6/30/10

The SUPER strategy


I was waiting for all of my clients to come into the classroom this morning when I noticed that there were two kids who hadn't arrived.


You guessed it. George and Steve, who conveniently ride the SAME BUS.


I heard yelling, giggling and the pitter patter of feet running down the hallway. When I looked up I saw George run into the room and strike a pose.


He came to school wearing something like this.






I laughed the WHOLE (@*#& MORNING. He could do NO wrong today -cause every time I looked at him, my whole heart smiled.



And tomorrow? The whole class decided that if it was good enough for George, it was good enough for them.


PJ'S ALL AROUND.







6/29/10

I might not survive the summer...


This morning in summer reading camp we began the day with our greeting, and a bit of telling sharing. As we progressed around the circle, two of my new clients decided it was a PERFECT time to practice some wrestling moves.


“George!! Steve! I want you to keep your hands to yourself, and sit on the carpet. I do NOT think you would enjoy sitting on the bench at recess today. Do you WANT to sit on the bench at recess?” I asked in my most serious and sad voice.


“Awww man.” George said. “This is JUST like regular school. On the bench. At recess.”


"Oh," I said, "Were you on the bench OFTEN at recess this year?"


George, "Yep."


“Me, too.” Added Steve. And then, like a chorus of angels, about a hundred voices chimed in.

“Me, too!”

“Me, too!”

“Me, too!”


“Wait!” I said, as a light bulb went off in my head. “Raise your hand if you were ever on the bench during recess this year.”


Almost every single hand in the circle went up.


I quickly looked over at my summer school para, who smiled and said,


“Looks to me like you just won the lottery.”




(And as an addendum- I made a vow that I would NOT put anyone on the bench this summer. That is cruel and unusual punishment- for not only the KIDS, but the teacher as well. )

6/28/10

Lucky day? LUCKY DAY??? I'd say that's an understatement.

Do yourself a HUGE favor, and watch this the whole way through to the END. You will NOT regret it.












Didn't I tell you????


6/27/10

Some helpful hints from the teacher...you probably knew it was coming.


As I sit at the pool watching all the children splash, scream, throw balls, and dunk each other under the water, I began to think about how all this would change in a few short months. I wondered if parents were beginning to panic about whether their children were prepared for the coming year. (Probably NOT.) However, I would like to take this opportunity to remind parents about things that might make this transition a little easier.


Most teachers feel that the skills that follow are important for a successful school year. I am sure that many of you already do some of these things, and some of you are doing all of these things. But just in case people need a refresher, or want some unsolicited advice from a teacher (who likes to give advice) here goes:

  1. Read, read, read. (Is that a surprise?) Of course, this doesn’t mean that your child needs to read the great American novel or all of the Harry Potter books. Reading can include the sports page, the front page, the local page, Sports Illustrated, or the People magazine you purchased for the pool. They can read to themselves, to a little brother, a stuffed animal, the kid next door or to the dog. As long as they are reading something, they are on the right path!

2. Play, play, play. (Can you believe it?) Children need to be children for as long as possible. This down time in the summer is vital for their mental well being as well as their physical well-being. More importantly, however, they should be outside playing. There is a reason school’s have recess! Physical activity is good for a child’s mind and body. Kids can play organized games, imaginary games, pick-up games or solitary games. The more physical kids are during the day, the more tired they will be at night-the easier it will be for you when the dreaded bed time rolls around. And not only is outside play good for your child, but just think about what it will do for your sanity during those long summer days.

  1. Play board games with your child. Board games provide children with chances to practice important skills, such as letting someone else go first, taking turns, and losing or winning graciously. These concepts are important for a child to understand before school starts, but they are tough, so your child needs your help. Monopoly, Chutes & Ladders, Boggle, Yahtzee, Chess, Checkers and Risk are just some of the games that can be a fun way to help you ease your child into a better understanding of these tough concepts. A lot of these games are also good for practicing mental math, spelling and problem solving. Your child will be learning without even knowing it!

  1. Have your child do chores. Now, I don’t mean that you should make your child do your laundry, or your ironing. (Sorry! No such luck!) A child’s chores should be personal to them. Your child should make their own bed, or pick up their clothes, and put their own dishes in the sink. This will instill in them a sense of personal responsibility. And don’t forget to lead by example. If your child sees that you take responsibility for your own area and your own things, they will be more likely to follow suit.


  1. Help your child be independent. It’s sometimes hard for parents to get comfortable with this idea, but children need to do things for themselves. They should, for example, pick out their own clothes (It’s okay if they don’t match, right?), put their own shoes on, find their own jacket, socks, sneakers, baseball mitt, goggles or sunscreen. If they put their shoes somewhere where they can’t be found, it is their job to find them. Make a list with your child of what they are responsible for, and keep it somewhere visible, perhaps on the fridge. Sometimes it’s helpful to have one list for the morning, and one for the evening. And help them to remember to check the list!

  1. Teach them to take responsibility for their actions. Okay, this is a biggie. Your child needs to learn responsibility. How do you teach responsibility? Well, start with the little things – if they break something, they need to own up. If they started a fight, they need to confess. If they said something hurtful, they need to apologize. If they made a mistake, they need to admit it. But it’s important that they understand that making a mistake is not the end of the world. Everyone makes mistakes. But, not everyone is not brave enough to take responsibility. It is the first step in making everything ok again.

  1. Organization. If you are the type of person who spends half the morning looking for lost items –shoes, keys, parking pass – then chances are good that your child will be the one who can’t find their permission slip or forgets their lunch money. Children who are organized have an easier time in school. They can manage their homework, find their pencils, keep their desks clean, and locate notes or permission slips in their backpacks. How can you help your child be more organized? Give them a place for everything, and put everything in its place. But how, you might ask, can I have any hope for my child in this area if I can’t even find my own keys in the morning? Not all parents – myself included- are good at being (and staying) organized. So use this as a chance to teach your child another valuable lesson – it’s okay to ask for help! Whether it’s a friend, neighbor, brother, sister, or mother-in-law (some of us should even consider hiring a professional), most of us know someone who is an expert in this area. Ask them for practical advice and tips to give your child.

  1. Communication. How to communicate effectively with friends and teachers is a crucial skill for kids, but it’s one that does not always come naturally so must be learned. Some learn this skill right away, but for many children, it needs to be practiced. Obviously, yelling is definitely not the most effective way of communicating. If your child is a yeller (or if you are!) steps need to be taken so that they are able to get the most out of their education. Help your child understand that by listening, thinking about what a persons says, and responding appropriately, they are more likely to be included in games and activities. It is important not just for the teacher/student relationship, but also for their friendships with other children.

  1. Talk about school. Teachers know which children have been talking about school with their parents. Talk to your child about who their teachers are; go to the school and meet the teachers before the school starts. (Trust me, we are there getting things ready.) Talk to your children about their fears and anxieties, what they are looking forward to, and what they enjoy. Talk to your child about their day, what they are studying and what subjects they like. Children who discuss school with their parents are the ones who bring their notes in, have the extra Kleenex in their backpack, are dressed appropriately for a field trip, and generally know what’s going on at school. (Also, don’t forget to tell them that school is a good thing.)

  1. Teach respect. This is the most important item on the list, so I’ve saved it for last. What does respect from kids look like? It means they look at the person who is talking and they listen until the speaker is finished. Respect means following the rules, listening to the teacher, doing what people ask, and treating others the way you want to be treated. (Oh, if I could play Aretha Franklin right now, I would!)

Incorporating the above skills will ensure that your child is prepared for school and help him or her succeed this year and more importantly, in life.

Oh, one other thing—Don’t forget to tell them to practice their math facts!


(You knew I would have to post SOMETHING about helping your child get a leg up...right??? Right.)

6/26/10

It's not that I don't LOVE her, but...


I’m sitting in the cafeteria of the college campus where Sassy has decided to spend the next four years.

I secured a table in the corner, conveniently close to an outlet in order to charge my new phone (that has a battery that sucks) and my laptop. I watch as parents mingle, smooze, brag about their kids and leaf through the folder of information given to us at check-in this morning. (I’ll be recycling mine as soon as I find an appropriate “bin”. )


While I’m typically a friendly person, I am not in the mood to make new friends - as my heart is back in Oregon where my family is attending the funeral of a much-beloved uncle. My heart aches, and I’ve thrown on an invisibility cloak today as I go through the motions here at the freshman “register, take placements tests, meet your roommate” session.


I wonder if perhaps I’m not normal, because all I can think about is getting out of Dodge.


I do not have the patience to sit through information sessions about the life of a college freshman. I have been there- and frankly, there are some things that parents do NOT need to know.

Graphs about students in their freshman year, and what percentage of them leave campus on weekends, and what percent go home- or join clubs? I saw the graph, but the words I heard were “Blah, blah, blah, blah.”


You want to show a graph that will wake up the parents? How about something like … what percentage will be throwing up on that first weekend after the big party? What percentage will be cleaning up their roommates' vomit? Or what percentage will be visiting the campus nurse, going to the ER, or sleeping over at a new “friends” dorm room? Wait, I'm not sure I want to think about that; however, if nothing else, I AM a realist.


These days I am thinking that we live in an age where we have just a little too much information. I remember the day I left for college, and my mom was standing at the kitchen sink wearing an apron. I yelled, “Goodbye, mom. Dad is taking me to college now!” She smiled, hugged me hard and with a tear in her eye she shoved me out the door.


I’m going to take a cue from my mother.


When I send Sassy with her father in August (hint, hint), I will pray that the mistakes she makes are ones that don’t hurt TOO badly, and are ones from which she can recover. With any luck she WON’T end up on any graph or pie chart at a parent information session.


And the reason that my mother stayed home with an apron tied around her waist on my first trip to college? I totally get it. While I’m sure she really WAS baking bread that day, I think it was also sprinkled with many, many tears.



And while you might laugh at me as I bake bread in the middle of August - now you'll know why I'm doing it. And instead of sprinkling garlic salt on top of the loaf? Well, you know what will be there.



I just hope that you all are here, and join me for a slice.



(Thanks, Scope, for the needlepoint. And congratulations on your wedding. May you and Cora smile and hold hands tightly as you make your way down this new path...)

6/24/10

Here, have a cigar.

Remember that enormous Groundhog Hotel located conveniently in the middle of one of my gardens? The one with about ten quick exits that have enabled George the Groundhog and five hundred of his closest friends to elude capture?


Well, we’ve decided to rename him Georgina.

And congratulate us-it’s TRIPLETS!!

And because I’ve been warned by the powers that be that I’m NOT to post pics of my family, my town, my school, or my friends, I’ve decided to post other people’s pictures of groundhogs and their offspring to lead you astry from my true identity

I WILL say that one of the pictures show the proud mama and her babies. If they are anything like their mother, they will elude capture, poison, and dogs that are blind and can’t smell but can BARK UP A STORM.






It’s nice to know that someone around here is “busy”.


6/23/10

We'll have to do a full body scan and see your passport, please.


Now that Golden Boy is old enough be home without screaming my name every 1/2 hour, I have decided it was the perfect time to work with the summer school program. (However, I forgot that the typical clients are the often forgetful, rowdy, active, and easily distracted younger boys. On a positive note- they are adorable and just the kind of kid I love. Thank Goodness.)

We start with a very brief morning meeting to try to build community each morning. Today during telling sharing we had this conversation:

Jackson: "Lasterday I got my PASSPORT!"

Me: "Your passport?"

Jackson (with a huge grin): "Yep. My PASSPORT!"

Me: "Wow! Are you going somewhere? Another country? Somewhere that you need a passport?"

Jackson: "Yep- today, I'm going to the pool. And I won't have to pay, cause I got my passport."




Wow, it appears security measures at the pool are at RED these days.





6/21/10

The Funny Farm, Revisited.


There are many things that my sister and I have in common, and one of them is our love of flowers. I’m sure it’s because our mother adored her garden, and spent many hours weeding, planting, rearranging and sculpting her plants. We both do the same now, perhaps because in our hearts we feel it brings us a bit closer to her.

I recently spent a soggy week visiting said sister in her lovely coastal town in Connecticut. (I mean Washington State. ) From the moment I arrived, she kept insisting that we visit a local nursery she discovered called “The Funny Farm.”

“We HAVE to go to the funny farm! You will love it. It’s just down the road from here – a couple miles.”

“K, I LIVE at the funny farm, why would I want to visit one?”

I could see that she was very excited about this little adventure and as an avid gardener, I couldn’t wait.

We drove to the nursery and on the way she told me the story about how this couple originally lived in New York City and would come to their farm on the weekends. This weekend hobby quickly turned into their full time love – and they chucked it all and moved to the farm lock stock and barrel.They acquired several horses (Gin and Tonic) , a donkey, a miniature horse, huge dogs, a billion chickens and turned a small pond with a few frogs into an incredible work of art involving HUNDREDS of frogs, including a large granddaddy who frankly scared me to death. (He could not POSSIBLY be real. I feared for my life, people.)

We parked our car and walked among the many plants that were blooming in all their splendid glory. I noticed a woman standing with her back towards us holding a hose, and knew instantly that this was one of the owners. Her black hair was pulled into a ponytail, with a little teased hair peeking out at the top from underneath a silk headband. We approached her, and when she turned around to greet us with a smile my heart stopped.


I found myself frozen, staring into the face of my mother.


My sister introduced us, and I listened as she and my sister chatted – and then I laughed as she shared a funny anecdote about her husband - Bob. (My father’s name…)


I knew she would have a sense of humor.


She gave us a tour of the farm, and we walked and laughed and were genuinely impressed by this amazing combination of nursery/antique shop/petting zoo and frog extravaganza that they’ve managed to create.

When K and I prepared to leave Claudia rushed over with free plants for us (there are amazing people all OVER this country) and one last smile and chuckle before she sent us on our way.


As we pulled out of the driveway I turned to my sister and said, “K!!! I can’t believe it. She looks and acts EXACTLY like mom!!!”


“I know! I know!! I couldn’t WAIT to see your face when you saw her." And smiled.


We rode quietly for a few minutes, both of us lost for a time in a sea of memory.


Quite a nice, lovely, happy sea.


(Yes, it's a repost. However, we are mourning the loss of a beloved uncle, and I will be diving headfirst into a sea of memory, love, grief and loss. Hold my aunt and her family in your prayers as we travel this familiar, yet painful road.)



6/19/10

Oh no he DIDN'T!!


If you give your husband BACK his credit card, he might smile and send on your way as you run errands.

He might decide on his OWN, to go do his Father's Day Shopping.

Then, if he hits the JACKPOT at Home Depot, he MIGHT come home and do a little sprucing up of the yard.

Then, when his wife returns from her various errands and spots a few branches in the side yard, she might take a little walk to investigate.


Along this walk, she MIGHT encounter REMNANTS of her forsythia bush; her HUGE lilac tree and all its hundreds of (deceased) babies; some incredibly large branches from several apple trees; and many, many, many branches from the Japanese Cherry tree that she has lovingly tended for say , oh, about 15 years.





Yeah.


Say a couple novenas and a few Hail Mary's, cause odds are GREAT that he won't live through the night.






6/18/10

Small words can have a big impact - don't ever doubt it.


He came to me with a reputation of being “difficult, headstrong and uncooperative”. I trusted the comments from his first grade teacher, as she was not only an experienced, amazing teacher, but also a good friend. I knew in my heart, however, that what is a problem for one person can often be a blessing for another.


The first time I sat down with my new second grader, Frank, I asked him a question about his weekend, or something mundane like that. He proceeded to tell me about the rise and fall of the Mayan civilization and the ancient Incas. To be honest, I was so fascinated that I sat with him for at least 20 minutes until I realized it was WAY past time to get the children to music and ran them down the hall.


I learned so many amazing things from him that year, and dubbed him our “little professor.” I would often defer to him, saying, “Well, class, let’s see what Professor Jones thinks about this. Frank, what are YOUR thoughts?” And with a shy smile, he would offer his five thousand cents.


In fact, on many occasions he would say something so brilliant I would point to the door and shout, “PACK YOUR BAGS AND GET OUT! You belong in FIFTH GRADE!” and then the whole class would erupt in laughter as Frank would pretend to leave.


He would also, at times, offer me a challenge and refuse to participate in certain writing activities. I would somehow manage to help him turn it around, I can’t remember how, and as the year progressed these events would happen less and less frequently.


It was with amazing pride (and of COURSE a few tears) that I watched him at Sassy’s graduation last weekend. He received the honor of being named the class valedictorian. This, out of over 700 very capable students, was quite an accomplishment.


I ran into his parents after the ceremony and was so happy to be able to congratulate them. It was then that Frank’s father looked at me with a smile, and said this:

“Mrs. Jones, I don’t think Frank would mind if I shared something with you. In his college application essay, he wrote about a very special person who made a difference in his life. It was a teacher who turned things around for him, who called him her ‘little professor’ and was one that he has never, ever forgotten. You do know … it was about you.”



And THAT is why I do what I do.



6/17/10

If Band-Aid could make one for the heart, then we'd all be good.


Dear Bitchy,


I used to be able to fix things.


Remember?

I was always fixing the Barbie pots and pans; the Barbie house; your motorized Barbie Jeep; your electronic diary that would never open; Polly Pockets and some of the other bazillion girl toys that have been shuffled back and forth between cousins. (The boy toys? Broken. Every. Single. One.) I fixed them all.

I have also always prided myself on being great in a crisis. Remember when the risers collapsed during my first kindergarten performance eight years ago? I was the first one there lifting them off people while everyone else was screaming. Thankfully, no one was hurt, but I’m still reminded about that now and then in the teacher’s lounge.


And when Sassy jumped off her bunk bed and ripped her knee WIDE open? I’m the one that held it together while driving her to the ER. Tightwad's face was white and he opted to stay home with Golden Boy. I wasn’t even fazed when my own finger was smashed to bits during an impulsive “moving of the furniture” in our brand new school. I calmly held my finger together and convinced the hysterical teacher next door that I would be fine if she could just perhaps drive me to the ER.

And when you fell headfirst off your bike at the bottom of the bike path in our back yard? I ran to you barefooted (Yes, my knees were still working then) and carried you over my shoulder to the car and drove you to the ER in record time. RECORD time.


But this time is different.


This time, this pain and this hurt is something I can’t fix.


I had a feeling in my heart something wasn’t right. College had been out for you and your high school love and I hadn’t seen hide nor hair of him for several weeks. It was unusual. And now I know why.

Watching you as your heart breaks, is a horrible and helpless feeling. I know in my heart that there are no words I can offer that will ease this pain. And so, I haven’t tried.

I watch you closely, though, I talk when I can and offer little things that I think might help a bit. (Frankly, I’ve always found a pedicure is a great pain reducer.) I am thankful that your friends have risen to the occasion, and offer lovely distractions to try to help you through this time.


And so, I have no advice, no brilliant answers and no blame to place, but only this thought.


Often in life, horrible heartache will walk hand in hand with dizzying elation. I hope that in the days and weeks to come, your guardian angel swoops down, and lifts your face to the sun.



I’ll be praying for that.



(In the meantime, I made another nail appointment. Surely that will help. RIGHT?)

6/15/10

A tiny bit of advice to guest readers who wander in on the LAST day of school.


Yesterday we had a mom come in to read a lovely story to the class. I extended an open invitation early in the year for anyone to come read a favorite story to the class whenever they had a free moment in the day. I was a bit surprised by the visit, as these special readings had been long finished.

However, I love surprises - and pride myself on my flexibility. (We'll chat more about THAT later.)


(But, a word of advice to anyone who comes to read to six-year-olds on the LAST FULL DAY OF SCHOOL? Do not come at the beginning of their last outside recess time. I'm just sayin'.)

We were in line to go outside when I had to quickly assemble them on the carpet- with promises of ENDLESS and EXTRA recess if they would give Mrs. Jones their undivided attention for ten minutes.

After I got the cats corralled, and they were sitting and waiting, Mrs. Jones proceeded to talk about the book, why she chose it, and other various items she felt were important to share with the kids.

At this point, my little Jack shouted, "Oh would you JUST READ the BOOK? Jeesh."






omg. I am still laughing.



6/13/10

I should buy stock in Kleenex.


I said I wouldn’t cry, but you knew better.


I stood in the Smith and Wesson University Arena with thousands of parents and loved ones, as you and 700 of your fellow high school classmates marched to Pomp and Circumstance and found your places among the rows of yellow and green chairs.


The lump in my throat was painful, and tears filled my eyes as I watched you walk with pride down the long aisle to your seat. I was taken aback at how beautiful and grown-up you looked.


As they began the long roll call of familiar names, memories flooded back to me in an unexpected rush. I thought of the circus performance in Mrs. Jones kindergarten classroom, and they way she described your class as “spirited” at the end of the year. I remembered trying to convince you NOT to place a love note in Johnny’s desk in third grade, and how you are still mortified when I bring it up. I remember thinking about how brave (and stupid) you were when you and six other girls lip-synced (very badly, I might add) to a Brittany Spears song in the talent performance in middle school.

I remembered the many soccer games; birthday parties; orchestra and choir performances; trips to the ER; detentions in middle school; field hockey games; amazing teachers; frenemies and loyal friends who all had a hand in this journey of yours.

I also remember the painful lessons learned these past few years, as you handled a horrifying stalking situation with courage. I hope that you always remember to reach out when you know that something wrong.

But when they played the alma mater at the end, and I saw YOU wipe the tears from your eyes? That was the moment that convinced me that you might ready to move into this next chapter of your life, and I might be ready to let you go.

May you carry that compassion, that spirit, that courage and that drive to win into all that you do.

(However, if someone mentions a talent show, I would quickly and respectfully decline.)

6/10/10

Unfortunately for Vivi, one of the kids can read.


Today during show and hell, Vivi (Vagdevi) shared a gorgeous trophy that stood at least 12 inches high. It was red and gold, had lovely stars on the top and she was very excited to share it!

“This was a trophy I won. I don’t know for WHAT, but I won it!”


Carl, a very precocious young man who brought Charlotte’s Web to the first day of kindergarten (he was in chapter 8) - immediately offered to read the little plaque that was pasted crookedly on the front.


“It says Indian School…something…” and I immediately jumped in to clarify this to the class. (Cause that’s what I DO.) I compared her evening school to the various ones attended by the diverse members of our group. (Yep, we’re a melting pot.)


I ended with, “She must have done VERY well to have gotten such a gorgeous trophy!”


Carl, sitting in a chair with his legs crossed, responded matter of factly, “No she didn’t. The trophy says tenth place.”


Then he turned to me and said, “If she had gotten FIRST place, perhaps she could have read what it said herself.”




(I’m convinced he’s a forty-year-old dressed in a star wars tee shirt and camouflage crocks.)

6/8/10

Is my head spinning? Are you SURE? Cause I'm pretty dizzy.


What’s happening at the house of Vodka? WHAT’S HAPPENING?

On the stress meter (The one that goes to ten.) it’s about a THOUSAND.

It’s Tuesday, and here’s my to-do list for the week.

1. Finish all the seven page report cards for 25 children; their grouping sheets; their assessments; their math sheets, their language sheets; their writing assessments, their red folders, their portfolios and their placements for next year. In three days. Oh, and put together the plastic sand buckets/books/silly bands, and other various items I’ve bought them for their end of the year gifts.

2. Plan the menu and order the food for a graduation “open house” that I stupidly offered to have for Sassy on Saturday after her three hour long ceremony at the Oregon State University field house where she and 750 other high school classmates will begin their journey into adulthood. If anyone has the urge to take over the potato salad, cole slaw, deviled eggs and veggie and fruit trays that I plan on making while pulling an all-nighter on Friday night, give me a jingle.

3. Weed Wack anything that even REMOTELY looks like a weed in the billion gardens that I convinced Tightwad over the years that I NEEDED to maintain my SANITY. (Fortunately, I adore the “wild garden and wildflower” look. Unfortunately for my neighbors.) Then mow the five billion acres on the riding mower because I have NOTHING ELSE TO DO.

4. Try to forgive Tightwad for working 7 days a week for the past month and a half, and pulling an all-nighter last night during a CONCRETE POUR – because frankly the no-money thing is getting old.

5. Track down Sassy and explain that although she does not officially go to school anymore, she can SURELY do some chores around the house while her parents are WORKING to pay for all the various things she HAS TO HAVE for graduation and beach week. If anyone sees her land after that trip to the moon I sent her on, send her our way. She's got a mighty long to-do list.

6. Hide the baskets and tubs around the living room that hold the various mail, magazines, books, letters and bills that we like to ignore until the phone starts ringing off the hook. If I can’t SEE it, it’s not there. Hiding = Cleaning. Right?

7. Make the MEXICAN BEAN DISH that Golden Boy told me after school TODAY that he needed for their “country” celebration tomorrow. (I SERIOUSLY need a drink.)


Oh, and the last tiny matter that I must attend to before all else?

Try to heal my precious baby’s badly broken heart. (Bitchy isn’t so Bitchy these days.)

If I had a little magic wand, I would use it to show her that although these moments that appear the darkest are incredibly painful, they are often the ones that guide us in the direction we are surely meant to go.



THEN, I would use it to FINISH MY LIST.


Important lessons from dads.


Last night I received an email from a good friend of mine who teaches third grade in California.
It seems they spent the day working on Father's Day cards. The slam dunk? Read on...




Dear Dad,

I had a lot of fun with you like when you farted on the fire. It was fun, I really enjoyed it.

Love,
Ryan




It's funny EACH time I read it. (I am wiping my eyes right now.)

6/5/10

Up, up and away……



I’d like to offer a few words of advice to the older gentleman (with totally wild, long, gray, crazy hair that was in a pony tail) who was standing in front of me at the 7-eleven waiting to pay for gas on Friday afternoon. From the looks of things at my end, I could tell (and smell) that you had a long, hot day filled with manual labor before stopping for gas on your way home from work.

However, when you ask the clerk for rolling papers and she asks, “For cigarettes?” I’m GUESSING you should immediately reply, “YES!” (Just a hunch.)

The long pause and confused look amused ME, but probably not the fellow behind me.

Oh, you didn’t know who that was? He was wearing Oregon State shorts and a T-shirt and was holding his daughter’s hand while waiting to buy her a Gatorade before her t-ball game. He’s my neighbor.


Oh, he's also a cop.



(Do I have to teach EVERYONE in this town?)



Bug Central

What do little girls do when they are banned from rescuing worms and snails from the schoolyard wetlands and are forced to play inside because of the rain?

They collect ants.


From inside the classroom.


And feed them.


And present them to the teacher as their new class pets.





Man, I am gonna MISS this class. (sniff, sniff)




6/3/10

Wait, WHICH one is bitchy?


Someone needs to find the PayPal address for my guardian angel ASAP, because she seriously needs a RAISE - or at the very least a grand donation.

I had no longer posted my thoughts about wallowing in my own crazy wallowness, when Sassy reared up on her hind legs and hit one OUT OF THE PARK! (And without a field hockey stick, no less.)

The screaming at me Sunday morning because I had the AUDACITY to look her in the eye and ask her what her plans were that day?


How dare I.


Haven’t I learned better after living with raging teenage estrogen for these many years? (Apparently not.) I was lulled into a trancelike state by her graduation exuberance and “hope for many gifts and money” strategy to think that she would ever consider raising her voice to me a week before said event.


Then, the screaming at me insisting that she WASN’T screaming? Well, that was an ingenious touch. Frankly, if I hadn’t seen it several thousand times in the last four years, I would have given her a standing ovation. Unfortunately, the force of her lungs basically knocked me on my *$$, therefore rendering me incapable of the standing “O”. By that point I was laughing so hard that I couldn’t think straight.

The laughter? I had strategically hidden her car keys after my morning coffee because I had a crazy inkling that a storm was a brewin’.


Call it mother’s intuition.



(Now, can anybody out there cross stitch? I’m thinking about a small sign that says, “Don’t let the door hit you in the a$ on your way out.” In red.)

6/2/10

He completes us.




Twelve years ago today, much to the horror of his sisters, we welcomed The Golden Boy into the world.

The words “It’s a boy!” were not uttered by the doctor, a nurse, or even my own husband; but by my SISTER who had cleverly sneaked into the O.R. smoother than warm brie on a piece of French bread.

We spent the first few years of his life convincing his sisters that painting his toenails and fingernails while he was sleeping just wasn’t done. When they tried to sneak him into daycare with makeup and a handkerchief on his head, his father said “Enough is enough!”

The next five years or so we spent searching for the hammers, screwdrivers, wrenches and various tools he would use to dismantle anything and everything he could get his hands on. However, adding three plastic containers full of oil to the green, plastic John Deere tractor in the driveway was a brilliant move on his part. I didn’t know that steam could actually come out of Tightwad’s ears.

I still remember fondly Bitchy’s loud screams as she would spy The Boy running through the sprinkler in the backyard wearing her two-piece bathing suit. If I remember correctly, this was a weekly occurrence.

And so, it was with great satisfaction that she informed us that the poop we had been cleaning up in the yard somewhat TOO frequently (thinking it belonged to the dogs) was in fact his.


Today, Golden Boy, I celebrate the joy you’ve brought into our lives.


And when I gaze into your eyes as you share your stories about the day, I catch my breath. For not only do I see a glimpse of the young man that you are becoming, I can also see my father’s kind and gentle ways mirrored in your soul.



And I smile.

6/1/10

"My sister has mice."


Today during reading centers my little Suzie felt the desperate need to call attention to her after school plans.


“My BIBI is picking me up today! I am NOT going home with Jimmy and Ryan like I always do.”


“That sounds like fun! I know you love your grammy.” I smiled.


“Well, you know, Jimmy and Ryan are sick.”


Me, “They are? Together? I bet it’s chicken pox.”


She smiled, “No!”


“Is it the flu?” I asked, being the recent recipient of a version of this that FURTHERED my weight loss another FIVE THOUSAND pounds. (Or five.)


“No, not the flu.” She said.


“Hm. I give up. What is it?”


“They got bugs in their hair.” And with that she shrugged her shoulders and got back to work.



Yeah. And I was itching the whole rest of the *&@$ day.