Friday, November 30, 2007

"Who's Gonna Feed Me?"

I've always wondered why God chose to bless me with not one, or two, but three daughters...

Yesterday, after having to sub as a 2nd grade teacher in a class with -a ratio of 9 boys to 3 girls- by the end of the day, it all made perfect sense! There is no doubt in my mind that I would be behind bars, if some of those boys were mine. So for now, I have finally decided to sign up for an upcoming Language Tester Trainee program in New York. But first, I had to break the news to the children...

“Girls, Mommy may have to go away on a business trip for a few days.” I announce.
“I don’t want you to go Mommy." Exclaims Scrawy. "I’ll miss you!”
“Who's going to take care of us?" asks Kid Sid.
“That would be Daddy," I reply. I'm sure he can handle it."
“But, but, Mom, Dad can't cook." Blurts Furr-ball(with a look of panic on her face). “Who’s gonna feed me?”

P.S. when it comes to keeping that tummy full, I'm proud to mention that I'm yet to meet another kindergartner with such unwavering priority like my Furr-ball-:)

If you liked this post, you'll love Papa John's Pizza Vs. Disneyworld.

Thursday, November 29, 2007

Bubble Art

There's just something about the simple act of blowing bubbles or watching them float lazily away that enthralls the mind of a child. Who would have thought that such an inexpensive thrill would turn out to be a potential cure for the summer time blues and a bizzare art form? -;)

Wednesday, November 28, 2007


This is an excerpt from "Embrace the Wonder," a collaborative book/music project in progress...

Forty miles to the east of Phoenix, there is a land of beauty and legend known as the Superstition Wilderness. Somewhere in this vast and rugged land, many Arizonans believe there is a hidden treasure of gold. For over a hundred years, the legend of the Dutchman’s Mine has spawned intrigue and given rise to treasure hunters who fantasized and dreamed of the old west.

It’s a fact that the Dutchman used to venture out into this wilderness with his mule and return with his sacks filled with gold( few pieces of which are still around today and whose chemical composition matches no known gold mine in the world.) This is what gives hope to the faithful.

Many seekers return day after day; some have abandoned civilization altogether in order to live out there among the saguaro cactus and rattlesnakes until they find their treasure. But it's not just gold they seek. They long for simple times and dream of days gone by. Days when cowboys rode tall in their saddles and slept outdoors under the stars of the wild frontier.

As for me, I’m just a city slicker looking for some adventure. Each time I’m out there, I search with child-like exuberance. Didn’t we all at one time dream of finding some treasure such as a pirate’s buried chest or a dinosaur bone? Isn't it every child’s fantasy to unearth what’s lost or hidden?

The Dutchman found his treasure and left few clues to its location. He wanted us to look for it. On his death bed, he not only confessed to killing two Indians who were mining the gold when he first came upon it, he also offered riddles and drawings which no one has yet deciphered to date. In town, you could purchase several varieties of treasure maps that will only leave you five dollars poorer, standing under the hot sun scratching your head. Occasionally the streams give up a small nugget or enough gold dust to pay for a few drinks at the saloon near by, where you could feel like you’ve stepped back in time. Out front, horses are tied to posts, and men-with six shooters on their sides and spurs on their boots walk through the swinging doors with the earth still under their fingernails from a long day of searching.

One day, I headed out past Weaver’s Needle, a towering smooth rock that gives some reference when you’re out wandering through the mesmerizing landscape. It was well over one hundred degrees and there wasn't a single shade tree in sight. I’d never been out this far before, but something told me to go on. I climbed hills and descended into valleys; moved rocks and chipped away at boulders to no avail. Then suddenly, a reflection caught my eye. A hundred yards up the side of a rocky outcropping, I could see a metallic glimmer. I climbed furiously, slipping and sliding back two steps for every three I took forward. My heart pounded with anticipation. My eyes burned as sweat dripped down my face. Somehow, I managed to get there. A few swipes with my pick axe, and the shining element was loose. In my hand lay a nugget the size of a nickeL. But it seemed as big as the gold of El Dorado. This child has found his buried treasure at least enough to keep him coming back to dig for whatever is hidden by mystery and buried in legend. I’ll be back next weekend just like everyone else, who is trying to discover the old minier's secret. However, a part of me hopes that the mother lode is never found. I don’t need the gold that badly. It’s the adventure I seek. The mystery of the past and the promise of the future, which keeps man’s dreams alive like that of a child. That’s the real treasure. So let the Dutchman have his way. Let the search continue...

Tuesday, November 27, 2007

What's With Grown-ups and Bathrooms?

After picking up my younger two from school yesterday, as usual, I asked , “How was your day?”
“Fine.” Replied Furr-ball. “I had lots of fun.”

Silence. Silence. Silence…

Turning to Scrawny, who apparently seemed pissed off for some reason, I asked, “Well, what about you?”
“My stomach was hurting all day.” She replied.
“Did you need to use the bathroom?”
“No!” She screeched. Then she grunted like some wild animal and blurted, “What’s wrong with you people? What’s with grown-ups and bathrooms?

Silence. Silence. Silence…

I just stared and zipped it! Apparently this kid had something she’d like to get off her chest and here is her story-in her own words…

First , I said to my Teacher during reading, Ms. Hingle, my stomach hurts. She said,
“Well, go to the bathroom.”
So, I went to the bathroom and just sat and sat…nothing happened! Then, while we were in the computer lab, my stomach started hurting again. I walked up to the teacher, and said,
Mrs. Brooks, my stomach hurts. She said,
“Well, go to the bathroom.”

Scrawny’s question of the day
Why do grown-ups always think that kids need to use the bathroom every time their tummy hurts?

I am handling this as a rhetorical question. You should too…unless of course you reeeeeeeeeally happen to have an answer you’d like me to relay to her-:)

Saturday, November 24, 2007

Light Jacket

Daddoo and I like to go for a brisk walk after dinner. And each time, Furr-ball would huff and puff until we either give in and let her tag along or pay her off. Usually, a handful of coins is enough to do the trick.

A few days ago, as we were about to head out in a windy fiftyish Northern GA temperature, she asked, "Can I come too?" I handed her a dollar bill; told her we’d be right back and asked her older sisters to keep an eye on her. Half way down the driveway, I heard, “Mom, heeeeeeeeeere! Take this!” We turned around to find her waving the dollar at us.
“That’s yours” I replied. “Go back inside.”
“Nooooooo mommy, you keep the dollar; I wanna come."
"Fine." I said. "Go get your Light Jacket."
But when she came back out...

I remember thinking...
She needs hearing aid or I need speech therapy -:)

Tuesday, November 20, 2007

The Semantics of Eating Vs. Snacking

For the past few weeks, I must admit that my attempt to bribe, coerce, or trick the children into eating more high fiber or whole grain breakfast seems to be counter productive. If it isn't General Mills Cheerios, Golden Graham, or Lucky Charms, forget it! If the label does not read Hungry Jack Pancakes or Eggo waffles-blueberry to be specific- they want absolutely nothing to do with it. So, I was a bit taken aback this morning (and pleased) when Furr-ball asked if she could have a bowl of oatmeal.
“Mom” she announced proudly, “I am going to be good today.”
“Yep. I am going to eat healthy foods and clean up my mess.”
“Excellent” I said. Who could argue with that?

Three hours later...
(after she finally figured out where I'd been hiding her halloween stash)

So, what happened to eating healthy today?
Furr-ball: Mooooooooom, I’m not eating. I am just snacking.

Guys, methinks I may very well have a brilliant defense attorney in the making. If you happen to stumble upon a pre-law, after school program for kindergartners, please email me-;)

If you enjoyed this post, you'll probably like this blog entry -;)

To Stand Alone

NOTE: The "Embrace the Wonder" series features excerpts from a collaborative book/music project in progress. John Droese is the main author. However, there are other contributors whose stories would also be featured in this category...

My mom kept telling me that it was an important part of my recovery process. It was my first day back at good old Killian High school since the diagnosis. Six weeks of chemotherapy...the doctors say remission and I was supposed to pick up right where I had left off. To tell you the truth, I wasn’t very happy before all this cancer stuff. I had never been asked out by a boy, or to sleep over at a girl friend’s house. Why would they?

I was a shy 16 year-old girl with terrible skin. To make matters worse, I was thirty pounds overweight (the treatment made me lose twenty of that and I didn’t complain). The way I saw it, you were either important and everyone noticed you, or you weren’t. I guess that explains why no one made fun of me or tried to befriend me. I was not important enough to be noticed. So, I became invisible.

Well, on that day, I became visible to the naked eye...

The minute I stepped into homeroom, everyone started staring at me. I took an empty seat near the door just in case I needed a quick get away.

The word for the day, was WIG! It seemed to circle the room in the hushed whispers of the beautiful. I used to have long and curly blonde hair. But the cancer had to disarm me of the one thing I didn’t hate about me. I had bought a wig to try and have some dignity. Little did I know that it would turn out to be a bad idea...

Mr. Clark tried to kick things off by asking everyone to welcome me back to class. I thought, Isn’t that sweet! Not one get well card. Not one single visitor while I was in the hospital. And now, I’m supposed to believe that they care? Mr. Clark was jotting down some Algebra problems on the board; I could feel my vanishing beginning, when John Turner quickly yanked off my wig. I couldn’t believe it!

"Hey look! It’s Kojak’s sister." He smirked. All eyes were on me. The room seemed to spin in slow motion as it filled with laughter. In the sea of faces, I could see it. I could see it clearly. They didn’t care about me. They were having a good old time at my expense. They were thumbing their noses at me because they didn’t have it and I did. At that moment in time, I wished the cancer had been stronger. I wished it had put up a better fight and won the war. I wished it had taken my life because, I wouldn’t be such a laughing stock!

As Mr. Clark tried to quiet the class, I saw Billy Cross (one of the popular kids) raise his hand. For a minute, I thought maybe he was going to stick up for me. But all he wanted was a bathroom break. I grabbed my wig, threw it back on and put on my best game face. I couldn’t let them know how much I was hurting inside. I couldn’t let them win. I closed my eyes as tightly as possible and tried to hold back the tears. Suddenly the room grew silent as if it were taking a deep breath. I opened my eyes and followed everyone’s’ stare. Standing in the doorway, was Billy. He had shaved his head.

That was it. I lost it! The tears started streaming down my face. The floodgates were open and I started crying uncontrollably.

On his way back to his seat, Billy leaned in and whispered. "Why don’t they know? Why don’t the strong, the healthy, the pretty, the rich know? Unless they use their gifts to protect the weak and not punish them, they are the ones who are alone." Reaching up to grab my wig, he said, "You don’t need this. You don’t need to stand-alone. I will stand with you."

Before heading to my next class, I glanced around the room and realized that each and every one of those kids is really no different from me. I realized that as individuals, we all have one thing in common. We all have one form of cancer or another. Fear! Self centered meanness! Hatred! Jealousy! I also realized that there are times when we must stand together in order to fight or beat our "cancer."

Saturday, November 17, 2007

The Price of Silence

On my way out to pick up a few grocery items this morning, I dash into the guest bathroom for that infamous last second "pee pee" stop. And guess who is in there, standing over the toilet bowl, plunging away…scrawny!
"What exactly are you trying to do?" I ask.
"The stupid toilet is plugged up."
"Did you do it?"
"Then leave it alone, I’ll take care of it when I get back."
"But, Mom, what if someone needs to use the bathroom?"

Uh-huh, I thought. You are so busted Kiddo! The elusive power dumper in my household (other than yours truly) has been caught! Red handed…finally...almost. Now, the question of the day is, should I, or should I not? Blowing the whistle sounds like fun. However, as a fair businesswoman, here’s what I’m thinking…
-Delegate, delegate, delegate. It’s time for someone else to start folding the laundry, putting the dishes away and ensuring that the family room is tidy and toy free… at all times. And I have the perfect candidate in mind. Wish me luck-;)

If you enjoyed this post, you'll probably like this blog entry -;)

Thursday, November 15, 2007

No “ Ho, ho, ho” for Santa!

What? Did anyone else see that mini image link on yahoo homepage sometime today?

Crap! Thanks a lot Don Imus… was my initial reaction. But once I ultimately figured things out, (all by myself thank you), by actually reading the full story, my pulse rate promptly settled back down to its totally awesome range. Hey, what can I say, us Americanos, just happen to love the resonance of "ho, ho, ho," and prefer it, to its wimpy alternative. In all seriousness, "ha, ha, ha," does not even have the same connotation or reverberation like "ho, ho, ho." For the freaking love of Mother Teresa, "ha, ha, ha" is something you would say to:

-Numere Uno- that gullible kid who constantly falls for his father's "pull my finger," routine.
-Numere Dos-that truly fortunate dude who always finds himself amid the stink trench of some lactose intolerant soul.

If the Aussies don’t want their "Father Christmas" to use "ho, ho, ho," because it could potentially frighten children (what a load of horse crap)and is too close to "ho", a US slang term for prostitute (puleeze) what do I care?

However, there is one train of thought that haunts me…

1. If Christmas is really about the birth of Christ or rather a celebration of his birth and
2. Ha, ha, ha, is an onomatopoeia for laughing or laughter (methinks)...

Shouldn’t the Aussies be concerned that:

Some religious extremist group would soon begin to launch protest grenades because, “ha, ha, ha, merry Christmas,” sounds a bit like know, as in, Thou shall not take the name of the Lord in vain? My opinion, someone in Sidney, Australia, needs a job, a real job or a life…or, like, right now!

NOTE: Metal Chica is a fictional character with a natural gift of the gab. Through her often exaggerated tales of inconsequential gibberish which are (unfortunately) based on real experiences, we'd get to understand what makes this 23-year-old single female tick or ticked off!

Monday, November 12, 2007

Pick me a Winner

We were waiting for the light to turn green, when out of the blues, this elderly lady pulls up right next to us. At first I thought, no freaking way! Maybe it's just an itch somewhere in the vicinity of her snout. Never in my entire life had I been presented with such a totally awesome opportunity to witness a "mind boggling" display of reckless tactlessness from the female specie. In public! In broad daylight!

I tried to look the other, but I couldn't. Instead, I just sat there gawking; totally grossed out and mesmerized at the same time. Meanwhile, she continued to dig... meticulously. I'm talking deep, deep, deeeeeeeeep into her muzzle.

Hayden tried to get her attention. He honked our horn. He rolled down his window; stuck out his head and yelled, "Pick me a winner!" But Grandma would not be distracted. I mean, this Lady...or should I say NO Lady, was getting down and I'll bet in her mind, everyone else can pucker up and plant a wet one on her geriatric backside.

"Do you think she heard me? Hayden asked.
"I don't know. Maybe we're being ignored."

As the very loooooooooong red light turned green...finally to my relief, Granny honked twice; gave us the middle finger and sped off. Guys, I kid you not...that old Lady totally shot us the bird and all I could think of was, where is that freaking camcorder when you need one?

NOTE: Metal Chica is a fictional character with a natural gift of the gab. Through her often exaggerated tales of inconsequential gibberish which are (unfortunately) based on real experiences, we'd get to understand what makes this 23-year-old single female tick or ticked off!

If you enjoyed this post, you'll probably like this blog entry.

Freelance Language Professionals Needed...

Do you speak Igbo, Yoruba or Hausa?

Are you available for a two 4-day all expenses paid trip ( plus $1000.00 incentive) to train as a Freelance Language Tester? The American Council on the Teaching of Foreign Languages(ACTFL)is looking for native speakers of Igbo, Yoruba or Hausa for their tester trainee program.

A few days ago, I received this email…

"Dear Benedicta,
I came across your name on Nigerians in America, and I wanted to get in touch. I am currently trying to locate individuals who speak one of various languages from Nigeria to do freelance testing work from their homes. I also saw that you are a stay-at-home mother, so this type of work might potentially be of interest. I am especially looking for native speakers of Hausa, Ibo and Yoruba. I need various individuals (5 for Hausa, 3 for Ibo and 5 for Yoruba), so if you know of anyone else who might be interested, please do let me know."

Anyhow, my first reaction was, hmmmmmmm better luck buddy with this new twist on 419 scam because I had no clue that there was any demand for native speakers of any African language by anyone in America; let alone the ACTFL. However, I was curious. And out of curiosity(after figuring out that the potential for kicking the bucket was absolutely zilch since I did not belong to the feline specie), I called her. I wanted some details. I wanted the full scoop.

Later, I emailed her a copy of my resume. Why? She’d asked for it. The following day, I was forwarded a copy of their upcoming training program. I was asked to pick a schedule that would work best for me. But, I was not about to commit to something that was somewhat up in the air with the basic logistics. So, I contacted them and asked for detailed clarifiction about this program. Here’s a Q&A of my communication with one of their consultants.

ME: Who schedules and pays for the flight to New York and hotel accommodations for both workshops?
ACTFL REP: Once you are confirmed in a given training session, you will receive a packet of information from ACTFL in addition to an e-mail with information and documents to sign and send back:
1.You can book your own travel and be reimbursed or you may use ACTFL’s corporate travel agent and have the expense billed directly to ACTFLs account.
2. ACTFL will make the lodging reservations and it will be billed to the ACTFL Master Account. (You will need to present a personal credit card upon hotel check in for incidentals.)
3. Except where a meal is provided by ACTFL, you will be reimbursed $13 for breakfast, $15 for lunch and $31 for dinner. You don't need to submit receipts for meals since reimbursement is on a per diem meal basis.
4.You will be reimbursed for all travel expenses.
ME: Why are there two four day workshops?
ACTFL REP: Phase I: This workshop will be conducted in English. Tester trainees will learn about the ILR(international language review) rating scale and the OPI(oral proficiency interview) testing protocol and procedures. Demonstration interviews will be conducted in English.
Phase II: Tester trainees review rating criteria, learn interview strategies and protocols, and discuss questions and issues that have arisen since initial training. Practice interviews are conducted in the target languages during the workshop.
ME: How soon after the workshops can one expect to begin
administering tests?
ACTFL REP: Trainers who successfully complete all phases of the ILR OPI Tester training will receive a certificate from ACTFL. If you are successfully qualified as an ACTFL/ILR OPI Tester, you will be available to conduct and second rate interviews immediately, as needed.
ME: I understand that there’ll be a training incentive of
$1, that per workshop?.
ACTFL REP: The Honorarium is $500 per workshop which is paid after you submit your invoice after each workshop. ($1000 total)
ME: Would there be paper work of sort i.e freelancer contract, W-4, ACTFL point person contact information etc?
ACTFL REP: Yes, there is a contract (and various other documents), you will have to fill out prior to participation in the training.
ME: After certification, would there be prior warning for all
future evaluation/testing assignments? And how long do they
typically last?
ACTFL REP: Testers are asked each month to submit their availability to conduct proficiency interview tests in their qualified language. Interviews are scheduled during normal business hours (9am to 7pm). Testers are also expected to second rate interviews conducted by other testers. An internet-based tester utility is used for accessing tests and reporting scores. An ACTFL OPI interview which pays $40 per diem, generally lasts 15-30 minutes depending on the level of the person being tested.

If you’re interested in this opportunity, email or leave me a comment. In the meantime, to learn more about ACTFL testing, please swing by and for additional information.

Note: Candidates must be U.S. citizens or permanent residents, or have a 3-5 year visa to work in the United States – a valid social security number is required. Qualified individuals must be educated native speakers of one of the languages listed above, and should have a college degree. A good command of English is also desirable.

P.S. As for me, I haven't decided yet. As enticing as the chance to get away for a few days from hubby and the kids may sound, I am leaning toward saying thanks, but no thanks to ACTFL. Not only am I an "okuko uku" (big chicken)when it comes to flying, but the thought of leaving my girls home alone with their Dad, who'd probably feed them nothing but (Papa John’s Pizza, McDonald’s happy meals, Captain Crunch cereal, Breyers ice cream)and a host of other junk... for four days, terrifies me-;)

Wednesday, November 7, 2007

Quell the Smell

Keeping your garbage container free of that infamous “decaying flesh” odor is as easy as A, B,C. Here’s the scoop...

A. Always Toss unwanted pieces of raw meats; poultry and seafood (including fat trimmings and bones) into a Zip lock bag or a grocery store plastic bag

B. Freeze

C. Discard on a Garbage pickup day

That's all folks!

Tuesday, November 6, 2007

Big Butt

Sometime in Year 2005...

The girls and I are at the dollar store looking at a bunch of worthless crap, when I suddenly hear, "excuse, excuse me." I look up to find a rather large lady-hey, this is me speaking politely...

As I was saying, I look up to find this woman trying to shove her cartful of crapola (and herself) between a round table that is smack right in the middle of the aisle and Furball(who is leisurely browsing at some toys on the shelf).

Hey Jade!" I scream. "Get out of the way so she can squeeze through."
"I'm not in the way." She yells back. "Her Big butt is!"

Thursday, November 1, 2007

Nashville Star

Year 2003...

After performing a handful of our original songs at a local church-a few years back- Scrawny exclaimed, “Wow Mom, "You should be on American Idol!” I told her I was over the hills and explained about the "cut off" age rule.

Turning to Daddoo, I asked, “Why don't they just come up with American Idol for older contestants?”
“Mom," replied Kid Sid(my 10-year-old),"It's called Nashville Star!"

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