When one door SLAMS shut, two more open with balloons, bells, confetti and whistles…

I am so very thankful today. 

I am SO happy that I have a job. And while it might not be the one I THOUGHT I had, I have no right to complain.  I am sure that this path I'm walking is one I am meant to be on, and that there is someone at my new school who NEEDS ME, or someone there who I might need.  (And wouldn't THAT be ironic.)  I have to remember that I am the only one who can decide if I am happy, or not.  And I choose happy.  

Either way, I am feeling pretty damn good. (Frankly, I am so happy that I think I might have lost my mind.) 

And while ANOTHER door (that will remain anonymous) might have slammed shut, another one has mysteriously appeared.  I am on my way to another surprising  (no cost- Anonymous) weekend (not far from home) that will involve a wedding, some precious time with an old, old friend, and another night with some family members who are very special to me.

Tonight I wonder:  While The Powers That Be often spend an inordinate amount of time shaking up my world, they spend an equal amount of time blessing it.

And the fact that my crazy brain only seems to remember the GOOD, is another blessing altogether.

I hope your weekend rocks, and I have a feeling that mine will, as well.  (I am blessed; incredibly, incredibly blessed.)  And I can't WAIT to fill you all in.  I am spilling this time; spilling like nobody's business. 

(You have all lifted me more than you know.) 


Of all we've learned here remember this the best, don't hurt each other and clean up your mess....

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

I’ve had several requests from friends out there for suggestions for end of the year teacher gifts, and since I’ve been teacher for lots of years (23 or more…cough, cough) I just might be an expert in this area.

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

However, if you ARE looking for either teacher gifts, or student teacher gifts, here are my TOP TEN!!! 
1. A subscription to Mailbox Magazine - You can find this magazine at www.theeducationcenter.com or something like that. It is the GREATEST resource for teachers. It has ideas generated from teachers on ALL areas in the curriculum, and it’s got one for kindergarten, first grade, etc. It. Is. The. Best. Thing. Ever. (And they did NOT pay me to say that.
2. A book to the school library in your teacher’s name. Too cool to even elaborate on.
3. A plant for the school garden. (If they have one!)
4. Is there a craft store in your area? A gift card to a Michael’s or something like that is great. We always need items for projects- and this way the kids benefit as well!
5. Amazon.com is an incredible thing. I received several last year and bought some great new books for my classroom! Since I’ve been teaching a while I tend to use my oldies but goodies. Having the gift certificate allowed me to shop online and find some great new books!
6. Barnes and Nobles. Enough said.
7. There are cool scissors at craft stores that cut in a variety of shapes- not just straight lines! Teachers love these- but might not use their classroom money for them. They also come in a cool carousel. They are great when the kids make cards, have free time or in writer’s workshop.
8. If you are buying for a new teacher, here are some MUST HAVE BOOKS: Morning Meeting; The First Six Weeks of School; Classroom Spaces that Work; Off to a Great Start. All of these resources are from Responsive Classroom and can be found at Barnes and Nobles, or at www.responsiveclassroom.org .
9. If you want to buy a humorous book for ANY teacher, buy Thirty Two Third Graders and One Class Bunny by Philip Done. It is HYSTERICAL. I read it over and over and over. I laugh every time. 
10.A really cool whistle. Or bell. Or sound maker.
11. A gift card to STARBUCKS. (Okay, maybe that’s just me.)
12. Games for the classroom (age appropriate, or course.) We use games throughout the year, and of course pieces go missing, boxes get broken, etc. Teachers will probably NOT throw stuff out, and will keep using it, unless forced to use a NEW ONE if it’s given to them. (hint hint.)

Crap, is that more than ten? You people KNOW I can’t count. Hope it helps! Otherwise, give her a bottle of wine. Teacher DO enjoy that….  (And check out these sunglasses with bling.  ADORE them...)

(Yeah, it's a re-post - but I'm busy with ALL the end of the year madness.  And yes, I am smiling.  Always, always smiling.)


Some days it's hard to bounce.

I'm having a hard time bouncing back from this one, my friends; a very, very hard time.

But I'm working on it.  

Now, where did I put that smile? 


Can't I be mad for just ONE day? (Bitchiness doesn't look good on me. But I DO try.)

I’ve been trying to remember that each crazy left turn in life is a gift.  And these gifts aren’t ones we seek, want or plan, and that we have to accept them with grace and dignity.

And some days I forget.

My heart was heavy as I walked into school today, remembering that my days in kindergarten were numbered.  I had a lump in my throat and a pain in my heart that would not be eased.  That tiny seed called bitterness was beginning to work its evil, and could feel its pangs in my heart. 

I didn’t like it.

I spent the day a bit melancholy, and tried hard to remember why I loved teaching in the first place.  It was hard.  I left the building at the end of the day in a fog and headed home to meet my brother.  He was my knight in shining armor today, coming over to remove an incredible amount of water in my basement, fix the leaking pipes in the kitchen, and do a thousand other things that I simply could not do myself. 

We gobbled down the hoagies I had purchased at a fund-raiser and I thanked him profusely for coming to my rescue.  And, because he really is the best brother in the world, he reminded me that I was going to be fine; that I was doing an amazing job- and that no matter WHERE I would be teaching, I would love it. 

And he was right.

After he left I grabbed my car keys, and made the short drive to my new building.   Surprisingly, the doors were open, and I made my way through the somewhat empty school.  I wandered up and down the halls, peeking into classrooms and looking at the teacher names that were posted outside each one.  I smiled as I put names to faces, and thought about how the building would feel when teeming with children and their teachers.

And then I heard voices.  They came from children who were sitting on the floor in the gym.  I could hear them as they talked about a particular book they were reading and I was transfixed.   Their animated discussion threw me back in time to when I taught second grade; and I loved it.  

I stood against the wall and listened for a few more minutes, and then I knew.  I KNEW that this change would be amazing, uplifting, and wonderful.  I remembered that I laughed, loved, smiled, learned and knew joy in EACH grade I had taught.   And I would again.

I’m ready.  I believe I’m ready for that next turn in the road; and I can’t wait to see who’s waiting for me when I get to where I’m going.

I just hope his name rhymes with Frank. 


Really? REALLY?? Powers that be, are you really that bored that you have to KEEP messing with me?

Okay, let’s do a quick recap, shall we?

FIRST, I was brought into the principal’s office for the great news that I was now a member of the teacher relocation program.  I would be swiftly and painfully removed from my room and grade and my destination was a top TOP secret secret.

THEN, I came home from school Monday to find every sink, tub and basement full of water.  After two hours with two burly gentlemen from Rotor Rooter, I was informed that the problems SURELY involved the septic tank, and that they would return to COMPLETE and maybe fix the crazy mess they had created after the septic people showed up.  (I spent the night with a carpet cleaner sucking up what was ONCE water but now resembled disgusting gravy from most of the downstairs carpeting.

I woke up this morning, gathered my things to go shower at a friend’s house when I looked at the BRAND NEW CAR I was leasing – whose payment I just missed cause I have NO MONEY in my account.  NONE.

Flat tire.  TOTALLY and REALLY flat.

(AAA, please tell me that you’ll fix my tire for free………)  

Oh, can someone call my school and tell them I’ll be late?  I’m not too afraid of being fired- cause I’m pretty sure I don’t TECHNICALLY work there anymore.

(Pssst… I’m Mr. Murphy’s illegitimate daughter.  But even HE wouldn’t’ claim me right about now.)


How many left turns does one have to make before one comes FULL CIRCLE?? (I'm keeping track..)

(This is a work of COMPLETE fiction.)

Once upon a time there was a woman who, after some strange twists and turns, chose a career that she was convinced might make her happy.

She thought, naively, that if her parents had died young that she in turn would die young.  She decided, after losing her mother, to find job that she would love.  She left law school and become a teacher. (Lucky for HER, it was a perfect match.)

She never looked back.

She was thrown many a curve ball in her life – and never let it get her down. (She never doubted that a classroom was where she felt most comfortable, and where she could probably do her best work.)  And when life handed her heartbreak, she smiled through most of it and remembered that each step, each stumble, each roadblock, each gift and each miracle was a part of her journey.  She knew that most people had far greater burdens to carry and that her particular ones were insignificant and too small to trifle with. 

Along her journey she made many choices in her life, and she was so thankful that one brought her some incredible children.  And then, somewhat later in her life, she realized that she had the power to choose happiness.  And so she did.

And through the latest part of her journey she had the knowledge deep in her heart that while some things might change, she always – always had her incredible job in kindergarten.

That is, until today.  

She went to work in an amazingly great mood, like she did every morning; ready to greet the day with a smile and great expectation.

She glanced quickly at her email before the kids arrived and saw something like this, “Mr. Principal would like to see you in his office after school.   Your union rep will be with you.”

Because the number of children in this teacher’s building were dwindling there was a need to remove one teaching position in another grade.  Because none of the 28 classroom teachers volunteered to move to another building, the principal was forced to make a hard decision.

And he did.

After 23 years of faithful service in the same building- this particular kindergarten teacher was told that she was moving to another building. The building and grade were still up in the air, but the move was not.

Instead of being angry or bitter (Well, she might have been for a FEW hours) she chose to embrace this left turn with her whole heart.  She knew that there were many young teachers in the building who were amazing, and who she knew were agonizing over the thought that THEY might be asked to go.

She realized the she was by far more equipped to handle a shake-up than these fragile young people.  Oh sure, she had taken an incredible left turn in shaking up her OWN life and was just beginning to feel like a real person again, but why NOT have another life changing event come along?   WHY NOT?

And while the teacher shops for a proper thank-you card to send, she is feeling incredibly blessed.  She might mourn the loss of team members who are more like family than friends….and she might mourn leaving families she has come to know and love…but she is celebrating tonight.

She is celebrating the fact that she has been offered another crazy left-turn, and is looking forward to ANOTHER new adventure in her life.

(And Bitchy?  After hearing the news about this mythical teacher... left her mother a little, monumental gift. )

And so endeth the lesson. 

(But doesn't SOME school near a beach need a teacher? SOMEWHERE?)


The Book. (The Frank Man Cometh)

Yep, I'm wrapping it up.. I know, I know, I'm not supposed to talk about "The Proposal", or  "The Book", or the agent who doesn't even KNOW that I'm the best client he has never had...but I forget to follow the rules.

Almost all the time.

But as I prepare to send the proposal BACK to the best agent I've never had, I wanted to share something.  I went to Wordle, and plugged in the manuscript.

Here's Frank's word cloud.

Now, everyone cross your fingers.    (Pretty, please...)


Ribbit. Riiiiiiiiiiiiiiibbit.

We were talking about the life cycle of a frog today, and I was gathering information about what they might already know.

Jack, of course, knows even more than I do.

"Well, then the frog camouflages himself so he can hide from creditors!!"


Even the teacher learns something new each today.  (And this year, it comes quite often from my little love who goes by the name of Jack.)


Actions speak louder than words.

I adore the parents of the children in my classroom.  They are incredibly supportive, caring, harried, forgetful, generous, busy and NORMAL.  (Just like the rest of us...)

However, these particular parents have just won the "Parent of the Year" trophy.  An email from the teacher after a particularly challenging Friday resulted in this:

Oh sure, the particular offender was better behaved for about ONE hour this morning, but the fact that he wrote the letter has rendered him golden for the REST of the year.

Just don't tell HIM.  


Buckle up, Friday...

I am preparing my heart for a weekend filled with love, laughter, fighting and chaos.   Bitchy and Sassy will fill my living room with suitcases, books, clothes, shoes and remnants of another year in college.  Golden Boy will arrive with other teen boys carrying air-soft weapons, sweat, laughter, hunger and sarcasm.

My heart is healing - but this weekend will provide the best medicine ever.  I am off and running...but I leave you with some inspirational quotes from my new best friend...Pinterest.   (Hope your Friday is as incredible as mine promises to be...)

(Now get out and there and kick some @$$.) 


L's are highly overrated.

I put up a Welcome sign high on the wall at the beginning of each year, and conveniently forget it's there.

Last week I happened to glance over to the wall and noticed something was missing.

(I wish.)


But I still need some aspirin...and a nap....for SURE a nap.

Mondays suck.

Well, not EVERY Monday. The ones that come carrying my paycheck aren’t too shabby, and every single Monday in the summer kicks ass, and maybe Memorial Day Monday and Labor Day Monday look pretty *@*#^  good, but that’s as far as I go. 

This Monday did an exceptional job of kicking my class.  I started the day pretty exhausted after several exciting road trips to visit Sassy over the weekend.  I couldn’t just go- spend the night- and attend all functions over this celebratory weekend; no, that would have made too much sense.  I had to make it more exciting by driving to and from said events both Saturday and Sunday. (I’m kind of crazy like that.)

And so I went into work feeling as if I had gone several rounds in a boxing ring, and gone down hard.  You know how a tiger senses when its prey is weak and makes its move?  That’s exactly what 19 kindergarteners did today. 

They taunted me for most of the day, and when they finally saw me at my weakest point they went for the jugular.   (Oh sure, the gym teacher participated by canceling our gym class- aka my planning time- and the RAIN cancelled our only chance to get this kids out to RUN…but that’s another conspiracy I’ll work on later…) 

And so by 2:30 this afternoon this teacher was a ticking time bomb ready to explode.  I can’t remember exactly WHO placed the straw on my back, but I had those kids cleaning up and grabbing their stuff to go home in RECORD SPEED.  They sat on the carpet wide-eyed, as I laid into them like NEVER BEFORE. 

“We have RULES IN HERE, and they need to be FOLLOWED.  When I want your attention, I expect to get it the first time I clap.  Also, we have been in school five billion days, and we still don’t SPIT, HIT, PUSH, IGNORE THE TEACHER, blah, blah, blah, blah.”

They were transfixed as I went about my rant.  

Then, because no one REALLY listens to me, I saw Sasha ignore me and start rummaging through her backpack.

“HEY!” She shouted.  “I suregot!  I have a present for you,” she said as she pulled out the most beautiful re-usable water cup- filled with flavored water packs.  Attached to the straw was a lovely thank-you note, claiming I was the best teacher ever.


The kids cheered as she ran up and handed me the cup.  I gave her a big, big hug and turned to the class.

“Well.   Okay guys, you remember all that yelling and screaming that happened just a second ago?  Scratch that."

And thank you, God, for reminding me how much I love these little tigers.  Even if they DO go in for the kill once in a while; after all, it’s survival of the fittest around here.

And tomorrow, I intend to come out on top.


A rose by any other name....(aka a mind is a terrible thing to waste.)

I had a moment tonight.

I was sitting on the lovely deck of a kindergarten co-worker of mine.  Her incredible husband texted her at lunch and offered to host happies for us.  (Apparently after 13 years of marriage, he knows how the teacher feels on a Friday afternoon. And yeah, now we all want to marry him.)

I glanced around her back yard, searching her gardens for familiar flowers.  You might remember that when I made the move to save my own life I left behind many, many, many gardens that I had lovingly tended for over 15 years.  During the spring and summer months, I would take early morning “garden tours” around my yard with my coffee, enjoying the varied and incredibly beautiful flowers. My friends would stop by for cuttings or plants, and I would share freely and happily.

I can’t do that anymore.

I asked Ms. Awesome if we could walk around the yard, and she happily followed me down the steps.  We walked slowly as I pointed and named all the various plants that were in different stages of growth.  She reminded me about the ones that I had given her when she and her husband had started their gardens. (He works in agriculture, and is a kick-ass gardener. Of COURSE.)   It took me a bit to remember the names, and that rattled me.  I was always the one who knew ALL the names of everything- they rolled off my tongue effortlessly which always shocked me because frankly, I can’t remember much of anything else.

I stood in front of a plant in the corner of her yard, and remembered that this was once my very, very favorite!  (Thank God I remembered SOMETHING.) It had fuzzy, greenish-white leaves, and a tiny magenta flower.  The color was always magnificent, and I always waited anxiously for them to bloom.

I stood there, and I couldn’t remember its name. I tried and tried and tried and it never came to me.  I was floored.

We walked back to the deck and carried on a lively conversation about funny stories from the day with everyone else.  I sat at a table and tried my hardest to remember the name of the plant.  But I couldn’t.   I really, really COULDN’T!

Finally, I had to excuse myself and leave the party.  I couldn’t explain the sadness that washed over me as I realized that I had lost this particular part of me.  I rattled off names of flowers out loud as I drove home, hoping that it would spark something in my brain. 

It wasn’t until I was able to Google it that I discovered its name.  


And tomorrow I plan on making a trip to my lovely neighbor’s home to beg, borrow or steal every single plant that I didn’t even KNOW I was missing until tonight.  After all, she's the one that gave them all to me in the first place. 

I've decided to be her newest and best project ever. 


Why can't they arm us with an extra can of patience and love? (Sometimes even NON-witches melt.)

Some days are harder than others to recover from when you’re positioned on the front lines.

Oh sure, as teachers we’re armed with stickers, words of encouragement and 30 minutes of recess to threaten a child with, but it’s war out there nonetheless.  (You know why they don’t allow teachers to carry weapons?  Cause they would SHOOT THEMSELVES.   Probably at 3:00 p.m.)

The temperature today was 89 degrees, and the “air-cooling” system installed in our state of the art school was pissed, and decided to stay home for the day.

And so, because I can barely function, I offer short and sweet snapshots from this week.  They might include an amazing field trip, and one great reasons why I was able to pull out the glitter AND the paint this week.  (sigh…heaven…)  And THEN I will indulge in a refreshment of some sort; that may or may NOT include vodka.

Yeah, I'm crafty.  (Just don't tell anyone...)

And check out the store…the boots are to die for.

("Mrs. Smythe...Jack said that word again. the meanest of the bad words...." It's Groundhog's Day...only there's no SNOW and Bill Murray is nowhere to be found.)

And oh wait, did I forget to mention?  Frank came down to my room today to tell me that I am invited to his mom's wedding.  He's singing at the reception.  (Karaoke)  You KNOW I am going.   Wild horses couldn't keep me away.....


The inquisition.

I tried to talk to Jack today about the vocabulary lessons he’s been dishing out at recess.

“Jack, you know we’ve talked about the words you’ve been saying at recess, right?”

“Yep.”  He said with a shrug.

“Well, you know those words are very bad, and we don’t say them at school.  Do you understand me?”  I said, as I looked him in the eye.

“Yep.” He repeated.  And then he winked at me.  (What?)

“Jack, who taught you those words?” I asked.

“Oh, it was my f*@&ing sister.”

Oh sweet Lord, he didn’t.  

“Crap.  Am I in trouble again?”

Some days I am just swimming in crap;  upstream.