3/31/12

It's the old adage...you can't possibly win if you don't play. (And I will most certainly play.)




I walked aboard an airplane today and carried with me a bag filled with anticipation, fear, excitement and hope.  I shoved my great expectation into a quart-sized plastic bag and watched it zip through the metal detectors unnoticed.


I threw caution to the wind, followed my own crazy advice and accepted an offer.



We’ve been talking on the phone almost daily for months and months,  trying in earnest to tell the stories of our lives.   (Have you tried to put 30 years of living in a short story? It’s not easy.)  Our discussions flow easily and comfortably and are sprinkled with laughter, sympathy, heartbreak, and surprise. 


We supplement these conversations with emails, finding that some thoughts are easier conveyed when you pretend that no one is on the other end readying a response, or looking into your eyes.  And throughout it all – throughout this voyage of re-acquaintance, I have felt a stirring in my heart.  An awakening,  a fire slowly beginning to burn. This warmth, this wonder and amazement have given me another kind of courage. 


As I sit here on a plane I realize that I am just a girl going to visit a boy.  But my heart is full of hope.  I feel butterflies in my stomach that I never thought I’d feel again.  I realize that I need to live each day, accept each challenge and bet on each hand that I feel might be a winner.  I lean against the window facing the sun as it’s warmth shines upon my face, and I smile.






Life is good today, my friends.  Life is good.  





(And if I don't live each day to the fullest, then I am nothing but a hypocrite.  And that is that.) 

3/30/12

Don’t you just love a man (um, boy) who knows who he is? I do. I really, really do.




“You know Mrs. Smythe, I was really thinking that I wanted to be a Ninja Spy when I grow up.  But they wear that black thingy across their mouths and they DON’T TALK!  I tried that at recess, and I CAN’T DO IT!  So I decided to be an Asian Spy instead.”




Sigh.  I  didn’t have the heart to tell Jack he wasn’t Asian.




But I’m sure he’ll figure THAT out, as well.



(Yeah, he talks a million miles a minute; ALL DAY LONG. He’s the number one reason I am earning my money this year.)


Shop until you drop. (or until your fingers are tired...)



Holy crap I have my own STORE.  


As many of you incredible, loyal people know, I don’t do many giveaways, sponsored posts, or anything of that nature. Not because I can’t use the MONEY (I’m broker than broke) but for several other reasons.

First and foremost, I write in this particular space because I’m a writer.  Yes, I work my @$$ off during the day at a job that I’m still passionate about.  I come home and switch gears as I try to juggle maintaining a home and a family.  While the “look” of the family and the responsibilities and demands of that family have changed, they are still a priority that I will always attend to before I consider anything else. Then I write.  I need to write almost as much as I need to breathe; it’s become another part of who I am and is something I can’t live without.  These things all combine to take up 560 hours of my day.  So, I don't have TIME to discuss giveaways, sponsored posts or anything of that nature.  

However, to make a long story short (cause you know I can’t pay attention TOO long) I was approached with a cool, cool offer.  For some crazy reason I replied, and was offered an interesting opportunity.  Now I have my “own” store!!  Some brilliant marketers put together a “shop” with items I like.  If you click on “Vodka’s Shopping Specials” above you can see what’s hot for the week.  They check with me and we come up with weekly items that you all might enjoy.  

Please do go check it out, and then let me know what you think.  For example, is this something anyone would CARE about?  Will anyone buy anything?  What things might you like to see?  I would love feedback!




(Psssst, on a side note, Clint might have redeemed himself.  And aren’t I glad that I didn’t say anything at all?  Yes, I am. More later...)




3/28/12

Do not leave the bunnies unsupervised. (aka kids+leftover model magic = spectacular surprises)

'Magination?  It's alive and well in room 222 at Smythe and Wesson Elementary.

And it's kicking butt.



(This is the unofficial birth announcement for the bunny families.  Someone had to do it.)













(I think perhaps this child was adopted.  I can't be SURE, but that's what I'm going with.  Thank you, Sasha. )

3/27/12

Okay everyone, what rhymes with "funny"? (And not a MINUTE too soon...)

Yeah, yeah, yeah, I'm done with all my whining.   There is nothing like an incredible sister and a great class to remind me about all that is awesome with the world.


Well, that and a WHOLE lot 'a bunnies.  (And curiously, they keep multiplying...)


Try to keep a straight face when this is what greets you each  morning....














Oh my Lord I can't take it.   (Can you tighten your abs from laughing?  CAN YOU? Cause if so, I am golden...)

3/25/12

Star light, star bright, I wish you'd grant my wish tonight. (Sleep...I just need some sleep.)




Most days I’m fine.


Most days when I wake up, I turn my head to gaze out my bedroom window and I smile. My heart is full and I look forward to whatever wonderful things the day might bring.

But the nights?  Well, sometimes the nights wait for me in the corner of my room like a jealous friend intent on turning what is right and sweet in my life into something horrible, painful and hopeless.  Those nights, the ones at the end of a long and tiring day, I lay my head on my pillow and I cry.  I think of so many of the challenges that I face each day, and my thoughts race.  My mind jumps from one problem to another, causing them to swell into something so painful that at times I can’t bear it.

I toss and turn until finally I lay my head close to my window and I glance longingly to the evening sky. My eyes dart towards the heavens searching the stars for the strength that I’m sure my departed loves ones are sending my way.  Surely they are still protecting me, guiding me and protecting me; surely.

But I suppose to them I’m like my own lovely daughters.  I’ve pushed them into the world hoping and praying that they can find their way; that they’re equipped with the strength and common sense to make good choices and to use life challenges to build their character and help them become the women they are meant to be.  My angels guided me along the way, and have apparently pushed me gently into my present and stepped back.

I’m stumbling a bit, on legs that I thought were strong.  But that’s what we all do, isn’t it?  However, at this stage of the game some of us have a loving companion walking beside us lending a hand and lifting us up.


And some of us don’t. 


Yes, most days I’m fine.  But on those nights when the moon shines her light into my window and wakes up my jealous friend, I’m not.





Oh hell, don’t worry.  Most days I’m getting better and better at telling her to pack up my troubles and get on her way.





Most days. 

3/23/12

Completely and utterly random crap that means practically nothing. (Oh, and some great, great shoes.)

I am completely overwhelmed by the energy of five-year olds, the emotional highs and lows of daughters home for spring break, and a barking dog that won't leave me alone.


So, in honor of all that is crazy I am posting things I am obsessed with from PINTEREST (Oh my God, don't get me started. IN fact, I've given Pinterest a time -out for the night) and some kick-@$$ shoes that have been walking into my room as of late.

And one pair MIGHT have been worn by the teacher.  (Thank you, Bitchy, for convincing me that YES, fashion hurts, but it's the price we pay for looking stinking good.)


(Oh Pinterest,  I can't pin FAST enough...)










Now, I'm off to blow off steam with some fellow teachers at a particularly lovely watering hole.  Don't wait up...








(And yes, I have money for a taxi.  Thanks for asking...) 

3/21/12

I wanted to schedule a c-section, but they talked me out of it. (Had one ANYWAY. Won't say I told you so...but.....)




Sassy??  I can't believe that it’s your birthday.   AGAIN.  (Sweet Lord in Heaven.)


It's your birthday, and yet, we are in a hazy, painful place we never thought we’d be. You are handling it with grace, courage and dignity - and for that I salute you. 




I celebrate the day you were born.  I celebrate the day you ripped your leg wide open, the day you broke that field hockey ball in half, the day you confided in me about your stalker - the day we went to court and the day we sat on the couch playing scrabble laughing until we cried.  All those moments fill my heart and lift me up every single day. 


I celebrate every precious, crazy, painful, wonderful moment that I’ve been able to call you mine.




 I pray each night that I have at least a gazillion more of those moments.



But if I don’t, if for some crazy reason I don't and if God follows a plan that we are unaware of  please, please remember this.   I am so proud of the child you were, and of the young woman that you are right now.  


Always remember that life is crazy and unpredictable, and the moment you get comfortable with what you are wearing- something incredible will happen to change your mind.  Never, ever plan too far ahead cause God will laugh and THROW a wrench into it. 


Please always be strong,  follow your heart and remember this-  the way you treat others is the way that you will be treated.  And while you might think that your path is painful, others are going through something that you can't imagine, and it might explain why they are a bit crankier than you.



Be true to yourself, insist on respect, and allow others to be who they are.   




But the most important lesson of all???



Tell your mother you love her.    








 I love you Sassy.  More than you will ever, EVER  know.   (Oh, except when you have a Sassy of your very own; only then will you know.  Only then. )


3/20/12

Oh Frank, if you were to marry Sasha some day, ALL my dreams would come true...


At the end of the day we use little white boards and wipe off markers to practice math problems.  It takes about 10- 15 minutes depending upon how long I can keep the natives captivated.  (Which is NOT LONG…)

I have a silver ring that holds cards filled with cool word problems that the kindergarten teachers across the district created a couple of years ago. I adore them, and so do the kids.  (Well, they claim they do, and I tend to believe them.)

 “Okay guys, you know the drill.  Write the problem on your board using symbols, tally marks or numbers: whatever works for you.  But don’t show ANYONE your answer until I say “BRING IT”, right?  Right.”

We warmed up with some traditional problems of adding numbers together, and then I threw in some challenging ones.

“Okay kids, here’s a tough one…there were eight girls on the swing and ‘some’ left.  Then, there were five girls on the swings.  How many girls left?”


Sasha thought for a while and SHOUTED with a proud smile,  “SOME!”



Well.   There you go.



(She WAS right, after all. She certainly was…)

3/19/12

And some days, like today, I DO laugh out-loud. (Which only prolongs the chaos.)


This morning during morning meeting we played a brief game of “Guess My Number.” 

“Okay, boys and girls, I am thinking of a number between ONE and TEN.  Ask me some describing questions to see if you can get enough clues to guess my number!”

They asked great questions like, “Is it between 4 and 6?” and “Does it start with a T?” and so on.  They were awesome questions, and I was so proud of them! 

After a few more numbers, I decided to up the ante and said, “Okay, NOW I am thinking of a number between 10 and 20!  Can you guess my number?”

They asked questions similar to the others, and then Jack asked, “Does it END in ‘teen’?”

“YES!”  I said with a smile.

“Is it twenty?”  He asked confidently.

“Um, no.  Remember, it ENDS in TEEN.”  I reminded him.


He lit up and shouted, “Thirty!  It’s THIRTY!”


“No," I said in a louder voice, "It’s between 10 and 20 and ENDS in ‘teen’ and starts with an s, remember?”





And just about then, to use the words that Jack himself supplied only last week, all hell broke loose as they furiously shouted numbers at me as fast as air pellets, some of which I had never even HEARD OF.”




Lesson learned?  The numbers in the teens might as well be spoken in Japanese.  (And yes, tomorrow’s math lesson?  The numbers in the teens; again - for the ONE HUNDREDTH TIME.)

3/18/12

Body Odor + Ravenous Teens + Seventy Degree Weather + Chaos + Air Soft Weapons of Mass Destruction = An incredible day.


Top SEVEN things I did today.  

1.     I made 56 pancakes, two omelets and a package of orange Danish breakfast buns.  (Thank you, Pillsbury.)
2.    I popped twelve bags of popcorn.
3.    I went through a case of water, a twelve pack of 7-up, a six-pack of Diet Coke and a container of orange juice.
4.    I swept up a bazillion multi-colored, air-soft pellets, and located the cat AND the dog- both of whom were hiding the basement in fear for their lives. 
5.    I made a thousand peanut butter and jelly sandwiches.  At least.
6.    I reminded myself that air-soft battles on a Sunday afternoon are not unlike the days that the girls spent with THEIR friends back then – only they weren’t NEARLY as messy, the girls never tried to shoot each other and they all had lovely mani’s and pedi’s at the end of the day.
7.    I tracked down and threw away TEN empty popcorn bags that were strewn about the yard.  Where the other two went is anybody’s guess. 
8.    Managed to send only ONE boy to the ER with a bloody gash in his leg.  Apparently this is a weekly occurrence at their house, which made me feel a tad bit better about the “mishap in the creek.”






And then as the day drew to a close I sat on the porch with my coffee and thanked God that the Golden Boy and his friends blessed me with chaos today. 




 


Life is good; life is damn, damn good.




(My lovely friend Anne nominated my post The Hurt (in) the Closet over at BlogHer for one of the Voices of the Year. The authors of the chosen posts read them aloud at the conference. It is a very moving portion of the weekend... If you are so inclined, you can vote....)


3/15/12

The Grand Entrance. (a la Frank)



I was walking towards the office this morning after settling the kids into their morning work.  I needed to deliver several notes before we officially began centers and glanced up to see Frank barreling into the building.

There were many other paraprofessionals, several teachers, and kids of various ages walking this way and that, when Frank shouted to us all, “HEY!  Sorry I’m late people!! My mom hit the snooze and forgot to get up!”



We all turned to him and smiled.



“Well, gotta go!” he said with a smile as he ran down the hall.  And when I say run, I mean barrel at a fast walk with a backpack (probably laden with rocks) swinging to and fro. 




Yeah.  I’m still in love.   (And it’s a much more beautiful love when I only see him in short but magnificent bursts.)

3/14/12

It's just another thing I do that no one cares about...


We were brainstorming all the different forms of transportation today.  I wrote them on the whiteboard, as I do everything else that we talk about. 



I called on every child at least twenty times, and we had quite an impressive list.  As the children began repeating what was already on there, I attempted to call a halt to the list making.


Jack was insistent that he share ONE LAST THING!


Twain!” he shouted.


“Well, Jack, I already have train on the list up there.  See?”  I said as I pointed to train for the one hundredth time.



“But Mrs. Smythe,” he said putting both hands in the air, “I can NOT read.”





And yet again I was reminded that putting lists on the board in kindergarten is something that only the teacher appreciates.  Well, the teacher and my two little professors.  Other than THAT, it’s chicken scratch.



3/12/12

Sometimes- well MOST of the time, you need to let your heart remember what it was like. (And then do it.)

I spent 15 minutes of recess sailing gloriously through the sky with most of my class on the 12 large swings on the playground.





And it really was glorious.




(They were squealing with delight.  And so was I.) 

3/10/12

The advanced class of Kindergartenese. (Entry 4,583)


Word of the Day.


Sappointed.  (SA – pointid)
Adjective

derivatives:  sappoint; sappointing; sappointedly

(of a person) extremely pissed off, as in SO pissed off that one might wail like a banshee while walking to the classroom after lunch.

“I am SO sappointed acuz I sought we were going on a bield trip today.  You SAID we were going on a trip!  I do not LIKE my imagination.  I sought it was a REAL TRIP!”




Today’s assignment:  Do NOT sappoint anyone- especially yourself. 

3/8/12

The engagement. (Wasn't what I had HOPED, but it was pretty spectacular nonetheless...)

Today, Sasha decided to put a ring on it.  (Oh sure, she's five years old and was trying to dig herself out a DEEP, DARK hole she had been digging since her arrival at school...but those are minor details...)


She ran up to me during reading centers and yelled, "HERE!  PUT THIS RING ON! I made is just for you.......am I being good now???"  



(She has such a way with words).










I was speechless.   And while I eventually returned it and told her to put it back with the rest of the PlayDoh during clean-up time, I have to say that it was the most maginificant proposal ever.   



(And it served it's purpose...she was golden the rest of the day...)


3/6/12

Sometimes someone else says it best...





yep.  




That's exactly what I'm doing.....

3/5/12

It takes someone with the highest level of skill (and an aversion to sugar...)




Oh sure, last Friday many of you were performing some incredibly important tasks, like saying “You’re under arrest!” or “I object, your honor!!” or maybe "Would you like cream in that latte?"


And still others of you were screaming,“Sell! Sell!  Sell!” at the top of your lungs.   And even others were doing something of equal or MORE importance than that.



I was sitting in a room full of five year-olds, twisting oreo cookies in half and teaching the kids to stack red gummi life-savers and blobs of icing in a pattern to form a hat – all the while brainstorming a list of a gazillion words that rhyme with hat.





Now tell me, who really has the best job ever?



That’s right. 

3/2/12

The hurt (in the) closet.


I’ve thought long and hard about sharing this particular part of my journey, but I had to wait until the chapters wrote themselves.   It’s been an incredibly painful left turn, and one that I never, ever could have predicted.



But it happened nonetheless.


I remember, years ago, watching the movie Kramer vs Kramer.  Remember when Meryl Streep left Dustin Hoffman, and left her son as well?  At the time I thought, “How could she leave her child?  HOW?  I would NEVER, EVER leave my child.”  I hated Meryl, and had to remember that she was playing a character that I didn't respect.   In fact, it wasn’t until recently that my mind raced back to that very person, and I looked at her as if I’d never seen her before.

How young and na├»ve I was back then - to judge someone’s actions without walking in their shoes. (Sure, it was a damn movie, but come on.) 

I left my home, the life I knew.  I left a marriage, a house, gardens, neighbors and a life I was comfortable with.   And, after many discussions, my children chose to stay behind.   They chose to stay in the only home they knew, and while we discussed over and over and over the fact that I was not leaving THEM but the marriage, it was an incredible blow that I never imagined I would have to take.  

But I respected their wishes.  The girls were in college, and while my heart was broken I knew they would have to find their way.  I had to be patient, and allow their hearts to guide them.   And for reasons that will remain private, it wasn’t long before they joined me.

But my Golden Boy?  He was 12, and we had agreed that I would see him almost every day.  At least that was the plan.  And of course the most well-laid plans often go terribly awry.


And they did.


I remember the words he spoke to me so early in this painful journey, “Mom, I know that you love me.”

I held those words close to my heart, as it was broken over and over throughout this ordeal.  I remember thinking and preparing for the fact that the girls might need more time to adjust- and then being blindsided by the fact that HE was the one who turned this journey upside down.


And now as we find a comfortable rhythm in this dance of divorce, I have come to realize certain things.  


Yes, a boy will always, always love his mother; but he also needs his father.  



And sometimes, probably most of the time, the father needs the son. 



While I was busy trying to save my own life- I’ve realized that the boy was busy saving his dad’s.  And I can never, ever fault him for that.



In fact, I would expect nothing less of any child of mine.






Nothing less.