The letter that never came

Nearly a week ago I detailed my hunt for the mailman, awaiting a letter I had hoped he would be bringing to my mailbox.

It's official. It's not coming.

I have been on parental pins and needles since the end of the school year. Abby was tested for gifted but didn't score high enough to be invited into the program. When I learned of the testing I told myself that her getting in wasn't overly important to me, but it would be really cool if Abby could ride the bus across town with Emily, who is in the gifted program, where they could see each other in the halls at school. But as each day passed and a letter from the school district failed to arrive that outlook morphed into something else, and it was a far cry from wanting to strengthen a sisterly bond. I wanted her in that program. I wanted her to have the same opportunities available to her that were available to her sister. In hushed voices I was constantly told by teachers and aides how smart Abby was, how talented her artwork was. With Emily in gifted I thought for sure Abby was a shoe-in. Imagine, both of my girls in the gifted program. Well, keep imagining.

I feel like I've failed Abby. As if I didn't do enough for her. She has no idea of the drama that her parents are feeling about her education. Emily has been extremely lucky thus far to have fantastic teachers. Abby had an amazing kindergarten teacher, and it would be my dream to have that teacher throughout her academic career. Or Mocha Momma (I'm not picky). I just want my daughter to have the best.


Give it away, give it away, give it away now

I have spent the last two days cleaning my house. Thoroughly.

Think of it as spring cleaning but not.

The upper half of our house is so clean it looks surprised. We've collected bags upon bags of toys that the girls no longer play with and I'm planning on donating those, along with baby and maternity clothes, to a local charity (I'm hoping a local women's shelter will get back to me about accepting donations). I don't want to give it to Goodwill because they will turn it around and sell it. I want to give it away, meaning free of cost, to someone who could get use out of these items. It's altruism at it's extreme. Booyah!

I've also laid down a new law for my girls: The next time they want to buy something new for themselves they must pick out a toy of theirs to donate to either a church or charity. My benefit here is twofold: they learn about helping others and I keep the toy volume down in my house. It's a win-win situation.


The Great PB & J Debate

Folks, forget oil prices. I have an issue that requires--nay demands--the immediate attention of the global community. Friends and lurkers alike, I ask you, "How do you put together your PB & J?"

See, here's how it is: I asked Jim to make me a PB & J for lunch. (Actually, it was Smucker's Natural Peanut Butter With Honey and Red Raspberry Simply Fruit on Brownberry Health Nut bread... but who's paying attention?) I walked into the kitchen and stopped dead in my tracks. In open mouthed horror I observed my husband fashioning together my sandwich. He was, prepare yourself, spreading the jam on top of the peanut butter before putting the other bread slice on to close the sandwich.

This is so unnatural. While I was thankful that my man was making me lunch I just couldn't help feeling as though earth was tilting off it's axis. He may as well have been only buttering one side of a piece of bread while making a grilled cheese sandwich! Oh, the horror! When I expressed to Jim my distress he shrugged it off as a non-issue. I'm incline to disagree. And so I must take action.

Here are Elizabeth's 5 easy steps to putting together the perfect PB & J:

1. Remove 2 slices of bread from package. Twist bag of bread to close and fold twist under bread and stow. Throw away green twisty tie if applicable and greatly annoy your husband.
2. Set stacked bread slices on your prep surface. Take hold of the top slice by the right corner and "open" said slice to the left.
3. Spread peanut butter on one slice, ensuring smooth application and even distribution. Avoid tearing bread.
4. Spread jelly/jam/fruit spread on the other slice, ensuring smooth application and even distribution. Avoid tearing bread.
5. Take hold of the slice of bread on your left and "marry" it to the slice on the right. You now have a symmetrical sandwich creation and have not screwed up anyone's Feng Shui.

So that's how I put together my PB & J's. How do you put together yours?


Stalking the mailman. Again.

Back in May I found myself hiding behind trees and crouched behind cars waiting for our mailman to show up, and at which time I would tackle him and paw through his letter carrier bag searching for my personal training certification results. Ok, so not really. But damn near close.

I'm doing it again. The "damn near close" part. For the better part of the month I have been throwing bills aside and invitations from credit card companies promising me a quarter-million-dollar credit limit in a desperate search for a letter that I'm hoping will be delivered to my house.

The mail just arrived. The coveted letter was not among the bank statements and the blood drive reminders. I'm now mentally gearing myself up for Thursday's "Mailman Stakeout".

Good Lord, this is so pathetic.


¡Adoro la música!

As we raced west across the Phoenix desert, radial tires melting on the hot asphalt of I-10 toward California, the radio pickin's were sparse. Country here, static there, and...what's this? And why do I suddenly crave a margarita?

We had stumbled upon Mexican music. (Forgive me if using the term "Mexican music" is just plain lazy. At the time I didn't know there was Norteño or Banda or Duranguense. The only thing I had ever been familiar with was the music that played in the background at my local Mexican restaurant.) We were so enthralled by the sounds we were hearing that we kept listening to Mexican radio stations throughout our entire vacation. Never mind that neither Jim nor I spoke Spanish and we couldn't understand a thing. Mexican music, no matter what the lyrics spoke of, was colorful and unexpected. Listening to it was a treat for my ears.

Back in the Midwest, the first thing I did during our drive home from the airport was search for a Mexican radio station. No such luck in St. Louis. Next I tried streaming internet radio. I picked up a couple of stations out of Santa Fe, Mexico City and Highland Park, Illinois (?!). They will do in a pinch.

Ah, but my accidental discovery! (I tend to find things that I'm looking for in places I never expected to find them.) Thanks to MySpace, I am now addicted to the Mexican Institute of Sound. Mexican electronica...who knew?


It doesn't take much to entertain my daughter

I think the last time I was this giddy over a toy it was at my 8th birthday party and I got a Darci doll.


The consequences of sleeping in

Have you ever had these incredibly weird dreams because you've slept in too much? I've been pampered by sleeping in as late as 10:30 in the morning (my kids are now at the age where they can pour their own bowl of cereal, thank God!) but the dreams I've been having are just absolutely bizarre!

In one dream I found myself in what I can only think of as Rome, in the middle of the night at a plaza where there were shops and people milling about, and one of my instructors from school was there and bought me a flower. Erm...?

In another I was on a school bus, but it was parked at a fair, and there were teenagers all over the place acting, well, I guess like teenagers. In my dream I took exception to the behavior of one and decided to play the Moral Police. It didn't turn out so well for me, though. One of the kids in my dream threw up on me and ruined what would have been an incredibly cute outfit. Gross!

Lastly, and I think this is the dream that has freaked me out most out of all of them recently, is that I went over to a friend's house to drop off my kids for a playdate. Later, when I came to pick the kids back up, I found another couple, who we socialize with separately, there on a different kind of social visit. I got the impression in my dream that they were having their own "swingers" party.

I can only imagine what my subconscious is trying to tell me. What do you think Freud would say? Stop sleeping in, for starters?


The word of the day is "arthroscopy"

I'm having arthroscopic surgery August 5th on my right knee. The under surface of my patella will be "shaved" so that it glides easier over the knee joint when I move, eliminating the incredible "box of rocks" feeling that I have each time I flex and extend my knee. Gotta love that chondromalacia patella.

I could take anti-inflammatory medication for the rest of my life but I want the problem fixed. I want to chase my kids around the house. I want to run. I want to be able to train clients and demonstrate how to properly do a squat or a lunge. I want to walk without feeling as though my knees are going to buckle beneath me. I can't do any of that right now. None of it. And I'm frustrated that at 35 I'm finding myself limping around because I'm having a "bad knee day". I want a normal life again, whatever "normal" means.

I'm totally jazzed about a couple of aspects of all of this though:
1. If I slip the surgeon fifty bucks maybe he really will give me bionic parts.
2. I won't be able to return to work until three days after I finish my last dosage of pain medication. I foresee a lot of pain.

Wink, wink. Nudge, nudge.


This is inspiration, not thievery. Really.

After I read Mocha Momma's latest post I was reminded of how much I love the movie Independence Day. And how fitting to be reminded on the 4th of July... right? (This is where you quietly think, "Well, duh!")

Some of my favorite quotes from that movie (gratefully from imdb.com):

[at the secret government lab]
President Thomas Whitmore: I don't understand, where does all this come from? How do you get funding for something like this?
Julius Levinson: You don't actually think they spend $20,000.00 on a hammer, $30,000.00 on a toilet seat do you?

David Levinson: We're hit! We took a hit!
Captain Steven Hiller: [yelling] We're not hit! We're not hit! Stop side-seat driving!

Captain Steven Hiller: Who's the man? Huh? Who's the man? Wait till I get another plane! I'm a line ya friends up right beside you! Where ya at, huh? Where ya at?
[Hiller opens the spaceship, the alien screams, Hiller smacks him in the head]
Captain Steven Hiller: [beat] Welcome to earth.

Captain Steven Hiller: No, you did NOT shoot that green shit at me!

and who could forget:
President Thomas Whitmore: Good morning. In less than an hour, aircraft from here will join others from around the world. And you will be launching the largest aerial battle in the history of mankind. "Mankind." That word should have new meaning for all of us today. We can't be consumed by our petty differences anymore. We will be united in our common interests. Perhaps it's fate that today is the Fourth of July, and you will once again be fighting for our freedom... Not from tyranny, oppression, or persecution... but from annihilation. We are fighting for our right to live. To exist. And should we win the day, the Fourth of July will no longer be known as an American holiday, but as the day the world declared in one voice: "We will not go quietly into the night!" We will not vanish without a fight! We're going to live on! We're going to survive! Today we celebrate our Independence Day!

Have a safe and happy 4th of July!


I feel shafted after all those years of hard work

LONDON — A British high school student received credit for writing nothing but a two-word obscenity on an exam paper because the phrase expressed meaning and was spelled correctly.

The Times newspaper on Monday quoted examiner Peter Buckroyd as saying he gave the student — who wrote an expletive starting with f, followed by the word "off" — two points out of a possible 27 for the English paper.

"It would be wicked to give it zero because it does show some very basic skills we are looking for, like conveying some meaning and some spelling," Buckroyd was quoted as saying.

"It's better than someone that doesn't write anything at all."

Buckroyd said the student would have received a higher mark if the phrase had been punctuated.

Apparently I have been putting way too much effort in the quality of my exams and written reports. I'm such an overachiever...