Saturday Outing with the Niece

I love that Niece is seven years old (and completely potty-trained) so we can do our "girl time" thing.  She's got four "brudders" now, y'know.  Our mission today was to find a sweater to go over her very lovely but sleeveless Easter dress.

Me: O.K., we found a sweater.  Do you have tights?  [Meaning opaque stockings for those of you reading in the Midwest]

Niece: Oh, I have a whole drawerful of tights!

Me: Wow.  So, uh, do you have a pair of tights that don't have holes or spots on them?

Niece: *pauses*  I need tights.

We picked out a package of tights, one black and one white, and a set of sparkly headbands.  Ooh la la.  She also helped me select a new pair of sunglasses to replace my chipped/scratched-up ones.  

After shopping, we made a visit to the church near my house so I could go to Confession before Easter.  She hadn't been in this church before, so I showed her the statues and we worked on her making the Sign of the Cross (right hand! right hand!) and genuflecting in front of the tabernacle.  She asked where the Mary statue was--I think I mentioned it before we went inside but we were on the side of church opposite it--so I promised her we'd see it on our way out.  She sat in the pew patiently (O.K., she switched pews a couple of times before settling down) as I waited behind some faithful seniors, one of whom asked, "Is she your daughter?"  I explained she was my brother's little girl, and the man said, "She looks like you!"  That was a nice compliment.  Then we visited the Mary statue and said a Hail Mary together.

I knew Miss Cereal-for-Breakfast-No-Lunch was getting hungry, so we went to dinner afterwards. God bless the family-friendly restaurants that give children paper menu placemats and crayons.  She cracked me up with her coloring antics (putting distressed faces on the chicken strips picture) and her deep thoughts.  No, really.  She was eating her ice cream and then sat back with a what I thought was a solemn look on her face.

Me: Everything all right?

Niece: I'm thinking happy thoughts.

Me: Like what? Ponies? Kittens?

Niece: Mommy.  And Daddy.

Awwwww.  I know it hasn't been easy at home with the new baby and all the special attention he needs.  (Let's just say the outfit she left the house in was in need of a little fixing-up, which we did when we went shopping.)  And she's growing like a weed--I bought mediums for her today, while in September we'd bought her smalls.  Oh, and her reading is improving by leaps and bounds--she read the labels on candles, store signs, menus--it's just so nice to watch her in action and give her that encouragement, because I think she had a bit of a regression at or right before she started school.

I hope she knows she'll always have an auntie who loves having "Girl Time" with her.  Because I have to agree with Seraphic's thought that Being an Aunt is Cool.

(For the record, I do love all my nephews, too.  They just make better park-outing companions than shopping companions.)


It's Like Being Struck by Lightning Twice

Hey, 'member how I was saying in my last post that I wasn't sure the kids were completely prepared for the event Monday night?  O.K., so it turns out that both teams managed to do very well in answering the questions.

Their behavior, however, was another story.

They were acting up from the minute school let out on Monday, and were just goofy and hyper.  I thought maybe it was being anxious about the event, or the upcoming school musical (I can't even talk about that right now).  And then for two-thirds of the night--when we were out in public--they were still goofy.  And obnoxious.  But by the end of the night, they pulled themselves together (I guess missing all those answers in one round stopped being funny) for success.  I was really proud of them.

Until I got in the next morning, and the music teacher, who is directing the musical, came in and yelled at us (meaning all of us who work in the library) because the storage room in the gym, which doubles as a staging area for the musical, was left in complete shambles by the kids in my care.  I honestly had no idea they were ripping the room to shreds when they went to retrieve some balls or whatever to blow off some steam; I had no idea they had not bothered to put anything back in its proper place while I was setting up their dinner.

Already I was sick when I heard that, but an even worse feeling came over me when I found out the music teacher first blamed the art teacher and made the art teacher and the stage crew clean up my students' mess.  And then by noon, a scorching e-mail from one of the gym teachers came our way.  I was mortified.  Angry.  Disappointed.  Because these were the older kids, and I mistakenly had faith in them that they would be responsible.  And because the parents I thought were coming to help me out with supervision, weren't able to make it until dinner or were meeting us at the venue.  I went to set up the dinner and our aide did the best she could to supervise, but we just had no idea what they'd done.

I spent the day apologizing yesterday, and the art teacher and I spoke to the kids today--and of course some of them were upset they were in trouble and swearing they weren't the ones involved--and we decided that all of them should make some sort of restitution.  It's not going to be physically punishing or anything, probably setting up chairs or whatever, but they really disrespected the music teacher and all the hard work everyone's done for the musical, and I don't think "sorry" is going to mean anything.  In fact, I did not hear a single one apologize.  I don't understand what these kids were thinking, except maybe, "It doesn't matter what we do.  Someone else will clean this up."

So I'm tired, at the last minute I was told I have to be at the musical tomorrow night to help keep kids in line (and I have been out every night this week, last night for choir and tonight for The Cat's vet visit), and I'm trying to get things together for the other reading event coming up right after Easter--oh, and do the day-to-day teacher-librarian stuff, of course, and I am feeling really overwhelmed.

And after only a handful of months, a federal court jury summons was in my mailbox again today.




In Search of a Few Good Distractions

This is pretty much how I felt last week, especially at those darn end-of-day meetings:

Via Dr. Karen Becker.  She writes a lot of useful articles about pet care.

It's going to be another busy week for me: Big event for my middle school reading teams (and I'm not sure they're ready--two team members checked out a total of five books on Friday), choir practice (gotta be prepped for Palm Sunday & Easter), vet visit (thyroid, steroids, who knows, let's test), and dealing with the extra job heaped on the librarians because someone's still on medical leave.  

That last one, well, I wish my co-librarian would chill out about it.  She was talking about coming in during Easter vacation to assemble it, and I'm thinking, Absolutely not.  She should be with her family, including her father who's ill and needs care, and I've got plans.  Family's coming in from out of town and major home care projects.

Oh, well, I guess it's a good distraction from the other stuff going around in my head: 

* Job applications

* What I am going to do this summer?

* When am I going to have time to get some real writing done and finish that novel off for good?

* Getting older (Today, Mom pointed out I'm starting to get "elevens" between my eyes.  Only when I talk about school, apparently.  Arrrgh.)  Which of course segues into, I'm never going to attract the love of my life and The door's going to close on the opportunity to have children of my own.  Whereupon I try to tell myself, It'll happen when it's supposed to happen and Maybe it's better if I don't force a kid to inherit my flaws like food allergies, poor eyesight, and social anxiety.  Hmmmm.

The other good distraction: Mad Men comes back tonight! I'm off to finish some errands so I'll be all set to watch.



The Cat Meets the Neighbor

Guess who ran out into the hallway while I was bringing in the groceries after work.

The Cat darted out the door and to the left towards the lobby, and then my next-door neighbor on my right walked out his door a few seconds later--whereupon she froze.  I was wondering if it would put a little fear into her and send her back inside like a shot, but my neighbor--and it always cracks me up when dudes are like, "Awww! Cute kitty!" when they see her--said hi to her and then crouched down to see if she would come see him.

While she took a couple of tentative steps towards him, I told him she was 14 and the funny way she keeps trying to get in his door because she smells his dinner.  (O.K., that particular incident wouldn't have been his dinner because he hasn't lived here quite that long, but sometimes we do have that conversation because of what he or his girlfriend is cooking.)  He said that he had his dogs (who live with his parents) over the other day and when they walked in the hallway, the dogs went nuts at my door.  The Cat probably was right on the other side, messing with them!

Neighbor dude had to get on the road, so he said goodbye to us, and as soon as he headed the other way for the stairwell door, The Cat decided that was her chance to slip back into the apartment.

Not that she was looking to help me with the groceries or anything.

(Read on if you want her health update.)

We had a rough few days about a week and a half ago.  She didn't want to eat anything or take her medicine.  She got me up a lot during the night, mostly to whine.  She hated Pill Pockets, canned food, crunchy treats--the only thing she would eat was her dry food.  I suspected her steroids were running out, but it had been barely five weeks, and those are supposed to last more than six and closer to eight if possible.  Whining also can be a signal she's having trouble going #2.  So I called the vet and he suggested I cut her thyroid meds in half (give 1/4 pill once a day instead of twice a day).

I wasn't forcing any of her meds into her, so if she did happen to be in the mood I'd get her thyroid pill into her.  I wasn't pushing the laxative meds; I just wanted her to eat.  One night, I even came home with a grilled chicken sandwich, and after she ate some of that, by morning she had gone potty and took her thyroid meds.  

Additionally, the eating issues I resolved by trying a couple of different formulations made by the same brand of cat food, and a few different flavors.  She used to love Wellness Chicken & Herring, and was getting into the turkey flavor, but suddenly it all went south.  So I tried some sliced chicken flavor, and a salmon I think (which is weird because she usually hates salmon, but she seemed to be having contrary taste buds anyway).  Also I got her Core which is higher in protein.  She loves that, and I have no idea why.  But whatever gets her eating is O.K. with me.

She probaby needs to go in for a re-check pretty soon, but right now she's doing O.K.  In fact, she even started crawling under the comforter on my bed, I guess to be playful and stealthy or something.  It's a funny sight.  She also has a renewed interest in the laser light toy, although she chases it only for a few seconds and then runs off to the food bowl.  I guess that's all right.  I'm amazed she wants to play at all.

I can't believe it's been about 11 months since her diagnosis.



Snappy Comebacks I Never Gave (but Really, Really Wanted to)

Other people's comments are real and they are not being portrayed by actors.  Mostly for budgetary reasons.  

Scene 1: Last week, at a faculty workshop day, after having been subjected to a disturbing class about handling suspicions that your students might be abused, we get lunch.  It's not an allergy-friendly lunch.  Did I mention I also gave up soda for Lent?  I pick up a couple items that are safe and grab an open seat at a table, where my plate immediately gets a look-over.

Co-worker: Is that all you're having for lunch?

Me: That's right, Fritos and fruit.  I'm on the F-word diet.  Would you like to hear some other F-words?

Scene 2: This morning.  I am starting the day in panic mode, because I have a major event for almost two dozen students taking place next week and there's a ton of stuff to do.  On top of the book order that's still not settled, the receipts and invoices I have to submit, lessons to assemble, and forgetful sixth-graders to reschedule.  My co-librarian is just as frantic with similar items and last-minute projects' popping up with the younger grades.
A supervisor comes through--presumably to look over plans and maybe visit our restroom--and pops her head in our doorway to deliver a back-handed compliment.

Supervisor: So good to see everyone working hard today!

Me: Um, when have you stopped by and seen us not working hard?  Was it that two minutes I stopped to pour myself some coffee and actually took a sip while it was still hot?  Darn! I knew I never should've thought I was entitled to that!



In Spite of Technology's Attempts to Thwart Me. . .

. . . I managed to stream an author interview video for my 4th graders even after repeated errors and buffering pauses.

. . . got both the TV and the Internet back online at home (2 tries with tech support!).

. . . sent off some job applications: one for a weekend position, and one for the future.  We shall see.



Sittin' in a Hot Living Room. . .

. . . having a (slowly warming) glass of wine. . .

. . . trying to figure out how to "make lemonade" (as the saying goes). . .

. . . mentally preparing myself for dealing with a somewhat hostile primary grade class tomorrow. . .

. . . and desperately trying to reconstruct the cover letter I lost when Lappy the Laptop checked out.