6/29/11

If I don't write it down I'll NEVER remember. (Wait, what was I talking about?)

Vodka’s To-Do list for Wednesday.

1. Remind Golden Boy and the do-good brigade about the talking rules. The new rule at the top of the list? NEVER (and I mean never) say “I’d tap that” in front of your mother when watching girls at the pool.

2. Refill the snack cabinet, the drinks in the fridge and anything that is edible before the brigade comes back over. Who knew that three boys resembling stick figures could eat you out of house and home? (Yeah. I knew. I just FORGOT.)

3. Teach Junior and Munchie how to vacuum after themselves, AND make coffee. (This time remind them to use a filter – and that I like my coffee strong enough to defend itself.)

4. Beg the neighbor to let me use his John Deere riding mower. (My arms and legs are still screaming from the last push-mowing incident. Sweat is highly overrated.)

5. Hide my wallet.


Oh wait, it’s empty.


Never-mind.


(Oh, I almost forgot. Number 6? Remind e-harmony that I am probably not interested in anyone who “figure-skates” in their spare time. I might NOT be that man’s perfect match. I’m just sayin’.)

6/27/11

Just don't look it in the eye.


There’s an elephant in the room.


Let’s be honest.


I try to cover it in glitter, or funny stories about Frank, but the elephant is here in the room nonetheless.


And her name is divorce.


Most of you know I am in the middle of a painful, horrible divorce. We intended, or at least I thought we intended, to handle it like adults. We have three amazing children, who will always have two parents, and while we all have good intentions, divorce is ugly. I said from the beginning to Tightwad, that we will be their parents when the kids grow up, get married and have their OWN children, and that if we handled this properly all would be well. But divorce is ugly.


It’s just plain ugly.


So, I’ve tried very hard to keep this particular pain behind closed doors and out of this blog. But it hasn’t been easy. And frankly, Bitchy and I had a discussion about it not long ago. I shared with her that I was having a very, very difficult time writing.


“But mom, your blog is like your journal, you HAVE to write about what is happening. That is WHAT you DO. You write about your life- about our lives. You’ve written about everything ELSE for God’s sake! Just do it!”


And I’ve wanted to. I’ve wanted to write about everything that is happening, but I just don’t know how. I’m not sure if I trust what might end up on paper when I’m in a painful and angry state.


I know from experience, that things that go out on the internet are there forever. In fact, I’ve tested that theory MORE THAN ONCE, and yep; it’s true. That means that sometimes you get to re-live your mistakes over and over and over again. What fun.


And so I tread lightly as I open up about this horrible roller coaster.


I am hopeful that we are coming to a place where perhaps we can end this chapter, and move forward in an attempt to repair our separate lives.


And through it all, I am wondering about what my life will look like.


It’s scary as hell. But lately, I am less scared and more hopeful than I have been in a long, long time.



Hope.



That is what is I spot on the horizon.

6/25/11

I am TRYING to be in a bad mood but apparently the forces of nature have other plans.(aka I still love Steve.)

I'm in a bit of a funk. Or at least I was trying very HARD to remain in my funk.




However, here are the top five things that have sunk my funk.



5. In my new backyard (aka five gazillion acres of farmland and woods) I discovered the (grand)mother of all raspberry patches. PIE FOR EVERYONE!!!




4. An amazing blogger, photographer and friend sent me one HUNDREDTH of what she has stashed in the (grand) mother of all craft closets. (I'm not kidding- Martha Stewart would be (@*# jealous.)


3. Someone who knows me a bit too well sent me a free sample. Yes. It's Vodka. Now THAT'S what I'm talking about. (However, it's a "set for two." Anyone have a kind, honest, funny, amazing, employed, available "friend" for me? Give me a jingle, cause I'm about ready.)



2. My sister's MANY trips to the Goodwill, Thrift Shop and yard sales have paid off for me once AGAIN!! (Ah Steve, you are so lucky I don't live in Maine.)




1. MY attempt at yard sale-ing today paid off in a BIG way. However, I'm still shocked that Mr. King has a picture of me on one of his first books. Do you think perhaps he was stalking ME??




Now someone pass me a cigar and a martini. I am living large tonight, people.






Living large.



6/23/11

Having a horrible memory has its moments.

“Frank!! Was that a burp?” I asked.



“Nope. It was a fart that came outta my mouf.”






Guess who I miss?



sniff. sniff. You guessed it. My life feels somewhat empty.





And surprisingly, a tad more relaxed.

6/22/11

Oh sweet Lord in heaven my ears are still hurting. (aka The Summer Chauffeur.)


I picked up Golden Boy and the other 13 year-old members of the Do-good Brigade to make a quick three-minute drive to the pool. (It was approximately 2.8 miles from the house.)


Along the way I was serenaded by various speeches (involving things I don't think should be discussed in front of a MOTHER) spoken in Chinese, Pig Latin, Spanish and what I can only assume was German. They managed to give each other way too many HORRIBLE punches, pinches and noogies – all the while managing to spot EVERY single punch bug and yellow and orange vehicle along the way. (The ceiling of my car is still in pain.)


They teased each other relentlessly about would be (cough) girlfriends –their names- and whose photos may or may not be screensavers on certain I-phones. (And other things that STILL should not be talked about in front of MOTHERS.)


And when they hurriedly exited the car to join the other thousand tweens that were spending a glorious day at the pool, one of them noticed the book laying on the floor of my car.


“A Discovery of Witches? WITCHES? Yeah. That MUST be a typo!”


And they all ran from the car in a roar of hysteria over someone’s moment of brilliance.



And me?


I laughed the whole way home. Surely that boy gets his quick wit from his mother.



And yes, she thought it was damn funny.

6/21/11

Living the life, and teaching them to sing at the same time...



Living positively.

That’s always been a way of life for me; even when thrown incredible obstacles, I’ve managed to have a happy heart and look forward to each day.

When I was invited to join ten other women for a “Conversation with Coca-cola” about this very thing, I was thrilled. It wasn’t clear, frankly, what might occur during this “conversation” but I was positive that it would be amazing. (A weekend away from my own drama? How could it not be amazing?)


And it was.



We who gathered together in Atlanta (the invited and the invitees) left our titles and expectations at the door, and shared our lives.


We were provided with many forums and activities, but in the end we really DID have a conversation; a conversation that spanned two days.


I was struck by the number of battles that we are all fighting, and the number of fears we all share. I was reminded that we are all worried about balance, about failure, about the rainbows that always seem right around the corner.


This gathering gave me a chance to peek into the lives of women just like me.


There were many stories shared, and many ideas that were passed from one heart to another, and several continue to resonate.


The fact that the quest for “balance” may indeed be futile; you have to find a way to make balance happen today: TODAY, and be happy with that balance, whatever it may be.


And one other important reminder for all of us? When you are climbing that ladder; when you are making that journey; when you are achieving success – don’t forget to lift as you go.


Yep. We must remember that true success is sweet only if you have your community to share it with; and the best way to have them with you, is to lift them up as well.



Lift as you go, people. Lift as you go.


6/17/11

Everywhere I turn...


I spent two and a half days surrounded by people from Coca-Cola.


We stayed at the Hilton Garden Inn, conveniently owned by Coke, which was located across the street from their amazing headquarters. There were coke products in the fridge, a coke bag of full of coke goodies, and coke chocolates on the tables.


The coke people surrounded us with incredible and talented representatives who shared their lives and their philosophies about living positively. We were served a plethora of coke beverages all the while.


They took us on tours through the coke headquarters; the Coke museum and the Coke store.


Basically we were wrapped in all things Coke for 2.5 days.


It took two separate flights and a lot of scurrying to finally land me on the tiny plane that would finally deposit me in my little town of Smithfield, Oregon. That particular commuter plane held about fifteen people, and honestly I thought we might have to flap our wings to help it actually make it off the runway.


I was seated next to a distinguished older gentleman, who brilliantly engaged me in conversation to distract me from the fact that we were flying in what appeared to be a thousand year old propeller airplane.


After he asked me what I did for a living, I turned to him and repeated the same question.


“What do YOU do?” I asked him with a smile.



“I work for the Coca Cola Corporation.”





How nice of them to send someone to walk me the whole way home…

6/15/11

Witches and Vampires? It's a bit like cats and dogs...


I'm home from Atlanta, but I'm hanging out over here today.





And I MIGHT be at the pool, as well.

6/12/11

Cause I'm leavin', on a jet plane.....


I am heading to Atlanta today for two days of surprises! I don’t know what they have planned, but I am thankful to be given a chance to let my hair down, and be distracted for just a moment from the challenges here at home.


It’s been incredibly stressful at the house of vodka, but we all know that the journey through pain and fear give us a great appreciation for those moments of joy. (And even though I said I would never wish time away, I DO wish it was next year at this time. I do.)


As I board the plane I will count my blessings.


1. Bitchy and Sassy are incredible amazing. They are both working two jobs, and have finally come back to the place where they are fighting and laughing in equal measure. Oh how I missed those “that’s MY shirt” screaming matches.

2. Golden Boy has been great, and even though in public it’s the “Don’t look at me, speak to me, or let anyone know you’re my mom” stage, I am thankful.


3. The dog still barks and the cat still meows, and together they have become the best of friends. Oh sure, Munchie won’t stop torturing and hissing at Junior, but when the day is done they sleep together. (And they leave practically no room for me.)


4. Frank has provided me with enough material to finally finish that book. And while I earned every penny of my salary this year, I will miss the children. (I’m pretty sure.)



So, with boarding pass in hand, I am off Atlanta! Do you think the Coca Cola people have vodka stashed somewhere? I sure hope so.

6/10/11

Never say never. (aka, those tear ducts are working overtime.)


I spent an inordinate amount of time this morning, on our last day of school, putting on my make-up.



I shouldn’t have bothered.



In our elementary school we have some wonderful traditions for the end of the year. One of them is somewhat new, and was brought to us by some young and amazing fifth grade teachers.


Two years ago, when Golden Boy was a fifth grade student here in our building, those teachers thought it would be a great “send-off” to have all the children and professionals in the school line the hallways, and have the fifth graders come down the back steps from their rooms, hi-fiving all the members of our school community as they exited the building for the last time.


We did this the first time that year, and I cried like a baby as I watched Golden Boy and his classmates roll out of the school to the cheers and high-fives of our whole, incredible school community.



Today I watched from a different perspective.



This “graduating” class was the first one we had when we entered this new building. They were an amazing group, and each one holds a special place in my heart.


I stood at the end of the hall, the last teacher before they hit the buses. I opened the doors, placed the wooden blocks under all the doors, and turned.



I saw the hallways lined with children and teachers, and felt a hiccup.



I watched as the fifth grade students made their way down the hall past fourth grade, third grade, second grade, and first grade, until they bid farewell to the kindergarten children and kindergarten teachers who were here when they first entered the building – six years ago.



They ended their elementary career - bidding goodbye to the children who were starting theirs, and the teachers who were there from the start.




It was incredible.



And yes.




I bawled like a baby.





6/8/11

I'd like to teach the world to sing, and perhaps buy a coke for everyone...



I've had many moments in my life. I’ve had sad moments, joyful moments, hilarious moments and momentous moments.

But this past year I had one of the biggest moments of all. I had the “I really am an amazing person” moment. The one that hits you right in the face, and forces you to look at who you are.


I took steps. I took many drastic steps to insure that I have many more moments in my future- moments that are filled with happiness, pride, joy and love. These are the moments I want to live for.


The steps I took required courage; crazy, crazy courage. I needed courage to build my own life again- the life of a single mother trying to become someone her children and her family could be proud of; but more importantly, I wanted to be the kind of woman who was proud of herself.


During this life changing process, I realized that I had to start taking care of my own body. I was trying to heal emotionally, but also needed to heal physically. A great therapist was helping with the first- but I needed to work on the second.


I wrapped myself in friends who encouraged me every step of the way. I started hiking in the mountains behind my new home, and this not only brought me a sense of peace but frankly I think I am beginning to see signs of my old “assets”, if you will. As a former gymnast, I had always been proud of my “muscles.”


My other friends have helped keep my busy by planning happy hours and gatherings that bring plenty of laughter and love. They call me each day, send me cards and notes, and they remember that this journey will not be over quickly. They have been essential to my continued quest for wellness.


Along the way, I have found that living with hope, a positive outlook and with my face towards the sun- I am able to be proud of the woman I am, the woman I was, and the woman I am meant to be. I want to look forward, I want to forgive and be forgiven, I want to always find the good and be happy with the day. And yes, I am feeding the good wolf my friends. I am feeding the good wolf.


I am thrilled to have been chosen to visit the fine people at Coca Cola in Atlanta, as they gather bloggers from across the country to share their stories and to discuss how we all can help live a happier and healthy life!


Yes - I am being FLOWN to Atlanta for two days of touring the headquarters, sharing stories with other phenomenal people and talk to the great people at Coke. (Those of you who know me well, know that when I say martini, i really mean vodka and Diet Coke. It's like they knew me...)


I want to take you all on this journey with me. I’ll tuck you in my pocket as we fly away to a great adventure!!!!


Please, let me know if there is anything I should ask, anything I HAVE to see, or anything you recommend on this amazing visit. And yes, I am thanking my guardian angel as we speak.




6/6/11

Crazy? It's my kind of normal.

Let’s recap the day, shall we?

1. Frank came to school telling everyone and their brother about his new shotgun. He failed to mention it was plastic and used plastic pellets until AFTER the girls ran crying to the bathroom.

2. You know how most kids in kindergarten follow the rules? Well, apparently today was OPPOSITE DAY.

3. I drove home at the speed of light after picking up Golden boy to grab Munchie for an important meeting. We drove AGAIN at the speed of light to make it to the vet so that Munchie could have his jewels removed. Apparently it was Munchie’s lucky day, as I got horribly lost and couldn’t FIND THE COUNTRY VET. A half hour later we called it quits and I decided to call them tomorrow and beg them to reschedule.

4. After dropping off the cat at home, we managed to help the DOG run away, and spent another 45 minutes driving my brother’s hundred year-old Honda Accord through fields of FIVE FEET HIGH weeds of some kind behind my house. I’m sure if you had been watching you would have seen just the antenna of the car zig-zagging above the fields of grass. We went home, only to find him in the yard COVERED in poop that was NOT his own. Again. For the second day straight.

5. With 30 minutes until Golden Boy’s father was to pick him up, I hooked up a printer, googled facts about plants, and helped him finish THREE PROJECTS that would surely raise his science grade from the bottom of the barrel to perhaps the middle of the barrel. (Waiting for the last minute only makes life exciting, right?) I guess homework and checking on grades is something only a mother helps with. (That’s about all I can talk about here. I think.)

6. While the images for his projects were printing and Bitchy was SHOWERING, I loaded three card tables and a huge canopy folding tent into what USED TO BE MY car, so she could return it to her friend’s mother.

And the craziness that was this day? The incredible WONDERFUL craziness that was this day?

It has reminded me that life is good. Life is wonderfully, deliciously, fantastically good.

6/5/11

No more pencils, no more books, no more crying in the reading nook.



It came without ribbons! It came without tags! It came without packages, boxes or bags! You KNOW what I’m talking about – the end of the school year!


I’ve had several requests from friends out there for suggestions for end of the year teacher gifts, and since I’ve been teacher for lots of years (20 or more…cough, cough) I just might be an expert in this area.


First, I want to make it clear that teachers DO NOT expect gifts. I really, really mean that. We appreciate your support all year long with homework, snacks, field trip chaperoning, etc., and we all feel that we receive “gifts” all year long. I am not just blowing smoke here.


However, if you ARE looking for either teacher gifts, or student teacher gifts, here are my TOP TEN!!!

1. A subscription to Mailbox Magazine - You can find this magazine at www.theeducationcenter.com or something like that. It is the GREATEST resource for teachers. It has ideas generated from teachers on ALL areas in the curriculum, and it’s got one for kindergarten, first grade, etc. It. Is. The. Best. Thing. Ever. (And they did NOT pay me to say that.

2. A book to the school library in your teacher’s name. Too cool to even elaborate on.

3. A plant for the school garden. (If they have one!)

4. Is there a craft store in your area? A gift card to a Michael’s or something like that is great. We always need items for projects- and this way the kids benefit as well!

5. Amazon.com is an incredible thing. I received several last year and bought some great new books for my classroom! Since I’ve been teaching a while I tend to use my oldies but goodies. Having the gift certificate allowed me to shop online and find some great new books!

6. Barnes and Nobles. Enough said.

7. There are cool scissors at craft stores that cut in a variety of shapes- not just straight lines! Teachers love these- but might not use their classroom money for them. They also come in a cool carousel. They are great when the kids make cards, have free time or in writer’s workshop.

8. If you are buying for a new teacher, here are some MUST HAVE BOOKS: Morning Meeting; The First Six Weeks of School; Classroom Spaces that Work; Off to a Great Start. All of these resources are from Responsive Classroom and can be found at Barnes and Nobles, or at www.responsiveclassroom.org .

9. If you want to buy a humorous book for ANY teacher, buy Thirty Two Third Graders and One Class Bunny by Philip Done. It is HYSTERICAL. I read it over and over and over. I laugh every time. Or, you can wait for a couple of weeks when my "The Book of Frank" will be coming out as an e-book. (I'm working on it, people. WORKING on it.)

10.A really cool whistle. Or bell. Or sound maker.

11. A gift card to STARBUCKS. (Okay, maybe that’s just me.)

12. Games for the classroom (age appropriate, or course.) We use games throughout the year, and of course pieces go missing, boxes get broken, etc. Teachers will probably NOT throw stuff out, and will keep using it, unless forced to use a NEW ONE if it’s given to them. (hint hint.)



Crap, is that more than ten? You people KNOW I can’t count. Hope it helps! Otherwise, give her a bottle of wine. Teacher DO enjoy that….

6/2/11

The shoes have it. (aka Thank you, Target.)


The warm weather brings out more than smiles, sidewalk chalk and water balloons.






And this? It was bound to happen sooner or later.





And don't forget, Gatorade and BlogHer have asked me to give away a HUNDRED dollar gift card to Dick's!!! Go here for a chance to win.

6/1/11

Pass me a drink...


I'm spending time finishing report cards, grouping sheets, running records, portfolios, conferencing, cleaning up the classroom, treading water and basically losing my mind. (Frankly, I'd rather be sitting on my front porch listening to the cows discuss whose spots are bigger.)



Oh, and I might be giving away money. Wait, I AM giving away money! Check over here for a gift card to Dick's! (A hundred bucks, people.)






Now, where's my Gatorade?