Saturday, September 30, 2006

I have been VIOLATED

Someone broke into my car last night. They didn't actually take anything, for which I'm very, very grateful, but they pilfered through my stuff, which makes me very, very mad.

I went out this morning to leave for work and my rear passenger door was open a few inches, which I found odd since Jacelyn had not been in the car since that morning. That door is funny - hard to close, doesn't lock all the way with the rest of the doors, which is why I dismissed it so easily at first - maybe I had opened it last night, it didn't close properly, and I didn't notice. So I open the front passenger door to sit my purse down, and lo and behold, everything is open. The glove box, the center console, even the ash tray. Both visors are down.

At this point I realize that someone has been in the car, and start to panic, because sitting in the front seat, thankfully still where I left it the night before, is my black bag. My black bag contains my life. There's all my church stuff -my bible and my RCIA books, some folders about Jacelyn's school, my organizer (with an envelope inside containing Jacelyn's social security card, birth certificate, and other important information), and a file of important paperwork from school, including a copy of the auto-draft form for tuition payments that has my name, address, social security number, drivers license number AND the routing and account number of my checking account. All of that was still there. I almost cried, I was so relieved.

Something funny: in order to open the ash tray, car-pilferer had to take two almost empty sodas out of my cupholder. Pilferer did so, but in a very nice way - he/she sat one soda on the driver floorboard, and the other in the center console. Nothing spilled, so it was a thoughtful pilferer, I suppose, something else to be grateful for.

Everything seems to be still there, including all my CD's, as far as I can tell. I have CD's shoved everywhere (there's probably 30 CDs in the car, easily) - the glove box is FULL of them, the little panels in the doors are full of them, they are piled on the passenger seat floorboard, and fill the CD wallet that attatches to my visor. All seemingly still there, although I haven't taken a thorough inventory yet. I was relieved, and then confused. Are my musical tastes so poor that whomever rifled through my belongings couldn't even find one thing they liked? My musical tastes do run the gamut, from classical to mariachi to jazz, big band and swing to some rap, some pop, some harder rock type stuff, some alternative type music, and some 'adult contemporary rock', whatever that means.

So I am very, very thankful that nothing was missing, but I am very, very confused about WHY someone did this. What was the point? I mean, I'm eternally grateful that nothing was stolen, don't get me wrong. But what was this person or persons looking for? I suppose I'll never know. But it made me SO MAD. I have no privacy in my life as it is, and my car is the only space I have that is MINE. There are other people in it from time to time, but that is MY SPACE. And someone, some stranger, invaded MY SPACE. Moved my stuff around. God help this person should I ever find out who it is. I didn't call the police - nothing was missing, why waste time? I'll just be more careful about that back door from now on.

And, probably as some ne'er-do-well was sifting through my personal belonging in my car, I was dealing with a very fussy, sick daughter. A little fever, and a congested nose. She woke up at 1am and didn't fall back asleep until close to 3:30. So I'm exhausted, and righteously indignant. Sigh. What a way to start off the weekend.

Friday, September 29, 2006

New Blog

In order to avoid boring and/or possibly offending anyone, I have started a second blog. I know I can count among my friends at least one or two agnostics and pagans. I don't want to bog you down in my faith-based prattling. For anyone interested, the second blog in entitled Pray To Who and can be found here. Teresa, especially, I might need you. No, I really need you. So check in, occasionally.

Thursday, September 28, 2006

Family Pictures

Teresa put up some pictures of our family - Dad, Jen, herself and myself, doing very typical 'our family' things - check it out here. And also some good pictures of Cam and Jacelyn - look at those here. Ah, family.

Monday, September 25, 2006

Tiny Bubbles and Breaking Boards

There are tiny bubbles in my radiator, apparently signaling the imminent demise of my head gasket. Brian thinks the answer is not repair, but the purchasing of another car. For me. Because he can't afford a car payment right now. Hello, like I can? But I digress. He has found some lower priced, high mileage cars that he thinks I might like. My school of thought: better the evil that you know. We know my Camry. I know its' noises, its' smells, I can notice even the slightest decline in tire air pressure (although I don't always do anything about it right away), alignment, etc. I'm actually feeling very stressed about the idea of taking on a monthly car payment. I'll know more Friday when Brian returns to town.

Jacelyn is doing well. Still loves school, still love girl scouts. She received her magenta petal patch last night, which stands for "Respect Authority". Five minutes later, walking out to the parking lot, she flagrantly flouted said authority by running away from me (while I kept repeating, "Jacelyn, stop running and wait" over and over), down the sidewalk and almost into traffic on 57th, resulting in a lecture from mommy in the car and going to bed a half hour early.

She has karate this afternoon, which she still loves with a burning passion. Jack thinks she is only a couple more weeks away from her yellow belt. I read something online about Jack and his training, about how he basically sells belts on a monthly basis - if you participate in class for a month and pay your fees, you move to the next belt on a monthly basis. This bothered me slightly until I considered what dear Mr. Clark always has to point out to me: she's 4. It's really not that big of a deal. If she does decide, at some point way down the line, that she wants to continue on with karate, or maybe move to taekwondo or whatever, she might have a big fish little pond moment, but that will just inspire her to work harder. I don't really like the idea of her not really earning the higher level belt, but, again, she's 4. Not that big of a deal.

The older kids in her karate class have been breaking boards the last week or so, and Jacelyn is chomping at the bit to do the same. Jack, who calls Jacelyn "sister", keeps telling her to wait, that he will get some smaller boards for her and the other smaller kids. She insists that she does not need the small board, that she can break a big one, but he has managed to persaude her to wait. I have not been able to go to one of her classes since the one that we watched, so I'm looking forward to going with her next week. There's no girl scouts the first Tuesday of each month, so next week I will take her to karate at 6pm instead. Woo-hoo!

There is a place in town that will make an iron-on transfer of your last name along with the name of your karate school to put on the back of your uniform. Jacelyn wants her name on her uniform really badly, but the cost is, I'm sure, outrageous. I told her that's something she can ask one for from of her many doting relatives (auntie, Uncle Joe, paw-paw). She also knows that she will not survive to live another day unless she obtains the Daisy Girl Scout uniform in its' entirety - she has the smock, but she wants the shorts and the t-shirt. Together they will cost about $25, and then soon enough I'll have to buy pants. She's about to need some warmer school uniform stuff - some pants for non-PE days and sweatpants for PE. She has a sweatshirt, but no pants. I need to get her some tights to wear under her jumper. Just the apparel costs for her schooling and activities are breaking me, not even to speak of the cost of the schooling and activities themselves. But it's all worth it, it's all worth it.

Need to do some work and drink some coffee. Later!

Wednesday, September 20, 2006

The Dirty Politics of the PTA

I'm exhausted. I spent my day off yesterday running around, constantly. Picking up groceries for the house, dropping off and picking up the kid, cooking, cleaning. And I went to my first room parent meeting. I was unsure exactly what a 'room parent' was, and I'm still not positive. There are three room parents for every grade, and the school teaches grades K4 through 8th, so there were quite a few parents there. All mothers, interestingly enough.

I was nervous, but Sister Patricia, the principal, was supposed to lead the meeting and was late, so there was time for conversation. I met some very nice people, very good-natured, very funny. I am an assistant room parent, much to my relief - I have no desire whatsoever to be in charge. The meeting opened up with a prayer, and then Sister laid down the law about class parties and school parties - when, why, what you can bring, etc.. They require healthy foods for their 'wellness curriculum', or else they lose their federal funding. I was intrigued that a private catholic school receives federal funding, but since my daughter attends said school I am grateful.

There was much made over some changes instituted by the new parish priest. If your ears burn when people talk about you, this poor man's ears must have been on fire, because there was much talk, and most of it unfavorable. Sister was quite the diplomat, and finally, after a certain point, just starting repeating, "He's the parish priest and this is his church and his school". She acknowledged the changes, and that many of them did, indeed, suck (although I'm certain she didn't actually use the word 'suck'), but said that anytime she encounters a brick wall she tries to paint it pretty.

Sister then left and turned the meeting over to the poor woman in charge of the room parents, a very nice woman who also happens to be Jacelyn's girl scout leader (I got the distinct impression that she prefers four and five year olds to room parents, and who could blame her? The kids behave better and are nicer to each other). She opened a discussion about teacher birthdays that turned into the biggest and most ridiculous hullabaloo I've ever seen. People were raising their voices, and stating the same thing over and over in whiny tones of voice. I was aghast. Over birthdays. The discussion had reached a fevered pitch when the bell rang and the intercom came on and the school secretary started the afternoon prayers. Everyone sort of begrudgingly crossed themselves and bowed their heads. It was a prayer of contrition, and I couldn't help but smile - surely these people would be rational after this. But I was wrong. They picked right up where they left off, complaining about mugs and cupcakes and gifts.

I had to leave to get Jacelyn, so I skipped out, slightly horrified. They are all nice people, don't get me wrong, but that was my first experience with school politics, and it has wounded me, slightly. Nothing was accomplished. It felt like one of those reality shows where there is a team of women and they manage to do nothing because they are constantly arguing amongst themselves. I kept looking around for cameras. It was kind of surreal. So I still don't know what I'm expected to do.

I do know that I want a "'06-'07 St. John's Volunteer" key chain lanyard with my name on it, so I'm going to be on my best and most helpful behaviour. Need some help? Sure! How 'bout one of those lanyards? I would even take one without my name on it. It's funny, what can drive you. I would probably never wear it, and my keys weigh about four pounds so I would certainly never put keys on it, but man, do I want one. Baaaaaad.

Oh, and also, I learned a valuable lesson about first impressions and making assumptions about people. There was a woman whom I first met last week at Jacelyn's girl scout meeting that I took an immediate dislike to. Then, working with her at the meeting and talking to her last night at Girl Scouts, I learned a lot more about her and it turns out she's a nice person with a lot to say and a lot to offer. So, lesson learned.

Now for coffee and work. I'm auditing the files our horrid billing company sent us for 2005 band rentals (see Jen the batch queen's blog), so I need lots of coffee and possibly a valium. Or a good stiff drink. And a valium.

Friday, September 15, 2006

My daughter can kick your a$$

And then she'll pray for you. My little karate queen. She's already testing for her yellow belt. She's not getting it yet, but Jack (the instructor) has been testing her every session and says she's amazingly close. He is testing her by puffing out his cheeks and telling her to do a punch combo on him, a right-left-right hook-uppercut. She's beaned him good a couple of times, made him rub his jaw. She's taking karate seriously, and wants to do well, but she is still enjoying it. And the 6:00 class makes her eat! She ate two whole pieces of pizza last night, crust and all. And then collapsed into bed and fell asleep right away. I love karate.

Last night I wouldn't let her eat until I got a plate and sat down beside her, and then told her we had to pray. She promptly crossed herself, watched me to make sure I did the same, stopped to criticize my crossing technique, we had to start all over, and then rattled off a blessing. It's amazing what she knows that I don't know that she knows. At breakfast there was some contention over whether or not you have to close your eyes when you pray. I thought you did, she swears you don't. I will have to wait for Clark to get to work to find out for certain. I almost made a bet with her on the subject, but betting on prayer and church tradition probably isn't the best example to set.

I'm going to get some coffee and get myself to work. I would like to take a moment to publicly thank Mr. Mike Clark, my knight in shining armor, for making it possible to drive home last night without my engine catching fire or exploding. Mad props, baby, mad props. I'm so uncool. Thank you, Mr. Clark.

Thursday, September 14, 2006

Grade Level Understanding

Jacelyn brought home a progress report yesterday. It was a little chart with a list of 12 or so curriculum points: math, handwriting, etc., and three choices for each: 'working toward understanding', 'grade level understanding', and something else that I can't remember how it was phrased, something about exceeding something or another. Anyway, it was the best choice. Jacelyn got this exceeding mark for all of her subjects EXCEPT.....religion. For religion she received the 'working at grade level' mark.

I was at work when she got out of school, and when Brian and his sister discovered this 'grade level understanding' mark, Brian called me, almost in a panic. "She's only working at grade level in religion!" and "We're going to have to work on this" (which actually means, "I'm going to a car show and then back to Panama City, so you better hop on this since I'm not actually going to help, and I'm not going to offer gratitude or encouragement, I'm just going to expect the best out of both of you and complain when it doesn't go well or the way I wanted it". Yikes, I'm bitter, sorry). I actually felt a little bad myself, until the voice of reason and sanity in the form of dear Michael Clark stepped in. He reminded me that she is only 4. And she is operating at grade level, not dismally below it, or worshipping Satan or anything. And that she is only 4. How much did you know about God and religion at 4? I was soothed. All in still, I do need to put more emphasis on religion around the house. We do go to church every Sunday. But I think we're going to add in prayers before meals, and I'm going to get some books at her age level about bible stories.

I'm not going to fret about this. Honestly, it's Pre-K. It's important as an educational foundation, yes, but it's not like an 'grade-level understanding' mark in Pre-K religion is going to affect her college choices. "I'm sorry, Miss Bernardo, we would love to have you attend Harvard, but you see, you got that pesky 'grade-level understanding' mark in religion back in Pre-K, and that unfortunately makes you ineligible". No, I don't think it's earth shattering.

Jacelyn did well in her first karate class yesterday. She looks adorable in her uniform. She was actually practicing yesterday, of her own volition, no less, and the child has a mean little hook and uppercut. My baby kicks ass. Don't mess with her. And don't mess with me, or else I'll sic her on you.

Wednesday, September 13, 2006

Back in the blogging saddle

What a blur the past two weeks or so has been. Busy busy. Girl scouts, PTA meetings, church, family activities. To briefly recap:

Teresa's visit was enjoyable, but far too short. And I was far too busy the entire time. Our schedules never aligned - she was out of town when I was off or available, I was busy with school and church stuff when she was in town and available. This resulted in me staying up waaaay past my bedtime a few nights in an effort to spend some quality time with her. But, you take what you can get. Teresa and Jacelyn did get to spend some time together. Teresa gave Jacelyn a soft little stuffed doggy that Jacelyn has named "Jacelyn-Mommy" and sleeps with every night.

Church is going well. RCIA classes on Wednesday nights, church services Sunday mornings. We hit the 8:30 mass because Jacelyn is still kind of half asleep and therefore far better behaved. I have a new catholic study bible that my dear sponsor provided me with (thank you!) that I am enjoying. I learned and forgot the 'Hail Mary' all in one night. I had it down, too, and now I can't get past the first line.

Girl Scouts are trooping along (ha!). We are selling nuts now, very expensive canned nuts. If Jacelyn sells 6 items she gets a new patch for her smock, and it's all about the patches, baby. If you've never been in girl scouts you don't know, but it's amazing what an incentive a patch can be. To parents, even. Last night at the parent meeting half the parents weren't interested in the nut sale until they found out there was a patch involved, and then everybody signed on. The girls are working on their magenta petal, so the theme this month is 'Respect Authority'. Here's hoping that sticks. There is a tentative field trip scheduled for sometime in October to visit the Myrtle Grove Fire Station, but that is on a Saturday, and Jacelyn will be visiting the Perdido Key fire station with her class that month, so I'm not going to feel too bad about missing that one, unless, of course, there is a patch involved.

School is going well. I went to my first PTA meeting. The day of the meeting I had a curious experience - when I was dropping Jacelyn off, a teacher I have never met said, "There's our little celebrity now!" as Jacelyn got out of the car. A student took her hand to walk her off and as they closed the car door I heard another teacher say, "Good morning, little miss famous". Wha? Fame as in infamy, maybe? Why does everyone know my child? I found out at the PTA meeting. The third grade class produced a five minute video in which Jacelyn was interviewed. They showed the video at the PTA meeting, and Jacelyn was adorable. You put a camera in front of the child and she turns it on (I don't know where she gets that from, certainly not me). She was being all cute, and her responses to the kids questions were funny. Her favorite food is broccoli. That never ceases to amuse and amaze. Her teachers were both very complimentary. They said she draws very well, with great focus. If told to draw a tree, you know that what she has drawn is a tree. That she is a well behaved, polite child who listens well (Huh? who? my daughter?) and follows directions well and is a pleasure to have in class. And is, of course, very smart. I ate it up. She's doing well there, and I'm really pleased with her and the school.

There was much discussion as to the emphasis placed on critical thinking skills and responsibility, which is cool. And within her class, they are following their planned curriculum but also moving at a pace dictated by the kids. With a small class of bright kids, they are moving faster than anticipated. They are also letting the kids guide some of the curriculum - they introduced days of the week earlier than planned, at the request of the children.

Jacelyn is adding one more activity to her schedule, and then we are done. She is taking up karate. We stopped by to watch a class, which she watched for a good hour, and then the instructor let her try jumping the way the boys in the class were. She was actually pretty good at it. During the course of the class we watched she kept turning to me and saying, "I like this, mommy". After the jumping, she was smitten: "I really, really like this, mommy". So we signed on. She can go to as many classes as she wants to in a week, and there are four classes in her age group per week. I am at work during all the scheduled times, so Brian's family will end up taking her most of the time, but they are very excited about it. Today will be her first class, in uniform and participating, and Brian is in town, so he's going to take her. I think it will be good for the two of them. She's got the little uniform and the white belt. She already has designs on a colored belt: "I want a yellow belt". I told her she had to work hard and do certain things to achieve that, and she said, "Oh, I'll do it". And I think she probably will. She can be a focused little child, when she wants to be. When it's her idea.

Well, I need some coffee and to get some work done, so I'm out. But that's what has been happening. That was long, sorry.