The only sure way to succeed? Shoot for the bottom.

In honor of all that is crazy, I have come up with this year’s list of New Years Substitutions.  I’ve devised a clever plan to ensure that I succeed in meeting all of my expectations this year.  (Keep ‘em low, my friends; keep ‘em low.)

1.     I vow to gain at least ten pounds this year.  I will eat only one of every sweet morsel left in the teacher’s lounge by parents attempting to fatten up the teachers.  (I’ve decided they plan to roast us at the end of the year. I’d rather be the one that they point to and say, “Naw, she’s a bit too skinny, she’ll never fill us up.)

2.     I vow to exercise less this year.  I don’t want to intimidate any future Prince Charming by looking so incredible that he’s afraid to ask me out.  (I might run a  .00000005 marathon.  But that’s IT.)

3.    I vow to engage in only one screaming-match a week with any one of my three children.  I might have to stop answering the phone when they call me at SCHOOL in the middle of the day and ask, “What are you doing?” (Jesus- I’ve been teaching for 22 years, what do they THINK I’m doing between the hours of 8:30 and 3:00?)

4.    I vow to go even further into debt while maintaining the ruse that I am succeeding all on my own.  I’m guessing another 5-10K would suffice.  (I’ll accept any and all credit card applications that come my way.)

5.    I vow to procrastinate on finishing The Book of Frank.  Who wants success, notoriety and a possible movie deal?  I mean, honestly, WHO NEEDS IT??

I also vow to only make lists that go up to five.  This year has kicked my ass so thoroughly that I’m too disausted to count any farther.

Happy New Year my friends!   May it be packed FULL of joy and laughter, cause you all deserve it.  (You’re golden, and you know it.)


Oh God, is the year over ALREADY??? (However, good riddance...)

Right before Christmas vacation, one of my students said to me. “Well, it’s been nice knowin’ ya Mrs. Smythe.  I’ll see ya next year!  Before we go, though, can you tell me who my new teacher will be?”

Me:  “What do you mean, your new teacher? Am I going somewhere? Do you know something I don’t know?”
Student, “Aw, you know, my first grade teacher.  It’s a new year, and I’ll be in first grade!”
Well, that required a discussion about what a new year is.  It’s a bit hard to explain to children in elementary school what that means.  To them the year goes from September to June.   What’s up with the change in January?  It was a challenge, but I did my best, and let them know that I would indeed be greeting them in the New Year.  Most of them were happy about that.  After a short but very enjoyable break, it was back to the chalkboard!  We spent our initial class time discussing New Years’ Resolutions.  I would like to now provide you with a little peek into our discussion.   It’s just more fun sharing the conversation!

Me:  Boys and girls, today we are going to talk about New Year’s Resolutions.  Does anyone know what a New Years Resolution is?
Karl:  Sure, a New Year’s Resolution is when you say, like, I want to lose weight.
Cathy:  No, a New Years resolution is a promise! It’s a promise that you are going to do something.
Neal:  I know. It’s like when you go to bed, and someone promises they will play with you in the morning, but then the morning comes and they don’t, it’s like breaking a promise!
John:  Yeah, when you say you are going to play with one friend, and then they play with another…that’s breaking a promise, like when Karl…”
Me:  Wait, wait, wait.  Let’s get back to the New Years Resolution thing.  It is like making a promise! But, you are making a promise to yourself.  Like, for example, I promise to exercise more, or I promise not to yell so much, or I promise to lose weight.  Have you heard your parents talk about this?
John: Mrs. Smythe, my belt is broken.
Me: Okay, go see Mrs. FixesThings, -now, about New Years Resolutions. 
Mia:   I don’t remember if I packed lunch or not….
Me:  Go see Mrs. FixesThings. (Okay, she is my K-2 Failsafe para, and even though she threatens to quit on a daily basis, I would never, never, never accept it.  Plus, I know she’s kidding. She loves lunch duty too much. )   Now, have any of you heard about New Years resolutions???
All, screaming and yelling: Yeah, yeah, yeah!!! 
Michael: My mom wants to lose weight.
Karl:  Yeah. My mom wants to lose weight, she says that every single year, and she never does. 
David:  Hey, My dad wants to lose weight!

Me:  So, a New Year’s Resolution is making a promise. My New Years Resolutions are that I am going to exercise more, I am going to eat healthy foods, and do something nice for to at least one person at day.

Casey: Oh, can it be me?
Matt:  NO, me, me, me!!! 
John:  I know what your revolution can be; you can be a better drawer.  You are pretty good Mrs. Smythe, but you can do better.
Michelle:  I think you should jog more.
Sarah:  I think you should drink more coffee. Then you won’t forget where you put things all the time.
Karl:  Uh, maybe you should lose some weight, like my mom.
Ryan:  Why don’t you get a job at McDonald’s and make a lot of money? Then you could bring us Happy Meals…and buy us more presents!!

After a lengthy and fast paced discussion about all the many things the children thought I should work on, and other jobs I should consider, we talked about what things kids should think about when making resolutions.  They were ready with their own resolutions, which they called revolutions!

My revolution is to lose weight and get in shape. (This from a kiddo who is skinny as a rail, but cute as a button…)
Mine is to eat healthy foods. All I eat is candy, you know. 
I want to eat healthy foods and get stronger!  I want muscles!
I want to earn some money so I can buy Island Barbie. 
This discussion evolved into a conversation about what they were excited about doing in this New Year.  The things they are excited about are things you would never, never hear an adult say that they are excited about. (Well, most of us, anyway.) This is what they can’t wait for!
I can’t wait to lose my tooth!
I can’t wait to ride a two-wheeler!
I can’t wait to get bigger! I want to get bigger and bigger and bigger.  (Now that’s something you will NEVER hear me say.)
I can’t wait for this year cause my birthday is coming up! I can’t wait for my birthday! (Yeah, me too.)
I can’t wait for the dentist! I go to the prize box and get a new toothbrush. (All I got was a root canal and some painful x-rays…)
I can’t wait for the summer when I can get a new bathing suit and go to the pool! (Oh, I can’t even think about that.)

Their enthusiasm is fantastic and refreshing.  It forces me to remember how it felt when everything you did was new, fun and exciting!  When shopping for a bathing suit was just great, and you could even just grab one off the rack! (Oh God I wish it were still so…) When all you wanted to do was get bigger and older, and smarter!   When losing a tooth was a natural thing, and did not involve anesthesia.  I want to be excited about life again!  I want to look forward to play dates, birthdays, prizes, riding a two-wheeler, the pool and new bathing suits! 

Now, where is a star so I can wish upon it?

(It's a repost from years earlier, but I'm busy trying to build my list of revolutions for THIS YEAR. Any one have vanishing ink laying around???)


Looking for Mr. Charming. (Just ignore my wrinkles…)

Dear P. Charming,

I can sense you standing in the other room, patiently waiting for me to emerge from my self-induced coma.  I can almost feel your arms as they reach to wrap themselves around me, as you pull me close and tell me that I don’t have to worry anymore…that I will no longer be alone.  I sense you there, waiting quietly for me to be ready.  And I am almost there…


First, let me just tell you a little bit more about this woman who has weathered many a perfect storm.  I feel you need to know about the fragile heart that beats inside this independent fa├žade; and then you can decide if this woman is the one that you want to love for the rest of your life.

I’ve been alone for a long, long time.   

Yes, I have three very loud, obnoxious, bratty, wonderful, incredible and talented children who I would lay down my life for in a heartbeat.   They came into this world and showed me the true meaning of pure joy and heart stopping fear, and left behind three fairly ugly scars.  My doctor took pity on me several years ago and decided to add a larger, more hideous one when she removed anything that wasn’t nailed down.  The fact that the incision came apart and required a crazy wound-vac only added to the scar’s beauty. And so while I am still 18 in my heart, this 52 year-old body has weathered several other storms.

And while I was married for 22 years, I was very alone for most of them.  I went to parent/conferences, back to school nights, sporting events, banquets, picnics, celebrations and vacations with my children, alone.   I’ve become accustomed to spending time with myself, and have long given up making excuses for why I’ve had to do this. 

I’ve spent the last several years shedding this cloak of unhappiness and fighting like hell to reach the surface of this deep, dark ocean.  I’ve felt those tendrils from the bottom reach up to pull me back down, and found myself shaking them off with strength I never knew I had.  

While I’ve been alone each night as I lay in my bed, during the day I’ve been wrapped in the arms of some incredibly loyal and generous friends.  They have shown me that I am beautiful, loving, talented, intelligent and worthy of only the best that this world has to offer.  I, in turn, have tried my hardest to show my own children that the same is true for them.

And now, as I glance around the surface of this ocean I can feel the sun shine it’s light upon me, and it is incredible.

And so, Mr. Charming, if you are strong enough to hold this heart of mine without dropping it, by all means.

Give it a shot.  (Apparently I’m not afraid of anything…)


She sets....she shoots...and she scores. (Sometimes my brain DOES work.)

If you see two gorgeous girls walking around town in these, then you MIGHT be close to discovering who I really am. 

I would have included Golden Boy's, but it's in the washer;  already.


From my heart to yours....a merry, merry day.

To all my incredible bloggy friends, I wish you the most merriest of holidays.

holiday cheer christmas tree pictures, backgrounds and images

May your troubles be few, your heart be full and all your dreams come true.   This is my wish for all of you, from the bottom of my heart.


For some of us who get a bit teary-eyed this time of year...

(And as I continue to think of my departed loved ones on this holiday, I know that a smile and a chuckle is what they would expect from me.  And what I, in turn, would love to provide for them....) 

When I was teaching fifth grade I had a boy in my class named Brad. He was a very athletic kid who loved any game that involved running all out.  It was early September that particular day and the kids had organized a game of kickball.  The next thing I knew, Brad was running toward me with a look of shock on his face, screaming my name.  As he got closer I looked at his leg and could see a deep, deep gash on his shin. (When he slid into third base the base flipped and the NAIL holding it down ripped his leg wide open.)    I immediately tried to hold his leg together as we ran into our classroom.  Still holding his leg, I sat him down and called down to the nurse from the classroom phone.  

“This is Mrs. Smythe, Brad cut his leg open and I think we need to call 911. No, we can’t come down the hall, please come up.” Then, after my first ride in an ambulance, I decided there was one job that I could never, never do.  Yeah, you guessed it - the school nurse.

A couple of months ago while doing a read aloud in the classroom, Rachel stood up and came up to the rocking chair.

“Mrs. Smythe, can I go to the nurse?
“Rachel, I am in the middle of a story right now.  Can it wait?”
“I don’t think so.”
“Do you feel like you are going to throw up?”
“No. But I’m sick.”
“Do you have a fever?”
“What’s that?”
“Let me feel your head.  Nope.  No fever.  Does your throat hurt?”
“Will the nurse send me home for that?”
“Rachel, are you really sick?”
“Well, not really.  I would just rather be home playing right now.”

Every year I am always amazed at how brilliant kindergarten children are.  It doesn’t take them long to figure out their ticket home.   After the first child of the year goes to the nurse and gets sent home, it’s like a duck to water. Yesterday was no exception.  My little Bruce wanted to go to the nurse, and when I told him that he really didn’t LOOK sick, he was adamant.  So, against my better judgment, I took him. 

Nurse:  “So Bruce, what hurts?”
“Every time I blow my nose my ear hurts.”
“Well, how long has this been going on?” the nurse asked.
“Um, let’s see, about 52 weeks.  Since 2007 at least.”  
And with that, I gently took his hand, smiled at the nurse and marched him back to class.

I laughed so hard that I decided this column HAD to be dedicated to the school nurse.  So, without further ado and with a shout-out to those incredible nurses in the trenches, here are their tales… and their quotes from the little ones:

“My ear hurts when I burp.”
“My lips are tired.”
“I’m leaking plasma.”
“I have a hernia in my knee.”
“I think my sister has the weasels.”
“My right eye is blinking.”
“Somebody Fwode up and it made me sick.”
“I had a crustacean on my eye.”
“I had to see the eye optimist.”
“My sister has mice in her hair.”

John had gone to the nurse complaining of being "gassy"
The nurse asked him when his last bowel movement was. He said "Umm, when I was about 3.”

Sure, there are many important things kids learn in kindergarten; letters, letter sounds, how to be a good friend, how to write words and how to read.  However, there are other lessons that are learned quite by accident, and how to get the “go home for free” card is one of them.  Now if you’ll all excuse me, I’m gonna take a trip to the nurse.  I feel like I have to Fwoe up.


The Christmas Letter. (Go big or go home, my friends.)

We recently lost a precious uncle to that incredible evil that begins with a c.   He was an amazing man; gentle, kind, funny, generous, caring and always, always the first one to thank me for my Christmas Letters.

Every time I would see him he would mention them, and in fact last summer he begged me to start sending monthly Christmas letters.   (I finally told him to just read my damn blog.)

And so, in honor of an uncle who I loved so very dearly, I will publish some of my old letters.  I hope they bring a smile to your face, as I'm sure it will bring to his.

The good news is I finished my Christmas newsletter early this year.  The bad news is, the girls found it and were so mortified that they stole all my copies and shredded them before I could get them out.  We proceeded to have a screaming match that ended up with me making all sorts of promises.  So, here it is: I am not allowed to talk about anyone being arrested, any phone calls from parents during sleepovers (use your imagination), screaming hormonal teenagers, calls from the high school, fighting with siblings, or anything that would embarrass them.  That leaves me with nothin’.  However, in the spirit of the Christmas newsletter tradition, I am willing to give this a shot.  Here goes…

Bitchy is 18 now, and loves it here at home.  She is the sweetest thing you’ve ever seen.  She just loves her job at Wegmans making subs for the community at large, loves paying for her own gas and coffee at Starbucks, and can often be found playing board games with her sister and brother, after they’ve helped with dishes, laundry, cleaning and running errands for their mother.  She is having so much fun in high school, and is sad about graduating and going away to school.  In fact, she’ll probably go to Oregon State University and live at home because she loves us so much.  Sassy is also just a doll.  Aren’t all 15 year-old girls the best? She is sweet as can be, never yells at any of us for no reason, and can often be found sharing her clothes with her sister whenever she asks, or romping in the yard with her adorable 9 year-old brother.  (They are very close.) She never yells at us, and is best friends with her older sister.    The Golden Boy just adores his sisters as well.  They never pick on him, hold him down, tickle him until he cries, spit on him, or treat him badly in front of his friends.  They always go to his football games, and sometimes even go to his practices just to see him.  And, when they held him down last week and told him there was no Santa, they were just kidding.  He’ll probably stop crying real soon. 

I am having a blast writing a monthly column for the local paper, and am trying to keep up with an accompanying blog.  I still love teaching kindergarten, but am very exhausted at the end of the day, mostly from laughing, but also from keeping 20 six-year olds from hurting each other, peeing all over the bathroom floor and eating things off the carpet.   Tightwad is enjoying his work on I-400 as a roadway supervisor, but has nothing to do with the road not opening on time! I’m keeping him busy trying to get him to finish all his jobs around the house, but he keeps sneaking off to camp to finish all the project out there!  (Frankly, I’d rather he live THERE.)

Well, as always, peace and love to you all – The Vodka family.

P.S.   If you want to read the original letter, it’s on my blog, and was read by over 4000 people.  (psst…don’t tell the girls)  


I told Bitchy I should not be wearing belts. (No one listens to me anymore...)

I went to school today wearing an adorable pair of jeans that had an equally adorable belt to go with it.  (Bitchy’s vain attempt to fashion me forward…)

We were preparing for what we knew would be a crazy day with kids stuffed with so much excitement that you can actually see it oozing from their pores. 

Sasha came in dragging her lunch, folder, snack, hat, mittens and anything else she could possibly hold onto.   She dropped them all in a heap and threw her arms around me for the morning hug.

“Hi, Sasha!” I said happily.

“Hey…” she said stepping back and pointing to my belt.    “Is that your seat belt?”

I looked at her.  “Yep!” I said.  “It's my seat belt.  I always wear it on the day before vacation, cause I know it’s going to be a bumpy ride!!”

Seat belt.  Honestly, whoever writes HER material is golden.


Now God. You knock me out, and then send Travis to wake me up.

The kids walked into school today and were performing their daily “housekeeping” rituals of signing up for lunch, putting their snacks in their cubbies and winding up to kick the teacher’s @$$

I was standing near my paraprofessional, Mrs. KeepsMeOutOfTrouble, searching for a funny spin on the whole “my car is dead and needs a tow” story.   Right after the words came out of my mouth, Travis turned to me and said,

"Hey! My mom’s car is dead!   Now it’s at the drunkyard.”

I looked at Mrs. Keeps and whispered, “How ironic. That’s where I plan on going tonight.”

Okay, where's the camera? (Isn't that Allen Ludden? or Allen Funt? Or Betty White? Wait,what were we talking about?)

Six days until Christmas.    SIX DAYS.   And what do I find in my driveway all wrapped in a beautiful ribbon?

A dead car.

Now come on, Big Guy.  I know  you love messin' with me, but can't you PLEASE focus on someone else for a while?  I'm not sure that even I can find the funny in this one.


I don't think I have enough thank you cards to go around. (So I made one BIG one. )

(That angel?   She lives next door....)

I’ve learned so many things on this little journey I like to call “saving my own life.”   (Again, for God's sake...)   I’m not just talking about changing taillights; fixing the toilet handle; programming channel changers or remembering to check the little do-hickey on top of the oil tank so that you don’t run out of OIL on the first 15-degree Saturday in December.  (That resulted in a $550 bill.  Apparently the oil company doesn’t care that you had $52.00 in your checking account. )

No, I’m not talking about those things.

I’m talking about the fact that God works in mysterious and marvelous ways.  I know, I know, I don’t talk about God much on this blog.  But that doesn’t mean that He doesn’t live in my house; because He does.  And even though I’ve often joked that He loves to shake up my world and smile, I also know that He goes out of His way to make sure I’m okay.

I’ve often felt carried through some of the more painful events in my life, and for that I am thankful.  But I’ve also realized that sometimes angels grab you by the shoulders and drag you along.

Last year, my angels had their work cut out for them.  I spent each month just praying that I would make it; that I could pay my bills and help my children in any way I could.  I spent each night lying alone in my bed, mustering the strength to continue my journey, and would discover each day that I would not be traveling alone.

And on those particular days that I felt broken, I would find a card in my mailbox or a package on my front porch.   When I was pacing the floor trying to figure out what I could possibly sell to pay for Sassy’s car repairs, or some other necessary bill, I would discover that someone had sent me a donation on Paypal; and I would cry.

I just want to thank every angel out there who has held me, comforted me, listened to me and grabbed me by the shoulders and pulled me up.  And even though this journey is still in its infancy, I have finally gone from crawling to walking upright.  And for that I am grateful.

And so Sharon, Amy, Braja, Elise, Lynn, Kevin, Leslie, MaryAnne, Anne, Suzy, my darling Anna, Sherri, Stacey, Janie, Rene, Joy, Brian, Chris, Cora, Eric, Sheila (the best bff a girl could have) and anyone else I have surely forgotten; you are the best examples of friends.  

I thank you all from the bottom of my heart, and I wish you the Merriest of Christmases, the Happiest of Hanukkahs and the Fantastical  of Festivuses.  (Now, I'm off to try to pay it forward..)

(thanks for the pillow.  It reminds me that in the end, love is all we need. But that love?  It's the love you have to have for yourself.)


But SOMEONE has to feed the goats...

On a snowy, December train ride into Cleveland, Ohio, in the year 1922, a five-year-old girl’s life would be changed forever.  She and her mother had a chance encounter with a feverish young soldier who insisted that the girl sit on his lap.  It seemed he had recently bid goodbye to a daughter just her age as he left for duty.  She became deathly ill several days later with diphtheria.  Fortunately for her family, they had a close friend who was a doctor that worked at the W.R.U. School of Medicine.  They had a new serum that doctors were only beginning to use that would later become the diphtheria vaccine.  She was one of the first children to receive the injections, for fourteen days straight, and by what was always called a Christmas miracle she lived.  That little girl’s name was Genevieve, but we always just called her Aunt Jimmy.  

She and my uncle Paul, along with their two boys, lived on a very sharp turn on a very busy Superior Road in Cleveland Heights, Ohio.  Although we didn’t see them very often, our yearly visits were always preceded by great anticipation. As children we looked forward to these visits for many reasons, most important of which was that she was the best baker in town.  

We knew that she would have freshly baked goodies.  We knew that she would have lovely books for us as gifts.  We knew that our Uncle Paul would take us to his musty basement and show us his newly polished stones, or other fascinating scientific discoveries.  We knew we would be able to snoop through our cousin’s rooms- that were always filled with amazing toys and more scientific gadgets that they used in all their mad scientist experiments!  We also knew what we thought our parents didn’t – that hidden in her attic, and tucked under large layers of clear wrapping paper was a magical, mystical, incredible candy-filled city. 

My aunt and uncle were known far and wide (in Cleveland) for their incredible candy creations.  They weren’t your ordinary candy houses.  Oh no, to these young nieces and nephew they were mansions!  The biggest and bestest candy houses ever known to mankind! My sister and I would sneak up into the attic when we thought no one was looking and begin the hunt. 

We would find these creations and peel away the coverings to gently reveal the treasures underneath – exposing each architectural wonder.   We stood and gazed at them for what seemed like hours, and to this day I can remember the smell and the feeling I had gazing at these wonders.

I am reminded of Aunt Jimmy’s candy houses each time I get ready to tackle the task of making them in my classroom.  Although we’ve had to re-name them over the years (Christmas cottages, holiday houses, candy houses and finally, teddy bear cottages) the spirit in which they are made remains the same.
With candy, icing and confectioners sugar flying, the children burst with the excitement and joy of the season.  And during the cottage construction, if you’re really lucky, you’ll be privy to some enlightening conversations:

“I don’t know why Joseph and Mary couldn’t have slept on a pull out couch at a friend’s house. That’s what we do.”
“I DID see Santa.  I am not kidding.”
“Mom my made me give a dollar to Jesus. Now I only have nine.”
“My cousin celebrated Hanukkah and they lighted a Menudo.”
“And I know there was a star.  And when you follow the star, it leads you to SANTA!”

And finally, I sent the children out the door covered with confectioners sugar, glitter, and a package of “reindeer food” that we magically mixed together with glitter, marshmallows and love.  One of my little girls was asked by a child in another room what it was.  Her response?

“I think it’s for the goats.”


She sells Christmas trees by the sea shore. Or something like that.

I felt a tug on my sleeve this morning, and turned to see Jennie smiling from ear to ear. 

“I know a tit-muth tong.”  She said.

“Say that again Jennie?”

“I THAID, I know a tit-muth tong.”

“Oh, wait!  A CHRISTMAS song!  Christmas!  Whew.  What song is it, Jennie?”

“Oh Tit-muth tee.”

I have nothing else to say. 


Today, Bitchy was the new black.

I was driving Bitchy back to her apartment tonight after an exciting afternoon of doing her LAUNDRY and I might have brought up the subject we never seem to discuss; her grades.

“So, how are your finals?”

“My finals aren’t cumulative, so it’s fine.”

“But how are your grades?” I asked, tentatively.

“The usual.  Mom, why do you ask?  You don’t really care.” She said in the kind of voice that reminded me about why I might have dubbed her Bitchy in the first place.

“WHAT? Of COURSE I care.  What are you talking about?”

“Oh shush, mother.  I meant that you love me anyway.  Basically, you’re just happy I’m alive.”

And she NAILS the ending.    (again.) 


Sometimes I think I'm the one that needs the ESL class.

Mrs. Smythe, I found somesing on da floor. I sink it’s a raisin!”

“Throw it away, Sasha.”

“Wait, it's NOT a raisin.  It’s a cockaroach!.”

“Throw it away, please Sasha.”

“It’s ok.  It was NOT a cockaroach.  It was a Taco Bell.”

I remember when I used to talk to fifth graders about Stonewall Jackson, Fort Sumter, The Revolutionary War, plate tectonics, prepositions, adjectives, onomatopoeia, similies, metaphors and fractions.  

Today, I spent ten minutes trying to determine exactly what Sasha had found on the carpet.    

 I did not succeed. 


News Flash: We're ALL human..

I love you, Alec Baldwin.

I love you because you @(#* up, fess up, and then make us laugh.

And THAT, my friends, is the kind of person we should all be.  We wake up, we make mistakes, we own it and move on.

It's the circle of life.

(But when you can laugh at yourself, that circle doesn't hurt quite so much....)


This time I KNEW who had chili for dinner. (Capital P.U.)

Top five things I learned today while I was getting my @$$ kicked in k-town.

5.    Don’t ask Jack about what he is eating in the middle of a read-aloud on the carpet.  Well, unless you want to lose your appetite for the rest of your life.  Then by all means, do it.    

4.  It takes about four hours to regain a tiny bit of your appetite after being totally grossed out about what boys on the carpet will put in their mouths.  

3.  If a five year-old boy sitting criss-cross applesauce on the carpet smiles and leans hard to the right while lifting his butt cheeks off the carpet, you might want to thrown on your gas mask.  (I dare you not to laugh.)   Oh, and prepare for a total loss of control of your class, your paraprofessional, your intern and YOUR OWN composure.  (Lorne Michaels, I’m your new head writer.)

2.  While you are now officially on the market and looking for the real love of your life, you may stumble upon a crazy spammer who is stalking you relentlessly in the hopes that he’s the one.   Call me crazy, but telling me that you are going to boycott American Woman and calling me a whore might not be the best way to get my attention.  (I’m going to VERY PICKY this time.  If you don’t wear a stethoscope and respond to the words Code Blue, don’t come a callin’.)

1.  When stopping at Wal-mart at 7:15 a.m on a Friday morning for markers, please check to be sure they are NOT the scented markers.  Also, explain in your Friday newsletter why all the children came home with marker all over their noses.   (“NO, we were NOT smelling the markers.”    “Um, so why do you all look like Rudolph’s cousins on CRACK? HELLO?  There’s no hiding the evidence on THIS one.)

Vodka.  It’s not just for breakfast anymore. 

We don't need no stinkin' sponge. (aka just another day in kindergarten.)

“Hey, Mrs. Smythe!!   Jack wrote on the table!”

After giving directions to my reading group I walked over to the scene of the crime and there was no sign of the writing on the table.    Confused, I looked at Francis.

“Yeah, he wrote there but it’s gone.   He licked it off.”

The scariest part?     I wasn’t surprised.

( I apologize for the comment moderation implementation, but some crazed spammer is stalking me.  He knows I'm available and is hoping for a date. He's sweet talking me by calling me a whore and what not.  Carry on.)


Sometimes the God's remind you that you Do make a difference...

THIS was the email I received today, from an intern I had TEN years ago.  I loved her more than I can say, cause she was ME TO A TEE.  She challenged me, frustrated me, lifted me and reminded me that life is GOOD.    (Here's the note...)

Dear Mrs. Smythe  and Smythe County Graduating Class of 2012,
          You are the reason I remain in education today.  Period. Mrs. Smythe, as my cooperating teacher, beyond all the technical and professional aspects of becoming a classroom teacher, you showed me the importance of love, laughter, and fun in our second grade classroom. I can’t begin to count the number of times we laughed with our students, with each other, and at ourselves. How many times did we find ourselves doubled over, with tears streaming down our faces because we both found something downright hysterical? How many times did our entire class burst into giggles because of something silly that one of us managed to do? It wasn’t scientific or something that one could even study, but you always remembered the importance of having fun, enjoying what the day brought, and loving your students. You created a warm, upbeat environment and I continue to try to create that environment wherever I find myself to this day. It is easy to become wrapped up in the uptight world of standardized testing, irate parents, and frustrated teachers, however, I continue to remind myself that it’s ok to take a deep breath and laugh a little. I am lucky that you continue to crack me up to this day!
            As far as you, class of 2012, you have certainly come a long way in the past ten years! It seems like yesterday we were all navigating the unknown world of sink and float, odd and even, and reading Magic Tree House books together. When I was graduating, you all wrote me letters filled with advice for graduation day and beyond. Now, it’s my turn to share some of that advice back with you. Remember, on graduation day, smile and be proud of yourself, and try not to spin the little tassel on your hat during graduation - it will distract you! When you get your first job: do your best, don’t be late, and don’t give up! When you throw your hat up on graduation day, give it some power, and finally, ALWAYS smile, eat a healthy breakfast, wear something under your gown, and HAVE FUN!!
            You are truly a unique group of individuals who has proven to me that education can and should be filled with fun, love, and laughter! As promised, I will see you on graduation day!


Today’s entry in the book of Kindergartenese. (This is the advanced class.)

Buckle up. 

1.     Bair.   “Dat’s not bair!”  

2.    Mishta.  “Hasta la mishta, Mrs. Smythe!”

3.    Peanuts a tenshun.  “Mrs. Smythe, what did you say?  I wasn’t peanuts a tenshun.”  (No one listens to me. NO ONE.)

4.    Crap.   “Da kids went to Miss B’s room? Crap!”  This is what the ESL child will say when she realizes that all the ESL children went to ESL without her.    (Cause she wasn’t peanuts a tenshun.)

Crap?   CRAP?   I smell a rat: a tiny, adorable Chinese rat.    

Note to the ESL teacher:  When they can say curse words appropriately, I think they’ve tested OUT of ESL.  Don’t you?


The top ten items you should buy for your newly separated friend who moved out of her house cause the other person wouldn’t. (aka The Divorced Woman’s Christmas List)

My top ten must-haves for any friends you have might be thinking about shaking up their whole lives before the holidays.  (But don’t actually count ‘em cause I’ve been known to get distracted and lose count.

10.   A large wipe off calendar to hang in her pantry/kitchen/basement or garage.  Please fill in said calendar for her with activities, coffee dates, happy hours and projects to keep her occupied and keep her mind off of the incredible challenges that will surely lie ahead.  Sometimes if we have an inkling of what dangers lay ahead, we are too afraid to complete the quest.  Distract her, my friends. Distract her.

9.  A large shop-vac with many attachments.  Odds are great that she won’t even realize she needs this until she moves into her new place and discovers that she needs to clean corners, fireplaces, closets, under sinks and other spots where mice might conveniently hide their poop.

8. Hundreds of mousetraps. If this person refuses to get a cat because she doesn’t want to become the lonely cat woman that everyone makes fun of, then be sure to give her plenty of mousetraps, rubber gloves, nose plugs and tiny garbage bags.  (Also, please refer to item #1.)

7.  Batteries; ALL kinds of batteries; D’s, C’s, AAA’s, AA’, AAAAA’s, X’s, and flat round ones.  Also don’t forget the square ones for the smoke detectors that will go off in the middle of the night when not working and might force her to call her hunky neighbor who is still hiding from her after a crazy “Who’s your Daddy” microphone debacle.  (Did I just use TWO semi-colons in one sentence?  Jesus, I’m even impressing myself today.)

6.  Flashlights.  These go surprisingly well with the previous item, and are a must have when fixing the toilet, locating the fuse box, checking the fireplace flue and finding the cat who has gotten himself lodged into a space that was previously undiscovered.  The flashlights are a must have, but are not something you remember to grab when leaving the home you’ve lovingly tended for 16 years.  (And grab some extensions cords. For God's sake- grab the cords.)

5. A fully stocked spice cabinet.  She’s gonna need ALL of it.  Salt, pepper, paprika, celery salt, saffron, hot pepper flakes, vermouth, paprika, cinnamon, nutmeg, chicken broth, bitters, beef broth, vermouth, brown sugar, and all that other shit that you need in the middle of a recipe but have run out of.  (Also refer to item #1.)

4.  Stamps, envelopes, clips, sharpies and other various office supplies.  She will use said envelopes and stamps to send notes, bills, child/spousal support payments to people who refuse to get a real job and anonymous gifts to others in need. 

3.  Cigars.  Those small, deliciously flavored cigars are a lovely addition to the late night relaxing sessions on her quiet, lovely front porch.  She will spend many an evening on said front porch swing using various items from her spice cabinet (Please refer to item #1), looking out at the incredible countryside and counting her amazing blessings.

2. A tool kit; a great big complete tool kit.   She will use items from this tool kit EVERY SINGLE DAY.  (You might want to tuck an extra toilet handle kit, a few gift cards to the local hardware store and some super glue. Trust me.) 

1.   Liquor; plenty and plenty of liquor.  (Any vodka will do...)


Fred, Ted, Ned, Bed, Head, Thread, Dead. (My life is one big rhyme.)

“What’s wrong, Sasha? You don’t seem like yourself this morning.”

“Nah.  I don’t feel so good.  I cranky!” she said with a pout.

“Well, I guess you got up on the wrong side of the bed.”  I said with a smile. 

Coloring, Francis said, “That never happens to me.”  She looked at up and stated matter-of factly, “My bed is up against the wall.”

Of course it is.