Monday, May 31, 2010

The Open Road

Yesterday, Pepper and I were driving the 8 passenger SUV down the expressway and we passed a motorcycle with a backpack and a blanket rolled up behind the seat. I looked over at him as we passed by. He looked very relaxed and at ease as he traveled toward his destination. I imagined that he was on a cross-country tour... just him and his motorcycle. Sleeping under the stars, taking in the sights, moving in whatever direction the wind and the road took him. I doubted that the motorcyclist was worried about his house payment or the brakes on his quickly aging SUV. He probably had no deadlines looming over him at work or anyone he needed to answer to either.

I decided I’d like to do that. Heck, I used to have a motorcycle…. Years ago. Just this month the lady at the DMV asked if I wanted to keep my cycle endorsement on my driver’s license. When she told me it cost $5.00 for 4 years, I decided to let it ride. Who knows… maybe I’d get another motorcycle sometime in the next 4 years. I thought about where I could travel. Maybe drive West all the way to California. Dip my toes in the Pacific. Then maybe I’d head north and then all the way back towards the East coast.

The more I thought about it the more it sounded like a great idea. Of course, I would want to bring Pepper along. What fun is seeing and doing cool things if no one is there to share it with. Knowing how Pepper packs, I would need saddlebags and one of those big trunks on the back of the motorcycle too. I tease Pepper all the time about how much she packs even for a quick weekend trip… but I am always appreciative when she is the one that remembered to bring things like the bottle opener or a nail file. The two of us could ride along some back winding road like we did many, many years ago. Stop when we saw something interesting or just keep riding with the breeze on our face and the sun on our back.

Of course, now that we have the kids we couldn’t just leave them behind. This could be a great learning experience and Pepper and I would miss them if they weren’t with us. I’d have to get a sidecar. A big one. It would have to seat 4 kids and give them all enough space so they wouldn’t be touching each other. Plus room for all their stuff. Like cell phones, Nintendo DS’s and clothes for when they complained it was either too hot or too cold. Maybe some kind of sound proof barrier between the bike and the sidecar would be beneficial….

We are now quite a bit ahead of the motorcycle. I glance back at him in the rear view mirror and smile. Pepper notices and asks what I am thinking about. I say, “Nothing really. Camping and motorcycles and the kids.”

Ok, suddenly I realize this motorcycle adventure is not a good idea. Now I am thinking about a trip in the truck with our fifth wheel. The kids have leg room, there is even a spot to take Kirby. I glance back in the rear view morror again because now Pete and Dill start an argument over a DS game. I think that maybe that sound proof barrier is not a bad idea tho… :)

Thursday, May 27, 2010

Another from registration...

Today's little guy gets his own entry... Part of my screening requires students to repeat a phrase exactly the way I say it. One of the phrases is "Don't cross the street without looking both ways." My young friend said it perfectly, even getting the intonation correct. Before I could ask the next question, he said, "That happened to my cousin. She got hit." I asked what happened. The little boy said, "My cousin ran into the street and got killed." I said, "Oh, that is so sad! I am sorry to hear that you lost your cousin that way." Apparently, I must have looked distressed because he got a pained expression on his face and said, "its ok, I got a lot a cousins."

Monday, May 24, 2010

Wal-Mart bathrooms

I have always had bathroom issues. I do not like public bathrooms. It always amazes me when women can come into stalls chatting together and they keep chatting while they both pee. Once I was in a stall and some woman came in talking on her cell phone, she talked the whole time… I can only imagine she had Bluetooth!

Last weekend while we were camping I ended up in a Wal-Mart bathroom. It does not get more public than that. Who knows how many people have sat on that seat! There were 4 stalls. Three regular and a super-sized one. The first two were occupied by two women chatting to each other and the last one had a woman with at least two children and a cart in it. That left the third stall open for me. Someone else came in right behind me, which I really hate…. There is pressure because someone is standing there with nothing to do but wait for me. Rationally, I should not have felt pressure, there were 3 other stalls that should have opened up before me but the woman with the two kids sounded like she was struggling with a potty-training two year old and the two women in the other stalls were exchanging recipes and having a wonderful time. They did not sound like they were in a hurry to go anywhere.

So I walked in to my stall, turn to shut the door and a screw was missing from the latch and the stopper clasp was missing. There was no way that the door was going to stay closed on its own. Thanks Wal-Mart. I sit down, trying to keep the door shut with one hand and keep my pants off the floor with the other. The toilet flushes without warning or being asked to… so now I am precariously balanced and my biscuits get to start off cold and wet. Wonderful. I focus, and pee in what I consider to be a timely manner. I am proud of myself for not freezing up. My happy feeling is cut short when I notice that although there is lots of toilet paper it is so thin it basically dissolves on contact. Also the toilet that flushed when I wasn’t ready, didn’t flush when I was.

This whole time I continue to hold the door closed with one hand… very carefully because it is like a saloon door, it can swing in or out with very little effort. The woman with the cart and two children walk past just as I am ready to come out. One child lost a shoe so she stopped the cart in front of my stall door. I try to open the door going inward and there is no room for me, the toilet and the door. Who designs these things anyway?!! Seriously, nothing makes you feel larger than trying to get out of a stall with the door that opens inward and nearly pushes you into the bowl as you try to make an exit.

Apparently, one of the little kids in the super-sized stall somehow got wetter in the ordeal than expected. I am not sure if she intentionally stuck her arm in the bowl water or peed on herself.... and quite frankly I did not want to know. The Mom was now trying to block the door with her cart to keep one child from darting out while blow drying the wet child’s arm with a super strong wall mounted air dryer. I hate when a door is blocked, it gives me a scary claustrophobic feeling, put that door in a public bathroom and that is already 2 strikes to amp up my anxiety. I washed my hands and used the paper towel dispenser to dry them.

That’s probably the best thing about a Wal-Mart bathroom. They have both the blow dryers and the paper towels. Sort of the best of both world’s. When the kids were younger it seemed like they knew what kind of catastrophe to have to make things difficult. If it was 10 below and Macy spilled apple juice down the front of her shirt it was a sure thing that the bathroom would not have a handy dandy super dryer to fix the problem. However, if Pete’s nose started to bleed, you know for sure that there would be a row of super dryers and not a paper towel to be found. That’s Murphy’s Law, I suppose.

Well, the mother finished drying off the wet arm of one of the kids and I busied myself putting the other little ones shoe back on, assuring the woman I was in no hurry. I was tempted to grab another paper towel and write down the recipe the women in the first two stalls were currently discussing, cobbler with peach jell-o.... I think she said the main ingredient was peach schnapps.... :)

Saturday, May 22, 2010

What a day!!

So I really hate when I do something stupid. The other day I backed my truck into the RV and broke the tail light. Since I was the one that put all the vehicles where they were… there was no one to blame but myself. I knew taking it to a dealership would cost quite a bit… probably in the $400.00 range… which I really hated to “waste” since it was a avoidable expense. I called a friend of a friend that has done repair work for us before. He is a really good mechanic but I know he prefers to do bodywork. I told him what part I needed and he called me back and said he could fix the whole thing for $100. Woo-hoo! A much better deal. I drove the truck over to his place and left it for him. He called me later that morning and told me that he had gotten the wrong part because I gave him the wrong year my truck was built. I thought I had done well because I remembered that it was the drivers side and that it was a large one piece unit, except instead of the correct model year I told him the year of Pepper’s vehicle….whoops. He told me he would need to drive back to get the right part and said it would probably be $20 more. I said ok.

When I went to pick up my truck, I noticed it sitting in the driveway nice and shiny. The tail light was all fixed and my mechanic was in the garage already working on another vehicle. When he saw me he got the keys and met me by my truck. “Its all set. The part for this one was more than I expected.” I had pulled out my checkbook and was ready to write a total. “How much was the tail light?”I asked. He tells me it was $160. I am doing the math in my head and am thinking this is going to be a heftier bill than I wanted because he hadn’t even charged me tax and labor yet. “Ok, what do I owe ya’?” I ask.

He says, “$120.” I look at him quizzically because I know my math skills are not that bad. I add the expected labor and tax and I say, “Do you mean $320?”

He is usually a very quiet kind of guy. He asks and answers questions, says, hi and bye and that is about it. He breaks into this big grin and launches into this story that he seemed to be dying to tell… “Well, I had to go get the new part because you told me the wrong year (I think… yeah, I said I was sorry for that already!) so I went to the junk yard I go to for parts like this and they had it. It was marked $160, but the guy gave it to me for $120. Then I decide to spend a few minutes at the casino because its close and I had the time. I found a 3 cent machine and am playing it for about 20 minutes. I hit 3 cents each time. I am about ready to leave because I knew I wanted to get that tail light fixed before you came back for your truck. I hit the wrong button…. The “max” button, which makes me bet pretty much everything I had. It won. The BIG jackpot! Bells and whistles went off and lights are flashing. 4 watermelons! I had never had that happen before. I won $663.33.”

“Wow, that’s great!” I say, “congratulations!”

He says, “So since I was there because you told me to get the wrong part (yeah, yeah… I had a blonde moment, sheesh…. Do we have to keep bringing it up?!) I did the labor for free. Just give me $120 for the part.”

We talked for a few more minutes about casino’s and luck and beautiful spring days and then I headed off. He waved and smiled as I left, happy because he got to tell the story of how great his day was. Its really cool to get a benefit for someone else’s lucky day and be the recipient of a “pay it forward”… ☺

Thursday, May 13, 2010

More cute things kids say…

I was working on naming common objects with my students this week. I showed them a picture of an object, they had to tell me what the object in a picture was and then tell what that object is used for. Got a lot of cute responses, here are a few of my favorites…

An American Flag…

Little girl said, “That is easy it’s a miracle flag!!”

A piano…

Little boy said… “You type on the white and black squares to make music.”

For thermometer… (I had two favorite answers for this one)

“It’s a temperature… it tells your Mom if your forehead is sick.”

“If the stick gets hot then you have to stay home from school, if the stick gets cold then you just have a cold and can go”

These things all remind me when Dori was very young. I asked her why she was standing on our bathroom scale one day and she told me she was checking to see how hot the bottom of her feet were! ☺

Sunday, May 9, 2010

Role Reversal

When we travel… even short trips, I usually drive. Pepper sits in the passenger seat. Just like the kids have their “assigned” seats, we always sit in the same spots. Today, Pepper drove to Nana’s house for Mother’s Day and I rode ‘shotgun’. I do not know who it was worse for. Me having to juggle the Sunday paper, Pepper’s current mystery novel, the dog leash and 2 camera’s in my lap and assorted beverages and bags at my feet or Pepper who started stressing about the round-about they put in 1 mile from Pepper’s parents house the moment she started driving. Holding the paper and book was useless since reading in the car makes me carsick. We exchanged our usual quick run through Micky Dee’s or a gas station quickie mart for healthier snacks… tangerines and pretzels. Great idea until I remembered that the Mom not driving got to pass out the treats (and peel the oranges!) Next, we went to get gas. This is usually my job… Pepper pulled in VERY close to the pump. I could barely get the debit card into the slot and pull the nozzle out. It was obvious she needs more practice getting the gas! On most trips it is Pepper that keeps the kids happy… radio louder or softer, heat higher or lower. Are we almost there? Can we stop for the bathroom? Then there are also all the greeting cards the kids each need to sign. Which means I needed to find a (working) pen for everyone to write with. I have no idea why we always wait until the last minute to get them taken care of… but we do!! So there I was holding the greeting cards, the newspaper, the book, the dog leash… with a very hyper dog attached to the other end, the orange peels and the half eaten pretzel bag searching through both purses looking for a pen. Meanwhile, glancing at Pepper I can tell by the look on her face that she is still thinking about the traffic she will have to deal with in the round-about.

Well, Pepper did great on the round-about and the cards were all signed and the radio was turned up and down as requested. I did fine with my new role, but I can tell you, I was nowhere near as good at dealing with the kids wants and needs as Pepper! We had a great time at Nana’s and at Nana Rose’s.

I drove home, Pepper was in her usual seat…. It was much more comfortable for both of us. It is funny how easy the other person's job looks until we trade….

Saturday, May 8, 2010

A Mother's Day Poem

Don't think of her as gone away

Her journey's just begun 

Life holds so many facets 

This earth is only one

Just think of her as resting

From the sorrows and the tears 

In a place of warmth and comfort

Where there are no days or years

Think how she must be wishing

That we could know today 

Nothing but our sadness

Can really pass away

And think of her as living

In the hearts of those she touched

For nothing loved is ever lost

And she was loved very, very much

Happy Mother’s Day Mom.

Friday, May 7, 2010

More from kindergarten registration….

I love the funny things kids say sometimes. There is another part of my speech and language screening that asks the child to explain how two items are either the same or different…. 98% of the kids either give the same answers to these questions or say they don’t know the answer, but every once in awhile I get a zinger-- answers that are very unusual! We still have another week to go to register next years kindergarteners, but these are my favorites so far---

Me: How are a bird and a dog different?

Usual answer: Bird: wings, dog: legs/fur.

My favorite: A Bird has tail feathers and a dog has a furry butt.

Me: How are milk and juice the same?

Usual answer: They are both drinks.

My favorite: You brush your teeth with them. (This one was from a child that had no top or bottom front teeth)

Me: How are an apple and banana different?

Usual answer: apple: red, banana: yellow

My Favorite: “Well, apples are circles and banana’s are……………. Happy faces!”

Thursday, May 6, 2010

Family Science Night

Last week Pete and Macy’s middle school had a science fair. Both kids told us that it was a really special event and they really wanted their ‘whole’ family to attend. On the day of the event, Pete asked if he could invite Dad B and Dad D, and said he wondered if Aunt L would come if she wasn’t busy. Macy mentioned one evening at dinner that she might see if Nana and Grandpa would come if she called them and asked them. They both wanted to know if Pepper and Dori and I could make it there and even checked the family schedule/calendar to make sure it accommodated the event.

So much interest in our attendance made me wonder what projects my children had entered in the science fair. I asked, “So what will your projects be this year?” I had not noticed any unusual mold experiments in the refrigerator (besides the normal out of date sour cream and leftover veggies). I did not even recall a request for poster board (although on many occasions the request for this came on the evening just before the due date… usually as the stores are about to close) so my curiosity was piqued.

“We did not do any,” Macy said shrugging her shoulders, “it isn’t that kind of science fair.” Hmmm… OK, weird. I’ll bite….. “What kind of science fair is it?” The kids explained that it was local businesses and places that did “science stuff” that would have displays and the students and families were supposed to just wander around and look. I thought it sounded interesting but still could not figure out the huge appeal. “What do you want us all to see?” I asked, thinking our neighbors had discovered the cure for the common cold or an area business had identified a new scientific element. Both kids said they had no idea what there even was to see. “Then why are we going?!” I asked exasperated.

Pete explained that the science classes were giving extra credit points for everyone that the students brought. Now, after having gone, I thought the fair was actually very interesting. There were race cars to sit in and bee hive honeycomb to touch. There was a computer expo with all kinds of new software to try out. I saw many types of bugs and plants, both beneficial and harmful to farmers. The kids loved to get to milk cows and pet baby goats. What I do not understand though, is that even with our large family all in attendance AND the donation of several boxes of tissues earlier in the school year (also for several extra credit points)… how can Pete still only be getting a “C” in the class?!! ☺

Tuesday, May 4, 2010

Kindergarten Registration

I have been helping with kindergarten registration this week for our incoming kindergarteners. (The class of 2023...does that sound far off or what?!!) These kids were born in 2005. Our car is older than these kids, probably some of the cans in my cupboard and socks in my drawer too!! Several kids said very funny things when I asked them questions, but here is today's favorite. There is a section on my screening that asks about body parts. I ask the child to point to their chin, knee, elbow and ankle. Some kids touch their cheek instead of their chin or their shoulder instead of their elbow... these are just normal mistakes that I simply count as wrong. One little girl was doing very well on my screening. I had already gathered from the answers she had given me that she had no speech or language problem so we were moving at a quick rate through the rest of the assessment. She knew chin, knee and elbow easily. I said, "Now, show me where your ankle is" Her mother had finished talking about paperwork with the social worker and had come up behind the little girl without her knowing and sat down and listened very proudly at her answers. She obviously knew her daughter was very bright. For her answer, the little girl looked suddenly stricken and said, "I don't have those anymore. My mother took them away now that I am 5" While she said this she put her hand between her legs. Behind the little girl I saw the Mom's jaw drop at the response and it took several more questions and minutes to figure out she thought I said "tinkle" for which she used to wear a pull up for to bed. It is amazing what kids can think of so innocently that can make it so hard for us grown ups to figure out!!

Saturday, May 1, 2010

Kirby and her feathers...

We've had a comforter that we bought years ago that Pepper and I have both really liked. It wasn't too hot or too cold. We made the mistake of leaving it within reach of Kirby's cage earlier today. We put her into her cage so we could run out with the kids for less than an hour after dinner. She went for a car ride this morning, a walk and then to the ball field to watch Dill and then Pete play baseball. She should have been tired after having so many things to look at and so much good fresh air. Instead, she slid the bottom of her crate out from the crate so that she could 'walk' it across the floor. She scooted the crate to where the comforter was and tried to pull the entire king size comforter into the crate so she could chew it.

By the time we came home from the ice cream store, feathers were everywhere! This picture was after most of them had settled, but they are still all around the cage. It was quite funny to walk into the room and see feathers drifting around like snow (well at least after the surprise wore off!) As Pepper carried the shredded comforter outside it looked like a huge duck fight followed her. Puppies do keep life interesting!! :)