Think about the compound words before trying them out. (THINK)

Things I learned in school today.

1.  George’s mom is a “Speech Fa-shee-aw-gist.”   And while she might be a kick-@$$ speech pathologist, she obviously doesn’t practice at home. (Thank God.)

2.  Alenka ran up to the kindergarten teachers today and shouted at the top of her lungs, “Jack say a BAD WORD! He say FAWK!”  And now that I know that she knows the bad words, I’d say she could exit the program.  (I will obviously have to help her with her vowels, of course.)  

3.  Jack knows FAR more words than I imagined, and has apparently been practicing them every day at recess.  He’ll be walking the track at recess until he’s old enough to drive.  (Not drive me crazy, just drive.)

4. If, during reading centers, you ask a child to say buttonhole, prepare yourself.  (“I said BUTTON-hole. BUTTON, BUTTON, BUTTON!”)  Oh Lord we laughed for an eternity.  And when I turned to Jack and he said, “crack” I FELL OFF my chair.  And yes, I will never use that particular compound word lesson again.  EVER.

5.  If you hear a child singing a song he wrote called, “I have gas, gas, gas!” be sure to avoid said child for the remainder of the day. 

And while this particular saying may or may not have any bearing on anything in my life, I adored it so much I had to share it.  Come on.  It IS funny, isn't it??


I was reminded about who I really love today. Some are here. And some are not.

We were in the midst of journal writing today when a conversation about moms and dads sprung to life on one side of the room, and traveled quickly around the tables until it landed on mine.

“So, do you have a mom, Mrs. Smythe?  Where is she?” asked Lily.

“Well, I do have a mom, but she’s in heaven.” I said with a bit of a sad smile.

“Oh,” she said quietly.  And then sprung back to life and asked with a smile, “Where’s your dad?”

“He’s in heaven, too.”  I said.

“Oh.” She said, somewhat puzzled.

Sasha, who is a fixture at my table for one reason or another, sat back and crossed her arms. “Okay, Mrs. Smythe, here’s what you do.   Do you know where the graveyard is?”

“Yes!” I said, “I sure do.”

“Okay girl, so you take a piece of paper, write them a letter and put it in an envelope.  Then you take it to the graveyard and put it on the gravestone.  BAMThat’s what you do.”  She looked at me with her eyebrows raised and a smirk.

I smiled as I looked at her.  “AWESOME, Sasha.  That sounds awesome.  And you know what? Can I BAM you right back?”

“Yeah, you can,” she smiled, as she stuck out her fist for a pump.


Bam, indeed.     


Honestly, some days I'm convinced I'm just having coffee with the girls.

We were working in our journals during Kid Writing today, and it was the girls' turn to sit at my table.  They were working on their pictures, and I was helping with the words when SOMEHOW the girls got on the topic of pierced ears.   (We had spent the last ten minutes searching for the tiny, clear BACK to one of Sasha's earrings, only to miraculously find it on the carpet.  I'm surprised jack hadn't eaten it, but that's another story altogether.)

"When I get big, I'm gonna get my nose pierced AND maybe my LIP!" Lily said dramatically.

Sasha looked at me and raised her eyebrows.  "Well," she said matter of-factly, sitting with her legs crossed as she colored, "I might get my nose pierced, but never my privacy.  No girl, not my privacy."


(Omg.  I don't know HOW I hold it together.  I just don't know.)


I turned my back for ONE MINUTE, and they grew up (sniff, sniff.)

Each day of this amazing, crazy life (and the amazing kids in my classroom) provides me with a ton of writing material.

And if I weren’t so $#@* tired right about NOW, I would share the love from today.

Instead, I will share their science journals.  The sharing is a testament to their talent, brilliance and ingenuity.  It also reminds me why I love each and every one of them, and this incredible job.  They have gifts far too many to mention; thank God.

Cause their behavior is ATROCIOUS.


and yes, my darling Sasha.  Your grass head IS great.   It is, indeed.

(I adore them.  For realz.)

(And don't forget to check out  my store up there in the nav. bar.  . I have requested COOL STUFF.  And wine..  lots and lots of wine....)  


I KNEW there was something odd about this class...

Sasha came into school today with a long face, dragging her backpack and her sorrows down the hall.  She took care of her morning “housekeeping” with nary a word, and sat at the table to work on her morning work.  I knew immediately 'somesing' was up.

“Are you okay, Sasha?  What’s up?” I asked as I sat in the tiny chair beside her.

“I don’t feel so good. I sink I hab a feber,” she said with a pout.

I put my hand upon her forehead.  “No,” I said, “Your head seems fine.  Let’s just work a bit and see what happens.”

“Oh man,” she said a bit miffed, and sat stubbornly looking at her paper.  I left her there to pout and finished my own morning housekeeping. (You know, rummaging through backpacks, listening to fifteen stories from the weekend at ONCE, emptying legos from pockets and reminding the 'breakfast club' that we don’t take an hour to eat.)

We gathered on the carpet for morning meeting and after our greeting it was time for my favorite portion; telling sharing.

We finally got around the circle and it was Sasha’s turn.

“Okay, I am not really sick.  I juss miss my mommy.”

I was not surprised.  “Sasha, school is ALMOST over (in five hours) and then it will be time for you to get on the bus and you’ll be home QUICK as a WINK!” I said with a smile.

“NO!  It is TOO LONG!  I am on da bus, and I have to wait for all da HUMANS to get off!” she said dramatically.


Humans? Humans????? I turned to my para and said, “Oh Sweet Lord, I KNEW IT.  We really are on Mars, aren’t we?”

(That explains almost everything.)


Blue? It was never a good color for me...

Sunday’s top five cures for a crazy case of the blues.  

5.  A rousing spring collegiate field hockey tournament in the cold, crappy, misty rain.  The weather was miserable, but the games were spectacular.  I’ve decided that Sassy and I get along famously when she is 200 yards away and brandishing a wicked field hockey stick.

4.  A heart-warming message from an old friend who successfully kicked my ass. (“Quit your whining you crazy #*$&%, you know you’re awesome,” is basically what he said.)  And thanks to those of you who emailed me and commented with basically the same message.  It was (crystal) clear that I needed to take the advice I dish out at SCHOOL.  (“This is not preschool- there’s no whining HERE.”)

3.  Discovering the “Raw Humor” station on the Free Sirius radio channel in my leased car and laughing for MOST of the three-hour drive home.  (Oh Lord how I’m still chuckling…)

2.  Stumbling upon a HUGE basket of laundry inside my front door, and a gorgeous but bitchy girl asleep on my bed.  (I managed to sneak in a cuddle before I so rudely woke her up.)

Number 1?  Remembering that really, when all is said and done, a woman who has loyal friends and family really is the richest girl in town.   (Yeah, yeah, yeah, it’s a cliché.   But it’s a damn good one.)


I don't EVER want to go back to THAT place. (Someone make me laugh, right now!)

I’m tired…and very, very cranky.

It probably seems that I turn my face towards the sun and smile most of the time.  And frankly, I do.

But I have my moments. 

I have days when my heart is heavy and I think I can’t fight one more battle.  Today was one of those days. 

This afternoon I went on my daily hike into the mountains behind my house.  I left my dog at home.  I need some moments to myself; moments that can't be distracted with worry that I might have to rescue my dog from a large Great Dane, a bobcat, or a mountain bike flying out of nowhere. 

I need some moments.

I weaved my way up the rocky mountain path searching for answers. How can I pay this bill, that bill, keep my house, help my daughters, get this or that for Golden Boy, or buy groceries. How can I be the woman that they can be proud of? The role model that I want so desperately to be?  I wondered if, perhaps, I’m finally at the place where I might not have the strength.  Am I there?  Have I finally reached that wall that I’ve been finding ways around all these years?   Perhaps I have. 

And I never thought I’d say that. 

I reached the top of the trail, the fire pit that I’m sure many young people use when they are “enjoying” nature late at night.  (cough)   I sat upon a log, listened to the sounds of the woods and had a horrible realization. 

I glimpsed, briefly, the terribly lonely place that many people live.  The one that whispers to them, “It’s not worth it,” and it shocked me.  I’m not gonna lie, it scared the hell out of me.  I have never, ever been to that place. Sure, I’ve seen it from afar, noticed it from a balcony high, high above, but never, ever been in that particular room.

I stood abruptly, and shook my head.  I realized that I had to continue to be strong.  I reminded myself that with each financial and emotional challenge – with each obstacle that has been thrown in my path- something wonderful has appeared. (And believe you me, if a crazy problem needs a home, I’m usually the one it finds.)   I’ve worked so hard all my life to find ways to solve any crazy problem thrown in my path and I COULD NOT stop NOW. Not when sweet freedom and happiness are surely right around the corner...

Tonight I sit on my couch and remind myself that I want to be the kind of person that my children, my siblings, and my parents would be proud of. The person who works hard, who laughs at danger and hardship and survives, who finds ways to solve any problem, and who never, ever lets her sorrows get her down. 

But first, can someone mix me a martini?   I’m in need right about now.

And some chips. I could REALLY use some chips.  ( And maybe a medium.  Pass the chips AND a medium.) 



Even a five year-old knows how to treat a lady. (aka how to cover your @$$)

Thank you, Jack, for the incredible bouquet of flowers you thrust into my hands yesterday morning.  The roots dripping dirt were a particularly beautiful touch.

They almost made up for the fact that when Lily told you her great-grammy passed away, you shouted, "Dammit!!"


(And if you live near Smythe and Wesson Elementary school and are missing a CLUMP of grape hyacinths -bulbs and all- they are now perched on this teacher's desk.  I apologize on behalf of my client.)


Not only do I love MATH, I love journal writing almost as much.

Honestly.  A girl who loves math worksheets??   She's a girl after my own heart.

And the fact that she SOUND SPELLED IT??

She's golden.   GOLDEN!!!!!!!!!


Shoes of the day. (Yes, fashion hurts, my friends; fashion hurts.)

Frankly, they deserve a post all their own...(six years old and she has WAY better shoes than the teacher. There is something seriously wrong with that...)


Tomorrow I might have to talk about more...and less...

I was trying to hold an important discussion about scientists today, but noticed that Sasha was whispering intently with Julia on the carpet. They were whispering and laughing behind the crowd, which is par for the course.   

I released the unruly and anxious crowd and sent them to free play and called the two girls over.

 “Sasha, do you know what we were talking about just now?”

“Um.  No.”

“What were you two doing on the carpet all this time?”

“I was just showing Julia something, something NEW I got.” She said excitedly.

“What was it?”

“It’s my bra!” she said excitedly as she pulled aside her shirt to show me the little purple straps.  “I wanted the one that made my BOOBS look real big, but my mom said I was too little.  But I love the big ones.”  

They left me speechless as they skipped to the kitchen area to join the “restaurant crew”.  

And then I silently thanked her for ending my day with an incredible landing.  (Nothing but net, people; nothing but net.)


My two thoughts for the day...(aka Procrastination be thy name.)

As I scramble to complete several projects, I offer you these thoughts that I have been carrying with me today.   (Thank you, Pinterest.)

I am trying very hard to do both.

Carry on.


I'm gonna have enough trouble getting MYSELF to heaven...(Make a reservation for me, would ya)

I picked Bitchy up from her apartment early this morning so that she could come home and bask in all that is Easter. Or…so she could shower and get ready for her all day gig driving the beverage cart at the golf course.  (Apparently everyone GOLFS on Easter Sunday.)

She convinced me to go through the Drive-Thru Dunkin Donuts on the way home by informing me that her switching her caffeine addiction from Starbucks to DD has helped her save a ton of money. How that helps me in particular I do not know, but I smiled and rewarded this momentous decision with the quick detour.

The girl who handed us Bitchy’s coffee was wearing THE MOST ridiculous bunny sunglass/mask contraption and I laughed out loud!  Bitchy handed me the money and when I received her change I gave a dollar to the girl and said, “Thanks for making my day.” 

As we drove off Bitchy turned to me.  “I can’t believe you tipped her with MY MONEY!”

“Bitchy, she was working on EASTER.  And she deserved it.”

“No!  She was probably Jewish, and that mask was hideous!  It was creepy! Do not give my money away without asking!”

“Honey, you know you have to treat others the way YOU want to be treated!”

“Oh, Jesus,” she muttered as she rolled her eyes.

“What goes around COMES around,” I added.

“Oh, for God’s’ sake, stop it!”

“Honey, Listen to me.  I want you to go to heaven! I am determined that you go to heaven some day, even if I have to drag you there myself.   And after this conversation, I’m guessing that’s exactly what I’m going to have to do.”

(A mother's work is never done.  NEVER.)


Never put the gasoline right next to the fire. (aka the parent/teacher conference)

I adore the team of teachers with whom I teach.

We are all different in so many ways, but the same in so very many ways as well.  We love what we do and each and every child in our class.  We also love each other which, in my experience, is a unique and wonderful thing.

We eat lunch together in one of our classrooms every day, not because we are too good to eat in the faculty room but because after spending half a day in our loud and boisterous classrooms, our minds can’t take the loud and animated discussions that always occur in the teacher’s lounge.

Yesterday we talked about parent/teacher conferences and the children in our classrooms.  My fellow teachers have watched me closely this year because they realized early on that I was the one who won the lottery.  I ended up with many of the overly active, loud, unruly, spicy, challenging, incredible, wonderful, talkative children.   And while I love each and every one from the bottom of my heart, when they’re all in the room it’s kind of like leaving a match RIGHT NEXT to a LARGE can of gasoline.  It will always catch on fire.

While we were chatting, Ms. Perky turned to me and said, “You do have so many ACTIVE boys, Vodka.   But you know what?   You are so good with them.  You allow them to be who they are.”

I’ve been weary as of late, and she reminded me with those words that it is a small price to pay for holding a child’s spirit safe from harm.

Today as each child marched into my room with their parents, I saw each of them for who they are: amazing, talented, bright and hard working kids who give me a reason to come to work each day.  They have learned to read; write in their journals; to exchange ideas and then question those very ideas.  They can problem solve, clean up after themselves, help their friends and make the teacher swell with pride when they accomplish something they knew they couldn’t.

The last conference of the day was with a young boy who pushes the envelope every single day.  He lives life to the fullest, and usually invites anyone around him to join the party.  He has also grown 100%, and is one the strongest readers and writers in the class. As I shared all that he had done and all that he produced, I had to stop the tears of pride that teachers have learned to hold back during these moments.

At this point, his mother looked at me.  “We were so very worried to send him to school.  He’s young, and doesn’t transition well.  But he gets up every single morning and is excited to come to school; every single morning.  He loves school, he loves his friends, and he loves you.  We are so very, very happy, and honestly can’t thank you enough for all you’ve done.”

We each reached into the box of tissues that were conveniently sitting in the middle of the table and laughed together as we dabbed our eyes.

This is why I teach.  Because this particular child, the one who I think hasn’t heard a word I say, has really heard ALL that I’ve said.  And still loves school.


Boom, indeed.


Next year I'm not even saying the WORD Geography. (If I live through this year, that is.)

“Hey, Zak, what country are you from?” Sasha asked while coloring during reading group. (Sitting right next to him but had to SHOUT it at the top of her lungs.)

“Huh?” he asked her.  (And still he didn’t hear her.  Go figure.)

“I THAID, what COUNTRY are you from??” she shouted again as he stood beside her.

“Amewica.” He said with a smile.

“Oh.” She said, as she returned to her coloring.  Then added, “That’s far, far away.”  

Sweet Cheezus. 

(details?  As soon as I have the nerve.)


Um, well, wait, what day is it? (I'm a bit distracted..)

First, let's just say this happened.

Then, today at centers when I told my reading group they were to use markers and gave them COLORED PENCILS, Sasha looked at me and asked, "What in the name of JESUS are you doing, Mrs. Smythe?"

And as I laughed out loud she added, "Did I make you laugh AGAIN?  Okay, that'll be ten bucks.  I decided you have to pay me every time I make you laugh.  I'll be RICH pretty soon!"

And yes, she is right.  She'll be mighty, mighty rich.    (And after our discussion about words she SHOULDN'T say in school, she changed her price.  She now wants one HUNDRED bucks.  And I need to practice my straight face.  As soon as I come back down to earth, that is.)