Wednesday, September 30, 2009


Aleita stayed home sick from school yesterday. It was nothing too serious - - she woke up in the night snotty and coughing, and in the morning, she was wheezing quite a bit. She was visibly tired in the morning, and so I thought it best just to keep her home and make sure it didn’t turn into anything worse. She spent most of the day laying around and not doing very much – we played lots of games and she watched some movies.
At one point in the afternoon after she had finished a movie, I turned the DVD player off and changed the source on the television from the setting used for the DVD player back to the one where you can watch regular TV. Playing on regular TV at that moment was one of the afternoon soaps.

Before I even had a moment to react, the woman on the show said to her companion, “This whole thing has gone to hell in a handbasket.” He responded to her, “What did you just say?” and she said (again), “You heard me….this has gone to hell in a handbasket.”

I quickly switched the TV off, but apparently, not soon enough. Having been schooled about “hell” by her older sister, Aleita is familiar with the concept of the fiery down-below, so that word immediately caught her attention. Aleita said to me, “what does that mean?” I explained that it meant that things were really bad and they probably weren’t going to get any better anytime soon. I added, “It’s just something that grownups say sometimes.” I then changed the subject and asked her if she wanted to come help me with what I was working on. Aleita loves to be a helper, so she gladly agreed.

My project at that moment was stripping the wallpaper in the back entry hall. Fun stuff, I know. To a five-year old though, it was a grand venture. I gave her the scoring tool and she gladly made designs all over the wall with it while I worked on soaking the wall with DIF and stripping off the wallpaper that had apparently been applied with industrial-strength glue. After an hour with not very much progress, I sighed disgustedly and said, “UGGGHHH… This is a nightmare!”

She said, “What’s wrong?”

I told her that whoever had put the wallpaper up had done a very bad job, and it was going to take a very long time to take it all down. I also showed her where the wall had some damage that had been covered up by the wallpaper, but now I was going to have to figure out how to deal with it. I told her that it was just a lot worse than I thought it was going to be.

She looked at the holes in the wall and the wallpaper mess and then exclaimed, “this is going to hell in a hamper!”

Handbasket….hamper….so close….though stripping wallpaper is enough to make almost anyone agree that it is a project straight from hell. She was quite right about that.

Wednesday, September 23, 2009


“Here’s your change, sweetie,” said the clerk to me at the gas station this morning as she handed me back the difference. I collected my change and seriously fought the urge to say, “thanks, sugar.” She was all of maybe nineteen years old….and she had just called me “sweetie.” (though I’m sure that is also how she addressed the guy behind me, and the lady behind him.)


I have to admit that it gets on my nerves to be referred to by one of these terms of endearment by someone I don’t know - - though it seems to annoy me more when it is by someone who was born about the time I was graduating from high school. Does this bother anyone else?

Wednesday, September 16, 2009


The girls' school has a website that allows parents to check on their child's progress regularly. The teachers can input their grades, as well as add comments about assignments.

Tonight I was checking over both of the girls' accounts. One of the comments under Aleita's made me laugh - - under her marks for physical education last week, she had gotten an 80%. The teacher's remark made by the grade was "needs to practice galloping."

Better get my five-year old geared up for the next big P.E. test....she is going to gallop her butt off this weekend until she gets it right!! We will not have any gallop slackers in the Hale house!

Monday, September 14, 2009


When Aleita got up this morning, she sneezed seven or eight times before she had even made it out of bed. She came into the bathroom and got a tissue and blew her nose and said to me, “ I don’t think I should go to school today - - I don’t want to sneeze on everyone.”

I told her that I thought she would be fine once she woke up a little bit (she has some allergy issues, but they seem to get better after she is up and around for 20 minutes or so.) I said to her, “besides, if you have to stay home from school, you’ll just be bored.”

She thought for a minute and then said, “I know! We could go the zoo. The animals won’t care if I sneeze on them!”

Needless to say, if she is still sneezing, she is doing so on her fellow kindergarteners today…..not the alligators and the lemurs.

Friday, September 11, 2009


Well, Aleita is officially on her way to becoming a little mini-me. Like her momma, she is developing a strong penchant for playing games. I just realize how odd this sentence sounds - - I don't mean that she is learning to mess with people's heads (but I will be oh-so-proud once that day arrives, of course,) but I actually mean that she, like me, is a game player - - of the board and card variety.

When I was a child, even from a young age, I loved to play games. My brother and I spent a lot of time at my grandparent's house in the spring and the fall when we were little because my parents are farmers, and they took care of us while they were planting or harvesting. My grandmother was a "game player" too. I would say that she indulged me by playing games one after another with me, but I think she enjoyed it just as much as I did. By the time I was six or seven, I could play King's Corners, Canasta, Spit on Your Neighbor, and a few Poker varietals, such as Royal Rummy and Pokeno. Of course, we also knew the standards, like Yahtzee, Uno, Sorry, Rummikub, Rummy, and Monopoly. Even today, it is pretty typical to drop by our house on a Friday or Saturday night and find us playing cards or a game with friends - - one of our latest game obsessions is "Blokus."

Aleita is definitely following right in my footsteps. She has a whole stash of games in the living room, and as soon as she gets home from school each day, she digs one of them out. She prefers it when we play with her, of course, but if she can't find a willing opponent, she will play against herself. Her latest favorites are Trouble, Chutes and Ladders, Uno, Candyland, Spiderman Yahtzee and Memory.

And like me as a child, Aleita has learned that there are ways to up your odds of winning when playing a game. Specifically, she has learned how to cheat.

I was actually something of a game-playing the time I was 5, I had become rather adept at stacking the Uno deck in my favor. As soon as the bus would drop me off from my half day at Kindergarten, I would run in the house and hope that my dad hadn't gotten home for lunch before me. If the coast was clear, I would set to work getting our noontime Uno game ready. I always thought I was so clever that he never figured out how I managed to end up with all the "Draw Fours" in my hand during that first game.

Aleita hasn't learned deck-stacking in Uno just yet, but she has learned how to place the Memory cards so that she cleans up on matches before you even have a chance to blink. Last night, she asked me to play Memory with her. I told her to set it up, and when I finished what I was doing, I would play. It didn't take long once play started to figure out that I was going to lose that game.

I didn't even call her on her wily ways. Dare I say I was just a little bit proud?

Thursday, September 10, 2009


As we were eating dinner last night, Maggie said to me, "Fix Dempsey's ear."

Dempsey, our Boxer dog, was sitting beside me as we ate dinner, and at some point, one of his floppy ears had flipped up. I said, "why do you care?"

She winced and said, "It just bothers me - it doesn't look comfortable."

I gave her a strange look and she said, "You know when someone's shirt collar is flipped up or their tag on their shirt is sticking out and you just want to fix it, but you don't even know them? That's how looking at his ear makes me feel. I just want to fix it."

Laughing, I straightened out his floppy ear (which of course, if we had waited 20 seconds, he would have done himself by shaking his head.)

The funny thing was, I knew exactly what she was talking about. I have had that exact feeling before - - feeling uncomfortable because of someone else's shirt tag sticking out, or collar being flipped up. I also get that feeling when I see a woman who has long hair and it is tucked into the back of her shirt or jacket.....or when I see a woman who has her bra strap twisted....or when someone's necklace clasp works its way around to the front.

What about you? What are some of those little annoyances that drive you crazy?

Tuesday, September 8, 2009


You know when you are in mixed company and someone farts, and everyone looks a little surprised, but no one says anything? That’s how we are going to treat this temporary absence of mine from blogging. Yes, it happened, but really, will talking about it change anything? Moving on….

So school has started and both of my kids are now “school agers.” School is much the same this year as last year for Maggie – she enjoys the social aspect of it all, she likes to read and write, and hates math. Right now, place value is her mortal enemy. We have already spent many hours, sitting at the kitchen table, working on tens and hundreds and thousands and oh-the-joy-of-it-all.

Aleita loves kindergarten like we knew she would. Aleita is up for anything that offers structure and provides a challenge. She has been excited to start kindergarten since this past April when she did her screening - - she was incredibly disappointed to find out that she would have to wait until August to start school. She thought she should get to start the next day.

The day she started school, Aleita arrived home pouty and upset. I asked her what was wrong and she explained that she was not given any homework, and since she was now a school-ager, she wanted homework. She settled for me giving her some words to write and some math problems for her “homework.”

Aleita’s biggest challenge is finding time at lunch to actually eat. After spending so much of her morning contained, once she has a moment of downtime, she simply has to let it out. Thus, she spends more of her lunch time talking than actually eating. Aleita is generally a slow eater anyway – she and my mom usually compete for the “last one done” award at family dinners. She is struggling with having a time limit placed on her at lunch because of the need to eat and leave so that other classes can use the cafeteria.

After the first full day of school, I asked, “what did you have for lunch today?” She answered, “pineapple.”

“What else?” I asked.

“I just ate pineapple,” she said, “and two drinks of milk.”

She explained that by the time she got through the line and sat down and started eating, it was time to leave. I asked her if she ate, or if she talked, and she said, “why can’t I do both?”

The second day was no improvement. When I asked her what she had to eat that day, she answered, “raisins.” Yep – that’s it. Raisins.

In kindergarten, they do have a snack and milk in the afternoon, so don’t take too much pity on her - - she is not forced to sustain herself all day on two sips of milk and a handful of dried grapes. We did talk with her about the need to eat her lunch and not talk so much, and I think things are improving. So far, she is not withering away, so that is a good sign. I would also hate to think we are spending $1.80 each day for a lunch that is only making it into the garbage instead of her stomach.