Sunday, October 31, 2010

(43-96) Happy Halloween!

I think that fall just may be my favorite season.  The weather in Phoenix is perfect in Autumn. I've forever been a big fan of Halloween.  And as someone who is always willing to express gratitude and give thanks; having an entire day to celebrate being thankful has my name ALL OVER IT; not to mention the Thanksgiving meal!

Growing up in the condos, Halloween was a treasure trove for trick or treaters because there were so many homes there.  I remember my mom having to buy copious amounts of candy, so that she would be fully stocked for all the kids that would stop by; (even those who didn't actually live in the condos.)  Trick or Treating in the condos could have been an Olympic event because it was one that required great strength and endurance.  There were 3 sections and 2 different sides of the condos.  The first section, you would just walk right up to the door; but the second section had stairs that you would have to climb in order to get to the person's door; so yes, given the number of homes in the condo, you needed great endurance to climb up and back down each time you wanted a piece of candy.  My favorite home in the second section belonged to a compassionate and innovative individual who used card board alongside of his banister to make a candy shoot.  This kind man would sit at the top of his stairs and instead of having to walk up the stairs, all you'd have to do was put your open bag at the end of the banister, and he'd shoot a piece of candy down to you.  AAHHH, what relief!  If this was one of those crazy Budweiser commercials; I'd actually salute this guy. (Announcer's voice)   "Here's to you considerate, innovative candy giver!"  "Mr. considerate, innovative candy giverrrrr"  "Sits at the top of the stairs so kids don't have to exhaust themselves for candyyyy."  "Mr. considerate, innovative candy give - errrrr..."

I've covered the endurance portion of the Olympics; so let me explain the strength.  Imagine, if you will; how strong a young child would have to be in order to lug the stash from a 500 home development.  Thinking back, I remember the bags getting so heavy; but I suppose it was the promise of what was in them that helped us make it home, bag in tact. 

I have some fantastic memories of growing up in the condos; and many of them were from Halloweens gone by; so I always strive to make Halloween memorable for my kids as well.  Since our development isn't a Hot bed of
Halloween activity; we went out to Surprise, so that the kids could trick or treat with Jenny and David's family.  We've trick or treated with them a number of times before and the kids always have a terrific time; so we decided to take them up on the offer to come out for Halloween.

Kelsie was the first of my kids to get her costume.  She decided to be a fairy; and I must say that I'm very proud of her because at school the Kindergartners and first graders were told that they could dress up, but only if they were a character form a book and they did a book report on it.  Kelsie has been reading these chapter books about fairies, and had one from the library that worked perfectly with her costume.  I volunteered in Kelsie's classroom twice on Friday and I was truly impressed with how many children had done the book report and matched their costumes.

After much deliberation; Nicky decided to be Luigi (from Super Mario Bros.) which by the way, they pronounce Mario bros (exactly how it's written; and not Mario Brothers;) and this cracks me up.  Lyndzi had originally wanted to be a pirate, but once Nicky decided to be Luigi; she chose to go as Mario.  Despite the uncomfortable, over sized mustaches, (which they didn't keep on long;) they loved they're costumes and they got quite a nice reception. People seemed especially tickled to see Lyndzi dressed as Mario; and I think they both looked like SUPER, Mario Bros.

It was an Amazing, Autumn, Arizona, night.  It wasn't too warm and it certainly wasn't too cold.  The kids got an ample amount of candy, BUT they will be giving most of it to my dentist; who will give them gift certificates for a free meal at Red Robin in exchange; and send the candy off to our troops.

I love the excitement of Halloween and the time that we spend together as a family.  I want to remember each and every minute and savor the sweetness. 
Till next time...

Saturday, October 30, 2010

(43-95) OH What a Night!

Luis' birthday celebration was absolutely the BEST night out that we've had in forever.  We went to The Shout House, as planned.  You may recall that I previously mentioned The Shout House when I wrote,  "Best of Both Worlds" and I told you that I was a big fan of audience participation.  We've been to The Shout House a number of times before and we've always had a good time.  It's typically  the pianists and their shtick that make for a good time; but last night it was the combination of friends that joined us, that made for such an exceptional evening. 

Luis usually hangs out with Mike K, and David; and over time they have come to affectionately call each other SMF (Sexy, Mother F___ers.)  So last night, the SMF's were joined by myself, Michelle M, Jenny (wife of David,) Tina and our newest addition, Mike F; who we know from soccer and I will refer to as Big Mike.  

Luis, Mike K and David were quick to welcome Big Mike to the SMF club; and  once they did; the hilarity did not stop.  I won't go on with the details; (right, me, Queen of DETAILS;) because I think that it's probably a case of you had to be there; but suffice it to say, that this quartet reminded me of what "The Hangover" guys might be when they're ten years older and have packed on a few pounds.  OH what a night!  We ALL had smiles plastered to our faces and we cackled continuously. 
In between 
the roars of laughter, most of our party were consuming large amounts of alcoholic beverages; (not me though, because I was a designated driver;) and by the end of the evening, I don't think they were feeling any pain. 

In the almost 17 years that I've known Luis, this was only the second time that I'd seen him drunk; and I think it would be fair to say that he was plastered.  I looked at Luis towards the end of the evening and I thought that he was going to be sick.  I encouraged him to call it a night, and within an hour we had left for the evening.  Luis, Michelle and I laughed all the way to our cars; and everyone agreed that the night had been beyond compare.

Shortly after arriving home, Luis began to pay the price for his indulgence.  The room was spinning and he thought he was going to get sick.  I suggested that he try to throw up, because often you feel better after; and he didn't have to TRY very hard at all.  Luis got sick periodically throughout the night; and would have done well to sleep in; but we all had to get up early for soccer.

I mobilized our family at 630am as both Nicky and Lyndzi had 730am warm up and 8am games.  Luis was very slow moving and informed me that I'd need to drive; which I gladly did.  We arrived at the soccer field, anxious to see what condition our friends were in; and we laughed all over again; once we all met up.  Luis was going to start out at Nicky's game and me at Lyndzi's and then we'd switch places at half time.  But at half time Luis called and meekly said that he would prefer not to move, and asked if it was OK for us to stay where we were.  I agreed; but sadly, by doing so I missed Nicky scoring two consecutive goals at his game.  I guess I'll just chalk that up to Luis' birthday present.

When all was said and done; I asked Luis if getting sick and being hungover were worth the time that he had last night; and he didn't hesitate to say "YES!"   The Shout House was undoubtedly a great place to meet; but it was most definitely the company that made the evening as enjoyable as it was.

I'm so glad that EVERYONE had such a slendiferous time; and that we all know that age is just a number.  I think that we all realized that no matter what's going on in your life; if you've got GOOD friends; you're rich.
Till next time...

Friday, October 29, 2010

(43-94) Happy Birthday Luis!!!

Happy Birthday to my wonderful, husband Luis, who turned 40 today.   When I met Luis he had just turned 23; although he told me that he was 28; (which has to be a story for another time, since I wrote about it in my "Glamour magazine" essay.)   I can honestly say that I feel like Luis and I have grown up together over the past 17 years, and I'm so proud of the man that he's become.

This morning, Luis and I went to lunch at Talking Stick casino for our weekly date. We then went to the kid's school and participated in both Kelsie and Lyndzi's Harvest festival parties; and tonight we're going to The Shout House with some friends.  Luis contemplated taking a trip to Vegas for his birthday, but since we were just there 2 months ago; he decided to celebrate locally instead.

In honor of Luis and his 40th birthday, I'd like to share (in no particular order;) 40 of the reasons that I LOVE, ADORE and CHERISH Luis.

1.   He's HOT! (OK, well maybe there is an order.)
2.   He's given me 3 BEAUTIFUL children
3.   He's EXTREMELY hardworking
4.   His family is his #1 priority
5.   He's fair
6.   He makes the BEST Guacamole
7.   He mops
8.   He willingly cleans the showers
9.   He is MacGyveresque
10. He's very well informed about politics
11. He thinks I'm funny
12. He is a SUPER snuggler
13. He still likes to hold my hand
14. He's thoughtful
15. He makes camping enjoyable
16. He's honest
17. He's trustworthy
18. He's open minded
19. He makes me feel desirable
20. He's not macho
21. He likes to learn new things
22. He goes with the flow
23. He's reliable
24. He's intelligent
25. He's sensitive
26. He makes us feel safe.
27. He's a grill master
28. He likes to craft with me. The man is a BIG fan of a hot glue gun.
29. He is kind to EVERYONE
30. He loves to gossip
31. He likes to play games
32. He loves to stay up all night and shop on Black Friday
33. He's self-sacrificing
34. He's considerate
35. He's FUN!
36. He likes to play in the snow
37. He almost always drives.
38. He makes outrageous omelets
39. He compliments my cooking
40. He's MINE!!

What more can I say? I am very grateful for the years that I've shared with Luis and I can't wait to see what the next 40 years bring for him.
Till next time...

Thursday, October 28, 2010

(43-93) Kelsie's Pledge

The other day, Kelsie came home from school with a coupon book of tasks that she needed to complete, at her own pace.  Each time she demonstrates the skill on the coupon, she can return it to her teacher and chose a prize from the treasure box.
Most of the challenges are things that Kelsie already knows; so being Kelsie, she's anxious to hand the coupons in.  She quickly completed "write down your birthday," "write your first and last name with proper capitalization and line placement," "write your phone number and address," "identify the following shapes: circle, oval, square, rectangle, triangle, diamond, hexagon, trapezoid, parallelogram;" and "tie your shoes."

Yesterday morning Kelsie wanted to attempt the Pledge of Allegiance coupon, but when she recited it; she left out a couple of "ands," and I can't even tell you what word she uttered instead of republic.  I corrected Kelsie and she said "well, that's how we say it."  OK!  I explained that they may say it that way; but they're saying it wrong.  She practiced saying republic; and left for school without the coupon.

Last night Kelsie asked if she could try the pledge again; and I listened attentively, as she clearly said "and to the republic for witches stands;"  and then I LAUGHED OUT LOUD. I was thoroughly amused and I asked if she really thought that the pledge was about witches and she loudly replied "I don't know!"   We reviewed the pledge, why we say it and what it means; and I assured her that there are no witches mentioned.  Do you think she's anxious for Halloween or what?

What can I say; Kelsie is a hoot.  Like tonight, at dinner, we were having a conversation that ultimately lead to the topic of my cousin's wedding and Nicky mentioned that he had gotten his first yarmulke there and somehow or other this prompted Kelsie to make a comment about being Jewish.  Luis asked Kelsie "Are you Jewish?"  And she said "Yes."  Luis reminded her that she's a lot of different things; Jewish, Mexican, German, Russian, Polish and Kelsie added "a New Yorker."  Luis and I both did a double take and informed Kelsie that she was not a New Yorker; but she explained that if I was a New Yorker, so was she.  I deduced that she believes that since Luis is from Mexico and we tell her that she's Mexican; since I'm from New York, she thinks that she's a New Yorker.  We made a couple of attempts to convince her that she's not a New Yorker; but I still don't think that she believes us.

Kids minds are just amazing, and their thought processes are fascinating.  How blessed are we who have children in our lives.  Whether natural born, adopted, or step.  To have a conversation with a child; has got to put a smile on your face.
Till next time...

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

(43-92) BOOBS

When I originally conceived the idea for this post; it was going to be called, Feel Your Boobies; in honor of the annual mammogram that I had today; AND Breast cancer awareness month.  However, the results are now in for the MIX 96.9 fridge art contest; so I chose THIS title as I believe it's applicable to both matters.

I'm sure that you don't have to be a rocket scientist to figure out that the sarcasm aimed towards MIX 96.9 means that Lyndzi didn't win the contest; and NO, I'm not a sore loser.  What I AM, as I've mentioned before; is the Queen of FAIRNESS; and as I like things to be fair; when you call something an art contest; I expect the art to really be a factor; and this time it wasn't even a consideration.  The truth of the matter is, that someone could have submitted a stick figure or even just wrote their name; but if their parents, family and friends voted for them enough; the prize could be theirs.  Yes, yes; I know that I've told you this before; and surely someone who didn't know me, might just think that this is sour grapes; but I promise you that this is not the case.  Shall I remind you of the year that Sanjaya was on "American Idol," and how I vehemently complained because the organizers of the "vote for the worst" website were sabotaging "American idol," by telling people to vote for Sanjaya.  This travesty had an adverse effect on "American idol" because it allowed a much less talented individual to remain in the competition longer than others who deserved to be there.  See, I'm always a champion of fairness and justice; this time it just so happens that it involves one of my children, so I'm even more fired up.

The bottom line is... it is what it is; and there is nothing that anyone can do about it; EXCEPT thank those of you who did vote for Lyndzi.  We truly appreciate your effort on her behalf; and so we say, thank you!!

I dreaded having to tell Lyndzi that she didn't win; but sometimes a mom's gotta do what a mom's gotta do.  When she got home from school, I broke the news to her; and even though she's typically not a crier; she cried.  She cried a lot.  And when I asked why she was crying; she said "I really wanted to win."  I pointed out that she was a winner because lots of people had seen her art work, and were very impressed with her; and I reminded her of how many people supported her; and after a while, she stopped crying.
Lyndzi bounced back and asked if we could find some more art contests for her to enter; and I said that we could definitely look into it; but that she could only enter legitimate contests that judge the submission.  Lyndzi agreed; and picked up her pencils and started drawing again.  And to quote Forrest Gump "That's all I got to say about that."

Now before dealing with these boobs today; I had to deal with my own.  I don't even remember how old I was the first time that I had a mammogram; (see, there's that memory thing again....) For some reason I think that I had the first one when I was living in Orlando, which would put me at about 27 or 28 years old; which certainly is young for a mammogram, but given my Mom's history with cancer; it was recommended that I start early.  My mammogram had been normal; thank God, and I continued to have one done annually with equally successful results.
I don't remember my Mom ever going for a mammogram before she was diagnosed with Cancer; and I don't think that this is just my memory going.  Although it's true that I might not have known about every Doctor's appointment that my Mom attended; but my point is; perhaps if she did have a mammogram; they could have detected her cancer earlier.  And so I say to you, FEEL YOUR BOOBIES!  Take care of yourselves.  Don't let fear rule your lives.  Make your regularly scheduled appointments.  Have your physicals, your pap smears (sorry fellas; but tell your wives...) Have your mammograms if you are at the age where you should be doing so and if you have a history of Cancer in your family; start younger.  FEEL YOUR BOOBIES!  Conduct your monthly self breast exams; and make sure that everything feels right.  Remember breast cancer cannot be detected by pain, because usually a cancerous lump doesn't hurt.  So the only way that you'll be able to detect something abnormal is by knowing yourself.
If you've never had a mammogram before; don't be afraid.  It's a fairly quick procedure and trust me, if you've ever had an gynecologist appointment ladies (and you'd better have;) that is far worse.  You'll have to remove your shirt and bra and they'll give you a cover up.    Then they'll take films, one breast at a time.  Typically 4 pictures total.  They'll have to compress your breast so that the tissue spreads out and they can get a clear image; but it only takes a few seconds; just like an x-ray; and if you cooperate, it will be over before you know it.  Helpful hint: in case you've never had a mammogram before; you can't wear deodorant or powder, because it causes shadows on the films. 

OK, so now that I've just run through Mammo 101; let me say that I'm completely relieved to have gotten the dentist, my physical (and all that it entailed;) and my mammogram over and done with.  I got my Physical results yesterday; and I'm delighted to say that all is well.  The mammogram tech said that my films looked good and of course, the radiologist will have to read them ; but I have a feeling that the girls and I are just fine. 

I've always been very good about scheduling and attending my annual check-ups.  Maybe because I'm a rule follower; or perhaps because I learned first hand, how abruptly illness can strike.  With all of the medical advances that have been made since my Mom was first diagnosed and given all of the technology that we have now; there should be no reason that YOUR children should have to lose YOU unexpectedly.
Till next time...

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

(43-91) A REAL Time Warp

So the burning question has got to be "Was the Rocky Horror GLEE episode as awesome as I'd anticipated?"   And my answer would have to be "NO."  However; with that being said, I will fully concede that sometimes you can build something up so much in your mind that it will never be able to exceed your expectations; and I do believe that was the case in this instance.  I guess that it's true; we need to be careful what we wish for, because watching the cast of "GLEE" re-create "Rocky Horror" definitely felt like a REAL time warp.   

Now in all fairness; don't let the fact that I said it wasn't awesome, mean that it wasn't good; because it was.  In fact, there were some parts that were FANTASTIC; and I have to say that it was extremely clever.  They managed to do a number of songs from the movie, using the premise of putting on the play.  And through auditions and rehearsals, they provided us with some of the very best of "Rocky Horror."  I think that it was a very nice tribute; and though I never expected it to be identical to the original; it left me longing for it.
 I'm going to go at this a little differently this evening and tell you what I liked the best and the least about this episode.  Let's go with what I liked the least first; because I always like to end on a positive note.

Least fave moments of "Rocky Horror GLEE" (in no particular order):
1.  Mercedes singing "Sweet Transvestite."  I LOVE Mercedes' voice; and had I never heard "sweet Transvestite" before; her rendition might not have bothered me.  BUT, when you are comparing her performance with Tim Curry's, it's just too far of a stretch for me; so I have to say  - nice try but no cigar.
2.  Quinn's solo as Magenta in "Time Warp,"  I think she took to much liberty with the song and I would have preferred that she sang it more like the original.
3.  The fact that Mr. Shue suggested that he play Rocky; even if it only was to rehearse "Toucha, Toucha, Toucha, Touch me," with Emma; was nauseating.  Yuk Mr. Shue; YUK! 

The Best parts of "Rocky Horror GLEE" (in no particular order):
1.  The opening scene; great lips; super vocals.
2.  Appearances by original cast members Barry Bostwick and Meatloaf.
3.  "Toucha, Toucha, Toucha, Touch Me."  Although I wouldn't have wanted to see Mr. Shue as Rocky, Emma did a spot on job as Janet in one of my FAVORITE RH tunes.
4.  Hot Patootie!  Even though John Stamos didn't sound as good as Meatloaf, when he originally rocked this number; I thought it was fun, fun fun!  Way to go Uncle Jessie!
5.  "There's a Light "   I enjoy Rachel's voice; being the Broadway lover that I am; BUT I must say that I liked that Rachel didn't over sing this song.  I though that she rivalled the original.  Nicely done.

Now, I revert to my original statement.  This wasn't a bad show by any stretch of the imagination; I just think that in many cases; you can never be as good as the original, ie: Willy Wonka.  I don't think that there is anyone who would be willing to say that the re-make of "Willy Wonka" was better than the original; no matter how much you love Johnny Depp.  
I'm grateful that  "GLEE" did this episode, because it reminded me of how much I love this music; and how many great times I had; going to the show.  It's not something that I had thought about in a long time and it was fun to take this walk down memory lane.
Till next time...

Monday, October 25, 2010

(43-90) It Ain't Over...

As disturbed as I was by my conversation with the "Art Teacher;"  I decided that I needed to address the matter further; so this morning I went to see the Principal.  The Principal wasn't available, so I left a message with her secretary; and within a few hours, I received a call.
I thanked the Prinicpal for calling and reminded her that we'd spoken about the "Art Teacher" previously.  I explained that I'd met with the "A.T" on Friday, because I was interested to find out why Lyndzi had received a 95 on her progress report and an 87 on her report card.  I explained that Lyndzi had a recognizable talent; and provided details of some of her artistic accomplishments; so that she would understand why Lyndzi's grade was surprising.  I then went on to tell her that the "A.T" had made several statements that I found disturbing; but the worst was that she had never met more undisciplined children than those that attended our school.  The principal was not pleased to hear this.

If you've already read "The Art Thief;" then you know what else I told the Principal.  And what the Principal told me; was that they are very concerned about the "A.T."  They met with her on Friday and the were going to be meeting with her again today.  They have her scheduled to attend several workshops that they feel she will benefit from; and will aid her in becoming more equipped to teach at our school.  She also guaranteed me that they are taking all of our concerns very seriously.

I advised the Principal, that I am at the school often, because I volunteer at least once a week; and I informed her that I've spoken with a number of parents who had very critical opinions of the "Art Teacher;" though they may not have made her aware of them.  And then, because I know that she's from New York; I threw in " What can I say, maybe I'm just an outspoken New Yorker; but when I feel that there is something wrong; I have to address it head on."  With that, the Principal said "You're from New York?  I'm from New York;" and we had a pleasant lil chat about that.   Now don't get me wrong; I don't think that the Principal gives my allegations more credence because I'm a New Yorker; I'm just saying that a common bond never hurts.

The Principal assured me that she knew that I was complaining because I love my children and I was concerned about our students in general.  And she encouraged me to contact her any time I had misgivings or questions about something that was going on at school.  I felt that Principal had listened to me and was taking my accusations seriously; so I couldn't have asked for more; FOR NOW.

As it so happens; both Kelsie and Lyndzi have art tomorrow; so we'll just have to wait and see how that goes.  AND, if either of my girls has anything unsavory to report; guess where I'll be heading?  
Till next time,,,

Sunday, October 24, 2010

(43-89) A Lil Pick Me Up

Throughout the course of "The Bumpy Ride," I've stated MANY times; that I want to become a professional writer.  And when I wrote "The Rules," I said that I didn't want to write a book at this point in time; because it seemed like such an arduous task.  So I ask you; what the heck was I thinking when I committed to writing a daily blog?  Like THAT wasn't going to be rigorous?  Don't get me wrong, I totally remember the reasons that I wanted to challenge myself to write daily.  I imagined that it would be monumental to record my daily thoughts, since it could possibly be the last year of my life.  I presumed that it might be compelling reading and at the very least; a keepsake for my children.  But the truth of the matter is, that extraordinary things don't happen to me on a daily basis and I don't always have the most fascinating thoughts and opinions to share.  Which leads me to fear that I am occasionally boring my readers; and that the people who previously liked reading my blog when I only posted a couple of times a week or less; will tire of me; and stop reading at all.  Whew!!

At 89 days in; I'm questioning my ability to go on with this challenge.  I feel like I'm floundering, and I second guess myself on a regular basis.  (OK, not much new there.)  I know that I can't please all of the people all of the time; but that's never stopped me from trying before. Certainly the positive feedback helps; but sometimes I just wonder if I'm wasting me time.  OK, I'll admit it; I  have PMS (yes, I know TMI; but the facts are the facts baby.) 

Because I'm not a quitter; I'm going to try and keep on truckin.  I'm going to endeavor to find new and interesting things to write about; and keep plugging away; because even if no one reads it; I know that it's important for me to do so.  In the 89 days that I've been writing daily; I think I've made some terrific discoveries about myself; and I've tried as always to provide recommendations for the (say it with me;) "Greater Good;"  and that's exactly what I set out to do.  I suppose that all I can say is; on days when my post doesn't float your boat; PLEASE don't give up on me.  Give me another chance; and let me know you're out there; because this really is a big (say it with me,) "HUGE;" undertaking.  It was one thing for me to try and write a witty anecdote once a week; but trying to entertain, inform and inspire you on a daily basis; now that's a completely different animal. 

Although they may not all have been the best posts that I've ever written, I'm proud of the work that I've done thus far; and I know that I shouldn't be so hard on myself; but hey, that's what I do.  You know, it's kind of funny.  I had originally planned to write only a blurb, and then post some links for some of my fave pick me up tunes; since I was feelin a lil down in the dumps; about "TBR."  But now, after venting and writing as much as I have; I actually feel better.  The tunes don't even feel necessary anymore; but I don't want to be a tease.  SO, let's listen to a few;  I'll brush myself off, and start all over again tomorrow.
Till next time...
Don't Bring Me Down - Electric Light Orchestra
Don't Do Me Like That - Tom Petty & The Heartbreakers
Heartbreak Beat - The Psychedelic Furs
Modern Love - David Bowie
Love Train - The O'Jays

Saturday, October 23, 2010

(43-88) All Made Up?

Today's blog topic was pulled from Mari's,"Memories and Thoughts" jar.  I was looking for something lighthearted, and fun and came across "What color is your nail polish and make-up;"  And I though that footed the bill.  
Now, if you've never met me in person; my answer may sound like something that you'd expect a 16 year old to say; but if you have met me; I think you'll agree that in the long run; it all makes sense.
My fingernails are rarely polished; but my toes always are; and the color that I chose at my last pedicure was a pale aqua.  Yes, I chose the color in honor of the Torpedos; but also because it's funky and different; (just like me.)  I only choose red polish once in a blue moon; because I can rarely find a red polish that goes well with my skin tone. If I was going to do something more traditional, i'd probably pick a pink or an orange; but most often I go with some kind of purple.  I march to my own drum when it comes to my nail polish and I think that everybody should.  If red floats your boat; have it; but if you are more of a green gal; I say wear it loud, wear it proud!

My mom always wore a lot of make-up; in fact, I don't think that any of my friends ever saw her without her make-up; although she wasn't as bad as one condo mom who wouldn't let her kids have friends in the house unless she had "her face" on.  My mom had worked in a cosmetics store before I was born; and even though she never worked as a make-up artist; her make-up application was a work of art.  I recall watching her put her make-up on when I was a little girl; and I couldn't wait to get older so that I could wear make-up too.

When I was 12 and attending my first Bar Mitvah, my mom let me buy some lavender, Aziza eyeshadow; and I remember being so excited.  In Junior high, girl's started using Cover Girl, Nautical blue eyeliner; but Richie Howell wasn't down with that; and he made me wait until high school; to wear make-up.   By the time I started high school and had permission to wear make up; I went all out and looking back, it's very possible that I may have overdid it..  I remember wearing varying shades of purple eyeshadow, blush, eyeliner and mascara; but to my credit, I think that it was applied well; (or believe me; the very, critical Richie Howell, would have let me know about it.)   Since I was a big make-up fan my freshman year;  I jumped at the chance to join the make-up crewfor our spring musical; when my friend Joan had asked me about it.  We were taught how to apply the stage make-up and I really enjoyed it; so the following year when they were looking for a new make-up director, I volunteered, was elected; and stayed in that position for 3 years.  By Christmas time, my Freshman year of college, I actually considering leaving school, to go to cosmetology school instead; but I never went through with it.

I find it interesting that as time has gone by; I've grown accustomed to wearing less and less make-up.  On a daily basis I wear purple or plum eyeliner; because I think it is the most flattering for my green eyes; but that's about it.  If I'm wearing my glasses; which I most often  do; I rarely wear mascara.  But if I put my contacts in; then I'll use mascara for sure.  I only seem to use eyeshadow when I'm going on a date with Luis, or  if there is a reason that I want to look extra special.  I love Urban Decay's palettes with all of it's glitter and sparkle; but they can be a little much; so I frequently combine them with a pale pink, or light brown eyeshadow.  If I apply any kind of foundation, or blush to my face; then I'll use a finishing powder as well; but I can probably count on one hand; the number of times a month that I get dolled up like this.

It's striking to me, how make-up trends vary so, in different times and places.  When I watch my Jersey shows; these ladies have pounds of make-up on; but in Peoria, Arizona I encounter fresh faced women more than those wearing make-up.  Growing up in New City, New York, I would have never gone to the super market with a make-up free face; and now it is less than likely that I'd put on make-up to go out to the store.  Who knows...maybe I wanted to wear make-up to be just like my mom.  She was always so glamorous and beautiful; who wouldn't have wanted to appear that way?  But as  I've gotten older; I've grown to appreciate my attributes, and now when I wear make-up it's worn to enhance what I've got; and not cover it up.
If there's one message that I want to convey; it's be who you are!  Be true to yourself; and do what makes you feel good.  That's what being an individual is all about!!
Till next time...

Friday, October 22, 2010

(43-87) The Art Thief

This week,we had parent / teacher conferences; and I couldn't be more proud of my kids.  Both Nicky and Lyndzi earned 4.0's and they have demonstrated good work habits and have been putting forth great effort.  Kelsie had a wonderful report card as well; but since it's first grade; she doesn't receive letter grades.

Now you may find this as surprising as I did, but Lyndzi's lowest grade was in art; yup, I said art.  She received an 87, from the teacher that my devoted friend, Dawn is now referring to as the Art Nazi.

On the first day of school; Kelsie informed me that "The new art teacher is a yeller."  A yeller; really?  In first grade, on the first day of school; you need to YELL at a class of first graders?  Kelsie also told me that she was a bad dresser; which I found hysterical.  She said that she wore white pants.  White pants; really?  To an elementary school art class?  A few more days passed and all 3 of my kids had the opportunity to experience the new art teacher and all 3 reported that she was awful.  All 3 said that she yelled; and I was NOT happy to hear this.  WHY would a teacher need to yell in art of all places?  The previous art teacher; who the kids all adored, never yelled.  The kids always looked forward to going to art; but not anymore.

I'd say that I kept tabs on the art teacher; but really I didn't have to, because the kids would come home and tell me how they had to be silent in art; and weren't even aloud to chat quietly.  I was building a case against the Art Nazi in my mind; until Nicky came home one day with a list of 30 definitions that he had to memorize.  He was stressing over the amount of work and how complicated the definitons were.  I don't remember exactly what the words were; but suffice it to say that they weren't all art related words number one; and number two, some of the definitions contained words that the kids wouldn't possibly have known.  After I watched my son torture himself all weekend; I decided to go see the principal.  I waited for a half an hour that Monday morning; but the principal was unavailable.  I left the definition list with the secretary and asked for the principal to call me; but by the time that I picked my kids up, that afternoon; she had not.
I asked the secretary to see if she was available; and teh principal agreed to see me.  After digging through a pile of papers, she found the definition list that I had left earlier.  I explained that I was very concerned that the art teacher would be giving such a test; and the principal admitted that she found it peculiar and said that she'd speak with her to find out if it was a mandated part of the curriculum.  I also told her about the incessant yelling; and the children's complaints about art.  I suggested that she take a random, survey of a sampling of students; as I was sure that she would find a consensus of dissatisfaction.  The principal asked for a few days to look into the matter before she got back to me; and I agreed.
The entire week passed by and I hadn't heard from the principal, so I stopped back in.  Again she was unavailable; so I left a message and she called me later that evening.  The principal informed me that the definitions were not part of the mandated curriculum and she assured me that she discussed alternative teaching methods with the "art teacher."  She said that she thought that the "art teacher," understood that some changes needed to be made; until I advised her that just the day after we'd spoken, Lyndzi had told me that the "art teacher" was trying  to get her class to quiet down; so she banged a clip board on a desk and then said "yes; I think that's a great idea."  The principal was very surprised to hear this, but said that she'd speak with the "art teacher" again.
Shortly thereafter, Kelsie came home and told me that she'd had art that day and the "teacher" had told her class that if they got both of their hands dirty, they would get a mark on their paper and it would be reflected on their report cards.  I asked Kelsie to tell this to her teacher, because I felt that others needed to start getting involved.  kelsie's teacher discussed it in her grade level meeting; and was asked by the principal  to speak directly to the "art teacher."

Fast forward to Tuesday, when I found out that this crazy woman, masquerading as an art teacher had given Lyndzi an 87.  Lyndzi shared that the art teacher had told her class that they weren't doing very well; because she had given a test, and the majority of the kids had low scores.  I told Lyndzi's teacher that I didn't understand how Lyndzi could have been given an 87; and her teacher didn't understand either.  The previous art teachers always gave everyone a hundred; but this woman is nothing like any teacher we've ever had before.

I immediately went to see the "art teacher" after leaving Lyndzi's classroom; and I was fit to be tied.  I was replaying the list of complaints that I'd heard about this woman; and the time had come for me to address her face to face.  I knocked on her door, and when I went in, I introduced myself in a way that I have NEVER done before.  I said "My name is Mrs. Ramos and I have 3 children that attend this school.  I just received my daughter's report card, and I'd like to speak with you about her grade."  Seriously, Mrs. Ramos?.  In the sixteen years that I've been married; I have NEVER said this before; but I felt as if this woman didn't deserve to address me by my first name.  The "art teacher" who was dressed in white linen pants, told me that she couldn't speak with me now because she had to go teach a piano lesson.  I asked when we could meet; and she said "Well, we have parent / teacher conferences this Thursday and Friday."  I said "I'm aware of that.  When may I meet with you?"  She said "anytime;"  so I told her that I would meet her at 10am on Friday; and I asked her to have Lyndzi's work and grades available to review.  I gave her my full name as well as Lyndzi's and told her Lyndzi's grade to which she responded "87 is a good grade."  And I hostilely replied "Not for my daughter."
I was nervous about going to see this woman today, because I really felt like I might lose my cool.  As a parent it is our job to advocate for our children; and my children are being deprived of something that is very important to them, because this woman is on some kind of insane power trip.  I was pleasant enough when I went into our meeting.  The "teacher" informed me that Lyndzi had gotten a 95 on her first project but then an 80 and an 85 on the next two.  I asked what kind of projects the 80 & 85 were; and she said "weaving."  I asked how she grades weaving; and she advised me that it was based on how neat your weaves were, how straight and how tight.  Oh dear God!  I asked if there was a curriculum for this or guidelines and she said "no, but weaving was an acceptable project per the district."  I asked what the highest weaving grade had been and she claimed that some students had gotten a hundred.  I told her that no other art teacher had ever graded the children and questioned that since she was going to be so stringent, why hadn't she sent a letter home, outlining her class policies and expectations; to which she said "I can do that." 
I questioned the need for her to grade the children and again advised that the children adored the last art teacher, and were never graded in such a manner.  She then told me that the art room had been a disgusting mess, when the last art teacher was here; and I explained that the children don't care about that.  She then called my attention to her immaculate room (and it was;) and I reiterated; "The children don't care about that."  I went on to say, "if you yell at the children, and bang clipboards on desks, you are trying to get them to be fearful and you are stifling their creativity."  She  said "Oh, you must have a child who was in that class."  referring to the clipboard banging incident.  Well, duh lady; it was Lyndzi's class.  I have to wonder how many incidents there were if she has no idea which class she had her tantrum in front of.  I asked why she felt it necessary to yell at the children and she said that she only raised her voice a few times; which I disputed.  She then told me that in her 10 years of teaching she had never met a group of more undisciplined children.  I disputed this by telling her that I've had children in this school for many years; and have never heard another teacher make this allegation.  I also  said "If you've been teaching for ten years; I would think that you would have other means of dealing with the children; and if you are unequipped to do so; then perhaps you need to speak with the principal or her assistant so that they can work with you on this."   I addressed her telling Kelsie's class that they couldn't get both hands dirty; and she explained that the assignment only called for using one hand; so there was no need to get dirty.  I said "They're first graders; they get dirty; that's what they do.  They get dirty at lunch, they get dirty at recess; and we certainly expect that they're going to get dirty at art."  But this was too much for her to handle.  She said if they got both hands dirty, they'd get their clothes dirty and that they needed to learn to follow directions anyway.
I could see that this meeting was going nowhere.  I NEVER expected this woman to change Lyndzi's grade; but I stressed that my daughter has talent and I didn't want her to be discouraged.  She did agree that Lyndzi is talented; but that she needed to follow the curriculum; which is going to include a lot more weaving.

I concluded by telling the "teacher" that I was not happy with her yelling at the children, and I know a lot of other parents who feel the same way; and I cautioned her that we were going to be keeping a very watchful eye.  To which she had no reply. I thanked her for her time; and I left. 

My friend Kailene came over briefly this afternoon and I told her about my meeting.  Her daughter who's in sixth grade with Nicky but in a different class was here as well. Kailene asked her daughter if she'd been weaving in art and her very respectful, polite, daughter said " I hate art; and I hate the art teacher."  She then explained that the last time that she had art her class head to write a 2 paragraph essay about misbehaving because they had been chatting quietly before she started her lesson.  Talk about misuse of power.  I asked if the essay was graded, and her daughter said that she was supposed to be grading them over the weekend.  (Just tucking this in my pocket.)

It is very disheartening that this woman is allowed anywhere near children, when she has no understanding of them whatsoever. I went to see this woman to advocate for all the children of our school. Do I expect this woman to change?  No way. But I will do exactly as I promised her, and keep a very watchful eye; and if that means that I am in the prinicpals office every day after my kids have art; so be it.  I hate bullies; but adults who bully children; I have no tolerance for; as she will learn.
I fully believe that the majority of people who teach; love children and enjoy being around them; but this woman is clearly an exception.  I can only hope that the Art Nazi takes some of my concerns to heart and realizes that she is doing more harm than good; but I don't give myself that much credit.   This woman is taking the joy out of art; and robbing our children of an experience that they value; and I don't think that school is a place for thieves.
Till next time..

Thursday, October 21, 2010

(43-86) Bountifully Blessed

Last week, while chatting with my girl's teachers before I volunteered in Kelsie's class; Lyndzi's teacher told me that Lyndzi was going to be student of the month; and they'd be having the assembly on October 22.  We all agreed that I would go to Kelsie's class in the morning, (as if I was volunteering;) so that Lyndzi wouldn't be suspicious of me being at school.  Sound familiar?  I wrote about the same ploy in "Kudos To Kelsie;" where I did something similar for Kels when she was student of the month.

It's actually difficult for me to write this next segment, because I'm fearful of being misunderstood.  It is my sincere hope that I can properly convey  this message in the spirit in which it's meant; which is a spirit of love, kindness, compassion, respect and gratitude.  So with that said; I'll proceed with caution.

We went to the assembly first thing this morning and I sat with Kelsie's class.  And as I took a look around the room; I was reminded of the various populations of special needs children that we service on our campus; and I felt very thankful and bountifully blessed to have such capable children.  ALL of the children were so wonderful and sweet but my heart felt sad; and grateful at the same time.  Now PLEASE don't get me wrong.  I know that ALL children are capable of great things; but some have handicaps that others do not.  On our campus we service deaf children, and children who have diagnosis' that fall somewhere within the autism spectrum; and when they come together with the general population, their is a noticeable difference.  Not a better or a worse difference; just noticeable.  some have to wear headphones to block out noise; others flail there hands about, or jerk uncontrollably; and these are things that I don't experience on a regular basis; but effect me profoundly.

I remember when I was about 10 years old; my parents had some old friends come to our home for a visit.  I had never met these friends before; and they had brought their daughter who was younger than me and was completely blind.  I had never met a blind person before; and I tried not to treat her differently; but when I put 2 little super balls in her hands and told her that one was red and one was blue; her parents politely told me that she had no idea what red or blue was; and when they left, shortly thereafter; I cried hysterically.  It seemed so unfair to me, that this young children was deprived of her sight; and I was overcome with emotion. 
I've always had a soft spot for those who are different.  I cried uncontrollably for Forrest Gump for  Pete's sake.  And I'm not saying that I pity the children at my kids school; because it's not my pity that they need.  I'm just expressing that I feel compassion for their struggles.

Sitting in the auditorium and waiting for Lyndzi's name to be called, I had time to reflect on all that my children have been blessed with.  Their health; their aptitude, and their special gifts; just to name a few.  I was even appreciative of Kelsie's tenacity and her resolve to argue with me the way that she does; because she was endowed with the ability to do so.

After the principal called Lyndzi's name; her teacher read the following "This certificate celebrates Lyndzi Ramos for the month of October.  Lyndzi always comes to school with a smile on her face!  She is quick to lend a hand to others, and is a very conscientious student!"  Do I have to tell you how proud I was?  Lyndzi exemplifies all of the qualities that I respect in an individual; and it is an honor and my pleasure to be her mother. 

It often seems easier to dwell on what we have not; and overlook what we have; I can assure you that I take nothing for granted and  I realize how very, fortunate I am in so many ways.  One may be rich financially and destitute emotionally.  One may have wealth but not love; one may have commodities, but not comfort.  There are definitely some things that money cannot buy; and those are the things that are priceless.
Till next time...

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

(43-85) Best Of Both Worlds

I am VERY excited, like I can't wait, excited; for next weeks episode of "GLEE."  Now I've told you several times that I am a total GLEEK.  But couple my love of "GLEE" with one of my all time favorite movies, "The Rocky Horror Picture Show;" and throw in director / choreographer Adam Shankman; and I am over the moon!!
For those of you who haven't heard; the Halloween episode of "GLEE" has the students performing "Rocky Horror; and the guest director is Adam Shankman; my fave judge on "So You Think You Can dance."  I ask you; can it get better than this.  All 3 elements of this combo put a great big smile on my face; I mean like big ole, ear to ear grin; beaming with happiness, smile.

Back in the day I was a Big (say it with me) "Huge," "Rocky Horror" fan.  I never dressed up; I left that to my brother; who weekly would portray the sweet transvestite himself; Dr. Frank N. Furter.  And for those of you who know my brother but didn't know this tidbit about him, go ahead and pick your jaws up off the floor now; I'll wait.
Anyway, all it took was one viewing and I was hooked.  I loved the music; and the audience participation (hmm, maybe that's why I'm such a big fan of The Shout House - our local, dueling piano bar.)  And the fact that the film was shown at midnight just made it all the more exciting as a teen.  Now there'd be no way I'd stay up long enough to make it to a midnight movie.

If by some chance you've never seen "Rocky Horror," let me give you a quick synopsis.  Susan Sarandon (yes, Academy Award winner, Susan Sarandon,) plays Janet Weiss; an innocent, young woman who gets engaged to nerdy, Brad Majors (Barry Bostwick.)  They are driving home from their friend's wedding on a cold and rainy, November evening and a flat tire causes them to stop at the castle of Transvestite, Dr. Frank N. Furter; played impeccably by Tim Curry.  Well,  Frank has been in the process of creating the perfect, male specimen; (Rocky) who he'd planned to introduce that evening at the Transylvanian convention that he's hosting.  Janet and Brad have to spend the night at the castle with a diverse cast of characters (most of whom we find out are from another planet.)  Frank tries to be a hospitable host; and tucks Janet into bed (if you now what I mean;) he then does the same for Brad and when Janet finds out, she decides to take the virile, Rocky for a test drive.   Well suffice it to say that when Frank becomes aware of this, there is hell to pay; just as there was for his ex-boyfriend; Eddy (played by Meatloaf.)  OK, I've said enough.  If you've never seen this, it probably sounds like a ridiculous, train wreck; or the b-rate science fiction / horror film parody that it was intended to be.  If I was watching it for the very, first time now; I don't know that I could sit through it; BUT given my history with this flick; it's a movie that I can never pass up; and watching the Glee cast recreate it, will be a pleasure.  I know it won't be THE SAME; but in a lot of ways; it will be even better.

I've known about this highly, anticpated "Glee" episode for a few weeks now; but I'm all fired up about it tonight; because a facebook friend posted the link for the "Glee" version of "The Timewarp." AND, in the interest of (say it with me;) "The greater good."  I'm going to share it with you.
Now it seems only fair (being the Queen of FAIRNESS that I am) to also share a link from the original, cult classic "The Rocky Horror Picture show."   I hope you'll enjoy this as much as I do and I'm sure I'll have a comment or two after next week's "GLEE."                                 
Till next time...

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

(43-84) Say What?

Since my schedule is a bit turned around this week; due to dentist and doctor's appointments; parent / teacher conferences and early out on Thursday and Friday; I went into my office today, instead of my customary, Thursday.
On the one day a week that I go to my office, I usually get something for lunch with my friend Kathy; although we typically try to pick something that we have a coupon for or something that is inexpensive. Yesterday I reminded Kathy that I would be coming in to the office today; and I let her know that I had a coupon for Logan's, because sometimes we get their salad and baked sweet potato combo for $4.99

Early this morning I showed Kathy my coupon and we read all of the fine print to see what we couldn't use the coupon on. It reminded me of the scene in "The Jerk," where Navin (Steve Martin) is working in the weight guessing booth at the carnival and when someone asks what they could win if he didn't guess their weight; he mentioned everything that they couldn't get and finally concluded that the person could have anything within a very, small boxed area.

Ultimately, we decided not to use our Logan's coupon today and tried to decide on something else for lunch. Since we were trying to think of something inexpensive, I suggested that we get French Dip sandwiches from Arby's because I had seen a flyer that offered them 2 for $5.00Kathy and I went to Arby's but we didn't see anything that stated the 2 for $5 offer, so I asked the cashier if we needed a coupon; and what she said really threw me for a loop. The cashier told me that I needed a coupon; BUT they give it back to you. And when I said, "OK, I don't have a physical coupon with me, but I know about the offer, and since you would only be giving me the coupon back anyway; can't I get them 2 for $?" And she said "No." No, I couldn't believe it. I mean they don't even keep the coupon, so what sense does this make? I'd say that I was shocked, but then again, this IS Arby's. The same company that I advised of a typo in their advertisement a couple of months ago. Yes, I had a coupon sheet for Arby's only it wasn't called Arby's in their ad; they were Abry's. Ever so slight difference; but for a Nationwide company; this didn't look good. And neither does this coupon policy.

Now trust me; I'm not troubling myself AT ALL, over the stupidity of the coupon situation; this is not a problem by any means; just an annoyance. It's amazing to me that someone convinced a company do business this way; but then again, when we were at Mari's crop on Saturday night, we ordered Mexican food and Mari asked for chips and salsa (enough for the 6 people who were ordering food) and the order taker informed Mari that we would be given 1 complimentary bag of chips with salsa and we would have to pay $6 for an additional bag. Say what? If we were sitting in the restaurant, we all could have unlimited chips and salsa, but because we got it to go; we were only entitled to one small bag? This is starting to make Big Heng's fortune cookie policy, that I wrote about in "You Know You Have A Problem When...#6" sound sane.
Anyway, Mari asked the order taker, "If I ordered six separate orders would everyone get their own chips and salsa?" And the voice on the other end of the phone said "Yes." Mari said "OK then, I'm going to give you six separate names for this order; or do I have to hang up and call you back six times?" The order taker than begrudgingly took all six names; and when we went to pick up the food, we found a bag of chips and salsa accompanying each of our meals.
This company, chip policy made absolutely no sense to us. What ever happened to businesses wanting to accommodate their customers so that they would want to return. Why do some businesses cease to remember that without us they have no business; so they shouldn't piss us off with their ridiculous rules. It's not that I believe that the customer is always right, because honestly, sometimes we're not; but it does seem that the coupon at Arby's and the chips at the Mexican restaurant are two policies that need to be re-worked.

Monday, October 18, 2010

(43-83) Taking Care Of Business

I don't know why it's always so much easier for me to put  everyone else's needs before mine.  If I know that one of my kids or Luis needs something done; I'm Jenny on the spot; and I'm trying to be better about taking care of  myself as well. 
October is the month that I typically have my physical and mammogram; and I have both of those scheduled.  I always take both exams very seriously and this year ESPECIALLY.  My physical is on Wednesday; and I wouldn't say that I'm nervous, because like I've said before; other than being overweight, I believe that I'm in perfect health.  BUT, I really don't want to have to address my weight with the doctor; since I KNOW what I need to do.  My mammogram will be one week later; and I'm not concerned about that either; because I'm sure that as always, everything will be fine.  So OK, I've got the physical covered and the mammogram attended to; so what's that leave; ahh yes; the dreaded, dentist.
As much as I fear, hate, despise, going to the dentist; I do go for my check up and cleaning every six months.  My last check up was in July, and I was told that I had a tiny cavity in one tooth.  Now if the kid's dentist had told me this about one of them; I would have scheduled an appointment on the spot, and for as soon as possible; but because it was for me; I put it off.  Now don't get me wrong, I didn't BLOW IT OFF, I just didn't make an appointment; but not doing so was very much on my mind; since I am the Queen of FOLLOWING THE RULES; and I knew that this was something that I had to do.
Fearing that the cavity would get worse, the longer that I let it go; I decided that it was time to take care of business; and I made the appointment for this morning, at 8am.

Although I still go to the office of the dentist that I wrote about in "A New Crown For The Queen;"  I now, see Dr. V; and she is the kindest, most gentle, dentist that I have ever met.  Dr. V and her assistant, Laura; always go out of their way to make sure that I am comfortable because they know that I have a larger than average dental anxiety.  I've mentioned before that going to the dentist is excruciating for me because, due to problematic sinuses I'm a mouth breather; I have a physically small mouth; AND I have a terrible, fear of needles.  Add all of these things up and they do NOT spell good dental patient; although I try; I really do; and I have gotten better.

Today's filling was actually rather speedy.  I was out of the office within 45 minutes and that includes the extra time that I spent chatting with Dr. V and Laura. They seem to find me amusing; and you know that any time I have a responsive audience; I'm just like the Energizer Rabbit; I keep going and going and going...
I won't go into any details about the filling etc; because really, who wants to read about that; but suffice it to say, that if you live in my area and you're in need of a dentist; I highly recommend Dr. V at Your Family Dentist which is at 83rd Avenue and Cactus; in the Safeway shopping Center.  If you have any questions; feel free to email me.

So, what have I learned today.  Once again I've been reminded that things aren't always as bad as we seem.  I was apprehensive about going to the dentist, but in the long run; it really wasn't bad at all and I wasted precious time being nervous about it.  I also reminded myself that just as I'm responsible to take care of my family; I also have to take care of myself; because I am just as important as they are #1 and #2, if I'm ill or less than; then I'm not going to be as helpful and available to them.  I hope that you all  realize the same.  Take care of YOUR business; so that you can be the best you that you can be.
Till next time...