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What I did today: a photoessay

After getting out of bed grumpy (kitten hopped in the bathroom sink at 0330 and knocked some things off the counter, waking me up), I put on my big girl pants (long underwear and Ear Pops) and stood outside for about 40 minutes in near-freezing temperatures to pick up curbside donations for the Gently Used Book Sale. 75 books arrived in two donations. After I took them inside and helped log the donations and count books into boxes, I set off toward Starbucks (used another bit of my prepaid gift card on a Cinnamon Dolce Latte) and the dollar store, where I picked up some fuzzy socks and some office supplies.

Crossing the parking lot toward the road, the sun looked sad and cold hidden behind clouds:
What I did today 1: sad sun

Partway down the block, I enjoyed some exotic glyphs:
What I did today 2: pretended to see exotic glyphs

Not really, but it was fun to read them aloud complete with words for symbols ("locate, right arrow, right arrow, what is that red thing?"):
What I did today 3: continued pretending

Saw some creepy bare toes in the grocery store:
What I did today 4: potato toes

And had a very relaxing seat after I checked out while waiting for Kevin, who offered to pick me up if I bought some sparkling water:
What I did today 5: had a swinging time

After getting home I did boring early spring cleaning stuff like scrubbing the kitchen floor and kick plates under the cupboards (which was fascinating and grubby), weeding children's DVDs to donate, and eating some ranch Quakes I'd bought at the dollar store.

About a quarter after two, I put my warm outerwear back on, took my golf umbrella and the DVDs, tied neatly in two grocery bags, and squeezed through the gap in the fence to save a few minutes on my walk back to school. I met up with the lady organizing the book drive to get a clipboard and log sheets, then stood out in front of the school in case anyone brought curbside donations in the afternoon.

Some buses kept me company before classes let out:
What I did today 6: stood outside in the rain

And I unintentionally took an okay photo of myself, other than looking rather yellow because my coat and accessories are really, really pink:
What I did today 7: took a self-portrait

There were no afternoon curbside donations, but there were some carry-in ones including the DVDs I brought over. Tomorrow I will take over the books the girls weeded, a couple of kids' CDs she hasn't listened to in ages (like the Dora the Explorer soundtrack) and a board game she never really got into but will thrill some younger children.

And now I think I will take a nap while everyone else is asleep. Phew.

Brief Kevin update:

64 hours into the week (from midnight Sunday), Kevin has gotten a total of 4.5 hours sleep and eaten two meals. The bulk of that sleep occurred today after he took a 5-HTP with a meal. At the end of two weeks of data collection, we're going to the family doctor and hoping whatever she refers us to see isn't too expensive.

We could go through VA to get a sleep study, but if our recent experience is any indication it will take at least three months of weekly visits and hoping Dr. Shutup has been reassigned somewhere else. (Dr. Shutup's demeanor during his vesting-in consultation made me think she'd be happier in pathology, bless her heart.)


Last-minute sleepover. Girls are thrilled. I am a little "augh!" but will roll with it because really, what else is there to do? They are currently dinking around on the recorder (they just started recorder karate) and reading bits aloud from The Daring Book for Girls. Apparently it includes a bit on how to summon Bloody Mary.

The girls notice the camera.

Operation Kindness had no room for the fluffball, so he's staying with us. I dubbed him Doolittle. He's much more consistent with litter box use but I've been using pet wipes (dollar store find) on him because I don't think he's too fastidious about cleaning yet. (I was using a blacklight to look for the source of a mystery smell and shined it on his belly, which lit up. Ew.) He likes to bait Squeaky and hide in an empty box. He also constantly chirps like a busted low-battery beep, but it's not a particular word like Squeaky's discernible 'words' for water, food, and various people.

Box of cat

I am coming down with a cold, surprisingly only my first one this month. I am not particularly bothered by it since it's a change from the probable ear infection that's made popping and clicking sounds in my left ear for a few weeks. Perhaps I merely have a dolphin in there and not an ear infection.
New page patrolling has been interesting -- I get to do a lot of research on schools and whatever catches my eye -- but challenging in dealing with new editors.Read more...Collapse )

Halfway through winter break...

Winter break is halfway through (yay!) and has been just as interesting as I'd expect it to be. We've had a few startling-awake incidents with Kevin, some progress in getting the kitten to poop in the right place, and a whole lot of dragging Laurel out when the weather wasn't too cold.

We've done the circuit of local thrift stores once and possibly doing it again this week as I continue keeping an eye out for a certain style of coat for a friend and finding crazy deals along the way. In the past week I've scored a Children's Place packable anorak (a half-zip windbreaker/raincoat that folds into an integrated storage pouch) new with tags for $2 and a Kate Spade handbag for $4. While I dislike retail store shopping, I enjoy thrift stores.

We also met phoena and her husband for coffee, which was fun. I wish we had normal neighbors like that, I'd be a lot more social! (Laurel has been playing daily with the item since Christmas morning. I picked up Cooking Mama for her stocking and now I get to hear her blowing into the microphone to cool off dishes.)

In other neat pre-Giftmas fun, I was one of five randomly selected entrants in Hanna Andersson's holiday photo share on Facebook to receive a $100 gift card. I plan to mail it on to my sisters to shop at their Colorado Mills outlet Park Meadows store to get the most bang for the buck. ETA: They have a Dallas store at Northpark Center. I've been in that mall once and have no desire to go in it again.

I am just getting around to my gingerbread construction this week after feeling blah on Christmas Eve and then full-out awful on Christmas Day with a virulent stomach bug. Photos and templates are forthcoming!
Kevin has decided to be evaluated for PTSD. I am both pleased and relieved he has made this decision. (Like all mental health issues, the afflicted person has to want to do something about the issue.)

In other good news:

- we've found an over-the-counter potassium supplement that agrees with his digestive system. The combination of omeprazole and potassium is working well to keep him on an even enough keel to eat and keep it down, although he's still eating only small amounts at a time after the week-long stomach unpleasantness he had in late November.

- we have figured out an arrangement to make our living room more presentable and consolidate the sewing/crafting things into one room. It involves turning the master bedroom into a studio, but it will be good all around once we're done.

- after a frosting failure, I used melted almond bark coating to hold together 24 graham cracker gingerbread-style houses for Laurel's class party. The kids loved it and I returned home 23 houses and some candy lighter, but heavier by over half a dozen large premixed frosting bags. I promptly gave three bags to one of the feral children after she knocked on our door and asked if she could have them. (I realize in hindsight that I have no idea if her responsible adults were aware of this, but at worst I gave a bunch of kids whose parents I don't know a bunch of sugar on a Friday afternoon.)

- I am reasonably satisfied after over a week of tweaking my model in SketchUp that I have a stable tank model to print and use as gingerbread templates. I'm going to get some pirouette cookies at the dollar store to use for the tank gun.
Now is the winter of our discount tent.To quote Miss May's icon, now is the winter of our discount tent. I finally shook that lingering cough to get a sudden onset sore throat and now I've got swollen lymph nodes on the front and sides of my neck. It looks funny but that's turtlenecks are good for hiding it.

I am turning out to be somewhat allergic to the long-haired kitten we are caring for, so we are going to put him on the waiting list to go to Operation Kindess and just hang onto him until they can take him. Squeaky is being extremely patient with the kitten's repeated attempts to jump on him and follow him like a shadow everywhere, but the kitten has been scratching more than I like (swatting Kevin's face in his sleep and damaging all of our pants and my desk chair even though I apply catnip spray to the kitty condo, cat tree, and hanging scratcher) and eliminating inappropriately, pooping repeatedly on the master bath's shower mat and in Laurel's bathtub -- and peeing on Laurel's winter coat this morning. He's a sweet lovey boy but we do not have the time and energy to train him properly.

I made two big-for-me Etsy sales this week so now I have funds to purchase and send some holiday gifts to Colorado for my younger relatives. Younger siblings will get iTunes gift cards, niece and nephew will get some books (they have tons of everything so that's my token gift for them). I still have to ask Betty for suggestions for Himself's younger sister and her toddler.

Tomorrow Laurel and I are making an expedition by DART bus. My vintage dealer friend is having a holiday open house and there's a Kohl's along the route up Preston so we're going to use my gift card there from last Christmas for Laurel to pick out some stuff, probably shoes or boots.

Sunday I will be baking gingerbread: cookies for the school art club party on Monday and a stiffer-for-building gingerbread for the M1A2 tank and gingerbread infantry scene. If anyone's interested, I'll make a printable template of the tank parts for anyone who wants to make their own. Sometime during the week I'll make more cookies for the classroom party on Friday and assemble two dozen mini gingerbread-style houses from square graham crackers for the same party.
For the second time in my life, I purposely went out on Black Friday. It was mostly because the bank is one of my Thursday errands that got shifted a day this week by the holiday. My secondary reason was that it's going to be cold (for Texas) on Monday and Laurel's winter coat is too short in the sleeves. Conveniently, Goodwill is two buildings north of the bank.

When I go shopping, I pay cash to limit "oh this is cute I'm going to splurge" temptations. With Kevin, shopping is another story, so we left $60 later with several pairs of pants and long-sleeve tops, a pink Alice in Wonderland hoodie that complements the green one I have/had (it's on loan to Laurel's best friend until she outgrows it), and a winter coat with a Justice label (I am informed this is cool) for Laurel; two skirts, a sweater and a leather jacket that Kevin picked out for me; an Airzooka, a piece of red glassware (Kevin collects it), a blue Camelbak bottle, 3D Red Eyes Jibbitz (spotted in a basket of carded buttons) and a hardcover copy of Carl Hiaasen's Flush.

The Walgreens trip was much more boring and can be summed up as AA batteries, candy, a pair of fuzzy socks for Laurel (she outgrew her old ones and we used them to make a sock creature) and a shiatsu neck and shoulder massager Kevin said can be my Christmas gift. I think that's a thoughtful gift, although I'm not positive on that. (I am not very good at gift suggestions when people ask what I want. I usually say books or an iTunes gift card, although my sisters like to buy me clothing. This is probably good since I have pretty much the same fashion taste I had as a toddler, only I have more Super Grover stuff now.)
Party PinaforeI was tickled pink this morning to meet three new weekly folder volunteers. That brings our total new volunteers that have helped at least once this semester to five, which is pretty exciting since a few years ago we were really hurting for volunteers. One of them shares my appreciation of American Girls dolls and I am seriously considering making Molly's party pinafore for the little girl in her life. It'll be nice to dig into that stash of clearance rick-rack I bought for my birthday.

It was gently suggested to me that Laurel is getting a bit old to tag along with me to Cub Scouts, so I worked out the route to get to the nearest school with a Girl Scout troop. We can pick up a direct bus route that stops right by that school on the far side of the major intersection west of us. The downside is that said intersection is currently torn up for construction so unless we'd be walking there from her school (or going up and around that way) we would have to cross the torn-up intersection. We crossed it once north-to-south last month and it was a hot mess with the sidewalk torn out and the crosswalk signals/lights removed. I still have to find out how much joining and program materials will cost anyway, so nothing's set yet.

In good financial news, we are finally caught up on everything less some late fees with the apartment complex, who declined to waive the late fees for September accrued during the two weeks between me handing the rent verification form to a staff member and anyone telling me it had been lost so the form had not been completed and returned by fax. I am going to have to bring this up to the regional supervisor, which I really do not want to do, but I am tired of going in circles with the complex staff, who smile, nod and ask what they can do in response to anything I say. Some days I want to go in there and spout gibberish to see if they respond the same way.

In not-so-good financial news, we can't afford for Laurel and I to go to Colorado for winter break. I am a bit bummed about that since I haven't seen most of my family since last Christmas, but them's the breaks when your primary income-maker was out of work for six months. That artificial Christmas tree we haven't used in a few years will come out this year!
Facepalm moments of book fair:
- A lingering browser during class time that thought cents and dollars were interchangeable. (They were old enough to have done the "money math" unit and clearly understood the concept of hundreds, tens and ones.)
- An older student that, after noticing the day before we accepted checks as payment, brought in a cash withdrawal slip for the amount, not including sales tax, of a single title they wanted. They did attempt to fill it out like a check (made out to cash) but there wasn't enough room on the "signature" line so they signed it in the style FirstName LastInitial.

Sweetest moment of book fair:
- A preschool-aged sibling I usually sit and chat with while we wait for school to let out came gave me a sprig of holly-like leaves that were turning a pretty red. I tucked them into my hair and totally forgot about it until I was at the PTA meeting that night and we saw each other again.

In other school-related news, I was treated to breakfast this morning by a fellow weekly folder volunteer, I helped hang lots of bulletin board paper for student snapshot boards (each grade has a themed display; I'm working on "Adventures Through Imagination" with homemade enlargements of some graphic elements of the Reading Rainbow intro animation), and next Tuesday I will be sending two of my favorite dishes from Veganomicon to a fall teacher luncheon.


Vogon took photos of Laurel and I in our Halloween costumes for the Cub Scout pack meeting earlier this month, I just have to get off my duff and copy them and the PTA meeting pics to my computer so I can do stuff with them.

Laurel's friend that lives in a neighboring complex is now walking home with us in the afternoon and hanging out with Laurel until her older brother gets home from school, which will save her folks on after-school care and gives the girls some quality time together that's a little less overwhelming for me than the sleepover they had last weekend. (I love the kids, I just love sleeping in more.)

I gave Vogon a drive enclosure I wasn't using anymore and he cracked up when he opened it and found a sticky note over the drive label that read "crashed 10/2005 - partition table missing?". (I was able to recover the data from the drive, hence why it was in the enclosure.)

There's probably some other stuff I should post about but it is falling out my head at the moment.


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Melissa, starry-eyed soy-lovin' Expatriated Zulu

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