Sunday, January 27, 2013


Hi, Natalie here.  Just curious if anyone ever sees these posts anymore?  I haven't taken this blog down and still get a couple hundred hits a month.  Not sure if those are all spam (I get spam comments weekly) or if there are actual people checking to see if I'm posting.  I love this blog, these posts, this record of my life.  I still look back on it every once in a while and might have it made into a book one day.  Hope you are all well.

Friday, July 02, 2010

Moving on

I think I'm done here. I might have more to say at some point, but for right now I need to just move on. I don't plan to delete this blog, so it will be floating around in cyberspace for new people to read. And who knows...someday I might resurrect it. I just don't want to feel the pressure to write something when I have nothing to say.

Thank you to everyone who read here. To those who commented and emailed and came back for more I am truly grateful. I will still receive any comments left here since I have them sent to my email account.

Saturday, June 05, 2010

a new do

This weekend we went from this

to this,

and from this,

to this.

The before pictures were taken after swimming and hair drying. They didn't usually style their hair that way. My dad had the privilege of blow drying their hair and then shaving it off. They both like the new styles, but I must admit that I will miss the long flowing locks. They both look so much older and taller now!

Sunday, May 02, 2010


I can't believe it's been two weeks since I blogged here. I know I was out for a bit, but I had planned to blog more often. I just got busy I guess.

So I've had a migraine for 3 days. Even on medicine it hasn't totally gone away. I woke up with it on Friday and took drugs to fight it. I was fine all day. Woke up Saturday morning with it again. Took drugs. Took drugs Saturday evening. Took Excedrin this morning in hopes that it will knock out what little bit is left. We'll see.

And because of that nagging headache I'm going to get off the computer. I've already skimmed all of your fabulous blogs and now my eyes are tired.

Sunday, April 18, 2010

Someone should totally pay me for this stuff.

Many of you know about my love affair with peanut m&m's. It's been going on for years. I've tried some of the other candies in the m&m's family...peanut butter, coconut, mint, pb&j, wildly cherry...and so far nothing has been able to steal me away from that bright yellow bag. I guess that's a good thing considering most of those other flavors are for a limited time only.

As you know it is my job to find and report* on new food (ok...mostly candy) discovered in my stomping grounds. Well yesterday I ran across these babies.

Pretzel m&m's.

Now I love me a good chocolate-covered pretzel. The combination of sweet and salty just does it for me every time. I am uber excited that m&m has decided to join the fun.

Inspecting the color palette*.

And I tasted them. Actually I ate all of the ones you see pictured. I would have eaten more, but that was the entire bag's worth.

So how did they taste? Pretty much like you would expect a candy-coated, chocolate-covered pretzel to taste. I do think there was a tad too much salt flavor, which is surprising if you know me at all. I love me some salt. The chocolate to pretzel ratio* was completely in line with what an m&m should be, but I'm thinking they would have been better with a bit more chocolate on them.

Verdict* - I wouldn't turn them down if they were offered to me, but when I'm standing in line at the grocery store making my own choice I'll still be picking up the yellow bag.

*I realize that m&m's are supposed to be a fun candy and that my post sounds quite serious. Product review...it's a serious business. Of course it would be so much better and easier to remain serious if I got a paycheck for all my research. I could have a spot in my house to actually do reviews. There would be a photo studio so I wouldn't be tempted to take pictures of the products on my unmade bed. I can't promise I wouldn't eat the candy in bed, but at least you wouldn't see the sheets in the background.

Sunday, April 04, 2010

problem solved

Remember this?

Well, I happened to be driving by that same billboard yesterday and saw this...

Much better!

Friday, April 02, 2010

World Autism Awareness Day

Since it's World Autism Awareness Day I thought I would write about a little something that's been on my mind lately.

Right after spring break I got a new student. He seemed to be having trouble adapting to our schedule. After 2 weeks of teaching said student I'm almost positive he has Asperger's Syndrome or some other form of autism. My niece has it, and there are many similarities to the glimpses I got of her at that age. I haven't said anything to the parents, because I'm not sure why he transferred to our school. I know he is closer to his mother's job now. I know they pay tuition for him to go to our school, because they still live in the district where his old school was. I can't help but wonder if the teacher at his old school mentioned that he might need to be tested because of his problems, and his parents didn't agree or want to accept it. From what I can tell he's an only child. He reads and writes beautifully (From what I've read good handwriting isn't normal for autistic kids...hm...). He can count better than most. Based on those things he is a model student. But something is definitely wrong. I've talked to my principal, and she thinks we should wait to talk to the parents. She told me to make notes. Document behaviors that stand out. I've started doing that. I just wish I could call his old school and get some feedback from them.

While looking things up online I came across this fictional story about a kid with Asperger's Syndrome that I thought I would share. Just in case anyone out there is interested.

I'm thinking bald is beautiful.

I have never liked getting my haircut. I don't like the amount of time it seems to take. It's not like I think I have better things to do with my time. I'm not one of those people who has to be on the go all the time either. But for some reason when I'm getting my hair done the time seems to drag on and on. Waiting for that golden moment when you're given the mirror to check yourself out seems like it's never going to come. When the cape is finally removed and I'm allowed out of the chair all I want to do is throw my money at the counter as I run by. I feel as though I have to escape before my stylist sees an errant hair that he missed and pulls out those scissors again. I don't though. I actually stand there and pay like a good customer.

When I lived in Turkey I really hated getting my haircut. And yes, hate is an extreme word, but it is the proper one here. I never knew what to expect at the salons there. After a couple of really bad haircuts (due I'm sure to my extremely limited language skills when we first arrived AND earning me the nickname Larry because one was SOOOO short) I was quite skittish anytime I needed a trim. And believe me the only time I ever got my haircut there was when the split ends were taking over and I had no choice but to get a trim. There was no way I was going to let someone actually give me full out haircut. I saved those for my trips to America. One of the things that seemed so strange to me in Turkey was the fact that it took 2 people to style your hair. One person was the hairdryer holder while the other used the brush and aimed the hairdryer. And even though I was only getting trims it still seemed like it took forever.

A couple of weeks ago I had my hair colored and highlighted. It was spring break and the only available appointment my colorist had left was on a Saturday. Let me bear witness here that Saturdays are crazy busy at my salon. After looking over my hair my colorist decided that it was time for some highlights and low lights as well as the normal root touch up. Being completely dense about these things myself I let her make those sorts of decisions for me. So far she's never steered me wrong. She mixed her colors and set about foiling my hair. By the time she was done with that portion her next client had arrived. She passed me off to a girl who basically runs around the coloring station helping everyone. She applied the base color to my roots and wherever else it needed to be touched up. I waited. When it was time to rinse it all out another helper girl took me to the washing sink and rinsed. She applied a 2 part leave-in conditioner that needed to be heated so I sat under the dryer for 20 minutes, rinsed, was conditioned again and sat under the dryer for an additional 15 minutes After everything was washed out I was taken to yet another person who dried and styled my hair for me. 4 hours and 4 people later I was done. Finally done. All I can say is thank goodness I hadn't planned to get my haircut as well!

Note...my hair was beautiful. I wish I had thought to take a picture of it.

Note 2...I made another appointment while I was there for a Tuesday night weeks in advance. I NEVER do that, but I don't think I can handle another Saturday appointment again.

Sunday, March 28, 2010

Teaching FAIL

Passed this sign today. Drove about a mile before I decided I had to turn around and take a picture of it. I decided to be nice and called the number for the academy to report the mistake. Since it's Sunday I just left a message, but you can be sure I'll be watching the billboard to see what they do about it!

Saturday, March 27, 2010

Say what?

Teaching is getting easier. Kinda. The kids are still much harder to deal with than I remember, but I am getting into a routine. And the staff at my school is fabulous which helps tremendously. Mucho support from everyone. But back to the kids. After spring break I had the kids tell me one fun thing they did over the break. The first kid I called on said he went to Disneyland. Um...yeah...right. How did you get there? A limo. Now I know he has no idea that to drive to Disneyland would take a full 24 hours. But still...why make up such a crazy story? After that the stories ranged from bull riding to mountain climbing to going to a waterpark. Now I know that none of the stories are true. I could tell by the way they were told. I also know that 5 year olds don't ride bulls, there are no mountains anywhere close, and that the waterparks weren't open yet. I was so thankful for the kid who said he and his brother got to stay up late and jump on his trampoline in the dark. The best part was how excited he was to tell me that. He didn't make up a story about something that he couldn't even imagine. He told the truth, and it showed all over his face.

The same kid who "went to Disneyland" for spring break mentioned that his birthday was coming up. He wondered aloud if I was coming. He answered his own thought by reminding himself that I didn't even know where his house was. Just because I was curious what he would say I asked him if he could tell me how to get there. I wrote down his directions to make sure I got them right.

"You know where that red light is by my nana's house? That green light that means go, yellow for slow down and red to stop? Go straight. You see that barbershop. Russell, he works there. My horse is right there by that tree. He is a brown horse. What kind is your car? (me...a van) Yeah, my church has a van. You see the donut shop right here. You gotta turn your head this way. Then you turn and that's my house."

And of course his directions were full of hand motions and pointing. He was sure I got it because I paid attention and wrote it all down. Poor kid. I don't think I'll be able to make it to his party despite his excellent directions. My reason...I don't know where his nana lives.

Kickin' it at the Rodeo - Mar. 19

Last week I was able to make a quick trip to the rodeo. I had promised my kids we would go see Rascal Flatts. Due to several unforeseen hold-ups between the hours of 4pm and 7pm we arrived late. As soon as we got in the gates we ran to the stadium. We missed the first event...calf roping and half of the second event...bareback riding. We saw the rest of the rodeo events and most of the concert before we left. There was no time for the carnival or the petting zoo or the ag-venture barn. I was not happy. I wanted more. This weekend will be my final chance to see it all. The question is will I go or not. I still haven't decided. If I do go I know what shoes I'm wearing...

A month or so ago I stopped at a western store to look at boots. I wanted boots. I tried on several pair before narrowing it down to two choices.

This beauty. A boot by Twisted X. I loved them. I paraded up and down the aisles and looked in the mirror numerous times. My only issue is they came up higher on my calves than I preferred, and unfortunately I have thick calves. I wasn't sure how that would feel after hours of wearing them. But they were so pretty. And other than being a bit tight on my calves they were very comfortable.

Then there was this one by Ariat. I liked it, but did I love it? That was the question. I put them on and they were comfortable. I liked the color as well. Not quite as pretty as the others, but at least they weren't pink. (Yes, they came in a pinkish color.) I walked and walked and walked and began to love them. I tried on one of each boot and walked some more. No doubt about it. The Ariat was more comfortable. It was also quite a bit cheaper.

I made my choice...comfort over beauty. And let me tell you I LOVE my boots. I wore them to school one day, and my feet felt fine the entire time. I know that summer is coming and that the weather is getting warmer. I know that flip flops will be the shoe of choice fairly soon around these parts. Despite the warmer temps I think I'll find excuses to wear jeans just so I can wear those pretty, comfortable boots!

Break Dancing - Mar 14

It's Spring Break. I have a whole week of nothing. Oh my how I needed it. Forget that I had two and a half weeks of nothing much before I started teaching. Forget that I only taught 2 weeks before this one. So what if I only worked 2 out of the last 5 weeks. I still needed the break.

Now if you'll excuse me I need to go take a nap.

Falling off the bike...over and over. - Mar. 7

I survived my first week but so needed the weekend to recover. It's Sunday, and I'm still tired.

Kindergarten is hard! The material the state requires a child to know by the end of their kindergarten year far surpasses what I taught to my students 15 years ago. Several years ago they made some huge changes to the curriculum. It will take me a little time to figure it all out.

The kids are also quite different from the ones I taught 15 years ago. They don't seem phased much by consequences or rewards. That's going to take some work on my part as well. How to keep a classroom running well while teaching what they need to know. I'm not there yet.

I'm older than I was when I taught last time. All the newness and uncertainty of the past week knocked me on my butt. By Wednesday night I was so tired that I didn't know whether to laugh or cry. A friend came over and took me to dinner. At least that's the story I was told. I barely remember it. There was leftover Chinese food in my refrigerator so I guess it really happened.

I barely saw my kids. I went to work an hour early and stayed an hour late just about every day. I went to the teacher supply store three times. I was in bed by 9:30 every night.

I teach this week and then have a week for Spring Break. I am so happy about that! I think a week to recover from my first two weeks of teaching is just what I need.

hit by a bus - Mar. 3

just a quick note to let you know that i'm alive. barely. too tired to even press the shift key to capitalize. is it friday yet?

It's like riding a bike, right? - Feb 28

Oh my. I start the new job tomorrow. I am ready, but then again I'm not. I just got the lesson plans, and most of it is just gibberish to me. I don't get the codes or know the curriculum at all. It is kindergarten so they won't be able to tell that I have no idea what I'm doing much. I think there will be a helper in the room as well so between the 2 of us we should be good. I plan to arrive an hour early, and I'm sure I'll be staying late just so that I can figure out what's what.

I packed my lunch and picked my clothes. My first day of school is tomorrow.

Random thoughts - Feb. 26

Random thoughts...

1. What does it say about me that I would rather wait at a light to take my turn than have to decide when to merge into oncoming traffic? There are two particular places that come to mind where I routinely choose to sit through a couple of lights rather than go the shorter way because of this.

2. In April of 2008 my grandmother passed away. I bought waterproof mascara as a precautionary measure and have since only used waterproof mascara. I started crying that month, and for some strange reason I cry all the time now. At silly commercials, my daughters' program at school (which wasn't even a tear jerker), over a dirty bathtub, and at countless other noncrying moments. Happy, sad, frustrated, mad, hopeful, wistful, sleepy, bored. It doesn't even matter. The faucet turned on and now it leaks.

3. I start work on Monday. This week was a flurry of getting background checks and filling out paperwork and getting fingerprinted. My principal just called me and said to be there Monday at 8am. I am pretty sure I'll arrive a tad bit earlier than that. I have no idea what I'm supposed to teach so I need to get a look at those lesson plans!

4. My train of thought jumped the track, and now I can't remember what other random thoughts I was having. Oh well.

Heart is pounding! - Feb 19

I got the job!!!! I am beyond excited about that! I could barely breathe after I got off the phone with the principal. She said she called all my references and got glowing reports about me. YEA!!!! I LOVE glowing reports! She wants me to start on Monday. She was going to call the HR department and see if they could process me that quickly. I'll either get a call from them or from her this afternoon to let me know for sure. Either way though...I got a job! I start next week. Yippy, skippy, doo!!!!!

Whee - Feb 18

The principal called me today to ask for the phone numbers of my references. I hadn't put any on the application which I explained in my interview. At the time I filled out the application Panera didn't know I was applying for another job. I was worried about jeopardizing my job by giving them the phone number. (Turns out I was right to think that!) Today I was able to give the principal 4 references, 3 from Panera and 1 from my principal at my last school, 15 years ago. Calling my references...that's a good thing. I don't know if I will hear something tomorrow or not. Last Friday she told me she wanted to make a decision by tomorrow, but when I talked to her today I didn't ask her if that was still the case. I figured I could give her a few more days to make a decision.

After I got off the phone I did a cartwheel in the backyard. Not so much because I almost have the job though. My youngest challenged me to a cartwheel contest to see who could do the better cartwheel. She's 10, but I'm limber. I'm also 40. I felt every bit of those 40 years as I turned myself upside down. My right thigh muscles pulled tight and my wrists hurt a little when it was over. I should have stretched, and I'm not used to holding my weight on my hands! But I won! She may be 10, but she sucks at cartwheels! I could have totally kicked her cartwheeling butt when I was her age! As it is I did the full cartwheel without losing my balance too much. She totally fell over at the end of hers. HA HA! I won!

The end of an (Pan)ERA - Feb 14

I went and observed at the school on Friday. It was exactly the type of school I want. Poor families, disadvantaged kids, and teachers and volunteers who could be at bigger, better schools but feel at home at this one. Sign me up! I think my day of observing went well and that I have a pretty good shot at the job. I know there was one other candidate who observed last week as well, and there might be one or two observing this week. The principal said that she hoped they would make a decision by Friday. I think there are a few things in my favor. 1. my age. I don't plan on this being a stepping stone to a better job. Many young teachers start small and move to bigger school districts. I have absolutely no desire to do that. 2. I've taught in a school very similar to this one. I could answer questions based on what I knew from that experience. 3. Living overseas and doing missionary work. I approached the job with a learners posture. I expressed a desire to learn about the community and the kids from those who knew them best...the staff at the school. I didn't come in with all the answers.

We'll see.

I also quit my job at Panera. I went to work on Monday and Tuesday then decided that I couldn't take doing that every day. Part of it was a pride thing I must admit. On Monday I took the new girl around and introduced her to some of my clients. When I was asked what I was doing now I told them that I was looking for a teaching job, but that I would be at the store for a while if they needed anything. I was pleasant and gracious about the whole thing. The poor girl who took my place felt bad about it all. She didn't realize that it was a big secret at first. When she came to interview for my job she thought I had actually given notice. I was fine the whole day Monday. My boss thanked me for helping out. On Tuesday I had a hard day. All I could think about was how sneaky they had been. The new girl and the girl who trained her were told not to tell me. They both hated it but needed to keep their jobs so they went along with it. My boss wasn't the one who made the decision, but she could have gone to bat for me. She could have at least told the district manager that I wasn't one of those employees who would sabotage things before I quit. I was mad when I arrived. I was asked a million questions about delivery charges and how to get to different clients. I was asked to train a new guy for an associate job. The more I did the more I fumed. I took 2 deliveries, because there were too many for the new girl to do alone. At one point my boss passed around some papers with our cultural values on it. We are about to be audited by the corporate office and might be asked to recite some of the values of our store. Number one just about made me flip my lid. It said, "No jerks. We will treat each other with respect and honesty." I had done exactly that. Out of respect for them I was honest about the interview. I was not treated the same way at all. I decided that I needed to take a day off. On Wednesday I called in sick. The more I thought about going back the more I dreaded it. That evening I went in and talked to my boss. I told her that I had the observation at the school on Friday and that I wouldn't be back. I told her that I hated not giving her 2 weeks notice, but that I didn't feel like I had been afforded the opportunity. If I don't get the teaching job I will need to use my days to find another job. There are other teaching jobs out there, but I haven't applied for any of them. I hope I don't have to.

And yes...I totally cracked myself up with the title of this post!

it happened - Feb 7

Remember that overly paranoid thing I mentioned? The part about how I was worried about losing my job? Well it happened. Guess I wasn't being overly paranoid after all.

On Saturday I picked my daughter up from work. She happens to work as a cashier at the same place I was catering manager. While I was there my boss told me she wanted to talk to me. She said that starting Monday I was being demoted to associate. The same position I had when I was hired back in April. The same position my 17 year old daughter currently has. She said that the girl who interviewed for my job, the same girl I saw training at another store a few days after her interview, that girl was starting Monday as the new catering manager. Since I had interviewed for another job they knew I wasn't committed to the catering job, and they wanted to put someone in the position who was going to stick around for a while. The funny part is the girl they hired for the job has worked for our company three times. She's quit and returned twice. I guess she plans to stay this time.

I must admit that I was upset at first. I certainly didn't deserve to be demoted. I have busted my butt for this company. I've gone above and beyond for them time and time again. I do understand their position. I understand the need for a committed person in the job. What bothered me was the way they went about the whole thing. I hadn't even had my interview when she came in to interview for my job. My boss led me to believe that I wasn't going to lose my job just because I had an interview somewhere else. I told her that if I got the teaching job I would give her two week's notice before I left. It was the right thing to do. And while I was ready to do the right thing they trained the new girl in another store for a week then gave her my position instead of bringing her in to train with me. A week and a half after I was honest with them about having an interview I was demoted.

My boss told me that she would appreciate it if I would help the new girl this week. Go with her on the deliveries to introduce her to the customers. Help make the transition a smooth one. I honestly couldn't believe she was asking me to do that as an associate. That's what I should have done during her training. She should have gone with me.

I will go with her. I will be kind and gracious. I will continue to work hard. Because that's the kind of person I am. And if I am offered the teaching position I will take it. And I will start as soon as they need me. The one thing I'm not going to worry about doing is giving them two weeks' notice. They gave me 41 hours' notice that I was demoted. If I hadn't gone in on Saturday I wouldn't have gotten that much.

Tomorrow should be fun. I'm actually looking forward to it in a strange sort of way. I won't say a negative word about anyone I can assure you, but watching the reactions of others will amuse me.

Paranoia - Feb 4

The reason my boss asked me if I was giving my two weeks' notice is because she's lost several long term employees to higher paying jobs lately. A very reliable morning opener who had been with the company for 5 years had recently gone on to a better job. She was already beginning to stress over losing some good people when a girl who had been with the company for 2 years gave her notice that morning so I think she was worrying a bit. When she heard me say I needed to talk to her about something her mind automatically went there. She really didn't think that I wanted to give notice, but I opened my big mouth and told her about my interview.

Since that day I have talked to her, and I think she's ok. She says that she doesn't think I've given notice and that as far as she's concerned I'm not going anywhere. That being said the girl who came in to interview for my position is currently being trained at another store. From what I understand she's just training for management not catering, but I'm not sure what I think about that. It did make me a little nervous.

And finally...I got a call from the school I interviewed with. They want me to come out and observe one day next week. I was somewhat surprised to tell you the truth. I knew my interview went well, but I just assumed there were better qualified applicants for the job. There may be. They may be observing one day as well. We'll see. I am reservedly excited if that makes any sense at all.

Edited to add...

This morning I ended up needing to stay home to take care of a sick kid. 103 temperature, throwing up with diarrhea kind of sick. I called my boss who was quite pleasant. Like she didn't care that I wasn't coming in. Totally not the reaction I would normally get. Either I am being overly paranoid or I desperately need a teaching job and fast!

Stressing out - Written Feb. 1

Last week I applied for a teaching job. It was a rather unexpected event to tell you the truth. I knew that I might need to move back into teaching in the fall. I knew that I would need more money. I decided to check into some job fairs that many school districts have in the spring. When I looked at one of the area school district's website I noticed that they had an opening for a kindergarten position. I debated applying but decided that it wouldn't hurt to send in my application. That was done last Sunday. Monday afternoon I got a call about an interview for later in the week. I wasn't sure what to think. I wasn't sure what to tell my current employer. I decided not to say anything because the chance of me actually getting the job was pretty slim, and I certainly didn't need to cause my employer to stress out. On Wednesday my boss made some comment about me turning in my 2 weeks notice. I wasn't sure if one of the two people I had confided in had mentioned my interview to her or not. I explained what was going on, and she freaked. She was totally joking when she said what she said about me giving her two weeks notice. I told her that I wasn't really looking...that I just had the one interview. That in the fall I would probably need to do something that offered more benefits. I think she would have handled it okay, but the district manager happened to visit. She didn't handle it well at all. She kept telling me that I could make the same amount that the teaching job offered at my current job. She is right. I could make the same amount. The difference is that word...could. Teaching I will make that amount. I will have a number of sick days. I will automatically have vacation days for Spring Break, Christmas, and Thanksgiving. There will be retirement benefits as well. I don't have any of those things where I currently work. If I want to take a vacation I won't get paid. If I am sick or one of my kids is sick and I miss work...no money. I do have insurance but no retirement. I love my job. I really do, but I know that I won't be able to support myself on it for long. I can't continue to live paycheck to paycheck. I have to be saving some money. On Friday I had to leave work early. About 15 minutes before I left a girl showed up to interview for my position. I couldn't believe it. It really stressed me out! I didn't have a chance to talk to my boss about it then, and she is on vacation until tomorrow. I have no idea what will happen. I don't think they will do anything crazy, but at this point I'm not sure. I won't be fired. I know that much for sure. I just don't want to be demoted. Even if they keep me at the same pay scale I will lose my insurance. I won't have the extra money that comes with my job. I need every bit of what I make.

As far as the teaching job goes...I interviewed. I felt like it went well. I know for a fact that at least one other person interviewed for the job. We passed in the parking lot. On the interview table I saw 3 folders similar to the one they put my information in. So I am guessing that there were 4 of us interviewing that day. After the interview I asked the principal when she was going to make a decision. She said it would be a couple of weeks. That tells me that more people will probably be interviewing. I have no idea what my chances are. I haven't had a teaching job in 15 years. I thought the interview went well. I don't know Spanish which would be an asset. I've lived overseas and experienced different cultures which seemed to impress the panel. I have absolutely no idea which way this will go. I really wouldn't care so much about not getting the job if I hadn't said anything to my boss. As it stands now I am going to be a little stressed until I talk to her. Hopefully that will be tomorrow. Hopefully after talking to her I will feel better and not worse!


Going to be putting some posts here today. Things I've written, but didn't publish. Thanks to those of you who haven't completely given up on me.