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Location: Upstate, South Carolina, United States

I think that the Meredith Brooks' song, "Bitch," summarizes me rather nicely. Or, if you prefer, X. dell says I'm a life-smart literary scholar with a low BS tolerance...that also works!

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

The Process of Creative Thinking

Jared has always been a more literal-minded boy. He is logical, rational, and avoids most abstract thinking outside of the science and math world. However, this has not dampened his creativity. I think that the Bionicles he loves to build helped to nurture unique approaches to problems, plus the stories we've read, plus playing D&D (yes, I'm raising geeklets), plus playing a few video games. I've noticed that Mr. Science and Math truly lets that creative side fly whenever he's asked to draw anything at school. NOTHING he does looks ANYTHING like what the other kids do. I love it! Ariana is much the same way, actually. Their quirky views on the world amuse me.

For instance, in Jared's second grade class, they were required to write a short essay on their favorite food. Then, they were to draw a picture involving that food product. Jared's favorite food is tacos, so his little essay focused on what he enjoyed about eating them (he defined his ideal taco as one with meat, sour cream, and cheese on it--damn that vegetable crap!). Then he drew his picture. His teacher took the better half of the class' essays and posted them up in the hallway with their accompanying artwork. When I saw his picture, it made me giggle.

See, all these other kids are drawing normal stuff: them eating the food, their parents cooking the food, everybody sitting down at a table and enjoying a feast, etc. Every last one of them went along that theme. Then there was Jared's. At first, I had to stare at it to realize what was going on. First of all, the picture was of the sky and clouds. I suppose it was taco heaven? Then there's Jared riding a taco on its side like a magic carpet. Two other tacos--apparently with wings--were flying around in the sky as well. Bwahahaha! That's simply awesome. I will never look at a taco the same way again.

Then they had to draw pictures that will be made into various items like magnets and mugs and such. The kids are asked to do these pictures right before Christmas every year as it's a part of the fundraisers for the school. You're supposed to buy one of these items with your kid's picture on it and maybe give them out as Christmas gifts. Anyway, most of the kids have pictures of family, friends, their favorite sports, or their pets/favorite animals. Now, let's review what my children did:

1) Jared drew a picture of The Holy Grail. I'm not even kidding you. It's a highly detailed picture, too, with the grail glowing in the middle of it and hovering next to a tree.

2) Ariana drew a vampire tomato. Yes, that's right: vampire tomato.

My children's weirdness will never cease to delight me.

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Easy Come, Easy Go

Well, after Alex got his job up in Rock Hill, we decided that our goal would be to manage to finish paying off my car, buy him a car and pay it off, and then get me good and knocked up in the spring. Then I'd move up with the kids (the ex willing) to Rock Hill over the summer, do an online course or two for Clemson, do the AP program, then quit working. Well, unless I could find some online classes to teach during the fall and spring--THAT would be manageable while pregnant and grumpy. Money would be very tight when we reverted to Alex's income because we still have his enormous student loans to pay off. Without those loans, we'd be able to manage fine on his salary and even purchase a house. But no, we realized that we'd have to wait out the rest of the life of the loans before we could do some house hunting (three and a half years, maybe four). Still, it was a happy plan. We were content with it. And even though the kids weren't crazy about moving away from their friends, they were up for the move to Rock Hill, too. And even though I'm not crazy about being knocked up again--I'm a miserable pregnant woman who does NOT glow--I was looking forward to having another baby with the man I love. Meanwhile, Ari says she's praying for twins. I told her that she could have the pick of the litter.

So, with these goals in mind, we would cut back on expenses but still be able to enjoy life a bit more than we have in the past because we'd have some decent money coming in. Sure, we had to support two households and start paying off two cars, but it was all feasible!

Then, of course, it all unraveled. Why, you ask? Because whatever bills and emergencies you have coming in seem to be related to your income...that's why! First, Alex's teeth started causing more problems. Between root canals and crowns, since July, we've plunked down about $1200 out of pocket on his teeth (dental ins--decent ins, too--took care of the rest). Then my sixteen and a half year old cat, Chian, was diagnosed with kidney issues. Ok, so we have to plunk down $45 in medicine for that and $40 in special food for him a month...we can swing that...oopsie, looks like he has diabetes, too! Now throw in some insulin, some syringes...aw, shit, looks like diabetes dumps sugar into the urine and encourages bladder infections in cats. Ok, now let's toss in some antibiotics for over a month into the mix. And extra litter used due to the infection (side note: good kitty won't go outside of the box even when he has a bad infection. It was so sad--he'd just crawl into the box and out again, napping near the box so he wouldn't miss it).

I started to mentally calculate how much extra work I could squeeze in at Total Wine, and then I tried to tally if our goals were still feasible. I didn't finish the calculations before Clemson University decided that in order to save money, they'd force each and every worker at Clemson to take five unpaid days off. So, starting in December, I guess my paycheck will be $100 light all the way through May. They also told lecturers--folks who only get paid to teach--that we had to somehow manage to take off those five days without cancelling classes. HAHAHAHA! Dudes, that's not possible! Did you just ask me to work for free? Why yes, yes, I believe you did.

We've cut back a fair bit, but boy was it sad after we had this temporary time of saying, sure! Let's get yankee candles and some fancy body wash! Still, I take in a deep breath and try to remember the following: we've got each other, gas prices are down to $1.82, we can pay the rent(s), we're eating well, our heat is on, Chian is acting like his old self, and we have two very reliable cars. Right now I'm in Super Budget Mode because not only do I have to figure out Christmas but also I have to figure out the kids' bdays (both the parties and the presents). But we can do it. We will definitely find a way. And I'm still gonna get that baby (um, unless I'm too old at this point, but I don't think 38-39 is too old, right?).


So, Jared received his first graded report card as a second grader. He received all As. His lowest grade was a 97, and that surprised me because although Ari did all As as a second grader, she always had at least one 93 or 94 in there somewhere. So, startled, I looked at Jared and said, "Wow! Your lowest grade is in social studies and it's a 97!" He replied in a mournful voice, "Yeah, I'm not so good at social studies." Bwahahaha! That cracked me right up.


And now for the "I will embarrass the crap out of my daughter" portion of the blog. Well, at least a normal ten-year-old would find it embarrassing for me to tell this tale, but Ari's as easily mortified as I am, so maybe not. She's developing breasts. She's still in training bras, but that won't last much longer. After returning from her father's house last time, she walked in the door, put down her stuff, lifted up her top and training bra completely, and then jumped up and down. "LOOK MOM!" she screamed out, "THEY BOUNCE!!!" Boy is she easily amused. I don't think we have much modesty going off, do we? Should I be scared about the teen years????