Santa stop here

Monday, June 28, 2010 very, very quiet

Yesterday was my cousin Barrett's birthday, and I might have actually pulled off planning a surprise for him. At any rate, we all had a ball. Let me tell you what we did...

I know I've mentioned the Levitt Pavilion's free concert series for the summer in previous blogs. I knew that Barrett was planning to attend last night's performance of the "N'awlins Gumbo Kings" so, unbeknownst to Barrett, I spread the word for our friends and family to join us to celebrate Barrett's day and enjoy the concert. I baked a batch of Key Lime cupcakes (and plain ones for those who don't like the twang of lime) and made an experimental pitcher of Sangria. Barrett joined us for a rushed dinner of roast beef with potatoes and carrots, rice-a-roni, and mixed veggies. I say rushed because I attended a baby shower from 4-6, and since the dinner invitation was kind of an afterthought, the only thing that was done when I returned home after 6 p.m. was the roast. We didn't sit down to the table to eat until after 7. My plan was to get to the Levitt Pavilion in time to ask the Friends of the Levitt representative who introduces the band to please publicly acknowledge the birthday boy with the balloons tied to his chair seated in the audience, but that didn't happen. Barrett might have been a little suspicious that we were loading up more stuff than we usually take with us, but he didn't let on. Also, I guess I forgot to tell Alisa and Aaron that this was a surprise, so they kept asking, "Is Tia coming?" or "Is Aunt Shannon coming?" I just replied, "I don't know...maybe," and tried to give them the "Now, please zip-it" eye without much success. Guess I don't use that look often enough for them to interpret it.
Anyway, Grandmom came with Tia who brought a "jazzy cheeseball" with pita chips. Shannon, Leyla & Xavier brought chips & salsa and plastic cups. Lorenzo & Lani brought balloons and bottled water. Uncle Mark and D came with chips and soft drinks. We ran into our family friend affectionately called "T'Madeline" and her friend (Darren's mom), Miss Peggy. Francesca and Tree joined us which was a real treat because Tree is usually working long hours like Mike or has to head out early from whatever we're doing to go to work. It was nice to see his long legs stretched out relaxing on his lawn chair just enjoying the evening. Aretha and Darren Flowers made it all the way from Keller, TX, too. Heck, PaPa even ventured out to the Levitt for the first time. I don't know who was more surprised with the turnout, Barrett or myself.
We had a blast. The key lime cupcakes (if you click on the cupcake, it's supposed to link you to the recipe; if not go to and type in "key lime cupcakes" in the search box) and Sangria were both well-received, and the "N'awlins Gumbo Kings" were awesome musicians. Frannie led a second line with a string of us waving white paper towels and parading around the grounds. Some strangers joined our strange procession; others looked at us wondering what in the world we were doing. They obviously didn't have N'awlins roots or Louisiana friends! T'Madeline doled out paper towels as needed.
So, my friends, that was it: a birthday fit for a "N'awlins Gumbo King." Happy Birthday, Barrett. Until next time...

Friday, June 25, 2010

Until next time, Grandmother

Today we laid Grandmother Juanita Barrett to rest. She was not my grandmother by blood but by a bond of pure love. You see Grandmother actually belonged to my sister-friend Carol Barrett who was nice enough to share her with me ever since we were in elementary school. Carol was an only child, and I longed to live her quiet, orderly life. Carol, on the other hand, eagerly anticipated ventures to my house where there was always some chaos at hand with the four of us kids. A few summers between late elementary school and junior high we visited Grandmother, Daddy Sugar, Uncle Bill and Nita in Sulphur Springs, TX for a few weeks at a time. We called Nita "Nita" because she was barely 10 years our senior and so seemed more like a peer than an aunt. Let me tell you a little more about the Grandmother whom we loved.

Visits to Sulphur Springs took place before the "scrapbook movement" was well underway, at least to my knowledge. This was the time before independent scrapbook stores dazzled us with color-coordinated racks of paper, stickers and embellishments galore. There was no Hobby Lobby with aisles devoted to scrapbooking enthusiasts. I'd never heard of Creative Memories, and "senior scrapbooks" were not a part of our high school curriculum. I'm sure I had a 110 camera at the time, but who would have thought to keep it on one's person at all times as we do our digital cameras and cell phones with cameras nowadays? So, unfortunately, I don't have these memories documented with photo-filled scrapbooks.

I remember the excitement over packing to go to Grandmother's house, a simple pre-fab structure with window AC units in the living room. Back then, Carol and I tried our hands as seamstresses. We'd cut the bottom off of one men's t-shirt and stitch it to the bottom of another men's pocket t-shirt to make a cute little drop waist "dress" which we had in all different colors. One-piece terrycloth shorts jumpers were popular, too, but we knew better than to pack anything too risque for the trip to Sulphur Springs where Nita and Grandmother didn't wear jeans, shorts or pants - ever!

I remember the smell of disgruntled skunks wafting in through the window units at night as Carol, Nita & I slept head to toe in one bed.

Grandmother's house was the first place I remember having multiple meals in one for "dinner" in the middle of the day and sandwiches for "supper" in the evenings, an obvious carryover from more agrarian times. It was nothing to be called to the kitchen to set the table somewhere in the noon hour to the smells of baked or fried chicken, pork, roast beef, macaroni and cheese, rice, "light bread," an array of vegetables--all in one meal! And to think we'd only eaten a full breakfast of scrambled eggs, bacon, sausage, grits & toast just a couple of hours before. It's a wonder I didn't gain 20 pounds over those few weeks. In retrospect, I understand that although Grandmother and Nita did their fair share of cooking every day, the extensive variety of the menus had more to do with cleverly re-warmed leftovers than Grandmother preparing all of that daily on a regular basis. I discovered that I loved Grandmother's sandwiches better than the ones I ate all of the time at home. The secret? The tangy zip of Miracle Whip. Unlike my mother who used Hellman's real mayonnaise in everything, Grandmother bought salad dressing and sandwich spread which made everything taste better. I also remember Grandmother's first microwave oven and Nita and Daddy Sugar "not trusting that the chicken could be done in just 20 minutes in that thing." I would not have been surprised if, like in my own Big Mama's house, the microwave wasn't used as a bread box when Carol and I, or the other cousins from Arkansas weren't there to warm quick snacks and leftovers.

Then, there was the hair! I think whoever coined the phrase, "fried, dyed, and laid to the side" must have been privy to Grandmother's skills as an in-house beautician. Grandmother could straighten some hair, do you hear me? I'm talking about the pressing comb placed directly on the blue flame of the gas stove and a pink jar of pressing oil next to it. We didn't have ceramic coated flat irons or perms on our hair, just Grandmother's hot comb and some pink foam rollers to wear at night. I remember Grandmother handstitching us pink satin "sleep caps" to wear to bed so our rollers didn't wind up scattered all over and under the bed. I also recall using those plastic rain bonnets that came in a small plastic sleeve and unfolded from their accordion pleats and tied under our chins since none of us wanted that straight, shiny hair "turning back" to it's prepressed state before absolutely necessary. Grandmother seemed to have an endless supply of them (I think they gave them away at the bank where Nita worked).

I remember energetic music, gravel-voiced preachin' and the shoutin' and fallin' out in the aisles (arms flailing and hats flying) of the church ladies at Mitchell Chapel Church of God in Christ just down the road from Grandmother's house while Carol and I tried to contain our giggles and snickers. Then, there was Aunt Vi who usually sat right in front of us rattling the cellophane wrappers off of suckers during the entire service. Thankfully, she was kind enough to share because at times thoses services seemed to last forever, and my mind was drifting to a table full of food that would appear after the service-steak in gravy over rice, green beans, hot rolls...ahhh the memories.

Sometimes the Arkansas cousins' visit would overlap with ours and then we had four more partners in crime: Sissy (Monica), Pistol (Jonathan), Nikki and Jaboli.

Nita would cruise the streets of Sulphur Springs going 15-20 mph as if she was in a never-ending school zone, first in her old metallic pink-beige Chevy Impala, then in her candy apple red Pontiac Fiero (complete with curb feelers and mini-blinds "rigged" to cover the rear window), then her deep metallic green Toyota Camry. We'd get out at the "central park" and strut around-Nita showing us off to everyone as her nieces from Arlington; us on the look out for "cute" boys. Today's trip back to Sulphur Springs reminded me that it is one "dippy" and "bumpy" little town. No wonder Nita drove 20 mph maximum!

I remember Daddy Sugar always called me "Easton" no matter how many times we tried to convince him of the proper pronunciation of my name. No worries, the spare quarters and single dollar bills he always seemed to have in his pockets made up for the misunderstanding.

Looking back, I feel sorry for how we tormented poor Uncle Bill. I distinctly remember us requesting sour cream and onion potato chips from Grandmother's weekly trip to Brookshire's grocery store so Carol and I could imitate a commercial for Arm & Hammer baking soda where a little animated onion shouted, "Onion power!" and breathed on the other food in the frig. Naturally, a box of A&H baking soda put an end to the "bad odors" within the confines of the ice box. Carol and I would snack on the chips then go find Bill and shout, "Onion power-hehhh!" and breathe our funky breath right in his face. Poor fellow. He probably longed for our 3 week visit to be over two days after we arrived! We also tried to convince him to see a dentist about the "bad" tooth in the front of his mouth without much success. Bill was afraid of dentists and that was that. Today, he has no front teeth.

Years later, after Carol and I were too grown up to visit Sulphur Springs during the summer, I remember Grandmother visiting Arlington and marveling at my bowlegged little boy with "all that hair!" That baby has straight legs and close cut hair these days. He is almost 14 years old. Grandmother always remembered to ask about him, though, as if he should only still be a toddler. I guess in a "great"-grandmother's eyes, 14 years is but a moment in time.

I'll conclude my stroll down memory lane now. Grandmother was the type of sweet spirit anyone would be proud to call their own. She was a soft-spoken (not to be mistaken for weakness), God-fearing woman who loved effortlessly and completely whether you were a blood relative or simply related by the bond established by the blood of Jesus which makes us all brothers and sisters in Christ. I loved her then and I love her now. Rest in peace now, Grandmother. I'll see you on the other side. Until next time...

Wednesday, June 23, 2010

A plea for help

How in the world can it possibly be that I have no schedule to follow, no designated appointments, no job to report to and still not manage to get anything done around this house of mine? If I myself don't understand this phenomenon, I can only imagine what others are saying about me. It's even as if things are going from bad to worse, which would be perfectly okay if it was the kind of "it's got to get worse before it gets better" type situation. Ours is only worse and worse.
Some days I'm just on fire to roll up my theoretical sleeves and tie back my theoretical hair and jump in both feet to accomplish some huge task (Lord knows there are plenty of them that need doing around here). Organizing the craft room was one such task, and so far it is holding steady, but there are so many more! I want to take advantage of this "time off" from both school and work to get my house in order so that when I am working 12 hour shifts 3 or 4 days a week, I'll be able to come home after a long day's work and feel at peace vs completely discombobulated and disgusted. Anybody know what I mean? Although he rarely says anything, Mike must feel beyond disgusted when he mentions that "all the living room needs it to be vacuumed and it will be one more room that's "done" only to come home after working double shifts and find that not only has the living room NOT been vacuumed, but also someone has left their shoes in the floor, dishes on the TV trays in the living room, and laundry needing to be folded on the couch. It's almost as if we're all depressed around here. I know I look around at all that needs to be done and get overcome with a desire to take a nap or stick my nose in a book (or sit and blog).
The kids have assigned tasks/chores. I've tried everything to try to instill in them the concept of responsibility: charts of every size and shape, rewarding good behavior, taking away priveleges for noncompliance, etc. Several years back I went through the trouble of purchasing them individual magnetic dry-erase boards and painting wooden shapes on which I wrote their chores and hot glued magnets. The key was for them to start with all of the magnets on the "to do" side and move them to the "done" side once they were done. They had no more than 7 or 8 tasks, and they were simple: make your bed, brush your teeth, put away clean clothes, shoes in closet, etc. Simple enough? I certainly thought so. The boards wound up with magnets scattered everywhere but on the boards and the boards crushed underfoot amidst piles of clothes and junk on the floor. Call me a poor homemaker and mom, but this is my life! The kids look around at the rest of the house that has "stuff" stacked EVERYWHERE--mail, magazines, bags of recycling, clothes (waiting to be washed or folded or put away)--and scoff at me when I tell them to pick up their rooms. They even have the nerve to ask me I'm on them about cleaning their rooms when my room isn't clean. Really, if I'm supposed to be leading by example because actions speak louder than words and all of the other pearls of wisdom that have drifted my way throughout the course of my life, then they have a point! I explain that as children the only "jobs" they have are to do their best in school, take responsiblity for minor chores around the house, and keep their rooms clean. They're actually lucky that they don't have to earn a living, try and budget never enough money, pay bills, price match and bargain shop for groceries, plan menus that are healthy yet pleasing to the palate on a shoestring budget, tend to the physical, social and emotional needs of other family members, etc. They just don't get it.
I get tired of fighting the battle of chores with a certain someone who acts as if she's the most tortured individual on earth when asked to empty the dishwasher and drainboard. Who dirties up all of the dishes? I certainly don't do that myself. Yet, who washes up all of the dishes? I certainly do, and by hand because I don't trust my dishwasher which serves as nothing more than a glorified, two-tiered drainboard.
I know what all of the experts say: break large projects into smaller ones; make a list so you can feel a sense of accomplishment as you check things off; be consistent with discipline; establish a routine to keep things from spiraling out of control. My question is how do you get a foothold in a spiral that's already so far out of control that you cannot even fathom making it back on top?
Signed, Frustrated. Until next time...

Sunday, June 20, 2010

Happy Father's Day

I just set my timer for 30 minutes while I wait for my "chocolate fudge frosting" to attain an "spreadable" consistency which may take more than 30 minutes based on the fact that it practically looks like hot fudge sundae topping at this point. We'll see what happens. Can't help but consider that canned chocolate frosting isn't that bad!

It's Father's Day (hence the cake) and since it's 3:30 and the last message I rec'd from Mike was "Y'all enjoy the concert tonight," I'm guessing he's working that double shift he was almost sure he had lined up as of last night. He was supposed to call me and confirm that he was indeed working late, but I suppose it slipped his mind when he called earlier. The bad news is he won't get to spend anytime with his kids on Father's Day because he is working hard to feed and clothe them. The good news is: anytime is a good time to celebrate with cake which we will wait and do at 11 tonight. More good news is he will be off all day tomorrow.

While Mike is not the doting "coach-my-kids'-sports-teams-&-join-Indian-Princesses-with-my-daughter" sort of father, we all have to admit that the kids have it pretty darn good. Mike makes every effort to be an indulgent yet reasonable father who works hard and loves his kids with stuff and opportunities he wished he had growing up. He's not one to shout I love you from the top of his lungs, but his long hours on the job and unexpected big ticket item "treats" from time to time say it loud and clear.
For that he deserves one of his favorite cakes for his special day: yellow cake with chocolate frosting that turned out rich and very chocolatey.

Saturday, June 12, 2010

Keeping up

Well, folks, the temperature says we are definitely in the dog days of summer (yeah, right, it's only in the 90's!). I'm wondering who is sneaking in and deleting my blogs! When I log on and see that my last entry was the first day of summer I wonder just what happened to all of the wonderful stories that are missing.

For instance, on last Sunday, June 6th, we (Mike the kids and I) plus Shannon & her two kids, Lorenzo, Reanna (in town for a brief visit from Columbia University in New York) & Tia met at Levitt Pavilion for a free outdoors concert to hear The Arlington Jones Trio. The weather couldn't have been more pleasant once the sun went down. I made "stuffed strawberries" for the occasion. They attracted a visitor (a tiny Asian woman who introduced herself as Audry) who was so impressed she came back for more. Arlington Jones (that is his real given name, and he only lives in Arlington but is not from Arlington, TX) showed out! He plays the piano with such enthusiasm and zeal that it truly is an amazing sight to behold.

On Monday, 6/7, Mike, the kids & I were all home together. We made some progress in catching up dishes and converting the "workout room" (i.e., room right off of the garage that houses a couple of raggedy pieces of workout equipment that nobody uses and where lots of stuff is stored and dumped when cars/rooms are "cleaned") to my craft room. Mike and Aaron moved the big shelf with bins of craft stuff from my office to the craft room where it belongs.

Tuesday, 6/8, Mike got up and dressed and left the house saying he'd be back in a little while. He mentioned the night before that he needed to gas up his car before heading back to work on Wednesday, so I thought that is where he had gone. The kids and I were all excited thinking that Mike would pull his usual "surprise" and be back in about half an hour with a full tank of gas in his car and a box of Shipley's donuts. One hour passed, then two hours...Around noon I went ahead and fixed lunch. We were all in kind of a foul mood, because we had all been looking forward to the soft, dough-y, sugar glazed pastries and we hadn't heard a word from Mr. Mike. I had to go out and run some errands-ACA, credit union, Aldi grocery store, library, etc. When I returned, Mike & PaPa (my dad) pulled into the driveway right after me with a GO-KART in the bed of PaPa's pick up truck. Okay, blog viewers, that all caps "go-kart" is not because I was so excited about the new toy, but more like WHAT THE HECK ARE WE DOING WITH ONE MORE APPARATUS THAT REQUIRES A PLACE TO STORE AND GAS TO RUN? I tried very hard not to be livid. Try as they might, the boys couldn't even get the thing cranked; then PaPa broke the spark plug. To my knowledge the go-kart is parked in my backyard and hasn't cranked since. Deliver me, Lord!

Wednesday, 6/9, I took Alisa to get her hair done. We scrounged up $1.07 worth of change out of the car and the bottom of my purse to share a bag of "Chicago Mix" popcorn from the Popcorn Stop in the same shopping center where we get our hair done. Xavier spent the night with the kids. I fixed them dinner and then went out with Lani, just the two of us. We ended up at Habaneros (also in the same shopping center as The Popcorn Stop and The Cutting Room). Lani & I agreed that the food was okay, but it probably wouldn't make it to the top of our most favorite Mexican restaurants anytime soon. Their habanero salsa was tasty (as it should be since it's their namesake), and so was the tomatillo salsa, but their "traditional" one tasted like tomato paste.

Thursday, 6/10 I fixed funnel cakes for the kids-read all about that in my other blog. We enjoyed another concert at the Levitt. This time it was Cedric Watson and Bijou Creole (old school creole from a talented new master). This group, too, was awesome. I wish I had endless amounts of money to donate to the Levitt Pavilion to keep the free concerts coming and to support the artists who perform there. In time...Alisa missed the concert and spent the night with Xavier instead.

Friday, 6/11, I watched Xavier and Sasha for Tia who had to clean the church and meet some friends for lunch. Leyla stayed behind with her PaPa. Xavier and Alisa did a pretty good job of keeping to themselves (mainly to avoid having to deal with Sasha). Sasha was a big help to me in the kitchen. We scrubbed the coolers and put them outside to dry. We cleared some stuff off of the kitchen table. We gathered Missy's bath stuff and ran some water in the big Rubbermaid tub outdoors so the sun could warm it. Aaron entertained Sasha a bit with a game of checkers and "Barney's Fishing Game." Sasha helped me bathe Missy, and then I bathed Sasha and washed her hair before returning her to Tia's house in time for her parents to pick her up.

Saturday, 6/12, Mike's alarm woke me up at 3:15 a.m., and he was still snoring in bed next to me. He mumbled something about switching shifts with a coworker and not having to go in until the afternoon. So, I prayed that he wasn't just dreaming or talking in his sleep and turned off the alarm and crawled back in bed. I decided I would fix pork chops and grits for "breakfast" and send Mike packing off to work with a full stomach. As it turned out, we remembered we needed to vote and Tia called to see if one of the kids could come over and "sit" at the house so Grandmom wouldn't be alone when she woke up. Mom and Dad were going over to Grandmom's trailer to finish hanging mirrors and making minor repairs in preparation of selling the home. I threw the chops in the oven and rice in the rice cooker (figured it'd be better to have the rice already done than to have to stand & stir grits for 20 minutes since we were running out of time) and told Alisa to keep an eye on them. We stopped by the junior high to vote and empty several bags of recycling from the back of my car, then cruised by PaPa & Tia's to deliver Aaron before returning home. The thin-cut pork chops were tasty but well-done by the time I got home and took them out of the oven. Thank goodness Alisa had at least turned the oven off! I put broccoli on the stove to steam and chatted briefly with Lani who had stopped by to pick up a coupon. We ate, and Mike headed off to work. I left Alisa getting ready for her friend's b-day party and went to Kohl's to get a gift. The little t-shirts I found were on sale to begin with. When I got to the checkout they were even more discounted because of "early bird specials" AND I had a save an additional 15% coupon, too. Talk about a great deal!! I was too excited. As much as I hate shopping, it's experiences like this that make me think shopping under the right circumstances may not be so bad after all. I even remembered to get gift receipts. I dropped Alisa off at the party for 3:00 then my mom and I ran some errands until almost 5 p.m. Mike worked late, and Aaron & I about finished rearranging the craft room into the wee hours of the night.

How could I have possibly NOT blogged about all of that? I sure thought about it enough. Probably everytime I was about to blog, I encountered someone on my computer checking their facebooks or watching Kate Plus Eight! Anyway, I'm almost caught up. Gotta go and get some stuff done so I'll have more productivity to include this week! Until next time....

Thursday, June 10, 2010

funnel cakes at last!

My day started a little off-kilter (is that a word?). I awoke with a catch in my back near my right shoulder blade--not really debilitating but annoying as ever. My eyeballs ached and my skin hurt...kind of like when you're getting the flu. But, I had no fever or GI symptoms to speak of. Just not feeling 100%. I have to wonder if it has anything to do with the fact that I was piddling outdoors with my plants and flowers Tuesday morning and was practically eaten alive by mosquitos (is it malaria season?). Or maybe it was just the physical exertion of cutting back my mint and pulling up clumps of unsightly grass growing between cracks in the concrete. Who knows? I know one thing...I will NOT be making anymore trips to the ER. So far my part of that little 2 hour visit when my shoulder was killing me a few weeks ago is up to around $150.00. They took an x-ray and I saw the doctor for all of 10 minutes, if that, for him to tell me it's probably just a strain; solution: rest and take muscle relaxers and pain killers (which I never took cause an Advil did the trick just fine).
Anyway, I managed to get up and get some laundry going. My friend and former boss, Morris, called from Abilene, TX, and we chatted for a bit. Then, I heard the kids up and doubt anxiously awaiting the funnel cakes I had promised them. Well, that plan wasn't to be. Xavier received a call from his Grandpa who was coming to pick him up so Xavier could mow Grandpa's lawn and earn some cash money. There was lots of grumbling emanating from Alisa's bedroom, but Grandpa arrived and whisked Xavier away for a couple of hours with a promise to bring him back when they were done.
After a while, Aaron, Alisa & I fixed "brunch" (refried beans, scrambled eggs and cheese on flour tortillas for the girls, one cheese quesadilla for the boy) or should I say I fixed brunch for us--there was no teamwork involved in any part except the eating of the food. They'd better be glad my name is not "The Little Red Hen." Xavier returned shortly after that with his lunch Grandpa had picked up for him. Since everyone was fed and happy, I decided to take a nap and see if that would alleviate any of my ailments.
We had our funnel cakes for a late afternoon snack! Bye for now...until next time.

Saturday, June 5, 2010

Happy Summer!

Well, it's the first official Saturday of summer break. I think (hope) it's my last day to be busy doing end of school/graduation stuff. Alisa has her 6th grade end of year party at a classmate's house, and then we will attend her dance recital. Actually, Alisa isn't performing in the recital but she wants to attend to see her classmates do their thing. I'm looking forward to that, too, and hope that Alisa will see that it's not so bad to be on stage for a few minutes. That way, next year, she, too will join her dance classmates in costume on stage for recital.
Kids of 2 of my friends graduate high school today, so I need to shop a little. I never know what to get new graduates these days. I did purchase a book entitled The Nake Roommate: And 107 other issues you might run into in college. I thought that would be a fun read/reference for someone going off to college for the first time (as if new college students need one more thing to read, right?). It talks about all sorts of issues, like being involved on campus, to sex or not to sex, budgeting money, etc. I should go and get another copy. I can add a gift card to Wal-mart or Target and call it a day. Note to self: add a stop by Borders Bookstore to list of things to do today. As a new high school graduate, long, long ago, I also enjoyed thoughtful gifts like a laundry basket filled with cleaning supplies or a "hot pot" (electric tea kettle) with assorted styrofoam cups of soup/instant coffee, etc. That's a nice gesture when (1) you know whether or not the student is going off to college; and (2) you know the student well enough to know his/her preferences. I know both of my friends' kids are going off to college, but don't have a clue about their favorite things. I guess I'll just stick with the book/gift card combo.
I've been up for a while, so I'm almost ready to lie back down for a spell. Unfortunately, my list of things to do today seems to be growing longer as I sit here blogging: Aldi, Costco, Borders, frost cupcakes, swim party, Alisa's hair, dance recital, dinner...*yawn* I'm getting tired just thinking about everything. Guess I'll finish a little more laundry and get rolling before it's sweltering outside, which will be really soon, since summer break is officially here!

Thursday, June 3, 2010

Proud Parents

Well, folks, it's finally here: the day the kids have been waiting for since around early September when the thrill of attending exciting new classes, meeting new teachers and reuniting with old friends was basically gone. Aaron had his last three finals of junior high school (of course, when Aunt Shannon and I were in junior high, 9th grade was included in the junior high campus not high school, so Aunt Shannon contends that Aaron is still in junior high in her eyes), and Alisa had her awards assembly.
After dropping Aaron at school, I picked up Tia, Sasha and Leyla, and we all attended Alisa's program. It was nice. I was so proud of Alisa for jumping into a totally new and challenging learning environment and giving it all she had. She came away with certificates for exemplary honor roll (receiving a yearly average of 90 or above in all subjects), outstanding advanced Spanish award, the American citizenship award (her classmates also elected her the "best citizen"), the Bravo award (for outstanding attendance), and the President's Education Award signed by President Obama himself for academic excellence. I don't know who was prouder, Alisa or me! The school director asked the parents to join the students in their classrooms for a few minutes after the assembly, and then once again, like Aaron's sixth grade year at Short Elementary, the students and teachers lined the hallways and clapped and cheered as the 6th graders cruised through the halls of ACA for the last time. Even though Alisa had only been at ACA for this 6th grade year, it was an emotional time for some of the other students who started there in kindergarten. I even felt a tear or two welling up at the thought of my "baby" moving on to junior high school. I didn't blubber all over the place like I did with Aaron at Short where he had been since kindergarten and where we knew all of the teachers and many of the students lining the hallways. Alisa says she felt happy until she saw a couple of her classmates break down. I'll just say this: You never know the effect of a clap out until you've experienced it yourself! When I arrived at Gunn to pick up Aaron, I heard the vice principal over the PA system instructing the 7th graders to take their places in the hallways and informing the 8th graders of the route they were to take to exit the building so that they, too, could be "clapped out." I didn't know whether Aaron would be in tears or joking with his friends as he exited the school for the last time as a student there. Junior high is tricky like that. He emerged showing off is t-shirt that all of his friends had signed and sporting a triumphant, ear to ear grin. Whew!
Awards in Junior High are fewer and farther between, but Aaron did well also, receiving "letters" in pre-AP Reading and pre-AP Science. He also received the Principal's award and the one 8th grade male Rotary award for achievement, leadership, good citizenship and his sense of patriotism. Finally, he was also recognized as an outstanding band member.
So, next year, Aaron will move on to high school, and Alisa to junior high school. Wow, it seems like they were just "graduating" from their pre-kindergarten classes, and now it won't be long before they're graduating from high school {insert emoticon with tears springing from squeezed shut eyes and a quivering chin}.
I don't mean to be vain or boastful, but I feel so very proud of my kids. My constant prayer is that God will continue to bless them individually, and bless our family collectively, including our extended praying family all the days of our lives.
Now that all of the end of year stuff is behind us, our summer has officially begun. Yeah!! My main goals are: (1) pass the NCLEX; (2) find my dream job (or just a job for the time being); (3) get my house in order. I keep trying to explain to the kids that the sooner we get our house tidied up, the sooner I can quit nagging them about that (as in every time they ask to have someone come over and I look at them incredulously as if to say, "You seriously want "whoever" to come over when the house looks like you-know-what? Seriously? I don't think so!). We've gone summer after summer with them going to other people's houses, but never inviting others to our house. I've used school and lack of funds as my excuses. Now that school is no longer a factor and, as soon as I get a job, lack of funds won't be an excuse either, what will be my excuse for the way my house looks? Four lazy-bones living under the roof (well, five if you count Missy who likes to leave her toys and blanket lying around just like everyone else), that's who.
Sorry, this was supposed to be my proud parent entry, and I got off on a tangent. Let me get back on track and wrap this up....By summer's end we will all be proud of our home and able to entertain family and friends on holidays and just because. I am so looking forward to it! Good-bye for now; until next time...