Thursday, May 19, 2011

You can't control everything.

It's that time of year.  You start thinking about the upcoming year.  You start thinking about teachers.  You have your hopes.  You have your dreams.

Do you put in that request?

Last year, I did.  I put in a request for a teacher that I had the pleasure of listening to as she taught while I updated our 100 Book Challenge board.  She was firm with her students, caring, but they absolutely did not question who the head of the class was.  There was no funny business.  Her class behaved beautifully as they moved through the halls.  K- got that teacher, has learned so much from her and I don't regret hand-picking her for a minute.

Knowing what I know about Mrs. S-, how incredibly in-tune to her students she is and how she will truly pay attention to every little bit about their habits and personalities before placing them in a class, I didn't put in a formal request for a teacher.  I spoke with Mrs. S- about a concern that Hubs had brought up about a teacher from previous years that he had visit his workplace.  She's no longer there.  Mrs. S- reported that K- will do well with any of the teachers that they have for the 2nd grade, and I trust her judgment completely. 

I had a mom concerned about the teacher that her daughter may get for next year.  She phoned me and discussed what we had come up with.  Both of us had gone ahead and spoken to Mrs. S- about next year.  She's concerned and truly wants the best teacher she can have for her daughter.  I agreed that we all want that same thing, too.  I said that as much as I'm having a hard time with it, we have to let things fall where they may and loosen our apron strings a little.  I admitted that it is something I have to work on.  Is there a teacher that I've been eyeing for a while?  Sure.  I honestly told the mom that I have had interactions with all of the teachers on a regular basis.  It is because of 100 Book Challenge that they all know me and know what they'll be getting in their classrooms, too. 

My question is this.  We love our kids.  We want to pave the path for them.  We want to pave it in gold and give them the best opportunities possible.  At what point is that paving considered helicoptering, controlling and being too involved? 


Tuesday, May 17, 2011

It's sandal season!

This post originally appeared on April 30, 2010, but I decided that it needed a re-run.  Enjoy!

I have this issue.

The season is here. What season is that? Sandal season. I pull out the pumice stone and polish to get my feet a little less wintry looking and more sandal friendly.

I've come to realize that not all folks take to my seasonal foot maintenance.

On Wednesday we had some customers in wearing sandals on a brisk 54 degree day. The two sandal wearers were offenders. First was a young man being taken around by some young girl, no doubtedly the friend of his girlfriend, showing him all sorts of things that he could buy. He was physically incapable of walking without dragging his feet everywhere. :slide, slide, slide: I looked down, and realized that his sandals were 1. too small since his toes were curling over the front, 2. his toe nails were excessively long and 3. his toe nails were chipped, funky and very visibly dirty. :scrunched up face yelling EWWWW! inside: The second offender was a woman in her 50's, incapable to make a decision to save her life and she was walking around in similar fashion to the young man, 30 years her junior.

Y'all, I have some serious foot issues when it comes to people wearing sandals.

Men, I don't care how much you try, as a population, you generally only have utilitarian type feet. Those are best strapped inside of something that will kind of mask those things. The airy sandals? Your better bet. If you insist on wearing flip flops, please consider taking care of not only nail length and cleanliness, but ridding your feet of the tufts of hair growing on tops of all of your toes.

Ladies, there are pumice stones. They are our friends. Munchy, crunchy heels are not good. Even my 6 year old will notice that she needs to use it and the little elephant nail brush that I have at the tub for her. Please also consider wearing the correct size of footwear. I know that sandals let us cheat with sizes, but if you wear a size 8 1/2, it doesn't mean that you should be wearing a size 7 sandal just because it is open or too darned cute and on sale to pass it by. If your heel is lopping over the end or your toes are curling over the front, you need to bump up a size or two. It's okay. We don't care what number you have on your feet. Toe paint is certainly not required. A little trimming and some lotion may be all you need to get your feet rolling for the season. Remember, the same rule applies for toe hair. Thy razor is thy friend.

A note about sandal styles. A friend at work calls flip flops shower shoes. She's right, you know. But, for those of us (even late bloomers like me) that like flip flops (though I'm a snob and won't wear cheapies or any without the fabric thingy between my toes), can be cute. Just make certain to follow the size suggestion in the paragraph above. Ooo, and remember not to run in flip flops. That's just plain dangerous. God never intended us to run with a sole slightly strapped to our foot.

There are sandal styles that fully expose the full front of the foot. I don't get it. I'm usually a let-a-little-toe peek out kind of girl. These sandals expose the entire full set of pigs and an inch or two of the top of the foot. I've never found these to look attractive on anyone. That much foot exposure cannot be that good for walking either. All I can figure is that the front would tend to want to flap in the wind. Argh.

Now, I don't know who decided that toes need to have acrylic extensions. Really? All I can think of is all the grossedies that might gather up under those things. Y'all really can't be wearing full shoes with those. The shoes have to press down on those and cause pain. Are acrylic toe nails really worth it? Will I find them swimming in the public pool this year? EWWWWW!

And since we're on the foot subject, plenty of people wear toe rings. Though I find them uncomfortable, folks like them enough. Just remember, a little goes a long way. You don't need to have four per foot.

This concludes my foot maintenance clinic. If you have any more suggestions regarding sandal season starting, please feel free to include them in the comments.

Tales from the Trenches: Bloggable customers and other stuff.

My day began with a bus load of high school art kids.  They were there at open, but thankfully, Sherri texted me on Friday to give me a heads up.  I had the store up and ready a few minutes ahead of time.  They were okay, but their volume.  Oh my. 

We had someone come in and she walked around and around trying to find things.  I couldn't really figure her pattern out, but let her know I could help her if she needed.  She made a decent pile on the counter, had me go out to pull 3 nearly $50.00 garden stakes (that's a piece) out for her, then we tallied up her bill.  I was so happy for her when I found out that she had won a very large gift certificate to our store from a local radio station.  She left with more than $80.00 in credit still in hand. 

We had someone who seemed to be highly medicated flying about and picking things out at a frightningly fast pace.  Turns out that she was just received an extremely substantial sum from a trust, and she left over $900.00 of it with us.  Very nice. 

It was the day of the drunks.  We had several customers come in absolutely wreaking of alcohol.  The one was the friendly drunk asking all sorts of questions that people normally wouldn't.  The others were some ladies getting ready to hop on a plane.  They weren't friendly though.  Nosiree.  They were snotty and ignored me when I spoke to them.  Yug.

I had a woman who came in to return an item for less than twenty dollars and had a receipt in hand for the purchase.  It was purchased at the very beginning of the year.  I told her that I couldn't return it and that we have a 30 day return policy, she asked, "Well I can exchange it, right?"  "Um, no.  I'm sorry.  This was purchased 5 1/2 months ago."  "But I just received it.  All I want to do is to exchange it."  I told her that I couldn't, she could go speak with the manager and she did.  She came back later with a credit in hand.  (ARGH!  I would love support in my backing policy!)  Target has a 90 day return and they are not apologetic about it.  I don't blame them.  We're not Target, but perhaps we should practice their return policy. 

I have a co-worker who has taken to putting up posters of famous young men in our stock area upstairs.  As you head up the stairs, there is an obnoxiously large poster of Justin Bieber.  It is there more as a joke, but I can't wait until it goes away-- if that ever happens.  I went to our staff bathroom, turned around and found a picture of Robert Pattinson on the wall.  That was it.  I moved it.  I absolutely refuse to have Robert staring at me as I pee.  When I talked to the other person on staff at our store about it, her response was, "You are only here for three days.  I don't see why it should matter."  I feel like I'm living in the land of Teen Beat Magazine.  Wow.  JUST MAKE IT GO AWAY!

K- had a walking field trip down the road (maybe 4  or 5 blocks) to the local ice cream store.  I had one of the room mothers call me yesterday flipping out because it was supposed to be cold and raining and how is there any way that the kids will get back in time to eat and, and, and . . .  I e-mailed K-'s teacher who was kind enough to e-mail me back details to phone the mom with.  In her e-mail, she stated that she was fine if that particular parent opted out, but it turns out that both she and her husband came along.  Mrs. S- is on door duty this week and I admit that when I talked to her this morning about it, I told her that I fear that the problem was that we had was a "city kid thing." All she could do was nod and laugh. I told her that we walked this winter when it was 17 degrees and we survived it just fine!  K- reports that they were fine and upon reaching the school grounds, one of her classmates got ill.  Seems that ice cream, cold, a drizzle and a hoof and haul up a rather large hill was more than her digestive tract could take.  M- was fine and remained at school for the day.  Sad that M- got ill, but glad that it wasn't my kid for once! 

I found wet laundry in the laundry bucket.  I admit that not feeling well has left me a few days on laundry holiday.  I found Hubs' wet shirt from when he mowed the lawn on Saturday at the bottom of the bucket.  Y'all know how nasty that can get?  Thank goodness I caught it in time and I reminded him of the no-wet-laundry-in-the-bucket-please rule and he was not terribly receptive.  He thinks I was picking.  I really wasn't.  I just don't want moldy or musty laundry.  Argh.

Friday's high temperature was 82.  Today's high temperature was 46.  I have plants to hit the dirt, but it's been so wet here that I can't get the beds weeded to get the plants in.  Hubs barely got the lawn mowed on Saturday-- just four days after he had mowed it previously.  It is so wet that people can't plant seeds for the gardens.  :raising my hand here:  I was going to drop some green bean seeds into the ground yesterday, but the directions were specific about if it was cold and wet, the bean seeds would only just sit and rot.  No point in wasting.  I'm hoping to get a bit of gardening done at the end of the week.  In the meantime, I have a pile of plants on my back porch ready to hit the dirt.

All right.  I've complained and vented.  It's what my Tuesday blog day is for.  Thanks for the listening ear.

Smiles in my day:
-  MIL's birthday is tomorrow and I made her a lovely lemon pound bundt cake with a blueberry lemon glaze.  I don't like blueberry, but the glaze was delicious.  I'm excited to try the cake tomorrow.
-  L- is graduating from medical school!  L- is my husband's cousin's wife.  She is a wonderful person, is a fantastic doctor and has chosen to be an emergency department physician.  We've been invited to her graduation picnic celebration.  Now, if I can just think of an appropriate gift.  I'm thinking a gift certificate to buy herself something.  Any suggestions?  L- and B- have two young daughters, are very family oriented, are surrounded by an immense amount of family support and want for nothing.  Maybe I should see if they have a picnic basket.  That might be a good idea.  Still, belt out the ideas if you have them.

Have a great day!

Monday, May 16, 2011

Donate from your heart. AKA Rules for donating to a cause.

I read this article yesterday on Yahoo.  In general, it was talking about receiving broken toys and used underwear as part of the donations to the tornado victims. 

How often people use donation services as a clearing house to get rid of unwanted junk items.  I'm trying to think of a particular recent example, but it fails my memory.  What I can tell you is that I've heard stories of Goodwill donation trailers crawling in bed bugs because people have donated infested items to them.  I know that when I was directing VBS at our church, we were taking donations to send off to an orphanage in Haiti.  Among many fantastic items, we received extremely used coloring books with only a page or two remaining that were colorable, broken crayons and a lot of pens and markers that did not work.  At school, I help with the annual canned food drive to benefit the local food bank.  We had to toss over 70 donated items that were expired.  Some expirations went as far back as 1999.   Each year, my husband and I oversee and handle a collection of health and beauty items for our local homeless shelter.  We've received 1/4 filled bottles of old and discolored shampoo and coagulated, half-used samples from hotels.  I spend at least an hour each collection going through items and pitching things that are not able to be donated.

Here are some simple rules to donating:
-  Think of the person that you are donating these items to.  Sure, you may not know that person or a particular face, but you can think of someone you might think would be the recipient.
-  Now think of that person as someone in need from YOUR family.  Is the item that you are willing to donate something that you would give to your family?
-  Better yet, think of Christ standing right next to you.  You know, in the flesh.  How do you feel about that donation now?
-  Is it clean? 
-  Are all the parts necessary for said donation item included to make it work?  If not, is it something that in a partial state, would it be considered as fully usable?  (Legos, bowls to a stand mixer, but the mixer hit the ditch a while ago . . .) 
-  If donating toys, if your child was the recipient, would you be thrilled?
-  Are books unmarked and in readable condition without having been soaked in water or some other mysterious liquid?
-  Are plates/kitchen items . . . chipped?  Does it matter if they are?  Would you consider it safe to eat off of or from?
-  Does it have an expiration date?  If so, has it passed?  Food does not have an indefinite shelf life, unless you are speaking of honey and real maple syrup (both kept under reasonable conditions, of course.)

Envision your family receiving the goods.  Think of the recipients.  Especially in light of disaster victims, they've lost everything, if not almost all.  They didn't ask for a hurricane, flood or tornado to damage or destroy their home.  Many of these people are working with nothing. 

My sister and I were talking about yard sale items.  I will not put items out for a yard sale that haven't been properly laundered or cleaned.  Dishes are sparkling, game boxes have parts in bags that have been counted and labeled on the top.  Last year, I had a game board to our Wheels on the Bus game that was ripped.  I wrote it on the box.  It could have simply been repaired with tape, but I mentioned it and sold it cheap.  Turns out that a grandma was just looking for the bus and not all the other parts to go with.  After I'm done with the yard sale, the items go directly to Goodwill.  I've checked them, labeled them and feel good enough to pass them on.

Last year, I took part in a uniform swap at the local church up the street.  Even there, while a swappable thing and not by donation, I received a beautiful, but milk-stained shirt.  Through my laundressing powers, the shirt was brought back to life and all was well, but why would you take dirty children's clothing items to swap for the next size up?  I don't get it.  The uniform swap is for everyone and if you have nothing to donate, pieces are 75 cents a piece.  There are folks who only go to the uniform swap for their kids.  Believe me, they don't want to purchase items with marker or juice stains all over them, and knees in pants are an important thing.

In sum, I will not donate or even yard sale/swap something that I wouldn't consider owning myself.  In regard to donating dirty underwear, I don't know if "dirty" should have been replaced with the statement of "previously used and laundered" or if it was truly "soiled."  I have a general policy not to donate personal items such as that, with the exception of handing down bathing suits and K-'s laundered, but pre-owned panties to her friend-- the daughter of a good friend of mine.  I would not pass them on to anyone else, but my friend knows that I take exceptional care of the laundry and any clothing items I pass on to A- that may have a spot, I post-it note it on the actual item.  A- is a bit of a well-known Messy Bessy, so I know that those clothing items would be play clothes for her anyhow.  Still, I get from the comments that some people feel that something is better than nothing.  In cases, that may be true.  Underwear that have been pre-owned are one of those things that can kind of sanitarily creep people out, though.  That's why bathing suits come with those weird sticky strips in them.  (Not that I really see those as doing much of anything.)

Still, how do you feel about the complaint of items being donated that are potentially soiled and partial?  We hate to waste things, but then again, when is a partial or soiled donation okay?

Sunday, May 15, 2011


I've been battling what I thought was a hefty case of tree pollen allergies.  Now, it's not to say that hasn't contributed to my agony but I believe that we've gotten to the point of knowing that I've managed to get something.  K- had a dreadful cough about a week ago (still coughing) and Joe (a co-worker) was sneezing and snarfing this past week.

It settled in and it hasn't been pleasant.  One thing my family finds about it is pleasant for them. 


Along with general unpleasantness from a cold, I've also got laryngitis.  I communicate in whispers and an occasional squeally sound, but that is it.  I feel like Carol Brady when she was go to before the church and sing. 

Okay, okay, I admit that I wasn't singing in church. Actually, given the hacking, snuffling, nose blowing and general unpleasantness of two of the three of us, we opted to keep our germie ermies to ourselves and to stay at home. I still had to share the Brady Bunch episode. Don't know why it came to mind, but it did.  And yes, I did love the Brady Bunch.  I'm sure that it's played on some odd ball channel that I don't have.

Soccer is canceled for today, because the field lends itself more to swimming lessons rather than soccer. We're expecting more rain. Hubs and I are thankful because, as he said, "We'd most likely end up with pneumonia."

So, I'm silenced. My daughter talks to me in whispers and my husband keeps laughing and saying, "WHAT?," as he leans a bit closer.