Laughter is the only way to go. Trust me.

These days I am searching high and low for things to lift me up. And this particular story - it makes me laugh every single time. This was from my sister's neighbor, and it had me laughing so hard I had TEARS rolling down my face. (You guys will appreciate it, as well, I’m sure…)

My sister’s neighbor, Lori, came over and had a drink with us when I was up for a visit. She was telling us about a woman she works with named Sue.

It seems that Sue had a blind date last summer, and was to meet the gentleman at a local bar. Well, the fella never showed up, and she ended up meeting another man named Joe. She and Joe cozied right up, and ended up on his boat that was anchored out on the Mystic River. (That’s where he was living at the time.) At about 3:00 in the morning she told him she needed to use his bathroom. He told her his bathroom wasn’t working, and she would have to go topside, and pee off the boat.

She went up, squatted down and stuck her, um, rear end off the boat to pee. Then, she fell rear-end first off the boat, RIGHT into the water!! She was yelling and flailing, and yelling some more, and trying to find a way back on the boat. (Remember, it’s after 3:00 in the morning.)

She FINALLY found a rope, and pulled herself onto the rather large boat. She went down the steps, where he had poured them both some wine and made some snacks. She stood in front of him SOAKING wet.

“Where have you been?” he asked.

“Where have I been? WHERE HAVE I BEEN? I was at the bottom of the Mystic River, you ass. Didn’t you hear me?”

And with that, she chugged the wine, and went to dry off.


They’re still together.


Teach your children well.

I made a promise to my children, and to myself, that I would not write about this painful divorce here.

I have tried to honor that pledge, but it’s been hard.

It’s been hard because this space has been the one place that I have always been me. I’ve shared stories from my childhood, my family, my friends, my neighbors and my children. I’ve shared the good, the bad, the painful and the glorious. I’ve opened my messy closet and let everyone take a peek.

I’ve shared me.

I know that there are many, many, many people out there who are going through their own kid of horrible pain – perhaps a divorce, a struggle or something even more horrifying; and I know that the troubles of others often make ours look trivial, or embarrassing.

I also know that – no matter what burdens we are carrying- those burdens still hurt. No matter how big, how small, how trivial or how devastating- they all still hurt.

I have wanted to take the high road. I intended to always take the high road. I’ve tried to keep some matters close to my heart and not say or do anything that I would regret.

The truth of the matter is? I’m human. I know, it’s a HUGE surprise, but I am human. I fall every single day, along with everyone else. I used to joke that I “@(#*” up every single day – because it keeps me humble. But it’s true.

Throughout this divorce, I’ve reminded myself that the one thing that helps me sleep at night is the fact that I love my children beyond measure, and each day I strive to keep their best interests close to my heart. I know deep in my heart that I would give my life for them- without a thought or a doubt.

I believe that children should be loved.

I believe they should be respected.

I believe they should be protected.

I believe they should be challenged, questioned, lifted, reprimanded, guided and loved in spite of what they do, and how they stumble. I believe they should know that their parents love them, and will fight for them no matter what.

I believe that they should know that the people who will always wrap them in love and protection are their family members.

And I pray that those particular people, who might in fact be reading this, remember that.

That these children, the ones who are suffering beyond measure throughout this painful ordeal, should be lifted, protected, loved and comforted.

That is what I pray for every night before I go to bed.

Well, that and perhaps a huge bag of chips.


The best part of spring? Oh ladies, we KNOW it's the shoes.

First, guess what our girl wore today?

And I am HEADING to Target to find a pair of these in my size. I MUST HAVE THEM!!

(Frank wore the most hilarious sunglasses to school today. They made me laugh so hard I insisted he wear them all day. Even though the horrible black thunderclouds that hovered over our school all day made it dark and gloomy, I allowed him to wear them to protect his eyes from the "glare". They also kept him pretty pre-occupied all ding dong day, which was fairly brilliant on my part I must say. If I had a pic that didn't show his face, I would totally post it.)

carry on...


Nothin' but net. (aka Chapter 300 in the Book of Frank.)

I went to work this morning full of great expectation, hope and a thousand prayers.

I reminded myself that each day is a new day, and I had reminded the kids of this as they flew out the door the day before.

The morning went surprising well. Of course, I spent ten minutes before the children arrived frantically scouring the teacher’s lounge for help when I was informed again that my para sub cancelled. Sure, I had a parent coming to my rescue when I sent an email gently requesting help (TEACHER NEEDS HELP OR ELSE!!!) but I was counting on that other body to help me live through centers.

It worked- and an angel from heaven came in from another room to pinch hit for an hour. In addition to helping with centers, she also recorded our lunch orders and took them to the cafeteria. (This tidbit will become important very soon.)

I was in a much better mood by Kid Writing, and even Frank’s antics during Library couldn’t dampen my spirits. After all, there are some “things” that are just a part of each day. (And most of those things involve Frank.)

By the time we went to lunch I was feeling a lot like the woman sliding surprisingly fast down a slippery slope. Again.

We went through the lunch line, and by some cruel twist of fate Sally (the young lady in our room who is the pickiest eater in the universe) was forced to take the turkey sandwich that she did not order in place of the grilled cheese sandwich that she DID order. (I didn’t go down without a fight- but I lost the battle.)

She was in tears by the time we all got back to the room, and sat at the end of a table crying. I followed her back hoping to find some items in our snack closet to ease her pain when Frank walked in behind me.

He placed his tray beside Sally, who was clearly distraught. Her shoulders were hunched, her head was hanging down and tears were falling onto her lunch tray. The tray that contained only the turkey sandwich that she hadn’t ordered.

Frank looked at me, looked at her, looked at me, and then back at her. He looked at his tray and picked up his grilled cheese.

“Do you want mine? I’ll swap ya.”

She looked up, and through her tears nodded and began to smile.

Then, I heard a sound. It started softly, and ended in an incredible round of applause.

Amid the roar, I heard Stanley yell, “ FRANK! YOU’RE THE MAN!!!”

He blushed a deep red, realizing that all of his classmates had witnessed his simple act of kindness. And so had I.

He shoots, he shoots, he shoots and THIS time- he scores.


Breakfast of Champions (aka How to Ruin the teacher's day.)

Hmmm, let’s do a quick recap of the day.

1. Number of students who had Easter candy for breakfast? An enthusiastic ELEVEN!! (Parents, hide the candy the night before. For the love of ALL that is holy, hide the #*&@) Easter candy.)

2. Number of classroom helpers who couldn’t make it to school today? All. (And while I knew this in advance, it did NOT make the herding of the cats any easier.)

3. Number of names that appeared in the “I need to think about what I’ve done while walking the track at recess”? Six (And let’s just say that Easter candy can make even the most incredibly well-behaved children dive headfirst into the dark side.)

4. Number of students who took the ketchup bottle at lunch and put said ketchup up and down his arms and down the middle of his head to make it look like BLOOD? One.

5. Number of teachers with a TAD bit of a headache and a new master plan in order to ensure her possible survival tomorrow?


(Frankly, that's as high as I can count right now. Now, someone fill the tub.)


Sometimes you just need your brother to kick your class.

The girls and I are spending Easter with my brother. You remember him...the one who used to hold me down and spit into my face.

Here's a refresher:

I just spent a couple of days visiting my little brother. Although he’s now 45 years old, he will always be our little “garcon.”

He’s the youngest of three – the son my parents were thrilled to finally conceive. We were living in the south of France, while my father served as a JAG officer. When he was born, the nurse in attendance announced to my mother (who spoke not a WORD of French) “C'est un garçon ! Un grand garçon!” Which I’m pretty sure means “big boy!” For years to follow my older sister and I would relentlessly tease “garcon” by insisting that the French “gendarmerie” were going to come for him when he was 21 to take him back to France.

This is the brother who also sold “peeks” into the bathroom keyhole when my sister and I were taking baths in our teens. He always received more money when my sister was the star. (She was more “blessed” than I.)

This is the brother who tried to teach our large white rabbit “Snowflake” to climb a tree when he was in kindergarten. Unfortunately for the rabbit, he didn’t give up.

This is the brother who put his arm through a glass door during a fourth of July party not long after Snowflake’s Memorial Service.

This is the brother who buried his father’s ANTIQUE TOOLS (that he’d inherited from HIS father) in our quite expansive back yard. Many were not recovered. In fact, I don’t think they found ANY of them.

This is the brother that would hide his poopy underwear in the closet so that our mother wouldn’t know he was pooping his pants in second grade. Unfortunately, the smell almost KILLED her one day when she attempted to clean said closet. It took a fifth of vodka to revive her.

This is the boy who would catch tons of fish in the backyard canal when we lived in Florida, and release them into our pool. (Along with the snakes, baby snapping turtles and objects we have YET to name.)

This is also the young man who lost his father when he was 14, and his mother when he was 21.

Brother - I am so very sorry that K. and I were not there to guide you through your grief. I was wallowing in my own sorrow and trying to find my way back after being cast adrift on that lonely sea of heartbreak. I didn’t even realize that I was not the only boat out there.

I love you more than words can say – and I hope you take comfort in the fact that mom and dad are surely proud of the man you have become. K. and I are very proud.

You are an incredible man, and yet when I look at you, you know who I see.

The boy who killed Snowflake.

(And today he is wrapping me in love, and little bit of "kick my ass." And I love him like a brother.)


It's ERF day!

We spent the day discussing great ways to help "da erf", and spent the day picking up garbage; feeding the compost bins; planting seeds in eggshells; brainstorming ways to help the "erf" live longer; and drew pictures of all the things we would be doing do help in those efforts.

We created Earth Day hats out of our recycled newspapers, and then made sun catchers out of all the glue at the bottom of our old glue bottles.

"The sun goes through the circles and it's like a PRISON of light!" That Stanley is brilliant.

We love finding fun ways to enhance our learning, and when a great holiday pops-up, it provides us a great springboard for our lessons.

If you are participating in any activities to celebrate our amazing "erf", you can head over to the Earth Day Facebook page and add your thoughts!

And now if you'll excuse me, I have to go explain to Frank that pigs do NOT really lay bacon.

Wish me luck.


Just when I think he's said it all. (Frank-isms.)

It was a particularly difficult day for Frank. And when I say particularly difficult, I mean that he went above and beyond the call of duty in his effort to exact a sabbatical from this teacher.

He was conveniently sitting at my table at the end of the day, completing a project that the rest of the group was working on in their comfort of their very own workspace. Frank sighed as he cut out the lily pad, and looked up at me.

“I was thinking maybe I should try out some of the other teachers.”

“Don’t think I haven't tried.” I replied -a bit too quickly.

Then I added with a smile, “But you know I wouldn’t give you up for all the stickers in China.” And at that moment, I almost meant it.

Give me a bath and a glass of wine, and I will.


Sometimes Wolves DON'T eat the grandma.

I spent an amazing weekend with some kind and generous friends.

While we did spend time laughing, writing, walking, EATING, yoga-ing and singing, MUCH of it was spent talking.

I came away with some amazing thoughts, but this is one I am holding close to my heart. It is a story that reminds me that one must always try to walk toward the good.

An old Grandfather said to his grandson, who came to him with anger at a friend who had done him an injustice, "Let me tell you a story. I too, at times, have felt a great hate for those that have taken so much, with no sorrow for what they do. But hate wears you down, and does not hurt your enemy. It is like taking poison and wishing your enemy would die.

"I have struggled with these feelings many times," he continued. "It is as if there are two wolves inside me. One is good and does no harm. He lives in harmony with all around him, and does not take offense when no offense was intended. He will only fight when it is right to do so, and in the right way.

"But the other wolf, ah! He is full of anger. The littlest thing will set him into a fit of temper. He fights everyone, all the time, for no reason. He cannot think because his anger and hate are so great. It is helpless anger, for his anger will change nothing.

"Sometimes, it is hard to live with these two wolves inside me, for both of them try to dominate my spirit."

The boy looked intently into his Grandfather's eyes and asked, "Which one wins, Grandfather?"

The Grandfather smiled and quietly said, "The one I feed."

(Feed the good, people. Feed. The Good. )


Some days a great song will inspire us.

We sat in the living room, surrounded by the incredible sound emanating from an antique baby grand piano. The voices blended together, and I was speechless.

This was the song.

And this version, thanks to everyone who emailed me, is just as incredible.

My weekend of spiritual healing, enlightenment and just plain FUN has begun.

carry on.


Guess who's coming to dinner?

I've known her for three years.

I've laughed with her, I've ranted with her, I've cried with her and I've prayed for her life.

Tonight I spend the night with Braja. We will travel tomorrow to visit some friends and receive some spiritual support and guidance.

We might even share some laughs.

More pics and TONS of details tomorrow. And hey- thanks for the prayers. Keep 'em coming.

Why I didn't start therapy years ago I'LL NEVER KNOW.

I have an incredible therapist.

As I crouch into a ball in the corner while this tornado of pain and conflict swirl around me, he has given me some advice that I sorely need.

"You are fighting a battle. As you fight this battle, you need to wrap yourself up with the strength and love of your friends and family. Worry about what's ahead, and let us all worry about the little things. And ask for help."

And so now, I heed his advice.

I am asking for help. (Send some strength. Just a bit of strength.)


Mermaids aren't only in Neverland.

Suzy has been talking about mermaids since the first day of school.

In fact, when we discussed our hopes and dreams for the year she was the one who wanted to learn how to be a mermaid. In ALL honesty. In Kid Writing she draws and writes about mermaids almost every day. Her commitment to the mermaid culture is apparently contagious, as several of the other girls in the class who have admired her “mermaidness” have decided to join her club and now THEY draw about mermaids every single day.

It was during Show and Tell last week when Suzy took the coveted spot in the rocking chair.

“These are my two favorite mermaids. I got them last year, I sleep with them every, every night, and I play with them every day. Are there any questions or comments?” And a billion hands flew up. ("Do you sleep with it???" No one listens.)

Upon the completion of Show and Hell, the children all played with their various sharing items and it was basically a free for all. (Par for the course.)

I gave them time to explore the new toys, and then let them know it was time to clean up and prepare to go to lunch. Suzy grabbed the mermaids from her “mermaids in waiting” and ran up to me panting.

“Mrs. Smythe!” she yelled, as she thrust the two mermaids towards me. “I want you to send my mermaids to Japan with the other stuff.”

I looked at her, stunned. “Are you SURE, Suzy? Think about it. I know how much they mean to you.”

She smiled a huge smile, and said “YEAH! I want to give them to the kids in Japan who lost their stuff!”

She turned, walked toward the mountain of supplies and toys donated by the kids, and placed them gently on top. She turned toward me, smiled a HUGE smile, and ran away.

And while I KNOW that we don’t run in the classroom, I watched her run across the room with a tear in my eye. That gesture, that tiny gesture, spoke to me.

That is the kind of stuff you can’t really teach. THAT gesture, that kindness comes from within. You know?

Now pass a tissue. It still chokes me up.


I'd like the refresher class on kindergartenese, thank you.

Yesterday we were lucky enough to take the children out for recess.

It’s been raining or snowing here for about a thousand days, and that does not bode well for the teachers of a zillion five-year olds; epecially if you’re the teacher who was lucky enough to win the lottery. (That’s secret teacher language that means you managed to get most of the unique and challenging behaviors in ONE CLASS. Luck of the draw, people. Luck of the draw.)

So, when we looked out the window and realized that these darlings would be able to run, run, run for 30 minutes, we jumped on it.

As I was walking around the track that surrounds the playground area, Frank ran up to me anxious to tattle tale on his best friend Jack. (You always hurt the ones you love, right?)

“Mrs. Smythe, Jack kicked me in the goin.”



I looked puzzled, and as I opened my mouth to ask again, he dramatically pointed both fingers to his nether-regions and shouted, “Goin, GOIN, GOIN!”

Oh good Lord, I have seriously lost my touch.


Some years, you just can't be out of the classroom. This is one of those years.

Dear best nurse in the whole wide world who will probably get flowers from me real soon:

First, I want to apologize for being out of the building today. I had a very important training session that I could NOT get out of. Believe me, I tried. (Well. Maybe not.) After sending letters of apology to five different subs this year, I RELUCTANTLY agreed to attend this session against my better judgment. (It appears I have never, really, had good judgment.)

I want to thank you, however, for emailing me at 8:45 this morning to inform me that one of my star offenders had “accidently” bitten one of his classmates while disagreeing over who grabbed the “Go Dog Go” book first.

Apparently that was the best part of the day.

According to the copious notes left by a substitute who might never come to our school again, there were many children who felt the need to visit your office. And when I say many, I mean every single one of them.

It MIGHT have been because I pretty much never EVER let them go. And what I mean is, after teaching kindergarten for a thousand years, I have learned a few things.

I don’t let them go to the nurse if they see a friend go; if they show me a cut from the night before; if they have a tooth that they SAY hurts but is located in the roof of their mouth; if they think they have a fever but say it with a smile; if they say their tummy hurts RIGHT before snack; or if they have an important event after school that has them so excited that they don’t realize it’s butterflies in their stomach and NOT the “bomit” stuff.

So now that you’ve been properly introduced to almost EVERYONE in my class, I want to assure you that you PROBABLY won't see most of them again.

Until my next teacher training day. (Of course.)


The times they are a-changin'.

We are experiencing stormy seas here in Oregon. Our budgets have been cut by the state, and school districts across the state, and the country, are searching for ways to ensure a quality education for all its children.

As teachers, we know in our hearts that our jobs have great value. We also know that the public values what we do.

This crisis is real, and what we have known about education and our programs will be changing. We teach about life-long learning, and now we are being put in a position that is going to test that belief and our commitment to that very ideal. We have to remember that we are all in this together, and no group of working stiffs is immune from this reality.

And while we watch this storm and hold onto what we value with all our might, I offer this perspective.

He says it all. You know the drill- watch it to the end. Teacher says.

And so we fight for what we know is right, and all the while we know that the times, and education, are a changin'.