Monday, December 27, 2010

Relocating again...

Let's see. I moved from Aiken, SC to San Antonio, TX. To Austin. To Green Bay, WI. To Littleton, CO. And finally to Las Vegas, NV. If you had asked me oh, say, ANYTIME before I actually moved here if I would EVER live in Las Vegas, I would have bet you a bazillion dollars the answer would have been no. Too bad you didn't bet me that, cause you'd now have a bazillion dollars! But, here we are. And apparently, here we shall stay. I will not pretend this is my favorite place to live, but it certainly has its benefits. The weather is spectacular - with the obvious exceptions of July and August. Larry loves his job. Everybody makes it here eventually, so we have seen friends we probably never would have seen if we'd lived anywhere else. And we have no lack of great entertainment, that is for sure!

All signs point to the fact that we are probably going to be here awhile. SO, we bit the bullet and bought a house. It's a small house in the neighborhood where we have been renting for the past 18 months. We love our neighborhood because it has a lot of kids who love to play outside, the people are friendly and nice and all of the houses are one-story. Seems like an odd thing to love, but I'll tell you why we love one-story houses. They are rare and precious in Vegas. Land costs so much here that they put houses practically on top of each other in order to house the 2 million plus people who lived here during the boom. And since land was so expensive, houses couldn't be sprawling they became towering three-story stucco McMansions approximately 4 inches from the (mostly identical) stucco McMansion next door. In June, July and August (and really into September), that makes for $700+ monthly electric bills. Um. Nope. This past summer, we paid $220 as our highest bill in our one-story. Still expensive, but when it's 115+ outside every single day for two months, well...

We also love a one-story house because it is so very desirable here in Vegas. While every other neighborhood in Vegas (including the really chi-chi ones) has foreclosures on every street that linger for months and months, ours has absolutely none. When a for-sale sign appears in a yard, there are lines of folks interested in buying here. Of course, there are foreclosures (we are buying one...) but they go fast. Since we do NOT plan to live in Vegas forever and ever, amen...we are excited that this neighborhood offers such a great resale value.

So, that was a long story to tell you that we bought a house! We are very excited, and I will post photos soon. We closed last week and are having tile put in this week. We hope to be moving in the first week-ish of January. The house has a small pool (yay!) and is on a corner, so the lot is probably three times the size of any lot in the neighborhood. It's a well-built, nice house. It's nothing fancy nor is it really anything to write home about...yet. What we like about the house is its potential. Divine hubby and I have spent many enjoyable hours discussing what we can do, how we can do it and if we should do it. We have plans you can't even imagine at this point and are enjoying thinking about the possibilities.

So, pictures coming soon...but remember they will be "before" pics. We are looking forward to the journey of fixing up our non-fixer-upper and will share pics with you!

Anybody else get a house for Christmas? Thanks, divine hubby! Mwah.

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Merry Christmas!

I am sure there isn't anyone out there still checking my blog, but just on the off chance that my mom hasn't quite given up on's a new post!

What's been going on since September 3, you ask? Oh, not much. I've taught two full quarters of writing to special ed students, given tests, grades, discipline, praise, and hired the occasional sub. I got a couple of birthday presents, several Christmas presents and the occasional complaint that class was too hard, too easy, too boring, too stupid, too name it, and it's too much of it. I took (and passed with A's) four classes in my graduate program, which really should be against the law. On Monday and Tuesday nights, I went to work at 6:45am, only to return home by 10:30pm most days. Then, since I didn't have time to do any work after school, I was up at 4am to work and then back to actual work at 6:45am again. Can I tell you how happy I am to have all of that over with? Well, until January 18 when I have three more grad school classes to manage. Thankfully, one of them is online, so I will only have to go to UNLV from 4-10 on Monday nights.

As a teacher, one thing I have discovered is that most of the assignments I give are too boring. Unless they are too hard. :) I've discovered that most kids don't do homework. Even if it's assigned. Even if I make them write it down in their planners, even if it's only writing three sentences on a piece of paper and bringing it in the next day. Even if it is for a grade, for heaven's sake. So, I don't really assign homework much. I have gotten some grief for that from parents, but interestingly enough, those parents who complain are parenting the very kids I can count on NOT to bring the homework in. I think that's weird. I have attended more PTC's than I can count (teacher-speak for parent-teacher conference), but rarely for the ones who actually NEED a PTC.

I have written six IEP's and subsequently held six annual IEP meetings. With varying success, but none were disasters. I was very nervous for the first two or three, but have felt more in the swing of it with the last few. I have learned how to write present levels, accommodations and goals...and I've learned what happens if you don't plan ahead for a month in which you have three IEP's due back to back as well as three long weekends.

I have learned which students I love. And how to love the students I really don't love. I have learned that sometimes the student you love the least needs love the most. And I've learned that that is hard. I've learned to ask forgiveness instead of permission (most of the time), and I've learned to lean on my colleagues when I need to. I've learned that I married very well, and that my son can make it through the day (or several) without seeing me and still survive. I have also learned that a healthy dose of humor in a difficult situation can be life-saving.

I don't know if my students have learned a thing from me, frankly, but I have to be given credit for effort. It's a strange thing to be responsible for teaching students with special needs...but not given the information or tools to do it. It's a strange job where you have several AHA moments every day as you discover what you've been doing wrong. It's a strange job when you are given a class that no one has ever taught before in our school, where there is no curriculum, books or guidelines at all, and told to "have fun and be creative." Um, HUH? Can I tell you how much I hate my study skills class? HATE IT! Picture a class bulging at the seams with every single behavior-problem in the school and picture how hard it is to teach when there is no curriculum and I just have to make it up. Oh, yeah, and it's last period too. Give me English any day of the week!

So, that's what has been going on. I have been working myself to death, crying a fair amount, making wonderful bonds with an amazing group of friends, writing papers, doing projects, tutoring, taking tests, writing lesson plans, IEP's, modifying tests and homework, attending PTC's, grading, entering grades, creating tests and writing assignments, all while attempting to take 12 hours of graduate-level work and oh, yes, be a wife and mom.

I still have a 4.0, by the way... :)

Friday, September 3, 2010

A whole new adventure

So...I've started teaching. (sigh) It is SO MUCH HARDER than I thought it would be!!! Monday was my first day and I will admit to you that when I left, I was in tears. By 7pm, I was hysterically sobbing and drafting my resignation. While I haven't exactly gotten past all of that, I am no longer crying and haven't resigned (so far). I have a calendar that counts the days down. I have ONLY 175 more school days until summer vacation. :)

It's terrifying to teach. Especially middle school. Especially middle school special education. Especially when you don't really know how to do it and aren't sure this is what you should be doing. Especially when you aren't sure how to do approximately 75% of the things you are responsible for doing. (sigh)

What makes it even harder is the fact that a lot of my friends in my Master's program are having a ball and really enjoying the whole teaching experience. I don't exactly hate it, but I am willing to admit that I breathe a big sigh of relief at 2:11 when the final bell rings every day. Especially that bell - 6th period is my WORST class by far. Today, my lovely (and 90-yr-old) aide told me that my worst student was "only bad in my class. He doesn't behave like that AT ALL in the rest of his classes." Thanks, Bertha. That means I stink as a teacher and he's taking advantage of the lousy classroom management skills I am presenting. 'preciate the help.

I will tell you that I do like some of my students. I am teaching English, which is basically writing. I have had them doing some quick writing assignments, and I got a great one from a student named Lamar today. I assigned three sentences and he wrote an entire page about how much he wants to do well this year and how it will make his life better if he can do well in school. I really like this kid!! Then, there's poor Rachel, who, at every possible moment discusses the fact that her dad is in jail and how mean it is that kids pick on other kids. And Bryan. Poor Bryan - I sat him right by my desk and he's so mad about it, he could spit nails! Then there's Jackie who is constantly asking if our class is a "special class." (Um, yep.)

Teaching is an interesting adventure. It's an adventure I am not absolutely certain I will make it through. If I think too long about everything I have to find time for (and figure out how to do) in the next 9 months, I may very well lose my mind, so I'm going to just think about the lesson plans I have to file by Tuesday. Oh, wait. I don't know how to do that either. (deep breathing...)

Maybe I'll just have another glass of wine instead.

Thursday, July 22, 2010

Camp,letters, grad school, new friends, summer

Chase has been gone for 11 days (but who's counting, right??) and comes home tomorrow! He has been at camp in Wisconsin with his good friend Brennan. I have been surprised how quiet and still the house seems without him bouncing around. I have spent a fair number of those days locked in the house doing schoolwork, which is a good thing! We have written him several letters and until yesterday, we had not gotten a letter back from him. We were beginning to pile his things up on the curb...

But, yesterday when I got the mail, there was a letter with familiar handwriting on it...could it be? YES! It was a letter from my boy!! I'm not gonna eyes filled up with tears when I saw that sweet chicken scratch the child calls handwriting. He said he's having a great time and told us about some of his activities. It was wonderful to hear from him because it's the first time he's been gone with NO contact at all. I guess the camp would call if he'd been mauled by a bear or drowned by an alligator, but it's good to know that at least at the time he wrote the letter, he was alive, well, and having fun. I miss that kid, and can't wait to see him tomorrow!!

Grad school is going well; three classes, three A's so far and I'm headed for A's in the two classes I'm taking now, so I'm feeling good about that. And the big news - I got a JOB for the fall! I'll be teaching middle school English Resource! I am just excited enough about that to keep from feeling totally terrified, overwhelmed and underqualified! It's been fun - there are 40 of us in our class and slowly but surely we are all getting jobs. Grad school itself has been interesting - and spending that much time with the same group of people has resulted in some new friendships which has been fun.

So far, the summer has been hot hot hot (115+ for the past week) and action-packed. I have managed to keep my head above water in school while still doing some fun things with Chase. We have not used the neighborhood pool nearly as much this year as in past years, but I think we may head there this weekend when Chase is home. Divine hubby and I checked out Cedar City, Utah last weekend and really liked what we saw. We are enjoying life in Vegas, but we don't plan to live here forever. We really like a cooler climate where we can have GRASS in our front yard instead of rocks. :) Just a place where it rains occasionally and things grow. Ya know what I mean? So, we are considering retirement in Utah or Northern Nevada up around Lake Tahoe. It's been fun exploring different towns, driving through neighborhoods and dreaming of living in a home with a mountain view (oh, and did I mention grass? My retirement home is gonna have grass, baby!).

You are now caught up on my life - it doesn't take long when life revolves around the 6 hours I spend in class three days a week and all of the work it takes to be prepared for those 18 weekly hours every day! But, I have two days off and Chase is gone until Friday evening, so I'm going to go get caught up on the work that's due next week. :)

Sunday, June 6, 2010

Update on Rusty

Rusty had a rough night, as I blogged about yesterday, but is now back to his usual crazy self. I was planning to take him to the vet tomorrow, but he seems to be full of spit and vinegar again.

I had several people facebook/email/text/call me about Rusty, so thought I'd update ya. He's still terrorizing the neighborhood children and all is right with the world... :)

Saturday, June 5, 2010

Up with my sick kiddo

Yes, I'm up with a sick kid. No, Chase is happily slumbering, and no, Megan did not come to visit and then contract H1N1. It's my furry kid, Rusty.

We adopted our middle child on December 20, 1996. He was about a year old then (the pound estimate). Nobody really knows his lineage, but he is clearly part Corgi, and a vet once told me he thought part Dachshund. Whatever he is, he has been a part of our family for almost 14 years now. He has always been "my" dog and has protected me, often when I didn't actually need protecting...He LOVES to go on walks. Even now, when he can't really keep up and the walks have gotten shorter, he gets very excited when he sees me put on my shoes. He can't make it too far, but always looks disappointed when we get home. I always let him off the leash when we get to the driveway and he runs happily into the house to "do the loop." Last week, I let him off the leash, and he took off running down the street. Thankfully, he's getting slower, so I finally caught up with him, but it was a funny decision on his part for a little freedom!

He has been sick only a handful of times during his life, and I only took him to the vet once to get medicine - he has always been a very healthy and happy dog.

In the past five years, he has gotten a little grouchy...

He started biting children - not my favorite of his character traits. Thankfully that behavior started AFTER he had most of his teeth extracted, so no real damage was ever done.

Now he bites most people if they try and pick him up, but otherwise, he's mellowed with age.

He's deaf, and I think he's going blind as well.

Over the past two years, he has developed a weird habit - he licks the floor. I don't mean just the kitchen where, he might actually find a crumb or two; he licks all floors. Carpet is his favorite. The sound of him licking the carpet nearly drives me insane, but I have gotten good at sleeping with a pillow over my head.

So, tonight I woke up from my nightly night-terror around 11:30pm, and then heard Rusty gagging loudly. It's now 1:30am and he is showing signs of calming down. For the past two hours, he has been frantically wandering around, panting, licking everything, and when he has his head up, he is licking the air and his muzzle. He stops only to gulp water, then gag some more. I have been sitting near him, petting him and trying to get him to calm down.

As I type, he is finally settled down and has snuggled into his bed and appears to be asleep.

My fear is that he is really sick and that he may be dying. My biggest fear is that when I take him to the vet in the morning, he won't come home with me. Rusty has been a part of our family longer than some family members have!! I won't know what to do if I have to have him put to sleep.

So, I am blogging, while listening to my old friend's labored breathing and hoping he'll get some rest tonight. I don't think I will.

Wednesday, May 5, 2010

Spring in Vegas

We have gorgeous roses blooming in our backyard! This is what I see every day when I look outside. Spring is a wonderful time to live in the desert!!

Child rearing is NOT for the faint at heart!

I got up at 3:00am this morning. Why, you ask? Well, my adorable, brilliant and amazing 6th grade son was due at school by 4:30 to catch a bus bound for California. His school has an "outdoor school" for the 6th graders, and usually they go to Catalina Island. However, apparently the ferry ride to Catalina has historically produced more than their fair share of sea-sickness, so this year they are bound for an outdoor camp called Pali Institute. Look it up - it's a cool place!

Anyway, Chase, all of his teachers and most of his classmates left on four gigantic busses this morning at 5am. Parents are NOT allowed to come, and I was surprised to see many parents in actual tears as the busses pulled away from the school.

One of the things I have discovered that is different about Las Vegas is that most parents simply do not allow their children to spend the night away from home. Period. Even if the inviting child is from a family VERY close to yours, it is just not done.

I think that's weird.

Chase had his first sleepover at the ripe old age of about 2, I think. He has never ever EVER called and wanted to come home in the middle of the night from a friend's house. He has spent many a night at a friend's house and every summer since he was nine, he has gone to see my parents on the East Coast for a week. Flying by himself. Last summer, he went to Space Camp in Huntsville, Alabama for a week. This summer, he is not only going to see his grandparents for a week, he is going to camp in WISCONSIN for two weeks with his good friend from Texas.

Since we moved here and I realized that sleepovers are simply not done...I have wondered about that.

And here is my theory on the subject. It is worth exactly what you paid for it. :)

I think there are two camps in child rearing.

Camp 1: My child may get hurt someday, and I plan to prevent that at all costs. Therefore, I will make sure he or she doesn't leave home much, and will keep him or her with me as much as possible so I can be in complete control of who he or she is exposed to and what he or she does.

Camp 2: My child WILL get hurt someday, and I plan to make sure he or she knows how to handle it when it happens. Therefore, I will raise him or her to handle disappointments (not avoid them) and learn from his or her mistakes. I will teach him how to protect himself and who to talk to or where to go and get help if he can't.

Camp 1: My child may feel disappointed and/or fail during his life. I plan to call any and all coaches to make sure my child is on the team he wants to be on. If my child doesn't get into a class I think he should be in, I will write formal complaints and berate any and all teachers until they see it my way. I will make sure my child's life is perfect in all ways, and I will make life difficult for anyone who gets in the way of that goal.

Camp 2: My child WILL feel disappointed AND fail during his life. I plan to prepare him for such eventualities as best I can, and while I will always stick up for my child, I will expect him to self-advocate. If he doesn't make a team, I will expect him to go talk to the coach and find out if there is something he could do next year to increase his chances. If my child believes he should have a higher grade on a test, I will expect him to talk to the teacher and see if the grade can be raised.

Camp 1: It is my God-given duty to raise my child to be safe at all times regardless of how much that process hurts my child.

Camp 2: It is my God-given duty to raise my child to be independent and learn to live without me, regardless of how much that process hurts me.

In case you wondered, Divine Hubby and I are in camp 2... :)

I am sorry if I stepped on any toes out there, but honestly, there is a generation of kids who in part due to the fact that they can't spend the night at a friend's house at age 12, are learning that the world is a scary place and they had better just stay home to be SAFE. I believe that God gave me this precious child, not to cling to for dear life, but to love, teach, nurture and then set free to be an independent adult who can handle life because he HAS handled life all along. I mean, if the world is SUCH a scary place that you can't spend the night with a trusted family friend, then why would I want to be out in it...EVER? I know people who cry at the thought of their child going off to college. I know I will be sad and miss him when he goes, but I hope at that point to be proud of and confident in the young man he has grown into and look forward to the employee, husband and father he will become. I do not want my son (no matter how much I adore him) to live with me when he's 30.

SO. While I will admit to missing my son this morning, I know he is in good hands, and I know he can handle being away from home. This is part of an independent life - spending time away from home. I will NOT lie awake tonight wondering if he is sad and missing me, because I know he isn't. He is having a blast and will enjoy seeing me again on Friday. I can't wait to hear his stories, but he and I both know he can handle his life without me these next three days. That statement might make some parents sad, but it makes me proud. I love my independent kid!!!

Sunday, April 25, 2010

Alone isn't always lonely

I have had tickets for the Women of Faith conference here in Vegas for nearly six months. It's one of my very favorite weekends and I have attended probably 10 of the conferences in various cities in the past 12-13 years or so. Dallas, Houston, San Antonio, Denver and now Las Vegas. It's really a highlight for me and something I look forward to for months. I usually go with a big group of friends, and have led the group several times (with varying success...).

This year, I was going with a group, then I wasn't going at all. Then I was going with a friend. Then she was suddenly not able to go, so I was searching for a friend to go with me. Then the extra ticket was given to someone else, then I decided not to go. Then I got the ticket back and I still wasn't going to go. Then I finally decided that I WAS GOING, DARNIT, even if I had to go by myself.

Guess what?

I went by myself. (I did get a friend to go on Friday night, but she wasn't able to attend on Saturday, so on Friday, I was not alone...)

On Saturday, I had four seats around me that were unoccupied the whole weekend. Why four? I don't know, but it's true. So, it was me,two chairs to my left, two chairs to my right and 5,000 of my closest friends all enjoying the conference.

When I first realized that on Saturday, I was going to be alone in a giant group of girlfriends, I felt a little sorry for myself. (That's why I decided TWICE that I wasn't going.) Then I decided to make the best of it. So, I chucked myself under the chin and said:

"Self? Look on the bright side. If you want to go shopping instead of listen to a speaker, you CAN. If you want to eat both box lunches because you have two tickets, you CAN. If you want to dance in your five empty-seat suite, you CAN. Read the book you are enjoying during lunch. Don't worry what others are thinking...realize that they are NOT looking at you!!"

So, I took myself and we went to the conference together. Me and my self. And we had fun. We talked to other women around us, we ate both rice krispie treats in the lunch (we both love rice krispie treats) and we had TWO bottles of water instead of just one. We ate ridiculously-expensive chocolate-covered almonds, and we (shhhh) didn't share. We read the book that we are both loving, we danced and sang outloud with Natalie Grant and Mandisa. And we didn't care if we were embarassing, because we were not embarassed.

It was kind of hard, and during the hour-long lunchbreak when I watched everyone chatting and laughing with their girlfriends, I will admit to feeling a teensy eensy bit sorry for myself. But, when all was said and done, it was as good a conference as I've gone to. And I have learned just a little bit better how to be comfortable in my own skin.

I'm already planning next year, and I am going to organize a group of fun Christian women to go with me, but this year's conference was a good one, and I think it was good for me to just sit and listen to the speakers and not feel the need to comment or worry if the person next to me is enjoying the conference (or eating my chocolate-covered almonds...).

Monday, April 5, 2010


As most of you know, Chase takes karate lessons. You may NOT know that he is a purple belt (next is brown, then black), so he is an advanced student. That is impressive, but it really means he gets to be in the teenaged class where there are a LOT of 16-18-yr-old black belts and he gets beaten up a lot. It's not nearly as much fun as it used to be, according to Chase. There are two big karate tournaments here in Vegas every year. They are both on Easter weekend every year. The Jr. Olympics are on Friday and then the US Open is on Sat and Sun. Because we are Christians, Chase has only participated in the Friday tournament, which, frankly, is fine with him. Last year, he got gold in kumite (fighting) and bronze in kata (a choreographed simulated fight). This year, he moved up a division...and he still got bronze in kata but got fourth in kumite. He was fairly disappointed, because with his long arms and long legs, his strength is really in kumite, not kata. Regardless, we were very proud of our boy. 30+ countries were represented in the tournament this weekend, and it's a real achievement to get third and fourth in your age bracket!

But now, he has decided he wants to take a break from karate. It was an agonizing decision for him, and for us to let him make. He has gone to karate three (and during tournament season, four) times a week for nearly two years. He has gone from white, to red, to yellow, to orange, to green to blue stripe to blue to purple belt. He has learned a lot of katas, a lot about fighting and about discipline and he has made some good friends. But, over the past few months, I have seen his interest wane. Once he graduated into the older and more advanced class, he just didn't like getting his teeth knocked out EVERY week, three times a week, by the older kids. And I totally understand that, but it's hard to see him stop (I can't say quit because my kid is not a quitter) so close to a black belt. I really hope he will take it back up again because his Sensai is amazing and these classes have been so good for him. But, one of the benefits of growing up is you get to decide what activities you participate in and which ones you would just rather not. Chase is a great kid, and he has put his all into karate. It's time for him to branch out a little more and put his all into something else for awhile. It's going to be weird not to head to karate every Monday, Wednesday and Friday nights at 7, though. And I'm going to miss the friends I have made sitting in that room for 90 minutes three times a week. So maybe I should take up karate, right? Yeah, fat chance. I have seen what they do to my kid - I ain't lettin those teenagers beat me up!!

So, it's the end of an era. But, Chase won't be sitting at home twiddling his thumbs now that he's done with karate. He is on his school soccer team and they practice nearly every afternoon, unless they have a game. It's a quick season (5 weeks, 8 games), but it's a LOT of practice. And he is really looking forward to playing tackle (gulp) football at school in the Fall. And this summer, he is going to volunteer at VBS at our church for a week in early June, go camping in Utah with Divine Hubby and some good Colorado friends in late June, then head to Wisconsin for a two-week camp in mid-July, followed by his annual week-long trip to see my parents on the East Coast in early August. So, I'm not sure he will miss karate much until, oh, say, Christmas. He's always been a man on the move.

Like I always say...if you name your kid an action verb, you get what you deserve. I sure love my little action verb. Wouldn't have him any other way!

Sunday, March 7, 2010

And this is the one where my mom disowns me...

It's time. To test the maternal relationship in the STQ family.

Chase has a very interesting project in his Math class. It is all about consumer math, and has five parts. We started part one today (and no, it's not due tomorrow. Sheesh - have a little faith, people!). Part one is to go on a "big shop" with your parents and write down all of the prices, then round the prices to the nearest dollar and when totalled, see how far that total is from the actual total. It was very interesting and I discovered a few things:

1. When you are actually LOOKING at the prices before putting things in your cart, you notice just how stinkin expensive the yummy stuff is.
2. You often put the yummy stuff back when you realize just how spendy it is (notice I said OFTEN).
3. You remember the prices when the checker rings you up.

So, as the checker is ringing my groceries up, I notice a few items are not the same price I remembered and that Chase wrote down. Like by a long shot in some cases. I was already causing eye-rolling and heavy sighing from the people behind me with my coupon issues (fodder for another blog), so I decided NOT to argue the $1.22 for tortillas that were clearly marked $1.00 or the $1.81/lb for red onions that were clearly marked $.88/lb. No, I didn't cause a problem, and no, I didn't let my ice cream melt while I complained. I came back later. With my highlighted receipt in hand. And yes, I went to the shelves to double-check and yes, I was right on all of them. So, I marched up to the customer service desk and explained my issue. He refunded me my $4.55 in cash and then just looked at me.

Me: So, is that it? Did you fix the prices?
Him: Um, I gave you your refund.
Me: Yes, but what about the fact that the prices are wrong in the computer?
Him: Oh, I can't fix that.
Me: Well, that doesn't really help anything, now does it? You give me my $4.55 back but what about all of the other people who are buying tortillas, red onions, Downy and Pillsbury cinnamon rolls? What about them?
Him: Sorry, what?

So, I left. As I walked out of the store, I stopped for a second (only two people ran into me with their carts as I stood there, and I'm fine, thanks). I realized that I should talk to the manager. But, I didn't want to talk to the manager. I was annoyed. So, in my infinite wisdom, I decided to write a letter and give them a week to fix the prices before I come buy onions, tortillas, Downy and cinnamon rolls again.

I know, I know, you are wondering WHY, STQ, WHY would your dear sainted Mommi disown you for this post? Cause after I left Wal-Mart, I was feeling a bit smug and like a rabble-rouser. So, I went to Smith's (the local name for Kroger around here) and spent an hour comparing the Wal-Mart prices to the Smith's prices. I was absolutely floored. I know Wal-Mart is not beloved, is often reviled, and even considered the root of many problems facing America today. But, it saved me $53.00 today. FIFTY-THREE DOLLARS in ONE SINGLE TRIP! That, my friends, is some serious savings.

So, Mom, I hope you will still love me and claim me in the morning. Cause I gotta say, I'm a Wal-Mart shopper. Except for produce, cause WM produce is just all kinds of nasty. And meat. Yucky. Maybe with my WM savings, I can afford to shop at Whole Foods for the rest! :)

Saturday, March 6, 2010

Maybe I've been out of the South too long but...

...I have discovered that it's possible to be too nice. Yep, I said it. Too. Freakin. Nice. I went to Bank of America the other day to pay our rent because although WE bank at Wells Fargo, our landlord banks at B of A. And B of A apparently has decided that the drivethrough is just not acceptable anymore, so they don't have one. Can you imagine? But, I digress...

So, I waltz in, Wells Fargo check and B of A deposit slip in hand. A Smiling Blonde Woman (SBW) approaches me with a gigantic smile worthy of a Miss America crown.

SBW: Hi, welcome to Bank of America! And what can we do for you today??
Me: Um, I need to make a deposit.
SBW: Oh, is it into your B of A account?
Me: Um, no. I don't bank with B of A, it's my rent.
SBW: Oh. Well, have you thought of banking with us? You could transfe-er it onli-ine (her singsong voice dragging out every possible sylla-ble) .
Me: Nope.
SBW: (No longer smiling, but still blonde) Ok, go see the tellers.
Me: (head bowed slightly in shame) K.

Stand, stand, stand.
(Enter New Smiling Blonde Woman (NSBW) approaching me with a clipboard clutched to her breast)

NSBW: Hello-o, and what can we do for you today?
Me: Um, I need to make a deposit.
NSBW: OH, is it into your B of A account?
Me: Um, I've already been through this once over there (gesturing to SBW who is accosting another victim, I mean greeting another customer) and she passed me through to the tellers.
NSBW: But, don't you HAVE a Bank of America perfect wonderful amazing checking account?
Me: No.
NSBW: Oh. (She is not quite sure what to do with this information)

It's my turn, finally!!! The Teller turns a 100-watt smile on me and says
T: Well, good MORning, and welcome to Bank of AMERica! How can I HELP you?
Me (thinking): For all that is good and holy, please deposit this check so I can get out of this place!!!
Me (saying): (nothing, just pushing the paperwork across the counter)
T: Well, have just the VERY BEST day, Mrs. Wood and PLEASE let us know if we can EVER earn your business here at BANK of AMERica!

I run out as fast as humanly possible.

I know it's good business to be helpful and friendly, but as a SOUTHERNER, for heaven's sake...I beg of you. Stop. Being. So. Nice. To. Me. I may make a sign for my next visit.

Can't they just have one little bitty drivethrough??? :(

Thursday, February 25, 2010


So, just when ya think you've got your life all figured out and things are swimming along smoothly, BAM! Life hits ya right between the eyes, right? Our little STQ family knows that all too well. We have moved, relocated, transferred and just flat out disappeared from a LOT of different zip codes these past five years. Each time, we thought we were all settled, and GAZINGA! here it came. SO, I refuse to use the "s" word here in Vegas (the "s" word in question here is "settled"...sadly, I do occasionally use the REAL "s" word, but I digress...). It's funny, we love our little house and our neighborhood is wonderful and full of nice kids, but it's been almost a year in this house, and hubby and I are starting to get that "let's put all of our crap in cardboard boxes, rent a U-Haul and shlep it somewhere" look in our eyes. Not really, but kinda.

We are pretty settled here in Vegas. Not quite settled enough that we are buying a house, but settled enough that we are looking at open houses on the weekends. Sometimes. Except when we decide we are absolutely NOT going to buy a house and that's final. But then, we find one that is nice, in the area and inexpensive...and the whole process starts over again.

There was a house this past week that looked perfect. REALLY close to school, in our price range, nice neighborhood, one-story, pool... :) but it would have required an offer, oh, say, within two hours of our having seen it.


Divine hubby and I (ok, more him than me, but there's no surprise there!!!) wisely decided that it's not a good idea to rush into spending a gazillion dollars for something if it's not perfect and we don't have the time to really think, ponder, mull and otherwise study it to death. So, we passed. And I'm glad, except when I'm not. Ya know?

Anyway, the question is...ARE we buying a house? Um, not today. Maybe tomorrow? But definitely not today. Unless I see an open house sign on the way to school in a bit... :)

Thursday, February 11, 2010

Grad school and the dog

We have a 14-yr-old Corgi-daschund mix (read: mutt) named Rusty. We got him from the pound in Austin on December 20, 1996. He is our little red-headed dynamo! As a matter of fact, unless you look at his teeth (or lack thereof), you would never believe he's a day over 5 or 6. He has been a great dog, and we have enjoyed him over the years. He loves many things in life, but several specific things rise to the top:

1. His dog door (ok, we love that too. 14-yr-old bladders don't hold as much as they once did..)
2. His morning treat
3. Popcorn, cheese and any kind of meat that might drop from the table
4. His daily walk

Well, since I've been in grad school in the evenings and Divine Hubby is busier with Chase's activities, homework, etc., poor old Rusty isn't getting his daily constitutional every day. It's more like his bi-weekly constitutional these days. Consequently, he lays around in my view with a stricken look on his little graying face. It's pathetic.
We already get up at 5:15am every day...I should probably get up at 4:30 and take the mutt for a walk, right? It would be good for this graying girl as well as her pooch. I have great intentions, and I set the alarm and everything but alas. My body simply resists the urge to see the light of day before 5:15! Maybe tomorrow. Hope springs eternal, Rusty!!! :)

Friday, February 5, 2010

Conflict and resolution

Ok, I'm taking a poll. Who out there just LOVES conflict? Raise your hands.


No one?

Oh, well there's you, but...


Divine Hubby and I have decided to declare our house a conflict-free zone. We hope the children will join us in this new peace treaty, but find it doubtful.

I also think I'll have to wait until after Smackdown is over before all conflict will cease in the STQ's pretty contentious and my boys just LOVE to fight during the show!

My parents are wondering "Who hijacked my STQ's blog and wrote such silly statements??"

When I was but a svelte young thing, I would argue the paint off the wall. I argued from my 13th birthday until the day I left for college (and if memory serves, I might have shouted a few arguments out the window as I drove out of town...). As a teenager, I loved nothing better than a good old-fashioned shouting match with my Dad in the kitchen.

Good times. :)

As an adult, I have grown to truly despise contention, arguing, strife and conflict in general. I'd like to say it's because I have become such a deep Christian and now represent the words of the Beatitudes (blessed are the peacemakers, for they shall be called Children of God), but really it's cause it makes my stomach hurt, makes me cry and then my eyes swell up and I look like crap for 24 hours or so. I know, I'm deep. It's a gift.

Anyway, I have banished all conflict from my life. I'm moving to Tibet and going to live on a mountain with the goats and meditate on my navel for the rest of my natural life.

Except it's probably hot in Tibet. And cold. And is there humidity? I am NOT going to live there if there's humidity. Ooh, and are there bugs? Eeeewwww. Otherwise? I'm SO there.

Sunday, January 24, 2010

Hangin out in Phoenix

Divine Hubby and I have a divine daughter who attends Arizona State University in Tempe, AZ. She is gorgeous, brilliant and in all ways, divine. (Ok, maybe not ALL ways, but she's 19...) She has a condo in Phoenix. Her condo is lovely, safe and was an amazing buy for our little family.

The water heater leaks.


SO, she called the warranty company and said "come fix it!"

They came.

Apparently the water heater has been leaking since the Eisenhower administration, which is roughly when it was installed. Thankfully, she lives in Phoenix which has a humidity level of around -5. So, no mold, but the water heater is WAY past its prime. The insurance dudes who came to rob her blind, I mean install her new water heater, had all kinds of excuses and decided that unless we paid $1300, they couldn't install her water heater.

We are now in Phoenix installing her water heater and will probably only charge her $1100 to do it. Aren't we a peach??

As usual, things just didn't go as's no standard installation job and we've run into more than our fair share of snags. BUT, it looks like things may have turned a positive corner this morning and we're feeling hopeful that we can leave sometime before midnight tonight... which is good because we all have work/school tomorrow!

It's been a work weekend but we've had a little fun too. Funny, I remember my dad doing these things for me when I became an adult and YESICANDOITALLBYMYSELFBUTPLEASECOMEHELPDAD!! Dads are great for helping with things like water shower heads...volt meters...and all things relating to the IRS. :)

Wednesday, January 6, 2010

Bring it on, 2010.

A LOT has happened in the STQ household lately and I find myself feeling like blogging. Rare these days, I know - my mom frequently reminds me. :)

We had a giant group of STQ family members from all over the US congregate here in Sin City for New Years. My parents from SC, my brother, his wife and the fabulous Haven (aged 2) from another town in SC, my aunt and uncle from TX, their 2 grown (and fabulous) daughters from Seattle, my aunt from CA and my (equally-fabulous) step-daughter from AZ all flew in to join me, Divine Hubby and the (oh-so-fabulous) Chase for four wonderful days of food, games, movies, laughter and fun. I did force my will a bit and we had a phabulous phamily photo perphormed (sorry, had to continue it).

Are we a gorgeous family or what? And what were the odds we would all wear red shirts on the same day??? We did look a little funny walking through the mall to the photo place - one person stopped us and asked what store we worked in. Extra credit points if you noticed Ziggy in the picture at first glance... :)

It was a wonderful visit with everyone. Miss Haven stayed with us (of course) while her parents enjoyed a little quiet hotel-room time at the La Quinta down the street. LOVE having a 2-yr-old around at Christmas time!

But, alas, all good things must come to an end and everyone got on their respective airplanes and left Lost Wages. After purging the house of chocolate (ok, so I ate some too...), we have returned to what passes for normal around here. School has started again for everyone except Megan (college student, don'tcha know). Chase has waxed VERY eloquently (and often) about how unfair it is that she gets two more weeks off. Life's unfair, my sweet boy. Time ya learned it! :) I'm such a sympathetic mom...

One of the biggest news flashes is that I am starting a Masters in Education program at UNLV this semester. Since I am (ahem) 41, and it has been (ahem) 20 years since I wrote a paper, took a test, pulled an all-nighter, etc. I am more than a smidge worried about the whole graduate-school experience. Luckily, I won't have to wait and worry too long...classes start next Tuesday. Eeeeek! I actually am looking forward to the whole experience - while subbing has been a very mixed-bag for me, I have learned that I enjoy teaching special-ed and it seems to enjoy me as well. I have also learned that I feel very passionate about low-income special-ed children in particular. They have everything stacked against them in life and I think it really takes an adult advocate to make sure those kiddos get what they need to succeed. So, in the Summer of 2011 (wow that's a long time) I will take my next deep breath and be a teacher. It's a fast-track program developed through the school system and UNLV and it's going to be a whirlwind, I fear. My next blog entry may begin with the words, "So now I have my what?"

Thinking about all of that has made me feel many things.

Nervous - CAN I do it? WILL I do it? Will my family survive while I'm gone and/or totally distracted and overworked for 18 months? Will I notice if they DON'T survive?

Pride - yay, I made it into grad school!

Overwhelmed - Fast-track sounds like a euphamism for "lots and lots of work in a little bit of time."

Excited - You mean I get a career too???

I'm reading a book that I am going to recommend to everyone, regardless of their stage of life or age of their children. It's called Do Hard Things: A Teenage Rebellion Against Low Expectations by twin teenaged boys named Alex & Brett Harris. It's about the sad fact that no one expects ANYTHING but mediocrity from teenagers. They sleep until noon, they sneak out of the house, they experiment with drugs and alcohol, they don't turn in projects or homework just cause they don't want to, they don't listen, they are rude and lazy and they rebel. Basically, between the ages of 13-19 kids are absolutely worthless and we should just consider that time of life is wasted time. Then when they turn 20, they magically are supposed to become productive members of society and be amazing achievers. This book is about being different. It's about what can be achieved by teenagers if the expectation is there. It's about two incredible young men who were nobody special but have done really HARD THINGS and made a difference in the world! I am (ahem) 41 and these kids are really teaching me something about working hard! I am getting my inspiration from them to do this hard thing I am embarking on, while encouraging Chase to read the book with me. I think you should read it too. I would love to hear what you think if you do read it!

So, it's been a busy few weeks for us. And it's only going to get worse, I fear. I will try to keep you guys informed of my grad school progress, but I fear it will be spotty at best. We at the STQ ranch wish all of you a happy and blessed 2010 and can't wait to see what this new year will bring!