Sunday, November 30, 2008

Black Friday

I've never done it before.  I kind of hope I'll never do it again.  But my brother was exactly right (and I do NOT say that often, so take note, write it down, make a record) he said, "You will come away from Black Friday thinking I am NEVER going to do that again, and then hours later, when you've recuperated, you'll feel elation at what you accomplished.

The Plan: go to Best Buy, camp out, spend the night in the cold in the parking lot (ohhhh to live in Arizona for this occasion) and to walk away with a lap top or two.  (Background: I desperately need a new computer for me.  LM and I are sharing his ancient piece of, well, I'm reluctant to even call it technology.  I've been without my own for nearly a year now and it's wearing on us both.  To boot, LM's other half of his family pooled together funds and had the budget if I could perhaps get a good deal.)  Back to the story, I had planned to arrive at Best Buy around 10 Thursday night, but I was unable to nap and decided I would head over earlier and sit in the parking lot. 

When I arrived, there were no less than 15 tents already up and more than 40 people in line already waiting.  I was stunned.  A woman in front of me told me the story from last year, that the people at the front (generally thought to be local college students) had gotten as many tickets as possible for every item and then sold them for $50 to people further back in the line).  I was discouraged.  I called my brother.  He immediately referred to the spreadsheet they had put together for this exact purpose and guided me to Office Depot instead, telling me about my options there.

I was the second person to arrive at O.D.  The short of the story is that I did stay all night, but was able to stay in my car until 5am as I was with very courteous people and none of us wanted to freeze.  At 5:45 I was given two tickets, one for each of the laptops I wanted and I went with glee back to my car to warm up until the store opened 15 minutes later.  

I was back home, had the dog out and back in and was in bed by 6:30 am.  I was exhausted.  Never, even in my college days, did I ever pull an all-nighter and I had my doubts at 4am that I was going to be able to pull this one off, but when I collapsed into bed, I did feel a slight bit of elation despite my exhaustion and severe headache.

It really wasn't until Saturday when it all sank in.  I called my dad (about to board a cruise ship for back to back Caribbean cruises - oh, to retire like my dad and second mom) and thanked him profusely.  His Christmas money for me, plus his support and encouragement, had made this possible.  I had, in my possession, a new computer.  And, with his father's help, I had a Christmas gift for LM that was beyond his wildest dreams.

I don't encourage shopping on a holiday and I hate the materialistic side of Christmas, but I must admit, I am simply giddy over several gifts that I am giving this year and the joy that they will bring to their recipients.   And I am thrilled about a box under the tree with my name on it that will allow me to pursue more of the things I love at my leisure.  

Now, to just wait until Christmas to open it....

OH, and LM doesn't know about any of it.  So, he will first have the surprise of the new home computer and later will have the added HUGE bonus of one for himself.   Does this get any better?


I know I'm a few days late on my Gratitude List, but when your one and only computer spent the vacation in Pittsburgh, well, some things have to be put on hold.  But here it is:

1.  For my salvation.  No matter what challenges life throws at me, I know I will have an eternal life in Heaven and that this life is only the blink of an eye in comparison.  I am so grateful that I serve a Loving God and that he thinks of me not only as His precious child but as His inheritance!

2.  For LM.  I'll admit, I wasn't sure I was even going to stop the car in Ohio to drop him off, I was thinking more of opening the door and giving him a big shove (let's just say he left out some key details in the planning of the drop off, further aggravating his already parentally-exhausted mother) but it's just not the same around here without him.  There were some things I was able to do easier while he was gone, but overall, I missed having him with me for the holiday.  As he sits beside me on the couch playing Star Wars on the PS2, all feels right again with the world (even if he did cause further complications during the pick up in Ohio today due again, to the oversight of key details).

3.  For living here in Michigan.  Yes, I hate the winter and it's certainly upon us, but I was able to spend Thanksgiving at my sister's, and then again, most of the day Friday vegging (well, I vegged, my sister never vegges) on Friday and I'll be back out there a couple times this week to celebrate birthdays.  It's really wonderful to see them more often than ONLY at the holidays.

4.  For the rest of my family that isn't here in Michigan.  My dad and brother, with full bellies and generous spirits, they spent a chunk of their Thanksgiving day laying out a plan of attack for MY Black Friday shopping.  

5.  That TB introduced us to such a wonderful, loving church this summer.  As I walked alone into services on Thursday, several people asked with concern where my son was and I was invited to more than one Thanksgiving dinner when they feared I was alone for the holiday.  It was a wonderful reminder of all the love and support that abounds within Christ's Church!

Happy Belated Thanksgiving!  May we learn to express gratitude every day!

Tuesday, November 25, 2008



The computer is on vacation again. More accurately, LM is and he's taking this ancient technology with him. Which leaves me stranded for five days without internet and to boot, we have no television.

Did I mention I finished my book?

And that my Christmas shopping is nearly done?

My cards are on the table, addressed, written, stamped and ready to mail?

Yeah, it's going to be a long five days.

Once, This Summer

This summer I fell in love. With an idea. With a family. With being loved and appreciated and feeling like a mom again.

And there was this guy. And I thought, Wow. He has so much going for him. A great job that he's worked so hard to acquire and accomplish. Great kids, supportive family.

But he didn't see it that way. He felt tired, and bogged down. He felt like giving up and giving in. He complained about his ex, about his life, about his situation.

And finally I stopped seeing the great guy because all I could see was this pessimist.

But even now, if you catch me in a moment, maybe after a glass of wine, maybe on a lonely Thursday night, I might still see a glimpse of that great guy. The one I never really met, but the one I knew was out there. I wanted a strong Christian. He said he was both, I saw neither.
And so I sit at home deflated wishing I could meet that great guy. The one I thought existed, but the one that never surfaced.

There's one that wants to see me sometimes, but he can't make a decision, can't hold his own head up, doesn't see his worth and has to force a smile. He's not the one for me.

But once, this summer, I thought he was.

Saturday, November 22, 2008


I told LM I would only need the computer for an hour.  My estimate wasn't even close.  Perhaps he gets his writing ability from his mother after all.  

It took me four hours but I finally finished it.  52,897 words.

I raced over to the NaNoWriMo website to upload my novel.  I'm not one to upload as I go, I don't need a bar graph to show me my progress, I nag at myself every day.  But when I uploaded my novel in it's entirety (well, this year's half anyway) nothing happened.  There was no "Congratulations!" screen.  There was no confetti.  There was no cheering from the peanut gallery.

It would seem I finished too early.  The verifications and winning don't start until the 25th.  I finished my novel too early.

I have to say, that even without any fanfare, even if my son, my biggest fan, is still playing his PS2 game, completely unfazed by the fact that his mother just completed her first novel (see, now I have to start putting the word 'first' in there) I still feel different.

As I was explaining to LM earlier, I am able to scratch off one of those "things to do before I die" items.  And I've never done that before.

Thursday, November 20, 2008

Waiting On a Woman

It's a great Brad Paisley song if you haven't heard it.  About an old man talking with a younger man about how he's always 'waiting on a woman'.  It's just cool and sweet and all things wonderful and I was humming it when I entered the mall and made a beeline for the bathroom.

When I emerged, there he sat.  Just like the song said, sitting on a bench in a mall.  And I wondered,  could it be?

Was it really him?

Waiting on the Missus?

He wasn't wearing his coat but there was no mistaking it.  Mr. Claus himself was sitting on a bench outside the restrooms.  I would have liked to have waited around to see if the Missus came out, but I had shopping to do.  But it sure made me smile.

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

The Book

I crossed the 40,000 word mark tonight.  It's really the 90,000 word mark for the book in total, and I'm starting to shift towards the ending.  It may take me more than 10,000 more words to get to the ending, but it's nearing.  I can feel it.

It's been a journey unlike any other this year.  My characters have surprised me and I thought I owned them.   The story has made me laugh, cry and shudder with complete disbelief that I can, in fact write thousands upon thousands of pages of complete drivel.

I'm not there yet.  I have eleven more days and about as many thousand words to go.  But it's coming.  I can feel it.  My characters can, too.   Things are about to resolve in the way that made sense all along but wasn't the initial path chosen.  Oooh how I can relate.

In any case, I have to say I have not done many things in my life that left me with a feeling such as the one that I'm beginning to possess.  I'm actually about to finish the first draft of my first novel.  

When I was little, I remember my mother saying I was going to be one of three things: a teacher, a lawyer, or a writer.   Somehow it does my heart good to think she was right on the two counts I agree with.  (Although there are days I think this parenting thing really is lawyering.  Ahem.)

Even if this book is nothing more than kindling for the fire, I will be able to say I did it once.

And that is all that matters.

And I can cross that off my list of things to do before Heaven.

Saturday, November 15, 2008

For Want of a Good Man

I went out last night.  No, I didn't make a sale on eBay, LM was at a youth group overnighter at church and I took advantage of the time.

I learned many things in the course of one evening.  I thought I would share a few.

1.  Even when you tried to think as yourself and strictly a single woman, even when you chose clothes from your closet that you don't wear to church or to school, even when you adorn yourself in otherwise unused jewelry and make up, you can be rudely yanked back into the role of parent when your child calls you at the bar to say he forgot something he needed from you and could you please drive back across town to remedy the situation?

2.  It's an entirely different experience, this going out thing, when you are accompanied by a very beautiful woman.  I don't know if she entirely sees the difference (because she just lives it) but it was really fascinating to witness.  While it has it's obvious perks, I do not envy her.

3.  You can get a man to buy you a drink with four coins and a cute smile.  I watched it happen.  More than once.  I suspect, if I had been forced to try it, I would have been more impressed with a man who wasn't outwitted so easily than the one forced to buy the drink.  I didn't see that happen, unfortunately.  

4.  Stoli, while the cheap drink special, will never be my drink of choice.

5.  It is very easy to "rule a guy out" when he follows up the disclosure that I work in an elementary school with a response that corporal punishment should never have been taken out of the public school system.  I was grateful (and I hoped this help to explain his position) to learn that he was not a parent.

6.  I will never understand the desire of those who regularly go out, to bar hop.  I completely enjoyed the first place we were at.  As well as the second, certainly the third, and of course the fourth.  I just didn't know why we needed to cover all that ground in one night.  But I did quickly realize it's the thing to do, as I saw the same people at all four places.  I'm not sure who was leading and who was following but in any case, we were all there together.

7.  A warm coat is critical when bar hopping will be in effect, but it's completely impractical once you are inside.  It's as much of a burden as a pocketbook.  

8.  There is nothing impressive about a man who tries to win you over by showing you pictures of his 7 year old son, only to refer to this beautiful child as "my nigga!!!" with great enthusiasm and passion.

9.  I will never be able to drink AND play pool.  I am getting too old to keep trying.

10.  The song "Ice Ice Baby" needs to die. It needs to never be played again.  Ever.

11.  It is critically important to inform foreigners at a bar of an 80's convention being held locally for fear they would report back to their nation our country's complete lack of fashion sense.

12.  Never underestimate the power of music.  If you begin to doubt, go to a piano bar and watch the unanimous and simultaneous reaction to songs like "Purple Rain," "Jack and Diane," or "Don't Stop Believin'"

13.  Even if you spent an hour getting ready for the evening, when it comes down to it, at 1am, all you really want is to put your hair in a pony and to borrow a baseball cap.  And sometimes a boy will be just kind enough to lend one to you.

14.  It will never cease to amaze me that we women still spend hours getting ready to go out, to be surrounded by men very happily (and comfortably) adorned in jeans, sneakers and baseball caps.

15.  Getting kissed at the end of a night out can be divine.  But sometimes, not getting kissed by the wrong guy can be divine, too.

16.  I am not the sort of person to ever buy a dress or an outfit and then plan an event around it.  But I can now officially say I know someone who would.

17.  You know you are too old to come in at 2:15 in the morning when it is your pre-teen son's alarm clock going off at 5:45 that wakes you up.

18.  Even if you had a great night out, even if the food was amazing and the company was fun and you pulled it off without breaking your budget.  Even if it all went well and you have no complaints, in the morning, when you wake up and realize you're back to your parenting role again, you will welcome it with open arms and a glad heart.

19.  People who think dating is fun haven't done it very long.  Or met the right person early on in the game.

20.  Above all else, I know this much to be true:  meeting a man at a bar (or online) is not the start of the love story I want to write for myself.  

Wednesday, November 12, 2008


It's sad when you have a laptop so old that despite having the perfect opportunity to sit at Panera's for a couple of hours and work on your novel (I'm just dying for someone to ask me so I can give that honest answer) the laptop takes a full 40 minutes to boot, and has no battery to speak of making it impossible to set up and run.

It's really sad when you (instead) schlepp yourself to the public library in town (while your son is at youth group doing something as altruistic as raking wet leaves in the pitch dark) to try to beckon the creative muses in your life to get another thousand words squeaked out by tomorrow.

It's really really sad when you cannot concentrate on your novel (again, I just like to say that) because the woman in the cubicle next to you at the library is too busy talking on her cell phone.  You now know all of her grades (all A's, except one F), that her mother does NOT want her walking to the bank alone and all the things she had to say to someone who seemed to be a best friend.  And it's only after she has been talking for a half hour that the library attendant decides to speak with her about their "minimal use" cell phone policy.

It's the saddest of all, however, when, sitting in this very public place, in the antithesis of a safe, intimate environment, you find yourself crying - CRYING - at the words YOU ARE WRITING in your novel (again, I just...well, you get it).  Yes, I knew that part of the plot was coming, I've clearly known it all along.  I just didn't know how it would feel.  And now I do.  And I think, it's very very sad.

Me AND the plot.  We're both very very sad.

Monday, November 10, 2008

For Those Who Wondered

If a 12 year old still resides at my address, the answer is yes.  If you're wondering if he'll see the light of day anytime soon, the answer is probably a no.  If you asked if the lessons had been learned and progress was being shown, the answer would be a resounding no.

Even tonight, when he had editing to finish for the 3 page essay that has taken nearly 20 hours to write, he still chose to do other fun things before getting down to task.  And when I bailed him out from hours of retyping (ancient computer lacking normal Microsoft Office products = a finicky computer that won't always open your document leaving fast-typing mothers to offer to retype the paper from the hard copy so edits can be made and the paper can be reprinted in this century) I realized the essay?  Is horrible.


Do you think I could get any sort of  a deal for a boy and two cats on eBay?  

It Happened

The sky has turned to grey.  The temperatures have dropped.  The dew on my windshield has frozen.  And I woke the other morning to snow on the ground.

My mood has sunk.

My spirits have plummeted.

140 days until Spring.

Until then, I'll be under my down comforter in my bed.  Disturb at your own risk.

Saturday, November 08, 2008

For Sale: 12 year old - CHEAP

He's been in trouble for awhile.  The past two months without exception, he has spent most of the weekend working on homework.  And by 'most' I mean, for example, eight hours on Sunday.  Which means none of the weekend was spent doing something fun with his mother.  Which means his mother did nothing that was considered fun.

He was grounded a week ago.  Could not go to bonfire night.  Missed out.  Even had reading for pleasure taken away to make sure the grounding was severe enough to fit the crime.

This week he still proceeded to procrastinate.  He wasn't forthcoming about things and he spent 8 hours, let me repeat that, EIGHT HOURS working on an essay to have a sum total of 77, let me repeat THAT, SEVENTY-SEVEN words.  Total.  

There has been much yelling by his mother.  I was peeved to say the least.  Two months of my life I have spent my weekends waiting for him to finish his homework so we could play a game, go for a walk, see a movie, DO ANYTHING and here I still sit.  Regretting every single moment that I signed him up for this blasted gifted class.  Although I know it's not that he has too much homework, he doesn't have any more than any other average 7th grader, he just doesn't do it until the last minute and even then, he'll spend hours and hours and hours and hours what should take 20 minutes to complete.  He will not complain about it.  He's not upset.  He won't grumble or complain or whine.  He'll just spend the entire weekend in his room with me checking in periodically, HOPEFULLY, to only find that he is still stuck, or he's still on page one, or he still isn't sure where to find the quote he's looking for.  

Tonight he had a birthday party to go to.  An overnight party.  And while he did not for one single minute deserve to go, I let him.  I forced him.  For two reasons:  One, of the five boys attending, I know of four and they are good, smart kids.  Kids I want LM hanging around with.  Kids I want him socializing with.  And since LM never invites friends over, never has friends spend the night and rarely gets invited over, I wanted him to go.  It was a big deal to me.  And two (and frankly even more importantly) I promised Birdy we would do Girl's Night tonight and I wasn't about to let LM's procrastination ruin a fun night out with my niece.

So, Birdy was dropped off and we took LM to his party.  And as we searching for the right house, I see another car pull up to the drive and figure we must be in the right spot.  Until I realize the person walking to the door of the house is a girl.  And I say to LM, "well, maybe this isn't the right place, that's a girl."  And LM says, "That's Jordan.  Girls were invited, too.  They are only staying until 9."


And perhaps more importantly, might this not have been useful information TO PUT ON THE INVITATION?!?!

These are 7th graders.  And this is the first boy/girl party LM has ever been to (well, ya know, except for cousins and classmates when he was like...TWO)

So, on top of all the homework issues.  On top of being the King of Procrastination for the past nine weeks, on top of using the computer for eight hours over the past three days (when your mother would really like to be typing her NOVEL) only to have 77 words to show for it, on top of all of this, he knew there would be girls at a party and he didn't share this information with his mother.  Uh huh.

It's a darn good thing that when I pick him up in the morning we are headed straight to church, because let me tell you, that boy has a death wish and he might not survive the day.

Want to bet the sermon tomorrow will be on patience?!?!

(On a good note, Birdy and I had a fantastic night out and it was wonderful to spend time together!!  I am thankful that someone out there wants to spend time doing fun things with me on the weekend!)

It's Snowing

And I have not one nice thing to say about that.

How much longer until Spring?

Friday, November 07, 2008

Taking Down the Barriers

A well-meaning friend of mine who knows I'm at wits end with the cat blockade in this household, (for those of you unaware, here's the really fast recap:  friend dies, two cats taken to a permanent home, doesn't work out, I offer to help if I can, end up the permanent fix according to everyone but ME, now stuck with two cats when at most I would want one...two cats have been shut in my bedroom for the past, oh, seven weeks...yeah, life is good!!!)  Anyway, this dear friend who OWES ME BIG TIME suggested that we just open the doors and let the dog and my cat and the two new cats duke it out in the hallway.

Well, with little other option (I've called all rescues, they are full; I put an ad in the paper, a really good, really SAD ad, and got NOTHING, and I've emailed all the schools one last time and used the guilt card, but NOTHING) I decided I was tired of living with closed doors and pets that can't get along and well, it's just a hassle.  I don't have that much space to being with.

So I came home tonight and told LM to take the dog for a walk and while he was out, I put the cat food all in one central location where the dog can't get it and I OPENED ALL THE DOORS.

And then we waited.

Well, it took Eli (dog) about 2.2 seconds to figure out the doors were opened and he went running in to investigate.  Gabby, in all his 20 pound glory was laying on LM's bed and was now a bit PISSED that there was a dog.

There was a lot of growling (by the cat) and then hissing (again, the cat) and the dog tried to go into the room and backed out and went in and back out and repeat and rinse, and well, the dog finally came out to the living room and we gave him a bone and we're hoping that maybe Gabsters hid.  

I had a glass of wine before I did all this but now I'm thinking maybe Gabby should have had the glass of wine.

I'll keep you posted.  If I'm alive to tell the tale.

Saturday, November 01, 2008


I realize I just threw a whole bunch of new posts atcha.  Our internet has been down all week and was just restored today (seems when you cancel your cable television at the beginning of the summer, and they come back to disconnect it in August, they might just come back in late October and think you need your internet disconnected, too.  Despite the fact that you're still paying the bill.)

But I think I'm all caught up now.

Which is good.  Because it's 3 o'clock on November 1st and I have written exactly ZERO words for my NaNoWriMo novel.  

And LM needs the computer for something as tiresome as homework.  Unfathomable.

All this is simply to say if you don't see another blog post for awhile, it's okay.  I promise I am all right.  I'm just writing.  And if all goes well, when I finish NaNo this year (and I WILL finish) I will have written a full length adult novel.  My goal is to finish the novel I started last year making a book of 100,000 words or more, and something with a plot that opens, develops and even wraps itself up.  Imagine that.   Wish me luck.

(And please, send chocolate!!)


I will admit, while the day had its blissful moments, I did find Halloween at school to be very difficult.  It was the party atmosphere.  Parents all over the building, the talk of snacks and treats and classroom parties in the afternoon.  It was all too familiar.  It reminded me too much of Valentine's Day.

Valentine's Day when I subbed in Pam's room.  When I didn't have any parent helpers until it was too late.  When I had more treats than the class could surely eat, including a deep dish apple pie.  Valentine's Day.  The party Pam joked about with me for months afterwards.  She would leave me pixie sticks on my desk when I subbed.  She would leave a hostess apple pie in my teacher's bag.  And she would always joke about being absent on the holidays so I could deal with the chaos as a sub.

I had kept it all tucked inside most of the day.  The ache was present, ever-present.  Her absence was tangible to me, but I kept it in check.  Turn a corner and a child will be hugging your knees.  Enter a classroom and hear the giggles and forget.

But I was in George's room when it overtook me.  The kids had bags of treats to take home.  Several had pulled them out of their cubbies and had opened them up to inventory the contents.  I was fine.  I was really fine.  Until Michael pulled out a pixie stick.  

I left the room.  I walked through the long, quiet hallways, void of all students and parents.  I went down to Sue's room where she sat by herself checking her email.  She knew from the look on my face.  She said, "I'm hiding out here today.  Usually I'm in Pam's room helping with her party but today....I just couldn't face it all today."

We understood each other.  I didn't have to say anything more than pixie sticks and Sue knew.  She had heard us joke about it.  She had been there when Pam slipped one in my pocketbook.  She knew.

Sue offered a hug, but a hug would have unleashed the tears that I was barely containing.  She understood my refusal, too.  We smiled at each other and I walked back through the halls, wishing above all wishes that I could turn the corner and see Pam's smiling face.  

Holiday Obligations

I don't think you can work in an elementary school and not participate in Halloween.  I mean, there are those who did, but even those of us who loathe the holiday and have avoided any celebration thereof for years feel a sort of sense of obligation to indulge in this environment.  I did not follow the tradition of most of the staff and dress as a witch, however.  I did stick to my morals and choose a storybook character as my inspiration.

I had been leaning towards Pippi Longstocking if you recall, but very few of the students would even know who that is (our building is K-2).  I decided instead to be Ms. Frizzle, the teacher from the Magic School Bus books and movies.

The idea seemed simple enough.  Last Saturday I headed out to get fabric to make a skirt.  (I should note here that my sister, ever the eldest, was shopping with me and commented that I kind of left this until the last minute.  Ever the middle child, I thought 6 days was FAR from the last minute and that I had PLENTY of time.  I hate to think what my brother, the youngest might have said!)  The skirt was key to the costume.  Ms. Frizzle always has a dress on that is related to the topic and so it's usually crazy and wild.  Jules and I weren't in the fabric department 30 seconds when we found the right material.  Bright yellow with cute insects all over it.  Perfect, indeed.  When asked at the fabric counter what I was going to use it for, the reply of a Ms. Frizzle costume was met with a nod of understanding.  Yes, perfect.

Jules helped me sew the skirt.  Neither of us sew, really.  Curtains, yes.  But following a pattern?  Not something either of us have done for a number of years.  Perhaps a decade or more.  But we were successful.  We didn't even argue or kill each other.  Mom was smiling down on us, we're certain.  (Jules wanted to call Dad and bet him $100 he couldn't guess what we were doing at the moment.  She could have offered $10,000, no one would guess we would ever SEW together!)

The early part of this week was then spent transforming two cardboard boxes and a wagon into a school bus.  LM was skeptical but then amazed with the results.  Apparently it's been awhile since he has seen his mother's creativity in action.

Wednesday and Thursday we spent on the little pieces that perfected the costume.  Ladybugs on my shoes. 

The right tights, the right hair style.  We asked LM's dad to ship his Liz stuffed animal from PA for the occasion and Birdy lent me ladybug earrings.  

And Friday, when I arrived at school, I was an instant hit.  The students at breakfast were delighted with a visit from Ms. Frizzle.  They all knew immediately who I was.  By mid-morning, teachers were stopping by my classroom to see if the rumors were true.  It wasn't just the costume, it was the completeness of it, they said.  The fact that I even had the BUS.  

The parade was at 2 and as I walked around with my favorite second grade class (which just happens to be George's class) the older elementary kids were singing the Magic School Bus theme song.  It was cute.

I wouldn't say the experience has changed my mind any about the holiday.  I still don't like children dressing up as witches and skeletons and vampires.  And I certainly don't like the idea of our children going door to door to get candy from strangers.  But I loved the enthusiasm of the students.  I loved how tickled they were that I had a lizard on my shoulder.  Or the questions that came from the Kinders, "But what is IN the bus, Miss Wilson?"  

The bus will be wrapped and stored in my sister's barn.  I'll be Ms. Frizzle for a number of years now, I'm certain.  There's no reason to try to outdo the effort we accomplished this year.  Thanks, Jules, for your help.  For making sure I had the fabric facing the right direction, for keeping me from sewing the wrong seams first and for helping me fix my errors when my brain just didn't focus.  Thanks, also, for letting me borrow your wagon.  It made the bus possible.

And a special thanks to LM.  My Magic School Bus expert.  He read the books over and over when he was younger and was the first one to tell me things about my costume that needed revision or elimination.  He was the first one, too, to tell me how awesome it all was.  

For My Dad

Because I'm not sure if he's ever seen it happen...
(I know the car is in drive, but I was stopped at a stop light, so I promise, it was safe to take a picture)

In honor of the occasion, I took gave the car a bath and vacuumed it all out.  I even put Armorall on the dash and washed the inside of all the windows.  
George will still be amazed that the bird poop is STILL stuck on my back window.  It's been there for several months and nothing seems able to get it off.
George is convinced the bird ate a concoction of peanut butter, syrup and super glue to create such durable, indelible poop.

The Very Stealthy Cricket

I was in my classroom last week when I sensed movement out of the corner of my eye.  I was scared to look, it was something on the floor and that is never, NEVER good.  

A cricket.

I should pause here and say, I have this thing about bugs.  Especially jumping bugs.  I am convinced that the snake is not the most feared animal, but really the grasshopper is.  They jump in unpredictable ways.  They sort of fly, but not really.  And walking innocently through the yard you could rouse one up and it could LAND.ON.YOU. Snakes just slither away.  A grasshopper will someday be the death of me.

And so the cricket.  Grasshopper's wild little brother.

In my classroom, far too near my desk for comfort.

I scoot my desk chair back and contemplate my options.

My usual course of action, my weapon of choice - the vacuum - is not available to me in my classroom.  I'm not even sure how to think of Plan B with this hopping, jumping, leaping little demon at my feet.

I scramble.

I head to the door and walk across the hall trying to regulate my breathing.   There is a sub in the room and she is lining the students up to go somewhere.  I calmly ask if I may borrow George for a moment.  

Ever excited to have a mission, George eagerly follows me to my classroom.  When we arrive at the scene, I point to the cricket and say, "He's got to go."

George is thrilled!  A cricket!  In the classroom!!  I had him a tissue, reminding him of his nephewly duties.  He tosses the tissue over the cricket.  The possessed insect just leaps out from under it.  This happens over and over, each time George giggles a little more and I move further and further way.

Then I hear the most dreaded words of all.  "I can't find him."


I explain to George that it is NOT ACCEPTABLE to have a cricket LOST somewhere in the vicinity of my desk.  He is looking around and under the desk.  I am too, but from a very safe distance, say, perhaps 20 feet.

And then relief, George spies the black intruder by the table!  I suggest he perhaps step on it just lightly to stun in and then he might be able to grab it with the tissue.  I don't want to encourage a complete squishing because I know, crickets crunch and I might never recover from that sound even if it doesn't happen beneath my feet.

George thinks this is a marvelous idea and lightly treads upon the unsuspecting bug.  "Oh, that's awesome!" he declares.  "I can see guts!!"

I ask him as calmly as I can if he would now remove the bug and go flush it down the toilet.  He picks up the remains of the cricket in his tissue and heads off to the bathroom in the hall.  I remind him to head on off to library then.

George is officially my hero.

P.S.  A couple of days later I asked if I could borrow George for a moment.  I needed him to run to the office for me to get something while I had class.  The first words out of his mouth were, "What?  Are you scared of another little cricket?!"