Most effective form of communication at our house? Yelling.

By some cruel twist of fate, both girls were home at the same time last night- the first time this summer. They were looking over purchases made by Bitchy, who has chosen online shopping as a way to mend a broken heart. (Whatever it takes, people. What EVER it takes.)

Their voices escalated. “Oh my GOD, why in the @(** would you buy THAT?”

“Everyone has them. Isn’t it great? I love it.” I heard Bitchy reply.

“For God’s sake. That is NOT a necessity. Oh my GOD. UNDERWEAR is a necessity, NOT a hair straightener cover from Vera Bradley!”, Sassy screamed at the TOP of her lungs.

Bitchy stomped past me and without skipping a beat muttered, “How would she know? She doesn’t even WEAR underwear.”

Item number 405 on the list of things I didn’t want to know.


Some days I would just rather use a pen.

We were working on a math activity in summer school yesterday, when Susie said, “Mrs. Smythe, would you PLEASE tell Sam that it doesn’t matter HOW tall his pencil is? He keeps saying his pencil is the tallest.”

George, “Yeah. It doesn’t matter whose pencil is the tallest, as long as it’s sharpened.”

Ain’t that the truth.


If those Reality TV people come knocking, do NOT let them in.

Oh sweet Mary and Joseph, am I the only one around here NOT running for the Real Housewives of Blogging Country? Am I the only one NOT jumping at the chance to share my dysfunctional family and hideous haircut with the whole civilized world?

Everywhere you click on the blogoshere you’ll find bloggers vying for the chance to be on the Project Mom reality show. (Frankly, you should go leave a comment for Ann, Amy, Brittany and Jess. THEY would seriously kick butt on this show.)

Well, this is MY post on why I don’t want ANYONE nominating me or contacting me regarding an audition for this opportunity to cut myself open in front of the whole continental United States. (Plus, and correct me if I’m wrong, this MIGHT interfere with my daily quest to maintain my anonymity.)

These other bloggers are amazing women and I have to applaud their bravery in their attempts to have their every move recorded for billions of viewers to enjoy. I, however, am not one of these women.

Top ten reasons why the producers of the show do NOT want me.

10. My children hate me.

9. Some days I hate my children.

8. My husband occasionally hates me.

7. Occasionally, I hate my husband.

6. My dogs bark too damn much; but unfortunately, they love me.

5. I hate the dogs.

4. I hate to clean. I DO it, but I hate it.

3. Bitchy and Sassy say the word fu*& so frequently, that they’d be bleeping through the whole bleeping show every bleeping night.

2. There are about five billion empty/ripped water balloons under the second-hand couch in my 6x10 ft sunroom. I forget they’re there each day, and remember when I go in there each night to relax and watch OTHER people on reality shows.

1. My hair is too damn short.

So please, for God’s sake, do not leave a comment here explaining to the producers why I should be chosen for this endeavor. Instead, go to one of the blogs mentioned above, and leave copious comments about why THEY should be chosen.

Now, pass me the hair-growing tonic. Please.


He ain't heavy - at least not to me.

I see that child - the small one, the dirty one, the odd one, the fat one, sitting in the corner of my classroom desperate for a friend.

I know him, the child who smiles and laughs at jokes that are taken at his own expense, the child desperate for attention, for friendship, for acceptance and love.

These are the children that I take particular care with; the ones I try to boost with an offhanded positive comment meant for others to hear.

I was once that child – and so were many of you. I was called “small-fry” or “short-stuff” – the shortest one of the class who looked years younger than my age. Yeah, it could’ve been worse, but my heart didn’t know that.

Each year I search for those souls in my room- they’re not hard to find. I wrap them as best I can in my protective arms, all the while praying that the coming years in school will treat them kindly – but I know in my heart that they won’t. I try show the rest of the class by example what is important - their character, their humor, their intelligence and their special talent.

And that child who is too big for his age? The one who might be the youngest in his class, but because of size his parents decided to send him to kindergarten anyway- in order to help him avoid the taunts of the other children? The one they call fat? I know him intimately.

He’s my son.

I pray for him every night as we cuddle in his bed and he shares his heartbreak of the day, for I know that the coming years will be so very difficult to navigate. The doctors tried to tell us that he was going to be a big man, not to worry, he would be a tall man, and each year we kept a close eye on his growth.

I try not to cringe every time he eats a meal, or grabs a snack, or tells me he’s hungry because I know he’s a growing boy. Every other boy his age can eat like a monster and still be a beanpole. He has no such luck.

He plays each day and night outside with the “Do-Good Brigade”. They race their bikes down the bike-path to a school a short distance away. They shoot hoops upon their return, or play “Let’s crush whoever has the football” and then kill each other on the trampoline for hours.

He comes in every night long after dark, reeking of sweat and dirt.

And as he showers and walks to his room wrapped in his towel, I notice the stretch marks lining his stomach and armpits and my heart aches.

Still, we continue to encourage him. We talk about healthy habits and we incorporate them into our daily lives. The thing is- we are not unhealthy people. We DO eat fresh fruit; we DO eat tons of veggies; we ARE active people. This is what I don’t understand. But, I’ll just add that to the list of 5 BILLION other things that perplex me.

So now I not only love that chubby fat boy that sits in the back of my classroom, but I also love the one that sits at my kitchen table.

And I pray hard every single night for both of them.


I'll take "Things you should never say to your mother" for $400, Alex.

A few suggestions to girls HOPING to travel to New York City with their mother next weekend:

When she returns from the salon with a cute little sassy haircut do NOT burst into hysterical laughter and do NOT utter the word "Ewwwwww."

And Sassy, when texting your friend about said haircut, do NOT ask for help spelling the word atrocious. That just bought you the cot next weekend.

Anyone want to adopt two girls? They're only slightly used, potty trained and eat only when forced. (Make sure you've got plenty of ranch dressing and hot sauce.)


The Summer Adventures of the The Do-Good Brigade

Bitchy and Sassy have spent these summer days working at the golf course, serving meals at the retirement home, shopping, partying, and basically avoiding their family at all cost.

Golden Boy and the Do-Good Brigade have appointed me resident den-mother. I've tried to tell them that during the summer I'd rather not have ANY thing to do with children. They refuse to listen.

And so, we spend our evenings hiking to this incredible spot to cavort with my good friends' amazing dog - and try to catch the fish that we see shooting out of the water each night.

Some days I think I've died and gone to heaven.


The BlogHer#10 Post; If you add my two cents to Amy’s two cents to Marinka’s two cents you’ll get, well, at LEAST a quarter.

(It's the cake from Mom and Pop. For real..)

First let’s get the preliminaries out of the way and say YES, this year I DID get a ticket to BlogHer#10. (Holy @(#*) I am beyond excited, and can’t wait to see what havoc I can wreak upon NYC!!!

The ticket was free (Thank God) because by some crazy stroke of luck they picked me to help work the registration desk! They must have seen me greeting anyone who would make eye contact with me last year, and decided that they ought to just pay me to do the same. Well, kind of. (I'll be registering people Thursday and Friday morning- so make sure to say HI!!!)

As far as travel arrangements go, New York City is conveniently only a TWO HOUR DRIVE from where I live here in Smythe, Oregon. (It's that new geography we teach in kindergarten; very high tech.)

If you remember correctly, last year an angel from heaven went behind her husband’s back and bought me an airline ticket. (And not just any ticket - she paid for baggage, check in stuff, any of the five billion incidentals that come along with it AND A ROOM.) Then, when we realized I was going but DIDN’T HAVE A TICKET, another crazy wonderful woman found one and gave it to me. To make a long story even LONGER, incredible people did some good deeds and sent me a gift beyond measure.

I learned many, many things last year, and today I am going to give my own BlogHer advice. There is no way I can improve upon Amy’s post (it’s a must read if you are attending) or Marinka’s post, so I won’t even try.

These are the tiny tidbits that I learned last year.

1. Before committing to share a room with people, make sure you aren’t emailing people with duplicate names. While I thought it was exciting to share a four-person room with seven people, not everyone else did. (Guess how many people in the world are named Megan? GUESS? Well, I slept with three.)

2. If you want to remain anonymous, don’t put your name, address, phone number and PICTURE on the five hundred business cards you pass out. (Good God.)

3. If by some crazy twist of fate the storm of the century closes all airports up and down the eastern seaboard, be open minded about finding alternate forms of transportation that might involve a total stranger. However, if your route takes you smack into the CENTER of the storm – you may want to rethink that particular plan. Unless of course you love danger and the off chance you might slide head on into a mack truck; then, by all means, go for it.

4. Always check your itinerary before laughing and chatting in the lobby of your hotel thinking you have HOURS until your flight. Odds are great that you have 45 minutes.

5. When someone (an amazing and generous friend) asks you if you want to go to a small gathering where you might see some famous writers and perhaps a celebrity singer? Do it! It may turn into a night you’ll never forget. (Poppy, you are the best.)

6. Have an open mind and an open heart. Spend time chatting with people you connect with, and remember that we are all in the same boat. We are mothers, sisters, husbands, fathers, sons, daughters and friends; but we all have one thing in common.

We blog..

Sure, I’ve got an extra 15 pounds to lose, I'm rolling quarters for meals, I don’t wear Tommy Hilfiger and I could probably use a facelift (or two), but guess what? Everyone else there is in the same boat. We are all normal and real, and no one really gives a crap what you are wearing or how much you weigh. (Except maybe BJH, but that's another post entirely.)

If you go into this adventure with no expectations you will leave it with memories that will last a lifetime. (But make sure you bring a huge extra bag. Some of those memories may include incredible amounts of swag.)

(And this year watch out- Bitchy and Sassy will be right there with me. If they don't piss me off too much before we leave...)


You thought childbirth was fun? Girl, those 18 hours of labor were the easy part.

Here’s what happens when your 18-year old daughter doesn’t TECHNICALLY need your permission to do anything.

Tattoo #3.

God help me.

(I'm over here. If anyone cares or has extra time on their hands. )


But the Emfire State Building was his second choice...

Our friend Abe ran into summer school this morning SO excited about his weekend trip.

"Mrs. Smythe, I was in NEW YORK CITY! Did you remember?"

"Yes, I did! How was the trip?"

He proceeded to tell us about the "very" boats, going to the top of the Emfire State Building, and the amazing hotel they stayed in.

"We stayed in a fancy hotel. It was super fancy!"

"So, Abe, was the the best part of the trip?" I asked, as is recommended in the teacher handbook.

"You wanna know the best part? I didn't even have to wipe my butt. The whole time! There was a little shower for your butt in the bathroom. It was the coolest thing ever."

And THAT is how I started my day. How about you?

(And if you are sending kids to elementary school in the fall, come on over and give me some love over here.


My new obsession...

A big thanks to Sara, who made me smile for days after seeing this.....

again- watch it all. You will love it....


Second rule in summer camp? Keep the teacher laughing.

Today in summer reading camp, we were using our sight words in a sentence. I held up the flashcard for the word “is”, and the children all shouted it out.

“Now, who can use the word IS in a sentence?” I asked. They all started shouting at once.

“I is hungry!” said Susie.

“We is going outside!” shouted John.

“Boys and girls, when you use the word is, you say it like this…He IS…something something something. You see?”

George, “ I know, I know! My turn! He is something something something.” (Big smile.)

And with that, George moved to the head of the class.

(Yesterday's Do Good Day brought tears to my eyes. More about that tomorrow.)


Move over David Letterman...

And the number one sign it’s going to be a rough day in summer school?

When George runs up to you and blurts out, “I forgot my behavin’ medicine today!”

(Pass me some Aleve.)

(Winner of this will be determined at noon-still time to re-enter. And this contest goes until July 31.)


SOMEONE knew I needed a laugh

This is what a five year old boy will draw on the board while waiting for his bus to be called.

Any ideas on what it REALLY is?

I'll post the answer tomorrow morning in the comments. The winner will receive a standing ovation by anyone who is my house at the time, and two loud barking dogs who are fully potty trained. Except perhaps the one who's epileptic, and occasionally pees all over the floor if his mother, sister and brother ALL decide to give him his morning pill. (s) He is, however, EXTREMELY friendly and loves to go on field trips.


Hope? That's the town that all parents live in.

Some of you have been around long enough to remember the troubles this family has experienced this past year.

I haven’t talked about it because Sassy asked me not to. I have respected her wishes.

Until now.

Frankly, as I look at it, I have asked her NUMEROUS times over the years not to do stuff, and she has either through her words or actions, DECLINED.

In this case I think that the greater good lies in knowing that knowledge – and the experiences of others – might help others that find themselves in the midst of a traumatic and uncontrollable situation.

It was just a few days before graduation when I received a letter in the mail from the District Attorney’s office. My heart stopped IMMEDIATELY, and I was searching my brain for the memory of a forgotten speeding ticket, a bounced check, or some other mess I might have inadvertently gotten myself into.

I cautiously opened the letter to discover that the young man who, through his actions, taught Sassy about fear and mistrust- had in fact pled guilty and was about to be sentenced by the judge.

The court wanted to let us know that Sassy had a short window of time to prepare a victim’s statement- one that the judge would take into consideration before sentencing Georgie.

We all knew that she might be asked to write one, and she’s been thinking about writing it since last November. It’s been one of those tasks that have must been too painful for her – perhaps seeing in writing what this whole experience has done to her youth was too much for her. I can’t be sure.

I wondered what she would write. Could she know that she had changed from an outgoing, funny, well-liked, friendly young girl to a soul who chose to stay home most of her junior and senior year- instead of spending it with friends at sleep-over’s and parties? Was she aware that she learned to travel with an old field hockey stick in her car and a set of eyes in the back of her head? Did she realize that she had pushed away most of her friends- ones that really didn’t understand what she was going through, and ones that had no idea that she felt her life was in danger? Did she know that what should have been the best years of high school for her – were the scariest.

Can you put that into words as an 18-year old girl? I’m here to tell you that she did.

Will it be over when he gets sentenced?


Will she be suddenly cured, and will we see that young, trusting, joyful girl that we once knew?

I don’t think so.

However, we do have hope- we must have hope.

We hope that she continues to evolve into a strong woman who trusts her gut instincts every single time.

We hope that she meets new friends who understand her struggle, and who will hold her close as she begins to heal.

We hope that she looks forward more, and behind less.

We hope that she uses this experience to help her become the woman she is meant to be.

And we hope, beyond all else, that she finds happiness. Real, true, incredible happiness – for this is the one thing that might dissolve those tiny seeds of fear that quietly lurk in the corners of her heart.

Let us pray.


Some moments stay with you...

People often said that she was a beautiful child.

She had the face of an angel, with long, dark hair that hung about her face and blue eyes speckled with gold flecks – like her mother’s.

They couldn’t know from looking at her that her world was mostly silent. When she turned and faced people the hearing aide in her pocket attached by a long wire to her ear was a dead giveaway.

In the early 60’s they didn’t know what to do with a child who suffered from hearing loss. In McLean, they shuffled her from special education rooms, to handicapped classrooms, to special schools for the handicapped. Finally, in a small town in Pennsylvania, they included my sister in a regular classroom. (Long before it was fashionable or acceptable.)

After numerous trips to many doctors and specialists, my parents were resigned to the fact that K. was totally deaf in one ear, and partially deaf in one ear. Many things were tried in her early years to help her, but in the end she learned to live with one hearing aid, an amazing ability to read lips, and two annoying siblings who treated her as any other sibling would. Like crap. (As it should be.)

As a teenager, I would sneak into the house late at night when the house was quiet, and on occasion I would stumble upon my mother sitting in the dark on the long stairway leading up to the second floor. The martinis at cocktail hour had made her weepy, and she would hug me and release her feelings of guilt about my sister’s deafness.

“If only I hadn’t had German measles. I will always blame myself.” And her voice would catch in a sob as she would pull me close and cry quietly.

I will never forget those heartbreaking moments.

I was preparing to teach school one morning, a little over ten years ago, when my phone rang. It was 7:30, and I knew it exactly who it was. We spoke every morning, and I thought nothing of it.

“Hello! I am leaving for work in ONE minute – what’s up???” I yelled into the phone.

“D. You are not going to believe this. I got my new hearing aides – you know, the two that the doctor said would probably help me? Well, I put them in, and guess what? Guess What??

I heard the birds. I have never heard birds before. And the crickets! THE CRICKETS! Oh My God. And the backhoe up the street! I heard the backhoe! Can you believe it? Are you there? HELLO?”

Oh, I was there all right.

I was there.

The tears pouring from my eyes and the joy I felt in my heart was almost too much to describe.

And at that moment, I saw the mother sitting on the stairs, smiling down upon her precious, precious girl. And I knew that she was finally at peace.


I ALWAYS seem to find a way...

We live along a very busy road in the middle of this tiny college community here in Smythe, Oregon. It is often a challenge to back out of the top driveway to our house, and this is only magnified by the hundreds of plants I've added along the road to try to "beautify" the portion of yard that meets the street.

I've added sunflowers, lavender, bee balm, larkspur, a few plants from my neighbor, a very large trumpet vine that I was told by the owner of the greenhouse was WYSTERIA, and several lilac bushes. (There was until a few weeks ago a rather LARGE forsythia bush as well, but Tightwad conveniently took care of that. May he R.I.P.)

Sassy and I were attempting to back out the other day when I commented offhandedly, "I need to trim some of these plants so we can see better! This is harder than usual."

"Mom, ¥ou DO know what some of those plants look like, don't you?"

"What are you talking about? The real tall plants with yellow flowers?? I can't remember what their name is..."

"Yeah. They look like marijuana."

"WHAT???? No they, wait, um, holy crap! Oh my GOD THEY DO! I never thought..."

"Jeez, mom. You are a teacher, and you've got what looks like pot growing in our front yard.
Good job."

Oh Good Lord, I never fail to dig myself into a hole. Now here, someone throw some dirt on top of me and be done with it.