Tuesday, 31 December 2013

Another Post Where I Write about Writing

Grading papers written by first grade students…debilitatingly painful.  One must remember they are just starting out.  It's their first tentative foray into the written word.  Wielding the sword of correction is a delicate operation that should prune just enough to encourage growth but not so much that it  permanently stunts the growth of my budding authors.  I hate it.  I want to hack and slash and cut out unnecessary verbiage, taking no prisoners.  But I can't.  So I groan and moan and drag my feet about it.

Logan noticed me crying out in literary pain and shuffling papers to the bottom of the stack because they were burning my retinas with their poor letter formation, or unintelligible spelling, or incomplete sentences or, more than likely, all of the above. He encouraged me to do all the hard ones first and get it over with rather than leaving them to the end.  I handed him one from the bottom of the pile and told him, "Here, YOU read this." He mumbled as he tried to decipher the words scrawled higgelty-pigglety across the paper.  Finally he handed it back and wisely advised, "Just shred this one Mom."

Friday, 15 November 2013

Public Displays of Thanksgiving

Now that it's November, half a dozen of my friends on Facebook post  things they are thankful for each day--enumerating the blessings we take for granted eleven months out of the year.  I've been thinking about a  blessing which I'm thankful for and it's time to put it out there.

This blessing started when we moved in with Dan's mom three years ago.  We were out of work and homeless without any other option while we waited for a job to turn up.  She graciously opened her home to us and made every effort to make us feel comfortable and welcomed.  Nevertheless, I remember feeling covetous when I drove around, resentful that  people had  homes while my family didn't.  Looking back, I don't have great memories because I was in survival mode; putting my head down and plowing through it, sure that God's plan was going to be one of those tragic stories where everyone suffers years of poverty before some tear-jerking final scene.  Of course that wasn't the case; four months after we arrived, Dan got a job in Texas. Three months later, I joined him  and we bought a house.   As far as I was concerned, that horrible episode was past--we could start rebuilding out life together and try to forget that really distasteful chapter we had just been through.  It took losing Dan's mom several months later to bring things into sharp focus.

Those seven and a half months with her were a gift we were being given.  It was a blessing to live with her and talk with her, comfort her and be comforted by her.  I remember how much Logan loved helping Grandma  or just sitting by her.  He was a joy to his Grandma, filling her darkness with light.  Once he said, "Grandma, you have such soft skin," completely melting her heart.  I'm grateful  he  and Hannah have  memories of  Grandma that never would have been made had we not been "homeless" those few months.  I didn't realize at the time that God was giving us a final window of opportunity to love and be loved every single day by an amazing woman--I didn't see the blessing because I could only focus on what I perceived was disaster.   I should have trusted that  "all things work together for good to them that love God" (Romans 8:24). 

So I want to say "Thank you" for giving me a gift I wasn't willing to accept. Thank you for giving it to me anyway, knowing I would recognize it's value later.   I regret not cherishing it when it was given, but I do now and I'm filled with gratitude.

Thursday, 31 October 2013

The Great Halloween Fiasco of 2013

I'd like to lodge a complaint  with the Fates regarding the quality of my  Halloween.  You see, I started working as a classroom teacher after being MIA from the profession for a scandalous number of years. Now I'm trying to play "catch-up" buy putting in 60+ hours a week at school.  Luckily, hubby has valiantly been holding down the home-front, cleaning, cooking and jetting kids around to their various locations in my absence.

This year, (due to my inattentiveness of what's going on at home), the kids decided to MAKE their Halloween costumes.  Logan was going to be this incredible aluminum-plated robot while Hannah planned on being an ultra cool, morphing-before-your-very-eyes Dragon Girl.  We argued about the wings, as I wanted  store bought and she insisted she could MAKE better dragon wings than the ones in the store (and she DID too)!  The rub was trying to get them to attach to her body, which I solved quite neatly at the last moment. Go me.  We painted her skin (and my trousers) with green Kool-Aid but it was so insufferably itchy she had to shower it off and go as a sorceress (see last year's Halloween picture and subtract the bat ears).  Logan actually got his costume to work all the way across the street to the neighbor's house before he had to ditch it because walking around in a box with dryer vent arms is actually a painful way to die.   *sigh*  And of course, the neighborhood Halloween party is ending 40 minutes from the time the kids finally don their (store bought) back-up costumes.  I'll be honest.  I told the kids that I had bought a large bag of candy and if they decided to stay home, we'd just split it up between them...which makes me Halloween Scrooge.   As we're pulling out of the driveway, our dog is seen wandering the streets (he went to see the neighbors too).  Giving up entirely, I bailed from the car and sent the family on ahead while I nabbed the dog.

OH, and one more thing...I  want a refund on the  two large pumpkins I bought to make into traditional Jack-o-lanterns...they're nothing but deer fodder.  I wasn't home to micro-manage the affair, as custom would dictate, so things went horribly, horribly wrong.  Logan's first attempt at carving a wicked-good design was a fail; resolutely, he  attempted to carve the OTHER side, which somehow ended up worse than the first try.  That  was just too much disappointment for one nine-year-old boy on Halloween to bear and he came in crying.  We doctored it, praised his knife wielding abilities, and put it out front.  Unfortunately,  amidst the costume craziness,  we failed to light it.  Great...now we're facing being plagued by spirits for the rest of the year for failure to observe Standard Halloween Protocol.
Last year's costume.

I call him, Tragic Pumpkin

Sunday, 28 July 2013

On the Block, Take Your Mark, GO!

Last week, Hannah had her very first swim meet.  She decided to enter 3 events which guaranteed we'd be spending at least 8 hours sitting on the bleachers.  I had volunteered to work  the concession stand with two other ladies, which is where I learned to do this to my child's arm:
Coaches expect each swimmer  to have their own particular information posted with permanent ink on their arm or leg.

E= Event   H=Heat   L=Lane  S=Stroke

This way, at a glance, both swimmer and coach knows when each athlete needs to swim and in which lane they should be.

That morning, Hannah had asked if she could use the inferior goggles for the meet since the Speedo ones were too tight. I was a bit dubious, but if she wanted to use the $4 Wal-mart goggles, that was fine with me.

Her first event was the 50 meter Freestyle and when she dived off the blocks, the goggles ended up around her mouth.  Not super conducive for a good finishing time.  After that event, she had a few hours until her next event, so Dan took her to the sports shop and bought her some non-fogging Speedo goggles so she could destroy her final 2 events.

Her 2nd event was another 50 meter Freestyle, and her new goggles weren't tight enough so they flipped and filled with water when she entered the pool.  But her time was about 2 seconds faster than her first event, so yeay, right?  Her final event was a 100 meter Freestyle.  That would mean she had to lap the pool four times.  She had left her inhaler at home, so Dan had gone back to get it.   He brought back what he could find.  She took a few puffs before her event since she has been having trouble breathing on longer events.  Even so, she finished dead last and gasping for air.  Turns out the inhaler Dan found was one we had SIX YEARS ago in Bosnia.  It was a little expired. Which is probably why Hannah couldn't breathe.  Or swim.

Despite the troubles, she got a 6th place ribbon for her 2nd event.  And we threw away the old inhaler, so we're totally ready for next time!

Saturday, 22 June 2013

Sarcasm Much?

Hannah's been on a swim team for over a month and has learned to do a pretty impressive free-style and back stroke. On the other hand, Logan just took his first 2 weeks of swim LESSONS. 

While at the public pool yesterday, I asked Logan to demonstrate  the free-style stroke that he had learned. Proudly, he tucked his face in the water and started thrashing the water mercilessly with wildly rotating arms and flailing feet.

Hannah, looking on, commented, "Majestic, isn't he?"

Monday, 20 May 2013

Being Like Little Children

It was a  hot, sweltering Texas afternoon when our school held its carnival last week.  My booth was the Lollipop Tree. For two tickets, a child could choose a lolly and if the end of the stick had been colored red, he won a prize.   But if the chosen lollipop was not a winner, he got a small candy as a consolation prize and would get to keep the lollypop regardless.  The best kind of carnival game for a child!

Three adorable young siblings came to my booth early on.  Once they understood the game,  the six-year-old  sister would carefully give me  enough tickets so she and her little brothers could each have another chance to win.  I was friendly and encouraging as they would chose their lollipops.  I smiled and suggested they pick a flavor they liked; when they didn't "win" a prize, I reminded them to choose a candy from the bag.  Did I mention that the sun was relentless and there was absolutely no breeze or shade?  I could feel beads of sweat on my forehead and upper lip.  My cheeks were flushed and the wisps of hair that couldn't be snared into a pony tail were either sticking up crazily or plastered to my skull.  Any makeup that I had applied  twelve hours earlier was loooong gone.  I  turned to refill the lollipop tree, and the oldest of the trio lovingly said, "You're beautiful."  I was  ANYthing but beautiful at that moment, but her sincerity made me FEEL beautiful inside.

I want to be like that little one and share with others  the strength, or wit or wonder that I see in them, just as that little one showed me my inner beauty.

Friday, 17 May 2013


Mostly, Hannah and I listen to Country music, Dan listens to talk radio, but Logan has chosen Rock n Roll as his music of choice.  Specifically, any rendition of "We Will Rock You".

Dan played the trombone in high school, I played the flute in middle school, Michelle tried the flute for awhile, Kim was interested in piano, Hannah chose the cello but when I asked Logan what instrument he would be interested in taking, he decidedly and immediately proclaimed the drums.  Inner cringing aside at the thought of the racket an 11-year-old could produce  "practicing" the drum, I outwardly supported his choice with a strained smile.

Last night at Hannah's final orchestra performance, there were certain pieces where percussionists and some woodwinds accompanied the Intermediate orchestra.  Seriously good music.  As Logan endured through the two hour production, I asked if he thought he would like to play the drums like we were hearing in the middle school rendition of a more than decent "Les Miserable" mash-up.

"No, I want to play like a rock star."

Well, as long as he doesn't party like one, I'll be okay...it could happen.

Monday, 8 April 2013

Reverse Telemarketing

A major TV cable company called last week and wanted to know if we would like to start paying them exorbitant monthly fees for a handful of channels that we'll actually watch in addition to several dozen that we'll never, EVER view.    I politely explained that until we get a choice of what is on our cable menu, we would respectfully decline at this time.  Until then, we'll satisfy ourselves with watching Netflix and Hulu.

"I completely understand," said the TV cable selling lady. "But what's Hulu?"

"Oh, you stream whatever you want from TV and watch it through Hulu."

"What ever you WANT?   How do you spell that?"

"H-U-L-U," I answered, as helpfully as possible.  "It's great, you should get it."

"Hmm.  I probably shouldn't be talking about this on the company phone.  Thank you, good-bye."

Dang,  I should have gotten her name so I could have used her as a referral and gotten 2 free weeks of Hulu!

Saturday, 23 February 2013

Totally Hot!

Last night, we were watching the 1976 remake of King Kong while eating a late supper of delicious lasagna soup.  The leading lady, Jessica Lange, was lolling about sensually on the ships berth in a little black dress whose plunging neckline HAD to have been held in place by copious amounts of double-stick tape *ouch!* in order to avoid  serious "wardrobe malfunction."  Just then, Logan said, "That's hot!"

A quick glance at my eight-year-old son helped me realize he wasn't talking about the actress, but the soup.  Phew!

Wednesday, 6 February 2013

Kids Say the Darndest Things

Being in middle school has been the social event of Hannah's LIFE.  She came in yesterday sighing with satisfaction at having had  such a really good day.  With a bit of nonchalant interrogation, she shared this story:

Upon being deposited at school, she exclaimed in a rather good English accent,  "Oh no! I've left my spectacles on the bus!"  Her friend Mikey repeated her, "She's left her testicles on the bus!" allegedly  mis-saying "spectacles." Hannah turned pink as she retold us the story, Logan and I laughed with her at his blunder; good times!

THEN, this morning, Logan reminded me about the story, "He said tentacles instead of spectacles!" he sniggered at the other fellow's unfortunate error.

I guess "testicles" has not been one of his vocabulary words in third grade yet, so "tentacles" will have to suffice.

Friday, 4 January 2013

Zombies Are Real

A few weeks ago, I was coming home from work and as I  turned into the neighborhood, I saw a small black kitten lying motionlessly in the middle of the road.  "Awww, poor thing; must've been hit by a car," I assessed, slowing down as to not drive over it's little corpse.  Just then, his head popped up and it LOOKED at me.  Then, it GOT UP (think The Ring scene where that girl climbed out of the TV) and staggered away--probably looking to take a bite out of other kittens and growing it's adorable, furry, undead population so they can eventually take over the world.  This has been a public service announcement.

Wednesday, 2 January 2013


This was an incident I meant to post back in December...it's been rather hectic here...

Today was a "Hurry Up Day" because Hannah had a Christmas performance with orchestra which required us be at the Performing Arts Center (a.k.a. the high school auditorium) at 6:30p.m. with cello in tow.  Since she arrives home from school at 4:30, it was imperative that homework, dinner, piano practice, etc. be done in a timely manner.  That's just a nice way of saying I was crackin' the whip that afternoon.

Like a well-oiled machine, Hannah went through her paces; practicing both piano and cello, working on  Math, eating  dinner.   When I told her that she now needed to hurry up and change, she disappeared obediently into her room.  She exited some time later, asking if she could sleep in the guest room since her bedroom was really quite chilly.  Baffled as to why she would be asking to do something that wasn't even going to be pertinent for many, MANY hours, I glanced up, and noticed she was in her jim-jams!  Flabbergasted, I reminded her it wasn't time to put on pajamas,  she had a performance and we needed to leave in 15 minutes!  Realization dawned, sheepish look followed as she glanced down at her fuzzy slippers.  Doing a quick about-face, she skittered back to her room for a costume change.

Honestly?   It was comforting to know I’m wasn't the only one ready to turn in at Geriatrics Standard Time (GST). 

Dressed and ready.
2.5 hours was about 2 hours too
long for Logan