Everything must go. And I mean everything.

When the going gets tough, the tough have yard sales.

But no one wanted the lucky penny.

I wonder why.


How to melt the teacher's heart.

This was on my desk this morning, after I spent a week of apparently yelling at every child in sight. You might not know that during the last seven days of school, even the GOOD go bad.

The difference? The ones who crack after 168 days of goodliness will write you an apology.

And probably end up in the prize box.


The antidote.

The problem?

Frank refused to come in from recess when his teacher blew the whistle, yelled across the playground at the TOP of her lungs, and then ran and hid behind a narrow tree when said teacher marched across the playground to retrieve him. (Unfortunately for FRANK, the principal was standing about five feet from said tree. She was incredibly happy to help.)

He repeated this same offense 1.5 hours later when the class went outside at the end of the day. I retrieved him just in time to get him onto his bus.

Those other hours between said recesses were peppered with many "tugs-of-war" today.

This was the only viable solution.

Lemon Drop. x2.


You were probably getting ready to serve me CHEESE with my whine.

My sister kicks butt.

I speak to her almost every day. She is a part of my heart and soul, and I need to hear her voice almost as much as I need to breathe.

But mostly? She kicks my ass. (Sure, it might not be that big a target anymore, but she finds the bullseye every time.)

She called the other day when I was wallowing in my sorrows. (Note to everyone- don't cry to someone who has walked a MUCH HARDER ROAD than you. They have no pity.) I MIGHT have started to cry as I outlined what I felt was an insurmountable hurdle.

"Are you crying??" she asked. "Stop your crying RIGHT NOW!! You have come too far to let this little thing stand in your way. Are you kidding? This is nothing," she said.

She's right.

I'm a whining wimp.

I sat on my porch after our discussion, and looked out over the incredible landscape and I realized something.

I am incredibly lucky.

I have an amazing home. Sure, the basement fills with water; it's inhabited by a few hundred mice; the wallpaper might be 50 years-old and Sassy swears it's haunted, but I am in love with it. It has wrapped me in its arms and made me feel safer than I have felt in a long, long time.

I have fabulous kids. They fight; they leave crap all over the house; they ignore my to-do lists; they eat food (for God's sake); they talk back and they make me feel human again. They are a drug I can't ever get enough of- as painful as they may be, they are also the best thing that ever happened to me.

I am on a journey that has no clear course- but I'm ready.

And to my sister? I thank you.

I thank you for supporting me, for loving me, for laughing with me, for reminding me of what is right, and for kicking my ass.

Even if it IS a size 8.

Some days I just want to call their bluff.

Frank has been spending an inordinate amount of time working at my table. While most children might not view this as a good thing, he seems to think it's a place of honor.

It was near the end of the (long and painful) day, and we were wrapping up our journal writing. (And when I say we I mean he. Him. Frank.) He was trying to finish his picture, when he held up one of his markers and said in a very professor-like voice, "You know, you can kill yourself by putting a marker in your eye."

I looked at him.

"Frankly," I said, "At this point I think I'd like to test that theory. On myself."

2:30 at the end of a long long day? Don't think I wasn't serious.


Everything but the kitchen sink. (And perhaps the cat.)

Well, it appears that I have to find a lot of money in a very little amount of time. There are several reasons for this, and none of them have to do with good overcoming evil. (If I thought for ONE MINUTE that this money was going to the person who it's really intended for, I wouldn't blink for a minute. Well, I might still cry my eyes out, but I wouldn't blink. No blinking.)

However, I have often felt that I am an extremely resourceful person when the case warrants it. And this time, it really, really does.

So, in the spirit of all that is crazy, unpredictable and painful, I have decided to try to sell as many things as I can to help with the large sum that I have been asked to pay someone who shall remain unnamed.


Now, because you are all my faithful readers, friends, relatives, listeners, supporters and advisors, I thought I'd either give you FIRST DIBS on what is going on the market at the huge yard sale/craigslist extravaganza this weekend, or perhaps you could advise me about how much I should allow these precious heirlooms go for. After all, it's only stuff. (Sure, most of it all belonged to my dearly departed loving parents, but it's only stuff. And perhaps this is what it was intended for all along.)

Oh sure, I was never given anything of any value for birthdays or Christmases these last 22 years, but I am incredibly grateful for these amazing children that I love with all my heart. I can't get a nickel for them myself, but that's another post entirely and it's best saved for the future. (Say in about 17.5 months.)

After retrieving most of our belongings over the weekend, I started opening many dust-covered boxes that had been tucked in an attic for many years. I stumbled across some items that I'm hoping might help get me out of this tight situation. (And when I say tight, I mean car dying, unexpected taxes owed, Sassy's additional car repairs, Sassy's missing school loan, and two tow truck bills tight...) Let me know what you think.

First, I have a wide variety of comic books that I discovered my mother hadn't sold AFTER ALL. (I was convinced she sold all that I owned after I graduated from college. At least she CLAIMED she had. Apparently I was wrong.)

Bobby Sherman. BOBBY SHERMAN ladies!!! (sigh)

Second, I found these old Life magazines- in amazing condition. Marilyn, Robert, Ted and Joan and Christina Ford all appear on the various covers. (Does someone want to offer me $2,550.00 for the lot? Anyone??)

Then, I have the box of 45's that my sister and I played so often that I can't believe they're still intact. The box, however, isn't. (For those of you infants, they are called RECORDS and we played them on a box that had a circle thingy that would spin with a needle that would READ the music and play it!! Cheezus, that sounded complicated.)

Now, if none of those items interest you, I have a set of wedding rings that I'm pretty sure I paid for MYSELF out of the small inheritance I received after my mother died. (The remainder of which I used to pay for the wedding, reception, his ring and too many things to mention. Don't say it. I offered, so please don't say it.) I'll throw in the wedding gown, veil, puffy slip and shoes. Oh sure, they're 22 years old and slightly used, but they might make a nifty Halloween costume. (Size 6).

Okay, I'm opening bids at $1,000,000. Or one dollar. What say you?

(And if you an spot Munchie among the animals that the girls are selling, you win the free set of Tupperware. There are no LIDS, but you already knew that, didn't you??)


Most of the time, I choose to believe every thing they say. It makes life MUCH more fun.

We were working very hard in reading group yesterday, putting the finishing touches on our insect books.

We were discussing ants and Sam's head lifted as he shouted, "Hey! My dad works on a ant farm!"

"Really?" I asked.

"YEP!" he shouted happily.

"Sam, your dad works on an ANT farm?" I asked again, attempting to see if perhaps he wanted to change his story.

"Yep. He works on a ant farm. He feeds them, he takes care of them, and he walks them."

Suzy looked at him, her eyes growing wide. "Wow, " she said. "I've seen some pretty big ants. But I don't think I've ever seen any ants that big!"

I've decided to plan a field trip. To the ant farm. Anyone else in?


Because I do believe.....I do.

We all have our journeys. And sometimes we need reminded that there is some good in the world...


Sometimes voting can teach you about more than just responsibility...

I have this thing about voting – I kind of feel it’s our privilege and duty to do so.

No vote? No right to complain.

I pulled out of my new driveway tonight, and drove down a lovely country road to my new polling place. It was located inside a lovely retirement community; in fact, it was the final residence of my sister’s father-in-law, and I felt a smile as I walked through its familiar corridors. The walls were lined with beautiful artwork, and it felt like I was walking into a comfy, cozy, familiar home.

I followed the signs until I located the room that housed the voting machines. I walked up the volunteers who were sitting in chairs behind a long table, and found the spot where I was to register. I looked at the woman and smiled, “I hope this is where I vote! I have just recently moved in a new home.”

A voice beside her said, “You most certainly have!” I was shocked to see that the voice belonged to the woman who so lovingly tended the house I now live in for the last 42 years. “And we loved your past piece in the paper. It was lovely. Just lovely.”

“Thank you!” I said. "Thank you so much." I was so pleasantly surprised, and gushed about how much I loved the home.

“Are you enjoying the flowers coming up? Have the azaleas bloomed? Did the hydrangea come up?” I answered her questions, sharing the various surprises that have popped up in the gardens surrounding the house.

“I have one question, though," I asked, "What exactly is coming up in the big garden next to the wooden deck? The garden surrounded by rocks? They look like tall, tall weeds, and I almost yanked them but I had a feeling they might be something else.”

“That’s Horseradish!” she said with a smile. "You can dig it up, wash it and I think you soak it for a while. I might have a recipe…”

“Oh, I hope you do! I love horseradish!” I was so excited, and relieved that I hadn’t yanked it all out.

She thought for a moment, and said, “I’ll look for the recipe…"

And then I heard a voice coming from what appeared to be a 100 year-old woman sitting on the far end of the table.

“Oh just GOOGLE it!” she said with a shout.

Yeah. The 100 year-old woman at the Voter’s registration table remembered Google.

I’ve been trumped by a woman with blue hair.


I'm not sure I can't fit anything else on this incredibly bulging plate.

Like the rest of you, I am wrapped in commitments, deadlines, and too many other obligations this week to mention. I offer some pics for a somewhat wordless Tuesday. (Among them, the shoes of the day; grass heads go to the barber and Munchie's plea to Braja.)

Enjoy the day, my friends.


Where has she been for the last 161 days?

I was administering one of about a thousand end-of-the year assessments to our darling Suzy yesterday.

We finished the four part letter assessment, and I encouraged her to move about the room before we started the number “test”.

She chose to twirl and dance about the room, and I explained what we were doing next.

“We’re going to see how much you’ve learned about numbers this year! Won’t that be fun?”

Suzy smiled, and started jumping up and down. “Oh, I am SO GOOD at numbers! Actually, I know ALL numbers! I know ALL THE NUMBERS IN THE ALPHABET!!!”

Whose room has she been IN all year?


Ten, Five, Four? Who really counts these days??

The top four reasons why the teacher might be having a glass of wine tonight, in no particular order.

4. Someone who reads this blog left a not-so-nice comment on a post. While I’ve always said, “I’m a big girl” and have always left comments on my posts whether they were negative or not, I had to intervene. My daughters felt the need to jump on the bandwagon with an *ahem* supportive comment of their own. (Apparently they do read my blog.) While I was incredibly touched by their loyalty, the comments were closed. We reminded each other to keep our faces toward the sun, and hold each other close. The fireworks from Mordor might be strong but in the end, a good heart always prevails.

3. That miracle for my car that I was asking God to give to someone else? Well, THAT was the prayer He finally heard. (I just love Him, and His crazy sense of humor.)

2. The ants found their way back into the classroom. (Marching MORE than one by one.) Yes, we are indeed studying bugs in kindergarten, but not by the billions. (Egads.)

1. Frank decided to listen to the teacher (for once) and did NOT put ketchup up and down his arms and his head. He used honey, instead. (“But I DID listen to you! I didn’t put ketchup on me again!”)

Yeah. I’m disausted.


A series of unfortunate events. (aka Mr. Murphy comes for a long weekend.)

There seem to be many days of late that I find myself wondering if I dare get out of bed. (And you can bet I won't be kissing any frogs.)

It seems that each time I turn around, that sneaky Mr. Murphy finds a way to hit me where it hurts. (And apparently, there are quite a few places.)

I knew when I made the choice to finally move, that it was going to be a long and painful journey. Each day brought a new and unexpected challenge, and forced me to look deep inside my heart to find answers to questions that I never thought I’d ask myself.

Some hurdles required finding money in places that I was convinced were empty. But along the way, I have found that along with unexpected challenges come unexpected gifts.

And finally on Mother’s Day, just when I thought that God had finally tired of having His way with me, I was jolted into reality. On my way to pick up Bitchy from work (her own vehicles location is a mystery) my car died. On a busy, busy street here in Oregon, it died. I managed to somehow steer it into a parking lot, and stop it with the emergency brake. After a harrowing, tearful, frantic couple of hours, I was rescued by several guardian angels cleverly disguised as a tow truck driver, my best friend, her husband and my brother.

And so this morning I drove an old loaner into the car-repair parking lot to find out the verdict. This particular garage is owned by a family whose children attended our school; the youngest boy was a student of mine in an after-school reading program. I always had a special place in my heart for him.

His older brother smiled at me, wiping grease off his hands and the sweat off his brow. He motioned me over to him as he continued to dig deep into the recesses under the hood of my paid-for car.

“Well,” he said, “it might just be this bolt that holds the crank shaft blah blah blah blah blah.” (For real. THAT is what I heard.)

I looked at him, going over in my mind the money I had spent and would spend this month. Should I bring up Sassy’s additional unexpected car repairs and field hockey tournament expenses? Or the surprising and ungodly amount of money for taxes that I hadn’t expected to pay because someone waited until the last minute to tell me to file separately? What about the various bills for house-related items and a down payment that was meant to insure a rent-to own agreement the end of May? And let’s not forget that date next week that I have with a person with a black robe who will determine if I have to pay “someone who shall not be named” alimony. (Cause we teachers are rolling in the money.)

I looked at him and felt the tears welling up.

“You know, I read your article in the paper every month," the dimples on his cheeks appearing as he smiled, “I love it- and the way you talk about those kids. I love my little boy so much, and it just makes me smile to read those stories.” Through all that grease and hard working sweat, he managed to lift me up out of my own little pity party.

And then he added, “If it’s only this bolt, it might be no big deal.”

“That would be a MIRACLE!" I said.

As I drove home, I starting thinking. You know what? It’s a car. It’s just a car. I’ve got one to drive, and I am in much better shape than many other people in the world.

Naw, I don’t need no stinking miracle. I know plenty of people who DO, and I’m not really one of them.

If I get a call tomorrow that tells me my car is in need of a proper burial, I’m thinking I’ll breathe a sigh of relief.

Because that means the person who really needs the miracle, just might be getting it.

Notes to the Teacher...

This note was on my table yesterday attached to a flower:

"Dear Mrs. Smythe,

Thanx for being a grate speling teachr.

I love you.


That one is going on the fridge. FOUR SHURE!!!!


From one mother to another...(aka They love me, they really, really love me.)

As a motherless daughter, I have often struggled with Mother’s Day. I count the days as it approaches, and I convince myself that it’s no big deal.

I wake up that day, determined to smile and enjoy it for what it is, and at some point I always end up crying.


This year I have a feeling the tide is about to change.

While I am proud of who I am, and all that I have accomplished so far – I am spending the day celebrating all that MY children have taught me. I am celebrating BEING a mother, instead of missing a mother.

These are the incredible lessons that I’ve learned thus far.

1. There is absolutely no talking in the car.

2. If you host a prom party, odds are great that some unsavory items might be found in your yard the morning after.

3. You have to be able to text quickly, and have your phone available 24/7.

4. You will learn the first name of every person that works at Verizon Wireless. (Bring donuts and coffee- it helps.)

5. Prom dresses must NOT be purchased in your hometown- and frankly the farther away you have to drive, the better.

6. Filling out college applications and FAFSA forms are hazardous to your health.

7. Your children will call you every single name in the book. And if you’re doubly lucky, it will happen on Christmas Day, Mother’s Day AND your birthday.

8. You will run out of gas the day after any of your children uses your car to run a “few” errands.

9. When your children start driving, you will learn the true meaning of fear. This particular fear will stay with you, but is eventually tucked away in a corner of your heart where it won’t get in the way. However, it will remain there for the rest of your days, I’m sure.

10. No matter how many times you stumble, fumble, fall and fail, your children will love you with every breath they take.

They remind me each and every day that love is the tie that binds. I know that they love me with the same unconditional and unwavering love that I feel for them.

And that’s a huge relief.

Happy Mother’s Day to each and every one of you mothers.


Frankly, these are just to make you smile.

The grass is always greener on the other side of kindergarten.

(And can you guess which grass-head belongs to the the prince?)

Have a fabulous weekend. I certainly plan on it.

(Bitchy is IN the house. And you know what kind of fun that always brings.)


Funny how the parents know their kid almost as well as the teacher does. (Frank-n-sense)

I’ve been thinking for months about what I was going to say at Frank’s parent teacher conference (For about 158 days, to be exact.)

I would talk about his inability to stop talking.

I might talk about some of the choices he makes while playing at recess.

I might bring up the ketchup down the hair and up and down the arms incident. ("But it looked so COOL.")

I would definitely discuss his, um, well, defiance.

I would surely bring up the various acts of violence he has been promising to commit off and on for about 8 months now.

I might also talk about this, and this, and this and this.

But then, he gave up his sandwich.

And so when he and his parents came into the classroom on Monday morning and his face was beaming with pride as he ran into my arms, all of those thoughts flew into the air like helium balloons escaping out of a window.

I shared his many academic successes, his social successes, his funny antics and the incredible sandwich incident.

Sure, we discussed the fact that he was under the mistaken impression that I “was not the boss of him”, but his parents and I reminded him of a very important fact.

I AM the boss of him; at least for 26 more days.

(But who’s counting?)


I got distracted by my need to laugh

I was trying to write a post about needing my dad to come dry my tears, when I decided I needed to smile. I remembered Mrs. Hughes.

I guess he did, in his own way, wipe them away.

(Watch until the end- you won't be sorry. Go for the echo.)


Notes to Self

When moving in the middle of winter - in the midst of a traumatic and heart-wrenching event, try to remember the following items:

1. The smaller push lawnmower - you MIGHT need it in the spring when the incredible yard that was blanketed by snow for the last four months finally grows at lightening speed. (It's a jungle out there, people. A jungle.)

2. The weed-whacker that knows you so well - you'll need it when incredible weeds surrounding said yard start growing at the same lightening speed. (It also doubles as an amazing edger which I could surely use right about now.)

3. The grill that you cooked all of your meals on from May until November. This isn't an item that one of your incredible bloggy friends might be able to fit into a care package.

4. All of the gardening tools that you used to maintain your incredible gardens, which will now probably sit, lonely in the shed until you are able to rescue them. (Okay, Captain, this year you MIGHT win the garden challenge. )

5. All of the perennials that you so lovingly tended for about 14 years, and are probably multiplying as we speak. If I leave a Miracle Grow trail, will they find their way to me? (Anyone know the "flower" whistle??)

As I sip my coffee this morning and gaze out my window at the tulips that are bending curiously towards the sun, I smile. I remember what Bitchy said yesterday.

"Oh God, Mom, stop it. Stop worrying about those other flowers and just start something new."

So today, with that wonderful kick in the ass, that is just what I am planning to do.