Saturday, November 26, 2011

Elf Trouble

I hope you all had a nice, relaxing Thanksgiving. I had a pretty awesome week since we had the whole week off from school. I overslept, and I wore sweat pants every day. Talk about bliss. I sure hope my pants fit on Monday.

I love weeks like this because they recharge my batteries and I end up being a lot more productive. I'm not rushing Monday or anything, but I'm ready to face it when it gets here. Bring it.

Whatever, take your time Monday, I'm only messing with you.

As a result of being on vacation all week, Peanut Head and I managed to get our tree up and our Christmas decorations out. Normally we go pick out a live tree after Thanksgiving, but this year we decided to go with an artificial tree. Artificial trees have come a long way since I was a kid and you had to match the color of the branch insert to the color of the hole on the broom stick tree skeleton. In the new millennium the trees are pre-lit, and that, my friends, is a beautiful thing. I'm not going to miss any of the cranky rumblings from Peanut Head wrestling with the lights while I pointedly avoid the vicinity of the tree. 

Would you look at the size of this tree. I'm telling you, it was not this big in the store. We got it home, set it up, and we exclaimed "Holy Huge Christmas Tree!" It's gigantic. When I stand off to the right, I can't even see my hallway. It's like it doesn't even exist.

Geezo, I'm just a few paragraphs in and already I'm off topic. I came here to tell you about our elf trouble.

This Elf. Perhaps you've seen him? I picked this creepy little guy up at Barnes & Noble last year, but I've seen him at lots of different stores as well. The idea is that the Elf watches the kids and flies back to the North Pole to report back to Santa. A little Christmas intimidation and threat to go with your Egg Nog. Right up my alley, I say. I'm all about messing with my kids. My parents did it with me, and I'm passing it along to my kids. It's tradition.

Except that I kind of suck at this particular job. As with our loser Easter Bunny and Tooth Fairy, the problem is that I keep forgetting to do my part to keep the magic alive.

Our elf, Peter, has been here since Thanksgiving and he hasn't moved. As I mentioned he is supposed to report back to Santa. Every night. And come back and be sitting in a new spot each morning. Therein lies the problem. I don't just have to remember to do my job on one night, but every ding dang night between now and Christmas. What the heck was I thinking?

Yesterday Zoe casually mentioned to me as I sauntered out of bed at 10:00 a.m., "Mom, Peter didn't move last night. We woke up and we looked all over for him and he was in the same place. Why didn't he go to the North Pole last night?"

I get the feeling she is questioning the magic. Can it be?

"I . . . Uh . . . uhhhhhh. . . . hmmmm," I begin. "You might remember from last year, Peter doesn't leave every day. Sometimes he doesn't have anything to report, so he stays."

You see, I have a history here. And I lie.

Well, you would think that after being busted and silently reminding myself fifty times last night, I might have remembered to send Peter Peter Pumpkin Eater to the North Pole.

I did not.

Freaking out girls woke up this morning and again, Peter had not moved a hair.

"Uh . . . uh . . . uh . . . . "

Nothin'. I got nothin' here.

Thinking, thinking, thinking. "Hmmmmm?"

I was just as perplexed as my offspring. Why did the ding dang elf not make the trek to see the Santa Man?!!!

Throwing me a bone, Zoe says "Mom, I think Garrett and Colleen touched Peter and that's why he won't leave." Garrett and Colleen are Smashley's kids and they were here for Thanksgiving.

"Nooooooo!" I exclaim. "That's probably exactly what happened. I'm going to look into this and get back to you. We'll get Peter fixed, don't worry."

I went straight to Google to find out how to fix my stupid self. I couldn't find a long-term solution, but I came up with this one myself, that I think will at least buy me another day. I went to the girls to share my findings.

"Girls?" I said.

"Yes, Mama." Blink blink went their pretty eyes and on went their trusting smiles.

"I think Peter hasn't been working because we haven't activated him yet. We have to talk to him and tell him whether we've been good this year and also give him a message to give to Santa," I misrepresent.

Honestly, I don't even know where I get this stuff. It's like a disease. The Lying Disease.

So today Zoe pulled a stool up to where Peter is sitting collecting dust, and she had quite the conversation with him. It was long, and it was pointed.

Stinkerbell couldn't be bothered with basic friendly conversation. She likes to cut to the chase and get things done.

She left a note for him to give to Santa. Would you like a closer look?

I think I need to talk to her about her list. A couple of those things are pretty pricey.

I told Annika that she needed to fold her note up so Peter would have an easier time carrying it. The way it is now, it would create a lot of wind drag.

She went one step further. She made him a little carry sack made out of toilet paper and staples. The note is inside. I'm tempted to tell her that toilet paper disintegrates in precipitation.

So now in my Zenbe Lists app, the one I check every night before I go to bed, my little OCD ritual where I arrange and rearrange my To Do List for the next day, I have marked as a Highest Priority Item, "Move the Ding Dang Elf!"

No lie.

I'll let you know how it goes.

If I remember.

I'm so glad Peanut Head is in charge of the Santa Magic. He's much better at magic than I.

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

School Me

I don't know if I have any readers left out there on account of my intermittent posting, but I hope some of you are still out there, because I need some input. Technology input. That request will eventually come after the following long winded narrative, so feel free to scroll down to the bottom if you aren't in a patient mood today.

I understand.

I'm not the kind of person who technology comes easy to, I have to really work at it and take notes. Whenever I get a new gadget or thing, I hand it to Peanut Head to set up, figure out, and tutor me. I have the attention span of a gnat, so he has the added chore of having to spoon feed me over many tortuous sessions.

Some might say he's enabling me, but if they did, they would run the risk of me indelicately tackling them and telling them to shut up and mind their own business.

Our technology relationship is an arrangement that works quite well for us.

The married us.


Anyway, shortly after the iPad came out, Peanut Head was telling me how I should get an iPad, it would be perfect for me and my alarmingly out of control e-mail situation, my blog surfing, and my general computer addiction. What I heard was "Spend $800, blah blah blah, don't actually accomplish anything productive on an $800 gadget, blah blah blah, $800, blah blah, portable, blah blah, $800, blah blah."

Actually, I don't think he ever quoted a price, that was just the stubborn and pushy automatic rejection response from my Man Giving Advice Listening Filter app.

Peanut Head does not find my cool app the least bit amusing.

In fact, if he were to ever incite divorce proceedings, this app, er . . . character trait would be at the tippy top of his Irreconcilable Annoyances List.

Flash forward six months and I'm on the Apple website working my way through all the commercials, enjoying myself because it's good entertainment, and I actually watch an iPad commercial.

So picture this, figurative tail between my legs I approach Peanut Head and meekly announce "I think I might want one of them iPad thingies." He knows he has won so he just smiles and shakes his head a little bit which, according to my Body Language Translation Dictionary, means "I know you better than you know yourself. Bazing!"

"Heh, heh. Funny, isn't it?" is my reply. It's true and I hate that it's true, but because I want the iPad thingy, I have to admit it. It hurts so bad.

This took place about this time last year, before the iPad 2 came out. Since Peanut Head is so conservative and patient, he suggested that I wait for the iPad 2 to come out because it was going to have a camera, a USB port, and all the other rumors that were going around about the magical new iPad.

According to the rumors, the launch of the new iPad was always just around the corner. It would come out for Christmas, it would come out after Christmas, the new year, with the new iPhone, etc. It was torture, I tell you.

I have to be honest with you, I don't wait patiently. I waited in agony, whining all the time, stalking the Apple website, Googling for the newest and most promising rumor. I was a druggie looking for my fix.

While I was waiting in agony, I had plenty of time to save up for my new BFF. I passed on a Christmas gift from Peanut Head, and then a birthday gift in February. I scrimped and saved, waiting for my one true love.

Finally the fated day came back in March, and I was joined with my BFF. We haven't been apart since, and I love my iPad more than my dog, but less than my children and Peanut Head. Okay, maybe I love the Bunnery Sergeant a little more, but not much more. The point is, I might possibly take a bullet for my iPad.

Not in an important organ or anything, but for sure in one of my extra fleshy bits.

So I've had my BFF for a little over seven months or so, and I've learned a thing or two about it. I'm pretty comfortable with it, but I don't navigate around it quite as well as my fellow sixth grade teacher who has had his iPad for about two weeks and can dance circles around me, on his tippy toes, with one hand behind his back and only using his pinkie finger. For illustrative purposes, that pinkie finger is in a splint.

Because I'm bitter and passive aggressive, let's just refer to him as Robo Techbot from here on out. Not in person, of course. Just on the blog. He'll never know.

I feel a tangent coming on, so I'm going to hit my force redirect key and attempt to get to my point.

A couple weeks ago Peanut Head and I got our Christmas presents early.

BFF #2, the companion to BFF #1.

And I have this to say. What the heck was I doing with a Crackberry when this Bounty of Efficiency and OCD Enabling Tool existed?!!!!

No, really. And I have exponentially fewer apps than Robo Techbot, but I don't even know how I can live now without the apps I have and use.

And since as a rule I'm always ten years behind on all trends, I need some schooling. What are all the cool apps and what can they do for me?

Please, I'm begging you, one junkie to another, what are all your favorite apps?

Wednesday, November 2, 2011

Idioms, Kittehs, and Ninjas

I want to know who in our district decided to schedule Halloween and Parent-Teacher conferences in the same ding dang week. And school. What's with the school?!!

It's chaos, I tell you. The kids are all hopped up on sugar, I'm all hopped up on sugar, and no one can concentrate.

Okay, I can't concentrate. There's so much talking, talking, talking, and no quiet.

That's one of the hazards of working with children. Incessant talking. 

Incessant talking at school, incessant talking at home, incessant talking in my dreams for crying out loud.

Stinkerbell is eight right now, and I've dubbed eight as The Year of Incessant Talking. I was reminded of The Year Zoe Bug Didn't Shut Up this evening when The Stink was recounting a very long story about an art project she had done in her class today, with step-by-step excruciatingly detailed instructions. Her description was so detailed that I wanted to whip out my camera and document it as a tutorial that I could post on U-Tube.

Except that I would have to listen to the whole thing a second time. And as much as I love her, it was a taxing story.

I persevered by imaginary brain slapping myself to remain conscious, quietly reminding myself that I love and care for this person who is taking the time to share part of her day with me. Something I will be begging for in another five years or so when she will come home with her no-eye-contact look, reply in one word sentences usually only containing the word "fine" and probably always accompanied by the My-Mom-is-So-Lame acrobatic eye roll.

The thought just sent shivers down my spine so I'm going to go upstairs and ask The Stink to tell it to me again.

Dang it. She's asleep.

I think it's ironic that I became a teacher so I could boss people around and make them listen to me talk.

The irony is killing me.

So . . . idioms. 

This was my Halloween costume this year. Man, I look tired. It's the talking . . . it's wearing me down. The chef's hat looking thing is really a light bulb. Not a Bright Idea light bulb, but like my shirt says, The Light at the End of the Tunnel.

I thought it would be hysterical to have Girl Genius make me a t-shirt that said this:


Perhaps it is in poor taste, but it makes me giggle.

It was also the perfect opportunity to turn an idiom into a nice visual for the kids. Idioms are hard to teach. It's a little like teaching people how to get a punch line. It's an acquired skill. 

It's a joke . . . . Get it? The light? It was turned off. It's the light at the end of the tunnel. The beacon in the night. Somebody turned it off to save money. Ha. Ha Ha. Ha. Get it?

Never mind.

Sometimes you have to beat people over the head with a punchline, so in keeping with that potentially sad outcome, we made Idiom Cootie Catchers. They're all the rage in the sixth grade.

So what if they usually predict who you will marry, how many kids you will have, and whether you will drive a minivan or a skateboard.

Here's the kitteh my title refers to. Zoe Bug wanted to be a cat for Halloween this year. It's so fitting for her personality. My sweet little kitty cat.

Stinkerbell went as a Ninja with many pointy knives. She wanted to get a big swoopy looking knife, but Peanut Head put his foot down and told her that Ninjas don't have Broadswords, they have Katanas.

I had to run upstairs to get the technical blah, blah about the knives. Swords. Whatever.

And I know that Sheryl Crow sings about the guns you can buy at Walmart, but I'm here to tell you that they don't sell Katanas.

And please forgive me here, but why for the love of Peter Pan does it really matter? It's just a Halloween costume. She's not going to be slaying any dragons or anything like that.

The best she could hope for is to sever Zoe Bug's tail from her bum. And that would totally be cheating because it was a Velcro-attached tail.

Not that Stinkerbell didn't do it anyway. Again, Peanut Head is so proud.