Monday, March 27, 2006

Feeling Better...sort of

I've left the negative behind me. Now all I have t0 do is quit going back to pick it up.

This post is a lot of tiny, random things that have been preying on my mind for a while. Feel free to share your thoughts about any and all. I looooooove comments.

1. Does a toddler in a car seat really count for the carpool lane? I've been told yes, but I still feel weird about it. It feels a lot like obeying the letter of the law, but not the spirit. And I'm not sure I believe the peron who told me yes. She's gotten a LOT of tickets.

And why don't I have the same reservations about using the carpool lane with my eleven year old in the car?

2. Is anyone else annoyed by showers? Not the daily, wet kind. The bridal/baby variety. I thought I was free from showers while pregnant with Missy HooHaw. After all, she was my second. Not so! I was forced (so NOT kidding) to have two showers and while I appreciate that people want to celebrate a new life and all, the idea of showers makes me a little uneasy. I feel like I'm telling people, "Hey, I decided to get knocked up, so give me stuff." This doesn't sit well with me. Especially for a second,third, fourth, etc. child. And now people want me to have another!

I don't mind going to other peoples showers. Not my favorite thing to do, but I'll bring a gift and play silly games. And smile.

3. Why is a sleeper with oatmeal down the front of it irritating and a party dress with cupcake frosting everywhere freakin' adorable?

4. Why do preteen boys turn everything, including milk consumption, into a competition?

5. I love when student says something inadvertantly funny and the entire class, including the student and I laugh until we cry. Even sweeter is when I am the butt of the joke and my students realize I can laugh at myself. Teachable moment + comic relief = priceless.

I do a vocabulary exercise every week where I say the word then point to the class and they say the word. They have to wait for the point though. One of my students was helping a new kid learn the ropes and told him to watch, I was going to give them the finger. "You have to wait until Mrs. A gives you the finger." We laughed for three minutes straight. My mascara even ran a little. Even now, it makes me giggly.

6. What kind of crack do they put in Girl Scout cookies? 6 boxes, people, and I didn't even leave a crumb behind.

7. Is it the same crack they put in the cheesecake with caramal and chocolate ganache at Macaroni Grill? Cause, dang! I had soup and that YUMMY bread for dinner, then mowed down 3/4 of a piece of cheesecake. The soup was great, the bread,as I said before,yummy, but the cheesecake? Oh My Gawd.

8. I get enormous satisfaction from recommending a book to a child that they wind up loving. I'll be giving one of my eighth graders a copy of Margaret Haddix's Among the Hidden because when we read it as a class, last year, he loved it so much he read the other four books from my library, bought the fifth at a book fair and got really excited when the sixth was in a book order form. He and I met at lunch once a week and discuss the book he's reading. I'm going to miss that.

9. I hate it when authors kill off a central character that is beloved by the readers. Yeah, Rowling, I'm talking to you! I love though, that it provokes an hour long discussion with my daughter, who read the entire Harry Potter series,1-6, in two weeks.

Remind you of anyone, Jennyonthe spot? (Hey look! My first link!!!!!)

10. That leads to my last bit. Friends re precious. People come and go in our lives. Dear friends disappear, because life intrudes and it's hard to pick up the phone or log onto the computer. But my husband works with his childhood friend every day and we are raising our children together. What a gift. Jenny, I know that distance separates us, but you are in my thoughts daily and I miss you.

Okay, I'm done. Thanks for listening. Comment. I like hearing your thoughts on things.

Tuesday, March 21, 2006

ignoring the bad

Today has been a King Kamahamaha bad day. So I'm going to post about yesterday and my cutie pie toddler. I need to not talk about today. If I do, I might cry.

Yesterday, I got home and like a good little flybaby, rebooted my laundry. I picked up a couple of hotspots, dragged the book basket and the babydoll basket out and put on some Laurie Berkner. Missy Hoohaw started to boogie and, as I folded, I boogied too, much to her delight. Even the baby was kicking. We sang and MH grabbed a baby and danced around the living room with it. It was one for the books, let me tell you. Even in the midst of "terrible twos," she continues to delight and surprise me. She sang to the babydoll after the CD ended and when Drama Queen finished her homework, she read MH a book. Seeing my girls, curled up on the couch reading got me a little choked up. I love being a mom.

Tomorrow, I may be able to share the horrible day. For now, I'm going home to stick my head under the covers and cry a little.

Friday, March 17, 2006

Ahhh Spring

This weekend, I m not taking homework. I'm going to IKEA instead. hoo... rah. (Think Jamie Foxx in Jarhead.)

Here's the thing. We have a four bedroom house and two children. We knew when we moved in that we would try for another, but that spare room got filled with junk anyway. Now I have filing cabinets, a desk and computer, plus assorted boxes that didn't scream, "UNPACK ME!!!!!!" last December. Which means that I get to know sort through this pile and find new places for everything. I started this last month and got halfway through. In the time since, the stuff left in the room has procreated and birthed NEW stuff. I tried leaving a packet of birth control pills in there, but they must have been expired.

The other thing that has been occuring in that month is a continuous argument between Mr. Clairol and myself about whether the two, huge, five foot wide filing cabinets really need to be moved. I'll relate a small, representative sample of the conversations.

Me: "We really need to start looking for a smaller filing cabinet."
MC: "Another one?"
Me: "No, a replacement for the two we have."
MC: "What's happening to those?"
Me: "We're getting rid of them,because there is no where else to put them."
MC: " Why can't they stay where they are?"
Me: "Because that's going to be the baby's room."
MC: " Can't we just throw a blanket over them and use them as a table?"
Me: banging my head against a wall, because this is the 58th time this conversation had happened.

So I found a small oak filing cabinet in my dad's office that is being auctioned off. (Thanks dad.) And I'm buying a cheap computer desk at Ikea to replacce the cheap one we bought there two years ago, but that now doesn't fit the dimensions of the space we are putting the computer. All this and wallpaper stripping too.

You know you want my life. nanner nanner.

Thursday, March 16, 2006

STRESS!!!!!!!!!

As a new trimester dawns, I begin preparing my eighth graders for high school. This is a time fraught with anxiety and fear for parents and students, with high school looming large and unfamiliar. A new campus. New teachers. Higher expectations. The Exit Exam. Driving. Dating! DANCES!!

This same drama played out when they came to us as little fifth grade seedlings. The shift from elementary to middle school is terrifying and during the transition meeting, parents are understandably nervous. Changing classes, locker rooms and eighth grade bullies are the boogiemen of these parent's nightmares. These years are not ones that most of us remember fondly. Mine were torturous, so I sympathize. But you can't stay in elementary school forever, and by the end of sixth grade, most students are comfortable and established. They get cocky in the eighth grade, until March dawns and we teachers start reading announcements about high school orientation.

We are still months away from the thrill of graduation, but in order to move our little striplings on we must meet with the high school departments and set up schedules for out students. The students are generally excited because our high school has a coffee delivery program that it's Sp Ed department runs. They get a glimpse of ROP options and art classes. Parents are white-knuckled because this meeting talks about diplomas vs. certificates of completion, exit exams and more independence for their child. The meetings are held at the high school, so on their way in, they view a parade of young adults who seem ages older than their student. How on earth is my child going to cope with this, they wonder. How can I drop them off in this jungle every day, their bewildered faces ask.

(I know this because my fifth grader is preparing to enter the world of middle school and my fears are the same. I will freely admit to being a basketcase when eighth grade ends. I know that in three short years, I will send her to high school and her younger sister to kindergarten. Buy stock in Kleenex now. )

Here, in these meetings, I'm not the big, bad teacher who assignes too much homework and grades their child unfairly. I am not the ogre who demands a tardy slip when they are only ten minutes late. I am the security blanket. I am the familiar. I am the face of three years, who has nurtured their child through rough years. I am the one who will cry with them at graduation and send these little striplings onto bigger and better things. Little do they know, these meetings are as hard for me as they are for the parents.

Tuesday, March 14, 2006

An Aging Teeny Bopper Speaks Her Mind

After finishing a surprisingly successful (and highly simplified) unit on fairy tales, I've moved on to somewhat contemporary literature. Last year, my class read the first three books from Margaret Haddix's Shadow Children series. If you have 6-8 graders, I recommend it. Very good books.

This year, to give my 8th graders a break, I'm teaching The Outsiders in my language arts class. They LOVE it. About three-fourths of the class is reading it independently and today, one of my students asked if S.E. Hinton had written other books. This is moment that is seldom granted to those of us who teach SDC. Our students do not tend to seek out opportunities to read. I am still basking in the glow.

At the beginning of the unit, I sent a letter home to parents and a contract for the final project. The letter detailed what the unit would include and had a permission slip for viewing the movie at the close of the unit. To date, I have had three mothers call to ask if they could come and watch the movie with the class. One asked me if she could borrow the tape when I was done with it. This did not come as a surprise to me.

You see, many of these mothers are only a few years older than I am. Movies like The Outsiders reduce us to swooning preteens again. The same thing happens when Rick Springfield or Duran Duran is played on the radio. It is unavoidable and uniquely female. The closest thing I could compare it to is the nostalgia a man feels, when he sees the first car he ever owned or the car he coveted as a teenager. In my mind, I refer to it as a bubblegum moment. I'm relatively sure everyone has them and I know they are triggered by different things. My late mother-in-law got a wistful grin when an Elvis song played. Jenny I. has them when "Ice, Ice, Baby" comes on the radio. (Yes, you do. )

I was too young to watch The Outsiders when it first came out. It was many years later, as a high school student, that I first saw the movie. I melted when Ralph Macchio gazed out of those wounded eyes or grinned slightly. I completely understood Cherry's claim that she could fall in love with Dallas Winston. I became a Matt Dillon groupie right there and then. In fact, my only real hangup about watching this movie is calling my husband "Dallas" at an inopportune moment. It could happen.

So I eagerly await the close of the unit. I've warned my class that I will probably cry. I always do when Johnny tells Ponyboy to, "Stay gold." I'm going to try to control the drooling over Ralph, Matt and yeah, even Patrick Swayze. The good news is it will be dark and I should be able to discreetly wipe the corners of my mouth.

Monday, March 13, 2006

Recovering from procrastination

I don't want to jinx myself or anything, but I think I may have found a way to kick my procrastination habit.

A couple of weeks ago, I noticed Jenny mention Flylady at Three Kid Circus. The same day, Mir mentioned Flylady as well. I got curious. What is Flylady? Why are two such fabulous women, whom I deeply admire and respect mentioning it? I had to know.

When I clicked on Mir's link, I read through a section called "Shining your Sink." When I finished laughing and changing my undies, I read more. Basically, it was a housekeeping/ organization/life guide for the domestically challenged. Yep, I am one.

I scoffed at the site. You have to realize that I am a second generation slob. My mother's approach to housework was always, "Why? There are so many other things you could do!" I internalized this and adopted it as my own philosophy. Piles of laundry are silent. I have an eleven year old Cinderella, so the most pressing duties can be delegated. Dinner? hmmm. Pizza, anyone? Flylady? Forgot it. Or so I thought.

I arrived home that evening with a toddler, tween and KFC (ugh) and opened my book. The tween did her homework, the toddler romped through the (messy) house, cavorting with laundry clean and dirty. Dinner congealed on the counter, waiting for my spouse to come home. But a funny thing happened. I couldn't get Flylady out of my head. She was whispering to me, "You are better than this. You deserve more than this. Your family deserves more than this. GET OFF YOUR FRANNY!"

I put down my book. I went into my kitchen. I snapped on some gloves and I SHINED MY SINK!!!!! I laughed at myself the entire time. I truly couldn't believe I was actually doing it. But when I was finished, I had a huge smile on my face. It felt really good.

So the next day, I signed up for Flylady's Yahoo group. I began getting emails with suggestions for routines. It's starting slow. So far I have a morning routine. It's not really that much more time-consuming than my previous one. I get out of bed 15 minutes earlier, which is not less sleep, but less snooze bar. It took a week to really get it down, but this morning, I left with a clean bathroom, a made bed, a lunch and breakfast for my children, myself and my husband and a spring in my step. I feel good. Empowered. Do you know that last week, I made dinner every single night? And made/delivered a meal to a friend who just had a baby! This is epic for me. My husband is proud, my tween slightly confused, the toddler oblivious, but man, do I feel good!

Here's the weird part. It's affecting other areas of my life. I realized while I was shining my sink, that a huge part of my problem is procrastination. I put things off. A lot. When I stopped doing that at home, it was easier to do at work. This week, I am completely planned, copies made, and the next two weeks are laid out as well. My prep was spent prepping (and blogging.) and returning phone calls. My aide is impressed and, like my tween, a bit confused. It's fun.

Now if I can just keep it going.

Tuesday, March 07, 2006

And the winner is....

I've got news. Lots of news. But I'm rationing it. You never know when life will get boring.

Last week, I was a little distracted by my ultrasound appointment. I spent Monday, Tuesday and most of the day Wednesday, telling people, "No, I don't know yet, we find out on Wednesday." That got a bit old.

Then on Wednesday, I chugged 78 ounces of water and held my straining bladder for two hours, sitting in a chair, squirming. I sat in the waiting area with Mr. Clairol, and the b**** of a receptionist kept grinning at me. I know she was thinking, "You are going to pee your pants at any minute and I am going to pretend to be sympathetic, but inside I'll be laughing my head off."

I bet they have a pool going. You know, how many women are going to wet themselves today? (I should say here that pregnancy makes me paranoid.) Mr. Clairol tried to distract me, until I looked him in the eye and said, "Do you really think talking about the Volkswagon Fast is going to make me forget I have to pee?!?" No, I'm not really what you'd call gracious under pressure.

The torture continued until I was called back. My husband recognized the woman as the tech that had performed our ultrasound with Missy Hoohaw. They chatted for a bit, but as Art was pulling out pictures of M.H., I cleared my throat and politely asked if we could start, since I REALLY HAD TO PEE!!!!!!!!! The technician fired up the machine and began to press a sonagram wand into my bursting bladder. I think she was just testing how far she could go until I cried. She didn't realize I would hit her before that happened. Luckily, it didn't come to that. She took some necessary measurements and showed us a foot and a hand. A nurse stuck her head in and said there was a woman out there with a 3:15 appointment, who was wondering if they could start her now, because she really had to pee and didn't think she could hold it any longer. The tech, bless her, looked at the clock and said, "It's not even 2:30 yet. I'm kind of in the middle of something here." I did not march out and demand that the whiner toughen up. Are you proud? I was.

After a few more stills and a shot of the brain, she let me take some of the pressure off. She gave me a little dixie cup and told me to fill it twice...no more. I would have laughed, but then I would have missed the cup.

After the filling and emptying of the cup (yeah, I filled it more than twice. SHHHHHH.), our technician commented on what a busy baby we had. And she was right. That little one was all over! Then, the moment of truth. "Do you want to know why it's so busy?" she asked, smiling at us.
My husband, clueless, said, "Why?"

"It's a boy."

And there was much rejoicing in the land.