Thursday, October 31, 2013

What I didn't do yesterday

Grade anything.

I didn't look at anything remotely resembling something school related. Well, minus meeting an end of the month deadline for my student teacher's education program.  

What did I do on a very rare day off?

1. early morning gym workout
2. got a facial
3. went to Target, alone. Along with the dry cleaners and the bank.Being alone running errands is better than a Carribean vacation. Period.
4. picked up Ben's prescription
5. took myself to lunch at Neomode's with a good book in hand
6. prepped chicken white bean chili and chicken noodle soup in triplicate
7. dropped off Ben's field trip payment to the school
8. Secured camps for Ben over the holidays.  Can we say if Ian is in school, Ben is in camp and mom has a quiet house to get something done.
9. house chores including re-triming the steams on the arrangement I made on Monday.  With some fall leaves I picked up while walking the dog, I had to take a picture of what 3 cheap grocery store bouquets can resemble with some love.
10. returned a bunch of calls and emails, ignored in the last weeks due to work
11. took the dog on an extra long walk on the Greenway listening to an audiobook and loving the leaves at peak color
12.  took the boys to Dollar Tree to buy silly string and glow bracelets for Halloween and carved the last of our pumpkins.

I wrapped up the night with a nice night sitting outside drinking wine and eating cheese with friends.

A nice day, and way to wrap up one of my favorite months of the year.

Monday, October 28, 2013

A most normal, average Monday. Just perfect.

Coming off a busy weekend filled with Halloween plans a plenty including a block party, today was a needed break.  It was a teacher workday for end of the quarter grades and yes, I did curse the computer and the new "let's use technology that takes us back ten years in the opposite direction thanks to our cash-strapped state of education" software that the state has contracted for use by all counties. PowerSchool I think not, more like Power Suck. I didn't get a stack of AP essays graded in time to make the cut.  It was a nice break to be with the kids eating doughnuts off a string in a party game and eating so much candy my pants were tight today.

Bill and I met with Ben's teacher for fall conference earlier today. I walked the dog on a nice fall afternoon, prepped dinner, and picked the boys up a little early.

At day care pick up Ian had a big sticker to "check the dirty clothes bin." Thinking that my eight loads of weekend laundry all clean and put away was about to be ruined by a pair of pee/poop soaked undies and pants were missing.  In their place was MY underwear, a single, and yes clean pair, that had ridden to school in a cleaned nap-time blanket.  I laughed out loud hard. So hard my I add that by the time I got to the car tears were streaming down my face I was still laughing.

We hit up Trader Joes where I bought flowers for myself and let each boy buy one treat for good behavior and because I was secretly celebrating my favorite day of the year.

It is an anniversary that passes every year with little fanfare.  It passed yesterday filled with the boys sharing their TJs stickers with me only to ask for them back, nighttime routines of stalling for extra time denied, but did include extra hugs and telling each of them how much they are my favorite Ben and favorite Ian.   I arranged the flowers, did nightly chores, prepped school stuff, and watched DVR'ed 60 minutes.  It was the most ordinary days, and the best part is I get to do it all again tomorrow.

Monday, October 21, 2013


I busted on rush tickets to see Pussy Riot at the Full Frame Documentary theater in Durham Friday.  Boo, instead Bill and I got caught up on Daily Show coverage of the shutdown. I would have much preferred to be seeing some feminist, punk rock protesting Russian ladies instead of Jon Stewart.

Saturday we finished decorating, yes really more had to be put out, for Halloween.  Minus cutting the pumpkins we are done. Also on the Saturday agenda:  yardwork, gym, errands, baby shower, and our friend Katie coming over to make jack-o-lantern pizzas and Oreo dirt. Thank you Katie for a fun afternoon!

Sunday we headed for a 7 hour stint at the State Fair. Bring on some deep fried goodness between riding rides, superior people watching, and listening to a thrilling video about school bus safety by Toby Keith. Seriously, I had to go into the School bus safety exhibit, which not surprisingly was inside a bus, to pull the boys out. Sadly not until I had first watched a video about train safety in which it insinuated that the kid got hit by the train and THEN the horrid Toby Keith school bus safety.  I found out later that Ben and Ian refused to leave until the volunteer came back with a new supply of school bus shaped erasers.  They much more quickly exited the Germ City exhibit next door when they realized they were going to leave eraser-less and only get to wash their hands.

New this year was a trip across the lake to see a giant smoky the bear as well as the NC Forrest Patrol helicopter and fire truck.  Also new on the list was Ian riding a roller coaster with Bill.  He loved it and asked if he could go on the larger one, bus alas when you are 37 inches high, it was a no-go.

By the end we were all punchy and tired and once home called it a night early.  Mom shirked some much needed grading to continue reading a can't put it down book. The same one she stayed up reading until after 1am and then couldn't sleep due to creepy images running through my overactive imagination.

Tonight, Bill and I are sans children to see Nine Inch Nails.  I SO wanted to go the last time they were in the area in June of 2006 the day before my due date with Ben.  Sadly, we passed thinking giving birth at a NIN concert might somehow be warped into some over-the-top graphic video for the next album. Or, maybe as Ben's due date was 06/06/06, we just didn't want to tempt fate.  Regardless, my 38 year old self is meeting up with my 18 year old self tonight and I am going to be in some Pretty Hate Machine heaven.

Friday, October 18, 2013

Love List- October Edition

Hello October.  Hello home to my favorite month as well as day of the year.  Don't tell anyone but I have been shirking my nightly grading duty in place of reading a great book.  Sure, I'm setting myself up for more this weekend, but man I love curling up in bed with a book I can't put down.

Making my love list for October:

1. The Wake County Library- I never dreamed I would be in sight of finishing 50 books in 2013.  I finished Joyland by Stephen King earlier this week and have Night Film and The Yonahlossee Riding Camp for Girls to pick up at our weekly library run today.  I put aside two other books started this week as I don't want to throw away precious reading time on meh books.  I love the amount of audio and eBooks that are available, often SO much more quickly than in old school book form all for FREE!

2. Crockpot cooking-  Ok, not to sound like some middle-aged housewife in love with her appliances, but I have managed to get homemade soup, roast beef, taco meat, brisket, and chicken all cooked within the last couple of weeks thanks to mom's little helper.  Many of these were freeze ahead and you can hate me for meeting the 6 o'clock dinner rush with all guns blazing.

3. Fall walks- Someone asked me recently what is my favorite thing I do with the boys, and without hesitation I said, "taking the dog and the boys on a daily afternoon walk".  So not everyday are we leisurely feeding the ducks and meanderings around the neighborhood lake, but more days than not we take a 15-30 walk through our neighborhood riding bikes/trikes and walking the dog.  It is a nice decompression after a long day at school and work.  Plus I am sucker for feeding ducks.

4. My AP Gov't kids.  Without a long, boring rant, it's been a mixed bag with teaching my baby of classes.  I feel like I pour so much time into this class and have been met with SO much whining over workload. Sadly even from some, not all, parents who don't get the "college-level survey course" that this class deserves to be taught not some watered down rerun of Sophomore Civics class..  Finally, yesterday during weekly debate on a public policy topic, it all just came together.  Expecting a knock down, drag out over gay marriage I was surprised at their maturity and level of preparation.  Add to it students who have genuinely been interested in the shutdown and were sending me links of pork barrel politics as part of the agreement.  I will proclaim that my work is done here.

5.  Ending a year of kiddo therapy with Ben this week- Most likely a deserving post for longer thoughts, but after a year with weekly appointments, medication trials, parenting appointments leaving me feeling like loser parent of the year we are at the end. I don't regret a minute of time and energy spent being proactive instead of reactive.  As a parent you do what you can do within your resources both financial and what you have to give emotionally. At times this year has been just as hard as any time I personally have done in therapy.  I never imagined that at such an early age I would be faced with my own child needing help.  I'm glad that our family made it a priority to seek answers instead of waiting on the sidelines in hopes that things would just get better on their own.

Happy weekend.  We are attempting to get rush tickets for the Full Frame Documentary Film Friday tonight, baby showering it for a friend, Ms Katie coming to do a special cooking afternoon with the boys, an art class for the 2nd grader, and family bound for the NC State Fair.

Thursday, October 17, 2013

I left my heart in San Francisco

Sorry Tony Bennett and your famous song, but I think Brian's heart is IN San Francisco.

A picture texted from my brother and his girlfriend of the last 14 months on a current extended trip on the West Coast.

So unbelievably happy for him.

For them.

Wednesday, October 16, 2013

If you inflate it, they will come

My husband will tell you that he loves Halloween more than Christmas with a straight face.  I'm not sure if he had some type of unfortunate Christmas sweater incident in his childhood, but I can tell you we have become THAT house on our street.

Since mid-September, yes September, we have slowly been decorating the exterior of the house.  First is was just some all purpose fall decorations. A fake pumpkin here, one there, a few pots of mums.  By end of the month it was full on with 5 different types of lights, hay bales, a fake skeleton wearing a cowboy hat, tombstones, skulls....

ok, you get the picture. I will admit I was the one behind the personalized family signs.  A pumpkin that reads, "the Vinson family" and a giant Candy Corn with our names.  Given my love of candy corn I just had to purchase an ode to the Food of the Gods.

Recently, I came home one Sunday to find not ONE but TWO new inflatables on the porch.  I've give you the ghost one (pictured) is kinda cute.  The other, a pumpkin on a stand, is average decorating fare.  I mean if you are going to do the inflatable thing, why not this beauty? A giant 11 foot black cat that can blow smoke and turn its motorized head?  All available for just over $100.  A week of groceries or the ability for people to question your sanity.  The choice is simple, right?

The other night I was rounding into our driveway after walking the dog only to have a car pull up in slow motion with all the windows down.  The mother inside was pointing to her two kids in the back with what I can imagine was part wonder and excitement on the kids part, likely at the extent of decorating at their house was a lone pumpkin.  Perhaps there was a exclamation of , "Good God, imagine what Christmas looks like at this house!"  Since I own Christmas in my Williamsburg -style arrangement goodness, sadly this lady will be disappointed should she come prowling around again.

For now though, until likely mid November when last year the decorations finally came down, follow the orange and purple glow to Casa Vinson.

Tuesday, October 15, 2013

The Bad Boy School for Bad Words

Conversation with Ben and Ian in the car on the way home yesterday:

Ben and Ian calling each other the worst names they can conjure including: stupid, poopy, diaper, dummy. 

Mom:  "I don't want to hear any more ugly words.  The next word I hear, you are loosing a bear buck.

Ben:  "ok, I'll just use the F word"

Mom: "WHHHAATTT? Where did you hear the F word?

Ben:  "Afterschool, I've heard it is worst than the S word (note the S word in our house is "stupid")

Mom:  "Yes, it's not a nice word for anyone to use. Do you know what the F word is? Secretly hoping that he doesn't actually know if because he has heard ME say it in a moment of anger"

Ben:  "Foo-Foo,  is that right?"

Mom: "uh no"

Ben: "so what does the F word mean, so I'll know if I hear it?"

Mom:  "I'm not saying it because I don't want to even say it out loud, it's THAT bad!"

Ben:  "Fine, then I'm just going to go the the Bad Boy School for Bad Words and learn it myself and I'll tell you"

Note that I overhear the boys (Ian included) in the midst of a fight in the playroom calling each other, "no YOU are the F word"  over and over.

Happily I am glad that so far the Vinson house is not doubling as the Bad Boy School for Bad Language.


Monday, October 14, 2013


Not much to report as 90% of the weekend was spent at home.

I worked late on Friday to curb having to work all weekend at home. Nothing like an email sent at 5:15 pm telling you your kid cut my class today and that I literally watched him get into his car and drive away from the classroom window.

My plan paid off at other than about 3 hours Sunday and a couple of hours Saturday night, I have managed to get a chunk of a book read for an enormous part of the weekend between loads of laundry and some freeze ahead cooking for the week. I even met up with a friend for a late dinner Sunday night.  It was a much needed low-key weekend.

I did have Ian for the bulk of the time since Bill and Ben had gone camping with Y-Guides. We started Saturday morning at "Spooky Boogie Bones" parent and child art class.  He made his monster look nothing like the model.  He told me that "because he was three, his had three eyes."

I swung by home to get Ben, hit the nearby park to blow off steam, then over to have them measured for the family wedding they are in next month.  I do believe this side of hell is being trapped in a Men's Wearhouse with two wild boys attempting to tear the fitting room apart, particle board by particle board.  "I guarantee you'll love the way you look,  said Men's Wearhouse founder George Zimmer.  "I frankly don't care how they look in this wedding, let's get the hell out of this store" said an exasperated mom trying to keep them from overturning a rack of suit jackets.

It reminded me of when Brian and I were of similar ages and we were at the Her Majesty Outlet in Greer, SC with my mom.  Among the racks of little girl slips and camisoles (because in what lifetime did anyone care about modesty?) that Brian and I overturned an entire circular rack on it's side after exploding out of the middle like an volcano.  My mom managed to drag both of us out of the store and then, attempted not to be outmatched by anyone wanting to question her parenting; wore both of us bare butt out on the hood of her car simultaneously.  That, my friends, is a parenting feat of another generation.

I digress, but man did I totally wish I could have called her and apologized for acting like a tool given Ben and Ian's behavior. Something tells me she knows that the V boys can give anyone a run for their money and is laughing her ass off right about now with a giant "Now, you get it."

While Bill and Ben camped OUT Saturday night, we camped IN complete with popcorn and watching Clifford and Daniel Tiger's Neighborhood in Ian's tent.  At one point I got in the tent with him until I convinced him that mom sitting beside the tent was as good as the contortionist position I was in inside the tent.

Sunday we both slept in until I could no longer bribe Ian with the promise of a Dunkin Doughnut to let me keep sleeping.  It was a good weekend filled with some productivity along with lot of time spent in stretchy pants and cozy socks.

Friday, October 11, 2013

Pulling a George Costanza

Just a quick check in.  My "hey, need to post LAST Friday has turned into THIS Friday."

You can likely guess the culprit of work, work, and wait for it... more work. Since Sunday, I'm already at 53 hours/week.  More expected  by weekend- end as any non-kid responsibility time is lined up with grading and a list of parents to contact over failing grades. Plus I'm figuring out how to go about pursuing parent contacts on a cheating ring I have discovered in one of my classes.  I'm treading carefully as the blow back can potentially be difficult in the age of "not my child."  Good times.

The good news is that I picked up another test writing contract for the state. Good money + foot in the door, out off the door of teaching. When I have the time... laughing as I say this as still have personal emails to return that are a good three weeks old.... involves research jobs writing curriculum with a private company as an exit strategy. I might have a marketable skill of value given I have a decade plus of item writing for the state on my resume.  Even a part time gig would be an option if I can pair it with something else to pay the bills.

Don't tell anyone by as soon as I deliver my students to the stadium for the homecoming pep rally later today, I'm sneaking back into the building among the chaos and working through the ra-ra fest.  Last year I literally hid under my desk, a la George Costanza, when I didn't have a classroom and only a cubicle when someone else had the same idea and walked in on my stealth falling down or better yet laying down on the job.

PS- I also have hid during fire drills when not around students to have to lead to safety (aka.. the back of the parking lot.)

Also on the newsworthy front was yesterday as Ben's last day with his counselor.  I meet with her privately next week for I guess a "wrap up and hey do this for the rest of his life" meeting.  Ben described some "finishing my work activity" that I can't say I totally understand, but also felt like it gave him closure.  Maybe learning the word "closure" is part of the activity after a year in kido therapy.  He said he wanted to send her a letter and maybe a picture.  That's my child, I hope, that he shows appreciation for those that give their time and attention to him.

Also on the time and attention front, I overheard Ian's teacher talking about her WIC benefits being cut, or basically stopping.  Little did I know she had a two month old baby.  Can we say stressful life of dealing with a room of 3 year olds and then going home to a baby.  I have been meaning to do a "thanks for teaching my kids this fall card with a small Target gift card to the boys teachers.  Now seems like a good time to do that instead of waiting for Thanksgiving. Stupid, stupid Government for acting like children.

What's on the agenda for the weekend?  A surprise date night tonight to Angus Barn to celebrate Bill being finished with a major release at work that he oversaw.  Bill is heading out of town with Ben with Y guides to camp with their tribe Saturday night.  Ian and I are going to an art class called "Spooky Boogie Bones." Ian and I are doing a date night that involves popcorn at home under a tent of blankets and pillows and watching Daniel Tiger's Neighborhood.  The modern day equivalent of Mr. Roger's Neighborhood that is so bad it is good in all kinds of preschool ways.

Happy weekend.

Thursday, October 3, 2013

Teacher by day, wannabe florist by night

Happiness is spending the night doing your dream job.

Last night I redeemed a Groupon voucher at an area floral shop that offers monthly classes.  The October class featured how to make an autumn door swag using dried materials with a handful of fresh flowers.

I was in heaven.  As soon as I opened the door the smell of happiness overtook me.

As this year rolls along at work, every time I look at the flowers on my desk I think about what I wish I was doing, even as some part-time gig.  I realize that to those who stand all day de-thorning roses or getting up to purchase bulk flowers at 5 am that their job is not glamorous.  But to me, creating something everyday that that makes someone feel loved and special has to be a perk of the job.

The whole time I was designing my arrangement I kept looking over the table at the buckets and refrigerators packed with flowers thinking about what I would make.  I really want to make this dream a reality on some level within the next five years.