Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Selective Memory

My kids have amazing memories....both in what they can remember and what they chose not to remember.
They can remember the names and powers of all kinds of pokemon.  They can recite scenes from Spongebob and their favorite movies.  They learned their math facts.  They know exactly when their half birthdays are and the birthdays and half birthdays of their closest friends.  But there are some things I think they should remember that they can't or won't make stick.

Here are the top 10 things I think my kids should be able to remember:

10. Use a napkin.  My kids are active boys.  That makes them messy eaters by default.  Despite hearing me say it millions of times over thousands of meals since they were old enough to be feeding themselves they instead choose to use their shirt, pants, my shirt.....or my favorite.....while eating in the living room the other day, my youngest just put his face down on the blanket we were covering the coffee table with and wiped it there....no hands needed!

9.  Walk in the house.  We have had more crashes, collisions, bruises, and bloody parts than I can count and yet my kids don't get this.  They still move at two speeds....fast and faster.  My oldest actually ran, tripped over his own feet, fell face first on the kitchen tile and within five minutes was running again.  Maybe the fall caused a memory loss or damage to the common sense area....but I doubt it.

8.  Don't wake everyone else up just because you're up.  My kids have no shortage of things they can choose to do quietly.  Read a book.  Assemble a puzzle.  Play the DS.  Play with their Webkinz.  Look through their Pokemon cards.....and so forth.  For some reason, their first thought upon waking at the crack of dawn is to go make sure the other brother is up then pile onto the couch or one bed and argue about something.  Lets not forget to run through the house a couple of times sounding like a herd of hippos.  Then act surprised when Mom comes out all bleary eyed and crabby and reminds them that they don't have school (and even if they did they wouldn't have to be up for another hour)

7.  Empty your pockets.  I know you enjoy collecting bugs, dirt, mud, rocks, random "treasure" etc off the grass and street but I do not enjoy washing it.  Nor do I enjoy playing "wonder what I might touch" by checking your pockets.

6.  Hands are not for hitting.  "He looked at me with a weird face" "I don't like the song he's singing" and "He is older than me" are not valid reasons for hitting.  Neither is using it as a way to finish an argument.  Nor is it "just playing".  Knock it off.

5.  Leave your brother alone.

4.  Leave your brother alone.  Oh and ....Leave. Your. Brother. A. LONE.

3.  Put things were they belong when you are done with them.  If I had a nickel for every time I was asked "Mom, do you know where my _________ is?"  I could afford a nanny, cook, and the coveted cleaning lady.  I of course answer with "the key word there is MY".  I organized all the bedrooms and toy room when we moved in January.  Everything has a place.  Pretty sure the place for your DS isn't on the floor under the sink in the half bathroom.  If I had a guess the pens would be in the pen cup, the shoes would be in the shoe holder, and the drawing paper would be in the plastic drawer labeled "paper".  But what do I know.....

2. Wash your hands!!!  Seriously, what is so hard to remember about EVERY TIME you go potty or are going to eat you WASH YOUR HANDS.  With SOAP!  My kids have even done the petri dish experiment where they grew the germs on their hands, on the toilet handle...etc.  Yet it comes as a huge shock after they poop and come running out of the bathroom that I say, "wash your hands".  What?  OMG!  Is that a NEW rule?  But I have a full schedule of picking on my brother, filling my pockets with worms, and losing every toy I own......that minute will set me so far behind I might have to come up with new stalling techniques at bed time.

1. FLUSH!  No one wants to know what you did in the bathroom.  You used to think it was cool to flush and flush and flush before you were potty trained.  You were not born with a limited number of flush permits so please, feel free to flush. Every. Single. Time.  Just sayin'

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

The best sleepover ever!

I had the pleasure of having a friend's son spend the night last night.  He is a friend to both my sons and they were over the moon excited.  So excited that they started counting down about two hours before time. On the plus side they are learning about elapsed time.  On the down side they were about to make me lose my mind.

As soon as he got here the boys were on him, vying for his attention and talking about all the fun they would have.  As soon as dinner was done they went outside and came back in about ten minutes later.  The oldest kept asking him "is this your best sleep over ever?" after everything we did.

We walked to the park in an effort to burn some energy.  Well I walked.  They jogged, stalked, skipped, stopped, chased bunnies, snuck through trees and bushes, threw rocks in the water and eventually got to the playground.  I got the pleasure of watching them spend the next hour and a half running around, plotting, creating these elaborate Pokemon story lines and building bridges out of wood chips and mud over a puddle.  By the time they were hot and thirsty they were also muddy.  I was walking back with them teasing them about hosing them off.  They were very excited about that prospect so I told them they could turn the sprinkler on for a bit and just run through in their clothes before they took a bath.

They started joking about running naked and bathing in the sprinkler.  They were just behind me.  Then suddenly they weren't.  I turned around to see what they were doing.  They were having roll down the hill races complete with style points for different kinds of roll.  When they weren't giggling they were yelling "Look at me!"  or "Can you do it this way?"

Finally, as we made it back to the subdivision, we heard it.  The electronic song of the siren.  The tune that bounces off houses and tortures children everywhere.  The ice cream truck.  The kids went tearing into the house in a quest for a dollar (luckily Mom had three).  They stood on the corner waiting as the truck slowly made its way down the main road.  Then they raced back to enjoy their treats on the front steps.  I am pretty sure Bobby Flay has never made a treat as good as those popsicles.

The kids spent the remainder of the night playing pokemon in the sprinkler in their muddy clothes, bathing, finishing a puzzle and getting into bed.  I read the required (by my boys) two chapters of our current book, How to Eat Fried Worms.  Lights were off by 9 and they were asleep by 10.

This morning they ate matching breakfasts (seriously, when I got to the kitchen they were making identical plates) and are now playing Wii.  I hear giggles and shouts of "no GET ON THE ELEPHANT".  They are plotting what to do next and discussing what super power is the best.

I don't know about our guest but I surely had a blast.  There was no fighting.  There were so many funny lines that I wish I had kept a log (things like super hearing is like super seeing but with your ears).  It reminded me of the boundless joy of being a child and how lucky I am that I get to share it with them.  For me, it was the best sleepover ever.

Monday, June 20, 2011

Six degrees of separation

I know we are all allegedly only six people away from knowing everyone on the planet....but no where in the world is that more evident than on facebook.

Say all you want about how bad facebook is and how no one knows how to be social any more.  Or some of my younger co-workers who say they are "over" FB because it was started as a college only thing now anyone can do it (at which point I point out they are not in college any more anyway...haha).  But for a busy working mom with family and friends scattered over the states it is so easy for me to keep in touch.  Send a message, send an evite, look at pictures of my friend's son in Arizona, look at my friend's pictures of their Florida vacation (without having to take the polite five second stare at the pictures of people I don't know and don't give a flying fish about seeing....ooo did I say that out loud?)...its all there on FB and I can get through it while drinking my morning paper.  Any important news ends up on FB....and then I don't have to look at the paper's website.

But back to knowing everyone.  FB feels the need to suggest friends to me.  As if my life will not be complete until my friend list includes every registered user of FB.  Today two people showed up on the right side with 12 mutual friends.  Two people who I didn't recognize, didn't even think "oh I heard their name the other day".  Now let me back up and add, several of my dearest friends are townies.  They grew up here, their parents are here, their cousins are here, their siblings are here and their kids are learning in the same classrooms they did.   I am very used to them going on long conversations about so-and-so from high school.  There are tons of names I have heard that eventually pop up on my "suggested friends" list.  I clicked on the link to see who we shared.  Yup...all pretty close friends....  How in tarnation did I not know this person.  I clicked on the other name.  More "fringe" type friends.  I understood not knowing that person.  Back to the other girl though.  So then I clicked on "see all".  Holy cow, do you know how many strangers share 10 or more mutual friends?  It was amazing.  Maybe I am just six people away from Matthew McConaughey after all....wouldn't that be sweet?

Saturday, June 18, 2011

Life's great mysteries

It is a thundery, rainy, stormy day today (and kind of feels like it has been like that all summer so far) and I am sitting here, tired, pondering some of life's great mysteries, such as:

**My kids have gone to bed at 8pm for the last 18 days and gotten up at about 6:30am.  Last night they went to bed at 10:30.  Logically they should get up at 8:30....nope....6:30 this morning they were moving around in their rooms.  What's up with that?

**Most days I stop eating after dinner and in the mornings I wake up and am not hungry for about an hour.  Why is it  when I eat a lot the night before (we had a BBQ) I wake up STARVED the next morning like I haven't eaten for days?

**My boys are very smart.  They have good grades and their teachers love them.  What strange vibrations come from the TV that render them incapable of listening, comprehending, or even registering that other people exist?  Spongebob Deafness is a real condition....we need a not for profit research group to find a cure.

** Why are people afraid of eating the "last one".  Inevitably there is always one cookie, one stuffed mushroom,  one scoop of salad left in a bowl.....

**What great force field exists around the laundry.  Not only is there the age old mystery of the odd sock but there is the great repelling force that causes laundry to NOT get in the hamper.  The amount of clothing next to, behind, and in front of my kids' hampers is amazing.....

**And finally, one of life's greatest mysteries....what is so freakin' hard about changing the TP roll?

What are some of your great mysteries?

Tuesday, June 14, 2011


Today is the one year anniversary of my husband severing the nerve in his right hand while cleaning up picture glass.  It both seems like a long time ago and just yesterday.

No, we don't still have wound cleaning supplies in the bathroom or therapy supplies all over the living room.  The hospital and surgeons and therapist have all been paid.  You have to look close to see the scars on his fingers.

But he still has pain.  Not perpetual pain but things he used to be able to do for hours, like ride his bike or do handy man type things can make his hand ache.  He has regained a lot of the feeling in his fingers, but its not all the way there and as the nerves grow they ache.

He is now clumsy.  He used to be able to hang nails and screw things into the wall or take things apart and reassemble them.  Now he gets frustrated at dropping the screw six times before getting it in or not having the hand strength to tighten something more.

He has become wary, almost afraid, of glass.  Whenever a lightbulb breaks or a glass gets dropped, it is me who cleans it up.  You see, I am afraid too.  I don't want to do that again.  It was so scary having no income for a summer.  It was scary not knowing if he was ever going to be able to go back to work.  It was frustrating not being able to fix it, having to watch as he pushed through the physical therapy working the bands and the putty till he was sweating from the discomfort.

No it wasn't a life threatening accident but it was life changing.  We weathered the storm and came out stronger and more appreciative of what we have.  Because it only takes a quarter inch shard of glass to change everything.

Friday, June 10, 2011

Questionable at Best (part 2)

Now on to the second part of my people judging...I mean people watching from the water parks.
This one involves swimsuits.  As a larger, chesty woman, I totally get the challenge of finding a swimsuit that sucks in, covers up, flatters, supports, and isn't ugly.  And I understand that you must love your body and be confident blah blah blah.  HOWEVER...I saw some people - men and women AND some children who need a friend to tell them "Sweetie....pick something else"

Here are some examples of swimsuit FAIL moments -

*To the teenage girl who had three really skinny friends....just because they had teeny bikinis on doesn't mean you should.  Sweetie, your tummy hung over the top of your bottoms....old man style.(and men....that doesn't mean its ok for you either)
*To the several women who had string bikinis - your back roll should not ever be hiding your string.
*To the insanely skinny girls in the really low slung two piece.  First, your hip bones shouldn't stick out further than your boobs and second....one word for you - Cheeseburger.
*To the really old stooped wrinkly woman who was about a size 16.  Black Bikini - really?
*To the woman with the tiny infant.  Honey, I know you want to be in your pre-baby clothes but your tummy still looks like a stretch mark covered deflated balloon.
*And finally to both the man with a solidly hair-covered back and bald head and to the man with long pointy moobs (man boobs).  Swim Shirt please!  I pay a lot of money for my vision to be corrected, you made me kind of sad about it.

Then there were a few violations of the basic rules of swimsuits - White...never a good idea unless you have thoroughly tested it in your bathtub first.  Those weird suits that have just the thin piece of fabric down the front making them a "one piece" not a good look on most people.  And if you have to constantly pull your top up or your bottoms out of your crack...you might be wearing the wrong size.

That is my public service announcement for today ;) Back to regular programming tomorrow.

Questionable at Best (part 1)

**Author's note - I originally posted this on FB....I couldn't open blogger from the hotel...who knows why....**

I have many tattooed friends.  Some of their tattoos are neat, some are questionable....but all of them have significance to the person who put them on their body permanently. I respect that.

Here in the waterpark capital of the world, I have had the pleasure (??) of judging random strangers' tats.  Let me share some of the more memorable....

Your tattoo might be a fail if....

....you have chosen "trust no one" across your NECK!
....from a distance your tattoo looks like a weird mole on the outside of your knee...but upon way closer inspection (like when you almost fell in my lap at the wave pool) it is some tribal symbol in black and the size of a half dollar.
....you have in large letters the names and birthdates of all your children.....paragraph style across your entire back.  Hope you don't have any more or someone's name is gonna end on your butt.
.....you have a girl's name tattooed from shoulder blade to shoulder blade....hope you stay together or limit yourself to dating girls of the same name.
.....OR you are said girl and you have the boy's name in a large heart on your shoulder....see above and best of luck Tracy and Kyle....
.....you have a name and birth/death date on your back tombstone style.
.....you have a quote that is so long that I will have to ask permission to stand and stare at your pec long enough to read the whole thing.

I really enjoy people watching and I thank these people and their choices that have made it possible for me to have several good laughs.  If you thought these were interesting....just wait for part 2....swimsuit fails....

Sunday, May 29, 2011


Isn't that a fabulous word?  I am a collector of words.  My friends have all heard me say at one point "isn't that fun to say?"  I love teaching word choice at school and watching my little friends get excited when they find a new sparkle word in a book we have been reading.

Unfortunately I am actually melancholy today.  Friday was our last full day of student attendance.  Monday is a holiday, Tuesday is records day and Wednesday is "report card day".

I work with a tight knit group of women in my "department" (at our level there aren't actually departments and special ed isn't allowed to be our own team).  In their infinite wisdom, the district and school board created a bunch of "involuntary transfers" in anticipation of the opening of our new elementary school.  They exploded our team.  They sent us in as many different directions as possible.  They left the two teachers who have been at our building for less than a year in the same place but they scattered the rest of us over the other elementary buildings.  I am one of five teachers going from our Pre-K building to the other old building.  The only special ed teacher going that way.  I don't think that the girls over there automatically bring balloons and treats for each others birthdays or just know that there is a set of "ears" for every occasion (like antlers, bunny ears, shamrock antennae).  They don't dress up as a themed group for halloween.  At least two of the women and I actually have polar opposite philosophies on teaching.
In previous years my whole group of professionals would get together after school and talk about the needs of each one of the students with an IEP in the building.  We would discuss which of the four teachers' classrooms would best meet their needs.  We knew each others' strengths and weaknesses.  We spend about three hours a day with most of the kids in a pretty low teacher:student ratio.  We KNOW our kids.  We would give our professional recommendations to our administration.  Sometimes they would take it all, sometimes just bits but they always at least listened.  This year we weren't asked at all.  Nada.  The gen ed teachers got to get together for a couple hours, with a sub, and place their kids.  But not us.

My days always get really stressful as I try to get everything done for the end of the year.  Before e-report cards we got a "records" day to finish our progress notes and report cards.  Now that most kids don't need to come Wed to pick up their report cards (since they won't get a paper copy anyway) I had to have all my progress notes done by Friday and my report cards are due by 8am on records day.  I got sick two saturdays ago, got really behind on my personal stuff and my school stuff and I have been working my arse off to get everything caught up.

I am looking forward to my two months off.  I have to take a class for five days in July and I will have to be in starting August 1st to completely unpack my room.  I have three truck loads of my personal classroom stuff in my garage that I need to find a home for.  But other than all that, I can chill.  But I am going to miss my person next year.  I am going to miss my girls next year.  I am going to miss all my little friends next year (some of whom I have had for three years).

I am sure that the people in the office across town who have never seen me teach or interacted with me and my team have a plan.  They did meet with the people in the offices in my building who have come to my classroom once this year and have limited interaction with my team and my students.  I just find it hard to believe.

Saturday, April 9, 2011

My head hurts

So, it was once said by a wise aide during an especially trying day, "This feels like being the only sober person in a bar"

I am having one of those weeks.  Yesterday was full of "failure to communicate" moments and this morning started very similarly.....

Dyl comes in my room every morning to see if it is too late for me to call in.  He has this amazing "stomachache, tired, headache, leg ache" illness that strikes between 6 and 7am on school days and church days and any time he is asked to do a chore.  He is sitting on the floor in my closet.  Brenden walks in to dig in the sox box to see if he can find some socks without holes.  

We are chatting about this and that as I patiently wait for them all to leave so I can get dressed without stepping on one or the other.  Brenden mentions that he would like to watch the movie, The Ten Commandments.  I explain that he's on his own with that one because no one else in the family wants to watch.

Dylan says "I want to see it!  I don't know what the ten commandments are anyway" (Now I know that he has heard about the ten commandments at church - I am his faith formation teacher!)

Brenden, "They are the rules"

Mom, "They are the ten rules that God gave us to live by.  Honor your mother and father.  Don't steal.  Don't hurt or kill other people.  Respect God."

Dylan, "Oh I heard of don't steal...."

Brenden, "There are more than 10."  (WHUCK?)
Mom, "Ummmm no there are 10, its in the title"
Brenden, "No, there is communion and Easter"
Mom,"Those aren't commandments"
Brenden, "Trust me there are more than 10"

At which point I kicked them all out.  Seriously.  That is not the first conversation I want to have in the morning.  It was much like yesterday's conversation
Me:"Write your sentence on this piece of paper"
Student: "Can I write on the paper?"


Tuesday, March 8, 2011

ISAT and other fun times

So last week was ISAT and while my classroom is usually the generator of really funny things, ISAT brought it to a whole new level....For those of you who don't know the ISAT is Illinois' version of the high stakes test that is to measure "adequate yearly progress".  It is six hour long tests over a four day period for third graders.  Here is a sampling of random things heard in my classroom during our testing sessions:
*(while looking at a diagram of a prairie dog home with "dry room" as one of the labels) "Hey look, this is where they keep their dryer"
*I don't know much about this subject, do I have to write on this prompt or can I just write something else?"
*Hmmmmm, "I think I'll pick A"
*Let me take a closer look (moves face closer to page)

One of my students also had a little "in his seat" boogie he kept doing.  It became impossible for any of the three adult moderators to make eye contact with each other.  The kids really tried (for the most part) and by Thursday they were totally fried and slap happy.  We played an inferring game Thursday after the last test.  Between the fact they were wiped out and the fact I was wiped out when one of them guessed "chicken" for a riddle which had "hardest bone in the body" as one of the clues we ended up laughing so hard that I was crying and people from adjoining rooms came in to see what the noise was.

It was good to get back to normal on Monday.  The only funny thing I heard all day was "I fell at recess and my skin fell off".  Don't worry though, he only skinned his knee.