Tuesday, October 31, 2006

Be Prepared (Oh, wait, that's the wrong motto)

I could blog about spending half my day (and vacation time I don’t have) at the mechanic’s yesterday. I could. Or I could write about what it’s like to spend two hours at the police station (just to get fingerprinted). I could write about my latest adventures in parenting (think: grounding for the rest of his life). I could beg for sympathy as I await official word on an interview. I could even tell about my latest adventures in consulting for my previous employer.

But girl scout cookies arrived today and with only a few weeks left until the cruise I do believe I’ll go indulge in some thin mints. (They do make you thin, right?!?!)

Tuesday, October 24, 2006

Carving Pumpkins

In our house, we don't celebrate Halloween, but we do enjoy many fall traditions, including carving pumpkins! Somehow, I've been delegated to the position of "Offical Goop Remover". Next year, that's all gonna change!

LM put a lot of thought into his design.

He was very serious about his carving.

Yeah, right.

LM's pumpkin creation!


When I picked up this pumpkin, my fingers went through several places that were rotting. I had to think fast and find a design that would cover up the holes. Um, it's patriotic, so that counts, right?
Scout and Jonah requested a pumpkin.
When I grew tired of carving, we attempted the wipe-on transfer idea:

With a Mr. Potato Head in the back.
All aglow.

Monday, October 23, 2006

Color Spotting Layers in Photoshop

I’m going to attempt to explain how to produce a black and white photo with areas of color (like this or this) for those who were interested. If you have trouble, email me and I’ll see if I can help. (Wendy, feel free to comment if I leave something out!)

I use Photoshop (5.0 Limited at home and Creative Suite 7.0 at work). I don’t think it matters for this task. In Photoshop, open up the color photograph that you would like to alter. Crop it to your liking and save the file. Then, under Image, select “mode” and then “greyscale” to turn the picture to black and white. Save the new black and white image with a new file name. With both the color and black and white versions open, use the “rectangular marquee tool” to select the whole black and white image. Then use the “move tool” to slide the image over on top of the color image. Move the black and white image as necessary to completely cover the color image. Under “window” select “layers”. When you click on the window that contains the color photo with the b&w overlay, you should see two layers appear in the “layers” tool bar. The black and white layer is “Layer 1” and the color layer is “background”. You may now close the window that contains the black and white photo that you copied from.

In the layers tool box, click on the color “background layer” and then select “create new fill or adjustment layer” at the bottom of that tool bar. It will give you a set of options, choose any of them (it doesn’t matter. I usually choose “levels”) and then click okay. Now you have three layers. The top one is the b&w image, called “Layer 1”, the middle one has two squares on it, one that shows the levels and one that is all white. The bottom one is still the “background” or color image.

Now, you need to join this new adjustment layer with the background layer. To do this, hold your cursor over the edge between the adjustment layer and the background layer (on the layer tool box). You should get a hand with a pointing finger. When you do, hold down the “alt” key and a new symbol will come up (linked circles) then click. Now your two images are linked together.

The next step is to fill the adjustment layer with all black fill. To do this, select the adjustment Layer (by clicking on it in the Layer box), make sure your color that is selected on your tool bar is black, select the bucket icon and “fill” the Layer with black by clicking on the image. (Note, the image itself will not change in appearance, only the layer icon on the layer box should change to all black).

Now you are ready to begin working.

Select Layer 1 (the black and white layer) from your layer box. I use the magnifying glass to zoom in on one corner of my black and white image. I try to zoom in until I can really see the pixels. Then select the eraser tool, but you want the eraser with the scissors over it (for background eraser. If you don’t have this icon, right click on the eraser icon and select the one that has the scissors over it, the “background eraser tool”.). Once you select this tool, you will have new options on the top tool bar, including the option to change the size of the diameter of the eraser. You want to make the diameter very small (5) when you are working around the edges. Working on Layer 1, hold the mouse button down and drag the cursor along the edges of your image that you want to have in color. As you move, the color will “bleed through” so you can see where you have painted. If you make a mistake, go to “edit” then “step backwards” to remove the last portion. Note: as you move along, let up on the mouse click from time to time (use small, shorter movements) to allow yourself to correct small mistakes without undoing a whole section.) You only need to outline the WHOLE of the image you want to turn color. For example, in the image I used with the apple and the leaf, I don’t need to outline the leaf where it overlaps the apple. Just the whole of the outline around both. When you get a good outline, you can change the diameter size of your eraser and just swipe it over the bigger areas to bring out the color. When you are done, you can zoom back out and view the piece with the parts in color that you just “painted” and the rest black and white!

There are two ways to save the image, depending on what you want to do with it. If you want to be able to go back and work on the individual layers again, do NOT flatten the image. Just save it as a PSD (Photoshop document) and leave it alone. If you are done with the image and you want to use it (and make it a smaller file!) go to “layer” on the top tool bar and then “flatten image” then save this as a jpg.

I tried to walk through this as I went to make sure I didn’t miss any steps, but if something is unclear or doesn’t work for you, please let me know! As I said before, Wendy was a tremendous help teaching me how to do this! I will try to post explanations when I learn something new!

The Pumpkin Patch

LM is more excited about the wagon every year than the pumpkins!

Picking out the best. The criteria? The bigger the better!

A winner!


How tall this fall? (Getting too big too fast for Mom's liking!)

The Orchard

We picked Winesaps and then bought some HoneyCrisps as well. MMMmmm!

Me again.

A half bushel of Winesaps.

LM in an apple tree.

LM way up in an apple tree.


Testing the product.

Sometimes you have to reach for the best ones!

Friday, October 20, 2006

The Interview

Phone interview with a company in Michigan today at 1:30. Previous phone interviews have all occurred in my vehicle, down the road from my office to preserve any and all precious vacation hours (in case I might get an interview). Last night, I lay in bed wondering how I was going to conduct a phone interview in my vehicle when it is RAINING. Listened to the radio weather report this morning, “Cloudy today. Cloudy tomorrow.” If it is currently PRECIPITATING, shouldn’t that be mentioned? How long will it last? Will it be heavy or just sprinkles? Will the employer actually be able to hear me over the sound of beating rain on a windshield? Turned on the television for local weather report. Had to wait 20 minutes before I finally set my eyes on a Doppler radar screen showing me green masses (rain) moving out of the area with only smaller patches of green (showers) left behind. The hour by hour forecast shows partly cloudy skies by noon. WHEW.

At 1:10, print copy of my resume, cover letter and job description for this position. 1:15, pee. 1:20 tell my supervisor I’m headed out to “run an errand and pick up lunch” (I even throw in a “do you want anything while I’m out?” just to throw her off.) 1:22 get in my car. Realize the clock on my computer at work is FAST and it’s only 1:10. Drive 100 yards down the road, turn into familiar parking lot, park in a different spot (last phone interview did lead to a personal interview, but not to a job offer.) 1:13 say silent prayer thanking God that it’s not raining (even though the sky looks ominous). 1:15 rain starts. 1:15:30 Curse. 1:17 wind picks up 1:19 decide to relocate car back to original spot which has a trailer in the spot next to it. (Perhaps the trailer will block the wind and the rain.) Park. 1:24 call my sister. “Can you hear the rain?” “It sounds like muffled static. Don’t worry about it.” 1:25 worry about it. 1:26 torrential pouring and high winds rocking the car despite trailer buffer. 1:27 look heavenward with an imploring look. 1:29 rain stops, wind dies down. 1:31 phone rings.

2:10 the suggestion is made that she might like to have me come into town for an interview. She’ll call me around the 1st of November with details.

2:15 high-tail it back to the office where my supervisor says, “that took awhile.” “I ran into someone I haven’t seen in a long time!” I say with surprising conviction.

2:20 shoot an email off to my sister and folks saying all went well.

2:25 exhale.

Practicing

Thursday, October 19, 2006

Stop Number Two - Washington's Crossing Park

Bowman's Tower is part of Washington's Crossing Park, which commemorates the crossing of the Delaware by the original George W. on that historic Christmas night. I kept looking for THE place where the crossing supposedly happened and couldn't find it. This rock nearly jumped out and bit me as we headed back towards our car.

The view from the middle of the bridge that spans the Delaware at the park was gorgeous!

We ate lunch at this adorable little restaurant. I was hoping we'd see Tedy Bruschi there, but he wasn't. We would have shared out piece of pumpkin pie with him!Me
LM

I loved the look of this tree. If you look closely, they have a spot light attached to the tree mid-way up. The sun peaked out just enough to highlight the rainbow colors still clinging to the trees.
The whole tree was green, except this one little bundle of leaves. I had to get close to see if the leaves were really attached (they were).I can't explain it, but I love this tree.

Bowman's

This past Sunday, LM and I set out after church for our favorite fall destination:
LM loves the view from 13 stories up and after 6 consecutive years of visiting the tower, he finally remembered that when we look East we're not looking at Delaware, we're looking ACROSS the Delaware to New Jersey!


The view is always remarkable.

The housing developments have certainly grown in recent years.

We watched a paper airplane launched by a pair of teenagers from the top of the tower,
float and glide for nearly 10 minutes.

We left happy and full of the contentment that comes with honoring family traditions.

With Wendy's Help

This picture
went from this:
to this!
How cool is that?! (Thanks again, Wendy!)

The Hike

I know, I promised pictures and then I never delivered. I finally got them off my camera on Tuesday and played around with some yesterday and now today I finally have time to post a few!! These are with our new digital camera, on a hiking trip a couple weekend ago.



Monday, October 16, 2006

What Gorilla Said...

Gorillabuns wrote a great post about single parenting. (Go ahead read it, I’ll wait….) First off, I wanted to say thanks for the shout out she threw my way - I’m flattered. Secondly, I’d like to say, I don’t deserve accolades for doing anything spectacular at all. Yes, I am a single mom, but to be completely honest, I really have a pretty cushy job. I know several single moms who have a tough row to hoe. More than one child, children still young enough to be physically demanding, no help from an ex, juggling two jobs to pay the rent, they deserve high praise in my book for making it work. There are even married parents out there that I know, who are raising children all on their own. With uncooperative or absentee second parents, they struggle like a single parent but with the live-in burden of someone completely useless. They, too, deserve a shout out. Me? No, not so much. I have one child. He’s 10 going on 35 and as independent and mature as they come. Sure, he has his moments but for the most part, he’s a really good kid. He helps around the house far more than he hinders. He does a chore every day that he’s home, which really helps ease my work load around the house. His dad is involved and faithfully contributes through child support. He chips in when there are trumpet lessons, orthodontist bills and the like without complaint. I have a job, and while it isn’t something that I’m passionate about, it more than pays the bills, affording us a very nice, new home to live in. We drive a sensible, late model car that is rarely in the shop.

I don’t want to sound at all unappreciative of someone who team parents recognizing some of the challenges that come to singles, but there are perks, too, and I try to keep my focus on the good stuff in this life!! For example, some of us single parents:
1. get every other weekend ‘off’ from parenting. Sometimes we even get an evening off during the week, too!
2. don’t have to compromise on our parenting technique or standards. If I believe grounding him for a week is ample punishment, then so be it, that’s the punishment. If I want to serve oreos as “brain food” when he works on his homework, then so be it.
3. don’t have to visit relatives we don’t even like on the holidays. We only have an obligation to one side of the family (mine!). Other than transporting the Little Man back so he can visit the outlaws, I don’t have to spend time with family that is not my own.
4. get a huge break on our taxes. Between claiming the child, being head of household and itemizing the interest on my house, I barely pay anything to the feds.
5. never have to hear, “but Dad said…” In my house, it’s my voice that governs, not the ex’s. It doesn’t matter what his father told him, I set the rules here.
6. with primary custody, I get more of those moments with LM that just take my breath away. Whether it’s finally having a breakthrough on his math homework, or mastering a tough piece for the trumpet, I’m the one who is usually there to witness the accomplishment. That also means I get first dibs on hugs!
7. without another adult in the house, LM gets my undivided attention (except when football is on!) I feel very in tune with LM’s life, both physically (how much did he eat today, how fast did he grow out of those jeans) to emotionally (what was the fight about at school with his best friend) and spiritually (this week he and I had a long talk after church about what “idols” are and how they are in our lives even if we don’t have a golden calf that we pray to!)
8. meals are quick, easy and well received. Macaroni and cheese from a box for the fourth night in a row? Hooray! I’m Mom of the Year!
9. feel like being spontaneous? A trip to the park, off to the movies, or dinner out? Go right ahead, there’s no one to contradict you or spoil the fun.
10. there seems to me to be a special bond that I have with my son because we are a team. Don’t get me wrong, I believe sincerely that parents are to be parents not peers or best friends, but we recognize that we have to rely on each other and I think LM is more conscious of all that I do for his sake and I’m conscious of the ways he helps me out, too. It’s a really cool deal.

I’m not trying to promote single-parenting or to suggest that I think it’s the best option. I just think I’ve got a pretty good situation all things considered and so while I recognize the many who don’t have it as easy, I just wanted to point out some of the ways we have an edge on the married folks!

Thanks, again, Gorilla. You’re a very cool mom, even if you’re not single!

Friday, October 13, 2006

Behind Door Number 4

I've already decided. For Christmas this year, I'm getting God a blowhorn. I know it's not really a proper gift if I'm the one who really benefits from it, but man, I could use His voice just a little louder in my life (I think. You know that saying, 'be careful what you wish for'.)

Own of my co-workers stopped by my desk today to tell me he's putting a bid on a ranch house north of town. He currently lives in the same subdivision as I do, only in a townhouse not a condo. He said, "I know you're frustrated living in the condo, so let me know if you'd be interested in taking a look at my townhouse."

I don't know what doors God is meaning for me to step through and which ones I'm just supposed to peek into and say, "that's nice, but I think I'll go this way."

A blowhorn. Think about it. God's voice booming from the heavens, "NO, Amy you dork! I meant for you to move to Nebraska!"

Dear Tom Brady:

I want to apologize for the dream I had last night that involved Eli Manning. You know you are my favorite Quarterback. You know I have no interest whatsoever in Eli – I rarely even watch him play. But for some reason unbeknownst to me, he appeared in my dream last night.

I didn’t mean to kiss him. I kept telling myself he was only 20 and that there’s no way a guy like Eli (or yourself for that matter) would be interested in a girl like me) but in the moment, he looked so cute and I just couldn’t resist. I have to be honest, I did kiss him back.

I know it will come as no consolation to you whatsoever but in the dream, I kept trying to change my clothes and was walking room to room to find something else to wear. I wasn’t happy with anything that I found and I couldn’t seem to find a room to change in that had a lock on the door, but I finally settled on my Patriots jersey. I told Eli it was blue and white like a Colts uniform so it would be okay. I guess he wasn’t offended since he went ahead and kissed me.

Please do not let this change your opinion of me, nor of my status as Supreme Patriots Fan. Maybe it was just a jealous fit because you’re dating that gorgeous model. In any regard, my most sincere apologies.

Eliza Jane

Thursday, October 12, 2006

Breaking News

AP (Amy’s Press), Georgia – Yesterday, in what appears to be an individual incident during a round of golf, G (Amy's brother) reportedly fell out of a moving golf cart while trying to retrieve his ball. While no accomplices to the crime have come forward, witnesses attest to the influence of G’s golf, I mean, drinking partner, Jim Beam, and a prankster co-worker. No injuries (other than his pride) were reported and G went on to enjoy a perfectly beautiful walk ruined by a game of golf. Experts remark on the uniqueness of the incident stating, “While it is not uncommon for G to royally embarrass himself while surrounded by witnesses, it is highly unusual for him to do so outside the presence of attractive women.” Pundits have cautioned the family, suggesting that necessary precautions be made for the aforementioned cruise, namely that seat belts be installed on all bar stools in the Disney ESPN sports bar. More embarrassing reports are sure to follow.

We All Have Our Reasons

Last evening, I called my sister in Michigan. She was pulling out snow pants, winter jackets, gloves and boots for the kids to try on. “We’re getting snow tomorrow,” she said. With snow showers on the way, she was eager to get the coats sorted out and washed and to know what they needed to buy for the season. When I hung up the phone, I told LM, who thus far has been reluctant to jump on the “Let’s Move to Michigan” bandwagon, “Aunt Julie says they are getting snow tomorrow.”

He screamed. With joy. Jumped up and down and said, “Let’s move!! Let’s move!!”

For me, the move is all about saving a little green. For LM, it’s all about the white.

Wednesday, October 11, 2006

A Word to the Single Male

Joe is a forty-something divorced man with a Master’s degree, career in his field and an excellent relationship with his 12 year old son. He’s funny and clever, a baseball fanatic and easy to get along with. We’ve been friends for the past 5 years or so and through that time I have listened to the ebb and flow of Joe’s dating life. He has an ad on nearly every internet site and has dated several women throughout the past few years some with more optimism than others. When Joe is in a relationship, I don’t hear much from him. When he’s single again, he’ll shoot me an email to just say hello. Last night was such an email. His last relationship has ended and he’s back “on the prowl” as it would seem, but growing more and more anxious over the possibility of ever meeting the “right woman”. He wondered aloud to me whether there just wasn’t something terribly wrong with him that makes it impossible to find and keep a great woman. (And before you even think it, Joe and I are not well-suited for each other. We make great friends and that’s all. And I’m really happy with that.)

His sentiment is one I’ve heard before from other men who seem to me to be perfectly wonderful, normal, charming men who just happen to still be single. I wanted to perhaps address this feeling from the side of the single woman.

I speak to those men out there who are single, independent, charming, and full of humor and life. Attractive in their own right (we all are, aren’t we?), who have a head on their shoulders and a soft spot in their heart – I say to all of you, “there is nothing wrong with you.”

You are not single because of some personal defect or flaw. You are not alone in your life because of something you’ve done or didn’t do. You are not curling up in a king size bed by yourself because of your lack of hygiene or your abysmal housekeeping skills, you are not single for any of these reasons that you tell yourself on Saturday nights when you watch the world couple itself up and go off without you.

She is out there. She is next door, or down the street or around the world, but she is out there. She just isn’t ready for you yet. Maybe she’s just come out of a relationship that has left her scared or hopeless or fragile. Maybe she is focused on her career and not on her heart. Maybe her concentration is on her children and their needs and she hasn’t paused to look around to fill her own yet. She is out there, she just needs time. You are perfect for her. Just the way you are. She just needs time to be ready for all that you have to offer. She’s working on it. She’s learning from that last relationship so she doesn’t drag you down with unfinished business. She’s tidying up the baggage that she’s accumulated so it’s neater and tidier and left under the bed and not out in the open when she sets her eyes upon you. She won’t ever be perfect, but she’ll be a better partner if she can take this time to work these things out.

So when you’re sitting there alone at the bar, or when you’re out walking at dusk without a hand to hold, please know that she’s working on it. She’s trying to get it all together so that your relationship will be built on a solid, lasting foundation. This absence, this time apart has nothing to do with your inabilities. She will love you just the way you are. And one of these days, when you finally do come together at the same page at the same time, she will be ready for you to love her just the way she is, too. And she will be so touched that you waited for her to get it right. Believe me.

Tuesday, October 10, 2006

M-I-C-K-E-Y M-O-U-S-E (now ya got that stuck in your head, don't ya?!)

The cruise? I haven’t mentioned the cruise!? Holy cripes where have I been? Yes, there is a cruise. A Disney cruise. We leave in aa couple months for a week's vacation. I can sum it up like this:

The perks: It’s basically an almost-all-expenses-paid vacation (Thanks, Dad and Judy!) in the Caribbean with options to parasail, kayak, swim, drink, play in the arcade, swim with dolphins or sting rays, go biking, hiking, walking, running, and even shuffleboard!! My whole family will be there including my stepbrother, his wife and three kids whom I haven’t seen in well, half a million years, so it will be joyful and fun and full of all kinds of hysterically embarrassing moments (mostly for my brother, he’s 26, single and the highlight of the cruise for him is the idea of bedding Cinderella).

The downside? Swimsuit. 24/7. Yeah, that says plenty right there. I’ve mentioned previously that I’m a redhead, right? (Read that: That I burn with the slightest hint of daylight hitting my sunlotioned slathered, beach robe covered body) And that I weigh somewhere around 4000 pounds right now (I’m a little worried about the boat being able to actually float once I board) and that all things considered my dream vacation would not include sun, sand or boats (but would certainly include my family – okay, that was a kiss up).

It’ll be a great time, the kids will have the most fun that they’ve had since, well, EVER. We will seize every single opportunity possible to embarrass my brother (which is difficult because he never takes himself too seriously) and we will hopefully survive the 1000 feet in the air parasailing nightmare, I mean adventure (!) that LM wants to do together.

I would be remiss, by the way, if I didn’t give a huge shout out to Wendy whose amazing photo blog and awesome advice helped me to pick out the best new digital camera for our family and just in time for the cruise! After doing enough research to be completely confused, we chose a Canon Powershot (the newest, latest, greatest) and you can all prepare yourselves to be inundated with nothing but photos once I finally figure out how to operate the doggone thing. But I assure you, it redefines ‘cool’. Thanks, Wendy!

Monday, October 09, 2006

The Longwinded Way of Saying I have Nothing to Say

I was struggling to find last night’s football game entertaining when Roethlisberger is the QB for my fantasy game and my defense (Dallas) had already given up a million and four points to the Eagles earlier in the day. Instead of focusing on the game (and feeling my blood pressure rise – I save that for all communication with DirectTV (still ongoing by the way)) I noticed two things that had little to nothing to do with football but kept me entertained for at least a short while, namely:
1. Why does Al Michaels insist on pronouncing ‘huge’ as ‘yuge’. There’s an ‘h’ there, Bucko. (He also pronounces ‘Houston’ as ‘Yuston’.)
2. Did NBC utilize its entire budget when bidding for the rights to broadcast Sunday Night Football, leaving them with no other alternative but to recycle the Olympic Theme Music for use on football? (Has anyone else noticed this?)

Since I only had two points, I didn’t really think that was worth blogging about. So I was going to blog about the things I learned while trying to complete my paperwork that will grant me “Secret” clearance from the government (which will allow me to continue working on the same exact reports that I’ve been working on at work for the past 10 months.) Here’s what I’ve learned:
1. I have no friends. Having to list a reference that can verify that I’ve lived at each listed residence for the past 5 years; list a reference who can verify you attended the college or university you claim to have attended and list 3 personal references that basically cover the past 7 years of my life without having already been listed elsewhere on the form and NONE of these references can be related to me….? Yeah, no friends. (For the few of you out there who agreed to help me out with this, my deepest and most sincere gratitude. I’ll pay you for your friendship later. Remember, don’t mention that one incident sophomore year, or that time we burnt down the neighbor’s house while I was living in the apartments, or….)
2. When you finally come to terms with the idea that you have no actual friends, in a last-ditch-effort to fill the one vacancy on the form that you cannot for the life of you fill otherwise, you will try to contact an ex boyfriend. Yes, you will. And you will try to word your email so that he might not misinterpret your request for his name, address and phone number to think you want to stalk him. And you will try to act remarkably disinterested in where he is or what he is doing, but not so disinterested that he won’t respond and give you this one last NECESSARY REFERENCE. Whew. Let’s hope the government doesn’t frown upon having a Canuck as an ex-boyfriend. (It’s okay, Dad, don’t panic about this one.)


But see? I still only had two points for that blog, too, and two points does not a good list make. I know. I am a professional list maker.

So, then I thought I could tell you about the dream I had last night. I was trying on wedding gowns with my mom. (pause here to note a couple of things: a) yes, weddings do seem to be cropping up in my dreams more than my comfort zone enjoys lately and b) my mom has been gone now for over a dozen years and 3) (if you were a fan of Mad About You, you should love my counting system) I had a tiny wedding the first time and my mom didn’t help me pick out that dress, either, but this was dreamland where NONE OF THIS WAS ODD). Let me continue. My mom had found a very elegant Mother of the Bride dress. It was a beige linen long straight skirt with long slits up each side. The top of each slit was adorned with some sort of pearl and ribbon accent that actually looked really awesome even though it sounds really cheesy. It came with a short, cropped, double breasted sort of jacket and looked simply amazing on my mom. (Mind you, this isn’t at all the sort of thing my mother would have ever worn.) Me? I was trying on some gypsy skirt made out of green crinoline that had some sort of green ribbon going around it in 3 or 4 wide circles. It was hideous and mostly see-through and all I kept thinking was, “This will never do – everyone can see my horrible legs!” Which is true, but a bit odd. The strangest thing, however was that in the dream I was not actually engaged, and while I don’t remember explaining it to anyone in my dream, I understand that I believed the proposal was imminent and that it made perfectly reasonable sense to shop for the dresses while I was visiting my mom instead of waiting for him to actually ask me first and THEN shop for the dresses later when I’d have to make special arrangements. No word on whether this wedding was also with Charlie the pastry boy from Iowa or not. But since we know that during the actual wedding (or the reception, that is) I wear a periwinkle blue dress, maybe this dream was a pre-quel?

But see? My wedding dream now has a sequel so that came in two parts, but without a third installment (yet) so that didn’t seem really worth mentioning.

I could mention how my neighbor (not the noisy one downstairs, the one who brings her daughter over each morning for me to take to the bus stop) showed up 15 minutes earlier than ever this morning and scared the crap out of me while I walked from my bathroom to the kitchen in my robe with my hair up in a towel (to get warm, wrinkle-free, clean clothes out of the dryer).

So all I’m left with is how I was so wrapped up in thinking about our excursion options for the Disney cruise (Do we parasail? Kayak? Snorkel? Swim with dolphins? Blow all our funds in the arcade with Bear? All the above? Ditch it all together? (just kidding, Dad!)) that after I took the neighbor kid to the bus stop this morning I drove nearly 10 miles towards work before remembering that LM WAS STILL IN THE CAR and should have been dropped off at school, oh, roughly , 9 ½ miles ago.

Yeah, I think it’s definitely a Monday.

Friday, October 06, 2006

Dear Downstairs Neighbor (DN):

I am so glad we had that little chat at 6am last Saturday morning regarding your television and conversational noise that had been keeping me awake since 2am. I appreciated your lack of respect and utter denial of the situation. I can see that you truly took my concerns to heart when you had that disagreement with your boyfriend the very next evening, you remember the one. It was where you screamed into the phone that he forgot you? And how dare he forget you? I can’t imagine how it would be possible to forget someone as mature and rational as you.

I had not intended to actually sleep last night when I curled up in bed so I was glad you provided me with hours and hours of entertainment. Better yet, if I had missed any of the obscenities and insults that you screamed during the fight last week, this was a fantastic opportunity for me to get caught up and review how you truly feel about your boyfriend. From what I can gather, he’s truly a catch! (And why wouldn’t I have already thought so, what with him making the “wife beater” a new fashion trend in our neighborhood!) I can only hope that someday I can find a man who makes me sob so hysterically, while slamming closet and bedroom doors, threatening to throw his stuff away, all during the wee hours of the morning. Sigh, if only I could be so lucky.

It was after staying up so late listening to your sorrowful drama that I was most grateful for your son’s alarm going off at 6am (just like last week!) I appreciate you leaving it on to beep and beep and beep for the next hour continuously so that despite my lack of sleep, I might be up and ready for work on time – early even! Thanks so much for that special consideration. It is extra meaningful to me coming from someone who apparently never goes to work, to know you were especially considerate of my need to rise early and get out there to earn a living. Truly a selfless gesture.

DN, I can only hope that this last fight does not signify the end of your relationship with Mr. Winner and these melodramatic evenings that I have begun to treasure. It is in these intimate moments, DN, that we truly get to know the private thoughts and desires of the hearts of those (living) closest to us. What a joy it has been to share this drama with you week after week. It’s better than any Desperate Housewives episode, that’s for certain! Please be sure to include me in any future tirades that you might have, whether they are in the bedroom or in the kitchen where I know you’ve perfected the art of slamming cabinet doors! My only disappointment in the matter is that LM has missed out on these most recent episodes and has not had the privilege of such entertainment at 3am as I have.

I wish you and Mr. Winner a quick and speedy reconciliation. I certainly hope that the reunion occurs right below my bedroom so I can witness the joys as well as sorrows of this sweet relationship.

Thanks again, for your continued, thoughtful consideration.


Best regards,

Eliza Jane

Thursday, October 05, 2006

And So It Goes

To keep balance in the universe and my pride in check, yesterday’s progress report from LM’s fifth grade teacher wasn’t so warm and fuzzy. “Lack of impulse control”, “Needs to put in more effort” and “Neatness” were just a few things listed that he needs to work on.

Sigh.

The meeting itself went well. What they teach in fifth grade is actually quite amusing in that “it doesn’t make any sense, but that’s how the state requirements read” sort of way. For example, the students are taught about HIV/AIDS. They learn what the acronym stands for, how it is acquired and ways they can avoid the risk. They suggest abstinence from “unprotected sex” and “illegal needle drug use”. Trouble is, at no point whatsoever do they define what “protected sex” might be, or exactly what would make one drug illegal and another not. Their complete definition of sex for the kids? “When the penis and the vaginal come together.” Seriously. That’s the definition.

Now, I realize, these kids are young, and you start explanations simply and build upon that foundation. But why teach AIDS and how to avoid it if they don’t understand what it means to protect themselves during sex? LM thought that all drugs were legal (Tylenol, cold medicine, etc. are ‘drugs’ to him) and he didn’t understand the “needle” reference at all. He thinks that to “do drugs” means to take six aspirin when the bottle says to take two. Oh Lucccyyyyy, you got some s’plainin to do!!!

And, right at the end of the meeting, when I was trying to ask the Supervisor of Curriculum when (or if) they discussed homosexuality with the kids, my ex decides to track me down and join the conversation. NICE. (As it turns out, they don’t discuss it. Maybe in high school, the one guy thought, but certainly it is never mentioned to elementary kids.)

After the meeting, I talked with LM’s dad about the Progress Report and then we started talking about half a dozen other issues and I mentioned that I’ve sent out more resumes to Michigan and that LM seems to be handling the idea okay, but with some understandable hesitation and he nearly freaks out saying that I didn’t tell him I’ve talked with LM about moving to Michigan. Um, yes I did. And we talk (again) about why I want to move and he seems to understand it, but not really. He has no desire to own a home and wouldn’t move himself from the line of fire without a shove – he’s just that passive of a guy.) So he continues to act as if there should be no reasonable explanation for why I would move our son to another state. None. Not everyone lives in a house, Amy. Lots of people live in condos. Lots of teenagers live in condos. It’s not a bad thing. Um, yeah. Well, in my life, if I can offer something better, I will.

I picked LM up from church youth group and came home and he wanted to know what the meeting was about. We talked for awhile and he was able to articulate to me very clearly what is unique about his situation with his dad. We talked about the lessons he’ll have in Health in the next month or so and how that might raise more questions for him, and decided his best option was to bring his questions home to Mom. We also talked about how his dad and I disagree on the subject (Biblically) and why that was really the main reason for our divorce. LM understood it all, handled it with grace and was able to start understanding the implications it has on his own life. (Mainly in terms of how much he does or does not want to share with his peers about his home situation.)

And then I watched “Lost”.

And then I went to bed, mentally exhausted.

It's days like yesterday that make me wish even more that I could just go hang out at my sister's with a tequila sunrise in hand and swing in the hammock with George.

Wednesday, October 04, 2006

The Meeting

You are envious. I know you are. You wish that you could attend the parent’s meeting tonight at the school. I know, I know, it’s not easy for you to suffer through the “Lost” premier knowing that I’m the lucky one who gets to go to the meeting where I’ll learn all about the Health Education curriculum they will be teaching my Little Man in fifth grade this year. I know, I am so fortunate.

It’s not enough that I just get to attend, either. Not to smear your faces in it or sound boastful but I not only get to attend the hour long meeting but I will be joined by my ex-husband. I know, life just isn’t fair, is it?

And not only is it such a pleasure to sit at school functions next to a man I am no longer married to, but it is exponentially more fun to sit next to a GAY ex-husband when the topic being discussed is SEX!! WOOHOOO!!! I am so lucky. Pinch me, I must be dreaming. And there you are, feeling so left out.

So, just to be fair, when Little Man begins this curriculum and has all the “birds and the bees” stuff spelled right out for him, and he comes home and starts asking the hard questions like, “But then why does Dad sleep with a man?” I will just send him to you for the answer. Just so you don’t feel left out, okay? Great. Now we both feel better.



Sigh. Anyone wanna be the Mom for this one? Please????

Tuesday, October 03, 2006

Settling the Score

An envelope arrived in the mail yesterday from LM's school. "To the Parents of" it read. While he washed up for dinner I opened and read the contents, then called him out "for a talk".

"What's that, Mom?"

"Your PSSA scores. Sit down." (PSSA is the standardized testing they do in 3,4,and 5th grades in PA).

"Uh oh," said LM.

"LM, in Reading Comprehension there were 35 questions. Do you know how many you actually got RIGHT?"

"Um, five?" worried LM.

"34. In Interpretation and Analysis of Fiction and NonFiction Text, out of 17 questions, do you know how many you actually got RIGHT?"

"Um...."

"15."

"In the various areas of mathematics, out of 30 you correctly answered 27, out of 9, you got 9, out of 9, you got 8, out of 9, you got 8 and out of 9 you got 9."

"Is this bad?" inquired LM.

"LM, on these tests in Reading, 1255-1468 is Proficient. 1469 and above is advanced."

"What's my score?" he asked with great trepidation.

"1823."

LM starts to laugh.

"In math, 1246-1444 is Proficient, 1445 and above is Advanced."

"What's my math score?" he asked giggling.

"1717."

"MOM!!! You had me so scared!!!"

(We both giggled and hugged and talked about how he'd better continue to be so smart and get a scholarship because I can't afford really smart genius universities, I can only afford mediocre average colleges!!)

Sunday, October 01, 2006

Do This In Remembrance of Me

LM was dedicated in a church in Illinois when he was 18 months old. We moved to Pennsylvania when he was two and during the next two years, we never attended a church service as a family. When I moved out, LM and I attended a local Methodist church where children were to be seen and not heard. After buying our home, we started looking for a new church closer to home and visited various churches over the next couple of years, attending an inter-denominational church for the longest span during that time. Calvary was a huge church, one that had a separate service for children to attend during church (one of the reasons we finally left). Over the summer, LM attends church with both sets of Grandparents, enjoying the differences in contemporary services versus very traditional.

We have recently found a local church that we feel very much at home at and while I have been attending for a few months now, LM has only been attending for about a month (since his return home from the summer).

This morning, when LM joined me in the sanctuary for church after we both enjoyed our separate Sunday School classes, I leaned over to explain how this church practices the tradition of Communion. It wasn’t until the moment when LM said, “This’ll be a first” that I realized he’s NEVER participated in Communion. Having been attending a separate children’s service since he was old enough to acknowledge his belief in Christ, and not being baptized to participate at his grandparent’s more traditional church, LM has never been in a service where he is encouraged as a believer to participate. I quickly and quietly explained the process at our church and reiterated that in my beliefs, baptism is not a requirement of salvation (nor to participate in the Sacraments) but as declaration of your beliefs. I told him if he was comfortable with it, he was welcome to participate, but to really focus on the sermon and on the tradition of the Lord’s Table.

The guest Pastor did an incredible job of explaining the significance, the lessons, the requirements and the meaning. When we bowed our heads in prayer I was overwhelmed with what it feels like as a parent to witness my child expressing his faith in this manner.

As the bread was passed, LM leaned over and said, “I thought there was wine, too” and I explained that it will come next but that it’s usually just grape juice, representing the wine. He looked remarkably relieved at that and sat with focus and attention on the verses that were shared in between.

And it was there, in the pew this morning, sitting next to my 10 year old son, that we shared the Sacraments of Christ together for the first time.

I know his faith will be tested as he grows older and that his faith will evolve from a very innocent, untesting childlike belief into something entrenched (I pray!) through experience and testing but it is really something to watch my child grow in his walk with the Lord and to be excited about the services and lessons.

What a sweet moment we shared this morning.

Enough Part II

I fell asleep on the couch Saturday evening (watching football, of course!) and finally drug my tired self to bed. Downstairs Neighbor (DN) was on the phone sobbing. "You've hung up on me SIX TIMES!!!" sob sob sob....the conversation would die down (I thought she was off the phone) and then she'd be sobbing again and saying "Did you forget about me?!" sob sob sob. This woman is in her late 30's or early 40's with two boys in late middle school and high school. What maturity!! This went on for a half hour or more and I heard her ask "Where are you?" and then it wasn't long after that she was out the door and gone.

I slept like a baby.

This morning, LM arrived from his dad's house in time to head to church. We had a couple minutes before we left and were talking about our weekends. I told him about my weekend with DN. As we walk out to the car, we notice her four runner parked next to ours has a headlight totally smashed in. It's just the corner of the front, not the whole front, but the headlight is barely hanging off of it. When we arrive back home from church we notice it's BOTH headlights (just both corners, not the whole front) AND a taillight. It's like she rammed the corner of her truck into something three times.

Wonder what the boyfriend's car looks like?