Monday, September 28, 2009
Because it's homecoming week, people!!
And if anybody out there can think of something that is more blog worthy than homecoming at a small rural school, I'd like to know what it is.
Yeah, I though so.
Homecoming week for me, since I am an O.M. (Officer Mom) means many things - many exciting and wonderful things that I never dreamed I'd be lucky enough to experience.
LIKE BUILDING ANOTHER FLOAT. woot! woot!
In order to build a float, you first have to load a couple of teenage girls into your van and traipse through Menard's looking for just the right materials to make your float - materials that can be converted into something that conveys the theme of the parade. The theme is ROMAN. This trip to Menard's will involve speaking to many different staff members who will look at you as though you've grown a second head when you say "oh, we're going to use it on a float..." about all the different items you need to purchase.
My idea was to pull an empty flatbed behind our Jeep with a banner that says "Rome Wasn't Built in a Day." But that suggestion didn't go over well.
Unfortunately, I can't tell you our REAL float idea now because there might be moles from the other classes reading this blog and we don't want any of our FANTASTIC ideas being leaked to the wrong people. There is, after all, absolutely nothing at stake here - no prize money, no blue ribbon - so we need to be very careful.
Anyway, back at Menard's you and another O.M. have to get all those materials into your van and/or Tahoe only to find out the ply wood won't fit, causing you to have to make arrangements for somebody with a pickup to come back and get that later. Which will turn into a whole new adventure....
Then you meet at the appointed garage and start assigning tasks to the pack (pack? herd? gaggle?) of sophomores assembled there so we can get this float going. You also realize that JUST ACROSS THE STREET the freshman class will be building their float and you feel a little ashamed as you try to think of ways to send your sophomores over to spy on them to see what they are building. Maybe they could say they lost their frisbee?
This is all even more exciting if it occurs on a day that you are suffering a knock-you-off-your-feet migraine and your mail order prescription company has once again failed to deliver your medication.
Letters are traced. Items are painted. The school mascot is reproduced. The float is taking shape.
All the kids are working well and you are able to stand back and decide that it is not necessary to panic after all. This will get done.
And then you are hit with the realization that last year you GROSSLY underestimated how much candy would be needed to keep all the little parade watchers happy and - OH MY GOSH!!- where will all the candy come from? Because the officer parents simply can't donate everything!! Suddenly you are obsessed with candy.
Must. Find. Candy. Preferably one full ton.
This is where the manipulation comes in.
Since you need to buy flowers for the upcoming dance anyway, you go into the local balloon/flower/candy shop and order two corsages and one boutonniere (don't ask), and after you hand over waaaaay too much money, you casually say something like "Would you be interested in donating some candy for the parade so that our kids can throw it from their float?" And when the nice lady asks how much, you say "Whatever you are willing to give would be greatly appreciated."
And then you walk out with two pounds of Bit-o-Honey.
Then you go back to Menard's where you, just a few days prior, had spent waaaaay too much money on float supplies and ask the same question, only to be told that those requests have to go through their home office, which takes about two weeks. And you're really disappointed because, really, what's a giant bag of tootsie rolls to these people when you just put $170.00 on your credit card (for which you'll be reimbursed) to purchase supplies from their store?
But you refuse to be bitter so you thank them nicely and head to Pizza Hut where you are hoping to snag some pizza boxes.
Once again you decide to follow your "pay first, then beg" policy. So you order a salad bar to go and then casually ask how much they would be willing to sell their pizza boxes for, unless, you know, they'd be willing to DONATE them. Then you say the magic words..."The kids are going to use them on their homecoming float."
And the nice young man says he thinks he can give them to you but let him check with his general manager, as he pulls out his cell phone and - GREAT NEWS - the GM says you can have the boxes if you promise to come in and eat pizza sometime soon.
Ummm....pizza? Wow, what a sacrifice. So you reluctantly agree to come in for a pizza sometime soon (what's next - force feeding me chocolate?) and skip merrily to your van wondering how you can manipulate your husband into donating a new sofa to your living room.
Friday, September 25, 2009
I think not.
Sweet Kayla Beth - Sophomore class vice president, softball fanatic, scholastic bowl member, extreme social butterfly. My girl.
Big Man on Campus Blake. Senior, wrestler, future marine. Sufferer of severe senioritis. Mother thrilled he's actually smiling - almost. Shirt? Also worn in sophomore photo AND junior photo.
Like I said: JUST. LIKE. HIS. FATHER. My boy.
Blake's formal senior portraits are scheduled for October and we are going to have some family pictures taken at that time too.
Then we got home and had to wait on pictures to be printed and sorted.
And real life started happening again.
And I said to Paul one night "It's kind of sad that the memories of our vacation are fading such that we don't even sit around in the evening saying 'remember this....' Life goes on."
And he said "yeah."
It was my goal to journal our vacation, day by day, as a reminder to our kids so that one day they might look back and say "oh yeah, that really was a fantastic 12 days."
And I still want to do that, but have allowed things like the back to school rush, a new job for my husband (yeah, a whole new series of posts), fund raisers, homecoming week, and just the excitement of my life in general (FLU SHOTS!!!) to get in my way of documenting some of the most exciting days our family has spent together.
Well, NO MORE, I say!
From now on, there will be no more posts on this blog that do not pertain to the W Family's trip to Europe until I have expended every word, every memory so that it will finally be part of my legacy that is this blog.
And it's all printed and bound, on it's way to a publisher who will surely see to it that it lands on the New York Times bestseller list.
I will admit it has become more like an assignment that I must complete instead of an easy flow of words describing the trip of a lifetime with my family.
But I have a feeling that as I start to review the photos again and sit down to recap each day, the excitement will pick up and I will once again enjoy putting into words this journey that was actually indescribable.
If I remember correctly, I am about to recap our trip to Bayeux and the beaches of Normandy, which might be why I have stalled out a little bit.
My grandfather was there, and as I sit and look at the photos of him in his Army uniform and I try to imagine his journey, I simply cannot wrap my mind around it.
But the ideas are forming and the words are coming. And I do find it important to put these words to paper, so to speak, not for the sake of the few of you who read my blog (although I am thrilled to have you check in) but for the sake of my children who simply must know the connection they have to one of the many many heroes that left their homes and fought on a distant land to liberate a continent.
I think I'm back on track, kids.
Thursday, September 24, 2009
You can go into your local Walgreens any time between 10:00 a.m. and 4 p.m. seven days a week and get a flu shot for $24.99. I think I even saw that there would be an actual nurse there giving the shots. Perhaps I was wrong.
So, since our family doctor is 21 miles from our house and Walgreens is about 2 miles from our house, I decided to take advantage of the Walgreens Flu Shot Service and go get myself vaccinated today.
So I show up, fully expecting to have to fill out a little information slip stating my name, date of birth and medical issues. And then I though that a nice nurse from, oh I don't know VNA or something, would take my form and stick a needle in my arm.
Um...not so much.
I was instructed to fill out the form and return it to the pharmacy counter, where it would then be placed in the "we'll get to it when we can" pile - along with all the prescription requests.
"We have to treat it like a prescription," the pharmacy tech told me.
I sat in a nice molded plastic chair and read a riveting magazine/pamphlet entitled
Diabetes and You, while glancing around the store looking for the ever elusive nurse who was supposed to be sticking a needle in my arm.
Hmmmm. I couldn't seem to find the nurse. I was, however, starting to see red flags every where I looked.
After a 20 minute wait, my self prescribed flu shot finally made it to the top of the prescription request pile and somebody called out my last name.
Oh goody, I'd get to meet the nurse!!!
Only instead of a nurse, a pharmacist pulled herself away from her pharmacisitacizing and came out to the plastic chairs armed with alcohol wipes, rubber gloves, and needles.
Are pharmacists trained to give injections?
I mean do they have practical, hands on experience with needles....on real live people?
I'm just askin'.
I don't think this one did.
I'm sure she's an excellent pharmacist and has tremendous knowledge in all things pharmaceutical.
But she really wasn't meant to give a shot.
She somehow managed to push the needle against my skin without actually puncturing the skin, but merely briefly torturing my arm with a searing pain that made the left side of my mouth curl up in a little snarl while little silver sparkles flashed in front of my eyes.
And then she let out a little "Hmmmm," like she was confused as to why the needle wasn't actually, you know, piercing my flesh; followed by a nearly inaudible grunt as she gave the needle one final thrust, causing the needle to not only pierce my flesh but also enter it approximately one quarter of an inch.
Now, I'm not one to be bothered by needles, but I let out a little wince and she said "Oh, did that sting a little?"
Ummm....yeah, if you call having a dart thrown into your bicep "stinging a little."
I guess this professional cross-over could be a good thing. If pharmacists can now give injections, maybe the man who changes the oil in my van can now fly a commercial jet.
And maybe I can deliver my neighbor's baby in February.
Friday, September 18, 2009
I have received a note from the local "Behavioral Health Center" - that would be the mental health clinic - AND a note from the Midwest Center for Plastic Surgery.
Clearly my husband has been in contact with these organizations.
Upon opening the plastic surgery letter first, I found this note:
Dear Mrs. W
As Medical Director of Midwest Center for Plastic Surgery I've decided to offer a select group of individuals the opportunity to get to know my staff and I...blah, blah, blah.
Aside from the poor sentence structure - shouldn't it read "to get to know my staff and ME?" -
I could not bring myself to read further; it was, after all a five page letter/advertisement.
Because, how rude!!
I will admit that I'm intrigued by the final page that offers $900 OFF! any series of three or more fraxel treatments - must present coupon for discount. I have no idea what fraxel treatments are but they don't sound pleasant. Plus, I cannot imagine myself presenting a coupon to my doctor.
Thank you Mrs. W; that will be $2500 today please.
Oh, wait I have a $900 coupon. Wow that really makes it much more reasonable doesn't it?
If I can't be bothered to use a coupon for kitty litter, I can't be bothered to use a coupon for fraxeling. Plus there's that sentence structure thing again. I may have cellulite and crows feet but I really do like me some good grammar.
Now for the mental health correspondence, I had decided before opening the card that I might be willing to cash in the coupon for some mental health evaluations.... for the good of my family.
But alas the mental health correspondence is merely an invitation to a fundraiser for a day center for homeless adults.
A fundraiser which we may or may not attend.
Depending on whether or not I've healed from my plastic surgery by that time.
Sunday, September 13, 2009
Ships of the Royal Navy
My girl on the deck of the ferry
Cars driving onto the ferry
While I think the sudden death of said cell phone is totally beyond the control of the cell phone owner; I still do not enjoy the thought of entering this little shop of horrors where rude sales people, numerous contracts and long lines await me.
I will be lying in bed tonight thinking of the many things I'd rather do than spend time at the cell phone store tomorrow:
- root canal
- child birth
- an ice pick to the eye
-an ice pick to the other eye
- re-enrolling in that Church History class I took in college
- sitting through a fifth grade band concert
- swim suit shopping
- the South Beach diet
- bathing the cat
- letting my husband choose my clothes
Other than that, I think it'll be a real good time.
Thursday, September 10, 2009
So when that happened just this morning I wondered who was sick, who forgot what, or what function I was being asked to volunteer for.
Instead of any of those things it was Blake asking if I would please tell the school secretary that it was indeed OK for him to watch President Obama's Back to School address.
I'm guessing Blake's Current Events class is watching it today.
I do not fault the school for needing permission for Blake to watch this speech. They do, after all, have to cover all their bases with anything that could be considered politically divisive, even explosive.
But here's the thing.
Blake is eighteen years old.
He is old enough to vote.
In less than nine months he will be leaving for Marine Boot Camp where he will be trained to fight in a war.
He no longer falls under the confines of the city curfew.
And to top it all off, he is more politically astute than his father and I and probably more so than many adults.
I think he is old enough and smart enough to decide if he wants to watch the President give a motivational speech to students.
So I said No way, he absolutely could not watch that Presidential address!
Oh stop. You know I'm kidding.
Actually I apologized to the secretary for having to take time out of her busy day to make a phone call to me because my son forgot to get a permission slip and then I said Yeah, he can watch the president.
As a Republican I see absolutely nothing wrong with President Obama wanting to address our school children. Having seen previews of some of the ads that went with the speech, I was not thrilled with the little montage of stars saying "I pledge to be a servant to President Barack Obama." How about pledging to be a servant to our country?
But that was not enough to make me keep my children from watching our president address our nation's children. As much as we disagree with many of his policies, we have always tried to teach our kids that the office of the president deserves respect. And it can never hurt to listen to a message that is meant to do nothing more than motivate kids to work hard, stay in school, and always try your best.
Because some kids really need to hear that kind of talk...ahem.
Even Blake, who has very strong political opinions (Republican opinions)and, due to his youth, sometimes has a hard time softening his own views to make room for the views of others, has said that he doesn't understand what all the uproar has been about. "There is nothing wrong with our president addressing school kids. Other presidents have done it," he told me the other night when I asked how he felt about the controversy surrounding this speech.
When George W. Bush was president I often commented that I had never seen such hatred for a man and I truly felt the attacks on him were vicious and unwarranted. Many of the attacks were against the man and not against his policies.
And now the same is happening with President Obama. There is such hatred and anger surrounding the president that it makes me wonder who would ever want to pursue the office.
Some might think that a Republican such as myself would be glad to see President Obama receive some of the venom that our last president had coming at him from all directions. While I'll admit that the shallow part of me is glad to see the other side realize it's not so easy to do that job, I'm actually just sad about the whole thing.
Isn't it sad that no matter who presides in the Oval Office, there are those who are determined to spend four or eight years full of anger and hatred?
I do not know if there are many left in Washington who truly want to serve our country. I do not know if there are many left who think of country first and self last, as they all claim while they are campaigning. The few who truly want to serve country first are drowned out by the voices of those looking out for number one.
So because there is such a volatile political divide in our country, our children now need permission to watch the President of the United States give a speech.
And now I need to find a way to watch that speech because, when Blake gets home tonight, I don't want him to be able to politically one-up me....again.
Tuesday, September 08, 2009
Upon arriving at the train station late that afternoon, I realized we had not brought any umbrellas and, since it had rained at least part of every day so far, I decided to pick up a couple at one of the station shops, because who wouldn't want an umbrella from London?
But then I got the stink eye from Paul.
Because he thought since we had some umbrellas back at the flat there was no need to purchase more, even though we were traveling 1,000 miles AWAY from the flat.
For three days.
We had a 90 minute train ride through the beautiful English country side. And I do mean beautiful. The scenery was out of a perfectly set movie. We saw deer, sheep and lots of rabbits. We saw beautiful farms and rustic little cottages. Everything was green, greener than things are around here in late July.
We arrived in Portsmouth, England at about 5:00 p.m. Portsmouth is also an historic town. It served as a staging ground for Allied Troops as they prepared to cross the English channel to France. Except I think our method of travel across the channel was much more pleasant than that of our troops.
Of course it was raining when we arrived.
So we carried our luggage out of the train depot and flagged a cab to take us to our Holiday Inn Express, only to have the driver say "Do you know where it is? It's just right around that corner. It's really not worth your money for me to drive you there."
Okie dokie then.
So we dragged our luggage up hill and around the corner.
In the English drizzle.
With no umbrellas.
We had two adjoining rooms - nothing fancy, which was fine because we were only going to be there about 12 hours. Paul and I were especially lucky because we had a wheelchair accessible room that also happened to be a smoking room.
So we had plenty of space AND were able to inhale second hand smoke as we slept.
I will get to the shower later.
We had been told about a great new outdoor mall, Gun Wharf Quay, that we were eager to explore.
It was especially exciting to explore it in the rain.
Without an umbrella.
As I got wetter and hungrier, I unfortunately also got grumpier and less forgiving. I grew tired of dashing from awning to awning. So when we decided to separate for a while, I turned into an obstinate 12-year-old and decided that, by golly, I was going to buy not one umbrella, but TWO so Kayla could have one also.
I knew Blake wouldn't want one and I had decided that Paul didn't deserve one.
It was surprisingly difficult to find umbrellas at an outdoor mall in England, but I managed.
And yes, when we met up again, I made sure my umbrella was up in full bloom and managed to give it a couple of twirls as I said "Here's an umbrella for you....Kayla."
Because I'm mature like that.
One of the first shops I wanted to visit was the Pastry Shop because I'm all about pastry and sugar. So I walked into this shop that smelled like Heaven only...wait a minute...I didn't smell sugar. I smelled meat and spices. Turns out in my drooling excitement over another European pastry I had misread the sign and had entered a PASTY shop - not a PASTRY shop. Boy do I wish there had been an "R"on that sign.
After exploring the mall and agreeing that we needed another day to fully enjoy it (which we did not have), we headed to supper at a very nice seafood place - Loch Nye. This was one of only three full service restaurants we ate at on our trip. It was a little out of the kids' comfort zone but they were good sports.
After dinner, Blake and I headed back to the hotel because we were cold and damp. Paul and Kayla explored the area a little more, looking at the ships that were moored in the harbor.
Before bed, the four of us had a wonderful time simply sitting in the lobby of the hotel drinking sodas and talking about our trip so far and what was to come. Simple moments like that are what make the trip so memorable for me.
Since we were getting up at 5:30 to catch the ferry to France, we tried to get to bed early. I did not sleep well at all so it was a difficult morning for me.
A morning made even more interesting by my experience with the wheelchair accessible shower.
See, it was basically a shower nozzle without a stall. There was a curtain, but nothing to contain the water.
It literally flooded the entire bathroom floor.
Perhaps I did something wrong, but for the life of me I couldn't figure out how I could have showered in there without leaving standing water ALL OVER THE BATHROOM.
So as I was using every spare towel we had to mop the bathroom floor I kept telling myself "this is no big deal. I'm going to France. I'm going to France. I'm going to France....."
We finally were able to make it to the ferry landing where we started our three hour trip to Cherbourg, France.
Since I had not slept well the night before, I settled into my seat, popped a Dramamine and slept the entire time.
We arrived in Cherbourg, where we had two hours before we could get our rental car, because in France, most businesses shut down from noon to two. We took this time to eat at a little family owned diner, where the kids and I enjoyed Croque Monsieur, or French Grilled Cheese.
Leave it to the French to make grilled cheese better than anybody else. It had some really yummy ham in it and...get this...cheese on the outside of the bread as well as the inside. I don't know how those French women stay so skinny and, frankly, I resent it a little.
Coming up next...Bayeux -what turned out to be the best part of our trip for Paul and me.
Monday, September 07, 2009
As we are told that it will be a twenty minute wait in the London drizzle, I begin to panic a little because...HELLO...I must find a loo!!
So the host tells me to wind through the upstairs dining room and then down the narrow flight of stairs and there I will find a toilet.
*They are not called restrooms in England - they are called loos, toilets, "ladies" or "gentleman's" And boy do I feel cultured knowing that.*
So after availing myself of the facilities I climbed back up the narrow staircase, wound my way back through the upstairs dining room and back out into the London drizzle, just as our party was called for dinner.
Our server took us back through the upstairs dining room, back down the same narrow staircase and into the back of the DOWNSTAIRS dining room. And I had a vague feeling of resentment about retracing my steps.
A very nice young man was our server and when he asked for our drink orders, I was thrilled to be able to say "Iced tea with lemon, please." God bless America. Blake ordered a Coke, Paul ordered water and Kayla ordered a raspberry lemonade.
Then as we waited on our drinks and looked over the menu, Kayla says "Um....Daaddeee....I think I might have ordered an alcoholic beverage."
She pointed out that there were two raspberry lemonades on the menu and what if the server thought she wanted the one with rum in it?
So we were all like - oh surely he would have known you didn't want the alcoholic one - we'll be fine.
And then he brought our drinks and she took a sip and...YOWZA!!! her eyes couldn't get any bigger!!
Wait, says Daddy, let me try... and sure enough, we had just given our underage daughter alcohol.
So I was all like - we can simply explain to the waiter that we need a non-alcoholic raspberry lemonade and we were sorry for the misunderstanding. Paul, however, was all like - Noooooo-uh, we didn't want to offend anybody (wait, what?) and we would just keep it.
So I was all like well, then it's just going to have to sit there and he was all like - no way, that cost 7 pounds, it's going to be drunk (drunk? drank?).
Is anybody that knows Paul surprised at that... anybody?
I spent seven pounds on that booze, somebody's going to drink it...
So since Kayla got a drink of it, we had to let Blake have a drink of it, and then Paul finished off the fruity, girly, alcoholic beverage that was intended for our underage daughter.
Because he's greedy like that.
Then he woke up in the middle of the night with a really bad headache and I was all like - it's the rum, you know? And he was all like - no it can't be that. And I was all like - Uh huh, it's the rum, you big lush. There's Tylenol in my bag over there.
I wonder if the Museum of London would have been more enjoyable had we given our kids booze BEFORE we went though it.
Sunday, September 06, 2009
Because he is VERY busy at work doing lots of planning and business developing and...well, whatever.
So, while the guys went to have a real live "In the Trenches" experience at the Imperial War Museum, Kayla and I did a little more sightseeing and people watching.
Hey, Kayla what's that?
Heh, made ya look!
The museum had all sorts of aircraft hovering overhead.
Here is my little boy with Little Boy.
Kayla with the police officer.
I think all the police officers are named Bobby....
Kayla and Blake with a palace guard.
Thursday, September 03, 2009
My son is the one in the back. The one wearing the orange cap and the shades. Cody is the other one in the back who also appears to have no shirt on.
Because evidently this was a day they decided to run in their singlets.
I feel a little sorry for Cody's mom because her son did not think to don an orange cap and sunglasses with his singlet while running through the village park.
That pride is mine and mine alone.
For the zeroes of you who are wondering; I'm going to get back on our vacation story tomorrow. Really I am.