Saturday, September 15, 2007

All shopping and no play makes Nee CRAZY!

Hannah made it through the first week of fifth grade unscathed. (She will tell you that she’s been a fifth grader since July since she was promoted at the *end* of fourth grade.) I think she even mostly enjoyed it. She’s pretty sketchy on some of the details, but it seems there might be another Texan in her class. What a small world!

Unlike in elementary school, Hannah didn’t get a master list of school supplies, so I’ve been running around all week picking things up after she found out each day what she needed. After the third day, though, I threatened to chop off Hannah’s hand if her list was written on it again. I didn’t buy all of that paper for nothing!

Also this past week, we have gone from being a zero-cell-phone family to being a two-cell-phone family.

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With Hannah being more independent this year, and with John and I having irregular schedules, we thought it was time to get a little more connected. John and I have mixed feelings about giving up our anti-cell-phone self-righteousness, but since we bought the most basic phone we could find (and cheap!), we are looking forward to a new kind of self-righteousness. *tongue in cheek*

In addition to the frantic cell-phone and school-supply shopping, John and I had other household-y chores and errands to take care of. I am afraid that by the end of it, I was teetering on the edge of madness. All I needed to buy was some vacuum cleaner bags and curtain hooks, regular old everyday items in every household. Not live fairies clothed in gold. Not the last Chinese river dolphin. Just vacuum cleaner bags and curtain hooks.

It took me 4 tries to find the hooks. Actually, that’s not completely true, because the first shop had three empty racks where there should have been the kind of hooks I needed, but that did not help me.

In a town of about 150,000, in one of the most industrialized nations in the world, I still have not been able to put my hands on the goddamned vacuum cleaner bags, after a week of trying and *6* separate attempts. I have tried 2 department stores, and 2 electronics stores, one of them where we bought the damn vacuum cleaner in the first place, and the other the place where I regularly buy bags. To add insult to injury, the second place has a wall that is completely covered with bags, top to bottom, but guess whose bag was represented by a giant gaping hole where it was completely sold out? Their Friday shipment was not in as of 10 am or 2 pm, so I guess I either have to cram some more dirt in the current bag, or live in filth until Monday. I am considering ordering a case of them online.

It occurred to me on Wednesday that I should put my pedometer on. Over three days, I walked slightly over 7 miles. So if I translate that into the trek for Rivendell, I am still on Day 1 and I’ve managed this much:

Leave Bag End at full dark (ca. 7 p.m.). Go around (W) end, jump hedge.
Go through gate into a lane. Head west.
Leave lane, follow hedgerows south.
Cross The Water on a plank bridge.
Cross The Great Road from the Brandywine Bridge. Enter Tookland.

And I am almost here:

Look back at lights of Hobbiton from first slopes of the Green Hill Country.

So that was my errands. John hauled a cubic meter of wood in for our tile oven.

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Of course it warmed up again and the clouds cleared off right after that, which means that you need a heavy jacket in the morning but not in the afternoon. It won’t be too long before we’ll want to start using it, though.

John moved the mice from Hannah’s room into the sunroom while he carried in the wood, and Hannah was so pleased at the lack of nightly noises that the move is permanent, at least for the foreseeable future. (Depending on how well-sealed our chimney is in the corner of the sunroom; we haven’t used the fireplace since they finished the sunroom, and I don’t want to asphyxiate our little rodent friends.)

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The mice have been carefully locked away from the cats since Hannah got them, so now having them just the other side of a sliding glass door is like kitty TV for our two fuzzballs. I don’t know if I’ve ever seen scaredy-cat Eliza so animated. I was afraid that the poor mice would have a heart attack the first night with the cats prowling on the other side of the glass, but they eat and run on their wheel and otherwise act oblivious of them. They must be nearsighted, because the cats look like that Far Side comic with the cat splayed against the front window, staring at the collision between delivery vans for Bob’s Small, Flightless Birds and Al’s Rodents.

The mice are currently sharing the sunroom with the last of the cherry tomatoes.

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Once the nights starting getting even colder (we’re down to about 50F at night right now), some of the balcony plants will join them. Like the citrus I am inordinately proud of (did I mention I grew them from seeds?).

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And the cayenne peppers.

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With actual (not quite ripe) peppers!

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And last but not least, my azalea, which is actually trying to bloom again.

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I’m not sure what to think of that. The web site listed on its tag makes it sound relatively easy to get it to bloom again, but the University of Minnesota extension service makes it sound quite a bit more challenging. Whatever I haven’t been doing, I guess it’s worked!

Friday, September 14, 2007

I hate to tell you this...

but I am strawberry cake.

You Are Strawberry Cake

Fresh, sassy, and romantic.
You're a total flirt, who never would turn down a sugary treat.
Occasionally you're a bit moody - but you usually stay sweet!

I'm not sure about the cake, but the description doesn't seem too far off. Just ask John.

Tuesday, September 11, 2007

Already annoyed

Hannah has only been in school 2 days, and already I am annoyed at the lack of useful information she is bringing home. I am pretty sure she is getting various instructions from her teachers about supplies and stuff, but having to decipher the notes *written on her hand* makes me think that maybe some other things are slipping through. I know I sent TWO notebooks with her this morning, so it's not like she didn't have any paper.

Anyhoo, she rode the bus to and from school on her own today. It made me a little weepy watching her ride off in the morning and walking up to the front door from the bus stop this afternoon. *sniff*

Happy First Day of School to Hannah!

By day, she is a freshly minted fifth grader.

Freshly minted fifth grader

Complete with new cell phone.

New cell phone owner

By night, she is a hard-working mermaid.

Mermaids have chores, too

So Hannah made it through her first day of fifth grade yesterday. It was actually only 2 hours long, so I guess most kids could manage that. There was a quick presentation for the new students and their parents, then the kids got divided up into their new classes. Hannah was happy to see that 2 girls from her fourth grade class (but none of the boys) are in her new class.

When I left the school, I passed some older students on break and almost had a laughing fit. It struck me as hilarious that Hannah is now attending school with students with moustaches. (Gymnasium includes grades 5-12.) The younger kids are on a slightly different schedule from the older kids and have their breaks in a different area, so it’s not like she’ll be mixing with them on a daily basis.

Today is probably going to suck for her, though. She had to catch the bus at a few minutes before 7 am, class starts at 7:50 and lets out at 3:30. She has never gone later than 1 before, so it will take some getting used to. Actually, she’ll only have afternoon class on Mondays and Tuesdays, but those are going to be loooong days for her. She has 9 subjects over the course of the week, including Latin and biology. Fortunately, she’s already pretty good at English. *tongue in cheek*

I thought we were going to have to buy 500 pounds of school supplies yesterday, but Hannah only got the list for one class, so that simplified our shopping. After the pizza lunch, we bought new tennis shoes, yoga pants for P.E., a new backpack and wallet, and a few notebooks.

John and I had gone before the pizza lunch to buy the cell phone, and it was amazingly easy. We went to this chain coffee shop (Tchibo) that runs weekly specials on various non-coffee items (usually household and kitchen goods, including small electronics and clothes), and for 30 bucks, we got a Nokia cell phone complete with 1 Euro prepaid on it. All we had to do when we got home was charge the battery and put in the SIM-chip. The phone number was printed on the paperwork, and the phone worked like a charm. I tried watching the demo and reading the manual to figure out how to use it, but Hannah just picked it up, fiddled around with a couple of buttons, and voila! She managed to figure out how to turn off the ringer without the instructions or the demo. Kids these days! :-)

I like hanging out with Hannah, because she always has something funny to say. Yesterday she was telling me that she’d like to be a robot, because then if you get an axe in the head, it’s not a big deal. O-kay... She was also imagining how horrible it would be to have different parents who didn’t love her like us, parents who would make her “trample stuff” to make wine for them but would only allow her to wash her feet, not the rest of her, so their wine wouldn’t get germy.

Before we left for school, John was reminding Hannah that since she would have new classmates, she should give them a chance and be friendly and try to get to know them and not be teasing or sarcastic. “You’re taking away most of my personality! That’s most of Hannah, dude!”

She is getting so mature. She was very conscientious yesterday about not picking really expensive items; she was worried about making us poor. I could have bought 3 times the stuff just from my last tutoring check (I tutor 1 hour per week), but it was nice to see that she is catching on that money doesn’t grow on trees.