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Wednesday, August 25, 2010

Chinese Fire Drill or Fire Ants Distrubed!

By Jody Worsham
All rights reserved to purchase spare gasoline tank

A Fire Ant Chinese Fire Drill, that’s the best way I know to describe the first day of school. In years past the first day of school for my children was also my first day of school so I missed out on this first-day-automobile-mayhem. However, this second time around, I was right in there in the line of cars that stretched from here to eternity.

The nine-year-old started school four days before the five-year-old. I thought to myself “This is good. This will give me a time estimate on pick-up and delivery. That first day I tried to drive right into the front parking lot of the school. I got funny looks and honks. No cutting, even in traffic. So I snaked my way around to the back side of the parking lot on the other side of the football stadium and lined up…and waited.

That same afternoon, I again drove into the front parking lot but I thought I would time the pick-up line and when the last car pulls around I will hop right in behind it. It was thirty-five minutes from the time school was out until I picked her up. Ok, got that down. This is going to work out fine.

Then the five-year-old started school along with the rest of the entire world. We left the house an extra ten minutes early. First, the nine-year-old would be dropped off. I couldn’t figure out why her drop-off line wasn’t moving. Then I realized the doors to her school did not open until 7:30. Also I had not anticipated the other elementary school next door starting at the same time with its own never-ending-car-line.

I then headed out for the second nine mile drive to the next delivery point. When I got within two miles of his school, I thought there must have been an accident or something because traffic was backed up and bumper to bumper. Then I realized it was the rest of the entire world lined up to turn into his school. I drove past the school and came back to it in the opposite direction, found a parking place and walked him to his classroom.

On the way out I noticed there was no one in the drop-off lane. I thought to myself, “Oh, this will be a piece of cake this afternoon.” NOT! School is out at 3 p.m. and I arrived at the turn-off lane at 2:50. “My, they must be limited in parking. There’s cars all parked on the other side of the road… headed to the school… with their motors running…and not moving.

At 3:00, I had moved up one car length. I also noted the row of “parked cars” had also moved up one car length. I looked behind me and counted 60 cars. At 3:15, I had moved up six car lengths. At 3:20 (the nine-year-old had now been out of school twenty minutes) I saw that the double row of cars merged into one row as they headed for the five pick up spots. At 3:30 as I moved into spot #1 to pick up my hot, sweaty, thirsty five-year-old, I estimated 200 cars had been ahead of me and there was another 150 behind me.

I then went to pick up the nine-year-old. The school had already called home to see if somehow, she had been forgotten. I guess that was expected since I had taught the principal and she knew me.

Tomorrow will be day two of this hurry-up-and-wait marathon. Now, here are my choices. I take the nine-year-old at 7a.m. and am first in line to drop her off at 7:30, then race to the other school and hope the line is not as long so I can drop the five-year-old in time for lunch.

OR I leave at 7a.m., have the five-year-old dress in the car and eat breakfast on the way, drop him off first and have the night-watchman look after him until the teachers arrive and the lights are turned on, then drive the nine-year-old back into town and drop her off and hope we make it before her classes start at 7:45 a.m. In the afternoon, I can get in the pick-up line at 2p.m. to pick up the five-year-old at 3:00 p.m. in order to be on time to pick up the nine-year-old before 3:30, when they start their E.T. Phone Home routine.

OR I can trade in the suburban for a pick-up truck with a cab-over camper and just sleep in the parking lot. The latter may be the best choice as I will soon have to factor in ballet lessons, soccer practice, violin lessons, and girl scouts starting next month.

Why did I think life was going to be less complicated when they were both in school?

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

It's the Most Wonderful Time of the Year

by Jody Worsham
All rights reserved for big back to school party for parents, no kids allowed.

As the song goes, with a few variations, "It's the most wonderful time of the year. Car pools are filling and lunches are brimming, and parents all cheer. It's the most wonderful time of the year."

Yes, school has started, at least for the nine-year-old. Last night she tried on six different clothes, new school, new teachers. It had to be just right. In my first term of motherhood, I picked out just the right outfit to make that first good impression regardless of what the child wanted. Now in my second term of motherhood, I realize the importance of the child feeling like she could be impressive on her own. With absolutely-the-coolest-outfit-on-the-planet laid out, everyone went to sleep...sort of.

Now this same child who has slept until 10 a.m. every morning this summer was up dressed, and sitting at the kitchen table at 6a.m. I was majorly sleep deprived from this same-earth-quake-category-5-hurricane-couldn't-wake-me child who asked me every two hours during the night: "Just checking to make sure you set the alarm", "Is it time to go yet?" "Are you sure you got all my supplies?" Oh, if it could only last.

Three days from now it will take three alarm clocks, a mountain of threats, and the final last resort, a spritzing of ice water from a spray bottle to get her up and going. By the third day she will have checked out all the new kids, cased the playground for the best monkey bars, fastest slide, and the longest swing. She will know just how far to push the teacher before she blows.

As a teacher I know how important those first three days are. It determines whether you start marking off the days until Thanksgiving holidays or you suddenly pause for a second and realize the year is almost over. It also determines who's the boss, you or them.

My five-year-old doesn't start until Monday. His biggest concern is the play ground, how much time he has to play, and when is lunch. Kind of like me.

As some of you parents fight the crowds on Tax Free Weekend, grabbing school snacks from the shelves and wrestling over the last package of biology paper, remember it's a full two and a half months until Thanksgiving holidays, and sing this little song in your head...or even out loud.."It's the most wonderful time of the year...!"

Friday, August 13, 2010

Hawaii 5 oh,oh,oh,oh$

by Jody Worsham
All rights reserved to pay interest on the credit card for the next 20 years.

Everyone said the cost of living in Hawaii was very high so evidently most of the people there are tourists or people employed to take care of tourists, or homeless. We saw a lot of the homeless people in the park. I think one may have been a former Enron executive because he had his rolling office chair parked right next to his shopping cart. We passed him several times during the week and he was always there sitting in his chair. He was probably at the Hawaiian Hilton in the executive suite when Enron crashed so he just rolled his chair across the street and took up residence.

Our trolly driver was a pyro-techie for the movies but when business got slow (probably due to natural pyro-technics from the volcano erupting on the big island) he started driving the trolly. He showed us the school he attended. It was still standing so either he wasn't very good at hisjob, he didn't want to burn things down until he hit high school, or his elementary school had a very good fire prevention program.

Our waitress at dinner came to the island as a graduation present with her mother.
Mom liked it so much she moved here permanently a year and a half later. When our waitress graduated from a university in Virginia with her elementary certification she came back to the island to hang out for awhile. I asked why she wasn't teaching (our trolly driver said seven elementary schools had been added in the past three or four years). She said it's so expensive to live here, she would have had to teach school and waitress to make a decent living. "This way I can work and enjoy the island". I guess she made more waitressing full time than teaching full time.

The nine-year-old discovered the hands-on Apple Store our first day. On my third trip to the store and while leaning against a wall hoping the store would close early, a young man came up to me and said "I've seen that look a thousand times." I asked him if he was born on the island. No, but he had lived there since he was four. He asked where I was from. I told him Texas. He said he dated a violinst from Texas. I'm thinking, does he know how big Texas is? "Actually she played for the Symphony in the Pines. "In Nacogdoches, I said". "Yes." He had attended the University of Oklahoma and had visited Nacogdoches one weekend. What are the odds? I guess he was selling a lot of I-phones, I-Pads, or I-patches because he lived in Hawaii full time and he looked well fed.

McDonald's is always my barometer of expenses. You know you are in trouble when there is no dollar menue. There's a two dollar menue and there is no Happy Meals. The only happy people were the owners of the McDonald's franchise.

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

Hawaiian Non-sense of Humor

by Jody Worsham
All rights reserved to send funny e-mails to our 50th state.

I just assumed that almost every person in the world had a sense of humor or could appreciate a sense of humor. That does not seem to extend to our 50th state. While we expereienced a great Aloha Spirit from almost everyone, there didn't seem to be much laughter going on.

For example, in one of the "Things to Do" there was an advertisement for a comedy club (only one listed) announcing that a venue had been found to explore Polyniasian humor. Hadn't they been laughing before?

In one of the many McDonald's a taro root fried pie was right there along side the apple pie. I had to buy one that morning just to see what it tasted like. Definitely not anything funny about chunks of library paste covered in sugar. I was standing there waiting for my order when a guy came up to the counter. The definitely native Hawaiian asked "Could I help you." The definitely NOT native Hawaiian asked for a margurita. I cracked up but the native boy just stood there. No smile, no grin. Maybe he was a new trainee and was looking for the margarita/salt no/s.alt button.

We did encounter some humor at the Polynesian Cultural Center parking lot. We had become accustomed to paying high parking fees everywhere we went but when the attendants told my sister she had to pay $8 every thirty minutes she was shell shocked at first. "No, we have a full day pass for the center". "Sorry, see sign, says 30 minute parking." Indeed, there were 8 parking places with signs "30 Minute Parking" We were about to turn around and go back to town and pay a cab to take us back (it would have been cheaper)when the two boys burst out laughing. That doesn't really count because they were from China and just working there part time.

We paid our one time $8 parking fee and parked. As we were walking back, my niece pointed to the name tags on the two Chinese parking attendants i.d. tags, "Chak" (prounounced chick) and "Wing". We all began laughing and asked to take the picture of "Chak-n-Wing". At least one person had to have a sense of humor to put those two working in the same spot.

The next day we were looking for a Chinese place to eat. We found one and I even took a picture of the resturant sign in case any of you doubt me. The place was called "Fook Yen Food". Now, I don't know if I have just taught high school students too long or I look for passive resistance tendencies everywhere, or I just have a twisted sense of something. We did not eat there.

I'm thinking we should bombard Hawaii with every humor book we can write or find and send them to the Hawaiian people...well, except for Chak and Wing but then they aren't natives.

Saturday, August 7, 2010

Hawaiian Tips #1 and 2

I just returned from a week in Hawaii. Before you turn green with envy, let me say that I took the eight-year-old with me so you should only be a slightly pale lime green color. In case you decide to travel in the near future, I'm going to give you some tips.

Tip #1. Double check your departure date. We almost arrived a day early at the airport. This was not entirely my fault. I had been up until 1:45 a.m. two weeks before trying to make travel arrangements through Orbitz to save a wad of money by purchasing our tickets on-line, only my trusty credit card people would not approve my purchase.

I'm sure a teacher at some point wronged the person in charge of security (in Texas that usually meant a football player made a 69 in math and so was ineligibe for the "big game"), so consequently no teacher was going to go to Hawaii and save some money. Or, possibly, the security person was a former teacher and knew there was no way a teacher could afford to go to Hawaii; ergo, the credit card had been stolen. Or, this purchase was not at Wal-Mart or Mcdonalds, so obviously this was not me trying to buy airline tickets.

The following morning, bleary eyed and sleep-deprived, I called my travel agent to make the tickets. I'm almost 200% sure I said departure on Thursday but ocassionaly my brain takes leave of my conscious.

At the insistence of the eight-year-old, I checked our tickets after loading the car on Wednesday for our scheduled departure on Thursday. Indeed, we were leaving on Friday. At that point my husband began drilling the eight-year-old on what to do, who to call, where to go in case of an emergency.

Tip #2 Learn to read your e-ticket. My sister, her husband, and my niece were also going to Hawaii at the same time. They were flying Air Nothing and so had warned me to bring food on the ten hour flight as there would be no food service.

Our flight was non-stop so I packed enough beef jerky, breakfast bars, cheese crackers, and Crystal Lite to sustain the entire plane should we have to land on a deserted island (one without a McDonalds). We left home at 4:59 for our 2 1/2 hour drive to the airport. McDonald's was half-way so we stopped for a big breakfast. When we arrived at the airport and had cleared security, we still had an hour before our plane left. We ate breakfast again and ordered sandwiches to go.

An hour after we boarded the plane, we were served cokes and pretzels. Two hours later the eight-year-old was starving so we ate our sandwiches. An hour later, we were served lunch, salad, turkey sandwiches, cookies. The eight-year-old was still hungry so she ate my sandwich and I ate her salad. An hour before we landed, we were served a light snack, half a sandwich, chips, and a drink.

My sister picked us up at the airport in Honolulu. The first thing she said was "We'll stop at McDonald's. I know you are starving!" "Yes!" came out of the eight-year-old's mouth, "there wasn't much to eat on the plane". I thought maybe my brain had taken another nap during the flight until I picked up the now half empty grocery sack of beef jerky, crackers, and breakfast bars to load into the car.

I pulled out my return ticket for the flight home, noted that the flight was over night, the date, and the number of meals that would be served. There would be dinner served, two snacks and drink Then I located the nearest grocery store. You never know when the plane might have to land on a deserted island or an eight-year-old might have another growing spurt.