Sunday, January 31, 2010

Snow days

I don't think I ever had the idea that my kids would be mini-Me's. And while they certainly possess traits that I recognize in either myself or Jamie, more often than not they prove themselves to be distinct individuals.

As she was riding down the hill in her sled, Kendall proved to be quite the snow bunny. She lifted her hands in the air, raised her head to the sky and screamed: "Woooo hooooo!" Then I looked to Conor. He was on his back, his eyes were closed, and his mouth was wide open. He looked to be in heaven. It made being out in the cold not so frosty----if only for a moment. And I thought, are these kids really mine? So, I sat my cold body down in the snow and tried to remember when it was that I enjoyed the snow.

Yesterday was cold. I think the high was 17. Now, I'm sure there are folks who deal with that all the time, and they likely think I'm a super wimp. But you know what, I don't live in Chicago, Alaska, or way up in the mountains. There's a simple reason for that---I can't stand being cold. In fact, there's nothing I detest more. That wasn't always the case. I suppose it's an indicator that I'm growing old---that the things I used to handle in stride, I just don't or refuse to deal with any longer.

I recall getting into my gear as a kid---no real gear, that is, and staying out in the cold for hours. And no I don't think this was a figment of my imagination. I am certain we got up on 2 hour school delays and played outside for a bit BEFORE going to school. Maybe we were odd kids, but I don't think so.

On full on snow days we would wear the most ridiculous assortment of clothing. I recall being jealous of my neighbor who had a snow suit. The irony is she never stayed out that long---and I always thought that odd given that she had the super warm snow suit, after all. Instead, I wore at least two pairs of jeans/pants after putting thermal underwear on first. Then we'd push two or three pairs of socks on, and sweatshirts, and t-shirt layers so that our jackets were almost bursting at the seams. Once we were bundled up we'd journey all around the neighborhood looking for sledding opportunities. I remember sledding with my dad on some legendary (in our mind) runs that we set up throughout the front yard. The best year was the one when we had enough snow such that we piled it up across the ditch (to create a bridge of sorts), zoomed across the street and then down the hill on the other side. It was only the next spring that we discovered we'd killed the grass on both our hill and the neighbors.

In those days I was impervious to the cold---not that I didn't get ridiculously cold. I loved coming in and sitting right atop the heating vent, or next to the fire (the two or three times a year we actually had a fire in the fireplace), burning my tongue on the hot chocolate I just couldn't wait to sip. But, being cold never stopped me from venturing outside, again and again. The magic of snow was too much of a draw.

Today as I pushed the kids down the mini hill near our home, I reveled in their delight. They both took "naps" in the snow; they buried themselves the way they would in sand; threw snowballs at one another and me; and of course ate handfuls and handfuls of snow. Even when crashing off the sled, there were just a few moments of "I'm frozen, MOM!"

But after the initial shock or cold wore off it was back to the hill for one more run.

Monday, January 25, 2010

Beavis and Butthead

I love my job.

Yet, whenever I meet folks and they determine I'm a teacher they honestly have no idea what to do with me. Many have no audible response. It's as though they never had teachers or are suddenly weirded-out by the fact that I am a walking, talking human instead of some fembot spewing nonsense up in front of a classroom. Then these awed folks are equally stunned to discover that I don't teach 2nd graders but in fact teach high school. Generally there is an odd gasp-like response. Again, how do they honestly expect for me to respond to such odd behavior. I usually ask if they need another drink or anything and then politely excuse myself. They generally nod, "No, thank you, I'm fine." At that point, I still try and move away.

Maybe people think teens are weird or difficult. At times that may be true. But hell, most adults are weirder and infinitely more difficult. This year, in particular, I'm having a blast (super disclaimer: Note: I have enjoyed each of my years teaching for any number of reasons---minus the first one---that one was more difficult than enjoyable). Things have come together again at school, I'm still teaming with a super pal, and my students are really nice kids. But the thing that is so great about working in a school, is that you never really know how anything is going to play out (This is ALSO what makes teaching such a royal pain-in-the-ass, too.). But it's the interactions with students that are so ridiculously fun.

EXHIBIT A: Trigger words

There are some words that you can never utter in a class of sophomores (I use this grade level as my current example as this has been the bulk of my course load for the last few years---but it remains true with 2nd semester seniors even!). Namely any body part. It's normally the boys who react so wildly to them, however.

I think the sentence that got me going the other day was something like this:

"I want to make sure that you're abreast of the situation with dates and all, so be sure to check the blackboard account over the holiday break."

This is what I said. Let the snickering begin.

Giggle. Chuckle. Gulp. Laugh.


Giggle. Chuckle. Gulp. Laugh.

"REALLY? REALLY? Abreast. Because it's close to breast? What is it with you guys? Have you never heard the term Abreast? That's quite different than A space BREAST."

Laughter across the board.

We get to talking and the class just can't explain why body parts are such a laugh-starter. At which point I write PENIS as large as I can on the whiteboard. Laughter spills out into the hallways.

These are the times I want a principal to come to my room. They always swing by when I'm passing out papers (so it appears that I'm just pushing papers---because at that moment I actually am doing that, alas); or when the kids are taking test (so there's nothing for them to actually see, and they seemed annoyed at me, but I'm thinking this is what we do, TEST!); or when I am collecting that test (see earlier note); or when I'm lecturing and they smile and sit for just a moment (never enough time to get a grasp anything that we are discussing---just once I'd like them to interject and become part of the conversation---it's never happened, EVER.). But I really, really, really want them to come by when I happen to drop a bomb like "abreast" or when I write the word penis on the board in 50 point font. As I write the 50 point font penis on the board I tell my students that I do in fact want a principal to swing by, right now. And I want that principal to be a male principal---to test my theory: that they will ignore the word entirely.

What are they going to say? Anything? REALLY? Or would they try to act as though they didn't see the word PENIS on the board. Which would be better, though? It really is a tough question. Do you call the teacher out and say, "Ummm Ms._____, I see that you've made a chart there about the choosing economic pursuits over mothering in "Mother Courage and Children" and that's cool and all that but, uhmmm what's with the PENIS?" Because they know as well as I do that laughter will ensue, and then what are they going to do? Am I going to calm the class down, only to have them erupt again (Ha!) when I say the word PENIS again when answering the question about said PENIS (I'm not sure why I feel the need to write that in all caps, but I do). Alas, I digress. OR---will they take the super wimpy way out, and act like it's not there at all. These are the scenarios I'm running through with my students, OUT LOUD, mind you---and yes we totally should have been working on the chart about capitalistic pursuits versus the role of a traditional mother, but really this was just much more entertaining. And who would lean their head in the door, but a principal.

It. Was. A. Dream. Come. True.

LAUGHTER. Laughter. And more laughter (myself included).

And much to my dismay, the principal took the super wimpy way out.

"How are you guys doing, Ms. _____?"

"Oh, just fine M.----------"

"Sounds like you guys are having a good time."

"Always. Always. There's nothing more enjoyable than a good discussion at 740 am."

"Well, keep up the good work."

"We sure will."

Now go back up to the picture and look more closely. And you'll see that besides that terribly ugly brown sweater up in the top left corner is the word that got the ball rolling that morning. Much to my dismay it came to my attention that some kid snapped this picture with their ridiculously expensive cell phone and it was up on facebook for all to see. Yikes. So here's my side of story.

And so the picture is really worth a thousand words.

Or in this case, just one: Penis.

Saturday, January 16, 2010

I need to keep up with this

So, over the last few weeks there have been countless times when I've known what I wanted to write about:
1. trigger words in my classroom---"trigger" being anything that causes folks to chuckle---for instance, any body part (penis, breast, etc.)---plus i have a picture some kids posted on facebook---yikes
2. running and how hard/enjoyable it can be
3. why my kids always must be in physical proximity to me, always when it's the most inconvenient for me
4. fantastic books
5. how i'm so stretched by the time jamie returns home each week
6. why folks get soooo excited every off-season for the Redskins----when we all know next season will be rough, and mediocre
7. gilbert arenas --- idiot, but not a total loss
8. pat robertson and rush limbaugh --- idiots, heartless, losers
9. folks who believe what pat and rush say makes sense
10. any number of things

Yet, all I can think about is Haiti---and how anything I might write right now seems completely trivial and ridiculous. Even now all I can see in my mind is dust, piles and piles of people, people looking for people, rubble, rubble, and more rubble, pain, tears.
I can't wrap my mind around this current madness. My heart breaks for Haiti.

Sunday, January 3, 2010

coffee---time 3 should work

I am about to make coffee---for the third time this morning. I am one of those freaks who cannot reheat coffee. I just cannot. It's too gross. I suppose some would call me a snob. Yet, there is nothing better than a warm, steaming, fresh cup of coffee. It too must have a small amount of cream---so that it becomes a lovely tan. If there is no cream, milk will not do. That is just as bad as reheating a cup in the microwave---just gross. Milk will not provide the right amount of tan---it just makes it cold, and did I say, GROSS.

How is it that I haven't had one solitary cup of coffee, yet (it's about 1:16pm)? Well, I don't really know. As usual the coffee was the first thing I started this morning. It was particularly cold this morning---which makes having the perfect cup of coffee even more enjoyable . It almost hurt to breathe out this morning. Granted I was outside for just the amount of time it takes to find the newspaper---which had blown or been pushed, or possibly even thrown under the car.

Upon returning to the kitchen Kendall was waiting for me. I could hear the perk, perk, perking of the coffee maker and that made me happy. Kendall kept pestering me to open the donut holes (how is that properly spelled? I'm thinking Doughnut is appropriate--but suppose Donut has become acceptable as the spell-check has not underline me yet, on that one). Yet the box can't be opened just yet, not until her brother arrives----otherwise her grubby, oops dainty, little hands will bust into the packaging and there's no telling how many of these delectable treats will remain for others to share. I tell her to hold on one moment. Why? Because she's got to wait until I have got myself a nice, creamy, tan cup of coffee. Only then is she allowed to bust into the box of donuts. You probably think I'm a real meanie. I'm also guessing that if you do, than you are not likely a parent (or you're just a MUCH better parent than I am). My cup of coffee is my saving grace. It helps me stay calm. It makes me happy, and so then I won't yell at my lovely young lady----who will just as quickly punch me on the arm, or in the face if I don't move fast enough once that box is opened. So sue me, if I'm taking 30 seconds to get myself a cup of coffee before getting her day started. If you are shaking your head in agreement than I LOVE you. Please do also keep the context of this post in mind---I have yet to have a full cup of coffee (and now it's nearing 1:26pm---Yowsers). After finally getting myself a cup of the "tan elixir" I turn to see Kendall actually caressing the box of donuts. I am so thoroughly freaked out by this----I mean I love me some food, but this odd, inappropriately-creepy affection towards a box is too much---that I scream for Conor to come join us and get this breakfast started. They dig in and the crumbs begin to fly. Phew, sugar has averted the first of many possible insurrections slated for this Sunday.

Now to sit with the Sunday paper and drink some coffee---hmm the headlines---Al Queda, Frigid temps, Obama is a softee (from Glenn f---ing Beck, mind you---oh don't forget R.Limbaugh and D.Cheney), Wall Street something or other, a picture of Michelle Obama with a belt on (loves it), story about a 65 year old marrying a 32 old man---loves it---a real-life cougar in our midst, no stories today on my beloved freak couple the Salahi's (I suppose it had to end, huh?). This is all from my first perusal. I love to sit and plan how and what I will read during the afternoon nap time---and it's usually a time frame that allows for a full cup of coffee. Yet Jamie comes to inquire about church---if he remembered, well then I had better get off my rear and give it a shot (that topic is an entire post or two for a later date). So begrudgingly I head off to church---which means the coffee gets dumped. I look forlornly at the remaining pot---oh coffee I hope to return soon. Sigh.

Upon returning from church about 1 hour later, I marvel at the miracle that the automatic timer has not shut off yet. So, technically pouring a cup will not be a re-warm---I don't know what happens in the microwave, but something nasty goes on in there. Maybe it involves chemistry and milk---who knows. It's freaking gross. So I pour, get the cream, turn the cup until it's tan and sit back down again---10:15---let's try for time number 3.

There is some screaming in the other room. I pause and listen---no it's not a cry, one of play---albeit, there is some anger and frustration, but the pitch is not one where a mom needs to intervene, or not yet. I get through my first two articles---the crazy-ass Glenn Beck one (note to self: He's an uneducated FREAKshow), and then about the 65 year dance instructor who married her 32 year old student. Happy, happy, joy, joy. It was a nice follow-up to the Glenn Beck article. The crazy-ness of the two cancelled each other out. So now I can go on to the madness that is Al Queda, weather, and of course the sadness that is the Washington Redskins (oh Jim Zorn, it was nice knowing you---and probably you too Jason C.). Sigh. But, horror of horrors, it's time for lunch out with the kids and hubby, so no more coffee. Oh my GOD, how in the world has this freakin' happened? Throw cup down the drain, turn pot off---it can't cook for another 2 hours and still be good upon my return. It just can't.

So here I sit, typing away---hell I could have brewed and drank the whole pot in the time it's taken me to compose this post. Alas. Right before I head upstairs to put Kendall down I'll start a new pot. And then I can let Conor fry his brain on some mindless computer games while I finish my library book. Let's hope time number three is the charm.

Saturday, January 2, 2010


"It's not messy, Mom," said Conor.

We are sitting at the kitchen table and both Conor and Kendall are involved in a "project". Both kids are busy with some stickers and paper. And he is indeed correct in proclaiming that this activity is not messy. This is likely the only part of the house and in fact the day, that is not messy.

How is that I've had over a week off and my house is an absolute mess? Maybe it's because the holiday began with about 14 inches of snow, followed by some pretty frigid, windy, wintery days. As a result we've spent a great deal of time in our lovely house.

But now there are piles everywhere I look: piles of clothes to be folded; piles of clothes that are folded and need to be put away; piles of mail to go through; piles of Christmas cards to be thrown away (Isn't that what you do with cards? Does anyone really save them? If so, please tell me why.); piles of new toys who need a tidy home; piles of newspapers that need recycling; shoes piled near the garage door; a pile of mittens, gloves, and hats near the coats that aren't exactly piled (but might as well be) but rather hung on the door knob near all the other clothing; piles of random items that have yet to make there way to the various junk drawers or baskets which normally house these oft used items (or maybe not so often used, as they take residence in one of these localities and only resurface occasionally); thankfully there are NO dishes piled in the sink as my OCD tendencies usually lead me to get them rinsed and loaded in the d/w rather quickly; a pile of clothing or upstairs items sitting at the bottom of the staircase to remind me to move them upstairs when I go there; these items will invariably find themselves in a pile somewhere; possibly near the items piled or rather arranged on my side of the vanity in the bathroom; or in the pile of clothes overflowing from the endless pit in the clothes hamper; a book or two added to the stack we've recently borrowed from the library.

Is there a way to clear this clutter from my life? Or is the clutter because of my life?