Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Homecoming took a left turn

My son is a senior.  Several weeks ago one of his classmates took it upon herself to organize Senior shirts for Homecoming.  In the end there were two to choose from:  One said "Seniors 2012" on front and "The world isn't ending, Seniors are just taking over" on the back (an obvious reference to the Mayan calendar), and the second says "What part of Senior don't you understand?" (on the front) and "Sit Down!" on the back (a reference to the preferential treatment Seniors get for sporting events).  He came home with the shirts (yes both) on Monday and was told that they couldn't wear the second shirt.  Why you might ask?  Because the school administration deemed it non-inclusive of the lower class men.

I'll give you a second to TRY and wrap your brain around that one.

Couldn't do it?  Me either.

Now, you'd think a school administration that was having issues with something so BENIGN as this would be completely walking over egg shells with regards to all the t-shirts designed by students for Homecoming, right?  OH, daughter's homecoming shirt which reads "Sophomores 2014" on the front and "Bust the Trojans" on the back seemed to sneak past the administration's "blatant condom reference" filter.  Or perhaps the school is more concerned with being "inclusive" then they are about our children wearing tawdry sexual referenced t-shirts.  I don't know.  You decide.

All I know is that this seems to be political correctness run amok.  They are concerned that SOMEONE (no one as of yet) MIGHT be offended, in effect, looking for the perpetually offended to raise their ugly head, instead of allowing the Seniors to REVEL in the fact that they are accomplishment in their own right.  At present, there is a petition circulating the high school that to my knowledge EVERY STUDENT has signed, stating that NO...they are not offended.

My son explained to me this morning what the administration's intent is and frankly, I'm calling B.S. According to him, the administration sees these shirts as the seniors placing themselves above the lower class men.  Ummm...YEAH. The seniors ARE above the lower class men (wonder if the administration has striken upper class men from their "inclusive" dictionary as it now delineates the classes marking a separation that leads to a lack of inclusiveness)   They have earned their position, just as next year's Seniors will have earned theirs as well. It's called a rite of passage.  Or maybe that's been removed as well from their "inclusive" dictionary for not being politically correct.

Seriously folks, we have to find a way to nip this in the bud or we are going to find our way of life watered down to a point where we are not going to even be allowed an opinion.  Because SOMEONE, SOMEWHERE will be offended.  I fired off an email to the administration this morning expressing my concern for their new policy of pandering to the lowest common denominator (yeah...I like using that term), which in this case is ZERO.  Well, until they can convince someone that they NEED to be offended.

Then, we'll be off and running.

Monday, September 26, 2011

Homecoming 2011...and so it begins

Today starts the week long, fun filled, activity laced, sports watching week of Homecoming.  And you had better believe that we have been prepping for it.

Saturday my son asked his girlfriend.  And yes, they all seem to ask it in a fun little way.  Mine chose a fairly public manner and I have to give him credit for that.  Of course she said yes.  Whew.

Oldest daughter went shopping (because, I mean, what ELSE would she do).  We chose NOT to purchase her a new dress for the dance since the dress she had planned to wear for the Snoball dance last year and didn't go due to illness is still hanging in her closet.  Tags still attached.  She, however, is not liking our decision because, well, because she wants a new dress.  Her thoughts were that her Snoball dance dress is geared more towards a WINTER dance, what with hit being pink and black,strapless, short with "pickups", so she showed me the one she wants...the OTHER pink and black, strapless short dress (no, no pickups). She had to settle for a borrowed one.  I think she really just wanted to buy something so she went out with friends and bought items for pajama day and funny tshirt day.  Hopefully it was enough retail therapy to keep her from nagging me about a new dress.

Middle daughter decorated a pair of thrift store jeans with a friend.  And are they ever cute!  She also had 8 girls over Saturday afternoon to tye-dye shirts.  Those are still drying.  In my basement.  And every time I touch them to roll them over, I get black or red dye on my hands.  OY!

So, today is pajama day.  And I want to give my oldest daughter credit for being brave.  Her and two friends.  Braver than I would be.  As they were dressed this morning:
 Let the Homecoming fun begin.

Friday, September 16, 2011

Humble Pie

Humility is not thinking less of yourself, it's thinking of yourself less. ~ Rick Warren

I think instilling humility in my children has probably been the hardest part of raising them.  So far.  Mostly because aside from modeling it, you can't really teach it.  As a parent one hopes that your child will see that the act of being humble isn't a sign of weakness but rather a sign of maturity.  Now, I get, we expect our children to mature slowly...they just don't wake up and BAM, they're mature.  But, if you model a behavior correctly, you should see progress and a lack of progress should be a red flag.  It was for me.

As I look back on my own "modeling" behavior, I can readily admit to a degree of arrogance. However, I have ALWAYS accepted responsibility for my shortcomings and errors and owned them.  I've apologized when needed and attempted to "fix" things I've broken.  I get that it isn't always possible, sometimes things are broken beyond repair.  But you have to make an effort even if you know it's just a token. 

What, you may be asking, brought this on?  Well, my son is filling out college applications.  Applications that require an essay.  I threw out the suggestion that instead of writing about what he is, perhaps he should write about what he isn't and left it at that.

His essay:
Since I was old enough to talk and understand things and why they happened, my parents have been trying to drill into my character and install virtues that they thought seemed necessary. I had no trouble with most of these virtues throughout my childhood, except one. Instead of being like every other applicant who boasts of what they are and what they have accomplished, I am going to try to be as humble as possible, which was actually the biggest issue of my character as a small child through my early teen years. Growing up, if I did something wrong I never wanted to admit that I had made a mistake. I would come up with excuses or push it off on someone else, but I almost never humbled myself. The past few years have opened my eyes as I see my friends humble themselves with their parents, and my own parents humble themselves in front of each other and in front of me and my siblings. I believe that the past few years of my life I have used the responsibility my parents have given me pretty well, and turned around my anti-humble streak. To prove that, instead of writing about what I am in a college application essay, I wrote about what I was not, but now I am. I think Purdue will do the same thing my parents did for me just in a different way. It will take my character, drill in life experiences, advanced education, and very important morals and values, and in 4 to 6 years will spit out a new young man ready to take on life.

I think I can put away my red flags. 

Thursday, September 15, 2011

Unexpected Packages

Yesterday felt a little like Christmas in September.  I came home from grocery shopping to find an unexpected package on my front door step.  So, I did what most women without a lick of self control would do...I ignored the groceries in the back of the truck and ran to find out if the package on the step might possibly be pour moi.

(yes, I have the maturity of a 6 year old)

Apparently yesterday was my lucky day.  And it involves a backstory.

About 6 months ago, I became a watcher/lurker on the websites No More Rack , My Habit and The Gilt Group .  If you aren't familiar with these sites, here is how they work (or at least No More Rack).  Each day they get in new items and for me, it changes at 11am and the items and prices are in effect for 23 hours 59 minutes or until the item sells out.  So, you have to be on the ball if you see something you really like.  I get the emails from the sites daily and honestly, I only look at the No More Rack ones because  it's more my style (and price range).  No More Rack=T.J. Max while My Habit and The Gilt Group is a little more like...oh, Bergdorffs, where the price of a cashmere scarf IS 60% off but still over $100.  And that's ok.

So, we've established I'm a No More Rack kinda girl.  My first purchase was a purse.  Normally  $100, the price on it was $28.  BUT, I had a gift card for $10 for signing up, and another gift card for $10 (the site went down and anyone who was attempting a purchase lost out, so they apologized and compensated).  Shipping for any item is $2.  So my $100 purse cost me $10.  WOOT!

My only regret with the purse was that I wish I had gotten it in blue instead of tan.  So, I watched for another blue purse.  This past July, a purse came up.  Not a blue one mind you, but one that was funky without being TOO out there.  Something FUN.  This one was twice as expensive (but had a $300+ retail price on it), but I went ahead and pulled the trigger.  I was all excited about it (yes, my maturity level again), only to get a phone call about 3 days later, from No More Rack that there was some weird problem with the distributor and they didn't get the purses in stock.  They were refunding my money and would send me a purse, gratis, as reimbursement for my disappointment.  I had no idea what purse they would send (and really, it wasn't necessary but it was thoughtful) but figured who cares, right?

Fast forward 2 months.  Since no purse was forthcoming, I figured I had misunderstood when they called (and I was at a family reunion when they called so it was HIGHLY likely).  And even when I saw the package, I didn't think it would be a purse.  But then I saw the return address and thought "HEY...maybe they DID send me a purse".

But no...they didn't send me a purse.  They sent me THE purse.


I'm giving No More Rack two thumbs WAY up.  Not because they gave me free stuff.  But because they stand behind what they do.  Even when they don't have to.


Tuesday, September 6, 2011


Believe it or not, the last child JUST left for school (1104am...and no, he won't be late.  Seniors and Juniors had a late start to accommodate the Sophomore orientation.  This year I actually have TWO in one school.  Whoopie!  OH, the time I will save on conferences not having to hit FOUR schools.  

Without further ado...the kids in order of their exodus to school:
The middle schooler (who STILL has a stye but the swelling and redness has finally abated...somewhat), whose bus picked her up right on time at 712am for a 755am start time:

The sophomore, who was out the door at 8am for an 820am school start time and will be riding with her brother to school for the remainder of the school year:
The grade schooler (5th) who, sadly, I have to take each and every morning since we open enroll, who was up at gawd-awful-thirty early this morning and I dropped at 850am for a 905 am start time:
And last, but most certainly not least, the senior, who relished his extra FOUR hours in bed this morning, toddling off to school at 11am:
And now, as much as I would LOVE a nap (you think just THEY were excited?), I am taking myself off for a well deserved and quiet pedicure to contemplate what I should do with MY break.

UPDATED with banner (and in case you're wondering, YES, he is a pill about this, but since he sorta cooperated, I let them stand on the deck...not one of my finer decisions quality wise):

Monday, September 5, 2011

Almost There

With sincere apologies to Clement Clarke Moore, I give you:

The Day Before School Starts
'Twas the day before school starts no time to be lazy,
Four kids and a dog, my day has been crazy.

Sweet rolls for the morning, I still had not made,
And so I got myself busy with my white Kitchen-Aid.

The banner they hold had not been updated,
OK by them, they all seemed to hate it.

Tracey called here quite early to invite us for dinner,
Steaks back in the fridge, ribs are tonight's winner.

The boy, he had plans he informed me late morning,
A pot luck with friends, but what should he bring?

I made him my standard quick Special K treats,
Hoping some mother would send something with meat.

My daughter finally quit playing with her hair,
For by tomorrow she must  read, the classic "Jane Eyre".

Tomorrow our birthday girl may want to cry,
If she can't seem to shake the huge stye in her eye.

The youngest has stayed pretty much out of my way,
Making cupcakes with neighbors and selling for pay.

The banner is fixed, and the rolls are all made,
The alarms are all set and the clothes have been laid.

For most it may seem that their break is all finished,
But tomorrow, MY break, well, it just hath beginneth.

Emily Dickinson has NUTHIN' on me!

Saturday, September 3, 2011

Round One

You would think the week before school starts, I would have better things to do with my time then to to stand it in front of a sink peeling 50 pounds of tomatoes.  But there I stood on Thursday.  Peeling tomatoes.

Each year I usually make two batches of spaghetti sauce.  Each batch will produce anywhere from 25-27 quarts of sauce, and two batches ensures we have enough for the up coming year (and yes, I AM out of sauce).  For some reason I think I usually do this later, after school starts because I don't normally recall having kids around when I do it (and you can guess why).  But Thursday, my two oldest girls were home.  So, I put them to work.  One peeled and diced onions (and cried), the other chopped carrots and measured out my spices while I peeled away.  A short 2 hours later the pot was ready to move to the stove,  which in and of itself is quite a manuever because *I* cannot lift it.  

But being the ingenious person I am (yeah, right), I move the pot to a towel covered chair.  Then I push the chair to the stove.  THEN I bring another chair over and *I* stand on the second chair, giving me the leverage to lift the pot and set it on the burner.  Thank-you...thank-you very much.

This pot is so big, that my father-in-law had to fashion a special wooden spoon in order to reach all the way to the bottom of the pot.

So, the hard work really is done.  Now I get the sauce up to a nice simmer, turn it down, stir it every 2-3 hours (yes, even during the night) and let it cook for about 48 hours.  When I am ready to can, it looks like this:
Yes, it IS so thick that the above mentioned spoon stands straight up in the pot.  The actual canning process doesn't take too long as long a I'm careful as I'm filling the hot jars.  Hot jars+hot sauce+hot lids=no processing.  The jars seal themselves.  Woot!

And today's haul?  28 3/4 quarts!
Things to note:  The jar in the it is not full.  That will go into the fridge.  The spoon in the pot in the sink?  Yes, that long stick protruding from the humongous pot?  That is touching the bottom the pot.  Things not to note:  the pile of papers in the corner, the veggies on the counter (dinner) and the plethora of waterbottles to the right of the coffee pot which my children, for some reason will NOT put away once they are removed from the dishwasher.

This was my first foray into "family building spaghetti sauce" and were I to grade it, I'd give it a solid B.  Why you might ask?  Because when the girls were done, they left EVERYTHING right where it was.  Empty canola oil jar?  On the counter.  Extra onion?  On the counter.  Paper from opening new spice jars? On the counter.  If they help with round 2 (hopefully, tomorrow), we'll see if we can get that grade up to an A.