Wednesday, August 29, 2007

School Days

Monday: Kindergarten Orientation

The time has come -- Little Girl is going to school. It isn't as momentous an occasion as it is for some children. After all, she has been in daycare full-time since she was about 9 months old, and she went to preschool last year, as well. But this is REAL school. How can Little Girl possibly be old enough for REAL school already? But she is.

It was decided that Little Girl would be transferred to Grandma's school, and Grandma hand-picked her kindergarten teacher last year. Unfortunately, the chosen teacher retired at the end of the year, leaving a big unknown as to who would end up teaching Little Girl's class.

When the teacher, hereafter known as Mrs. Glory, was selected, Grandma was thrilled to discover it was a kind and experienced teacher she had taught with in the past -- an excellent choice for our Little Girl. The kindergarten aide had already promised Grandma that she would take good care of Little Girl. So everything was set for a great kindergarten year!

At orientation, Mrs. Glory was very impressed to hear about Little Girl's educational Little House trip. Little Girl was happy to discuss any number of things with Mrs. Glory, and was very excited to finally get to go to Grandma's school after hearing about it for so long.

Tuesday: The First Day of Kindergarten

Little Girl had a great first day of kindergarten. She informed Grandma at the end of the day that she was really good because she didn't even have to go to the principal's office! And guess what! The principal is one kid's grandma! :)

Mrs. Glory reported to Grandma that Little Girl did fine her first day, and the aide, hereafter known as Miss Brenda, said she was just the sweetest little thing, and she sat on her lap part of the day.

So it was reassuring to know that Little Girl is loved, and off to a great year!

Little Girl reported that her favorite part of kindergarten is the pizza she had for lunch. :)

Wednesday: The Second Day of Kindergarten

Oops. We got excited too soon. Grandma saw Little Girl at lunch today, and asked her if she's been good. The other kids were quick to notify her that Little Girl had NOT been good, and in fact, she was on purple!!

The children start out with their cards on green. For each offense, their card gets turned to a new color. First offense, yellow. Second, purple. Third, red.

Little Girl informed Grandma that only one more time and her card would be on red. Grandma knew the punishment, but asked anyway what would happen if her card got turned to red. Little Girl's eyes got very big as she solemnly confided, "You got to go to the principal's office!!!"

Fortunately, the scare of the office must have kept Little Girl good the rest of the day, as she was still on purple at day's end. We, however, are shocked that on her second day of school, she has already misbehaved. Her preschool and daycare teachers have always reported that she is well-behaved, is never any trouble, and they barely even notice she's there. My sister wonders if perhaps Little Girl is simply testing out her boundaries, being in a new school and all.

She punished Little Girl by telling her no tv this evening. She wants to nip any problem behaviors in the bud very quickly lest they turn into an ongoing issue. We discussed it, and came up with the plan that Little Girl will be rewarded for greens, will receive neither reward nor punishment for yellows, will have no tv for purple, and we are hoping she will never get a red so we won't have to worry about how to handle that one. Grandma says that the principal is very good at scaring naughty children into good behavior, though, so perhaps one visit to the office is all that will be needed to curb any naughtiness for the rest of the year.

Sigh. In trouble on the second day of school. We never would have thunk it.

Wednesday, August 22, 2007

A Tale of Three Katelets

Once upon a time, there was a Katelet. Katelets are fascinating creatures, and if you don't know one, some explanation will be required so that my story can be fully appreciated. Three primary descriptors come to mind when I think of what makes a Katelet:

1. Katelets are fastidious. They are overly particular about a great number of things. Anything even slightly negative in a Katelet's world must be dealt with -- anything plain or unseemly is decorated, any flaw is repaired if possible and concealed if not, any minor irritation is removed, and Katelets are extremely innovative in the ways in which they accomplish such things. No germ of any kind is permitted within a thousand foot radius of a Katelet or it will be immediately annihilated. No insects of any kind are permitted on any surface of anything that might possibly touch a Katelet, including outdoor furniture, play equipment, or sandboxes, or they will be whisked away if fortunate, or sentenced to death, if not. Any living creature that is not human is highly suspect to a Katelet, and a good many humans are highly suspect as well. One must be particularly cautious when approaching any environment housing a Katelet lest one commit a Kately offense.

2. Katelets are scatterbrained. Never ask a Katelet anything involving geography. Katelets are unaware of obscure facts, like that England is an island, for instance. Don't ask a Katelet anything about math, either, lest you overtax her Kately brain. And even general knowledge is fair game at being beyond the scope of a Katelet's awareness, such as realizing that Xerox makes copiers. Despite these seeming deficits, however, the intelligence of a Katelet is actually far superior to most other people who are not fortunate enough to be a Katelet.

3. Katelets are endearing. This quality is actually all-encompassing, as a Katelet's fastidious and scatterbrained ways are part of what makes a Katelet so endearing.

So keep those traits in mind as you read about my most recent encounter with a Katelet as these characteristics will certainly come into play.

A fourth trait, actually, is that Katelets are cold. Always. But that fact is irrelevant to our story. Which can now begin.

It just so happens that my best friend is a Katelet who lives much further away than any friend should, and the time had come for my annual trek to Katelet Land. It should be mentioned that despite the fact that it is August, this particular Katelet was seen on more than one occasion wearing a sweater. This is better, however, than last year's April visit, in which this Katelet wore a winter coat, despite the 70s temperatures. But as I said, the fact that Katelets are cold is not part of our story.

A week before the big event, our Katelet had a vision. Excuse me, a Vision. It deserves a capital letter. For many years, a bulletin board has hung on the wall behind Katelet's computer, on which were thumbtacked various papers of importance and pictures of her two little Katelets. Well, this Katelet's vision was to have a more sophisticated bulletin board. One covered in fabric and dressed in ribbon. And scrapbooked. Aha... it began to become clear to me just where I fit into this Vision of Katelet's. You see, Katelets do not scrapbook. Prairie Roses do. And so when I made my excursion into Katelet Land, I came armed with scrapbooking supplies, specifically those in the color families of sage green and lavender, the colors which Katelet had decided the Vision must consist of.

Now, the average person could make such a vision become reality without too much difficulty. But Katelets are not average people (nor would we want them to be). Katelets are, lest you have forgotten, fastidious and scatterbrained, yet endearing. And cold. But that's irrelevant.

And so work on the Vision began. And so did a series of unfortunate events that made the Vision much more complex than any Vision ought to be.

Step One: Order pictures. This should have involved a few simple clicks of the mouse, but no... we're dealing with a Katelet here, remember? The pictures were selected, uploaded, and then when ready to order, Katelet discovered that she had no idea what her password was. She attempted to enter everything she could think of, but alas, nothing worked, and there was no option available to have the password sent. A discouraged Katelet left, thinking it impossible to now order her pictures. Fortunately, I was able to find a way to have the password emailed, and later that night, the photos were ordered.

Step Two: Pick out fabric and background papers and pick up pictures. After much deliberation, Katelet decided to select her fabric at the far-away JoAnn's as opposed to the close-to-home JoAnn's, since the far-away JoAnn's was a larger store and was not far from the Walmart where the pictures were to be picked up anyway. So off to JoAnn's we went. Of course, anyone so particular as a Katelet was unable to find exactly the fabric that she saw in her Vision, but she settled for the best she could find, a sage green silk shantung. She had carefully measured her bulletin board, of course, and ordered a couple inches extra just to be safe. The background papers were another matter altogether. It took a great deal of time, involving spreading the fabric out on a table and laying dozens of different papers out across it before our Katelet finally settled on a few that met her high standards, or at least those which came the closest, as nothing truly meets a Katelet's standards except a Katelet itself. And then there was the ribbon! Nothing was good enough there, either, of course, but Katelet finally settled for sage and lavender spools of ribbon.

And then it was off to Walmart to pick up the pictures. Now this Katelet had mentioned that the Walmart was far far away, so I didn't think anything of it when we drove for quite some time. Katelet pointed out roads that relatives lived on, and even drove me through the parking lot of the school where the two little Katelets attend. I began to become a little confused when I started recognizing streets, however, and when at last our Katelet pulled into her very own neighborhood, I could keep silent no longer. "Weren't we going to Walmart?" I questioned. Yes, you guessed it -- our Katelet had left JoAnn's, gone specifically to the area where Walmart was located, driven right past the street and straight on home without stopping. I did warn you that Katelets are scatterbrained, right?

Step 3: Cover the bulletin board with fabric. Our Katelet set right to work on this task. Until this point, she had not decided what to do with the bulletin board frame. She now discovered that she approved of the look of the fabric tucked in beneath the frame, yet still wrapped all the way around it. A border of ribbon could then separate frame from board. The only problem was, she needed about another inch of fabric to be able to accomplish this. Technically, there was enough fabric to just reach. But of course, Katelets are fastidious creatures, and this wasn't good enough, despite my assurances that it looked perfectly fine. So more material must be purchased.

Step 4: Buy more fabric and pick up pictures. Hmm, aren't we right back at Step 2 again? This time, our Katelet decided to go to the near JoAnn's and hope they had the same fabric. They did, and our Katelet had a larger piece cut this time. However, when she attempted to use a Michael's coupon to purchase the fabric, she was informed that those coupons were not good on cut fabric. She said she had printed another JoAnn's coupon (specifically for the purpose of using it on this fabric, and placed carefully by the door so it wouldn't be forgotten) but in typical Kately fashion had left it at home. Those people wouldn't budge. They would hold the fabric for her until she returned with the coupon. A third trip to JoAnn's and the second trip to WalMart finally resulted in the completion of the preliminary steps. Now work on the Vision could begin at last!!

Now keep in mind that the fastidious nature of Katelets has been mentioned. Assisting a Katelet in such a project requires much patience and a sense of humor. I pulled out numerous stamps and stamp pads. "I don't think I want stamps," she commented. I started to crop photos. "NOOOOO, you need more head room!" she gasped with each picture. We rounded the corners of the photos. "I have decided I don't like rounded corners," she said when the task was complete. I demonstrated various artistic positionings of colors and frames and papers and accents. "It's not part of the Vision," she would say each time. "You need to SEE the VISION." Well, it's mighty hard to see a Vision that exists only within a Katelet's head. And yet, after two days of such working conditions, the Vision was complete. It turned out beautifully -- so beautifully, in fact, that the oldest little Katelet decided she wanted the bulletin board in HER room to become a Vision, as well.

I kid you not. Back to JoAnn's for more fabric, more ribbon, more accents, more scrapbooking papers in some wild colors, to match the preteen interests of said little Katelet, who is actually quite opposed to any insinuation that she is a Katelet at all and who worked very hard to hide her Katelet ways during the creation of her very own Vision. Back to Walmart online to order more pictures. And would you believe that our grown Katelet had forgotten her password AGAIN? "No problem," says I, "you should still have the email where they sent it to you." "But they made me change it when I logged in!" she said. "And I don't know what I changed it to!" I did warn you in advance that Katelets are very scatterbrained. Fortunately, one of her guesses worked this time and the photos were ordered.

And so work on the second Vision began, with things going much smoother, as the oldest little Katelet puts forth great pride in NOT being like her mother. "Do you like this?" I asked, showing a possible arrangement, or making a suggestion. "That's fine," she would say agreeably, and then add with a proud smile, "Aren't I easier to work with than Mom?"

But of course, two Visions in one week would simply not be enough. The littlest Katelet of all declared that if the other two Katelets had Visions, she must have one as well. But hers was NOT to be a Vision. Oh no -- this little Katelet would have a bully board! Fortunately, our grown Katelet had not yet made the Walmart run for the pictures, so it was decided that another small bulletin board would be purchased, and the littlest Katelet would indeed have her bully board. And so our Katelet went off to Walmart, leaving me and the two little Katelets to begin work on Vision #2 and the Bully Board. She was gone a very long time. We began to wonder what might have become of her. "She's trying to decide between two bulletin boards that are a half inch different in size," I speculated. Do I know my Katelets or what? I was certainly close! Sure enough, when she returned home, she had a bulletin board that was one inch smaller than the other one, after having searched numerous stores for one that was exactly the same size.

Then came great consternation from all three Katelets over which little Katelet would receive which board, because you know of course that a one-inch strip on a bulletin board allows its owner to include so many more pictures! Long story short, the oldest little Katelet -- the agreeable one -- very nicely took the smaller board, leaving the more finicky little Katelet to have the big one for her Bully Board. This littlest Katelet of all has already formed many Kately habits, and reminded me very much of her mother as we worked. "I don't want the corners rounded," she said determinedly. "I don't like that color. I don't want my picture cut like that. I don't like this idea or that idea." She was able to be encouraged along at a faster pace than her mother was, however, not to mention the fact that her board was half the size, so before too long, both little Katelets had a finished product they were satisfied with, and none too soon, for my visit came to an end that very day.

And what on earth we would have done with ourselves all week without all of these projects and complications, we will never know...! I won't even go into all the trouble caused when this Katelet wanted to post pictures of the Vision to a message board. Nor will I mention the fact that when the Katelet had difficulty finding the sage and lavender bedding she had planned to get for the bed in the room which houses the Vision, she actually considered tearing the Vision apart to do it in PINK and sage instead. Now THAT would be positively criminal!

P.S. I mustn't end this post without mentioning that God certainly has a sense of humor. We went to church Sunday morning, before the major work on any of the Visions had begun, when the Vision was still just an idea in the head of a Katelet and had not yet become reality. One of the songs in the worship service? "Be Thou My Vision."

P.P.S. "What would you like for lunch?" asked the Katelet one day. "We have ham, scalloped potatoes, peanut butter, fluffernutter..." "WHAT?" I asked. "Fluffernutter," she says, and after some discussion, I was able to determine that the item she was actually referring to was marshmallow fluff. Now I must admit that I didn't believe fluffernutter could truly be a real word at all -- surely this was some bizarre Kately concoction. I informed the Katelet that in my world, marshmallow fluff is an ingredient used in a dessert, not an item one would offer when giving lunch choices! (This comment of course caused us to instantly recall a very unusual conversation from the previous year about Katelet ideas on redesigning grocery stores so that the aisles are organized by category: desserts, snacks, sandwich sides, lunch foods, lunch sides, dinner foods, dinner sides, etc. This Katelet was quite perturbed when informed that her concept of what constituted each type of food didn't exactly fit the rest of the world's -- I mean, honestly, doesn't everyone expect cookies and brownies to be in the breakfast aisle!?) Anyhow, back to fluffernutter -- The oldest of the two little Katelets googled the word and we discovered that it is indeed real, although the term is actually used to refer to the sandwich consisting of the fluff and peanut butter combined. I have to say it truly sounds like a dreadful mixture to me. So I am dying to know -- has anyone else actually heard of FLUFFERNUTTER??? And have you EATEN it?? And survived? Do share!!

P.P.P.S. DISCLAIMER: Any negativity about Katelets presented in this blog is intended to be tongue-in-cheek only for the entertainment value of my readers -- all four of you. :o) In reality, all three Katelets are dearly loved just the way they are, and if you have no Katelets in your life, let me be the first to offer my condolences.

Friday, August 10, 2007

I Can't Take the Heat!

Okay. So a week of blistering heat and humidity so thick it nearly chokes you when you merely open the door has me wondering, as I've wondered often in the past, just how did the pioneers survive without air-conditioning?

I like air-conditioning. I mean, I REALLY like it. But unfortunately, my line of work means working in other people's homes, and it is absolutely appalling to me how many people there are in this world who do not have air-conditioning!

I've been working 12-14 hour days lately, and approximately 80% of the homes I've visited have been devoid of a/c. Fans are nice in some weather, but they didn't do a thing in this heat and this humidity except blow more stifling heavy air around.

Now, I am well educated about hydration and such, and yet, I spent so much time out in this heat this week that no matter how much I drank (and it probably didn't help that the water was boiling hot after about 11 am anyway, so while it would still hydrate my body, it certainly wouldn't help in lowering body temperature at all), it wasn't enough. I don't typically sweat... well, I sure did this week. I was sticky and wet all day long, as I went from a hot stuffy house to a hot stuffy car to another hot stuffy house hour after hour.

The final straw was when I had to stand outside in the blistering sun for thirty minutes attempting to confine an extremely hyperactive wet sandy toddler to a small unfenced area in the hopes of preventing him from being charged by an angry horse, while his mother and older brother argued back and forth about who was going to be the one to get that horse back in the barn where it belonged. It was the longest thirty minutes of my life, and it certainly pushed me over the edge from hot and miserable into true heat exhaustion.

And that's what got me wondering -- how on earth did the pioneers survive, truly? I'm not talking, how were they not hot and miserable, because I'm sure they were, but how did they prevent themselves from suffering from heat stroke! I guess I could have used some ginger water. ;)

Sunday, August 5, 2007

Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows

Okay, I've been waiting a bit to post on this book, so as not to accidentally spoil anything for anyone who might not have had time to finish reading it yet. I think by now most of the avid Potter fans will have finished, so will go ahead and post now -- but with fair warning. If you've not yet read/finished Deathly Hallows, there WILL be spoilers in this post, and I strongly advise you NOT to read it yet!!!

Okay, moving on...

I don't really have a whole lot to discuss about this book. Upon finishing each of the other books, my mind was astir with questions and theories and speculations, and there was just so much to discuss with others, so many thoughts to share, so many ideas to put out there and see what others thought. Because at the end of each of the other books, there was still part of the whole story that was unknown, and still so much to try and figure out and understand. This book differs in that no longer am I trying to figure out what happened, and what is going to happen. The answers are very neatly summed up in this book, and I find myself with nothing to ask, nothing to speculate upon. I know from reading others' posts that others still have questions, but I really don't. I don't need to know what each character did for a living or if they had kids, or what their kids were like. That's not essential to the story, to the plot.

I'm very satisfied with the ending. I was a bit afraid that after being so tied up in this story for so many years, that I would be disappointed with the ending. I am thrilled to say that I am not. :)

For so many years, part of the Christian community has been very outspoken against these books. The majority of those people, I am sure, haven't read them, and don't understand what they are truly about. Do I think Rowling was intentionally writing a spiritual allegory? No, probably not, or she likely would have spoken up and said so by now. But did she write a spiritual allegory? In SO many ways!! This last book, and Harry's sacrifice, is a very fitting conclusion to a story that has been the basic good vs. evil story that has endured through the ages, and goes right back to Satan's fall, which started the good vs. evil story of the universe. That said, I see huge differences between Harry's and Jesus' deaths and resurrections, and am in no way saying that it is an exact allegory, the primary difference being that while both gave up their own lives willingly, and out of love, to save the rest of the world and to destroy evil, Harry was thinking of his love for his friends and saving them, Jesus was thinking of His love for His friends, but also His enemies, and even died to save the very ones who killed Him. That would be equivalent to Harry giving up his life to save Bellatrix LeStrange, Lucius Malfoy, Fenrir Greyback, etc. -- no way! Other than that difference, however, (which is crucial!) the sacrifices bear a lot of resemblance, and I think gives those Christians who have read the series a great entry point into spiritual discussion with others. I mean, the popularity of Harry Potter is HUGE -- and everybody wants to talk about them. What an awesome opportunity that has just been handed to us. :)

The quest for the Deathly Hallows... I have seen so many people say they thought this just took away from the book, didn't see the point of it, etc. I LOVED this part of the book. I think it MADE the book. Rowling apparently did too since she titled the book thus. :) After all, Harry and Voldemort share so many similarities. Both grew up without their parents. Both had horrible childhoods, where they were unloved and somewhat mistreated. Both had no idea they were magical until told at age 11, but had discovered their 'special abilities' previously by accident. Both considered Hogwarts their true home, the first place where anyone actually cared about them, the first place they really felt they belonged.

Now we have Voldemort and his quest to be immortal. He discovers a way to achieve this, although through the very darkest magic, which damages his soul. Now Harry is presented with another way to supposedly achieve this. Will he take it? Will he be like Voldemort and decide that if he is the most powerful wizard, he can use his power to rule over the others, and make it a better world (in his opinion)? He learns that Dumbledore once yearned for such power... but unlike Voldemort, Grindelwald, and Dumbledore, Harry makes a wise decision, and as Dumbledore himself says, is the "better man" in the end, which ultimately leads to Voldemort's demise. What about that is unnecessary? :)

Just my two cents.