Friday, October 31, 2008

I Are The Champion, My Friends...

But my feet...will be hurting...'til the end... (bum bum BUM)

That picture I posted didn't do me justice (and I'm not bragging, it just didn't capture my Sarah-ness.) I won our faculty costume contest. I have walked in governor Palin's shoes all day and my feet are killing me. I have great sympathy for her now for no other reason than it's no fun being this "pretty" all the time.

Several students said,

"Mrs. Cranky, you look really pretty today."

And I am much cuter in full Palin makeup than I usually am.

Others said,,

"Wait...who are you? Are you supposed to be that one chick who's running against Obama?"

I have no response for that.

And still others said,

"You look as good as Tina Fey!"

Which, seeing as how Tina Fey is currently my favorite celebrity-type person, is very flattering while at the same time grossly untrue.

It all makes me so darned happy...

Live From Erlanger...It's Halloween!

Today's guest blogger is none other than Sarah Palin, Republican governor of Alaska and vice-presidential nominee. She stopped in today to spend some time at a local high school during a campaign stop in Cincinnati.

It's so good to be talking to you today from the real America! All the folks here have been so nice. Even Cranky the Librarian when I asked her why the Harry Potter books were still on her shelves even after that liberal propaganda email went around saying that I wanted to ban them before they were even published. She just smiled and leaned against that Barack Obama wall calendar of hers. And then she offered to let me read some of her magazines and newspapers. What a gal.

Remember to get out and vote this Tuesday. Whether you vote for the real Mavericks or for those guys who will raise your taxes and bring socialism to our country, just vote. (Wink.)

Thursday, October 30, 2008

Making the Grade

The kid got her report card yesterday.

No surprises there; she's a smart kid and does well by 1st-grade standards. Her "grades" (they don't graduate to an A-B-C-D-F scale for a few more years) are pretty much what mine were in elementary school. Except for one subject where she outright kicks my butt:


She scored an "E" for "Excellent" in this subject. She has gorgeous, clear handwriting that bears some resemblance to her father's and which, based on her peers' work I've seen hanging in the school hallway, is more polished than many other first-graders. It follows the D'Nealian methods taught at her school exactly while still somehow looking artistic. Her handwriting shows personality and follows form. I know I am bragging, but my handwriting sucks so I am in awe.

Some of you are nodding your head, remembering that time in high school a teacher wrote on a class-written essay, "Please bring a typewriter with you to class." The teacher was only partly joking. Those of you who remember that probably also remember when we had to get in groups and do peer revision on essays; at least once a paragraph, a reader would lean over to ask, "What's this word?" And those were on works that I had actually taken my time to write "neatly" on.

It's been a joke in my family for years. It wasn't so funny the time I got a big fat "U" for "Unsatisfactory" on penmanship on a 4th-grade report card, but it has been ever since.

"Hey, I can make out my name," my sister said about a Christmas gift tag under our tree last year. "When you print, I can almost read what you've written. When did you learn how to write?"

Hardy har har.

I blame it on my dad on several levels. First of all, he had God-awful handwriting and gave up cursive altogether and just printed (a habit I have taken up by necessity.) Secondly, he enouraged me to use my right hand when, at my fifth birthday and about half a year away from kindergarten, I was using both my right and left hands equally when coloring or scribbling.

"It's easier to be right-handed," he reasoned. And I am mostly okay with this and mostly believe that I am truly right-handed. But every so often I pick up a pen and give left-handed writing a try.

"That's almost legible," my husband will say as I sign my name on Ainsley's Magna Doodle with my left hand. "I think that might actually look better than your right-handed signature."

When Ainsley was in day care, her teachers told me they thought she might be left-handed. They saw her favoring her left hand when coloring and doing tasks that required fine motor skills. They broke it to me like bad news; you could tell they sympathized with those kids who were always searching for the one broken pair of left-handed scissors. But I let her be and, sure enough, she began using her right exclusively and produced elegant letters that made me irrationally envious.

And now she is acing penmanship. Go, Ainsley! We'll have the last laugh if a child of my DNA ends up being a calligrapher.

Worry Wart

I'm as jumpy today as a long-tailed cat in a room full of rockers. This may have something to do with the coffee I am drinking, but I suspect it's because I'm a little OCD when it comes to my kid.

See, today is a school field trip. The babes are going to a local farm to pet some animals, pick some pumpkins, and see Kentucky agriculture at its finest. She will learn some things today without even knowing that she's learning them, so that's all good.

But what's not good is that her school has no buses of their own, and our school system charges them a lot to provide buses and drivers for fields trips this year. So the kids are getting to this farm through parent volunteers, and for some reason, thinking of my kid riding in someone else's car freaks me out.

I know, I know. I worry too much. She rides in my car every day and is more likely to someday be in an accident with me at the helm than she is is to be in a collision on this one day on this one trip. She might even be safer going this way than going on a bus. Believe me, I am telling myself this. But it's not really helping too much.

I have a really active imagination. I have since I was little, and in some ways it serves me well. It's made me (arguably) a decent writer and storyteller. An active imagination can be a curse, though. I imagine danger at every corner and can see in great detail all the different ways my loved ones can be in peril. I was always bad about this. When I was a latchkey teenager and my mom would be running late in getting home from her job, I would see flashes of smashed Geo Prizms on the local highway. When Jason had to fly to California for work several years ago I had visions of downed planes and terrorists with boxcutters and pilots asleeps at the helm.

Now that I'm a mom all my frightful imaginings are directed at my daughter. Every piece of hard candy she gets in her trick or treat bag gets lodged in her throat. Every electrical item in her room short circuits and starts a fire after we're all asleep. Every car that comes down our street in the summertime is driven by an out-of-control alcoholic who doesn't slow down when a kid is close to the road. Every ice cream man is a pedophile, and every bump in the night is a stalker creeping in through her bedroom window.

And that's just what I see at home.

Today I will worry about blown tires on soccer-mom SUVs, red-light runners, and seat belts that don't buckle. I will worry about large farm animals who buck when a small child gets too close. I will worry about heretofore undiscovered bee sting allergies and little girls who wander and get lost. I will worry about the possible and the ridiculous in equal measures.

I'd like to think this is normal, but I suspect normal people probably don't worry quite as vividly and irrationally as I do because, let's face it, there'd be a lot more scared-looking parents looking for sedatives running around.

Are you a worry wart? Or are you a laid-back soul who can just tell yourself, "Whatever will be, will be" and go on about your day? If so, I kinda hate you right now.

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Scared Silly

I am in freak-out withdrawal.

Here it is, 2 days before Halloween, and I haven't seen Halloween yet this year. I bought a DVD copy two Halloweens ago, needing to replace my old VHS copy that was so worn from yearly viewings, and it's still in the cellophane.

The last scary movie I saw was The Descent but that was months ago. There was that whole bicycle video someone sent me that made me startle pretty good last week, but my heart beat is back to normal. It's the freaky season, and I need a good freak.

So here's how I am spending my lunch today. I am going to troll the Internets looking for some of my favorite scary scenes from some of my favorite horror movies and shows. I will post them below in no particular order. And hopefully at the end of my lunch I will be good and scared (I could probably satisfy my lunch-scare need by getting the cafeteria's "chicken" nuggets, but I value my intestines too much for that.)


1. The Psycho shower scene
2. Laurie Strode in the closet from Halloween. Appeals to my claustrophobia and one of the most nerve-wracking scenes in cinema history. How many of you find yourself screaming, "Run, girl, run!" at the screen at the end of this clip?
3. Joachin sees the alien in the amateur TV footage in Signs. When we saw this in the theater people screamed like little girls at this moment. I just learned that it's a little more startling when you are studying the screen very closely with the sound muted.
4. The sheriff meets the Peacock boys in the X-Files episode "Home."
5. Mulder and Scully meet Mrs. Peacock in the same episode. Yes, that ep is so good I featured it twice.

Side note to #5: A group of friends and I were playing the classic party game, "Death is Not An Option" one evening. If you've never played, it's a game where you give a person a really terrible choice between "getting with" two people you wouldn't want to contemplate for one reason or another; that person HAS to choose one, because death is not an option. We were having fun with choices like, "Rush Limbaugh or Michael Moore?" when I gave the following choice to a friend: Your mom, or the lady under the bed from that X-Files episode? That proved to be the trump card; the men in the room decided that, without doubt, the lady under the bed would never be the winner and the other choice would have to be the road taken, as horrifying as that other choice might be. The game lost its challenging aspect after that.

6. The opening scene of Scream.

There are some others I would love to find, but alas, I cannot find. The scene in The Sixth Sense where Cole is going to the bathroom with his back to the hallway and a shadowy figure crosses between him and the camera. The climax of The Exorcist where the demon is driven out of the girl and you see it ever so briefly in its winged form. The moment in The Descent when the creature's face pops up behind the girl's shoulder.

What did I miss? What are your favorite Halloween-mood inducing moments?

Monday, October 27, 2008

High School Musical

We made our kid's year yesterday.

We took her to see the much-anticipated conclusion of the High School Musical franchise, High School Musical 3: Senior Year. And her daddy, who scares me sometimes with how easily he is swayed to open his wallet when his daughter asks him for something from underneath her pretty long eyelashes, bought her the soundtrack from Tar-jay the day before so she would know all the songs. It was, as she told me this morning, "a magical weekend."

I enjoyed seeing Ryan, Sharpay, Gabriella, and Troy up there on the big screen. It was a well-done movie that may not change the minds of those too-cool-for-high-school haters but will cement its fan following among kids and their secretly-fanatic parents. I couldn't have had a better time.

Oh, wait. Yeah, I could've. If the kid behind me had not kicked my seat through the whole movie (and had his clueless mother not let him) and if the kid a few seats to my left hadn't babbled through the whole thing (and again if his clueless mother had stopped encouraging him to talk by asking him comprehension questions and asking him to repeat himself whenever he asked a question about what was going on) I would have really enjoyed it.

Seriously, people. I know we were at what is arguably a kids' movie at an early afternoon show. But whatever happened to keeping kids relatively quiet so that people with good movie-going children can hear? Or teaching them that kicking the seat in front of them in rhythm for 2 hours is not acceptable social behavior? I know kids aren't going to be perfect in a movie. But c'mon. Teach them what they should and should not do in a movie theater so that when they're grown they break this much-discussed trend of bad movie house manners. Don't engage your three-year-old in conversation during the movie! Don't let your pre-schooler kick the seat in front of him so hard that the patron in the seat has to remove her soda straw from the back of her throat after taking a drink at the same time as an especially violent push! And if you can't stop that, don't bring them! 3 year-old aren't exactly the target audience, anyway!

"Mommy," Ainsley asked after her bath, "Why did that one kid talk through the whole movie?"

Because his parents are massive tools!


Jason remarked in the parking lot after that it was a cute movie, but also unexpectedly sad.

"It's like we watched those kids grow up. The boys especially look older now; they look like men and not like boys anymore."

As someone who had to censor my brain from having inappropriate thoughts about the definitely manly-looking Zac Efron, I couldn't agree more.

Because I am a sap, I found myself a little teary in the last scene when the kids sang their last number in their graduation robes and took a final bow. They look like they had such a good time. They also looked like they knew that nothing that high-profile may ever come their way again. There was a look of, "I'm twenty years old and my career just peaked!"

That's sad, y'all.

When Jason went to check on Ainsley last night after she had been in bed about an hour, he found her wide awake.

"Daddy, I've been trying to sleep," she said. "But I just can't. I close my eyes but I have those High School Musical songs running through my head and I can't get them out!"

Tell me about it, kiddo.

Did any of you brave the theater this weekend to see this movie with your kiddos? Or are you soooo not into that whole thing? And is the "Scream" scene Zac's audition for the Footloose remake I keep hearing about or what? (In my honest opinion, he totally smokes Kevin Bacon in the good looks and good dancing departments.)

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

Kickstart My Heart

It's that time of year again. The time when I should really know better than to open a video that comes to me through email sent by one of my friends with a subject line of, "You can hear her head hit the pole!" I mean, the person who sent me this video is no more amused than I am by videos of people getting hurt, so why I casually opened it right before parent teacher conferences last night without our school's portable defibrillator handy I have no idea.

Of course, I was watching closely as the girl started riding her bike through what looked like a maze of carnival rides. Of course I was waiting to see her have a humorous accident in which she hit something hard ("You can hear her head hit the pole!") Of course I shot up a good foot out of my chair when the boogeyman suddenly jumped into the scene while my nose was about 3 inches away from the screen.

And of course I immediately forwarded it on to three or four friends. After my heart rate got back to normal.

Every year someone gets me with a good startle video. You know the type; you're told to look for a ghostly mist in a foreign car commercial or to decipher some song lyrics or to solve the puzzle in a PowerPoint slide and just when your full concentration is on your computer screen some creature jumps in your face and screams. After a quick trip to the restroom, I usually find the whole thing funny and try to share the love with some friends or my students (for such a technologically literate bunch, teenagers fall so easily for these things when a trusted figure like the school librarian pulls it up on a screen.)

But here's the thing: I think I'm getting too old for these. Next year at the six-year remission marker, I have to start having my heart checked every year. I just know the first screening test will yield some comment from the doctor like, "Do you know you have a slightly irregular heart beat?" And I will have to say, "Yes, and I am pretty sure that started after Jason's brother sent us the email asking us to watch and listen to a song that played under scrolling lyrics to try to figure out who sang the song, and about 30 seconds in Linda Blair's The Exorcist face popped up full-screen with a loud screen accompanying it."

Really, I think that one scare email took about 6 months off my life. It scared me so bad I cried for a couple of minutes after it was over not because I feared for my mortal soul but because my body had just produced more adrenaline in that split second of horror than it knew what to do with and needed to get rid of it all somehow.

So, if you are an easy startler like me, if you're starting to feel like haunted houses and annual scare emails might be taking their toll on your ticker, let's help each other out.

In the comments, please attach links to any scare videos you've received or know about. If you can't find a link, just describe the video and give any info you can remember about what was in the subject line. That way we'll all know what's out there (at least this year!) and have some advanced warning.

Or, if you still like a good scare, you have some new goodies to pass along to your friends.

I am certainly not saying that I no longer want to get these, because they are fun. I just want to know what to expect the rest of this Halloween season so that I don't fail my next stress test.

And in that spirit, here's a link to the car commercial. You have been warned.

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

Outrage and Gluesticks

Ainsley's teacher done went and ticked me off.

I have been trying to give her the benefit of the doubt. I am an educator; I don't think my child is perfect; I am on her side. I firmly believe in sitting back and letting a teacher do his or her job and not interfering unless harm is being done. And my beef has nothing to do with how she is treating Ainsley or anything she does in the classroom. She's a good teacher.

But she's kind of a bitch.

Maybe that's harsh. But her written correspondence rubs me the wrong way. She's a big fan of exclamation points when telling me as a parent that I've done something wrong. Exclamation points, when used after a command of correction, can seem like yelling.

Initial! she's written several days in Ainsley's homework planner after I have forgotten to initial that my kid has done her homework. Fine. I have forgotten, I think, twice. Though if it were me, I think I would just write Please initial or Oops! and maybe follow that up with a smiley face to let the parent know I am being good-natured about it. But if Initial! were my only reprimand, I'd deal.

Then there was the time I committed the grave mistake of asking for schoolwork in advance for the two days Ainsley was going to be out for us to go out of town for Granny's funeral. That day, the day before we were leaving to put my grandmother in the ground, mind you, Ainsley had this note in her backpack:

School policy states we cannot give makeup work until after the days have been missed! We do not have time to get all that together before the absence! She will need to wait until Friday afternoon and then I will put all her work in a folder for you to pick up at the church office!


I realized my request for early work may have made the teacher angry; I remember that it used to annoy me as a teacher if I was struggling with time and hadn't run copies for that lesson yet. But I didn't demand it; I just said if there was anything the teacher could send with us ahead of time that would keep her from getting too far behind, that we had a long road trip ahead of us and Ainsley could do some reading in the car. But again, I let it go. And vowed to give this teacher a wide berth for a while.

And then came the issue of the gluesticks yesterday.

Ainsley needs more gluesticks. She should've brought extra ones in at the beginning of the year with her other school supplies!


I thoroughly went over her teacher's supply list. I bought what was asked for, including six large gluesticks. Just like the rest of Ainsley's supplies, they went with Ains on that first day in a Ziploc bag and I helped her transfer it all into her chair pocket.

The child started school with six (large! per the teacher's written list) gluesticks. I am certain of it.

I did my job.

I am organized. Ainsley is not so much. I know this. We work on it. My guess is that Ainsley lost them, or gave them away to others who found themselves without, or that other children took them from her chair pocket. Perhaps she ate them. Any of the above is within the realm of possibility. Any of the above necessitates my buying more at the K-Marts yesterday.

But none of those possibilities is my fault. None of those demands a reprimand to me from her teacher implying I didn't follow through with the parental responsibility of sending my kid to school with adequate supplies.

In the event I was making way too much of this, and just in case I was taking her tone wrong (so easy to do in written correspondence, as email has taught us all) I let Jason read it before I sat down to write a snarky reply or put a snippy voice mail in her box.

"Yeah, I see why you're mad," Jason said. "Why don't you write a nasty note back asking how in the world a kid can use or lose 6 gluesticks in one classroom between August and October?"

Let's not go that far.

I am torn now with how to proceed. I'm a little feisty. I don't generally let anyone walk all over me or talk down to me without fighting back in some way. I'm also easy to get my feelings hurt; I got upset the very few times as a kid that a teacher reprimanded me. I don't like it any more now that I am older and a mom myself. I left first grade behind 28 years ago. I have no desire to get a first grade teacher's scorn ever again. This makes me want to respond in some way and to let the teacher know in a nice way that I don't respond well to notes home with commands or reprimands terminated with an exclamation point not followed by a smiley.

I toyed with the idea of sending Ainsley to school today with about 100 gluesticks (large!) in a garbage bag just to make a point. I thought of asking to talk to the teacher in person, I thought of shooting her an email (though we're back to that tricky area of written correspondence and tone), and I thought of just plain shooting her. : )

Just kidding! (See how much better the smiley face makes my tone?)

Help me out here. Especially you moms, though anyone who has dealt with someone whose written tone comes across as off-putting has expertise here, too. What do I do? Besides sit here all day and smolder?

Monday, October 20, 2008

Our Groupie

It's been a very musical weekend for the Crankies.

Saturday Ainsley launched a musical mystery that finally found a solution this morning.

We had been running some errands Saturday afternoon, listening to Cincinnati's top 40 station. I had been focusing on my running around not really paying attention to the radio. We pulled into the driveway and starting unloading the groceries when Ainsley piped up.

"I really liked that one song. Did you hear me singing along?"

Sad to say I had been so focused on Saturday traffic and the cans that came loose from our bags and rolled around the hatch that I hadn't heard her singing. And the only song I could clearly remember was "Sexy Back," not because I like it per se, but because I always wonder if it's truly appropriate for me to sing along when I have Ains in the car listening closely to what's coming out of my mouth.

"What song was it?" Pleasepleaseplease not "Sexy Back."

She hummed a little something I couldn't recognize.

"Ahhh! But I don't remember the words. But I really, really like that song."

We tried in vain the rest of the weekend to figure out what song, because it really amused me that something besides a tune from High School Musical or the Miley Cyrus repertoire would capture her musical attention. I think the songs you like end up saying a lot about your personality (which is why I had such a hard time admitting I secretly love "My Heart Will Go On") and I was curious to see where my kid's tastes are heading. Later Saturday afternoon she dropped everything to inch close to the TV and watch a random Gaelic Storm concert we caught on our cable's HD music channel. It truly warmed my heart.

This morning I turned to the same top 40 channel, and since they play the same songs over and over, we heard her song that she loved so much.

"That's it!" Ainsley said. "That's the song!"

It was...wait for it...

"Disturbia" by Rihanna. Catchy, saccharine pop at its finest.

"That song gets stuck in my head," she said. "Especially that one part."

Sadly I know that one part. It's the dum-dum-dee-dum-dum-dum-da-dee-da part. That line was, I am positive, contrived by some genius music producer for the sole effect of drilling a hole into your brain and festering there to run through your conscious mind on an endless loop. Fifty years from now I could be suffering from dementia in a nursing home and hear someone go, "Rihanna!" and I will not be able to stop myself from going dum-dum-dee-dum-dum-dum-da-dee-da.

She didn't just get into radio pop this weekend. Yesterday was a big day for us; Rock Band 2 was launched for the PS3, and we would have no social life to speak of if it weren't for our weekly Rock Band jam sessions with a couple of close friends. Which is to say we don't really have a social life to speak of. Give us a break; we're parents.

Wanting to crack into the new songs on RB2, we encouraged Ains to bring her Barbies downstairs and to enjoy a concert given by her mom and dad. We usually wait until she's in bed to scratch our fake musical itch because Rock Band is just complicated enough that Ainsley gets frustrated when she tries to join us. But we couldn't avoid the siren call of the new game.

After our first set, with mom on vocals and dad on drums rockin' to "We Got The Beat" and "Livin' On A Prayer", Ainsley got up on her feet.

"Again! Again!" she said.

We did a few more sets, and Ainsley was our groupie, grooving to the beat and dancing along with each song and even keeping our audience of Barbies in line. When it was time to quit and do yard work, she was more sad than we were.

"Aw! But I want to keep dancing!"

"We will another day. Which song was your favorite?"

"The fast one!"

I am guessing "the fast one" was the Go-Gos, but I was surprised by her love of Rihanna, so who knows.

So I feel like our fake musical career is complete. Our band, Emerald Isle Raincloud (so named as an homage to Gaelic Storm and the less charming Celtic Thunder and in honor of that one Irish ancestor I found 10 generations back) has its own very dedicated groupie.

Friday, October 17, 2008

Out Of The Mouth Of Ains (And My Mom): Anatomy Edition

First, a good one about my mom.

It looks like she's coming home today after being in the hospital since Sunday with pneumonia. So that's good news. But her hospital stay wasn't completely without humor.

Between the narcotic cough syrup they give her at night and the pain relief they were giving her those first few days when her chest felt like an elephant was on it, she has had some loopy moments. One evening a heart doctor she had never met before came into her room to check her out; mom has a coronary artery blockage and they wanted to keep an eye on her heart while she was fighting off the infection.

My sister came to visit a couple of hours later.

"What day is it?" my mom asked. Even when unmedicated, we often have to remind her what day it is because she's not big on calendars or timepieces and doesn't work anymore.

My sister told her.

"But it's not Halloween or anything, is it?"


My mom then said that she figured there must be a Halloween party somewhere in the hospital because a doctor came into her room with either an awful-looking mask or some very well-done fright makeup.

Once she told my sister the doctor's name, it occurred to Joanie...this doctor has a facial deformity. One side of his face is severely disfigured, whether due to an accident or a birth defect we don't know. When I told Jason the story, he confirmed that he has seen this doctor around the various times his own mom has been in the hospital.

But that's not the funny part. The funny part is what my mom said to him when he came into her room decked out, she thought, for Halloween.

She said he stood in the doorway for a moment. She thought this was to give her the full effect of his "costume."

"How are you doing today, Mrs. Hyden?" he asked.

"A lot better than you are, apparently!" she replied. She thought that was the sort of reply he was going for with his "mask."

Let's hope he gets those kind of comments a lot from well-medicated patients and has developed a tough skin about them.

Now a story about Ains.

After my root canal yesterday, I was pretty sore and didn't feel up to taking Ainsley to her swim lesson. Jason took care of it, and when the lesson was over he took her into our gym's family changing room, where parents can take their children of a different sex and take advantage of spacious private changing rooms hopefully away from naked non-family members of a different gender.

It doesn't always work this way.

When Jason took her in there, there were a couple of boys getting out of their swim trunks right there in the open and not in a private room. Ainsley started staring.

"Daddy, why do those boys have strings coming out of the butts?"

It took him a second to realize what she was talking about. Since it wasn't really a good time and place to explain the difference between little boys and little girls, he just put his hand on her shoulder and told her to head to the women's locker room where he would wait outside and let her handle things on her own.

I honestly thought she already knew about boys' "strings"; after all, she was in daycare and saw younger kids being changed, and we've dealt with mothers bringing boys into the women's locker room to change before.

But I guess it's time for that part of "the talk."

Thursday, October 16, 2008

The Whole Tooth and Nothing But the Tooth

Root canals ain't so bad. Particularly when your dentist senses your apprenhension and hears your jaw pop like a 4th of July firecracker and realizes that holding your jaw open for 2 hours might be a problem. For when my dentist took note of these things, he decided laughing gas might be in order.

The tech asked before she put the nitrous mask on,
"Are you a drinker?"

Hahahaha! That's like asking if Miss America wears makeup.

With the assurance that I would shortly feel like I'd had two beers and wouldn't care what was going on in my mouth, I felt no worries and two hours later I wandered out with the right side of my face feeling like it had been moved to Florida and a new temporary crown holding the place for a new permanent one.

I was offered Vicodin, because there was a lot going on with that tooth and the root canal was pretty deep or extensive or whatever long nasty root canals are, but I decided I have enough vices without walking around on narcotics.

And the best part? A few hours later when I picked Ains up from school and decided to treat us both to a milkshake, the cold and sweet didn't bother my newly unnerved tooth.


Isn't modern dentistry grand?

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

Drill, Baby, Drill

I doubt I will be blogging much tomorrow or the next day. I am having a root canal tomorrow and have gotten conflicting reports on how I am going to feel in the 24 hours after the big drill. I'd like to say that just because my mouth is swollen and sore and shot full of novocaine that my brain won't be numb, but dental work and my stomach traditionally don't get along (my mom eventually learned to make me carry a bucket around with me for about 6 hours after any filling I had as a kid after about the third time I came home and puked without warning on some upholstery or all over the driveway.) So I am a little leery of how productive I'll be the next couple of days.

The scary part is that I am looking forward to this procedure because this tooth has become sensitive to hot foods, cold foods, and sweet foods, and when something is hot and cold and sweet like a warm brownie topped with ice cream, it's like someone is stabbing me in the jaw. And I just can't deal with that. A warm brownie sundae is what makes my world go around.

Have any of you had the dreaded root canal? Is it really that bad? Will I ever enjoy hot, cold, and sweet again?

Happy (?) National Grouch Day

Oh, this is a day made for The Cranky Librarian, no? October 15 is National Grouch Day (and also my sister's 25th wedding anniversary, holy crap) so let's grouch, shall we?

You hear my rants all the time. Go ahead. Unleash the cranky librarian, libertarian, teacher, or whatever in you. Hit me with some good grouchiness.

Extra points if your rant can be as awesomely grouchy as this one:


Tuesday, October 14, 2008

Sundays In The ER With Mom

Wow, what a fall break this has turned out to be.

My mom has been in the hospital since Sunday with pneumonia. She's going to be okay, I think. Her road to recovery is slow because her doctor (and at this point I use the term loosely) didn't get the diagnosis right at first and she wasn't initially on the right antibiotic, but that seems to be resolved now (though it is only 5:00pm, and for whatever reason, when things go wrong with my mom's health they go wrong after dark.)

I am always struck when in the ER and hospital with a loved one just how different the real medical world is from the world depicted on TV medical shows. If only Dr. House were a real guy, and if all pediatric residents looked like George Clooney, these trips I make accompanying someone during a medical emergency would be so much less frustrating and so much more enjoyable. Alas, things don't get resolved with good humor and well-chosen music like on Scrubs. And problems certainly don't get wrapped up tidily in a half an hour.

There are so many things frustrating me about my mom's care now that I dare not get started on them all. Suffice to say I have been trying to give the staff surrounding my sick mom the benefit of the doubt, because they have hard jobs that I couldn't do, but after a nurse got snippy with me today when I asked for another blanket for Mom, it was all I could do to keep my head from exploding. I know they're busy. But when my cold-natured mom shivers under a paper-thin sheet and is not running a fever, I don't see the big deal. I aksed nicely. Tell me where the damn blankets are and I'll get it myself. Bitch.


So it's back to work with me tomorrow, and I know I will spend the whole day worrying and jumping at every phone call from an outside line. I will feel guilty, as I always do, that I have a small child and a full-time job and can't be ever-jigilant in her hospital room until the crisis is over. I always thought the baby boomers were just whining when they bemoaned at being the "sandwich generation", torn between caring for kids and caring for aging parents. I still think they may be a little self-important there, because doesn't every generation have to care for both kids and parents? But I am starting to get why they are stressed. It's hard to work, to raise some kids, and to know that the person(s) who sacrficed to get you where you are need(s) you to look out for them, too. I don't know anyone who does it who doesn't feel guilty that one branch of your tree in a moment of crisis isn't getting the attention it needs.

All we can do is hope that those who get paid to administer their care are doing their jobs when we can't be there, when we have to come home and get some sleep and look after our spouses and kids and houses, are having a good day and are on top of things and measure out the right medicines and the right emotions in that order.

Friday, October 10, 2008

Out of the Mouth of Ains, Like, Totally

A few nights ago Ains was talking about how last year she spent most of the year sitting next to her frenemy, Greg, and this year she has found herself sitting next to him again.

"I sat with him all last year and now I'm sitting with him again and I am totally not okay with that."


Then yesterday in art class she made a cute picture using some kind of horse stencil. She outlined three horses and at the bottom wrote (this is her grammar and punctuation):

Ainsley(s) horsis

And at the top:

My Littel Pones

And out of each pony's mouth she had a little dialogue bubble (she has just discovered these devices) saying some version of, "Fabulous!" The spellings differed depending on the pony, and one just said, "Fab!"

And then the best part. Off to the side she had written:

I Love you Mom! and Thanck you for being 20% Good Mom : )

Of course, her smiley face wasn't an electronic one, so it was right-side-up.

See, her teacher this year uses percentages for all their little tests and quizzes, and Ainsley just wanted to use a percent sign.

"You know, Ains, 20% isn't very much."

"Ahhhh!" she said, taking the paper from my hand and erasing the 20.

"How about 860%? Is that a lot?" she asked.

Yes. I do believe that makes me the best good mom there is.

Wednesday, October 8, 2008

Beware the "Elephan"

My kid came home with a finished 1st-grade assignment that makes me wonder if perhaps she needs some anger counselling.

After reading the classic If You Take A Mouse To School in class, the kiddies had to fill out their own paper filling in the blanks to this prompt:

If you take a _____________________ to school, ____________________________.

Great, right? It gets the kids to use their imaginations and apply it to a book they've read.

Ainsley's finished prompt read like this (unedited):

"If you take an elephan to school, I wude make him stomp everbudy."

No. Not scary at all.

Then there's the illustration.

It's quite good, really. Ainsley picks up a little artistic ability from Jason's side of the family. She drew a big floppy smiling purple elephant that looks just like her beloved Lumpy. Except that in the picture Lumpy goes on a murderous King-Kong like rampage.

His two front feet are raised in the air and right below them are two kids with dialogue bubbles next to their mouths filled with "Aaaaaaaaa!"

There's a third figure off to the side with brown hair and a big grin on her face, sitting at a desk. That would be Ainsley herself.

When I showed it to Jason, I expected alarm and concern. Instead, he cracked up.

I failed to see the humor in an illustrated version of a death-by-elephant massacre. Though I did appreciate it as a work of art.

When we sat down and asked Ainsley about the picture, her big brown eyes twinkled and she laughed her sweet, innocent (or so I think) little laugh and said she was just trying to be funny and was just kidding. She said she knew that a real elephant stomping kids would kill them and that wouldn't be funny and she wouldn't want that. She's only six, and seemingly wouldn't hurt a fly (mostly because she's afraid of most insects), so I am giving her the benefit of the doubt. But could this signal some inner rage and potential for violence? Did Ted Bundy draw pictures of largish purple elephants wreaking havoc in the classroom?

Just in case, I am never letting her take an elephant to school.

Tuesday, October 7, 2008

"The Gay"

Every year at Banned Books Week, I learn something new from our students.

Every year when the ALA celebrates Banned Books Week, I invite English teachers to sign up to bring classes in for a short talk about the freedom to read, censorship, and the top banned books of that year. After all, many of the books our English teachers teach are perennial favorites on the banned books list. I'm always amused by the irony of Fahrenheit 451 being a frequently challenged title.

This year, for the second year in a row, the children's picture book And Tango Makes Three topped the list. It's a true story of a same-sex penguin couple, who had been spotted trying to hatch a rock after observing the other penguin couples parenting chicks, in Central Park Zoo. They were given an egg to hatch after a "normal" penguin couple laid two eggs and were only taking care of one. Roy and Silo successfully raised the chick, Tango, and according to the book are still a couple to this day. (Different websites I visited gave conflicting information about whether or not as of 2008 Roy and Silo are indeed in a monogamous partnership.)

The idea that a children's picture book about penguins (c'mon, it's no Daddy's Roommate or Heather Has Two Mommies) should get more censoring scorn than, say, the f-bomb-dropping Nick and Norah's Infinite Playlist (intensely enjoyable, by the way) or the final installment of that witchcraft-promoting Harry Potter series piqued my interest. Our students in the past have been very anti-banning; once a hot-button social issue gets thrown into the works, would their opinions on same-sex relationships themselves cause more students to agree with the censors?

Two different things happened while I read the book aloud. Some students, mostly girls, went "awww" at the general cuteness of the penguins and their very G-rated love story. Others were shocked at the point in the story where it became clear that Roy and Silo were mates; jaws literally dropped open and some giggled nervously.

Each class was pretty evenly divided between those who thought the book was okay for elementary school kids to read and those who would not have wanted their own children to have access to the book. Some of the things I heard made me view my school's community in a different light; two different senior girls stated that they worked in two different daycares in our county each with a child being raised by a two-daddy household. One entire class came to a surprisingly not-tense agreement that the book isn't that big a deal and students should have access to it because it's 2008 and same-sex couplehood is something kids are going to see. About 5 minutes after I opened discussion one student voiced this opinion, and every single kid in the room shook his/her head and murmured in agreement, and that was that. One other class got so fired up on both sides that one girl left in tears ("Why are there so many haters?" I heard her say as she left; another student in the class had actually said, "I would disown my child if it was gay.") Most were able to carry out a reasonable discussion, though, and at the end agree to disagree in a surprisingly adult way.

Some things the kids said were unintentionally funny. One very nervous sophomore boy, after fumbling over the word "homosexuality", just called it "The Gay" in the rest of his comments. Instead of making fun of him, the rest of the kids picked up on the term and continued to use it the rest of the period. One of my mom's language quirks is that she adds a "the" to any disease or ailment; with her, it's "The Headache" or "The Stomach Cramps." I kept picturing "The Gay" as some kind of illness, which is possibly how many of these kids see it.

Occasionally, someone asked me, or the moderating English teacher at the moment, what we thought, or whether we would read this to our own children.

I declined getting into any kind of moral debate, but I told them about how Ainsley had wanted to read this book when I got it from the public library and how we had read it to her before bed one night. Ainsley didn't pick up on the two penguin daddies being anything unusual, or if she did, she asked no questions about it. Yet. She tends to let big ideas simmer and want to bring them up out of thin air as long as a month after the fact (it was a good week before she really started asking questions about her great-grandmother's funeral.) At the time, she simply saw it as a cute story with a terribly precious illustration of a baby penguin on one page. When she comes to my library in the afternoons she sometimes rushes to get the book off my desk and turn to her favorite parts.

Jason is more socially conservative than I am and I asked him how he felt about the book after he read it and whether or not he thought it was inappropriate reading for our 6-year-old.

He shrugged. "Anything that teaches tolerance at a young age is a good thing, right?"

Ah. I do so love that man.

Not having read this book, (in all likelihood) what is your knee-jerk reaction? Do you feel young kids are ready or need to hear about same sex couples raising children in this way? Or is it inappropriate?

Monday, October 6, 2008

Things I Never Thought I'd Buy

You know you're officially middle-aged when you find yourself in the following predicament:

It's 6:00 on a Sunday evening. You are in your local Target, scouting out checkout lines, because several students in your high school work there and one of the things you are buying is a certain ointment that has a letter of the alphabet in the name that treats a certain condition that is largely unmentionable but rhymes with "asteroid."

It was for my undereye circles. Of course.

Either way, I am too young to have this in my cart, y'all.

Chalk this up there with fiber supplements, a station wagon, Sominex, and magazines that feature recipes instead of fashion and "how to make him want you" tips. They're all in that growing category of Really Uncool Things I Never Thought I'd Buy But Then I Had A Kid.

Alright, 30-somethings. Name one thing you've bought that shows you're not a carefree young thing anymore.

Friday, October 3, 2008

The Spider Strikes Back

These are the things that convince me there is a God, or at least something Karma-ish. Whatever it is that powers the universe has a wicked sense of humor and strong sense of divine retribution.

We just came in from a fire drill here at school. We were waiting to be told to go back in when I heard a student say,

"Mrs. Cranky, you have a spider on your leg."

Since said student was standing next to the teacher also known as Rambling Shan in the comments, the teacher who I go to with all my "big spider" stories, I thought she had egged this child on to say the one thing that would make me flip my lid.

I smiled at her and said something like, "Yeah, yeah, sure it is," and then looked down.

Indeed, there was a largish spider at mid-thigh.

Not a spider, technically, but a daddy long-legs, which a helpful teacher told me later are actually more venemous and harmful to humans than the vast majority of spider species. Thanks.

Still, there were a bunch of legs crawling all up on my person.

I screamed. And I mean screamed. As though I were being stabbed.

This was in front of many, many students and teachers.

After screaming, and shaking the damn thing off my leg, I went to Rambling Shan and hid behind her for no reason I can really recall right now except that she was there. I do not keep a cool head in such situations.

I just know this was my cosmic punishment for hiring a hitman to take out the Basement Behemoth of 2008. Ha, ha, God! Joke's on me.

Left-Wing Snark Alert...

Stop reading now, my beloved right-leaning friends, if you don't want to see the snarky Dem in me raise her ugly I-didn't-feel-like-bothering-with-my-hair-this-morning head. (And I do love you all, because I think we liberals can be flaky at times, and your party at its best balances us out and helps us be a better country and serves as the yin to our yang. There are just a few right-wingers outside my circle of friends that I can't stand. Coulter, this means you.)

Well, you were warned.

NUCLEAR. The word is...NUCLEAR. Nu-cle-ar. New-clee-r. N-U-C-L-E-A-R. Say it with me, kids!

That is all.

And just so you know, I was also going to serve Biden up for using the term "Bosniacs", which made me picture a repressed people who are also animated and cat-like, until I did further research and learned that the Bosniaks are an ethnic group and some are Bosnian-s and some are not. Who knew? Joe Biden, apparently. Which is why I am not running for VP.