Free Ipad 2's for EVERYONE! (Well, only one, but I'm so EXCITED!!)

(This contest is officially closed. I'll announce the winner tonight. I'm off to school!!)

(The WINNER was Texas Bargain Mom!!! Thanks for everyone for participating- and thanks Vonage!)

Thank you, Vonage!!! They are offering an amazing new app called Time to Call that allow you to make international calls to over 190 countries at a low price! Because I'm horrible at reciting the details- go here to learn about the FREE app.

And here are a FEW details that I can offer:

Pay per call and talk for up to 15 minutes to 100 countries for $1.99 or less (excluding applicable taxes)

For an additional 90+ countries, talk up to 15-minutes for $2.99 to $9.99 (excluding applicable taxes)

Bill directly to your iTunes account

Works on Wi-Fi® worldwide

Also for use on high quality 3G networks in the U.S. and Canada

Unused minutes can be used for additional calls

No need to be a Vonage home customer, no hidden fees or monthly commitment

Check out the site, try out the app and let me know what you think.

Vonage will be giving ONE OF MY READERS a gift card for an Apple iPad2 32GB!! I am not kidding!

In order to enter, you have to do any of the following!!!

1. Try the app at the Vonage home page and let me know here if you tried it.

2. Subscribe to my blog over there. I can't tell if you DID, but I'll trust you if you say you did.

3. Vote on Babble (you knew I would.)

4. Tell me how to lose five pounds in a week.

5. Pay my oil (splashed with gold) bill.

6. Take my dog for a walk every day at noon.

7. Send me a bottle of vodka.

8. Buy me a grill.

9. Make me laugh.

So, if you do ANY of the following, you're in. You can enter as MANY times as you like, as the winner will be chosen AUGUST 31!!!!!!

I want to be in the universe where moms do the RIGHT thing. (or at least the daughters.)

Dear Bitchy,

I’ve decided that we must be living in some kind of crazy parallel universe. You’re in the one where I live to serve you, and I’m in the one called “my mom sucks.”

Call me crazy, but I’m pretty sure that I’ve been running my @$ off for you for the last two weeks. We’ve shopped for apartment necessities; college necessities; beauty necessities; and other things you “can’t live without", and I'm doing it all with my rolled quarters, a wing and a prayer.

I’ve carried an innumerable amount of boxes, crates and baskets down three flights of steps and up another four with a knees that are screaming and a lower back that is beginning to remind me that I'm no spring chicken. I’ve picked you up every day for “one more errand” for the last six days, without complaint; all the while knowing that I have a million other things I should be doing for ME, and that tiny thing I call a job.

When you asked me to do your laundry last Saturday night at 9:00 p.m., and informed me that you hoped it would be done and folded by 9:00 a.m. the next morning did I complain? No. In fact, I’m pretty sure I said, “Thank you may I have another.”

So when you threw a major hissy fit Sunday morning screaming at the TOP OF YOUR LUNGS that I had “ruined ALL OF YOUR CLOTHES” when I inadvertently put them in the dryer at midnight, I was confused.

I thought, perhaps, that you were going to thank me.

Silly me.


i totally need my happy place.

I've been working furiously to prepare my classroom for Tuesday.

I can't TELL you how excited I am to meet my new darlings!

As I was working on my lunch choice bulletin board today, I remembered Jane, and smiled. The story went something like this:

We have a chart on the white board each day that shows the lunch choices. There are always four choices. While the first three always change, number four stays the same – Chef Salad!

I was putting the new pictures on the chart at the end of the day, and one little fella yelled, “Hey! The Jeff Salad is always number four!”

Jane said, “I am not allowed to have the salad.”

“Why not?” I asked.

Jane: “Cause I’m a vegetarian. I can only have pizza or hot dogs.”


i just don't want to wake up and realize that maybe I'M the dead one..(aka Don't wanna be Bruce Willis.)

I have an inordinate number of cousins. (This is what happens when your mother was one of nine children.) In fact, my grandfather always claimed that each time he hung his pants on the bedpost his wife had another child.

Most of my family members have discovered my blog. Oh sure, I might email links to them EVERY SINGLE DAY in an attempt to bring them into my crazy life, but I’ve come to find out that they actually read them. (Who knew?)

My cousin Cassie is eleven years younger than me. She has navigated through some rough waters in her life, and has come through the rapids with a smile on her face and a lovely family to show for it. Each time I see her she is full of joy and laughter, and I am reminded of the wonderful loving spirit that weaves its way through my mother’s family.

I recently posted the story about our Baba, and perhaps some of my visits with dead people. (M. Night Shamalamadingdong has yet to contact me in regards to his next movie.) I don’t talk about these visits with my extended family, I simply write about them for a billion strangers to read.) I’ve often wondered if I am the only one with this little gift from my mother’s side of the family.

I don’t wonder anymore.

I received an email from Cassie last week. It said simply this:

Vodka….I couldn’t let this day go by without telling you how much joy I get from reading your blog, and seeing those great old pictures. I am flooded by great memories from my childhood, and it always reminds me about the family and how much I miss everyone!

I don’t think I ever told you the story about the night seven years ago that I gave birth to Sam. I was rushed by ambulance to the Smith and Wesson Hospital – it was about a half hour from our house- and my husband couldn’t go with me. The doctor and nurse had to be in the ambulance in case I delivered, and there wasn’t room. Sam was very early, and mom was out of town and couldn't be with me. (I’m not sure if you know that I am horrible in stressful situations. I don’t handle pain or stress very well at all.)

When I was in the ambulance there were two other people with me. They kept telling me to breathe slowly and that everything would be okay.

It was Baba, and your mother - Aunt AnnaBelle.

I never, ever told anyone except my mother, for fear that they would think I was crazy! I have been so grateful to them for being with me that night when I needed them the most. I just felt you needed to know that.

Love you!! Cassie.

Enough said. (Pass the tissues.)


Reason 450 of why I love living in a small/HUGE college town.

To set the stage, I want to remind you about this little story from two summers ago. It went something like this....

Some of you might remember the little trip I took to visit a few friend at a tiny conference in Chicago the end of July. (BLOGHER people.) My plane ride across the country was punctuated with a stop in the Philadelphia airport. It was there I switched from a large plane to one that I had to practically fly myself.

I had at least a two-hour layover, and spent most of the time at the gate where I was to depart for my flight home.

Not long after arriving at this particular gate, a large family group arrived after what I later learned was a long flight from Italy. They consisted of a “not-quite” middle-aged couple, three or four college-age young people, a young girl and several even younger toddlers. I was mesmerized by this family, and by the mother in particular. She was younger than me, but appeared to have children whose ages spanned at least 17 years or more. Did I mention she looked great? In fact, she looked better than I did after my FIRST child. The little girl was adorable, tanned by what were surely many days at the beach- her hair a bright yellow with help from the sun. She was playing with two younger brothers, all of them laughing and smiling- and crawling all over each other and the furniture!!

They were all jovial and upbeat, despite what surely was a long overseas flight with three young children. I am always fascinated by people, and watching and listening to this family helped the time fly by.

Imagine my surprise this morning when, on the first day of kindergarten orientation, in walked this mother – with the young adorable girl in tow.

Yeah. I’m her teacher.

Today I received my class list. (Remember, there are 600 students in our school, and four kindergarten classrooms.)

The only name I recognize? Her last name.

The toddler she was playing with that day in the airport?? He's the first name on my list.

Life is good. Life is super, super good, indeed.


Sometimes the guardian angel uses the back door.

I took a drive this morning to visit my brother. He lives about an hour away, in a little town nestled in the mountains. Living not far from him are my mother's sister (you remember her) and her amazing husband. We enjoyed a lovely couple of hours, laughing and sharing stories.

As I made the drive home, I made a mental note of the things I needed to do to prepare for the coming winter. I would need some firewood, more than a few bags of salt, some kindling, and a full tank of oil. (Yeah, the oil that surely contains flecks of GOLD, as it's a billion dollars a gallon.)

It had been storming most of the day, and as I drove into my driveway I noticed an inordinate amount of twigs and branches strewn about. This happens often when it's windy, as the house is surrounded by trees from middle earth, and I'm sure that George Washington carved his initials into several of them.

I walked onto the porch, stepping over LARGE branches and the two hanging pots that were upturned and on the porch floor. When I returned one of the pots to the hanger, I saw it on the other side of the house.


LOTS and LOTS of firewood.

Sweet Lord in Heaven, my guardian angel could have at LEAST stacked it for me.


i've decided to pack a survival kit for parents. (And I would, if I could move my arms.)

Dear Bitchy and Sassy,

I want to thank you for the clever plan you two cooked up to kill your mother.

The fact that you BOTH informed me several days ago that you had to move into your dorm/apartment on the same day could not have pleased me more. Oh sure, you CLAIM that it was coincidental, and that Sassy’s coach could never have known that Bitchy was moving into HER apartment on the same day that the WHOLE TEAM was to arrive on her campus a mere three hours away.

And wasn’t it fun when we had to move tubs, boxes, clothes, shelves, bed frames, mattresses, MORE CLOTHES, THOUSANDS OF SHOES (Cheezus, do they multiply???) from the third floor, all the way to our cars on our steep driveway?

And Mother Nature, it was incredibly clever of you to throw in a horrendous thunderstorm just when we started unloading all of Sassy’s belongings. You must have known that Sassy would run for cover into her room and stay there until I was done. (And I am still laughing over the fact that her dorm does NOT have an elevator. HA. How comical.)

So, Sassy, the three hour drive home in soaking wet clothes sufficiently distracted me from the erratic trucks that decided it was a great day to freak out a fifty –year old mother. And that combination kept me from realizing that you had, indeed, moved out.

Bitchy, thank you for waiting until 8:00 tonight to have us move YOUR STUFF into your apartment. Although I couldn’t talk, move my legs or my arms, we managed to move your bed, a few THOUSAND tubs, and other various items that simply had to go into your apartment tonight. We vacuumed, put the bed frame together, made the bed and God knows WHAT else before I claimed I was near death.

And I have to applaud your incredible finish. When all was said and done, and we were ready to leave you had to take me down the five flights of stairs to the basement. Even though YOUR apartment complex does have an elevator.

I would kick your @$$ right now if only I could move.

Someone take my pulse, cause honestly I'm pretty SURE I’m dead.


Things that made me smile. (aka the lazy, disausted post.)

(Hands down my fav.)


(always makes me laugh.)

Friday's schedule? Driving for hours. Unloading and arranging Sassy's dorm room. Driving HOME for hours. Loading and moving more furniture and other items to Bitchy's apartment.

And then, about 10:00 p.m. tomorrow night I'll be dead.

(In lieu of flowers, just send vodka. And plenty of it. )

If The Bloggess can do it, why can't I? (aka The List.)

These next two days will be crazy. (Well, crazier...)

I'm preparing Sassy AND Bitchy for returns to their respective universities, and as many of you know, this involves MORE laundry, packing, shopping, fighting, packing, more laundry, more fighting, and other stuff I can't even remember. I'm also preparing my heart and soul, as this almost empty house will do its best to bring me to my knees.

In the meantime, I must have found time to do other things. And, in the true spirit of all that is The Bloggess, I am posting the "Crap I did this week" list. (Only my list isn't as glamorous or nearly as lucrative as hers.

I posted a book review for The Kid here on BlogHer. (That book is NOT for the faint of heart. And I have one available for someone's best offer. Or address.)

I left a few suggestions for parents here (Although why ANYONE would listen to me, I'll never know...)

I have a winner for this contest over here...just scroll to the bottom of the post. (My @$$ is still hurting from that scooter, and pretty soon I'll look like a teenager again. Maybe.)

I've done a billion loads of laundry. In fact, I received a letter in the mail from the water company (who is located NEXT DOOR TO MY HOUSE) telling me that I might want to check for leaks, because I am using a unusually LARGE AMOUNT of water. I walked next door and told them I have two daughters in college who were home for the summer. Their reply? "Enough said."

And now I'm off to the consignment shop to sell anything I can get my hands on so I'll have enough money to pay for the GAS it will take to deposit said daughters into their new homes. Just another reminder that I am indeed NOT the Bloggess.

She's probably got a driver...


And when I look in the mirror, all I see are possibilities. (And a splash of love.)

I’ve learned to do things while living on my own that I never, ever thought I would do.

I’ve located the water “shut-off” valve in the basement, and can turn off the water to the entire house if by some crazy stroke of luck my OTHER toilet needs replaced.

I can start my push mower on the sixth pull of the cord, and my right arm is now bulging like Popeye’s. (sans the tattoo.) I can empty the clippings, rake the apples every weekend, and gather ALL the garbage and recyclables every Tuesday night.

And last week, I made a trip to my accountant. Yes. I have an accountant. Okay, she’s a great friend and might be helping me in her spare time, but she’s LEGIT. She’s helped me find my own way out of a tax pickle that I was forced into last April, and has guided me in many ways things that have to do with money.

She recommended (among many other things) that I designate a space in my home for my “writing”; an office, so to speak. Surprisingly, she didn’t believe that my working on the couch, the dining room table, my bed or on the front porch would be acceptable to the taxman. Go figure.

There’s a lovely, small sitting room on the second floor that includes a set of stairs that leads to a loft. The loft has been transformed by Bitchy and Sassy into a warm and cozy room for two- with matching twin beds, dressers and other cool accessories compliments of Big Lots.

The sitting room is going to be mine.

I have been wondering what I could possibly use as a desk. I know I’ve been complaining about money (WHINING EXCESSIVELY) and I promise to stop soon. (I’m ALMOST ready to right the ship…) However, until I reach the spot where I can pay ALL my bills each month and still eat, I might whine a little.

But, back to the dilemma of a desk; where would I find one? I certainly couldn’t buy one, and I was not about to ask anyone else for any more favors. (Even my pride has its limits, it appears.)

Then I got an email.

It was from one of my beloved aunts. She had some furniture that belonged to Baba, and had one piece that she thought I needed to have.

It was a vanity.

It had been used by each of the seven daughters, and was the one piece from the bedroom set that was in decent condition. But there was something else. When she and my cousin were sorting out her furniture, they noticed something special. On the outside of one the drawers, someone had written her name.

And that someone was my mother.

As I sit upon the stool with a few tears in my eyes and run my hands across this perfect excuse for a desk I realize something: that a mother’s arms can sometimes reach the whole way across the universe.

Especially if she has a little help from her sister.


Oh Mary Poppins, can't you do the teacher inservice???

Sniff. Sniff. Can you smell it? You know what I mean. That smell is here; the smell of new pencils, new books, new crayons and markers, the smell of new shoes, new clothes, and a new backpack and you know what that means. School is in the air! Perhaps the biggest sign that school is right around the corner is the buzz that is flying around the pool, in the supermarket and at your local fall sporting practices. Who will get the Best Teacher of All? Who will be the lucky kids to get in the Best Teacher of All’s class?

Remember on Mary Poppins, when Jane and Michael wrote a letter and asked for the perfect nanny? The father was stunned when Mary Poppins handed him the list that he had thrown into the fire. It went something like this:

(Start humming…) “If you want this choice position, have a cheery disposition; rosy cheeks, no warts; play games, all sorts. You must be kind, you must be witty, very sweet and very pretty; take us on outings, give us treats, sing songs, bring sweets.”

That’s what keeps going through my mind at this time of year. That super duper wish list. The wish list each parent and child has. Here’s what I think the wish list is for the perfect teacher. Wanted: teacher; must be sweet, even-tempered, hip, funny, pretty, smart, young, experienced and energetic. Must never yell, get mad, throw things or lose her temper. Must be very patient, wear stylish clothes, have a lovely laugh and smell like fresh baked cookies.

So, basically, that would count me out. (And, perhaps, everyone I know.)

While we teachers may not all be young or hip or very tall, there are some things we have in common. We are committed to our jobs and to your kids. These are some of the things we can promise you. We will get to know your child inside and out; we will learn about his pets, his siblings, his likes and dislikes and will always notice when he gets a hair cut. We will push him to be independent, self-sufficient, confident and responsible. We will help guide him when things don’t go his way and will laugh with him (and applaud) when they do. We will push him until he reaches the potential that we know he has, and we will be there when he falls, to pick him back up, dust him off and start him back up that hill. That’s our job, and that’s what we love to do.

Contrary to what my kindergarteners recommended to our student intern, we will not be teaching kickboxing, having cinema time every day; they cannot ride mechanical bulls in class, skateboard off the roof (with kneepads, of course) and we will not buy them happy meals for lunch once a week. (I gotta give them credit for trying, however.)

As a mom, I’ve learned that often the teachers who work with my child every day know more about what is a good match for him than I do. I have learned that it is important for me to keep my mouth shut on some occasions and it is equally important to voice my concerns at others. I have learned that a teacher that was not the best match for Mrs. Jones’ son (that darned Mrs. Jones—always so hard to keep up with), was the perfect teacher for my son.

Yeah, we teachers don’t all look alike.

Some of us are tall, short, skinny, chunky, old, young, and black and white. However, we all love kids and want what is best for these young souls. So please; trust us, respect us and join us in making this the Best Year Ever for your child.

One more thing - beware the buzz at the pool. Sometimes that bee will come right back and sting ya.


New and Improved LEGIT ways to annoy your children.

Sassy and I have been here in Mystic for two days, trying to take care of my sister while she recovers from some unexpected surgery.

Don’t feel too sorry for her - she managed to keep some important parts, won’t need hormone therapy, her long hair looks gorgeous and HER incision stayed together and will NOT require a wound-vac for three weeks. (Just another reason for her to gloat.)

I took Sassy for a quick visit to the small beach in Noank, where we spent some time watching the busy boats moving through the water and the local boys jumping off the top of the pier into the chilly waters of the Mystic River.

We spent a bit of time searching through the sand on the small beach hoping to discover some precious sea glass. We admired our treasure before we made our way back to the car.

“WOW!” I said to Sassy, “Some of this sea glass is legit sea glass!”

She looked at me, “Don’t EVER say that work again, mother.”

“What? Legit? That’s one of my favorite words!” I exclaimed.

“Need I remind you of your AGE?” She replied, raising her eyebrows.

“Listen, I will never, ever be my age. And THAT is legit.” And with the raise of my eyebrows, I marched back to the car.

(legit, legit, legit, legit, legit. I’ve decided to say it a billion times a day until she explodes. Take cover, people.)


Because sometimes these memories lift me up...

(Mom and my Baba. Just ignore the Iron City.)

I know I've told this story before- and I even linked to it yesterday! However, I am telling it again.

It's come to my attention that many beloved members of my mother's family (two brothers and a hundred sisters) have been reading my blog. It brings me great comfort, and I'm hoping that I haven't offended anyone - and have perhaps entertained a time or two. They are certainly happy people, who have been known to bring me to me knees with funny stories.

I'm also PRETTY sure that not many of them know how to follow links. In the spirit of love and family, I offer a glimpse into the night that their mother visited me. I hold this memory close and open it up every now and then...

I had a visit from my grandmother last night.

Now, this might not be unusual for most people, but my grandmother has been dead for over 10 years now.

Many of you know that she joined my parents who also passed at a young age many years ago. My parents have come to me many times over the years – in my dreams. They never appear together, and come at times when I am in great need of comfort. I am always surprised by these visits and very, very comforted.

Last night I saw my Baba.

I was walking through my school just as normal and normal can be, and as I rounded the corner I bumped into her.

Baba!! HI! What are YOU doing here?” I hugged her very, very hard, and felt the tears squeezing out of my eyes.

“Well, I just wanted to see you. I want you to know how much I love your column. I read it all the time. Please, can you tell me a funny story? Tell me a funny story right now

And so, I proceeded to tell her a funny story. She watched me intently, and In the middle of the story she started crying. Tears were streaming down her face as she looked at me.

“Baba, why are you crying? “ I asked, confused.

“Honey, I just miss you so much.”

Then I woke up.

Now, I’m the one who is crying. Again.

I'm trying to walk the walk, but my knees are killing me.

I go to bed each night hoping for a visit. Each morning I open my eyes and reach into my heart to see if perhaps they came.

But they been unusually quiet as of late, and I am trying to see that as a good sign.

This path I am walking has continued to be a rocky one. It's like being in a dark, scary forest. I navigate as best I can, all the while dodging a different challenge that blocks my path. I remind myself that nothing in life is easy, and that the journey itself is what life is all about.

However, I could without some of the obstacles. And frankly, it would be easier if these obstacles didn't cost so much *$&#% money. (Hey all you crazy people in Washington, D.C. - can you think about the people you serve for ONE MINUTE? And I mean the little people, not those rich ones who take you to lunch.)

I've decided it's time to count my blessings. My kids are on the top of the list- but then some of these blessings include "things I've learned" throughout this process.

I've learned that every woman living on her own needs her own tool box. Be sure it includes all variations of screwdrivers (and I include the one that involves orange juice); a wrench; a hammer; a mini-flashlight; and various washers.

I've learned that a brand new toilet is only $60.00. And if you have an incredible brother who knows how install one, you are golden.

I"ve learned that you need to keep a stash of light bulbs, Drano, gas for your mower and lots of garbage bags.

I've learned that the only real way to rid your house of millipedes involves a call to a local exterminator and about $130.00. (THAT was money well-spent.) I've also learned that about a billion dead millipedes smell just like skunk.

I've learned how to turn off the water for the whole house and how to re-set the fuses in the fuse box.

I've learned that if you run your air conditioners for a thousand humid days, they will freeze up and leak all over your hard wood floors. (Nice touch, Mother Nature. Nice touch.)

I've learned how to put salt into the water softener, and how to determine how much oil is in the oil tank I've also determined that my hot water tank is electric-and will be conducting a crazy experiment to see how long I can actually go without ordering the oil that is apparently loaded with specks of gold. (I'm stocking up on wood and big wooly sweaters.)

But in the end I've learned far more.

I've learned that your friends will wrap you in love and comfort. Reach out to them and they will lift you up.

I've learned that self-respect and loving who you are is priceless.

And while last but certainly not least, integrity is something we teach our children through our actions. And I am so proud that I have chosen to act.


A not so brilliant forgery. (aka I wasn't born yesterday.)

A word of advice to any would-be kindergartn grade tricksters here in Oregon - When forging a note to the teacher stating that you will be walking home, do NOT use the newsprint drawing paper, do NOT use all capital letters, do NOT use crayon and do NOT sign the note “Mommy Smith…”

The teacher just might suspect something…

(sure it's a repeat, but I'm busy selling anything I can get my hands-on at a yard sale. Desperate times call for "plastic meshurs.")


It's the most wonderful time of the year (Well, at least for the parents...)

Well, it’s that time of year. (Parents, you know what I’m talking about!) It’s the time of year when parents of school-aged children are doing the happy dance!

Oh, I know the happy dance- I’m doing the happy dance myself! I might be the teacher, but I am also a mom. The happy dance comes at the end of a long, fun-filled summer- a summer filled with wet bathing suits, mildewed beach towels, empty wallets, fresh cut grass tracked across your hard wood floors, endless sleepovers, pool dates, golf dates, play dates and movie dates.

Parents are quite ready for school to start and frankly, so are most of the teachers. (Come on teachers, you know we are….) We have a pretty good idea what you are thinking at the end of the summer, but here’s a glimpse into what we are thinking.

Come the middle of August, my batteries are re-charged, and I am thinking ahead to the coming year. What kind of group will I get? Will anyone cry on the first day? Will I cry on the first day? Will they hit each other? Can they write their names, stand in a line, raise their hands, speak English, listen when I’m talking, and more importantly, find the bathroom in time? These are just a few of the questions that are beginning to creep into my brain.

As I brush these questions aside, I begin to think about what a teacher’s goals are for the year. Our most important goal is to help children love school. We want them to wake up in the morning excited about the coming day, and at the end of the day we want them to want to come back! (And it would be nice if we looked forward to coming back, too.) We want them to learn to be kind to their classmates, their teachers and their friends. We want them to not be afraid to try something new, and to not be discouraged if they fail. To that end, I try to make at least two or three mistakes a day, just to be a good role model for them. We want them to be curious about their world, be inquisitive, and be open to new ideas. We want them to take turns, to share, to play fair and we want them to want to learn.

On a more personal note, there are certain goals I have for myself. This year, I would like to make it to school in the actual car I purchased for myself, and not the beat up ’89 Honda Accord we got for our 17-year-old daughter. (Okay, it was free.) I would like to make it to school without spilling my coffee all over the floor of said Honda, or my clothing. (Psst…always wear something brown or black.) It would be nice to make it through the day without getting called to the principal’s office for a completely honest mistake. I will try to not take my students early to art or music, or pick them up late. I don’t know why, but the special teachers tend to frown upon that. In addition, I want to be sure to clean up all the glitter, play dough, paint splatters and permanent marker before the janitor shows up. (It would be nice to have him in my corner this year.) These are just a few of my “new year’s resolutions.” I’ll keep you posted.

Technically, there are certain things we as teachers are paid to do. You know, teach the kids to read, add numbers, write their name, define photosynthesis, do calculus, write a book report, speak another language, stand in line without pinching their neighbors, and other good stuff - all that mandatory. (Well, most of it) But as many of you know, we all perform some added duties that are incidental to our job. There are many little bonuses that your tax dollars are paying for. Here’s a peek into what we do in between the “good stuff.”

As soon as the children come into the room in the morning, we hit the ground running. We collect permission slips, lunch money, tissues, notes for the teachers, box tops for education (keep ‘em coming), excuses about missing items, stories about the night before, (sometimes a little TOO much information about stories from the night before.) news of the tooth fairy, who has a loose tooth, and the lo-down on birthday parties. This all occurs in the first five minutes, and typically all at once. If you can’t listen and respond to 7 or 8 kids at once, just throw in the towel right now. As the day progresses, we will bandage the cut, console the broken heart, hug the weepy, discipline the unruly and counsel the angry. We will try very hard to fill their every moment with a love for learning, while trying to raise their self-esteem, teach them good sportsmanship, fair play and instill a sense of pride.

All the while we remember that each of these children in our care is very special to someone. They are someone’s grandchild, niece, nephew, son or daughter. They are unique, they are fragile, and they are loved. They are loved not only by their family, but each and every day by their teacher.

(This was one of my first columns, and I am thrilled that I am still able to write for the local paper. Yeah. I'm moonlighting. Oh, and don't forget to enter the scooter contest. But don't tell Sara Henry I'm reminding you.)