Friday, August 31, 2007

First Day of School

I'm such a slacker.

I nearly didn't get this shot. We were piling into the car, and I had to go and snag Skip's friend, and Skip's school opened early, because you had to go into the gym to find your homeroom assignments, and yes, I'll admit I was doing a bit of the headless chicken thing, and whoops, while Kelly just has a half-day, Skip will be going the whole day, running through all of the courses, rather than on the usual Wednesday rotation, so he'll need a lunch, and I haven't got two slices of bread to rub together, so what am I going to make him...

We were in the car when I realized that it was the first day of school, so I made them all pile out and go stand on the front lawn.

And here we have a shot of Fasion Sensibilities in a Nutshell.

Nate: I'm a surfer dude, with my flip-flops that I stole from my sister, and a "Big Z" branded surfer shirt to go with my shorts that I don't care at all are hand-me-downs from my brother. Like my spikey hair?

Kelly: I have spent the last week deciding what I will wear today. I have pulled out a number of outfits, and I have chatted with my two BFF's about what they will be wearing, and even though Kate had to move away, and is going to a different school, she promised me that she would wear her chocolate brown knee-length lace-edged tights on the first day of school, so I will too, and Adria is wearing her chocolate brown tights, even though she has a different shirt from me. And this is why, last night at bed time, I had a complete meltdown, on a par with that of any unbalanced hormonal teenager, when I couldn't find my blue-and-brown baby-doll shirt which is the ONLY one that will go with these tights. Yes, you told me NOT to wear it before school, but it's so soft and beautiful and lovely that I had to wear it Just That One Time, and I know that I put it back EXACTLY here, so I wouldn't lose it, but I might have put it there, or maybe even THERE, but I didn't put it THERE, which is where you would have picked it up from if you had taken it to do laundry, so that means that SOMEONE STOLE IT because they want me to spend my first day of school wearing nothing but an UNDERSHIRT. Oh... you hung it up in my closet? Wow. Who looks in a closet for a shirt? Now, where did I put my new Hello Kitty tennis shoes... Oh, and I went through my earrings, and found a pair that go PERFECTLY with this top. Aren't they pretty? And there are hair clips that match!

Skip: No, I will not pick out an *outfit* for the first day of school. *eyeroll* I am NOT like Cole. You know he made his mom spend FIFTY DOLLARS on a pair of jeans that look like something you'd buy at the thrift store for $2.50? Yeah, he wouldn't wear them if he thought they came from a thrift store. And I bet he's going to wear his super special used-up-all-my-allowance hoodie jacket, too. And maybe his completely dorky ball-cap. On sideways, so he looks like an idiot. You know it's gonna be 80 degrees out today? And he says *I* have no fashion sense. Like I care. I probably shouldn't have worn the pants, even. No, I don't care that the pants are too short. I don't see them. They looked fine to me. Do they bug you? Is this Dad's shirt? Um, I don't think so. Yeah, it's big, but I don't think Dad has an orange t-shirt, unless it says "Google" on it. I don't think it's on backwards... lemme check. Nope. Hmm. Actually, there aren't any tags, front OR back. Hey! Is this from the thrift store? Pretty cool. Do I have to have this spray gel in my hair? I can see fine through the fringe...

And just like that, the first week of school is done.

Let the record show that I am *NOT* the PTA president, nor did I sign up for any PTA posts. Neither did I succumb to the pleas to become a Room Representative, or serve on the School Site Council.

I do feel rather free.

Wednesday, August 29, 2007

Interpersonal School Dilemma

Back story:

Last year, Kelly had a little boy in her class, let's call him Tony. I wrote about him a few times. He was the one who, on the first field trip that I drove, taught Nate that "There's an F word, and there's an M word, and you can SAY the M word and not get in trouble but you'll get in trouble if you say the F word, and if you say the M word AND the F word? Then you get in REAL trouble..." Yeah. Great conversationalist. Oh, and his conversation is peppered with "God this" and "Dam that" And trust me, he's no Christian fundamentalist conservator of beavers and their structures, either. He reminds me of Skip's friend Cole, back in the good old days of "I can feel the poo coming out". A little smaller, a little scrawny, a lot mouthy, willing to do crazy things for attention, whether it's good or bad attention.

I know his mother. She works at my favourite grocery store, so I see her quite a bit. She always seems semi-flustered and overwhelmed, so I usually try to say something quick and funny, and mention something good that I saw her son doing at school, should the topic arise, because I was in the class several times a week, and she just can't make it onto campus because of her work schedule.

Now the story:

Last night was Back to School night for Kelly's school. I was working at one of the Volunteer Sign-up tables. I talked to pretty much every parent that came through the doors. Usually there was a bit of a crowd, and sometimes a line-up. I brought Kelly with me, as Toni had volunteered to take Nate and Skip to Kung-Fu, where Cole was having a 'free introductory lesson' (read: 'we will give you a free lesson, and then do the hard-sell to try to get you to sign up for 10 months, or, if we're LUCKY, we'll snag you for the 3-year commitment'). Kelly was having a grand old time, helping out the volunteers, setting up the tables, distributing pens and high-lighters, and meeting her friends, when they'd show up with their parents. She was inside, she was outside, she was showing people where they could find the New Class Lists, so they could see who their new teacher was. She was being an all-around mini-me.

I was so proud.

I saw Tony and his mom come in, and I smiled from across the room and waved at her. I don't think anyone else did. She came over to say hi, and we made a little bit of small talk about how her summer had been. I grinned at Tony, "Have you seen who your teacher is yet?" I asked. He shook his head. I pointed towards the door, "Kelly is outside, and she'll show you where the lists are." And with that he scampered off, and his mom started filling out all his paperwork. Good grief, there's a lot of paperwork.

I lost track of her for a while, and kept signing folks up for various volunteer gigs.

A few minutes later, Tony's mom came back to my table, and stepped behind the table, Tony in tow.

"Tony would like to tell you something," she said in a low voice.

I was helping out a new Kindergarten parent, so I finished up there, and then turned back to Tony.

"He wants to tell you something about Kelly" she re-iterated. "It's important,"

My mom-radar kicked into gear. Was she hurt? Is everything OK?

I smiled at Tony, imagining that either Kelly was hurt, or he was going to confess his deep and undying love for her. He had that sort of look on his face.

He leaned in. "Kelly just said "Thank GAWD that Tony's not in my class!" and then she walked away from me. It hurt my feelings." He batted his lashes, and turned his sad little innocent doe-eyes up to me, looking for all the world like he'd just lost his best friend.

Hmm. Does anyone else see anything wrong with this story? Because I sure did.

I smiled sadly, trying to look very concerned, "Did Kelly actually say THOSE words to you, Tony? This is important."

"Yes. And it hurt my feelings."

"Wow. Those are some strong words. You know, Kelly knows that those words are never said in our house unless we are praying."

His mom cut in, "He just wanted you to know that he was hurt." And she turned Tony around, and walked away.

A few minutes later, Kelly pranced up to the table. "Hi mom. Are you getting lots of volunteers?"

"Honey, Tony and his mom were just here, and he said that you said something cruel to him. Did you and Tony talk at all outside?"

"Yes, mom. He asked about our class, and I said we had the same teacher."

Hmm. So there you have it, ladies and gentlemen of the jury. Not ONLY did I think that the words my daughter were reported to have used were words that she wouldn't use, it turns out that THE KIDS ARE IN THE SAME CLASS.

He's a dirty rotten liar, and I want to kick him.

And now his mom thinks that my daughter is a "Mean Girl" tm, and I hate that.

It was all I could do this morning to not go prancing over to her and say "See? They're in the same class. Your lying little scoundrel has pulled another one."

But that would be being petty. I think I'll just key her car the next time I see it.

Tuesday, August 28, 2007

Nearly Lost in the Noise

I almost forgot, what with all the youth excitement of the weekend, Nate took another step towards becoming the Blond Bruce Lee.

Hello black stripe on the Yellow Tiger belt.

I had taken him to Kung Fu on the way to get groceries for the youth party, and was sitting merrily on the sidelines, knitting on Kelly's SECOND purple knee sock, when the Sihing said "Let's give a big hand for Nate! Congratulations!" And I looked up from my knitting to see Nate standing in his horse stance, getting the stripe on his belt. It was all I could do to drop the knitting, rifle around in my purse, and get the camera out in time to catch this rather blurry shot of his Hi-Ya victory kick.

It seemed awfully soon. Didn't he just get his yellow tiger belt?

So of course, I was completely unprepared yesterday afternoon when Skip got called up to get the stripe on his golden belt. The camera? Sitting here beside the laptop, downloading photos.

Good thing Ken walked in the door just in the nick of time with his camera phone.

Now I just have to figure out how to get photos from that to me.

Today is Nate's "Meet the New Teacher" visit.

She's coming to the house.

AAAAGH! The place is still torn up from the youth party on the weekend, AND I've got everything out for Kelly's back-to-school night for tonight, and the Library Volunteer poster is spread across the front table, because I'm setting it up for sign-ups at tonight's event, also.

Oh, and the laundry is breeding by the back door.

Will Nate want to show her his room? I sincerely hope not. It's still a transition-area from when we put the flooring in Skip's room.

Hmm. I've got an hour and 12 minutes. Better start prioritizing.

I'll start by making butter tarts.

I have NEVER laughed so hard.

Do you folks watch Top Gear?

I swear, it brings tears to my eyes, it's so freakishly funny.

And I can't remember the last time I was positively GIDDY to discover a show was being brought back for another season. Last week, when I saw the ad on BBC-America that a new season of Top Gear was starting on Monday evening, I went dancing and prancing about the house like some sort of loon.

Last night? The three guys made amphibious cars. I thought I was going to pass out, I was laughing so hard I couldn't bring myself to inhale. I laugh so hard that I weep, and then my nose runs, and I get congested and cough like some smoker, but it's really cathartic, even if it sounds grosser than gross. Ken, when we watch the show, just starts off sitting on the floor because he fell off the couch from laughing the last time we watched it.

Oh good grief. I just discovered that I can watch the clips online.

I... Am. Doomed.

Go here. Go to 'choose video' and scroll down. Watch 'Amphibious cars" parts 1 and 2, and tell me if you aren't just about ready to die from laughing.

I'll wait. I'll be here, fanning myself, as I watch it AGAIN.

Monday, August 27, 2007

The Suite Life...

Saturday, we hosted the Summer Wrap-Up event with the youth group from church.

The youth leader also happens to be my barrista at my local Starbucks, so there is a wonderful synergy that swirls around things.

Things were set to start at 4pm. But the youth leader, who I will call Starbuck... because I can... (and because if I called him "Aaron", then all you would have to do is come to the Bay Area, find a Starbucks - there are only a FEW - find the barrista named Aaron, and then you could stalk me, and that wouldn't be good) said he'd come at 2pm and 'help set things up'. What's to set up for a 'come on over and hang out for 4 hours' sort of youth bash, I thought. But I've been wrong before, so I said "Sure, come on over at 2 and you can 'set up'."

So 2pm rolls around, and finds us nearly ready for guests, except for the fact that the back yard still looks like 4-year-olds live here. (oh, and the grass is brown, and the hedges really need to be trimmed, and honestly, if I was having REAL guests, I really should do something like get some landscaping done, bla bla bla.)

[Oh, and did I mention that at the last minute, I *HAD* to move the furniture all around? Yeah. It's a disease. But goodness, did I find bad dust bunnies hiding behind some of the stuff we moved around!]

But to the entry title...

The doorbell rings, and it's Starbuck and two teenagers that he'd given a ride to. They're here to help Starbuck set up for the party. I introduce myself, and the reply...

"I'm Zack...." and "...and I'm Cody..."

Yeah, yeah, I might have let that one pass, if I hadn't just turned off the Disney Channel, where "The Suite Life of Zack and Cody" was having a marathon.

Me: "No, really. What're your real names?"

They blink. "Um... I'm Cody and he's Zack. Well, Zackary, but..."

I start to laugh. "Whoops. My bad. I thought you were trying to pull one over on me."

And so we started setting up for the party. My suite life with Zack and Cody.

And what was the party?

Why, they'd brought over water balloon launchers, and there was to be a war.

The yard wasn't big enough. We went out into the street, Starbuck and me, and he said "You know, this probably isn't big enough either. I'd be worried about the kids breaking windows..."


So we did a test-shoot off the back yard into the canyon.

Yup. WAY too dangerous to be shooting them down the street. Those things FLEW.

With a bit of practice, we were able to finesse the launchers into over-the-house war machines. I just had to keep my eyes on folks that they didn't aim too low. Fortunately, no windows were harmed in the over-the-house war.

Even Kelly was allowed to join the "Big Kids" for a few shots.

*actually, that shot ended up hitting the side of the house SQUARELY between the computer room window and Skip's window. It was a close one.*

Apparently the water-balloon launchers are a one-man operation. Or that's what they're sold as.

The kids didn't have quite the height or strength to pull it off, but Ken gave the kids a demonstration, vaulting him into "Coolest Dad" category among the high schoolers.

And then we sent a few guys down into the canyon to act as "Targets", and the kids had at it.

There was little success, and then suddenly Skip came up to shoot, and he caught a lucky breeze (the wind HAD been blowing the balloons too far to the right to hit the target boys), and he nailed one of the guys square in the chest.

I took my life in my hands taking this shot. Heh.

Much fun was had by all... even when we sent them all out after the food and said "No more food until you've picked up 20 busted water balloons from the yard and canyon."

Hmm. There may have been a little bit of Guitar Hero action...

And some games.

The game they're playign is called Ubongo. Does it speak to my "Life With A Geek" that I keep calling the game "Ubuntu"?

OK, it wasn't all sweetness and light. One of the boys found the sand at the side of the house where the local cats have been piddling, and decided to swipe some of it on another unsuspecting boy's shirt. That was gross. And then the same boy got into the sugar-laden sodas, had one, and then had a sugar-induced seizure. I've never witnessed a seizure, start to finish. Oh man, that was fun. Apparently, on his medical release form, it says "No sugar." Hey, that would've been good to know ahead of time. Er, and then a basketball went over the fence into the neighbour's yard, and two boys just went launching themselves after it. Hello? Nice to meet you, Mr. Neighbour. Sorry, I should have warned you about the party. And one of the water balloons vaporized on launch, and the breeze took it into the other neighbour's yard, JUST as Mr. Other Neighbour was getting settled on his patio chair with a nice big foofy drink and the Saturday paper. Yeah, that'll teach him to try to enjoy his own yard when there's a youth party going on next door. Whoops.

And while the guys were all hot for the water balloon launchers, the girls were a more delicate breed.

So we got Midnight out, and played with him.

Note to self: Mascara and lipstick!!!!!

So, in conclusion.

No blood was shed.
We didn't run out of food.
The high school senior boys think Skip is cool because of his Uber Guitar Hero Skillz.
The police weren't called.
And we didn't run out of food.

I'd call it a success.