Wednesday, April 30, 2008

Not a good morning

Today is Wednesday. It's supposed to be the best day of the week, the day when both kids go to school, hub goes to work and I don't have anything scheduled until I pick up the youngest at 2:30. But not today. Today I had a dentist appointment bright and early at 8:30! But to make it worse, my 6 year old was up before 5am! I heard him get up and opened my eyes enough to see that it was still dark outside. I glanced at the clock and when it registered that the first number was a "4" I closed my eyes and waited for him to come in my room. But he never did! I fell back asleep. But it didn't last long. Sometime around 6am, I heard my younger son crying and he came to wake me up. I opened my eyes and saw that it was light outside now, and that is was only 6am. I heard him tell me something and then I fell back to sleep. Then a little before 7am, the kids fighting woke me up again. And it woke up my husband too. He went downstairs first and started yelling at the kids. The little one threw a tantrum and suddenly that 8:30am dentist appointment was sounding really good!

I got myself ready to go, made everyone's lunches and left. I had bus stop duty before I could leave for the dentist appointment. Now, I was just at the dentist 2 weeks ago. If you missed that story, check it out. Apparently when they do a root canal, they have to do something else in 2 weeks and then I also get to go back in another 2 weeks. The appointment itself wasn't too bad if you like sitting in a chair with your mouth open for a few hours. At least there was nitrous oxide and the Today show on TV. That's the only time I actually get to watch TV that doesn't involve cartoons or puppets!

Afterwards I came home to find that my husband had left his lunch on the counter. That reminded me what a fun morning it was. I still had some time before I had to get my son at preschool, so I cleaned up the kitchen and decided to mow the lawn. Usually mowing the lawn isn't very exciting. Today I found a snake in one corner of the lawn close to ivy that goes down a steep slope. It was small and dark brown. I thought the lawn mower would scare it away. At first it went back in the ivy. Then I backed up and it came back towards me! So I moved it forward again and the snake stayed there. I didn't want to run it over, but I don’t like snakes and I wasn't going to stand there all day and wait for it to move. I inched forward and finally it went back in the ivy and I walked away looking over my shoulder. Yuck!

Then when I got to the other side of the house, the lawnmower just stopped. I tried to restart it, but the cord wouldn't move at all. So something had to be stuck. I turned over the lawn mower and cleaned out some grass. There was a lot there :S it was soooo much fun. My nails are still a sexy green now. When I flipped it back upright and started it again, a huge cloud of smoke came out of the lawnmower. I thought it would stop eventually, but I was wrong. I turned it off and waited… the next time I started it again, a loud backfire popping noise came out followed by more smoke :S finally the third time there was no more smoke and I could finish the lawn. I was starting to wonder if my neighbor was watching and if she would call those cute fireman to come by again! ;)

So I've decided to get a cow. This way I won't have to buy milk anymore and the cow can eat the grass so I don't have to mow anymore. :) The idea of getting a cow is sounding better every day!

Monday, April 28, 2008

Weekend Stuff

This weekend was good and bad. I didn't get a chance to write mostly because my Internet connection still wasn't back to normal yet. Hub spent a lot of time (and some money too) fixing it this weekend. I don't know exactly what he bought or the details of what he did (although he did try to explain it a few times), but he had to drill a hole in the wall and crawl under the house. While under the house, he found signs of an animal coming into the crawl space. Maybe we have a mouse or a squirrel. I wonder if I can charge them rent or at least claim them as dependents next year? Hub also found an opening by the drainage pipe where the animal(s) are likely coming in. So now he gets to go back later and cover the hole. He also did something with some wires down there and now the Internet works again! :)

On Saturday the weather was great. We went to the Tulip Festival about 45 minutes north of here. It was beautiful!

My son had a T-ball game later Saturday afternoon. T-ball is a very fair sport. Everyone gets a turn to hit the ball. Each child can take as many "practice hits" as they need. Once you do hit the ball, you only run to first base unless you are the last hitter for the team, then you always get a home run with the bases loaded. Building sandcastles during the game is optional. Since each player gets a turn, and there are no outs, the team with the most players wins. This time my son's team had 8 and the other team at 6, so we won!

Sunday it rained in the afternoon. We went to the Botanical garden in the morning. The kids ran as fast as they could down the path and we missed most of the flowers. After that we stopped by a nursery to buy some plants for our annual vegetable garden. I don't recommend going to a nursery immediately after the Botanical garden. It was very tempting to buy way too many plants! They all looked so nice at the Botanical garden and they look easy in the store. It doesn't matter that we can't control the plants that we already have and that I have a record for killing 75% of the plants that I buy. Still, somehow I managed to buy just the vegetables that I came for, but I did make a mental list of everything else that I will need to go back and buy before the summer is over ;)

By lunch time, the clouds had moved in. So right after lunch it was a race with the weather to get the plants in the ground. A few sprinkles helped us to keep a good pace. I wish I had a fast forward button so I could already enjoy the vegetables! This year we planted corn (no success with this in the past), tomatoes (got lots last year), pumpkins (got 2 last year), broccoli (first time trying this), cabbage (first time with this too), green beans (we got about 3 beans last year), and I already forget what else. That's ok, surprises are fun! There are also lots of strawberries that we planted last year. They are doing really well and starting to invade the rest of the garden. I even saw a few green berries starting to form in the flowers :) Now if only I can get to the strawberries before the slugs do. The problem with the slugs is that they cheat! They go for the berries even when they are green, so I don't even get a chance to pick them before the slugs do. We tried some kind of anti-slug fertilizer mix this year. Hope it works!

On another note, I wanted to give you a "coupon shopping update." I went to the store on Friday to take advantage of a sale where you had to buy $25 worth of one set of products and $25 worth of another and then you got $10 back plus 4 movie tickets. Since movie tickets cost about $9.50 each here, I thought $40 for 4 movie tickets plus $50 worth of food was a great deal! Of course I got lots of other things and still only paid $43 and then got the $10 off my next order, plus 2 more coupons for free milk and then 4 movie tickets. So here's the total for net $33, 4 movie tickets, 4 gallons of milk, 3 dozen eggs, one bottle of local wine, 4 boxes of cereal (don't laugh!), 6 salad dressings, 5 barbecue sauces, one loaf of bread, 2 packages of kraft cheese, 2 big boxes of eggo waffles, 1 box of cookies, 1 bottle of shampoo and 3 boxes of nutri grain cereal bars. Not too bad :)

Friday, April 25, 2008

No Title today

Can you believe my Internet connection is down?! Hub was up late last night trying to fix it, but it's no use. The router has finally given up and we need to get a new one. So I'm using his laptop for now. I don't like using the laptop for several reasons. The screen is small and it's difficult to have many windows open at once. Also, all of my passwords and settings are saved onto my computer. Now I might actually be expected to remember something! The nice thing about the laptop is that the keys are small so I have a good excuse for all my typos ;) But also, this a Japanese laptop. The keys have Japanese symbols on them and again, I'm forced to remember where certain symbols are on a regular keyboard. The down Internet connection is also my excuse for not writing last night. That and the fact that there was a car fire on the street behind my house. I was busy watching the flames and firefighters from my kitchen window.

I was helping my son with his homework at the kitchen table. When I looked out the window, I could see small flames under a parked pick up truck on the street behind our house. In less than a minute the whole truck was on fire. We heard the sirens and the fire truck pulled up. The fire was out quickly and no one was hurt. Once the fire was out and the firefighters pulled out clipboards and pens, they also took off their jackets and showed off their suspenders. I wish I had some binoculars then! ;)

Wednesday, April 23, 2008

It's Wednesday

Most of my friends know what Wednesday means to me. This is the one day of the week where both my kids have school (at least till 2:30) and I'm not scheduled to do anything. They both have school on Thursday too, but then I volunteer in the kindergarten classroom. Maybe one day I'll tell the story about the great class auction project. Ahh... the memories... is that sarcasm you hear???

So today after sending both kids to school I procrastinated around the house for a while and then went to the mall. I wanted to buy a memory card for mother's day (Shhhh, no one tell my mom, OK?). I know that may sound like an odd gift for a computer illiterate grandmother, "Hey mom, I know you still can't figure out how to check email, open a file, you've never heard of Google and you think solitaire is a computer skill, so I got this memory card for you to collect some dust on the bookshelf." Actually, I got my mom one of those digital picture frames for Christmas. I went through all of the pictures that I took in 2007 and selected about 40, since that's all that would fit, to put on the digital photo frame's internal memory. All she had to do was take it out of the box and turn it on and pictures of her grandchildren would display on the screen for her to enjoy.

I called her on Christmas to see how she liked it. She wasn't as excited as I had anticipated. She was upset because it only had 3 pictures on it. Turns out my father couldn't just turn it on for her (and yes I'm saying that she couldn't turn it on herself). Instead he had to start pressing buttons and then trying different button combos... you know what I mean, like hitting control, alt, and delete all at the same time! So by the time my mom got to see the frame, there were only 3 pictures left. Good thing it doesn't take toooooo long to go through a year's worth of pictures (where is that eye rolling icon when I need it???).

I thought she might enjoy having another chance. If I can put some pictures on a memory card, all she has to do is insert it into the frame and turn it on. Hopefully she can do this when my father isn't around to avoid any temptation of pressing any unneeded buttons again. So my husband told me exactly what memory card to buy at exactly which store. I went there first and bought it. The next store that I went in, the security anti theft alarm starts buzzing. But I'm walking into the store, not out! So I get what I wanted (a sleep mask that I had a coupon for making it free) and then leave. The buzzer goes off again and this time the store employee needs to come over and check my bag. I explain that I think its the memory card. She takes the memory card and goes to the entrance and the alarm goes off. I take my bag and go through the entrance without the memory card and the alarm does not go off. So I have to return to the camera store to have the sensor deactivated. That doesn't sound like too much to ask, does it?

The employee at the camera store looks puzzled when I ask him to deactivate the security sensor. They don't have that kind of system there. It must have been put in by the manufacturer. I'm guessing this thing was made in China. Since I don't have enough time for a stop in China before I have to pick up the kids, I'm going to need to find someone closer that can deactivate this thing. The store employee said there was nothing he could do about it. I would have to continue to set off security alarms for the rest of my mall shopping trip. I didn't think this was a fun way to spend my time, so I returned the memory card. Now I still don't have a mother's day present. For the remainder of my trip to the mall, I held my breath and closed my eyes every time I walked into or out of a store. I was so afraid that alarm was going to go off again!

The other nice thing about Wednesday is that I have my dance class on Wednesday nights. This is the one night a week that I expect my husband to be home before 7:00 so that I can go out. My teacher had been sick for a while and 3 weeks in a row were cancelled. She had a class last week, but she was still a little weak. Today she was back to her old self. So that means it was a great workout and I'm going to be sore tomorrow!

Tuesday, April 22, 2008

Happy Earth Day!

Today is Earth Day! So what did you do in honor of earth day? Did you remember to bring your reusable bag to the grocery store? Did you bring your own mug to the coffee shop? Did you walk somewhere that you would normally drive? Did you switch to energy efficient light bulbs? Or maybe you cleaned up some litter around your neighborhood like my kids did. The kids have been complaining about some trash around the bus stop in our neighborhood. Once I suggested that if they don't like it, they should do something about it and clean it up. Every day since then they have been asking when we will clean it up (kids don't forget anything!). The weather hasn't exactly been cooperative. I mean what mother isn't excited about the idea of her kids picking up cigarette butts and used straws off of the streets with cars driving by? But soggy cigarette butts out of the mud and straws from puddles is where I have to draw the line! The sun is still shining and it's Earth Day! So today we took a plastic bag with us on our walk to the bus stop and picked up any litter (yes lots of cigarettes and a few straws) we found. It wasn't a lot of trash (didn't even fill up the bag) but I think it's important for the kids to start learning and doing things that help the Earth. So next time you want to save some glass bottles, go for a keg instead of a six pack ;) It is Earth Day after all!

Now back to your regularly scheduled "The Cookie Jar" blog. Today was a fairly quiet day in my house but that is all about to change. This is the calm before the storm. I get to make dinner, feed the kids, get them changed and ready to go to T-ball practice. Then come home and give my kids a bath and get them to bed all in the course of 2 hours. Yup, you've probably seen this weekly event before in the Olympics where parents (yes, we like to give the dads a chance too) compete to see who can accomplish these tasks the fastest. You score points for best times and smiling kids and lose points for whining and crying (doesn't matter if its the kids or the parents). Bonus points can also be scored if you manage to call of your children by their correct names and they have clean clothes too. Competition gets tough when the phone rings, the washing machine starts leaking, and you forget that it's your turn to bring snacks to T-ball, -20 points, Ouch! Don't worry, my turn to bring snacks was snowed out, Safe!

Monday, April 21, 2008

Story Time

This morning I took my youngest son to the Japanese story time at the library. All the stories are read in Japanese. There are Japanese finger songs and everything else is done in Japanese. I don't speak much Japanese (squishy nay ;) For those of you that don't' speak Japanglish, that means "a little bit" for those of you that speak Japanese, please ignore my pronunciation there). The rest of my family (hub and both kids) are fluent in both English and Japanese. Most of the moms at the story time are Japanese and most of the kids are Japanese. The rest of the kids look like half Japanese and half American, like mine. So I get a few stares and people have to repeat things for me or I ask my son to translate as needed during these story times. Here, being "white" definitely means being "different."

Now its story time at "The Cookie Jar." So gather round the camp fire kids! Hey! You, the gal from Colorado, if you're going to be having a snack, make sure there's enough for everyone and don't be so greedy with that cup!

One day I found a letter in my kindergartner's backpack explaining the English as a Second Language program at his school. It indicated that my son was eligible for the program and asked me to sign it and return it to the school. I laughed! That's crazy! My son speaks English good, like me (yes, I know its supposed to be well :P ). I thought maybe they were picking on him for pronouncing the "w" in "talk" or something like that. He was born in New Jersey after all! So I didn't sign it or send it back. The next week I find a classroom assignment in his backpack that was incomplete. I asked him why he didn't have enough time to finish it in class like the rest of the kids. I thought surely he must be chatting or slacking off in some way. Nope, he was being taken from the classroom a few times a week so he could learn English as a second language! I guess the school figured I didn't sign the letter because my English skills were so poor that I couldn't understand the letter... I don't think so.

So I contact the classroom teacher. She said that she was surprised when my son was put on the English Language list, but it wasn't up to her. So I spoke with the English teacher and explained that there was a mistake. I speak English (granted it may be with a slight northeastern accent, but still English!) and that I speak English at home to my children. She explains that it's not her decision. The list of kids requiring English lessons comes from the school district. So I contact the school district and again, it's not their decision, it comes from someone in Spokane. I forget what the agency was called, but I remember that they directed me to the person in charge of "immigrant education." And I was assured that I would not be deported for enrolling my child in school. Whew! Because that had been keeping me up at night! Although, I wasn't sure where I would be deported to.... Maybe they didn't know that New Jersey was part of the US? Dare I point out that New Jersey was a state long before Washington was?? Or Maybe they didn't realize that people really do speak English in New Jersey? I'm told that if I put it in writing I can get my son out of the English lessons.

The next week my son asks why I took him out of those English lessons. He really liked going because it was so much easier than what the teacher in the classroom was making him do. That is exactly why he needs to be learning in the classroom! Oh, and the English teacher told me what a "fast learner" my son is. Fast?! He's been learning English for the last 5 years! You call that fast???? Maybe she still didn't believe me when I told her that I speak English and only English.

I thought that was the end of it. I thought the English lessons issue was past us. Then I found another letter in my son's backpack in December. This letter said that even though we "opted out" of the English lessons (not they had mistakenly enrolled my son into English as a second language lessons), they need to continue to test my son's English skills through 6th grade and that within the next weeks, he would be taken out of the class so he could take this English test. So again, I call the school first. I have to know if every child is being tested or just mine because if it's just my kid, that sounds like discrimination to me. Now I never before felt like I was a foreigner or that my children were foreigners, but the school district seems very quick to point out that my son is not fully "American." So after several phone calls and back on the phone to Spokane, I learn that when you fill out those questionnaires needed for the first day of school, anyone who checks that their child is "bilingual" will get put into the English as a second language program, even if you also indicate that English is the first language learned and the primary language spoken in your home. So now the questions becomes, how do I get off this list???? I don't want him to "test out" of the English program. I don't' want him to be marked as a "success" for the program. I want them to admit it was a mistake! But when you're dealing with school bureaucracy, you learn to take what you can get!

In the end, they sent me a new questionnaire and told me to answer that my son only speaks one language, English and that we only speak English at home. I did as I was told. Now when he gets into junior high school and signs up for Japanese class, the teacher can again tell me, "what a fast learner he is!"

Sunday, April 20, 2008

33 down!

I'm sure you will all sleep better tonight knowing that I no longer have 93 boxes of cereal. I posted them on craigslist and one family is interested in taking 33 boxes. I guess technically I do still have 93, but 33 will be leaving this month. I'm kinda sad to see them go... Yeah, hub doesn't think its sad either. It's one of those things only a couponer would understand. Anyway, guess what that means... It's time to go shopping and cereal is still free with the rebate till Tuesday! Hub says he's going to get one of those house arrest anklets to stop me from buying more.

In other news, we got more hail today. Here's a pic from Friday (this is my first time posting a pic with blogger, so keep your fingers crossed that this works ;) )

Ok, so now that I figured out the buttons to push to get pics on here, let me share one pic hub took of my cereal collection. Some people collect teapots or dolls, I happen to collect cereal :P The kids had a lot of fun sorting it. This pic isn't all 93 boxes, this is what I posted on craigslist earlier. The kids had a lot of fun going through the cereal and picking out their favorites to keep.

Ok, enough about my cereal addiction collection. We didn't do much today because the weather didn't cooperate. It was cold and rainy and then the sun peeked out. So get ready to go out and the hail comes down again. What a tease! I did win one game of "Go Fish" today and lost many more. Hopefully spring will come soon and I can get back to work on my garden and then entertain you with lots of garden pics :)

Saturday, April 19, 2008

93 boxes

Can you guess what I have 93 boxes right now in my house??? I hate to admit but I have an addiction... I have 93 boxes of cereal. And no, I'm not addicted to cereal. My family and I eat about 2 boxes a month. I'm addicted to coupons. I got all of these boxes for free, or even a slight profit of a few cents for each box. But now it is a problem. I had planned to give it to my son's school spring food drive. Can you believe they cancelled it?! The lady in charge decided they can get for more their money by buying things in bulk, so they would rather have money than boxes of cereal. I didn't tell her that I actually have more boxes than I have dollars right now. So I need to get rid of some of these, but another problem is that they seem to multiply. I donated 7 boxes just a few weeks ago. Then we opened one box so the kids could make "candy" necklaces using Apple Jacks. Then today there was another sale and the cereal was included.... I ended up with 10 more boxes of cereal, 10 boxes of cereal bars and $20 in various produce for $49 and I'm sending in for $50 in rebates for buying the cereal and cereal bars (no peeking at the happy dance!). That means 8 points for me and 10 points for the cereal... The cereal may be winning for now, but it's not over yet! Now people say, "don't worry, I'd be happy to take some of that cereal from you." But they never do. They think I'm joking when I tell them about my "problem." I may try to sell some on Craigslist again. Surely someone out there needs 93 boxes of cereal!
I'm not a big ice hockey fan and I don't even know who the Av's are playing, but please someone stop those Av's!

Friday, April 18, 2008

It's snowing

I had to do a double take out the window and at the calendar. Yup, It's April 18th and it's snowing! It's a very heavy snow right now. For those of you that don't already know, I live just a few miles east of Seattle. I moved here 2 years ago from north jersey. In New Jersey, it snows every year and we shovel it or plow it and move on. In New Jersey, it's still very exciting when we get the first snow of the season and also very exciting when we get more than a foot of snow, but other than that, the snow isn't a big deal.

When I moved to the Seattle area, I was told that it never snows here. Then a few people admitted that it snows about once every 2 years. I'm not sure whether Seattlites are in denial or just plain liars, but it has snowed multiple times both years and I just found out today that it still snows here in April! The worst part about the snow here is that since everyone is in denial, they are unprepared. The roads don't get plowed, no one owns a snow shovel and there is no rock salt at the local grocery stores. They just wait for it to melt. Luckily it is April (I know because I just checked the calendar a few times) so it should melt soon. I was hoping to go to the tulip festival this weekend, but I don't think tulips like the snow very much, maybe we should go sledding instead. My 4 year old is asking if it's almost Christmas...

Thursday, April 17, 2008

The horsie game

Today my kids, ages 6 and 4, wanted to learn how to play chess. I don't know why, but a friend gave my son a chess set for Christmas. I haven't taken it out of the box yet. I figured I have enough miscellaneous game pieces strewn through out my house. But for some reason today (maybe it was a result of the painkillers after my morning root canal with the not cute dentist) I agreed to open the box. I helped them set up the pieces on the board, or at least as well as I could remember. It has been a very long time since I played chess! I explained the rules for moving each piece and the point of the game to capture the opponent's king. The kids were giggling and couldn't wait to get started. They both started moving pieces at the same time and taking each other pieces at random until the 4 year old started crying. Then they started trading pieces back and forth. It's like a whole new set of rules! I tried to correct them and explain it again. I have no idea why I did this. Usually I know better than to reason with them. Eventually I gave up and we played a new game. It doesn't have an official name, but I think it's now known as the horsie game.

Wednesday, April 16, 2008

The dentist

I used to have an ordinary dentist. Then one day I received a letter in the mail saying that my dentist was moving "back east." But not to worry, a new dentist was taking his place. So when it came time to schedule my next appointment, I did so. What a surprise when the new dentist walked in. He was such a cutie! So the next thing to do is to make sure that my kids have their check ups with the same dentist too ;)
One night I'm out with some neighbor friends and one of my friends just went to her dentist. She said that she now has a new dentist. And her new dentist is very good looking. So I tell her that I also have a good looking dentist. As you probably guessed, we have the same dentist. It's nice to have a friend who understands the importance of having a good looking dentist. I mean what else do you want to do while you're laying with your mouth open, funny glasses on and a bright light shining. You want to daydream about a good looking guy! Why not have a nice image to get you started?
Recently I decided that I was ready for my next cleaning. I called to make an appointment on a Wednesday or a Thursday morning since these are the only days that both of my kids are in school. The receptionist tells me that the dentist has openings on Saturday. Apparently Wednesday or Thursday mornings means Saturday to her? Much to my dismay, I find out that this cutie has decided to close the office on Wednesdays and Thursdays and is open on Saturdays instead. After a moment of silence, I realize that this doesn't exactly work for me. So I venture out to find a new dentist.
What's the first thing you do when you need a new dentist, you check your insurance website for a list to get started, then you search for a dentist on that list that has their own website and look to see if any posted a pic! ;) But it didn't work. So I call and find one who is taking new patients and does take my insurance. I ask for an appointment and I'm told that the first appointment won't be a cleaning but a consultation. I'm wondering why I can't get a cleaning done. I feel like a "consultation" is a nice way of saying that we'll bill your insurance and waste your time, but I try not to jump to conclusions. So I ask why I can't have a cleaning done on the first visit. The answer was that they wouldn't know what kind of cleaning I need. So I'm thinking if I call a dentist and ask for a cleaning, most people can figure out that I need a teeth cleaning. I'll give you a hint, it starts with "t," but if this dentist can't figure out what I need cleaned, this may not be the right dentist for me. No matter how cute he may be!
I call another dentist and this time I am able to make an appointment for a cleaning and they didn't even ask what needs to be cleaned!!! After the cleaning and about a hundred x-rays they decide that I need some old fillings replaced. This does not surprise me and I've heard it before so I agree and schedule the next appointment for almost a month later. During that month, I receive a handwritten thank you card from my dentist's office. I thought that was strange. And they called a week before my appointment to tell me that they are looking forward to seeing me. I take that as a nice way to say, "don't forget!" T
oday was the day. I went to have 3 old fillings replaced. 3 hours later I walked out of the dentist's office with a root canal appointment for the next day. I also learned that my mouth is very small. They had to use some dental type things that are for kids because the ones for adults were too large for my mouth! So no one can ever call me "big mouth" again! I also learned that the dental assistant was named after her German father and the dentist's wife is the person who really runs that office. I'm not exactly looking forward to going back to the dentist tomorrow. Do you think he would mind if I asked him to paint that surgical type mask with the image of the old cutie dentist. It's really hard to lay there for so long looking at him, when I was just getting used to laying there and enjoying the view! You know what they say, (specifically my coupon friend, Lesley) "eye candy doesn't cause cavities!"