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ALWAYS Have an Exit Strategy

Our bulldog, Wonderbutt, has been trying very hard to run away from his own butt lately.  He suddenly leaps up, looks at his rear end, and then races around the house, screeching to a halt in random locations, and sitting down hard.  Then he tries to bite whatever is bothering him back there, and generally topples over because dogs shaped like fat sausages just can’t do that kind of contortion.  This picture shows Wonderbutt following one of his desperate attempts to elude his bottom, at the end of which he barged into Dimples’ bedroom where Cap’n Firepants was relaxed on the floor reading to her with a blanket over his legs.  Wonderbutt charged underneath the blanket, then whirled around and glared at everyone from underneath – apparently blaming us for his disobedient derriere.


But enough about him.  Let’s talk about me.

The other day, I was getting ready for work, and decided to wear a dress that I hadn’t worn in awhile.  I vaguely recalled that it had a zipper on the side, but my fumbling didn’t find one, so I decided to pull the dress over my head.  Of course it got stuck.  That happens to me a lot.  But this time I could not wiggle my way out of it in either direction.  The more I tried, the more stuck I became.  What’s worse is that I realized during my struggles that there was a zipper on the dress – and it was very decidedly zipped.  Which made me feel a bit less fat but a lot more blind.

The sight of myself in the closet mirror made me panic further.  Cap’n Firepants was in the shower.  There was no way I was going to let him see me like that.  There are just some things you can never unsee.  And I certainly couldn’t let my daughter see it either.  I only had one option.

I tiptoed to the bathroom and got the nail scissors out.  This was no easy feat considering that my arms were strait-jacketed to my sides.  Even more challenging was cutting the dress.  But a shot of adrenalin made this an easy task when I heard the shower water turn off.

Unlike Wonderbutt, I can’t blame my butt for my wild dance around the room; the dress never even made it to that region of my body.  Nope.  Just my own stupidity and lack of planning.

From now on, I’m going to take a cue from my dog.  If I’m going to insert my uncooperative body into a piece of fabric, I’m going to make sure there is an easy way out.

Either that, or I need to perfect that glare that lets everyone know that the fact I look ridiculous is entirely and completely your fault, not mine.


Just Because Winnie-the-Pooh Went Commando Doesn’t Mean Your Phone Should Suffer, Too

With the unveiling of the new iPhone with fingerprint reading technology, some people have raised the fear of having their fingers cut off for the sake of unlocking a stolen iPhone.

People are so paranoid.  About the wrong things.  Of course the new iPhone should raise some security concerns.  I mean, the most vulnerable part of the phone, the Home button, is now the key to unlocking all of your sexting secrets with a single tap of your specific finger friction ridges.

Clearly, it needs protection.

I give you, my friends, the Smart Pants Smarty Pants.

No well-dressed phone should go without this foundation item.  I mean, you put a case over the back of your phone and there aren’t even any buttons there.  It’s like Winnie-the-Pooh shamelessly marching around in just a shirt.

What you need is something that insulates the front and devotes less of its valuable resources to the unnecessary defense of the rear.  And you can stick it in your pocket without the worry of visible panty lines!

A thong for your phone.

You never knew you needed one.

Smart Pants Smarty Pants - buy them here!

Smart Pants Smarty Pants – buy them here!

Pens and Pencils May Taste Delicious, But They Do No Good If You Can’t See the Board

While the rest of us were getting ready for the new school year, it occurred to my daughter, Dimples, that Wonderbutt might do better in his lessons with improved vision.  He hasn’t asked for a locker chandelier, yet, but I’m sure it’s only a matter of time.

Doesn't he look like an intellectual?

Doesn’t he look like an intellectual?

I Need a Google Calendar Just for My Jeans

When you have no money, no authority to promote people, and no extra vacation time to offer, how do you motivate your employees?


Okay, when you have no money, no authority to promote people, no extra vacation time to offer, and a pesky law that prohibits adult beverages in your place of work, then how can you galvanize your staff?

If you are in the education profession, then jeans are apparently the answer.  Personally, I think they are the answer to a completely different question, but I am seemingly in the minority.  If you want an elementary school teacher to go the extra distance, offer a chance to wear jeans for an entire work day.  Want to send him or her over the moon?  Give permission to wear tennis shoes, too.

I usually decline jean wearing.  In my whole almost 45 years on this earth, I’ve only found 2 pairs that fit me in all the right places.  Plus, the permission to wear jeans is usually accompanied by the dreaded caveat that I wear a school t-shirt with the jeans. I look horrible in t-shirts. Even worse, 95% of the time we have to wear the shirt and jeans with dress shoes. Which, quite honestly, is icky fashion in my book.

At my last school, this wasn’t much of a problem. Jean days were rare, and only about half the staff took advantage of them.

Then I came to this school. Here, they take jeans seriously.

There are about 500 days a year we can wear jeans. On payday we can wear them with a college shirt. On Fridays with a school shirt. On Wednesdays with a special pink school shirt. If we have perfect attendance for a month, we can wear jeans on a designated day. If we are having a fundraiser, we can wear the accompanying shirt. And on test days, we wear our special black testing shirts with jeans.

It didn’t take me long to realize that my passive aggressive attitude toward jeans was going to be way more noticed at this school than the last. No one at this school refuses to wear jeans if given the opportunity.

After a month of forgetting to wear my pink shirt and jeans on Wednesdays, I finally decided that I am only good at resisting peer pressure when there is very little pressure. When it comes from 20 teachers and your administrative staff, it becomes less appealing.

I got with the program. I got really good at remembering the days I could wear jeans. I just continuously wore the wrong shirt with them. Completely by accident, of course.  So, now I looked less like a somewhat rebellious fashion snob and more like a deliberate insubordinate.

A couple of weeks ago, I nearly came undone at 6:00 in the morning when I realized that it was a Wednesday and a testing day.  Pink shirt or black shirt?!!!!!  I chose black because, quite frankly, that was my mood.  I guess the rest of the staff felt the same way.

Last Wednesday, completely dressed in my Unmandatory, but Not Exactly Optional Uniform of jeans, pink t-shirt and dress shoes, I finished getting ready with 5 minutes to spare.  Then I looked in the mirror.  There was a huge, and I mean absolutely ginormous, ink splot on my shirt.

Forget the minor conflict between black shirt and pink shirt, this was a new conundrum with only 5 minutes to fix.

I wore a dress.

Feeling completely out of place, I confessed my fashion crisis to one of my fellow teachers.  She looked me over and said, “I would have worn the shirt anyway.”

I still don’t know if that was a critique of my wardrobe choice – or an acknowledgment of how important wearing jeans is to her.

Seriously.  Would it be so bad to stick a margarita machine in the Teacher’s Lounge?

Why can't this be our school shirt?

Why can’t this be our school shirt?

If I’d Just Stand Still, I Might Be Able to Catch Up

It’s the Bermuda Bag Blunder all over again.

You know?   Those purses that had changeable covers but were completely impractical in every other way? They were all the rage when I was a kid, and I begged my mother for two years to get me one.

And she did.

And I went to school with it. And no one else had one. No one else even had a purse.  They had moved on.  Back to where I started.  And it could have saved my mom some money if we had just stayed there.

But since she spent all that money, I had to use the purse.

Don't you wish you had one, too?photo credit:

Don’t you wish you had one, too?
photo credit:

Now my purse is a refrigerator.

When we moved into our first house, our kitchen appliances were mixed. Some were black and some were white. We bought a brand new white refrigerator, and spent the next five years slowly replacing the other appliances to match. By the time we got them all matched, it was time to move.

And we moved to a house with black appliances – which really didn’t complement our pure white refrigerator. No matter.  Because, by this time, white was so yesterday and stainless steel was the rage.

Our white refrigerator died. (Natural causes, I say.  And I’m sticking to it.)  Stainless steel or black, we asked ourselves. My husband was leaning toward stainless steel. But I was hesitant. I didn’t want to be Bermudaed again. I mean, stainless had been the rage for awhile now. It was getting time for a new trend.  I could feel it.

But I could not find any record of the new trend anywhere. So, we joined the masses, and bought our stainless steel fridge. And we are slowly getting the rest of the kitchen stainless.  Of course, we have to wait until they die, too.  I mean, you wouldn’t replace your grandmother while she was still alive just because she was the wrong color, would you?

Okay, that didn’t really sound right, but I’m not sure how to fix it.

Anyway, this morning, there happened to be a news report on appliance trends – specifically, refrigerators.

“Stainless is going out, ” they said.

The new trend?

The old one – white.

“Like iPhones!” was the reasoning.

Now why didn’t I see that one coming?

Someone needs to invent a Bermuda Refrigerator.

How to Give Yourself a Black Eye and Other Important Fashion Tips

Just in case my last post did not lead you to the obvious conclusion that mustaches are “in”, allow me to assure you that this is, indeed, a fashion trend that has caught on fire – at least among the tween girls of the suburbs of San Antonio, Texas.  If you are a tween boy, it is less chic, but completely acceptable to sport a handlebar if you happen to be in the company of tween girls.

It is quite possible that just about every picture that I have taken of my daughter in the last 6 months has portrayed her wearing a mustache.  Of course, I cannot verify this information, as my computer crashed last weekend and I do not have any pictures that I have taken of my daughter in the last 6 months.  So, Fashion Tip #1 is:  “Do not let your mother be the only one in possession of your mustache pictures.”

In other news:

In the interest of trying to eke some fashionable outfits of the items that are already hanging in my closet (and trying to procrastinate mourning over my dead hard drive), I decided to clean out the aforementioned wardrobe repository so that I could actually find garments that are suitable for this year’s season.  Although I did not find any mustache-embellished blouses, I did find several frocks that I had neglected until now, and would certainly be acceptably modish if worn by a fashion model in a catalogue.  Unfortunately, they will be draping my figure, instead, but such is the fate of clothing bought off the rack in discount stores.

I also found some distinctly unsatisfactory pieces that, frankly, I am pretty convinced some Pompous Pixie of Personal Attire stuffed into my closet so she could laugh heartily if I ever dared to wear them in public.  Those quickly got thrown in the Clothing Donation pile.

The result of this afternoon of closet cleaning was that my clothes now have room on the poles, and are no longer tightly clinging to hangers in clumps that I cannot slide along the poles.

Which leads me to my black eye.

I was grabbing a fashionable fuschia sweater off a hanger, rushing to chauffeur my daughter to yet another practice, this afternoon.  In my old closet, the hanger would have been forcibly held back by its two neighbors while the sweater would likely have ripped and then raced toward me like a sailor who’s just gotten off a 10 month tour.

However, in the new, improved closet, the hanger reeled back, and with no restraints whatsoever from its companions, let ‘er rip quite forcibly into my right eye.  Kind of like the way the wife of the sailor who was running toward his lover would probably have delivered justice to the hussy  sneaking around with her man.

So, Fashion Tip #2:  Do not clean out your closet.  And if you do, expect repercussions.

According to my title, which looks a bit blurry through my swollen right eye, I should be handing out at least one more fashion tip.

Fashion Tip #3:  If you are a 40ish woman who is trying to distract people from looking at her black eye, go to the local skating rink, purchase a mustache from the vending machine for 75 cents, and affix it to your face.  You can put it wherever you want, as the purpose is to distract, not conform.  Although, I would suggest that creating a monobrow would just bring more attention to your black eye.

Who knows, though – you might just start the next trend.

As you can see on this model, who is not me, you would totally not notice if she had a black eye.  photo credit: Diamond Geyser via photopin cc

As you can see on this model, who is not me, you would totally not notice if she had a black eye.
photo credit: Diamond Geyser via photopin cc

I Have Failed as a Mother

My daughter will be going to middle school (6th-8th grades) for the first time next year.  In our area, there are several options for middle schools.  We could sell our kidneys, and send her to one of the private schools, or send her to one of three middle schools which are free.  One of them is our “home” school, and the other two are magnet schools to which she would need to apply.

I’ve broached the topic of the magnet schools with Dimples several times.  Her response has always been that she wants to go to the same school as her friends.  When I point out that the magnet schools specialize in topics that interest her, and that she is always complaining that school is boring, she re-asserts the vital necessity of attending the same school as her friends. When I told her the heart-breaking story about a boy who begged his mother to send him to one of the private schools where he could have a more challenging curriculum, promising to give up Christmas gifts until he was 18… guess what?  Yeah, blah blah blah friends.

I worried that maybe I had somehow instilled in Dimples too deep a value of friendship, that by my own comments over the years I had given it a higher priority than things like academic achievement – or doing what your mother says is good for you.

The other day, the magnet schools presented to Dimples’ 5th grade class.  Later in the day, I talked to one of the 5th grade teachers, and confided Dimples’ deep desire to remain with her friends.

“Oh, you know what the magnet school guy said to the kids about that?” she said.  “Ask your parents how many of their middle school friends they actually still keep in touch with.”

“Oh, that’s great!” I said.  I don’t even keep up with my high school friends, so I could use that ploy again in 3 more years!

That afternoon, I prepared myself for the magnet school conversation, armed with Mr. Presenter’s clever rejoinder.  I asked Dimples if she had enjoyed the presentation.

“Oh, it was great!” she said.  “But I could never go there.”

“Why?” I innocently prodded, ready for my cue.

“Because they wear uniforms, Mom, and they are so not fashionable.  They have to wear khaki pants with yellow shirts!  Yellow and khaki, can you believe it?”

And, for that I had no answer.  Because I certainly can’t torture my daughter by forcing her to wear unfashionable clothes.

At least now I know that she has her priorities straight.

It would look so much better with a Star Trek emblem embroidered on the left.

It would look so much better with a Star Trek emblem embroidered on the left.

Why I’ll Be Looking for a New Job Next Year

So, I got a new job this year.  Actually, it’s the same job – just at a different place.  I was teaching at my previous school for 13 years, and then got the opportunity to transfer to one closer to my home.  When I was swimming in a sea of boxes in the middle of August, and locked out of my room by a cockroach, it occurred to me that volunteering to change schools was not the most intelligent decision I had ever made.  In my previous school, cockroaches were usually polite enough to die before I encountered them, and I’m pretty sure that I had a lot fewer teaching materials stored in all of the cubbies and walk-in closet than the plethora that suddenly seemed to poised to swallow me and my new, zero-storage room.

But it was too late to go back.  And I adjusted, and made a few medication changes, and prominently displayed an ant farm in the middle of the classroom so the cockroach could make an informed decision about whether or not he wanted to risk another sudden appearance in front of a woman who was not above sticking insects in a transparent prison with fake plastic buildings.

It has taken me until now to realize the true advantage of my new position, and to kick myself for waiting 13 years to make this discovery.

“I love that dress!”

“Wow, you look so fashionable today!”

“You always look so chic!”

“You look beautiful!”

Okay, the last compliment was from a kindergartener who was probably trying to angle a sticker out of me.  But, still.  Suddenly, praise for my wardrobe is greeting me on a daily basis.

And I haven’t bought anything new.

I just plucked out my same ole winter rags that I’ve worn for the last several seasons, and people are acting like I just walked off the runway.  Modeling runway, I mean, of course.  Because if I just walked off a plane runway, I’d probably be tackled by Homeland Security and accused of terroristic acts.  And full body searched.  Which would not be pleasant.  And probably would not make me feel very good about myself or my clothes.

So, anyway, I now realize that, instead of spending money on clothing each season so I won’t blend into the wall because people are so used to me wearing the same 5 outfits, I just need to change jobs every year.  I need to employ my faculties finding a new faculty to employ me, instead of agonizing over new, risky fashion choices.  Consider it my little contribution to the Reduce, Reuse, Recycle Movement.

And, maybe, if I can keep this ingenious plan going for the next 5 or 6 years, I’ll save up enough money to buy this sweet little pair of Jimmy Choos.

Maybe I can buy one half of the pair now, and put the other one on layaway? 

What?  You weren’t expecting me to donate the cash to charity or something, did you?


A Mahvelous Wardrobe Malfunction

I don’t know about you, but when people tell me that I look good, I get cocky.

Then I walk through a paint pan, or drip oil on my silk shirt, or break a heel off my shoe.

So it went the first day of working at my new school this year.

When I walked into the kitchen that morning, Dimples gave me a thumbs up, and the Cap’n told me I looked “hot”.  I felt great for about 5 seconds, then realized that they had both just sealed the coffin shut on my first day.  I have never once escaped the Compliment Curse, and I knew this day would be no different.  The more I needed to look “hot”, the less “hot” I was going to be…

I brought Dimples to school, and we parted in the hallway.  She is a morning patrol this year and I, well, I had to do something to look official on my first day.

I wandered around greeting parents and helping people find classrooms, then meandered back to my classroom to start work.  As a GT teacher, I don’t have any students the first couple of days.  But, I have plenty of work.

After a couple of hours of going cross-eyed with paperwork and basking in my “hotness”, I decided I deserved a break.  I walked to the main building, which, as we established in my last post, is the exact distance from my portable as Mars is from Texas.  Yes, Mars the planet.

In the Teacher’s Lounge, I passed a mirror.  And that’s when I saw it.

The entire raggedy hem of my skirt was hanging down in the rear.  Not attractive.  Not professional.  And definitely not hot.

My first thought was, “Wow, I wish I had a sewing kit here at school.”  Dumb.

A.  I don’t know how to sew.  2.  Where exactly did I think I was going to take off my skirt so I could sew it back together? I certainly couldn’t do it in my classroom, and people were bound to get suspicious if I barricaded the bathroom door for an  hour.  And their suspicions would probably be worse than my actual predicament.  AND, being able to sew doesn’t become any easier when you are in a bathroom closet sitting on a toilet.

So, I backed my way all the way back to my portable, and emptied the drawers of my desk, praying that Neumo, our classroom pet cockroach, would not leap into my face to make my day truly complete.

The tape drawer showed the most promise.  I had lime green duct tape I had borrowed from Dimples for some classroom decorating.  I imagined myself on Project Runway modeling my new lime green raincoat skirt with masking tape pockets.  Definitely hot.  Too bad I didn’t have the roll of leopard tape, too…

But, then I noticed my “mavelus tape“, and decided to give that a try instead.  I taped my hem, and then strategically placed a bunch of not-so-straight-because-I-use-them-on-my-bulletin-board-pins throughout the entire skirt.  As you can imagine, this took quite a bit of finesse considering I was still wearing the skirt.

And I was in a bit of pain any time I sat down.

But that’s nothing new.

I spent the next 4 hours as a voodoo doll, wincing every time I pierced my own skin, and composing a lecture to Cap’n Firepants about how he should never, ever, under no uncertain terms call me “hot” again.

My temporary “fix” made it through the rest of the day with some minor adjustments to my walking stride that I’m certain did not make me look awkward at all.

MacGyver would be proud.  Heidi Klum?  Not so much.

Yes, my sewing skills are only equalled by my talent in photography.

How Far I’ve Fallen

(Twenty-five years ago, in the midst of being “kidnapped” at 1 A.M. by sorority members during pledging)

Fellow “kidnapping victim”, looking at me:  Geez, how do you always look so perfect?  It’s the middle of the night, we just got dumped out of bed, and you’ve got every hair in place, and you look gorgeous.

(Yesterday, in the parking lot, after spending an hour getting ready to go to the hospital to visit my mother-in-law:)

Dimples, my daughter:  Mom, why do you have two different shoes on?

Not my feet. I am in desperate need of a pedicure, so I googled “different flip flops” – and found out from “Lana” that this is actually a trendy new fashion statement…

This is Lana, my new fashion consultant.
photo credits: http://posejuniorfashionexperts

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