Friday, August 29, 2008

Strange things happening...

Not exactly things that go bump in the night, but it's amazing how many inanimate objects have suddenly started doing things all by themselves.

Just ask Braeden.

That glob of toothpaste on the floor? It got there all by itself.

Apparently, his underwear got a little stained up, too - and that was also all by itself.

This one really freaked me out - Braeden's safety scissors actually cut holes in his socks - you guessed it - all by themselves.

And on the living creature front, would you believe that a bug is capable of squishing itself?

Yeah... strange things are going on around here.

Wednesday, August 27, 2008

Take a Deep Breath...




Whew. Good news - the check was cut yesterday and should be mailing today. With a little luck, I'll have it in my hands by Friday, and I can buy the rest of my textbooks next week.

Braeden didn't have school today, so I let him spend the night at Grannie & Peepop's house. He would only go if I promised that Granny, Gabe & Katie would not leave without him. (Mom is picking us up on Friday to head to her house for the weekend. Dad is out of town and she didn't want to be alone all weekend.) Anyway, I think Bebo is starting to grasp the concept of time a little better. On Monday, first thing in the morning, he asked, "Mommy, are we going to Granny & Papa's house in five more days?" Today, he called me from Grannie's cell phone to ask, "Mommy, are we going to Granny & Papa's house in two more days?" It cracks me up, because he is counting down the days as if it was his birthday or Christmas!

I will leave you with my page for the Color Combo Challenge.

Tuesday, August 26, 2008

You'd Better Duck - I'm Gonna Start Shooting!

I am so incredibly infuriated with Chattanooga State's financial aid office!!! They won't answer the phone, they won't answer emails, and they won't even post an update! Jeff heard last night that they were telling students it would be mid-September before they issued refund checks.

Hello! By then most of us will have had at least one test, and several assignments! We wouldn't have taken out aid if we didn't need it. I know they have the money, so what in the world is taking so long to process it?

So yeah. I'm peeved in the worst sort of way. I am going to be able to scrouge by with Psych & Nutrition, because I was able to find the first few chapters online for free. I ordered the A&P book (thanks to Mom) today, and hopefully I'll have it by the end of the week.

It's highly irritating. I was on the phone the second the office opened up this morning, and I got the same routine -

Please hold. We are experiencing high call volume at this time.
There is no one available to take your call. Please hold to leave a message.
This is CTSCC. Please leave a message.
This mailbox is not taking messages because it is full. Please hold to talk to someone in the financial aid office.
Please hold. We are experiencing high call volume at this time.

This was at 7:30 am - no way were the lines backed up that fast! They're just putting everyone on hold and refusing to answer the flippin' phone!

So, yeah, I'm on the warpath. The least they could do is update the website or their phone messages.

Now that I've got that out of my system, I'm off to make chili. It sounds yummy on a wet, rainy, unseasonably cool day.

Sunday, August 24, 2008

Here I Go

Charging into the week...

Yesterday I picked up Pride and Prejudice, which I will start as soon as I finish Eldest. Braeden received the aforementioned Wall-E toy, and I began the preliminary work in the first of my online classes, Nutrition.

Today was relatively quiet, given the week just past. I went to church, ate dinner with Jeff, slept for a peaceful nap, created a scrapbook page for the Color Combo challenge, went to church, and now I'm here, blogging. Soon I'll read a few books to Braeden, and I'll close the night by reading the first chapter of the Nutrition textbook. (Okay, I realized that sounds like a lot, but it isn't, really. Today truly was low-stress.)

My heel spurs are giving me fits, though. I want so badly to do some of my old Firm workouts, but simply can't take the beating at the moment. I've got to figure out a way to do strength training without a video and without being on my feet.

Anyhoo, tomorrow starts Anatomy & Physiology - the class that concerns me the most. Not because it will be tough (it will), but because it will easily require the most work. I am going to have to be so careful to manage my time.

On a side note: it is highly amusing to me, the way inanimate object in my home do things all by themselves. For instance, Braeden just told me he needed clean underwear. Apparently his got dirty all by themselves. ((insert wry grin here))

I am off to find something suitable for supper. Good night!

Friday, August 22, 2008

Mentally Fried, Dead Toy

It's been an unbelievably tough week. I've worked looooong hours, and my brain is absolutely finished. I don't even have creative juice at this point, which stinks. I think tomorrow I am going to take Braeden to Chattanooga. It will be good to get out of the house for a while. Besides, we have an important purchase to make.

Remember the hoopla at my house about Wall-E? Well, the little Wall-E toy was so deeply loved, just as any child loves that most special toy, that - eh - well, he lost his head. Literally. It was played with so much that the thin plastic neck just gave up. There was no way for me to fix it. Bebo knew he had to throw it away, but the poor little guy just stood over the trash can, staring at the now-headless Wall-E. It brought back memories - me, about that age, standing over the trash can, staring at a stuffed pink cat that had been re-sewn so many times there was nothing left to mend.

So I naturally promised to get him a new Wall-E. He loved that toy so much; how could I refuse? I think we'll swing by the bookstore, too. I have an itching to pick up some of those cheapie classic novels. You know - Jane Austen and the likes - you can always find a $5 novel in some of those inexpensive lines of books. And we might hit the scrapbook store, too, just for the heck of it.

Sometime tomorrow my online courses will open, so I expect to spend some time in the evening perusing the workload for the next few weeks.

Oh, and I finally bit the bullet and signed up for Weight Watchers online. Again. I have come to realize that I simply can't do it by myself.

And... well, that's all, folks.

Monday, August 18, 2008

School & Scrapbooking

It's been a week now, and the routine almost seems to be normal now. Granted, I still haven't started school myself (found out today that my online classes won't kick into gear until Saturday. Why then, I don't know.). At any rate, I sent Bebo off this morning, happy as a lark.

We're struggling, though... the task of writing is leaving him utterly frustrated, and I don't know what to do to make it better. Last week he was supposed to learn the letters M and S, and numbers 1-5. He can recognize all of those, but writing them is another story. He gets frustrated and just starts scribbling. I'm left scratching my head, wondering if I'm pushing him too hard or not enough. I hate that he had homework his very first week of school - it doesn't seem fair, though I guess the schools are being pushed so hard by No Child Left Behind that they don't have a choice.

Anyway... I'll leave you with the page I did for the Color Combo challenge this week. I've had this photo of Bebo for more than a year and I've always loved it, but was never quite sure what to do with it. I am quite pleased with the way it turned out.

Color Combos Galore

Friday, August 15, 2008

Books: One Copycat Copies Another Copycat

From my friend Elle's blog, who copied the idea from her friend Phoe's blog...

The Big Read reckons that the average adult has only read 6 of the top 100 books on the list.

1) Look at the list and bold those you have read.
2) Italicize those you intend to read.
3) Colorize (RED) the books you love.
4) Asterisk (*) the books you have no intention of ever reading, or were forced to read at school and hated"

1 Pride and Prejudice - Jane Austen
2 The Lord of the Rings - JRR Tolkien
3 Jane Eyre - Charlotte Bronte
4 The Harry Potter Series - JK Rowling
5 To Kill a Mockingbird - Harper Lee
6 The Bible (Well, most of it, anyway)
7 Wuthering Heights - Emily Bronte (I've been reading this for months... it's slow-going and I am somewhat bored but I keep trying)
8 Nineteen Eighty Four - George Orwell
9 His Dark Materials - Philip Pullman
10 Great Expectations - Charles Dickens
11 Little Women - Louisa M Alcott
12 Tess of the D’Urbervilles - Thomas Hardy
13 Catch 22 - Joseph Heller
14 Romeo and Juliet - William Shakespeare
15 Rebecca - Daphne Du Maurier
16 The Hobbit - JRR Tolkien
17 Birdsong - Sebastian Faulks
18 Catcher in the Rye - JD Salinger*
19 The Time Traveller’s Wife - Audrey Niffenegger
20 Middlemarch - George Eliot
21 Gone With The Wind - Margaret Mitchell (I tried, years ago, but the way Mitchell wrote the dialogue kept bogging me down. I may see if I can borrow it from Mom and give it another go soon.)
22 The Great Gatsby - F Scott Fitzgerald
23 Bleak House - Charles Dickens
24 War and Peace - Leo Tolstoy
25 The Hitch Hiker's Guide to the Galaxy - Douglas Adams*
26 Brideshead Revisited - Evelyn Waugh
27 Crime and Punishment - Fyodor Dostoyevsky
28 Grapes of Wrath - John Steinbeck
29 Alice in Wonderland - Lewis Carroll
30 The Wind in the Willows - Kenneth Grahame
31 Anna Karenina - Leo Tolstoy
32 David Copperfield - Charles Dickens
33 Chronicles of Narnia - CS Lewis (I've read about half the series)
34 Emma - Jane Austen
35 Persuasion - Jane Austen
36 The Kite Runner - Khaled Hosseini*
37 Captain Corelli’s Mandolin - Louis De Bernieres
38 Memoirs of a Geisha - Arthur Golden
39 Winnie the Pooh - AA Milne
40 Animal Farm - George Orwell
41 The Da Vinci Code - Dan Brown*
42 One Hundred Years of Solitude - Gabriel Garcia Marquez
43 A Prayer for Owen Meaney - John Irving
44 The Woman in White - Wilkie Collins
45 Anne of Green Gables - LM Montgomery
46 Far From the Madding Crowd - Thomas Hardy
47 The Handmaid’s Tale - Margaret Atwood
48 Lord of the Flies - William Golding*
49 Atonement - Ian McEwan
50 The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn - Mark Twain
51 Life of Pi - Yann Martel
52 Dune - Frank Herbert
53 Cold Comfort Farm - Stella Gibbons
54 Sense and Sensibility - Jane Austen
55 A Suitable Boy - Vikram Seth
56 The Shadow of the Wind - Carlos Ruiz Zafon
57 A Tale Of Two Cities - Charles Dickens
58 Brave New World - Aldous Huxley
59 The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time - Mark Haddon
60 Love in the Time of Cholera - Gabriel Garcia Marquez
61 Of Mice and Men - John Steinbeck
62 Lolita - Vladimir Nabokov
63 The Secret History - Donna Tartt
64 The Lovely Bones - Alice Sebold
65 Count of Monte Cristo - Alexandre Dumas
66 On the Road - Jack Kerouac
67 Jude the Obscure - Thomas Hardy
68 Bridget Jone's Diary - Helen Fielding
69 Midnight’s Children - Salman Rushdie*
70 Moby Dick - Herman Melville
71 Oliver Twist - Charles Dickens
72 Dracula - Bram Stoker
73 The Secret Garden - Frances Hodgson Burnett (Does being in the pit orchestra for the musical count?)
74 Notes From A Small Island - Bill Bryson
75 Ulysses - James Joyce
76 The Bell Jar - Sylvia Plath
77 Swallows and Amazons - Arthur Ransome
78 Germinal - Emile Zola
79 Vanity Fair - William Makepeace Thackeray
80 Possession - AS Byatt
81 A Christmas Carol - Charles Dickens
82 Cloud Atlas - David Mitchell
83 The Color Purple - Alice Walker
84 The Remains of the Day - Kazuo Ishiguro
85 Madame Bovary - Gustave Flaubert
86 A Fine Balance - Rohinton Mistry
87 Charlotte’s Web - EB White
88 The Five People You Meet in Heaven - Mitch Albom
89 Adventures of Sherlock Holmes - Sir Arthur Conan Doyle
90 The Faraway Tree Collection - Enid Blyton
91 Heart of Darkness - Joseph Conrad
92 The Little Prince - Antoine De Saint-Exupery
93 The Wasp Factory - Iain Banks
94 Watership Down - Richard Adams
95 A Confederacy of Dunces - John Kennedy Toole
96 A Town Like Alice - Nevil Shute
97 The Three Musketeers - Alexandre Dumas
98 Hamlet - William Shakespeare
99 Charlie and the Chocolate Factory - Roald Dahl
100 Les Miserables - Victor Hugo

Thursday, August 14, 2008

It's August

And that means we'll start seeing Halloween decorations on the shelves soon, which means that Thanksgiving stuff will be out next, which means that in a month or so the Christmas decorations will come out in full force!

(Don't laugh, but I'm listening to the Glen Miller Orchestra: In the Christmas Mood, and I'm feeling rather festive this morning.) :)

It's August, and that also means that Braeden has almost finished his first week of school, which means that next week it's my turn to start, which means that our lives are totally turning upside-down.

It's August, and that means that the stifling heat will gradually become more bearable, and that means that before we know it the leaves will start changing, and it will be time for a fall camping trip.

It's August, and that means Jeff has a birthday, which means that I can tease him about being 31, which means that he'll tease me for turning 31 before he did.

It's August, and that means that another year is more than half over, which means it will be Dec 31 before I know it, and that means I'll blink once and have to start remembering to write 2009 on my checks instead of 2008.

It's August, and I am nowhere near meeting any of my New Year's resolutions, which means that I'm feeling a little irritated with myself, which might mean that I make August resolutions instead.

And with that - it's August, and I have to go back to work.

Tuesday, August 12, 2008

First Day!

I actually had the presence of mind to make a small video clip of Braeden's conversation after the first day of school, but it is struggling to upload to Blogger. I'll try again tonight - if you can get past my annoying nasally voice, you'll probably get a kick out of it.

In the meantime, here's the lowdown:

Sometime before six, I heard Braeden up and moving about. I just couldn't drag myself out of bed yet (not after being up past midnight), so I waited until the alarm went off at 6:15. The instant he heard my door open, he popped out of his bedroom and announced, "Mommy, I was awake before you!" He was obviously very excited, because he is never that lively so early in the morning.

I was actually glad he was up so early. It gave me time to snuggle with him and talk about his big day without being rushed. Since I had taken off work for the morning, I was able to spend the time with him. We had a delightful breakfast of whole-grain Eggos with chocolate chips sprinkled on top and apple juice. Today I'm adding peanut butter and making sandwiches so he won't wind up so hungry at the end of the day (more on that later).

Sunday evening I rushed around, checking every list, making sure the "pack-pack" was loaded, filling the lunchbox to see if it would all fit, making sure the Thermos wouldn't leak the Spaghettios, ironing his shirt, etc. I let him pick out his shirt, and he chose his new black Transformers T-shirt. Somehow he looked so big with his Transformers shirt and backpack. (Okay, so he really was big - he towers over all the other kids in his class.)

The morning actually went very smoothly. I was able to take pictures, and Jeff even stumbled out of bed to enjoy the festivities with us. Before we left, we said a little prayer asking God to help Bebo behave and enjoy the day, and we also prayed for his teacher. I'm glad we did that.

We found total chaos when we pulled into the parking lot. Nervous moms, excited kids, crying babies, harried teachers - everyone seemed to be in a hurry to get nowhere. They "released" us to go to the classroom.

Braeden's teacher has decorated the room in an ocean theme. There are fishies and other critters everywhere. It's really quite cute. I was so proud of him yesterday. . . he walked into class and sat down in his seat. He was so quiet, yet attentive to what was going on. Jeff told him we were going to leave, and he said, "No, Daddy, you can't leave!" I thought we were going to have a crying fit, but he stayed calm. He looked nervous when we left, but he was just fine.

Then came the hard part... enduring the rest of the day. I thought it would never end, I was so anxious to see my boy and find out how his day went.

You should see the pickup arrangements. The kindergarten and first grade students are picked up in front of the school. There's a big circle, and kindergarten parents go to the inside and first grade moms are on the outside. They actually have traffic controllers who fill the circle as tightly as possible. Once it's filled, they stop the traffic, and moms get out to collect their tired-but-happy kids. When everyone's loaded and the remaining kids are safely out of the way, they empty out the circle and start all over again.

Jeff could see Bebo before I could. My "little" man was head-and-shoulders above the other kids, which made me laugh a bit. I went to retrieve him, and he was quite happy to see me. We got in the car, and Twenty Questions official began. (To be demonstrated in the aforementioned video, if I can ever get it uploaded.)

Here's the strange part. The first thing he said was "Can I eat my Spaghettios?"


On closer investigation, the only thing he ate was the packet of Yo-Gos. He left the Cheez-its, granola bar, and Spaghettios. Then he said his teacher wouldn't let him eat the Spaghettios.... this made no sense whatsoever, and the only other thing I could find out was that he did eat a cheese sandwich and hash browns. Incidentally, this was not on the school menu, so I haven't the slightest idea where it came from! I have emailed the teacher to see if she knows what happened.

My suspicion is that he wanted to eat the Spaghettios at snacktime, and she told him to wait until lunch, and he interpreted that as meaning he shouldn't eat them at school at all.

Today I'm sending a Lunchable, with explicit instructions about what is a snack and what is lunch. :)

He obviously had a good time. We sat down to do school-fun (a.k.a. homework), and he was more focused than I've ever seen him. I used PSE to make a practice sheet for writing his name. It was really the first time he's done that, so I feel obliged to save it.

This is officially long enough. More on the Great Lunch Debacle later.

Sunday, August 10, 2008

The Most Important Thing

Tomorrow's the big day, and instead of being excited about it, I spent my afternoon at a funeral and the rest of the day being extremely irritated with my boy-child. My personal theory is that antibiotics make him act out - and he's been pushing limits all day long.

After church, we sat down to a light supper. As we talked about school, I reminded him of the most important thing that he do in school - that he obey his teacher and be kind to his classmates. He agreed rather vehemently, and then came around the table to my chair.

"Mommy, do you know what the most important thing is?"

"What, baby?"

"The most important thing is that I love you."

This old girl, cranky and tired though she is, just welled up with tears at the innocent sweetness of this precious little boy. Ah - but he wasn't finished yet!

"Are you going to miss me, Mommy?"

I nodded, unable to speak.

"Don't worry, Mommy. I'll always be your friend."

Dear God, thank you for blessing me with this most precious of gifts, and help me to always remember, even when he's a handful!

Friday, August 8, 2008

Life as We Know It

It's Friday.... come Monday, our routine will change forever. Bebo will start school, and Jeff & I will start just a couple of weeks behind him. I had all these great plans to wake Bebo up early so he'd be used to getting up, then he got sick. Now instead of getting him up, I'm doing my best to keep my wiggly 5-year-old in bed as much as possible. Last night I entertained him by playing Wall-E & Burnout 3: Takedown on our borrowed Xbox 360. I had planned on putting together the new recumbent bike, but Jeff had the only Phillips-head screwdriver large enough for the project in the car, accompanying him as he delivered pizza. So the bike will be assembled tonight.

I've started an 8x8 digital album for his kindergarten year. I figure I will combine his other years of elementary into a single book, but kindergarten is kinda special, ya know? Here are pages 2 & 3 (Page 1 will be his school picture, so obviously I'll have to wait on that one.)

Do you like? I have decided to go with a common scheme - the same background, same two fonts, and purple w/red accents - for the entire book. I'm torn between feeling constricted and freed by using a scheme. Part of me like the creative ability to do exactly what I want, and part of me likes that I won't have to think too hard about putting it together.

Somewhat in that line of thinking, I am gearing up to start Christmas presents. I have a few ideas that I think will be fun, depending on whether or not I get my new printer before November.

And I suppose that's enough for today. Have a lovely weekend!

Thursday, August 7, 2008

Doctor Visits

My insurance company is going to love us.

I had a physical today - it's something I've never had done, and I figured it was high time. I had my cholesterol, blood sugar, and thyroid checked; a mole burned off my back; and a got prescription for an anti-inflammatory to treat my oh-so-painful plantar fasciitis.

I came home to messages on my machine from Peepop - apparently Braeden was feeling pretty puny, so Grannie brought him home to us so Jeff could take him to the walk-in clinic. The little guy is so prone to allergies that it's tough to tell when they've developed into something more. The doc said that today it's not strep throat, but it could be by tomorrow. So Jeff is at Wal-Mart now, semi-sick child in tow, waiting on my prescription and Braeden's, too.

And in other news... I just got an email saying that my new exercise bike has arrived at Wal-Mart! With a little luck, maybe I can coax Jeff into taking me this afternoon to pick it up.


Bad news yesterday. . . a girl who was friends of the kids in the youth group at church, who attended a lot of our events, who worked at Sonic and had the sweetest personality. . . was killed yesterday in a freak accident. Apparently she was helping some people move and was in the back of a pickup. They believe the wind caught a mattress that was in the truck and threw her out of it. She sustained fatal injuries from the accident.

I was shocked when I heard the news last night. She wasn't one of those kids who was always in trouble. Every time I saw her, she was bubbly and cheerful. And then, in an instant, she was gone. It made me hug Braeden a little more tightly. No parent should ever have to hear those words - the awfulness of it is overwhelming to even consider.

Say a prayer for her family and friends, and love on your own a little more closely.

Monday, August 4, 2008

We Have a Teacher!

I can't tell you how much I've dreaded this week... I worked myself into a near frenzy worrying about kindergarten. Tonight we went to an assembly to meet his teacher - and God came through for us! His teacher is someone we know through church, a very sweet young woman who remembered Braeden and seemed happy to see him.

Word cannot express the relief I felt! Somehow, even though I don't know her well, it makes all the difference in the world that he has a teacher I'm at least a little familiar with. My antsy heart has settled considerably. My boy and I are going to be just fine.

Here's a pic (I know, I know, but I can't stop myself!). It's blurry, but good enough. :)

Color Combo layouts

Saturday, August 2, 2008

School Supplies

I really wonder how parents of more than one child do it! We went last night for the Big Shopping Trip. Since the elementary wouldn't give us a list (said we had to wait until we find out who his teacher is on Monday), and this is Tennessee's tax-free weekend, I decided the best thing would be to pick up the list from other school and just guess at what he would need. (Don't get me started on my irritation with the school over not giving out the lists when everyone else in the area has!)

Anyway... we went late last night when the store wouldn't be so crowded. Braeden picked out a Transformers backpack - yet another signal our little man is growing up on us. We bought so much stuff - $100 worth, in fact. That included the previously mentioned "packpack" and two pair of shoes, plus endless pencils, crayons, markers, folders, and the like.

When I was a little girl, the school supply shopping trips were such fun. I loved choosing my folders and notebooks, then coming home to sort and organize all my supplies. Really, it's one of my fondest childhood memories. I think Mom has some video of me and Sarah sitting on the living room with our goodies spread out all around us.

I suppose because it was such a big deal for me, I wanted to make it special for Braeden. We let him choose the color of his folders, and his packpack, and his pencil case. He probably got the most excited over the boring jumbo pencils we bought for him! LOL That's my boy!

Monday evening we'll go to the elementary to meet his teacher and get the 'official' supply list. Hopefully there won't be too many items to add to it.

Sigh.... one more weekend. Just a few more days before our lives make a very big change. As much as I wish I could slow down time, I have no regrets. Except for a short part-time stint at daycare, he's been home with us most of his life. He's gotten to play and spend five years just being a kid. Now that he's going to add student to his list of life-roles, I'm profusely thankful that we gave him that time to just play and do exactly what little kids should be doing - being themselves.

Friday, August 1, 2008


Where has this year gone? Braeden starts school next week, with Jeff & I beginning two weeks later. Heck, Cracker Barrel has already started putting out Christmas decorations!

I wish I could slow down. Even though I don't feel like I've committed myself to a great deal - certainly less than some people I know - I sometimes wish I could lead a simpler life. Less hassle, less fuss. But I suppose it's not to be.

In other news...

I had a unique experience today. If you go to my photo blog, you'll see photos of lovely swallowtail butterflies. As I watched, these lovely creatures danced all around me. They circled me and each other, playfully skipping on the wind. Then it was almost as if they wanted me to take their picture. First, one, then the second, then a third landed and quietly posed as I snapped picture after picture. It was a totally wonderful thing to happen. Don't you love seeing God's creation?