06 The Yard Sale

This was the week of The Yard Sale. I had never been to a yard sale in my LIFE until I met Stacy... it's allll her fault. Now I've got to hit 'em when I see 'em, sometimes we grab a paper & make the rounds, & every year we manage to hold at LEAST one yard sale ourselves to get "stuff" out of the house in a more monetarily productive fashion than Freecycle or simply donating. (Although that IS what happens with whats left when we're done.)

But this year was a fiasco. Stacy swears she'll never have another yard sale in her life! (I'm not sure I believe her.. or even that I'll let her stick to it even if she means it.)

We were doing GREAT up until the second day of the yardsale itself. I took a couple of days off during the week, and Tom came over to help as long as he wasn't needed at work elsewhere, too. (See what I mean? Just showing up everywhere!) With that time, we pulled out all the loads & loads of stuff we'd been stockpiling as "ok to go" & got it priced to sell. Friday went FINE... excellent traffic even though our ad didn't make it into the paper, sold quite a lot of stuff, nice weather, even sold my phone number to one aspiring gentleman! (Hey.. it was a yard SALE, not a giveaway. lolol)

Then Saturday hit. Cold, drizzly... no prospects on the calendar for it to clear up, either. HOWEVER.. we were prePARED for that! Stacy had managed to get her hands on three 10x10 pop ups plus one 10x20 pole tent, Tom had staked them FIRMLY into the ground, we cable-tied tarps all around them & except for forgetting the hot chocolate (which we made a run to town for), a little rain wasn't about to set us back. We even actually had a nice little run of traffic in the morning - die-hard yard salers out in spite of the weather... that sort doesn't even flinch when they step from the car into a bit of soggy grass.

But the cold & drizzle was really getting to us, Stacy & I were getting crabby & sniping at one another, traffic wasn't "all that", & we really wanted to be able to make it to Carson's Birthday party in the afternoon. So about 11:30a we decided to call it quits & pack up. We were tired. We were wet. We were cold. We were bitchy.

It seems that Stacy & I shouldn't bicker. It screws up the weather system over the entire county. Like the Witches of Eastwick! In the span of about 10 minutes, the wind kicked up from 6mph to over 40mph (we checked WeatherBug after it was all over), & we had a real emergency on our hands.

After hauling in the first load, we sat down for a minute to get warm, & when we stepped back outside, it was apparent there had been a dramatic change in the weather -- the sky looked like a horrible storm was brewing, the wind was atrocious, & all 4 of the tents were straining dangerously at their tie downs. We RACED over to try to get them down -- the tarps we had so securely fastened with cable ties were great protection against rain, but were now making them pretty effective balloons & we had only one utility knife between us. I started slashing cable ties while Stacy tackled the legs of the pop ups trying to get them down lower to the ground. As we were trying to get her mom's (10x10, all steel, commercial grade pop up) dropped, I looked up & saw Stacy's face & turned around just in time to see the really big one (10x20, heavy steel legs & frame)pull it's roots & go tumbling over my car (2 dents) & down the yard end over apple cart .... towards the road! Their house has a fairly long drive -- it's maybe the length of 2 city blocks from house to road. Believe me, we hauled some butt to catch it. I told Stacy that outside of people that were in PE with me in High School, she is now the only person to have ever seen me run.... and if she'd been paying any attention at all, she'd know why B is so darn slow! Every time we aaaalmost had it ... within fingertip reach!, the wind blew it back out of our hands again. I really thought it was going to go into the road & we were going to end up with an accident or a major pile up on the highway. Then one leg of the tent caught in the fence & Stacy was able to jump on top of it on that end... whereupon it promptly almost pulled HER off her feet & take her with it... but that gave me just enough time to get ME on the darn thing & we got it turned upside down where we could pop the rest of the tarp off of it & render it still & silent(er).

At that point, we still had three tents left, though all in major distress, & raced back to where they were... found that the legs on her mom's pop up had crumpled at the join, so we did just enough to slice the rest of the top & tarps off so it wouldn't create a hazard & abandoned it for the other two. Those two (10x10s) were newer, so the legs dropped easier on them, & the releases on the top were much quicker to get too, too. Still, we lost one of those when two of the plastic joins broke... but they also had 2' steel stakes through their legs into the ground
thanks to Tom!) & the combination of design meant they at least stayed where they were & didn't go flying towards the road.

Then we had to go pull tarps up -- although we had gotten them down & most were under the frames of the tents, they were still flapping alarmingly in the heavy winds & inching their way from safety... so back we went, running some more, to gather those in so they didn't create another hazzard. After pulling the three large connected tarps into the garage (ALL this is at top speed, mind you!) -- it took both of us to do it & we were blown backwards one step for every three all the way there -- I could NOT catch my breath & promptly leaned over & threw up. Um.. at least the tarps are liquid-proof? Ew!

Then we stood for a second to contemplate the scene, & saw that the wind was now attacking the piles of clothes that had once been UNDER the tents.... bunches of them were 1/2 down their yard towards the road... but they at least were getting weighted down quickly by the moisture on the grass from the rain & none of them ever got all the way to the end before we could gather them up.

We were very lucky that it wasn't actually raining most of this time (in other ways, too!) & none of the actual "stuff" was really damaged. Lots of it is dirty now & needs a scrub... we had about 12 loads of laundry to run through to get all the "to sell" clothes clean & dry again... and then had to tackle repairing or replacing the tents. Got lucky there, too -- The wind & the tumbling crumpled several of the straight pieces of the frame at the joins, but all the cross sections (which would be much harder to fabricate) made it unscathed... so we were actually able to find replacement straights for FREE & John cut them to appropriate lengths. The ruined commercial pop up was more difficult -- that specific one is no longer in production, so replacement parts could not be had. But Stacy found a similar one for less than we expected (about $200, I think). She's still looking/hoping for replacement plastic parts to fix hers... but she found hers on clearance for $40 each... so if we can't fix it, we're just calling that one a loss at this point.

Soo.... Saturday between us we did about $300... and Sunday between us we did about $13, then lost three tents, putting us solidly in the hole for the weekend. NOT THE BEST YARD SALE WE'VE EVER HAD!! (& still not done with all that laundry...)

04/16/06 - 04/22/06 Painting

Tom & Amy have been talking about redoing their upstairs. Paint.. new flooring... but first Paint! With all the festivities lately, I know (oh, boy do I know!) there hasn't been a whole lot of time to get things done around the house, let alone big projects. Painting can either be a pain-in-the-butt onerous task, or it can be a blast & a half, the difference is in the company you keep. So when I heard mutterings about needing to get the painting done, I put on mah paintin' clothes & got my butt on over there! Hey... they braved a big ol' mean rose bush for me, I can SURE "brave" a painting spree for them :)

Holy crap did we have FUN!! Tom, Amy, O'Amy & Larry whipped out cans of paint, plastic sheeting, ladders, paint brushes, & some good ol' 80's music & spent SEVERAL hours slathering on the new colour over all the sanding & patching & prep work Tom had been doing the week before. (ok, a little over us, too) Bauer cheered us on by phone, George of the Jungle made a guest appearance, & after a couple of deep breaths, Amy did the highwire act for the evening with exceptional aplomb. Now the upstairs is a really really pretty shade of green (moonfrost? spring tide?)!! Then we went downstairs to watch a coupla-three episodes of Coupling & relax for a few.
Dang, that show is FUNNY!

Maybe I'm wrong... maybe this is just the month of Tom! lol I'm looking at my calendar & that ornery little critter is just popping up all over the freakin place. This was also the week that he called me & said, "Hey, whatcha doin' for lunch?" Half distracted, I indicated I had nothing planned, why.... then he HONKED, & it reverbrated both through the phone and through my open window.. the stinker had come all the way across the river & was sitting in my driveway! So we went to drag Stacy out of her lazy little bed & swipe some of the YUMMY leftover BBQ pork steaks I knew were in the fridge :D

04/15/06 Tom's Birthday

This is definitely the Year of the Birthdays, and Tom's birthday ROCKED!!!

Once again, we were looking for fun & different ideas -- seems to be becoming a trademark of sorts? We certainly have enough creativity & intelligence & just plain 'ol fun in the group to be able to kick some up! This one was a hybrid: mostly Amy, with a cup of Stacy & a pinch of O'Amy thrown in for spice :)

So it's Easter weekend, right? What is Easter without a little Easter egg hunt! First we went for dinner: Tom, Amy, Bauer, O'Amy, John, Stacy, Speedy, Amberly, Melissa, Shaun, Lisa. (Tammy&Mike didn't make it) While we were out, the kids had fun with the babysitter hiding plastic Easter eggs in our back yard for US to find when we returned. Each of us had to find one orange egg, which contained a #1 or #2, and at least 4 other eggs, each of which contained a piece of candy and... a Scavenger Hunt item!

The numbers designated which team we were on. John & I volunteered to be the designated drivers... 'cause the Scavenger Hunt was designed to take us allllll over town. We had til 11:30p, then we were to meet at Wild Country to tally up & see who was to win the all important CHOCOLATE BUNNY.

Here's the scavenger hunt list... I'll let YOU picture just how much freakin' fun we had with this. lolol

Ground rules:
1) If it's an action, you must get a picture
2) No item may be obtained from any original scavenger hunt participant
3) Items, pictures, people etc cannot constitute more than one scavenger hunt item

3 napkins or coasters w/ bar logo, signed by bartender
an actual person - must leave one location & travel with you to end location (ok to drive their own vehicle)
Phone number of the phone booth at _______________________
How many swings are at ____________ park?
5 signed business cards (signed by that person, & all 5 different people)
Take out menu from any Chinese restaurant… with a sauce spot on it
Promotional pen w/ business name on it
Find a bar with 7 letters in the name
Bar of hotel soap
Go to the Fountain in Belleville, each person toss a coin in & make a wish.
A grocery coupon from a grocery store
Get a picture of a comb over / toupee…. (yes, on a person)
Fancy condom - ie) coloured, a tickler, etc. Extra Large or ribbed does not constitute "fancy"
3 brands of smashed burnt out cigarette butts
Picture of a non-IL, non-MO out of state license plate
Picture of the group (or group-photographer) next to population sign for Belleville, Swansea, Fairview Heights, or O'Fallon
A church bulletin
2 helium-filled balloons w/ different logos on them
Obtain lipstick kiss-print from someone not in the party onto someone in the party … on any body part of your choice
Receipt for 50 cents worth of gas, paid in cash
plastic clothes hanger
cocktail umbrella
Find someone with a picture of their child or grandchild in their purse or wallet… get them to let you take a picture of them holding that picture
Picture of one of your party kissing a complete stranger
1 logo'd condiment package (logo'd w/ the place you got it from)
1 used McDonald's sandwich wrapper
2 signatures from 2 different band members from any band playing in the area tonight (include name of band & bar)
Picture of anything with "Git 'er Done!" on it
1 bank deposit envelope
Picture: at least 1 member of your party + at least 2 strangers playing ring-around-the-rosy with 1 other member of your party in the middle
Picture of a tattoo … on a person… that would be covered by standard shorts & T-shirt
Picture with a Denny's employee in uniform
A Lifesaver.
Pictures of each member of your party riding one of those quarter machines outside stores (may cost more than a quarter) Pictures cannot all be on the same machine.
1 Easter Egg
Smiley face sticker from WalMart
Sticker from a grocery store (Schnucks / Harts etc) (the ones they give kids / mark merchandise with to show it was purchased)
1 newspaper in the plastic sleeve from someone's lawn
1 fresh-picked flower
Create a petition, obtain 10 signatures… 10 different people, multiple locations

I can only give you the funnest bits from OUR group, since I wasn't with the others.. but let's just point out that a) it is almost impossible to find a condom machine in a gas station bathroom these days.. but they're cleaner than they used to be b) Those little horsey-riding machines aren't made for adult butts, but DAMN, they're sturdy! c) Playing ring around the rosey with strangers in a grocery store parking lot at 11:00 at night is FUN and d) Any Bauer that can manage to get a church bulletin AND a kiss from a MORMON chick, after getting her to have us follow her home to get them on the Saturday night before Easter is a GOD

'Nuff said?

04/02/06 - 04/14/06

Then there were a couple of really crappy weeks with glimmers of light in them. I spent the better part of the time sick, achy, generally down & out. My car crashed & had to go back into the shop. Other things, too -- just a plethora of nasty.

At the same time, Stacy's grandpa passed away & HER life got totally ugly for a little while. It's not as though it was unexpected, but sometimes that makes very little difference in the scheme of things. Even bad things you know are coming are still bad, & still hurt. He left behind him quite a lot of family, but notably his wife of a LOT of years, who spent her entire life taking care of him. He was her life. Screw MY bad week... how do you think SHE feels? She's got Alzheimer's, too, so the family had the additional ugly task of explaining to her every.. single.. day... sometimes multiple times in the day... that Grandpa was gone. And every single time was as though it was the first time she finds out. Now THAT is crappy. For everyone. And then try to explain to her that she's not going to be able to live at home anymore, either. They'd moved Grandma & Grandpa into assisted living b/c of Grandpa's rapidly declining health & need for nursing care... but Grandma needed to be there, too (just wouldn't admit it). Now a new home & a new life. Ick. Double... triple ick.

But amidst all the bad stuff.. I did mention glimmers of light shining through, didn't I? Friends in shining armour on white chargers & that sort of thing? Tom & Amy appeared out of nowhere one night for no reason other than to be what friends are supposed to be: THERE! Dug in & got a couple of big tasks taken care of that had been weighing on me, which was nice, but didn't begin to measure up to them just showing up in the first place :)

After the funeral, BADLY needing release & a break from the bad stuff, I drug Stacy along with Bauer & I to a birthday party of a friend of Bauer's at Train Wreck. Some really neat people, than man knows, he does!

On our way there, Stacy&I realized that Saddle Ridge is only about 50 steps away, & determined that barring unforseen events, we'd try to make it over there for last call to see what it was like. Not bad! Dance floor could have been a tad bigger, but having a mechanical bull in the other room sort of makes up for it. & I didn't see it that night, but someone said they have karaoke in another room, too??? Have to try that some other time. So we moseyed up for a coupla beers, made our rounds, looked for familiar faces here & there, finding fewer than we anticipated. We did find one.. well, he found us: Michael Taff appeared out of nowhere to pop over & say howdy :) Silly man, asked me for my number AGAIN! I think it's becoming something like "Who's on First".

Then Stacy & I found the dance floor for awhile & had just started to wonder how the heck we were going to get home when (re)appeared BAUER!! YEAHH!!!! White knight, saviour, yadi yadi yadi... other party broke up & he came to find us :) We left my car to fend for itself & Bauer took the helm, driving us to... (Bloomin' Juvenile Idiots!) POPS!

If you've ever been to Pops, you don't need a resurrection of the rest of the ev.. uh.. morning. And if you haven't.. well.. let's just say we did NOT make it onto the wall of shame. To the best of my knowledge, anyway! Then home & to bed, which felt ooooohhhh so good. Oh yes... "COP!!" lololololol

04/01/06 - Fun Things

OMG did we have fun today, or WHAT?!?!

We started with a run to Gringo Jones to try to find a statue for my awesome new bedroom (still no luck). Okay, no, wait... we STARTED with yoga in the morning - much goodness! Then shopping.

Then Tartan Days in St Charles - down to the river front to see the parade (way cool), stopped at The Enchanted Attic to pick up a couple of crystals, found a little English place with Bisto (yum!), & a couple of bottles of wine for Stacy at the winery.

Then eventually we move into evening. A couple of days earlier, Stacy says, "I want to do something DIFFERENT." Since we've been sharing the brain, that's a good thing... I don't have to talk quite as much ;) So we went hunting for some "different" sort of activity, and what did we find? The Vagina Monologues! The name itself was enough to give me the giggles. It's a play, & was being done locally. We did some titty twisting (the regular ol' arm kind just wasn't quite enough) & got the guys to go along, promising liquid libation aplenty after.

So it was definitely something different. Cool little... LITTLE... TEENY TINY theatre in downtown Belleville. Not quite as funny as promised, but it had a couple of moments, & certainly added a little bit o' somethin somethin to the catalogue of our activities for the year.

Then we giggled & stumbled our way across the street to this Irish pub where lo & behold, a really kick ass sort of band was playing Celtic tunes. Again, something different! Made my toes tap & my butt wiggle! lol The bunch of us moseyed up to the bar & ordered a round, then another, & as we realized we could actually TALK over this band, still enjoy the music & each other at the same time, we stuck around. The group sort of amoeba'd in this amorphous blob in the middle of the room, most likely annoying the regulars, trading stories & little bitty backrubs & drinks & laughter til they closed down on us.

Then what did we do? Bloomin' juvenile idiots. (I say that with a grin on my face) We went to POPS! Well, ok.. we TRIED to go to Pops. They're sticklers about ID, & some folks didn't have theirs with. One would think that once you pass 30 it really shouldn't be necessary any more, wouldn't one? So what did we do instead? Uh... I think maybe we went to Denny's.. um.. somewhere. I'm not sure I remember. I think I fell asleep in the back of the 'burban.... 'cause by that time it was at least 2 or 3am & I'm getting too old for that sort of thing. lololololol

Anyway, it was good :)

Wednesday 05/31/06

Holy Hells, Batman... do I have some catching up to do or WHAT?!?

I have some writing to do, but it just doesn't seem fair to skip all the good stuff in the middle... particularly since I was not-so-recently chided for appearing to be unbalanced due to my tendency to dump the crap out here & keep the goodies to myself. lol.

Let's see.. let's start with Tom's Birthday :) No.. wait!! Let's begin the first of April...