28 April 2009


People are wired differently.  If you're married, you know that all too well.  I was talking to my Mom this morning (while I was waiting at Sonic for my ice water with lemon...I know, I know the styrofoam is horrible for the planet but I NEED it to get through the day...) and she asked me what I was going to do today.  Well, I'd planned to get in a full day of work today, but as I talked to her I was thinking of the fresh hell that was my house about 3 hours ago.  And then I started thinking about boy brains and girl brains, and how differently James and I think about the house and chores, etc.  I got a little grumpy with him for a bit as I was thinking this through (sorry, Boy), but then I realized...in my head, James NOT doing something registers as him doing something to ME.  Case in point:  he sorted clothes, but didn't do laundry.  So for 4 days now, we've been walking on these huge piles of clothes in the hallway.  And yes, I've been grumpy about it.  Now you and I both know that James INTENDED to be helpful and have laundry done before we came home, and we surprised him by coming home early.  You and I both know that he doesn't HAVE to do laundry at all, as it's not in our deal (our deal:  he does dishes, I do laundry.  It works for us, this deal.)  But still, not so deep down, I've been grumpy about those stupid piles of laundry since they haven't gone anywhere on their own in the past few days.  And this is where the wiring comes in--in James' boy brain, he helped by pulling all of the laundry out of the hamper.  (And he did.)  In my girl brain, he made a mess.  And because it's MY girl brain, furthermore, why didn't he just DO his own laundry while we were gone for two weeks?  Because, in his boy brain, he doesn't DO laundry.  It's not in the deal.  So why, in my girl brain, would I assume that laundry was even anywhere IN his brain?  It doesn't live there.  It doesn't even visit there.

In this equation, I'm the one who's wrong.  James hasn't done anything at all wrong--in fact, quite the opposite.  He's been so supportive this entire school year as I've been half here and half with Dad, mentally, emotionally and physically.  He hasn't complained once about lost time or lost weekends or the laundry that never really got finished after the fire...or any of the things that have been "off" around here because I've been "off."  

So in the little booth at Sonic this morning, I gave myself a good talking to.  Then I came home and cleaned a bit before I sat down to work.  (I'm back at the dining room table because I need to clean off my work table and my desk again...don't judge me.)  And yes, I'm running laundry while I work today, if for no other reason than to get it out of the tiny little hallway so I don't get irritated every time someone steps on the clothes.  Again, that's my wiring that's bad...not anyone else's.  

I recognize that I'm just too OCD for my own good, and I need some little come to Jesus moments like my Mom inadvertently inspired this morning so I can stress less and smile more at my family.  :)   Alrighty, back to work.  Two minute blog break...check.  Huge long list of things to accomplish still today...check, check.  Attitude adjusted, check.  Sitting here having warm, fuzzy thoughts about my husband and kiddos instead of cataloguing the messes they've made in the past 48 hours...check!  And my work here is done...

Why I'm a PackRat

Hey, Kristin...remember that ginormous bag of seashells I was like, when would I EVER use this?  So I gave it to another teacher...

Now I'm home and I've finished taking down the Easter decorations that were still up.  And I was wondering yesterday, hmm...what to put in my little decorative things for May...and I thought, I know, I'll do sand and seashells since we're going to the beach Memorial Day and we've been looking forward to it all year long.

But I don't have sand or seashells.

And that is why I hoard things.  What if I NEED it someday??

27 April 2009

Monday, Monday...

I'm baaaaaack.  Well, back home, anyway.  We got home late Friday afternoon, and this weekend was pretty laidback.  Busy, but in a good, keep your mind busy kind of way.  Still had time to relax and just BE with James and the kids, which was nice.  Now it's Monday morning, and I'm sitting on the couch after a lovely 2-hour session with the lawnmower.  It takes me for freakin' ever to mow, I don't know why.  Maybe because I so rarely do it.  Hmm.  That would also explain the matching thumb blisters that have popped up again, like they always do.  Hmm.

This morning has been nice--all weekend long, I've kind of not-so-secretly been looking forward to this time alone.  I am not working today at all, other than getting things done around the house.  I've got plenty of work to do this week, but nothing that can't wait until tomorrow.  Today I wanted to get caught up a bit around here, and maybe just have some quiet time.  We'll see.  

Lately there's been so much to say, but I just haven't felt like saying it.  Even though things have been really hard, some really great things have happened, too.  Maybe I'll catch up on blogging about that stuff, probably not.  Maybe the best thing to do is just move forward from here, so I don't feel "behind" as always.  (I totally read your belated post this morning, Rachel--welcome to teaching.  When school's in session, life sometimes can feel like it's on hold...just ride it out, girlie.  It'll get better!)  

Hmm...my brain still isn't back in blogging mode, but I felt like it was important to at least post SOMETHING today.  :)  I'll get back into the swing of it, friends.  I'm feeling better already, truly!

23 April 2009

Winding down...

It's been a pretty weird week...I could say it's been busy, but at the same time, there's been lots of down time.  I've had time to rest, but I'm still so tired.  We've gotten a lot done, but I can't think of anything I've accomplished...you get the idea.  Unfortunately, my time here is coming to an end, and it's almost time to re-enter the real world.  I'm ready but I'm not...I know it's time to get back home and figure out a new routine and a new normal.  I'm grateful that we've had this week to kind of just be, if that makes any sense.  One day at a time, right?  
BTW...I'm SO glad we don't have cable.  I'd never get anything done...

18 April 2009

More than a Label

These past few days, I've had lots of time to visit with Dad's hospice nurses.  They are wonderful, wonderful people (I think I blogged about this yesterday--I'm just in awe of the gift these people have, to be here for families during the last moments...sigh.  I caould go on and on.).  Anyway, there's been lots of time for reflection.  I see a lot of similarities between nursing and working in special ed., probably for obvious reasons.  

This morning when I was in the shower, I was thinking about what's to come and remembering when my Grandma died.  It broke my heart for a long time, I won't lie.  I almost got off track there, but I remember why I started...the point was, I knew I was healing when I started to think of Grandma the way she was before she got so sick, before our time with her was defined by her health issues and needs.  And then I thought of Dad.  It's so hard to let go, but in a lot of ways (and I think Ronny would agree, that's my closest brother), we've been letting go of Dad a bit at a time for years.  He was diagnosed with Parkinson's disease 9 years ago this spring, and then after his open heart surgery 2 years later he retired.  After he recovered from surgery, he took over the cooking and has been feeding us ever since.  He's had good days and not so good days, and some straight up bad days.  In the back of my mind, though, he was always "sick."  Honestly, I think we all kind of thought of him in that way...not that he was less of a person, but that he was capable of less, maybe...it's hard to explain.  But you probably understand anyway, don't you?  Anyway, after he was diagnosed with cancer in July, I hate to say that cancer has defined his life, and ours.  

But anyway, last week I was blessed by a conversation with my friend Sherri, who recently lost her sister to cancer.  We talked about how Julie was more than the cancer that took her down in the end, but that she was/is 30 some odd years of living and loving, and being human.  Who we are defines us--not the "thing" that tries to take over.  

So here's the point, and why I'm blogging about this here...let's remember that kids are more than the label that comes on their paperwork.  Above all, and we've been hearing this for years:  they're PEOPLE.  No matter how able a person is, he or she still has likes and dislikes and strengths and weaknesses...and let's not forget that.  In working with kids, let's look at the label and take that into consideration, but let's come at teaching from a standpoint of reaching the kid behind that label.  

Let's think on that one a while, and come back to it another day.  

Where, Where Did I Go Wrong??

When Dad was diagnosed with esophageal cancer back in July, Kayci knew something was very wrong but I just told her that he was very sick and would be going to the doctor a lot.  My plan was to talk to her about it when we went home and I had time to explain it to her--I knew that the c-word would scare her, as our friend Sherri had just lost her sister to cancer.  Well...my evil plan didn't work, as my little reader one night showed interest in a book Grandma was reading and Grandma told her the title, which was something like "The CAN in Cancer."  Anyway...when Mom said "cancer," I kind of held my breath, wondering how she'd take the news.  In true Kayci fashion, she completely blew me away.  But not necessarily, I'm thinking, in a good way.  

"Hmm.  You're going to need a lot of money, then, Grandma."
"What for?"
"For your wedding.  You'll have to get a new Grandpa now."

Alrighty...so I've been working on being a Proverbs 31 woman for a long time now, but I don't think there's anything in there about HAVING to have a husband, right?  Of course Mom and I had to laugh and I just told her that no, there wouldn't be a wedding.  

Fast forward to yesterday.  Kayci, Emma and Reagan went over to KinderCare for a change of scene.  I found out last night that Kayci was making paperclip hearts while they were there (Keely taught us how to do it back around Valentine's Day, and they're so cool!).  Anyway, when one of the girls asked her why she was making them, she said, "for the wedding."

Crap.  All this time I thought I was raising a strong, independent girl and modeling a great partnership of a marriage.  Perhaps I should work a bit harder on raising my child and quit leaving it to Disney movies... :)  

Quick update:  Grandpa is hanging in there.  He's been unconscious now since Thursday, but is very restful and shows no signs of pain or restlessness.  As hard as it is, he's not hurting anymore, and that's such a blessing.  

17 April 2009

So much to say...

In a situation like this, I don't want to intrude on Dad's privacy and overshare, and at the same time, there's just so much to say.  After a great Easter celebration this weekend, Dad took a turn for the worse.  He's here at home, as he wanted, and we've all gathered to be with him and to celebrate him and our family.  In true Clarkson fashion, we've been eating and laughing and eating and watching bad tv and eating and looking at pictures of Grandpa with the grandkids.  The past few days feel very unreal, and I wonder what, in fact, we'll all remember about this time.  After the nurse told us yesterday afternoon that Dad wouldn't regain consciousness, it was hard.  My first thought?  I don't remember the last thing he said.  Then, I don't remember the last thing he said to ME.  I wrote down that on Wednesday night he told Kayci, "Goodnight, sweetheart, I love you."  That's enough.  So, there's a lot on my mind, but I'm also, strangely, at peace.  Dad doesn't appear to be in any pain, and he's been very quiet and restful since yesterday.  Only God knows how long he'll go on like this, and again, that's enough.  It's enough to be here, and I'm grateful that our entire family is here under one roof with Mom & Dad.  It's enough.  

Protecting our Kids

Let me just say, I'm a huge fan of hospice nurses after the past couple of days--they're wonderful people.  Just as we have a heart for working with our special little friends, the ladies that we've met have a heart for families and caring for them through the final transition.  But that's not the point of this blog entry...

Nurse Lori just told me that Adam's Law expires (not sure if that's the right word) in July.  We need this in place to protect our children from registered offenders...I don't have the time or energy right now to see if Texas is in compliance or if we need to contact our legislators, so do me a favor and check it out and let me know.


14 April 2009


Tomorrow's the big Para (Paraprofessionals, you know, aides...) Appreciation Celebration.  After all of the rainbow brainstorming I've been doing, and the rainbow logo we're using, it just seemed natural to keep with the rainbow theme.  So today I did something a little crazy--I made rainbow cupcakes.  I won't post any pics because my phone was in my car and I was too lazy to use a real camera, and I won't post a link because...well, you can google it.  I did.  Point of the story:  they ROCK.  I was worried that all of the food coloring would make them bitter, but nope.  Yum.  :)  One word of caution, though, if you decide to try them out:  if you do all 6 colors, put SMALL teaspoons of batter in.  I made enough mix for 72...and got 48.  Whoopsie.   But man, they're gorgeous!  :)  

12 April 2009

Easter Happy

I love giving gifts, probably even more than I love getting them.  Unfortunately...one of the things I've had to come to grips with this year is that I have financed my gifting habit with the Discover card way, way too much.  So, when I broke up with Discover I had to find alternative ways of getting my gift on.  The main thing I've done is started shopping ahead--after Christmas, I hit the sales--hard--and bought as many birthday gifts as I could for the coming year.  That's been a big help, and the ones I don't have already (wrapped, of course) in the closet we just budget for each month.  

Some of my favorite people to shop for, and buy happys for, are my teachers.  :)  I will say that I haven't bought nearly as much for them at the Dollar Spot since I don't fall back on my Discover card, and sometime's that's tough.  But I still do pick up little happys for them, and I've got Teacher Appreciation (first week in May) pretty well together, minus the notes.  That's all I'm gonna say about that, girls...you'll smile.  

The picture above is what happens when I need (okay, want!) to give a gift that I didn't plan for ahead of time and we're at the end of our budget.  I buy Kayci's teacher gifts as I find them (she's fun to shop for!) and for Easter, we gave her a cute set of notecards and pens that I put together more cheaply than I'd like to admit here.   But...when I did that, Noble wasn't in school, yet.  So, the day before his Easter egg hunt, I realized that I didn't have anything but I really WANTED to do something for his 3 wonderful teachers and the EEC administrators, since they've been so amazing to him.  At Wal-Mart they had these cute little tins for $1, so I got those and a BIG bag of LifeSavers.  For $10, I made 6 gifts (had to do one for Paula, too!)!  How gratifying is that?  I wanted to jazz it up a bit, so I cut cardstock paper grass and put that in the tin buckets, then filled them with LifeSavers.  For each person, I decorated a plastic Easter egg with her name then filled that with an Easter egg shaped note of thanks (of course, since I'm puntastic they all had variations of "You've been a LifeSaver!").  

Why blog about this?  Because I think happys are important, and can make people feel very happy and loved.  :)  I know GIVING them makes me happy, anyway!

09 April 2009

The Internet v. Real-Life...

2 blogs in one day?  Unheard of!  You'd think I didn't have a pile of work waiting, but this is on my heart this morning and I wanted to put it out there.  A friend of mine, who I just think the world of, wrote in her blog about how when she looks at her friends' lives it seems like everyone is doing more exciting things than she is, etc.  I suspect that, like me, this friend was, if not a nerd, then at least part of the "smart crowd" in high school.  I was a nerd, btw, and that's okay.  Here's the thing that I've realized though...

When I look at my friends on Facebook, most of them are my old high school friends or acquaintances.  And yes, most of them were movers and shakers in high school and very intelligent.  It makes sense that they're spread out all over the country and all over the world, actually, doing great things, living big lives.  They're great people, and smart people.  And while I don't mean to take anything away from anyone, Facebook--and yes, even a blog--isn't exactly real-life.  It's kind of like watching "the Hills"--it's reality, but just kind of.  On Facebook we can control which pictures of ourselves we post and which parts of ourselves--and our lives--that we share.  I sure don't update every time I get snippy with my boy or raise my voice at Kayci, or every time I didn't get the laundry put away or the dishes done.  I don't, and I don't have to.  :)  A lot of people will post an update when they've been to the gym or have something exciting going on or are traveling...because these are things that are interesting and start conversations.  It's not a bad thing, it's just the way it is--people don't want to talk about the fact that I didn't make it to work out this week.  Why?  Well, like me, they probably don't care.  But also, it makes them feel bad because they didn't do it, either.  And for those who did make it in, me posting when I DO go makes you feel good because it affirms that, too.  

I'm rambling, and I have a ton of work waiting on me.  But this is for my friend the rookie...it's okay that your life (and MY life!) isn't big and flashy and exciting all the time.  Not all of us are made for that.  I'll let you in on one of my dirty secrets:  I was voted "Most Likely to Succeed" back in 1992.  Would my classmates look at my little life and little house and think I've succeeded?  Probably not, because my version of success doesn't fit the world's view.  And again, that's okay...because it's right for me.  That's what's important--doing what's right for you, not necessarily what looks cool to the rest of the world.  So just keep doing what you're doing, rookie, and being who you are--because who you are is AMAZING.  


I went into blogger this morning to upload a fun pic of Noble from the park yesterday, and I saw my last MommyGirl entry.  After I read it, I felt like I ought to add a p.s.  So, what's the opposite of overwhelmed?  That's where I'm at this week...yes, all of that stuff still exists in my life, but when I'm open to it God gives me a swift kick and shows me that it could always be worse.  :)  It has been and it will be, of course, but for now, for today, for this week, I'm focusing on making the most of the time I have RIGHT NOW to get my house back in order (amazing what a few minutes at a time can do!) and to keep forging ahead on my work projects.  

Here's what I've discovered:  our family blog is mostly upbeat and fun, and MY blog is where I go go whine.  So thanks for "listening" to me, girls (I know it's just girls, and if it's not, I apologize, boy).  Feel free to whine to me anytime!

Where I'm at today/right now:  currently, sitting on my bed listening to Noble call "Mom Mom?  Mom Mom?"  I love it!  Not enough to go in there, but still...seriously, I got up at 4:30 this morning to get a jump on my work for today.  I did what I got up to do and then remembered the park picture, so that sent me into the blogosphere.  I've had my first cup of coffee and a too-dry day-old muffin, my shirt is hanging in the bathroom de-wrinkling and I'm feeling ready for the day.  This week my focus has been getting my work-work done (and making some $$!) and slowly but surely taking the house back.  That's been so exciting!  Let's see, 2 days ago James and I put away ALL of our clean clothes.  That made our room look "clean" again--I love it!  I washed the sheets and voila!, all new room.  It feels great!  (Of course, now I'm curriculum-ing so my table is messy again, but it'll clean when I'm done.)  I got all of my work stuff reorganized and back into my work closet, as opposed to piled up in the office, and got all of the kids' notes, etc. filed in their binders instead of on a pile on my desk.  So now I can actually SIT at my clean desk and work in the office, too.  It's awesome!  I'd just gotten to where I had messes everywhere, work & home, and I couldn't get out from under them.  What sent me over the edge was having MY stuff spread out all over the dining room table since both my work table and desk were full of other stuff.  Seriously, when the house is messy because of Mommy's stuff, the world is off-kilter.  That pushed me over...it took a small amount of time, surprisingly, to knock it all out and get the house back under control.  I guess maybe because I was so fed up with it, I had a lot more determination and energy than normal.  Don't know...but yesterday I used my stress after working and a little rough news to go into the kids' room and get started in there.  I've decided that I hate the room arrangement and I'm going back to the way it was this time last year...I want to look in there and see fun and clean, not piles o' kid stuff.  So, maybe I'll wrap that up today.  Almost there...Kayci and I worked in there a bit last night.  Don't think she enjoyed it nearly as much as I did, but she DID enjoy stuffing Easter eggs with me after Nobley went to bed for our cousins egg hunt this weekend.  

Today is like Friday around here--I think I'm more excited than Kayci and Daddy.  :)  This afternoon I'll go to Kayci's egg hunt, and I'm looking forward to it.  Tonight the Bogans are coming over for pizza (well, with pizza, technically as they're bringing it...) and we're going to let the girls dye eggs.  I haven't decided if I'll let Noble into the dye, yet...hmm.  I've been craving brownies, so I've got Symphony brownies on the counter ready to be mixed, along with my favorite fizzy lemonade.  Can you tell I'm hungry?!  Between the park yesterday and dinner tonight, it's feeling like spring around here.  I love spring in Brenham, and I love having time with friends.  For the past 9 months, I've felt very torn between Brenham/friends and Houston/family, and it's been tough to balance.  I'd say Houston's winning out, but that's okay--before too long, my reason for being there won't be there and I'll wish I'd been there more.  That's always in the background, but as I say probably too much, it just is what it is.  What it IS sucks, but it is.  

Maybe I need a 2nd cup of coffee now...time to get into high gear!  Yesterday morning I went in to wake up Kayci and got a shock--she was standing there, in the dark, fully dressed.  I guess she was trying to surprise us, and boy, did she!  I'm curious to see what she comes up with this morning.  :)  She's excited about wearing a fun dress to school for the egg hunt...I just wish she liked her dresses with sleeves as much as she likes her tank dresses.  I guess that's why they make t-shirts, right?  

Okay--2nd cup of coffee and shower, here I come!  You guys have a great day!  Wait--Noble came in to say good morning.  Here's something you've never seen--me with no makeup and my early morning fuzzy ponytail.  I figure I let it all hang out verbally, might as well be honest about how I look, too.  Maybe later I'll post a pic of me ACTUALLY dressed and looking like MommyGirl... :)  

Easter Egg Sidewalk Chalk

For years, I've wanted to do this project, but the whole idea of plaster sidewalk chalk kind of gave me the heebie jeebies.  Plaster, I thought, would make for the nasty HARD chalk that scrapes on the sidewalk and doesn't make that satisfying soft dust that kids like so much.  But I digress...Easter time rolled around and I wanted to do something special for Kayci and her friends, so I arranged a time to go into her classroom to do a craft.  And I picked, of course, the chalk eggs.  

I've been here before, where I pick a craft from cyberspace and just can't quite get it to work out, so I thought I'd be smart.  2 days before, I started working with the recipe to figure out how to go from making a bajillion at once to just one egg-size amount that each child could mix up individually.  Sadly, not one of my test eggs came out.  You'd think I'd just pick another craft, but no...I'd told Bitty so she was married to the egg.  And so I soldiered on...and by the 6th or so test egg, I'd gotten the mix down and perfected everything but the bubble--the plaster had an annoying tendency to create an air bubble at one end, which meant that it comes out more like 3/4 egg than a whole, beautiful chalk egg like Crayola makes.  I figured I could live with that, so I took my toys and headed off to Kayci's school.  

The kids enjoyed the process of stirring and adding color...we did the scooping and pouring because of the plaster dust.  I wasn't sure how they were going to turn out, but today at the Easter egg hunt we got the chalk out and all of my fears were laid to rest...

I have to say, I was disappointed with the project until I saw how much the kids loved it, today, and how well the chalk worked! Not dry and icky at all, but kind of creamy and just right...

EVERYONE loved the sidewalk chalk...

...and yes, maybe there was just a little monkeyin' around.

03 April 2009

Where to begin?

I walked in from taking Kayci to school this morning, and just felt overwhelmed...our regular morning mess, dirty laundry to wash, clean laundry to put away, a table full of work calling to me.  Where to begin?  

So, in typical Kristi fashion I did a little bit of everything...now there's a little bit of everything that needs a little more attention...sigh.  I used to have a fantasy of going to a hotel all by myself for 24 hours and just watching bad cable, reading good books...now my fantasy is a whole weekend at home to get caught up on all of the undone stuff around here.  Oh, well--there's always next week.  :)  

Sadly, I think all of us have adapted to living in this very un-Kristi-like house...it's a lot easier to be messy than it is to be neat, right?  Kayci's totally getting into the spirit of having an unorganized room, and loves getting away with leaving her shoes out and about.  It drives me nuts, but it's hard to gripe about her mess when I've created a HUGE mess in her room that's just been sitting there for...wait for it...a month now.  Sigh.