Happy Easter!

I have no idea how we are at Easter already because I just put away the Christmas tree.  Someone told me that life zooms by once your kids get in school and I was all “Whatever.  Please, a day is a day is a day and 24 hours passes at the same pace, one minute at a time, no matter how old your kids are.”  And now I’m all “Giiirrrllll??  You was so right.”

Anyway, this is actually the chorus to a Christmas song (<– not joking, I totally didn’t plan this) but really, it’s an Easter song:

The Babe in the manger was God’s only Son

Who came to the world to die

The Babe in the manger could never have done

The work of His God on high.

The Babe left the manger and went to the cross

To pay the wages of sin

Your way of forgiveness is not by the babe

But the Christ Who died for your sin.

Thank goodness the chorus doesn’t really end there, because it’s Easter and as the Angel said to Mary (“Mary Magdelene, Mom”, according to the nine year old):

“Why seek you the living among the dead?  He is not here for He has risen, just like He said.”


Happy Easter!




The Local Spelling Bee, Wherein Akeelah Did Not Attend

I have never seen Akeelah and The Bee, and I’m thinking now that it might have been a prerequisite for attending my first ever elementary school Spelling Bee.  I was woefully unprepared for the process and – dare I say it? – shenanigans that would ensue.

To begin with, I didn’t understand that the school-level Bee was a stepping stone to Bigger Bees and that there were, in fact, rounds of Bees going on all over the city on the same day.  I thought it was just all the kids in my kids’ school standing up on stage and spelling words chosen from the list that was sent home with my older son a few days before.  Last man or woman standing gets a certificate or a medal and off we go to 6th period.  Seemed harmless enough to me.  But OH NOZ!  It was evidently a much bigger deal that I had originally anticipated.

I’m going to try not to make sport of those involved in Spelling Bees (it will be hard) because I know – well, now I know – just how important it is to some.

To begin with, you don’t get to sit with your child because there are seating assignments and the kids are arranged in order by grade and last name.  That right there threw me off because the list of participants (contestants? indentured servants? kids who wanted to get out of gym that day?) that I had was in full-on alpha order.  So either everyone on the list was in the same grade, or the sweetheart of a little girl who told me how the list was organized was incorrect.  She later made it through the second round of The Bee so I can presume a certain level of intelligence.  It must’ve just been an off-day for her, organization wise.  Anyway, the adults sat on one side of the room and the kids, in alpha-only order, were on the other side.

Side note:  I went to The Bee after my 11 year old (who actually turned 11 on the day of The Bee) told me he was expecting me to be there.  This is in stark contrast to myself at the same age, who wished my own mother to be anywhere but with me.  Mars would do, in a pinch.  I was thrilled to go, never having been to such an event, and thrilled-er still that he actually wanted me there.

Once everyone was in and properly situated, the Spelling Bee Queen Bee, as I will call her in the absence of knowledge of the actual term used in Spelling Bee Parlance, proceeded to read us the riot act explain the rules.  It seemed pretty simple to me…someone says a word, the kid spells it.  If they are right, then on to the next round!  If they are wrong, they sit off to the side till the round is over and hit the road after that.  And that’s sort of what it was, with a whole lot of procedural nonsense in between.  I think, personally, that the SOX folks got a hold of the Spelling Bee Queen Bee of all the Spelling Bees and interjected a lot of Six Sigma mumbo-jumbo just to earn a large consulting fee.  But whatever, the kids didn’t seem to mind all the Do’s and Don’ts so who was I to complain?

I sat by the Mom of last year’s winner and realized very quickly that as I voiced my comments about how crazy it all seemed, she was totally on board with the crazy.  Her child, it seemed, had been asked to participate.  He hadn’t wanted to, you see, but was such an asset to the school’s Spelling Bee Arsenal that he couldn’t help but go.  She said that after last year’s performance, her child had been approached about hiring a tutor to help him advance into further rounds this year.  Incredulous, I asked what on earth a tutor would do?  “Well, you know, read the words and have the child spell them back.”  So, essentially, the same thing I had my third grader do for his older brother while I cleaned up the kitchen night before.  People pay someone to do that??  I wish I’d known…Momma needs some new jeans and Michael could have been out there earning some green…

She went on to tell me that kids were caught cheating at one of the later rounds last year.  Cheating?  On a spelling bee?  How do you do that?  The kids are up on a stage in front of God and everyone, and this being a small private Christian school I do mean that literally, so how on earth are they going to cheat?  As it turns out, the parents were helping the kids cheat by holding up signs with the words on them, scratched in haste as soon as the Spelling Bee Queen Bee called it out.  ARE.YOU.KIDDING.ME?  What does that teach a kid about following the rules and winning on your own merit?  To say nothing of the fact that hello?  THERE IS NO PRIZE MONEY AT STAKE.  So you are essentially…what?  Cheating to win bragging rights that you can spell?  Which is relevant how in the world of spell check and Google?  I don’t get it.

John made it through the first round with ease, as did most of the other 29 gym class dodgers contestants.  The second round tripped up a whole lot more of the kids.  It’s the “false sense of security” theory:  after you nail your first word, you think you’ve got it made so you let your guard down.  And when you do that, all of a sudden “rugged” becomes “ruggead” and WHAM!, you’re out.

It was quite the experience for me…we left after the round John lost on and that was fine by me.  He was totally cool with his performance.  “I just wanted to make it past the first round,” he said.  That’s my boy, aiming for the moon.

As for my experience, I am happy that he participated and that he can check that off his bucket list.  And secretly I’m happy he didn’t go any further because the idea of having to sit through that again and again as kids try to get to the top of the pile of Good Spellers in the US would have driven me crazy.  Sorry, Spelling Bee Lovers!  And good job, John.  Glad you did it, will scrapbook the page so you can tell your kids all about it.  =)

P.S. I have no idea how last year’s winner made out.  And no, I am not going to find his Mom and ask.



I’ve Got Friends With Low Expectations

I set a very low expectation of myself for blogging this holiday season and I’m happy to report that, in true overachieving form,  I exceeded it.  I have not written thing one , save for names on tags for Christmas gifts and a few short sentiments on the backs of the Christmas cards I only just sent out yesterday.  My theory was that as long as the cards were postmarked before January 1st, I could call them Christmas Cards.  After that date, they’re New Year’s wishes.

This Christmas stands in stark contrast to last when Patrick and I arrived home from a four day hospital stay on Christmas Eve.  It was his second knee replacement in three months, and proved to be far worse to recover from (though we couldn’t have known that at the time) than first one back the prior September.  This year, we were home the whole time!  I got a chance to decorate and, working from home, enjoy the decorations and really take my time this year.  Oh, there were some stress points (eBay?  I AM TALKiNG TO YOU AND YOUR IDIOT POLICiES) but we made it to the Big Day in good form.

The only one who was disappointed on Christmas morning was Michael, and I’m still not quite sure why.  I think probably it had to do with the fact that his list consisted of every known electronic gadget on the market, and all the poor lad got from the list was a Nook Color.  Try as I might to explain to him that, contrary to the Pinterest quip, Mom does not, in fact, stand for “Made Of Money”, he was still disappointed.  And because he has these enormous green-ish eyes that fill completely to the brim with tears that drop in HUGE gushers down his roly-poly cheeks when he is upset, he gets to ride in the front seat whenever we go someplace with just me and the other two kids.  It’s my way of balancing his universe so that he doesn’t end up on Jerry Springer.  For not getting an iPad, iTouch, laptop, Nintendo 3DS, iPhone 4S, and video camera all for Christmas one year.

In other news, I completed my second December Daily and am very happy with it.  I love the format and know that once the kids are grown and out of the house, I will really cherish these books and will know that the time spent on them was totally worth it.  =)

Tomorrow is the start of the New Year, of course, and I know I can’t be the only one ready for 2011 to end.  My plan for the rest of today was to write down a list of all of the horrible things that have happened this year, all of the sad things and frustrating things and things I wish I could do over, and then burn the list.  The burn ban has been lifted so that won’t even be illegal!  SCORE.  But then I realized that that would mean spending time reliving many of those moments as I wrote them down, and I decided to just leave well enough alone.  No, there’s no need to go back over all the awful stuff…I’d rather spend my last hours of this year looking forward to the next one.  So the plan has now changed to dinner and a movie and watching the ball drop in NYC and then more than likely, falling asleep on the couch at 11:02 pm, local time.




The Empty Bucket List

Everyone has been talking for a while now about their Bucket List and what they want to do before they die.  A movie with the same title evidently spurred this little bout of self-reflection?

Never one to follow trends, mostly because I would look completely ridiculous in skinny jeans since the only part of me that could be classified as skinny is my fingers and you can’t wear jeans on your hands, I have decided to create The Empty Bucket List:  Things I Have No Intention of Doing in This Lifetime.

To wit:

  1. Climb Mt. Everest.  I have the utmost respect for hard-core climbers and sherpas and yaks who can carry triple their weight using 1/3 the oxygen that I require just to move from my iMac to the refrigerator, but it’s totally not for me.
  2. Swim with dolphins.  You know why?  Being underwater is very disconcerting for me.  I am a good swimmer and can hold my own, but being out in the ocean where stuff can come at you from any angle freaks me out.  On land, I know that pretty much if something’s after me it will be in front of me, behind me, beside me, or above me.  Stuff doesn’t come at you from below.   IN THE OCEAN IT CAN, and that right there  is my tipping point.  So, no deep sea diving and consorting with finned animals for me.
  3. Try sushi.  Why?  Raw fish wrapped in seaweed.  There is nothing appealing to me about either of those things.
  4. Get a law degree.  I’ve been told I can argue with the best of them but having worked with lawyers for ten years, I have to say nothankyouverymuch to that one.  It would be awesome to be able to say, a la Harvey Levin, “I’m a law-yuh!” but it’s not in the cards for me.
  5. Go to Mardi Gras.  I have no religious affiliation with the celebration (read: I am not Catholic) and also?  I like drunks to be way far away from me if I’m out walking on a street late at night.  Beads don’t do it for me either.  Strike three, that’s out.
  6. Refuse to let my children eat sugared cereal.  My house, my rules.  Mother.
  7. Own a minivan.  You can talk to me all day long about how convenient those sliding doors are, how much room there is, how comfortable all the kids will be, how they can be reconfigured to seat the entire marching band comfortably, but you will be wasting your time.  I can sum up what is wrong with those vehicles in one word:  Minivan.
  8. Skydive.  Not for the reason you think…it’s more to do with the “stuff coming at you from any angle” issue I have.  Cannot hang with that feeling, I need for my feet to be on the ground.
  9. Spend more than $200 on a purse.  The bag I carry now is the one my younger son bought for me two Christmases ago, because my husband talked him out of the doorknob he’d picked out.  It’s black and the inside is bright pink and it came from Target and I love it.
  10. Lose the last ten pounds.  Obviously.

So there you have it, The Empty Bucket List.  I can’t wait to not get started on it!!