Saturday, December 30, 2006

Goodbye Welfare...

I'm officially off welfare, woohoo! As you may remember, we had an exhausting job-hunting requirement in order to get state aid. Sign a contract every 30 days. Turn in 20 job applications each week and supply a list of everywhere we applied every Friday. Well, since our dental work is now done and Vic is working steadily (still for cash, but it's work), last month we just skipped the applications. We didn't turn in any job logs, so we didn't get a check this month. We still have food stamps, but since I never returned the review call last week, we won't get those anymore either. The best part? Even without the extra money from the state, we paid the bills and still bought Christmas presents this month.

Vic is waiting to hear about a new job opportunity in a week or so. Hopefully it will work out because it comes with a lot of benefits, but if it doesn't there are still lots of options out there. I can't believe we had to go on welfare just to get back on our feet, but I'm so glad I live in a country where a person can get help when they need it. We're not a whole lot better off than we were before this whole ordeal, but I'm hopeful that one day we can look back on this knowing it was the best thing we could have done.

Thank goodness it isn't permanent...

.. the brain damage I mean. We were right back in the swing of things today. Chad plugged away and finished his math in less than an hour, which may be a new record. Cadence happily read (correctly) everything she could get her hands on. Riley not only practiced letters, but did so entirely without my interference. I didn't even give her the crayons.

Nobody cried. Nobody said something was too hard or they were too stupid. Science reading led to an interesting discussion, which even carried over to this evening with Riley "teaching" me about what's inside your body. ("Your brain is special. It makes your teeth chew.") This afternoon, Cadence decided to write a poem (the word "fart" was used only once), and Chad read his new book Wolf Brother. He even begged to stay up late to read just a little bit more. It was a homeschooler's dream.

Now if I could just get them to do anything else (eat, dress, bathe, play) with such ease, my home will be a very pleasant place indeed.

Thursday, December 28, 2006

New Year's Resolutions?...

Anyone have any resolutions this year? I have never made a New Year's resolution that I kept. This is a common confession really, but most are probably like me and only making the resolution because they're supposed to and not because they want to. So I don't really practice New Year's resolutions. My resolutions come in the form of a wonderful idea, which grows for weeks before coming out in the form of a declaration. Something like, "I am no longer wearing thong underwear. They chafe and don't fit right and I hate them. Monday I'm taking every pair I own and donating them to the Goodwill, and buying three new packages of bikinis instead."

I have an insatiable need for change. I rearrange furniture at least once per year. I buy/make new curtains. I paint. I replace rugs and drawer liners. I can't afford to buy new sheets and blankets every few months, so I keep several sets and swap them out every so often. I plant different flowers in the yard every spring. Outside of my home and general surroundings, I frequently re-invent myself. I don't know who I am and I don't want to. Since high school, I've been grunge, punk, feminazi, soul-searching bible-reader, naturalistic attached parent, sexy strip-club-hopping party girl, laid-back and spiritual, and most recently, home-centered seamstress and worker of fibers. There are other categories I could have fit into and most of those alter-egos still live inside me somewhere, but at the time I never thought of myself with any of those labels. I was just being me. The constants among all the changes are what make me who I am. I have always loved my children and put them first. I have always been a redneck and prefer fishing and beer to operas and champagne. I have always been more concerned with how much fun I was having than what others thought of me. And most importantly, I'm determined to be myself - being who I am, unaffected by what I do.

This constant changing is my way of dealing with the monotony of normal life. I would be truly happy to move to a different house in a different town every two years, but I will live in this house until we can afford to move (or rebuild, whichever comes first - 7 years and counting). I have no control over where I live or the layout of my home and yard. But I can control the placement of my furniture, the paint color in the bathroom, which flowers I plant and where, my clothes and hair, and what I do for fun. Since my husband and family undoubtedly could not handle moving as frequently as I'd like, I'll settle for changing what I can. My changes keep me happy, and although Vic shakes his head after every declared resolution ("I hate this shower curtain. I'm going to make a cover for it tomorrow with that leftover fabric."), I don't think he'd be happy with a boring old "normal" woman.

Whatever your resolutions, make them something satisfying. Happy New Year to everyone!

Wednesday, December 27, 2006

Miss a day, miss a lot...

Ok, it was technically three days of schoolwork missed for the traditional holiday celebrating, but apparently chocolate and candy canes destroy brain cells. Incidents during school time and the playtime (I call it "unstructured learning - it soothes the control freak in me):

Chad: Which of these states is Montana?
Me (rolling eyes): The green one.
Chad (pointing to California): This one? No, wait. That's Indiana isn't it?
I passed him the U.S. Atlas.

Cadence constantly reversed entire words while reading. Small words like "mot" for "Tom", as well as big words like "please" instead of "sleep." I don't know what the deal is with that. Chad, normally fantastic at reading aloud, could not for the life of him read "Apollo." He kept putting an R in it. Aprollo. Arpollo. Apollro. I'm still scratching my head over it.

Nobody could remember how to do any of the math they were doing without trouble just days ago.

Riley, who knows all her letters and had happily practiced her name all Christmas day on her new Magnadoodle, insisted she didn't know how to write her name. Her writing "lesson" consisted of throwing crayons on the floor and stomping on them. Hey, I'm not pushing her - she asked to "do school" and then acted that way. Sheesh.

Thursday, December 21, 2006

Dump it in the crockpot...

I love my crockpot. There are lots of folks who think it's cheating to dump stuff in a slow cooker, leave it until evening and call it a home-cooked meal. I figure if I cooked it in my kitchen, it's a home-cooked meal. I'm not too proud to use break and bake cookies. I've used the breadmaker to kneed dough for cinnamon rolls. And the crockpot is my best friend some days.

Tonight we're having chicken-chili tacos. The recipe was just called "Chicken Chili," but my family doesn't go for chili in a bowl. In my house, chili is for topping a burrito or a hot dog. Anyway, here's the recipe:

3-4 large chicken breasts (we use the frozen-in-a-bag kind), cut up into small pieces
2 cans diced tomatoes DRAINED
1 large can or about 2 cups cooked pinto beans
1 packet taco seasoning
1 cup frozen corn
1/2 cup each of chopped onion, sliced black olives, and green peppers (in my version I use onion powder and omit the rest)
2 Tbs tapioca (dry, from a box)

Dump into crockpot. Stir. Cook 4 hours on low setting. Scoop into flour tortillas, sprinkle with cheese, wrap it all up. Eat.

If you really are looking for chili, you can use petite diced tomatoes instead and add without draining. Super easy. My kind of meal.

Sunday, December 10, 2006

Nothing to see here, move along...

Just in case anyone subscribes to my blog, I thought it best to warn you I've been making some changes. I just figured out the labels on blogger beta, and since I had nothing better to do at the moment, I've been going back and adding labels to all my old posts. The new labels will be a huge help to those of you interested in what we're doing for schoolwork but don't care about my measly little life. Or for those of you interested in my goofy obsessions but not our homeschooling. Whatever trips your trigger. However, I just discovered this will list every single post as new on bloglines. I realize suffering through my blog posts is hard enough without having to rehash my mindless blabberings for the last year or so. In any case, disregard all the "new" posts, as they aren't new at all.

Six Weird Things About Me...

Thanks to Bobbi for this meme. Everyone has their quirks right? I'm hoping mine aren't weird enough to drive away the few readers I have.

Six Weird Things About Me:

1. I cannot sleep without my hand on my neck. Not in a strangle-hold, but carefully curled under on the right side. Right up next to the tendons. I've tried to break this habit, but without my hand protecting my neck in this exact spot, I can drive myself to panic. I lay there with my eyes closed, noticing it's not covered until eventually the only part of my body I can feel is that spot. When we were first married, Vic joked about this a lot, saying I must have been beheaded in a previous life or something. Whatever it was, it happened in my sleep.

2. I love onions / I hate onions. I love the flavor of onions. The smell of onion rings makes my mouth water. My very favorite food smell is potato soup loaded with onions. But I will not eat onions. I don't like the way they crunch, even when they're cooked, and ever since 4th grade science class and our unit on parasites, I can't shake how much cooked onions resemble tapeworms. I buy lunchroom-sized cans of onion powder, and use it relentlessly in my cooking. I'm also quite picky about peppers, olives, and mushrooms, but for different reasons.

3. I have some serious texture issues. This is sort of related to the onion thing. I don't like vegetables that crunch when they're cooked, unless they're breaded and deep-fried. I don't eat tomatoes by themselves because they're slimy. I can't stand even the idea of fabric on my teeth. I won't eat anything that squeaks when you chew it, even a teeny tiny bit. The squeaking of styrofoam drives me over the edge, and I don't like to touch anything made from it; same goes for cardboard. There are lots of fabrics I won't wear simply because I don't like the way they feel on my skin. And I'm not talking "I don't like this, it's itchy." I'm talking, "Eww, this is tight and scratchy and.. get it off! Get it off!" I can't get it away from me fast enough. I have numerous other texture issues, I just can't remember them all right now. I'm sure I should see a therapist for this.

4. I only wash my hair once a week, sometimes longer. I'm including this not because I think it's weird, but because I'm sure a lot of other people will. My hair has always been incredibly dry, and after my second child was born it started falling out or breaking off by the handfuls. After several different anti-breakage shampoos and stuffy know-it-all hairdressers who apparently don't know it all, I decided on my own that frequent washing was damaging my hair. Now I only wash it when it's greasy or dirty. More in the summer, way less in the winter. And it no longer falls out like I'm on chemotherapy.

5. I love to narrate my cooking in a Julia Child voice. This started as a goof around thing with the kids, but sometimes I do it when they're not in the room. Sometimes when they're not even home.

6. I still imagine monsters in closets, dark hallways, and basements. I KNOW there are no real monsters, but imagination always wins. We don't have a basement, but I grew up with one. My grandmother has a basement and keeps all her kids' toys down there. When we're visiting, I'll go down to tell the kids we're leaving or call them up for dinner or something.. and I always run back up the stairs. I'm not getting exercise or saving time. The boogieman is at my back.

Wow, I could probably think of a lot more than six things, but I've probably said too much already. I'm supposed to tag 6 people, but since I barely know that many and I've already tagged a few with a meme the other day, I'll leave it up to whoever wants to play.

Good Morning!...

It's 2:45am. I'm apparently up for the day. I went to bed last night at 8:30 after almost falling asleep in the bathtub. My girls weren't even asleep yet when I crawled into bed. Vic woke me about 9 to ask if I was ok, since the idea of me going to bed before midnight is just plain ludicrous. I woke just after 2am with Chad sleeping at the foot of my bed like a collie. To avoid going into a mindless rant about this, let me just say this is an issue we have discussed a million times and is a source of great irritation. After sending him back to his room, I was unable to go back to sleep. I guess my body decided 5 hours of sleep was close enough to a whole night. So here I am.

Yesterday was a long day, which is probably why I was so exhausted. I woke to the telephone ringing and my mother in law on the other end telling me she'd be stopping by "in the afternoon." I hopped out of bed and started cleaning. What strange instinct drives this behavior? Why do I care more about the condition of my house with visitors I don't like than with visitors I do like? My mother in law hasn't cleaned her house in.. well maybe ever. There's a literal path through to various rooms in her house, and some rooms are completely inaccessible. Why should I care if my carpet hasn't been vacuumed or my counters not wiped down? Either way, there I was cleaning 45 minutes later when she called to say she was on her way. It was 10:30. So much for an afternoon visit, and so much for getting my house clean ahead of time.

Thankfully it was only a short visit, as always, and the kids didn't even drag her into their rooms to show off some new thing. When she left, we set about finishing the housework. The kids fought. The vacuum had to be fixed (again).Things were spilled and clothes were changed. Vic was having some kind of nervous episode I guess, because he constantly snapped at the kids and I constantly apologized for him. After about an hour of that I finally asked him, "What is wrong with you?" Turns out the car he's supposed to be fixing for my mom has some rusted bolts and he'd already had to cut off three. He mumbled something about an impact wrench and $50. Whatever.. I just want her car fixed and out of my driveway. We all ate peanut butter and jelly for lunch since we're all out of everything else.

After lunch, Chad started nagging to go to the dollar store. A couple days ago, he decorated his bedroom with a spare set of Christmas lights, and had been asking to go somewhere to get another set or two ever since. I finally caved and just as we started heading out the door, Cadence and Riley were begging to go too. I asked Vic to come along, just to help corral them around all the breakables. Even in a store where everything's a dollar, you can spend a lot of money paying for an entire display of wise men knocked to the floor. Turns out the cheapo lights at the dollar store only have a plug on one end, meaning all strings have to come from their own outlet. That might have still worked if the strings were longer than 5ft. We decided to try a different store.

File back out of the store, pile everybody in the car, break up a fight about who sits in the middle, and we're ready. Except the car won't start. After a brief once-over, Vic announced the fuel pump isn't working. Ugh. We just replaced the stupid fuel pump a couple months ago. It's still under warranty, but it doesn't help much to know that when I'll still be without a vehicle for a few days until it's fixed. I ended up walking up the street to a pay phone and called a ride. My car is still sitting outside the dollar store. I hope they don't tow it.

Considering how yesterday went, it's a good thing I'm up early today (although I'm not so sure I need to be up this early). I still have to figure out how we're getting my car home, and how I'm going to get to the store for some groceries. I've got a big pot of coffee brewing for brain fuel, and as soon as 8am comes around I'll be making phone calls. And that's only 5 hours away!

Wednesday, December 06, 2006

Wow a meme!...

I was tagged! I've never been tagged before. I feel all warm and squishy inside! Thanks to Bobbi at My Little Soapbox for passing it on. Here goes:

1. Explain what ended your last relationship? Umm.. I'm having a hard time remembering my last relationship (the last one that ended anyway). Vic and I broke up frequently and I dated 3 or 4 guys in the spaces in between. I think it was that geeky college kid, who dumped me because he thought I was taking the relationship too seriously. Joke was on him though, because I wasn't taking it seriously at all, and when he suggested that we "just be friends" I laughed out loud and told him I didn't like him enough to be friends with him, I was only hanging around for sex and free beer. And the sex was hardly worth it. That was an uncomfortable ride home, mostly for him. Mawhahaha.

2. When was the last time you shaved? Sometime around Mother's Day. I don't remember the reason, but after shaving bumps and dry scaly skin, I remembered why I hadn't before. I shave underarms every day or two though, otherwise I sweat a lot, and I don't care for that.

3. What were you doing this morning at 8 a.m.? Rushing around like a crazy person trying to get myself and three kids ready so we could take Vic to work and have the car today.. all while Vic stood around complaining about how long it was taking but not helping in the slightest to get anyone ready but himself.. even though he was already ready to leave and there was no reason he couldn't have helped out. Wanna guess what I was doing at 8:15? If you guessed having an argument, give yourself 10 points.

4. What were you doing 15 minutes ago? Reading blogs and eating pizza. Yelling for someone to please close the friggin door for the millionth time so we're not heating the entire outdoors (was that my mother just then?). Reminding Riley the presents don't get opened until Christmas.

5. Are you any good at math? What do you mean by "good"? I can do basic math in my head. I can make change. I understand enough to teach algebra and geometry. Higher math completely eludes me, and I occasionally have trouble multiplying 7's and 8's.

6. Your prom night? Which one? I went to prom as a sophomore with a junior boy. That was highly supervised and therefore, lame as hell. Junior year I went with Vic. He drove a huge green piece of crap van which broke down on the way. The dance was uneventful and I don't remember much of it. Senior year I went with a male friend. The dance sucked so we ditched early and drove around all night. Never a hotel room or a drunken afterparty or anything really interesting.

7. Have you had to take a loan out for school? Nope. I never did git no edyoocashun. My grandpappy didn't go to no fancy college and I didn't need to neither. Honestly, I have plans to go to college, just as soon as I figure out what I want to accomplish there.

8. Do you know the words to the song on your myspace profile? There is no song on my myspace profile. As a matter of fact, there has been no activity on my myspace profile for six months or more. It was fun for about five seconds, now I'm over it.

9. Last thing received in the mail: Some bills, some ads, and an invitation to a baby shower coming up on Saturday. I'm supposed to RSVP. Can we say "procrastinate"?

10. How many different beverages have you had today? 5: Coffee, tea, milk, water, cranberry juice.

11. Do you ever leave messages on people’s answering machine? No. I have left messages on voice mail at an office, but only after at least two tries to reach an actual person. Most of the people I call have caller I.D. anyway, so they know I've called even without a message.

12. Who did you lose your CONCERT virginity to? Promise not to laugh? Nelson. You know those twins with the super-long blonde hair who claimed to be making their way in the entertainment world on their own accord, despite Ricky Nelson being their dad, even though they opened every concert and interview mentioning who their parents were? Them. Some opening band called Tyketto, which was better than the headliner. I think I was 13.

13. Do you draw your name in the sand when you go to the beach? If I'm not in the water, I'm visiting the bathroom or chasing a child. I don't even notice the sand till the ride home when it's stuck in all the worst places.

14. What was the most painful dental procedure you have had? I just had a tooth pulled a couple of months ago. Not a wisdom tooth, but the next molar in on the bottom. I guess it was really stuck because the dentist spent like 20 minutes pulling pushing yanking while the tooth cracked and snapped and made all kinds of gross noises. I'd had 3 Novocaine shots because each time they came in the room I was still not numb. While the dentist was pulling the tooth, I complained of pain, but he insisted it was just "pressure." My jaw hurt for 3 weeks.

15. What is out your back door? Relatively normal-sized yard full of redneck stuff: kids' clubhouse, old falling-apart swingset, several lawn mowers in various stages of disrepair, trailer full of junk parts and broken things, etc.

16. Any plans for Friday night? If all goes well, I have no plans. If it doesn't, I'll be babysitting while my friend goes out to have a life.

17. Do you like what the ocean does to your hair? I'm terrified of the ocean and the one time I went, I didn't get in water above my chest.

18. Have you ever received one of those big tins of 3 different popcorns? Never received, but I've eaten from others' popcorn tins. The cheese is definitely the best.

19. Have you ever been to a planetarium? Not for a long time. I think I was a kid on a field trip the last time I went.

20. Do you re-use towels after you shower? Used for wiping clean water from my clean body? Duh, of course I do. Not that it matters much because bathroom towels are the first to grab when something gets spilled, so they get replaced every day anyway.

21. Some things you are excited about? The idea of getting a pt job. The Scholastic book fair this weekend. Paying off my car finally.

22. What is your favorite flavor of JELLO? Umm... orange? I don't really eat a lot of jello.

23. Describe your keychain(s)? A Miller Light keychain I got as a freebie at the bar on New Year's Eve about 4 years ago. A keepsake picture keychain of Chad from the company that did school pictures his last year of public school. A library card keychain thingy. A Progressive insurance card thing, and we haven't used that company for at least 3 years.

24. Where do you keep your change? In an old fountain soda keg in my bedroom.

25. What kind of winter coat do you own? I actually don't own a winter coat. My winter coat was retired 3 years ago, and I keep saying I need to get a new one but for some reason I never do. I wear a heavy jacket all winter, and on the really cold days I wear one of Vic's coats.

26. What was the weather like on your graduation day? I dropped out of high school. It was cold and snowing when I took my GED test though.

27. Do you sleep with the door to your room open or closed? It's always open, sleeping or not, unless we're doing "married people things." Our bedroom door is the only one in the house with a lock, and only because I'm paranoid that even though the kids have been asleep for hours, they might wake up. Otherwise, my bedroom is a common room.

28. Tag three people: Heads up Ave at School of Thought, Deanna at Growing Warriors, Gail at Life A La Carte. Tag. You're IT.

Monday, December 04, 2006

Kids are great...

Aren't kids just the most wonderful creatures in existence? I mean, sure there's the occasional stress, but overall they're just a hoot.

Thursday, the girls raced each other to the kitchen where I was making lunch to tattle on each other. Because Cadence was able to talk faster and get her side out first, Riley promptly turned and punched her in the mouth. I checked Cadence for injury and reminded them both that their issues could be worked out without my support. I released Cadence and turned to Riley for a chat about hitting. I had no more than gotten the words, "It's fine if you're angry but you may not punch people," out of my mouth when I heard Cadence's angry screams and the sounds of shuffling in Chad's room. Let's all just roll with laughter, shall we?

Yesterday, a still-unknown source started an argument between my oldest two in the livingroom. I popped my head in just in time to see Cadence take a swing at Chad's head. (I wonder where Riley has learned such behavior? hmmm) He deftly dodged the blow, and being mature enough to know hitting doesn't solve problems, wisely chose instead to shove his sister to the floor. This gave Cadence a nice angle to kick from, and while my son is apparently very good at dodging, I got a few good bruises in transferring Cadence to a quiet place where she could calm down. I'm still chuckling over the whole incident.

My son has become an avid joke-teller. Today his joke was, "HONK!" This was of course told loudly and punctuated with the poke of a finger, often on the buttocks of the person being told the joke. The girls laughed hysterically, but unfortunately I lack the proper sense of humor to appreciate such obvious comedic genius. I must be too simple-minded for my brain to grasp the joke, as I acquired a monstrous headache which became worse every time it was told. I'm sure, despite my failings, it was indeed a most excellent joke.

Tonight's bedtime ritual was the same as usual, with Cadence first in Riley's bed until their bickering drove her to her own. Riley swore she wouldn't bother Cadence anymore, but I interrupted to tell her that this nonsense had gone on long enough and they both needed their sleep. Riley angrily interrupted me right back with, "Mama, I'm talking to you, and you don't talk when I'm talking!" Brilliant at three, isn't she? Most parents don't have to deal with serious backtalking until their children are teenagers. But my Riley, she's advanced. One might even say she was a prodigy. Ahh.. I'm just so lucky. ;)