Monday, April 29, 2013

How to Vote

Thank you to everyone who is helping CAM by voting for us in the local mother-daughter look alike contest.  The voting page is convoluted, though, so here is a step-by-step for those of you who want to help but have been frustrated by the system.

Step 1:  Go to

Step 2:  On the menu bar, select CONTESTS.

Step 3: Select "Mother Daughter Look Alike"

Step 4: Register.  This is on the menu bar BELOW the giant photo of the mother and daughter.  (If you have already registered, log in.)

Step 5: Click on Voting.  Your screen will look like this below that giant photo.

Step 6:  BEFORE you do the "captcha" text recognition, go to the search bar, and enter "jenred823."  Then hit the SEARCH button.  This will find the photo of CAM and me.  There is a little radio button to vote for us.  Click it.  Then, scroll BACK up to the page and do the captcha form, and click "SAVE VOTE."

Finally, you are done!  It's a strange little process -- and definitely confusing.  But thank you, a thousand thank-you's, for helping me to help CAM win.  She thinks we sent our photo to Taylor Swift herself, and I so very much want to win this for her!


101 Things #63: Done! But I Need Your Help!

101 Things #63: Enter a Contest.

Done!  CAM and I were driving to school/work on Friday and changed radio stations and happened to catch a commercial for a mother-daughter lookalike contest.

The prize?  Tickets to see Taylor Swift, CAM's absolute favorite person!

"Holy cow," we thought, "this is a contest we can actually win!"

The catch?  We have to win by votes!  It's a two-tiered process.  This week, everyone can vote once a day.  The top ten vote getters by the end of the week will make it to the final round, where it basically starts all over again.

I am horrible, terrible, no good, very bad at garnering votes for stuff.  But I always vote when friends ask me to help them.  Now, I'm praying begging for a little goodwill so that CAM can win.

If there was ever a contest we were made for, this is it!

Will you please help us?

You have to register, but once you do, you can vote once a day.

Just go to this site.

Register, and then vote.  (The page is kind-of backwards.  You register, then you find us and click the little "vote" button, but you have to do a "captcha" recognition, and that's strangely at the top of the page.  It can be confusing at first, but once you've done it, it's easy -- for all the rest of the days you can vote!)  You can search for us by searching "jenred823."  You'll see us ... CAM and I sitting on the driveway.

Thank you so, so very much!!


p.s  if you have lots of voting-inclined friends, will you please ask them to vote, too?  Thank you!

Sunday, April 28, 2013

Warm Hands

Me: WHM!  You are FREEZING!  These are some icicle hands!

(warming his hands up and giggling)

Me:  WHM  has icicle hands!

WHM:  And Mommy has warmicle hands!


Friday, April 26, 2013

My New Favorite Photo

I took this today.  If you look carefully you can even see a sprinkling of freckles starting to come out!


Thursday, April 25, 2013

101 Things #70 -- done!

(I debated not writing about this, because it's not for glory that I did it; but I just left the restaurant with CAM, and the truth is that I feel pretty close to being on top of the world, and I want to share why.)

CAM and I went on a girls' date night tonight.  I had detention duty after school today (don't get me started ... grrrr) and so by the time I picked her up from school it was 3:45.  We went on our continued hunt* for plain Keds for her baton competition this weekend, and afterwards, the two of us went to a girls-only dinner.

CAM picked the restaurant.  Here in Maine, we go to this particular restaurant as a family a fair amount.  I wouldn't say we're regulars -- this is no On the Border Mall of Georgia!** -- but we are there enough that they recognize us.  (In fairness, it's hard to not remember us.  We're the family with three redheads.)  So there we were.  The hostess sat us, and a few minutes later a waitress came over to get our drink order.  Immediately behind us was another waitress who said to the first, "I'm here!"  (It's hard to convey tone.  The first waitress had just started to introduce herself when the second waitress appeared right behind her.  They had a friendly oops-I-bumped-into-you sort-of two second chat where it was clear the first girl hadn't realized the second was, in fact, right behind her.)  So the second girl introduced herself, took our drink order, took CAM's dinner order (minus the side, since CAM couldn't decide yet) and off she went. 

When she came back with our drinks, she took my dinner order and was super friendly in asking CAM if she was ready to pick her side yet.

CAM and I sat and nibbled on our popcorn, played the games on the kids' menu, and after a reasonable wait, our food appeared.  It was delivered by yet another girl, who said, "if you need anything, ANY of us can help."  I didn't really think too much about it because it's not that unusual for servers to rotate who brings food out from the kitchen. 

And then a FOURTH server came over -- someone who's waited on our family before -- and said that any of us could help and Julie would be a few minutes, so if we needed anything to please ask anyone for help.  I asked her if everything was okay, and she said, yes -- it's just one of those things where sometimes life hits and you need a few minutes.  And off she went.

Then Julie came back out to check on us, and it was very, very clear she'd been sobbing.  So I asked her if she was okay, and she said she would be, and we got to talking.  It came out in conversation that one of her best friends is down at Maine Medical Center and they had just gotten word that his kidneys have failed and his body is shutting down.  (Please note that she did not just dump this information on me, and neither did I drill her on it.  But we did have a conversation and this was the summary of it.)  His girlfriend -- also a server at this restaurant, and also good friends with Julie -- had been at his bedside for the past three weeks... and had just lost her own mother in January.

Our poor server!  She was heartbroken.  She said she had been fine and then all of a sudden lost it.  She seemed so appreciative of our patience -- but the truth was, there had been nothing to be patient about.  People were doting on us and service was impeccable this evening.  We chatted a little longer and eventually, she went off to continue working, and CAM and I continued our dinners.

When we were done, ice cream and all, Julie brought us the check and told us that CAM's meal was free because the Red Sox won last night. 

And there it was.  Here was this poor lady who was clearly heartbroken.  Who was absolutely wonderful to us, and whose service was fantastic, and yet our whole tab was only $13.89. 

And right in that moment, as I started to do the math of what the tip should be based on the full-price ticket, I decided that this was the time to do #70.  100% tip.  I've long wanted to do this, and for so long it's never been the right time, or the right person, or, quite frankly, an experience that made me think it was worth it.  But I sat there tonight and in a split second I thought, here is a person who needs the "you are awesome" affirmation that a nice tip will bring.  No, it's not a lot of money.  Heck,  probably won't make a big difference in her total tonight.  But hopefully it will make her smile on a night when she hasn't had much to smile about. 

And you know what?

It felt amazing to do it.  I left there feeling so good about the world.  Maybe one small gesture can make a difference, and maybe, just maybe, tonight was the night that I got to do it.


* Until CAM is certain that she wants to twirl, her teacher said to just get plain, old-fashioned Keds (or knockoffs) for CAM's very first competition this weekend.  We have been to nine (!!!) different shoe stores in Maine, and not a one of them carries them.  Time was running short, so in a desperate move, we went to K-Mart.  We got knock-offs -- not even perfectly Keds style, but literally all we could find.

** Where we ate as many as seven times in a week.  Oh, yes.  This was our "Cheers."

Sunday, April 21, 2013

Next Year

Well, friends, I've been invited to teach again next year.

And, as usual, I am torn.  I am particularly torn because this has been a good year, and I adore my team.  Are there issues?  Yes.  Do I occasionally get angry enough or frustrated enough with the system to want to spit?  To want to kick puppies?  Absolutely.  (I have done neither, many thanks to Mick, who has heard -- and calmed -- many a rant.)  But I don't want to be a teacher forever.  I want to do the following: play a meaningful role in education policy.  Go to medical school.  Be a stay-at-home mom.  Use my law degree. 

(No, I have no idea how to do all of those at once.  I'm working on it.)

So, I am torn.

We had to build portfolios to document, in what turned out to be a somewhat defensive process, all that we do and why/how it makes us a good teacher. I'll write more about this another day.  Famous last words, I know, but I don't want that to hijack this post.  There's a lot to write about (not negative, either, which I am sure is a shocker!) and it's really more than I can put here.

In the meantime, get a load of this:

That's right, my friends.  Although I really don't want to live in Maine forever, we're here now, and I need to be proactive about taking the Maine bar exam.  These are the study books.  I have not yet applied -- that's coming -- but I did, at least, track down and purchase some books before the mad 3L rush for them.  Since the course is $2800, buying the books without the course is huge.  (BarBri in general is very expensive, but I would tell anyone in their third year of law school that they should consider it part of their tuition.  The discipline of the course and the pure "this is how it is, this is what you need to know" of it is brilliant.  But, having taken both a bar exam and a BarBri course in the past, all I need now is to carve out the time to study, and the books with which to do so.  I know what I'm in for; I know how to do it... I am at the point of just needing to actually do it. Don't take that the wrong way: I'm not saying it's easy.  I'm just saying it's not QUITE as scary as it was the first time.  Wish me luck.)

Ooooh ... Chopped "fan picks" is on right now and the Facebook, Pinterest, and Twitter fans have been downright ruthless to the poor chefs competing!  I've got to go watch this mayhem. 

Stay tuned!


p.s.  Spring Break is officially over, and school resumes tomorrow. I have done NOTHING related to work, including going through my work bag.  Good thing tomorrow's a review day AND this isn't my first rodeo!  But tomorrow's prep period?  That promises to be busy busy busy!

Thursday, April 18, 2013

CAM's Calendar

Here's a one month snapshot for you.  This is one busy little kid!

Saturday, March 16 -- Gram and Grampa are here, but we need to get to bed because the leprechaun is coming!
Sunday, March 17 -- What a mess! Woke up to a crazy mess from that leprechaun!
Sunday, March 24 -- Palm Sunday
Sunday, March 31 -- Easter!  The Easter Bunny came and brought us some really cool things!
Thursday, April 4 -- Class field trip.  Mommy chaperoned!  We went to Portland to see a live production of the story book "Click Clack Moo, Cows That Type."
Friday, April 5 -- I lost my first tooth!  It was reallllllly loose and Mommy said "pop it out," so I did! 
Saturday, April 6 -- Hooray!  I woke up to a gift from the Tooth Fairy, and after bath time and brunch at Cracker Barrel, the whole family headed to NJ for my cousin's christening.  Exciting!  We stayed in a hotel with room service and Daddy ordered me pancakes at 10 pm.  He's the best.
Sunday, April 7 -- Christening.  There was a big party and we drove back to Maine late late at night.  It was fun to get all dressed up and play with other kids, though.
Monday, April 8 -- Mommy and Daddy let me sleep late because last night was a late drive.  We got home after 1 am so Mommy said waking up at 6 for school would be too much.  I slept really late and Daddy and WHM and I went to lunch.  It was a family date, except we missed Mommy.  Then Daddy took me to ballet class this afternoon.
Tuesday, April 9 -- Today was a regular school day. 
Wednesday, April 10 -- Baton class!  I am getting ready for my very first competition at the end of April.
Thursday, April 11 -- One more day until vacation!  
Friday, April 12 -- Last day of school until vacation!  It is soooo cold out, and Mommy and I had to get up early to buy cupcakes for my class on our way to school.  Then on the way home, we stopped at the store to buy a cake for Daddy.  It's his birthday tomorrow, too.  But it's snowing out!  I can't believe it is snowing!!
Saturday, April 13 -- I turned six today -- and got my ears pierced!  I picked where we went for lunch but I picked "mine and Daddy's" favorite restaurant.  Happy Birthday to us!  When we got home we had birthday cake. 

Jen here again...  Let's recap.  In less than one month's time, CAM had treats from the leprechaun, the Easter Bunny, the Tooth Fairy, and her birthday. 

We've got one lucky little girl over here, and she is THRILLED beyond belief by all the good stuff that's been happening lately.

This week has been our spring break, and here it is already Thursday and I can't believe how little I have accomplished on my mighty to-do list ... but let's face it: it's been worth it.  (Just don't ask me next week how stressed I am to still have an unpacked, messy house, okay?!  Thanks!)

In the meantime, we are busily planning CAM's birthday party.  We couldn't do it on her birthday weekend or the one following because those weekends bookend Spring Break.  (We thought that was a sure way to ensure that people were busy, and since we have really only her class to invite, I didn't want a heartbroken little girl if no one could come.)  The weekend before her birthday, we were in NJ, and the weekend after the weekend after, CAM has her very first baton competition.  So we've pushed back to May.  The only thing we know so far is that we're having a Fancy Nancy party ...  it won't be quite the Strawberry Shortcake extravaganza, but I am doing to do my best to make it as wonderful as possible.  Stay tuned!!


Wednesday, April 17, 2013


Have you ever heard the expression, "life gets in the way"? 

Well, I have no excuse except that.  It's been a busy time up here in Maine with the kids, with my job, with some trips out of town, and all of a sudden I realized today that it has been nearly three weeks since I last posted.   I've been trying to do a better job of not being at the computer all evening when I get home, but the trade-off has been that I have done no posting, and goodness -- there's a lot to post!

This is unacceptable.

And I know this because even my dad broke down and sent me an email asking me when, if ever, I intended to post again.

Sorry, friends. 

I'm sitting here in my pj's smelling muffins in the oven, getting ready to brush WHM's teeth and send him outside to play with Mick.  I've got all the laundry in the universe to do today, but my plan (and you know it's going to happen, because it is written down on my sacred To Do list!) is to write a few more posts over the next few days.

More soon!


Wednesday, April 3, 2013

For My Loyalty

Oh, Excedrin.

As I could ever fathom being disloyal. 

You, on the other hand, abandoned me.  For a year. 

Left me alone, to make my way through this world second-rate generics. 

No one held a candle to you, Excedrin.  And still, I stood by with my stockpile, recall be damned. I risked my life for you!  Taking recalled pills with reckless abandon ... what might have happened?!  I hesitate to think.

I'm glad my love is no longer unrequited.  We've got a good thing, Excedrin.  A good, good thing.


Tuesday, April 2, 2013

I am Good at A Lot of Things ...

... but Easter eggs? 

Not one of them.

Last year was the first year our eggs were both cooked and colored right.

WHM dropped them on the floor.

This year, we attended the Saturday night Easter Vigil, and I knew it would be late* when we got home, so we set up the eggs before we headed out.

Bad idea.

The dye/vinegar combination caused the egg to bubble.

At least the colors are nice and bold! 

Oh, and they were raw.  So much for my fail-proof egg timer.

Try again next year!

* We attended the Easter vigil.  E-a-s-t-e-r V-i-g-i-l.  It was well over two hours.  And for two full hours, I stood and bounced and rocked a sleeping three-year-old in my arms.  It was totally worth it, but man was my left arm sore the next day!