Saturday, December 30, 2006


Is anyone else out there who is NOT on Beta Blogger having trouble posting pictures? I cannot for the life of me post any freaking pictures on my blog. Anyone know who to contact for help?

Also, I am in the market for a makeover for my blog and am pretty ignorant when it comes to blogskins. What do I do to make my blog look like MY blog (as opposed to the free template that I've been using)? And how do I go about doing it? And how much might it cost me?

Thursday, December 28, 2006

La Familia

Tis the season and all that, but I just need to clear the air a bit.

Dear Family Members,

First of all, we did not, in fact, decide to keep 2 cats as pets as a personal affront to you and your allergies. It would seem, however, that you could dose yourselves up with a bit of Benadryl before coming over to our home, instead of asking us if we have any (we don't, why would we?) an hour into your visit. You know we have cats. We've had one for eleven years. Eleven. I do not mean to be crass or callous with regard to said allergy, but we do have several friends who also suffer from a similar allergy and you know what? They come over, they stay as long as they can, and then they leave. Like yours, it is not a severe, anaphelactic (sp?) shock, throat closes up, let the wheezing begin kind of allergy. It's like yours- sneezing, watery eyes, runny nose. Annoying? Yes. Life threatening? No. Worth making a big deal out of? Not really.

Secondly, when you decide to host Christmas at your house because you just can't stand to come to our house because of the cats, don't complain about it. And especially? Don't complain that you have to work the days before Christmas. Hello? Don't we all? And? A meat and cheese tray just isn't going to cut it for Christmas dinner. And if you must serve it all on paper plates, at least make the effort and buy some damn Christmas plates. You should have asked us to bring something so we could have had a nice meal together, it takes no effort whatsoever to make a ham. You're just warming it up, for the love of God.

Thirdly, last year when we decided not to exchange gifts with the adults and only buy for the kids? I thought that decision was from then on til the end of time. So, what the hell? We get gifts this year? And no one told me? So now I feel like the big Grinchy Claus? The year we all exchanged gift cards with each other pretty much summed it up- we should all just save our money and just enjoy getting together.

Fourth. I know you have issues with the wacky aunt. She's a butt-insky and says things that are insane, insensitive and none of her business. But, we are all she's got. It makes us quite uncomfortable when she calls us and asks when's dinner and we have to be really vague and think of something quick because it's obvious you haven't invited her. She remembers everyone's birthday (albeit with some odd gifts sometimes)and just wants to be part of the family, which, technically, as your mother's sister, she is.

Just a word to the wise? Sitting in a room and watching your children play their new video games while we are trying to have nice holiday conversation is really not cool. Nor is the gi-normous television you have in your son's room. Maybe he wouldn't have such behavior problems if he didn't have the option of holing up in his room.

Oh, and maybe save barking at each other for when you're alone and not in a room full of the fam.

Other than that, we all had a wonderful time at your home and can't wait to do it again the next holiday.

Yours truly,

Snarky McSnarkpants

Sunday, December 24, 2006

There'd Better NOT Be Any Creatures Stirring....

I should have posted this on Thursday, but I shall add it to the other things on the road to Hell. (paved with good intentions)

'Twas the Teachers' Night Before Christmas

'Twas the days before Christmas,
And all through the school,
The teachers were trying
To just keep their cool.

The hallways were hung
With Christmas art
(Some made in November
to get a head start!)

The children were bouncing
Off ceilings and walls,
And seemed to forget
How to walk in the halls.

When out of the teacher's lounge
With "holiday shirts"
And "jingle bell jewels,"
The teachers looked festive
Enforcing the rules.

Suddenly, from down the hallway
There came such a chatter,
The principal went in
To see what was the matter.

The teachers were hiding
And trying to refuel,
On coffee and cookies
And treats from the Yule.

When what to their wondering
Ears do they hear,
But the ringing of school bells
- It's the children they fear!

More rapid than reindeer
The little ones came,
And the teachers all shouted
And called them by name;

Walk, Vincent! Walk, Tanner!
Walk, Tyler and Sammy!
Sit, Jamie! Sit, Laura!
Sit, Tara and Tammy!

To your desks in the room!
To your spots in the line!
Now walk to them! Walk to them!
No running this time!

So straight to their places
The children all went.
With fear of detention
Where they could be sent.

With manuals of lessons
Cradled in arms,
The teachers began
To use all their charms.

But the lessons presented
All fell on deaf ears.
The children were thinking
Of Santa's reindeer!

With a toss of their hands
They put manuals aside,
Went straight to the cupboards
Where videos hide.

And laying their finger
On the TV remote
They sat back to write
Their last Christmas note.

But you could hear them exclaim
At the end of the day -
Have a wonderful, happy and

Thursday, December 21, 2006

Thursday Thirteen, the Christmas Special

13 Things that let you know it's Christmas at the Casa de T

1. The T's take a tour of Christmas lights around town. They pack up hot chocolate and cookies, load some Christmas cds into the player in the van and away they go. About 10 minutes into it, the girls begin to bicker and must be separated with threats of "we'll turn around and just go home". We never do and they beg to do this every year. Last year a grumpy old man was channeling through Mr. T and made him say things like "How'd you like to pay the electric bill at that house?".

2. There is eggnog in the fridge. Plain, mixed with milk to take the edge off the extreme thickness, mixed with whiskey, used as coffee creamer. We likey.

3. There is cat barf on the floor, laced with needles from the Christmas tree. Alas, our boy is not too bright and has been snacking on the Christmas tree for each of the 11 years we've had him.

4. The nativity is set out and sometimes can be found with various other "guests" (Polly Pockets, Santa, Barbie...) Reminds me of the Mr. Bean Christmas special where he throws all the toy farm animals at the creche.

5. There are multiple viewings of "A Christmas Story", and at least one of "White Christmas" and "It's a Wonderful Life".

6. The Mirro cookie press is fished out of the cupboard above the fridge for the annual baking of the spritz cookies. You MUST use real butter and you MUST use almond extract, not vanilla, and double it at that. Dying the batter a garish green to make tiny Christmas trees is optional. Burning the first sheet is mandatory.

7. Christmas Eve mass is attended - although no more midnight mass. We abandoned that once we had kids. In a few years we hope to pick it up again. Now we go to an earlier service and this year Claire is in the children's choir and will be singing at the 6:00 mass.

8. The tree is bedecked in every imaginable type of ornament. Some are gifts, some are relics, some are projects, some are crap-tacular. All are treasured. There is a particular area of the tree that is heaviest with ornaments. It's right at the girls' reach. I exercise every ounce of self control I have and allow them to decorate as they like and hardly rearrange them at all once the girls have gone to bed or lost interest entirely. This year we had the idyllic backdrop of the first snowfall, Christmas music, fire in the fireplace as we decorated.

9. The stockings get hung by the chimney with care and are filled with an orange in the toe, mixed nuts in the shell, candy, loose change and other trinkets. Santa always brings a new "fancy" toothbrush and paste. He wraps the larger gifts and sets them by the fireplace, near the stockings.

10. Christmas breakfast is served before the opening of presents, with the exception of Santa's stuff. Last year we had a creme-brulee French toast bake (Yu-um), bacon, scrambled eggs, stollen, and sliced citrus fruits. There's been a request to have the same this year.

11. An attempt to keep in touch with old friends is made in the form of the Christmas letter. Don't laugh- it's either that or not at all, and in spite of what all the haters say, I actually enjoy reading the ones I get- even the ones written by the family dog, or come dangerously close to bragging. Each card and picture received is displayed and then saved for all eternity.

12. The girls receive at least one gift where they each get the exact same thing so they have something to play together over the break. One year it was a little pony play set, one year it was felt friends. This year it's a Polly Pocket townhouse.

13. One, small package is opened on Christmas Eve. It is chosen by me, and when they were younger, it was something they could bring along to mass, like a book or a small stuffed animal.

Tuesday, December 19, 2006

Holiday-ay! Celebray-ate! It Would be So Nice!

I love Christmas. I love Christmas music- I have Christmas CDs, cassettes AND even a collection of LPs. I have the radio station in the car tuned to the Clear Channel radio station that plays "All Christmas, ALl the Time" from Thanksgiving until Dec.26, which isn't actually true, because they do take a break in the morning for the "Bob and Tom Show". So, I'm no Scrooge.

But, can I just say that that damn "Christmas Shoes" song makes me want to hurl? And not just because of it's simpering, pseudo countrified tune and whiny children singing background chorus. It's because it gets to me- in all of it's cheap, sappy glory, it makes me cry. And I hate that song! I don't hate other songs that make me cry- maybe it's because it's because I actually like the song. But this one? Hate it. But, when I picture this sweet faced little boy buying shoes for his dying mother so that she'll look pretty when she meets Jesus (read: buys the farm, kicks the bucket, checks out), I just go all to pieces like the sap that I am. I am so embarrassed. My indie rocker husband would puke a little in his mouth if he knew. (Not really, he's very sweet and tolerant of my sappy girlie moments.)

So, in the spirit of the Holidays, here's a Christmas meme I stole from Nic at Siempre Fiel.

1. Egg nog or hot chocolate? Eggnog. I like it plain or fancy (fancy being spiked with whiskey.) I even like eggnog flavored things- like eggnog icecream from here.

2. Does Santa wrap presents or just set them under the tree? He wraps, which is a pain in the ass, since his wrapping paper cannot resemble any of the family's paper and must be bought and hidden so as to perpetuate the myth for at least a few more years.

3. Colored lights on tree/house or white? We have white icicle lights around the porch, but I love colored lights on the tree. I especially like the old fashioned kind with the big bulbs that constantly burn out and get really hot and are the bane of the fire fighters' existence.

4. Do you hang mistletoe? No. I'm not opposed to it, though.
5. When do you put your decorations up? I start hauling the boxes down from the attic Thanksgiving weekend. We always decorate the tree the following weekend.
6. What is your favorite holiday dish? For Christmas I like ham or turkey. I made lovely pork roast one year that I glazed with a red currant jelly. I don't think anyone appreciated my efforts-philistines!
7. Favorite holiday memory as a child: Spending Christmas with cousins- all sleeping in one room and staying up way too late laughing and giggling until we were told to go to sleep so Santa could come.
8. When and how did you learn the truth about Santa? I think I just kind of figured it out in about 4th grade. I didn't want to give it up, since the grownups seemed to enjoy it so.

9. Do you open a gift on Christmas Eve? The girls do-usually something small, and sometimes something to keep them quiet at mass.

10. How do you decorate your Christmas tree? I have a very eclectic mix of ornaments from my childhood, Mr. T's childhood and the girls each get an ornament every year. There is no "theme" or color scheme. We have all the ornaments they've made. When we've crammed the mother load of ornaments on, we usually have a bunch left over, then I "fill in" with large, vintage glass bulbs in a variety of colors.
11. Snow! Love it or dread it? I love it. It cleans everything up- hides the ungly brown lawns and leaves that didn't get raked. It's so elegant and quiet. But, by mid February, it needs to go away. Living in Iowa, though, we can have freak snow storms into April.

12. Can you ice skate? You see, I would actually have to don ice skates and get my ass out onto the ice to know this for a fact. And that hasn't happened in about 20 years. I'm going to go with no.
13. Do you remember your favorite gift? Not really- for me it's all about the anticipation and just opening the packages is fun. I do have a special emerald ring Mr. T gave me our first Christmas we were married. We had no money, so it was a big surprise.
14. What’s the most important thing about the holidays for you? Making good memories for my girls.
15. What is your favorite holiday dessert? At Christmas, I like peppermint stick ice cream served with Nabisco's Famous Chocolate wafers.
16. What is your favorite holiday tradition? We don't unwrap one non-Santa present on Christmas morningn until we've had breakfast.

17. What tops your tree? A tacky, sparkly, glittery, multi-colored star that has lights on it.

18. Which do you prefer, giving or receiving gifts? Oh, giving I suppose, but I do like to open presents!

19. What is your favorite Christmas song? The Christmas Shoes. Just kidding- you know I freaking hate that song. Right now I'm really into big band sounding Christmas songs, so I guess it's more of a style than any one song. I really like "Children Go Where I Send THee", mostly because I remember singing it as a child and it hasn't been played to death. The only recording I have of it in my vast collection of Christmas music is by Natalie Merchant on one of the many "A Very Special Christmas" cds. Mr.T recently downloaded a Christmas collection by the very un-known Suffian Stevens- I LOVE it. Check it out if you can.

20. Candy canes! Yuck or yum? Yum. And such a cheerful looking candy, too.
21. Favorite Christmas movie: Does "Love Actually" count? We can't really watch that as a family, however, what with the porn doubles and all. White Christmas, the old favorite, It's a Wonderful Life and of course, A Christmas Story.

22. Favorite Christmas Cartoon: A Charlie Brown Christmas. Do those Rankin and Bass claymation specials count as cartoons? Then maybe A Year Without a Santa Clause. Because really, The Heat Miser is classic.

Happy Holidays, y'all. Feel free to steal and then leave a comment with a link back to your blog so I can take a look!

Monday, December 18, 2006

Prissy McPrissypants

You know how the word "gay" has changed its meaning in the past 100 years or so? All of the cute little rhymes and songs that talk about frolicking and Gay Par-ee? Can't really use'em in their original context without enduring total sophmoric behavior. (and of this, I am sometimes guilty. I'm not a robot!)

And how about the Owl and the Pussycat? Yeah.

Can you guys please weigh in on the issue of the word "pimp"? I busted a student today for wearing a shirt that said "Pimp...(something something something)" on it. I told her quietly that her shirt was offensive and that I wasn't going to look at the word "PIMP" emblazoned on her shirt in big yellow letters while I was teaching and that she could either go turn it inside out or get something else to wear. My Inner Priss reared her ugly, prissy head. I was talking with some colleagues about it and it was suggested that the word today doesn't have the same meaning as it did back in our day, as evidenced by "Pimp My Ride".
I still think it's offensive for a young lady to wear clothing that has "PIMP" anywhere on it.
What do you all think?

Thursday, December 14, 2006


Here are a few things on my mind that I thought I'd share with you.

* My students frequently use the word "bogish". As in, you don't get full credit for your homework because it was late, your response is "Man, that's bogish!". This is actually a bastardization of the word "bogus", meaning fake or false, as in I wrote a bogus check for that fur coat. Try as I may to enlighten them, they will have none of it. It bugs the crap out of me.

* I was recently listening to NPR and they were doing a piece on the evils of gift cards. It seems they are really getting a bad rap this year- too many restrictions, what if the recipient doesn't like the place the gift card is for, blah, blah, blah...
Ok, the way I look at it, if someone gets a gift card, they should be grateful to have gotten it and quit snivelling about it. And if I feel that someone is deserving of a gift card, they should smile and say thank you and, again, be grateful!

* Are the new KFC bowls someone's idea of a joke? It reminds me of these. Did someone say, "Hey! Don't throw away that spoonful of potato and leftover corn! We'll pour gravy over it, sprinkle some cheese on it and viola, we've got ourselves some dinner!"

* Peppermint Oreo ice cream from here is quite close to Nirvana. And I don't mean the Seattle grunge band. Seriously, it is heavenly- just the right ratio of mint to chocolate. Only available seasonally, so get it now.

* As I'm unloading the bins of Christmas supply from the attic, I am struck by just how much of it I really don't even like anymore. Will I want it in 20 years if I get rid of it? I don't think so. It's going to Goodwill.

* I ordered a new magazine and I hate it. Hate. It. I read it and I want to do the exact opposite of everything in it. It's called "Cookie" and is supposed to be a new kind of parenting magazine. I am definitely NOT the target audience. For one thing, I don't think my teacher's salary will allow me to afford most of the products featured. And, I think fashion photo shoots with young children are kind of creepy.

* I have 6 more days of school before break.

Wednesday, December 13, 2006

ROFL, anyone?

ROFL button

Many thanks to Oh the Joys for so graciously nominating me for this post. Check out these others, and here, too.

More recently, I have been giggling about a message found on the bathroom counter. The girls have a "while you were out" message pad to play with. The message read: "You stink. Love, Claire."

Thursday, December 07, 2006

Guess who's not going to the Omaha zoo?

A friend of mine tells the story of her sister driving her family a couple of hours from Des Moines (please don't pronounce the "s", people) to Omaha to go to the Henry Doorly Zoo- a wonderful place. Her children kept behaving poorly in the car, bickering and snarking and sniping at each other at every turn. She of course gave the obligatory "Stop that!" and "If you guys don't shape up, I am turning this car around and we will not go to the zoo at all!" That threat is the one that is sooo lose-lose, and we all make that threat, yet few have the cajones to actually follow through. But, those who do get their reward later, because all it takes is once and your kids know you mean business. This woman? She had the cajones and later called my friend to tell her "Guess who didn't go to the Omaha zoo?". It has since become a catch phrase for us to mean "I carried out a threat I made and now I kind of feel crappy about it even though I know that fundamentally I am right."

In my Spanish 4 class I have the kids do a required number of "Anuncios". This is where they have to tell the class something in Spanish, of course, about any topic of their choice. It does not have to be long, but they do need to be intelligible and try and use current vocab and grammar structures as much as possible. They must also be able to answer some simple questions/carry on a short conversation. I am really a hard ass about them talking during this time. I have the rule that if they are talking during someone else's anuncio, I will give them a zero. Usually, I just give them the fish eye or perhaps "shush" them in a particularly bitchy tone and that seems to do the trick. But, I have several students who think if they are whispering about what's going on in class that it's ok. It's not- I can't hear as well, it's distracting, not to mention rude as hell. Well, today the kids started class in jackass mode- all ready to do a bunch of nothing and I reined them in pretty well and warned them that if they were at all talking during anuncios, they would get a zero and I wasn't going to warn them or tell them, I was just going to give them a zero. One pair of girls had to push it, I gave them zeros. Then another couple of kids. That was all. 2 of the girls are lovely young ladies, smart, good skills, good students, nice families, beautiful. I can't help but think they've gotten away with a lot because of this. One of them approached me after class- she was really upset, almost in tears. "I hope I didn't get a zero." I told her that she certainly did and that she talks all the time and I'm tired of it. She got kind of huffy and said that she was talking about what was going on in class and that she did NOT talk all the time and that she didn't understand why she had to get a zero for something stupid. I told her that I'd already explained it to her and that the conversation was over. I see no point in engaging them when they act like that.

Then, I felt like an ass. What to do? They didn't get to go to the zoo. Should I give them another chance? Or am I a part of the problem then?

Wednesday, December 06, 2006


Well, we got our snow day last week- yahoo! It started out as a 2 hour late start, but "snowballed" (ha! I crack myself up!) into a full fledged snow day by about 6:45. Our new superintendent hails from Duluth, so I'm sure if it were left up to him, we'd never have a snow day. I would have enjoyed my day much more, had my children not chosen to wake up at 4:30 and to come into my room and stand next to my bed, right by my sleeping face and say, "Mom! It snowed!" in the loudest stage whisper ever. Our cats weren't even up yet. Any other day, they're lazing in bed, completely out of it until we haul out the big guns to get them vertical.

In other, non snow related stuff, just out of curiosity, what is your school's cell phone policy ,what do you think about it and how do you personally enforce it? Our district has an "It should be seen and not heard" sort of rule. Our handbook states that they may not be on their phone between 6:30 am and the end of the school day. Well, the part about 6:30 has been unofficially eliminated and the kids are on their phones until the first bell rings. We have staff members who act as though a cell phone is tantamount to a crack pipe or a weapon and believe they should not even have them on their person. Hello? Do we not have bigger things to deal with? I don't think they should be on the phone at school, nor do I think they should be texting their friends. But, is it realistic to expect teenagers to not have a cell phone at all? I know, we all lived without them, but we lived without the Internet, too. I am much more in favor of the "not seen, not heard" policy than the "Let's search their backpacks and take their phones" policy.

And, in other randomness, I took the girls to get haircuts at a kiddie haircut place yesterday. Every little boy who came in got the exact same haircut. How is this possible?