A spoonful of sugar...and all that.

Yesterday, I went to the pharmacy at our local grocery store. I’m afraid I’m probably their best customer, with all the little pills I’m prescribed for my old arthritic gymnast knees, the missing (pesky) female parts and the chronic fatigue. (That little old lady on TV that opens up that monstrous pill container that slightly resembles a tackle box? That will be me soon.)

The lovely pharmacist was busy filling the billion scripts that were piled by her computer, and she had managed to get help at the register by a young girl I’ve seen at the customer service desk. The girl looked at me sweetly and I told her my name. She quickly located all my tiny bags and put them on the counter when I realized I had to pick up something for Bitchy.

“Oh, I think you might have my daughter’s allergy medicine ready, as well.” I saw my pharmacist smile as she heard me say that.

The girl at the register looked at the bag she had plucked off the shelf and, in a voice loud enough for the whole line to hear, said, “This isn’t ALLERGY MEDICINE! It’s BIRTH CONTROL.”

I looked at the pharmacist (who laughed out loud) and then back to the young girl. “You obviously don’t have teenage daughters. When YOU’RE a mom, you’ll be calling it allergy medicine, too. It makes it a tad easier to swallow.”


(We could always call it the “insurance package”, right? Or even my little “sleep well at night” pills. Somebody stop me. )


I'm good, but I'm not THAT good.

I love finding notes from the kids on my table. It THRILLS me that they are sounding out words, and that they care enough to leave me a note.

I believe that says something about loving school and something about centers being awesome.
That one should need no translation. And frankly, I miss them more.

What? Who doesn't love free play????????

I've decided that this says, "Even though I can't speak or write English, you are the best teacher in the whole wide world and I love you."

(If by the remote chance any of you can read Chinese and it says "You are a crazy teacher and I can't wait to leave this country!", I don't think I want to know. )

I love my blissful ignorance.


Sweet and Salty. It's just how I roll.

Today was quite a busy day for my heart.

FIRST, this made me laugh!

Then when I got home...this made me cry.

Now pass me a *$&# tissue, would ya?


Guess What? I'm STILL confused.

Today in centers while I was working with one of my reading groups and I couldn’t resist asking John (aka Jae-hyun) about what language he spoke at home. Of course, I KNOW that he speaks Korean, but I always take an opportunity to encourage him to practice English.

“John, your Mommy and Daddy told me that you don’t like to practice your English at home. You even have your sister Susie – who speaks PERFECT English- to help, but you won’t practice with her. Is that right?”

“I don’t know to speak English.” He replied.

“John, we are speaking English right now.” I said with a big smile.

“No, I don’t know English!”

Me: “This IS English. You ARE speaking English.”

John: “I don’t know English. What is English?”

“THIS is English. We. Are. Speaking. English.”

John. “No. I don’t know dat.”

And at that point I wasn't even sure I WAS speaking English.

(You can’t find a better way to start a Monday. Can you?)


Is that a rock in your pocket?

After recess on Friday I noticed two of my young ladies eyeing me suspiciously while their hands were fumbling in their pockets.

I know they love to find “treasures” on the playground, and one day recently I confiscated 14 large stones from the backpack of one of these innocent looking girls. The dragging it down the hall when buses were called was a fairly big clue that something was fishy in Denmark.

You can’t fool me twice.

“Maggie, what is in your pants pocket? Noffin? Well, let me see that noffin. Come on, show me what it is.”

“Worms? WORMS? You and your gorgeous little accomplice can go right back outside this minute and return them to their natural habitat.”

“No, Maggie, worms are NOT pets.”


Coincidence? I think not.

Many of you might remember that my darling sister (who happily drags me to every Goodwill, Thrift Shop and yard sale in the New England area) is partially deaf. She has been her entire life- the result of our mother contracting German Measles during her pregnancy. Frankly, we’re sick of her whining about it- and have never really acknowledged the fact that she’s deaf except perhaps that ONE time it got us front row tickets to A Chorus Line. (Who loves you K?) Sure, it was here on campus in Oregon, but STILL.

This particular fact will become important at the end of today’s lesson.

Our kindergarten classrooms this year at John Smith Elementary School are unusually LARGE. All four of us are maxed out at a billion, and have been since day one. Unfortunately this means that any family that might move into this Oregon college town during the school year might have to be bussed to one of the other seven elementary schools here in town.

One particular afternoon in October, my principal walked into my room. She looked unsure, as if perhaps she wasn’t going to speak, but then sat on a table and smiled.

“I know that your K classes are all full, and I know that you have more than the other three classes, but I was wondering something,” she asked me.

“We have a new family coming, and they have a boy in kindergarten. You really don’t have to say yes, and I am not pressuring you in ANY way, but I just thought I’d ask you about it. What do you think?”

I looked at her, and thought for a minute. I DID have a huge class; four of whom didn’t speak English; and I was on my own (Yep- teaching ALONE) for the first time in 13 years without a student teacher. However, my class was AWESOME, and I was loving every single minute of it. I also knew there were some challenges in the other rooms.

Then, I had a weird inkling – just a feeling, if you will.

“Yes.” I said. “Of course I’ll take him! The more the merrier. And besides, if his siblings will be here, it just wouldn’t be right to send him over to Wesson Elementary. Yeah. I will definitely take him. What’s one MORE active boy?”

One week later I was called to the office to greet my new charge. I walked into the office and saw an adorable, sort of nervous fella waiting to meet his teacher.

After the introductions were made, I suggested he give his mom a hug and send her on her way – “We’ve got some fun to get to!” I said.

He turned to give his mom a hug and I was startled. There, hugging his ear, was a hearing aide.

The same kind my sister wears.

Some things are just meant to be.


Wordless Wednesday? Good, I'll try not to be wordy.

I was THRILLED when I stumbled upon an amazing blog by another kindergarten teacher the other day.

I read with great envy about a cool Earth Day project his kids had completed, and like MOST teachers, I "borrowed" his idea, and thought I'd try it myself.

Here's his project:

and here's MINE.

I'd like to just clarify that I had NO PARAPROFESSIONAL that day (She'll pay for being sick-Show and Tell on her OWN tomorrow), and no parent volunteer. I was the only adult in the room (and sometimes THAT'S debatable) while there were six centers going on.

By the end of the 60 minute frantic rotation of centers, the boys had colored all of the letters with a PATTERN (well, kind of) and try as I might I wasn't sure if I could still make out where the land ended and the water began. (I also had to use the art teacher's special eraser to erase all the little hearts that Jimmy had drawn all around the BIG heart. sigh.)

However, if you stand BACK and SQUINT, our project looks exactly the same as Mr. Jones's.

Don't you think?

Happy Erf Day, People. Happy Erf Day Indeed.


The Boston Marathon? Phhhhht. Spend a day kindergarten.

I made the mistake of trying to chat with the class after lunch and BEFORE recess. When you have a class of 16 boys and the nine girls, you need to be sure to get outside as often as possible!

This was the turn of events:

“Boys and girls, this week there is an important day coming up, almost like a holiday. Can you tell me what it is?”

“I KNOW!! It’s my nana’s birfday!”

“Well, that’s close, but it’s another day that has SOMETHING to do with what we live on,” I said, as I made the shape of a large circle in the air with my finger.

“Da ERF!!! It’s ERF day!!!”

“That’s right, Jason. It’s going to be Earth Day on Thursday. Can someone tell me what that means?” A billion hands shot up, and I called on Julie.

“Sally hit me.”

“Um, she’s sitting ALL the way over there. How could she do that?”

“Well, it was at lunch.”

“We’ll talk about that on the bench during recess. Okay? Me, you and Sally- meeting on the bench; now, what’s Earth day people?”

James, “It’s when we fank de erf.”

Brian, “It’s saving the earth from dying. Cause we don’t know WHEN it’s gonna die, but we are gonna try to save it from dying.”

Jessica, “Yeah, we can’t repair it, we have to save it.”

John: “Can I take my coat off?”

“John, yes. Now, can anyone remember what we were talking about?”

Michael, “No, but I wanted to get a drink. Can I get a drink?”

“Yes, okay, now who else can tell me----wait. WAIT. Did I tell EVERYONE to go get a drink? Sit back down people - you, too, Michael. Okay, what can we do for Earth Day??”

Jack: “I know! We can not do litter and save our plastic milk bottles. Like we do right now!”

“Paige, what do you want to say?”

“You told us yesterday that you didn’t want to see anymore fingers in our noses and Toby won’t stop picking his nose.”

“Toby, fingers down; Anna, what did you want to say?”

“Did you exercise Mrs Smythe? Cause you look different today!”

“Okay, class. Guess what? Anna- you would get an automatic A if I gave grades, because yes I have been exercising and haven’t worn these jeans for two years. And on another note, we are going to continue this discussion tomorrow, because I am officially throwing in the towel!”

“A towel? What does THAT mean?”

Me, “That means LINE UP!”

And then, the craziness really began as they ran screaming to the door.

Yep. That was about a five-minute window into my day. Best job ever?

You better believe it.

Now, someone hand me the remote. I'm disausted.


How to piss off your children without being within MILES of them.

I came home from school yesterday a glittery, gluey, markery, exhausted mess.

Within ten minutes of my time of arrival I had not one, not two, but ALL THREE of my children not speaking to me. (And ONE doesn’t even LIVE here. It’s a talent.)

Sassy was furious because I happened to open a letter that was addressed to ME outlining the reasons why she MIGHT NOT be graduating, which MIGHT have something to do with the correspondence course she has continued to claim she is working on. Had I known that I wasn’t to open my own mail, I might have avoided that particular screaming match.

Bitchy was livid, and called me after her return from the orthodontist (conveniently located eight blocks from her dorm here at Oregon State) where they had just finished putting braces BACK on her teeth. It appears her retainer neglect and their negligence (last summer when she complained and went in they told her she looked fine and sent her on her way) had a disastrous result. It doesn’t matter that I spent 1 hour and ten minutes convincing them that there was no way in hell I was paying for braces a second time, considering the fact that we have paid them over $10,000 in the last 10 years, and are STILL paying them monthly while eating ramen noodles and hot dogs every other night.

Suffice to say they were convinced. (Or they didn’t want my loud DISCUSSION to continue to irritate the crowded waiting room.) Free braces.

The Golden Boy (not one to be left out) decided to throw in HIS five cents (inflation, people) and yelled at me because HIS FATHER wouldn’t take him to camp Thursday night when the adult boys were going. Tightwad told him that he could not come to fishing camp until after school Friday. I guess GB didn’t realize that screaming at your chauffer is NOT a good thing. (Fortunately for him, the prospect of a fairly quiet weekend had us out the door faster than $&*) through a goose.)

To top it off, the dogs continue to bark 24-7, and I am searching on line for a dog meat recipe that can be used with a grill.


It's what we are ALL thinking about on Fridays.

Today during reading group we were reading about animals and their habitats.

On one page was this picture. (See above).

I said, "Boys and girls, does anyone know WHAT kind of bird this? Does anyone know?"

"It's a ROBIN!"

"No, I don't know."

"I got noffin'."

And then Jack said, "I KNOW! I KNOW!! It's a COCKTAIL!"

That boy was reading my mind.


THIS is why teachers beg for tissues.

Today in kindergarten I used a calculator.

I calculated that in my last 7 years of teaching kindergarten, I have said “Get your fingers out of your noses!” at LEAST 7,062 times.

I don’t work in a school. I work in a nose-picking factory.


Those darn apples...they fall RIGHT under the tree.

Yesterday afternoon I was furious with one of my children who shall not be named but might be a senior and might be a girl, and whose name might start with an “S”.


I was pacing the floor like a woman losing her mind, steam was blasting out of my ears. I’m telling you that I was LIVID.

“She is so RUDE! She is mean ALL the time. She won’t do ANYTHING that I ask her to do! I ask her nicely, and she won’t do it. I TELL her, and she won’t do it. I threaten her, and she won’t do it. When I tell her she CAN’T do something, she ignores me and DOES IT ANYWAY! The ONLY time she is nice – and I mean the ONLY TIME- is when she wants something. She doesn’t do ANTHING unless there is something in it for her. I can’t TAKE IT ANYMORE!”

Tightwad was watching me, deep in thought, “Hm. Weren’t you the same way in high school?”

Me: “WHAT?????????”

Tightwad, “Don’t forget, I was there."

D@*#& that memory of his. D@*#& it all to (@**.


Pass the lipstick, please

According to a news report, a certain private school in Washington, D.C. was recently faced with a unique problem.

A number of 12-year-old girls were beginning to use lipstick and would put it on in the bathroom. That was fine, but after they put on their lipstick, they would press their lips to the mirror leaving dozens of little lip prints.

Every night the maintenance man would remove them, and the next day the girls would put them back. Finally the principal decided that something had to be done. She called all the girls to the bathroom and met them there with the maintenance man. She explained that all these lip prints were causing a major problem for the custodian who had to clean the mirrors every night. (You can just imagine the yawns from the little princesses).

To demonstrate how difficult it had been to clean the mirrors, she asked the maintenance man to show the girls how much effort was required. He took out along-handled squeegee, dipped it in the toilet, and cleaned the mirror with it.

Since then, there have been no lip prints on the mirror.

There are teachers ... And then there are educators…

(My aunt sent me this. It was too good to pass up!!)


The cure for irritability? A sprinkling of five year olds.

Things I learned in school today. (Or, How to Chase Away the Irritables…)

1. A five year-old boy from Korea can successfully shove six miniature people into the Little Tykes school bus that was originally constructed to seat three.

2. Two relatively small five year-old girls can comfortably fit into a pink tub full of toys when the teacher is not looking.

3. It’s time to throw away the extra jacket you keep on hand in your teacher closet for heater/air cooler emergencies - when one of your students shouts with enthusiasm, “HEY! My GRANDMA has that jacket!!!”

4. I received 21 hugs today; six from students in last year’s class who like a hug each morning; nine from students in this year’s class; four from various teachers in the building who were thrilled that it was FRIDAY; and two from students I’ve never seen before in my life. (We pass them out like candy, people.

5. You can successfully talk about male frogs fertilizing the eggs of a female frog without anyone in the enthralled crowd cracking a smile. (Well, present company excluded.) “Mrs. Smythe, I know ALL about frogs. But, um, what’s a female?”

6. Always check under the refrigerator in your play-area after school. It’s where one of your non-speaking ELL children tends to HIDE the cool purses, the tablecloth, the My Little Pony, some play food and an old cell phone from the other little girls after free play.

7. At recess today Jack “found” his yo-yo in his pocket while sitting on TOP of the dome-shaped jungle gym beside his best buddy Zack. When they flipped upside down together on the count of three, the yo-yo wrapped itself around the bar, knocking Jack in the head which caused him to fall OFF the bars. In what appeared to be brilliant filmmaking slow motion, he grabbed Zack on the way down and they hit the ground like a ton of bricks. The yo-yo then quickly followed- and conveniently bonked Jack on the head AGAIN. After a few tense-filled moments, they both lay on the ground and laughed until they cried which was very convenient because their teacher was recovering from a HEART ATTACK.

All in all I’d say it was just about the perfect day.

Pardon me, my irritation is showing.

I can’t be Suzy Sunshine every damn minute.

I’m irritated. There, I said it. I can’t put my finger on it, but suffice to say that I’ve gone from “down in the dumps” to just plain irritated.

I can’t blame it on PMS, or anything REMOTELY related to a womanly issue, because I had my uterus - and anything else that wasn’t nailed down - removed two summers ago. My family keeps reminding me that it was very traumatic for all parties involved (something about my incision coming completely apart and perhaps a bit of a problem with my hormone medication), but thanks to my horrible memory, I remember it like it was a lovely walk in the park.

I could perhaps blame it on the fact that I haven’t had any vodka for 34 days, but that might require a bit of explaining and frankly, I’m not ready for that post right yet.

I might POSSIBLY be undergoing a mid-life crisis, but that would require that I actually ADMIT that I’m old enough to have one. So that particular reason is CERTAINLY scratched off the list of possibilities.

Regardless of the reason, these are the BIG things that have irritated me as of late.

1. The 90 year-old woman who I watched drive through THREE RED lights as I attempted to tail her and “tattle-tale” to any relative that might listen. I lost her because I WAS FOLLOWING THE TRAFFIC LAWS. Jesus, where are her children? Her neighbors? Can’t ANYONE take her keys? I’ve got teens driving in this town (and a billion others I’ve taught in the last 100 years) and I value their lives. (I hereby give any one of you permission to confiscate my keys when I turn “too old”.

2. Alicia Keys – She is looking for someone to blog FOR her; FOR HER. She feels she has a voice that no one else has. There are only five trillion blogs out there- and NOT ONE expresses her point of view. Huh.

3. Duke.

Well, that’s probably it. I thought perhaps there were more, but I’m beginning to feel sorry for Alicia’s mother, and hope that she doesn‘t read this blog. However, with all the thousands she’s probably reading to be sure her daughter’s voice isn’t already being used, I bet she’s quite busy.


It pays to read the "useless knowledge" section at the bottom of the page....

The hump of a starving camel may flop over and hang down on the underside of its belly once the fat is used up.

That clears up a LOT of things up for me.

(I'm obviously part camel.)


Are you sure about that? Totally sure???

A note to the friendly Dr. Allergist/Teenage Torturer (I couldn’t have done a better job myself):

I want to thank you for the tiny bit of uncomfortable-ness ( “THIS HURTS MORE THAN THE TATTOO!!!!!!!) that you put Sassy through this morning during her two and half hour allergy testing session. Frankly, she was a bit of a challenge this weekend, and she’s immune to any type of torture that her father and I try to inflict upon her.

While you tested her for everything under the sun (pollen;ragweed;trees;shrubs;grasses;perfumes;cosmetics;detergents;blah;blah;blah) you conveniently discovered that she was allergic to only ONE tiny thing.

Just one.

Dust mites.


It couldn’t have been potatoes. It had to be something that requires me to CLEAN. (And that note on the pamphlet that says the person with the allergy should NOT participate in the cleaning? She noticed that RIGHT away.)

Are you, perhaps, in cahoots with Tightwad? Did he beg you to cause her skin to bubble and throb on only THAT section?

Well, that prescription I forced you to fill out insisting that Tightwad hire me a cleaning woman? He didn’t buy it.

But the joke’s on him.

She starts Monday.


I trust my heart: and so should you.

We were all enjoying a typical evening at the Smythe house last night. The Golden Boy was pissed off at us for not allowing him to buy the LATEST game system that all the spoiled kids at school apparently have; the dogs were barking incessantly at people and their dogs running up and down the bike path in the 60 degree weather; and Sassy was angrily throwing clothes that didn’t fit her across the hallway in a hormonal rage.

Typical night.

Sassy informed us earlier in the evening that she and her best friend were going to attend a small (yeah, right) party for seniors at the cabin owned by one of her best friend’s family. It was a last minute thing, as the party was ORIGINALLY planned for the weekend. We have always been relieved that she shares the details of her plans with us, and we attribute this directly to our tragic loss.

We made agreements after that about rides, phone calls, phone pictures, etc. and it’s worked out surprisingly well. And by well, I mean we haven't killed each other. Frankly, it has only been recently that she’s felt comfortable venturing out with her peers. (Remember the traumatic confession? And this? That resulted in this? ) The girls and some friends had been out to this particular cabin for several “get-togethers” the last few weekends, and we knew exactly where it was located and who was going to be there. (Everyone and their brother. And a few more.)

The girls decided to take in a movie, and were going to return home and change before the party.

Then, it happened. I started feeling uneasy. I couldn’t put my finger on it, but I just had an inkling, a feeling that she shouldn’t go to this one. I immediately mentioned it to Tightwad.

“I just don’t think she should go tonight. I really don’t. Can you talk to her?” (She tends to NOT try to talk her father out of anything. He can be a tough son of a (@*#&. And in cases like THIS, it’s a GOOD thing.)

When the girls returned from the movie, I heard them all talking (ahem) downstairs. I was in bed reading and listened while the girls hung out in the living room/dining room area singing at the top of their lungs and laughing hysterically at their Facebook Stalking until well after I fell asleep.

It was today that Sassy dropped the bombshell.

Guess who showed up at the “private party” uninvited and scanning the crowd?

The stalker.

It pays to listen to your heart.





Shhhhhhhhh - keep this from the terrorists.

I discovered the top secret formula for spontaneous EXPLOSIONS yesterday.

1 18 year-old self proclaimed "bloated" girl + constant hormonal stuff (aka PCOS) +shopping for spring clothing at a billion stores where NOTHING FITS PROPERLY = KABOOM!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

pass the aspirin.