Tuesday, December 30, 2008

Merrrrrrry 'rishtmash.

As I walked through the grocery store, shopping for the Christmas Eve dinner at my home, surrounded by my husband's family, I thought about Tradition. Yes, I know it's not a proper noun, but that's how it sounds, how it feels in my head, all capitalized and stoic.

I thought about how families I know have Christmas Traditions, like watching movies together on Christmas Eve, or volunteering as a family at the soup kitchen, or gathering all the aunts and cousins to bake and decorate Christmas cookies. Beautiful things that draw them closer as families and create warm memories.

Our family? Every Christmas Eve, when we gather for dinner and to open presents, I am to, without fail, serve Bloody Marys. So while the shoppers that bustle around me with sprinkles and cranberries, tinsel and bows, I am on my way to buy The Christmas Vodka.


Thursday, December 18, 2008

Good Thing I Didn't Have a Dyson When My Mom Died

Sprite's Keeper has asked for her readers to tell the story behind their blogs, something I never thought I'd be asked to do.

I come from a place where people and events did not move at a hectic pace. The cowboys I knew, my father included, thought before they spoke, working the words around in their mouths like a cool marble or a copper penny, tasting them, testing them, before taking a breath and speaking a small piece of their mind or heart. This slow cadence, with long comfortable pauses between utterances or laughter or a soft swear, was simply how people communicated - I never knew there was any other way.

I met and married a man from 'back east,' who was, at times, annoyed when I told a story or we argued we had because I did not immediately reply if he barked something at me and I breathed between sentences. When I met his family, I felt like I they were speaking Portuguese - I could catch snippets of familiar words but it was such a blur that I felt mildly retarded. When we moved back east, my then-husband actually told me not to tell stories. The way I talked was too irritating to everyone else.

Needless to say, this was hard to take. I felt stupid, angry, and defensive, but I complied.

When I went back to college, I slowly found my voice again, first through writing and then through class discussions, amazed at every turn that y'all even gave me the time of day. The real change came when I had been teaching for a couple of years when it really hit me: I am a story teller at heart. I was missing a part of who I was by not talking. Let me give you an example:

On Halloween two years ago, one of my students asked a question about my mom and I said it was such a coincidence that she asked me that, since my mom died on Halloween. I then said "Funny story about when my mom died..." Right at this moment my teacher's assistant, Megan, walked into the room. She pulled up at the back of the room as I said this, turned to me, and said "YOU are a HORRIBLE person. HORRIBLE. There is NOTHING FUNNY about your mom DYING."

But you were wrong, Megan. WAY wrong. My mom was cremated, and each of us kids got a tiny brass urn with some of her ashes to keep. (As we went to check our luggage for the flight home, security was pretty convinced my urn was a grenade. Fun times.) We had been home for a few days and the urn still sat on the kitchen counter, waiting for me to find it a home in our rented house. The kitchen was carpeted with that flat, non-napped horrible carpet that gave you rug burns if you walked on it without socks, and it was this wretched burnt-orange color. The counter tops matched, making me think, "oh, I have always wondered what the inside of a grilled-cheese sandwich looks like!" I wondered out loud to my husband as to where I should put my urn - it had to be the exact right place. He said "Whatever. Just don't open it - it's really full." And he walked away.

I eyed my urn. How did he know it was full? Really full? Was it full to the top? Overflowing full or just to the brim full? How could he know it was full? Did it have some kind of seal? A cotton ball? Or was it just sloppin' around? So I slid the urn closer to me and gently pried the lid off. It turns out that it was overflowing full, and some of my mom foofed out onto the countertop, my sweatpants, and landed on the carpet. Shit.

I had to vacuum up my mom.

The next year we moved to our own home, where we are now, and as my husband was carrying in a box, he was sure that I had, for whatever reason, obviously filled one side of the box with bricks. He dropped it and immediately opened it to find out what the hell was so ridiculously heavy. I won't repeat the swear words he used (he was a Marine, so they were good!) but it boiled down to him wanting to exactly why I had packed a full vacuum cleaner bag.

"Um," I said. I couldn't throw it away, I explained.

Why the fuck not?

Because some of my mom is in there.

You opened the urn.

Well, you told me NOT to.

This is where he walked away.

One of the best parts of being a teacher is getting to know my students - having them tell me their stories, no matter what medium they use. We become part of each other's lives, and so much of that hinges on the stories we tell each other. When I first started reading blogs, I felt like I was at a hockey game - I could see all the action through the glass, but I wanted to be part of it, part of the relationships and fun and discussion and connection. This is why I write. To listen and tell and be part of something this amazing.

Sunday, November 30, 2008

How mittens may have saved my life. seriously.

In the past few days I have wallowed in my time off. I have lazed around, gluttonously reading blogs, snatching up endless Amazon deals tossed my way like candy at a parade by Mir, and watching episode after episode of CSI on Spike. Every so often my conscious will nag at me, remind me that I DO have to go back to school on Tuesday and I DO need to have that short story lesson plan done, but I push it firmly away and down. Shhhhhh.

Then, in the midst of my lolling about, I read one of Joshlyn Jackson's blogs about being thankful and it really got me to thinking. No small feat in the middle of this me-fest, but still. What am I truly thankful for? (Besides reading Jenny the blogess who makes me laugh so hard I that I can't read it during school. The kids stare when I snort.) I am of course so happy to have a wonderful husband and four healthy and moderately happy children (I can only let them be so happy, after all) and grateful that I am alive and ... but this is happiness. What am I truly thankful for? What in my life makes me a better person? This is the question posed by Joshlyn, the one that sniggled around in my head while I was trying so hard to pay attention to the miniature killer and had she really changed? Finally I have given in to this thinking while I am on vacation, and have decided to write about being thankful.

I am thankful for the awful people or even the normal people who do awful things. Yes, I know that this sounds strange, but it is also true. I don't like it when people are nasty, but I always try to give them the benefit of the doubt (maybe they are having a horrible day, a parent in hospice, trying to deal with infected hemorrhoids). At the very least, I always walk away with a story:

I did not grow up in this snowy, icy, slippery climate, so driving is a bit ... tense ... for me in the winter, but I stiffen my upper lip and just do it. So it bothers me A LOT when I am going the speed limit on a snow-packed road that is all twisty-turny and the person behind me is annoyed that I am ONLY going the speed limit and is completely disregarding how scary it is for me to be doing that. My white knuckles mean NOTHING to him. Or her. So when this person, who maybe was in a hurry because his wife was in labor or maybe had infected hemorrhoids (I'm kinda pulling for the second) passes me as we are on a swoopy downhill turn to the left with NO WAY to see if any cars are coming in the opposite direction, I did get a little angry. Angry enough that I forgot to worry about his anus or his imminent fatherhood. I was so immediately angry that I honked my horn and flipped him off.

I was wearing mittens.

I laughed so hard on the way to school at my ridiculousness that I forgot to be angry and mulling. I am grateful firstly that another car was not in the other lane and we all lived and secondly because I need to let that shit go. People will be thoughtless and rude and downright mean, and when they are I remind myself that I am not. I do not believe in an eye for an eye, an insult for an insult. This has been particularly difficult for me to stick to with only one person. This person is inadvertently part of my life on a daily basis and she. is. horrible. To me. Just me. It is a long and sad story as to why, but it wasn't my fault (really) but she obviously feels differently. And lets me know it every chance she gets. It can be depressing how often she has these opportunities. However, I do not reciprocate. Sometimes I imagine the things I could say to her, how I would slice her with my rapier wit, scathe her with caustic sarcasm, silence her with my Socratic logic. But I don't because it would be mean. And, in a twisted way, as I think about Joshlyn's question, I am thankful that I have her in my life because it is a constant reaffirmation of my commitment to be a nice person. I agree with Tom Hank's character in You've Got Mail: when you say exactly the right thing at exactly the right time, you end up feeling remorse. I can't believe I just admitted to watching that movie and that I quoted it. gah.

Friday, November 21, 2008

I should be more grateful for towels.

This past weekend I was at a conference - my first time away from home in a LONG time. A friend of mine and I had planned to drive together, so I left work with her so she could pack and I could tuck my little Blazer snug away in her garage. While she was packing, I laid on her couch and watched an entire episode of CSI without talking to anyone, folding anything, or getting up AT ALL. An entire show. I'm still reeling.

We arrive and at check in, I am casually informed that there is no. internet. service. None. It would have been less distressing if they would have said "Sorry for the inconvenience, but we don't have any towels. None at all. You'll have to dry yourself with the shower curtain." That I could handle with grace and dignity, even though I probably would have broken something from the knees down because, as I discovered, even with that adorable little towelbathmattything, the floor is wicked slippery.

AND it gets BETTER. The brochure reads "For cell phone reception, we suggest standing in the middle of the parking lot." I couldn't make that shit up. So imagine me, standing all hunched and shivery, in the sleeting rain, trying to talk to the Peanut who refused to even speak to me because I left in the first place.

At least I know for CERTAIN now that I will never become addicted to heroin - this place had a rehab feel to it and I don't want anymore. Please.

So, even though we did have a wonderful time (we really did), I am glad to be home. And this morning, after I slept in so blissfully late after our Superintendent (who I always KNEW was a genius) canceled school, I awoke to an Ansel Adams landscape right out my back door:

And a deck that looked like it was made of marshmallow.

So we stoked the fire, brewed some tea, and snugged right in with a good book (I read The Book Thief while Taylor chose to reread Droughts and Earthquakes).

Monday, November 10, 2008

Droughts, Drums, and Laura Ingalls

I love to read. I have from the time I was ... well, truly as long as I can remember, I have always had a book at hand. And in the car. And in the bathroom. From Stephen King to Faulkner, Picoult to Bradbury, Sanford to Steinbeck, I love it all.

At one of our recent book club meetings, instead of choosing a book for all to read (like we normally do), my friend Shannon asked everyone to bring her favorite childhood book. In trying to decide on which book to read, my husband commented that I had an easier time choosing names for the children than I did in picking out my favorite childhood book. But there's Laura Ingalls, I said. So choose that, he said, perplexed. I laughed at his simplicity. But then what about Walter Farley? Anna Sewell and the amazing Black Beauty? The Shark in Charlie's Window?

Please, I chuckled, you cannot be serious in thinking I really must choose only one. Did it have to be MY favorite or could it be a favorite that I read to my girls, like Too Much Noise, or Ming Lo Moves the Mountain, or Leo the Late Bloomer?

I did finally choose to bring The Secret in Miranda's Closet, because it had a huge impact on my life, as big as the others. And I knew Shelly would bring the Little House series.

So I was baffled by the Peanut's library choices this past week. Probably 'baffled' isn't even strong enough. I know that my Peanut does not fit snugly into any stereotype - she marches to her own drummer that sometimes I am pretty sure toured with Pink Floyd or the Refreshments - but even this was unexpected:

Yep, Droughts. A uplifting tale with twists and turns and a sweet heroine. But, just in case this is a tad on the serious side and she needed to lighten it up, she also checked out:

Perhaps she is just a John McPhee in the making. Or perhaps she is ... weird. Either way, I am so happy it makes me wiggle that she loves to read as much as I do. I have to tell her to put the book down when it is time for bed, to leave, to eat, to bathe. It causes me physical pain to have to tell her this.

I am putting out my first question ever, since it appears that people actually read this (w00t!):

What did you love to read? Do love to read?

Sunday, November 2, 2008

girls, taffy, and time

I was reading Is There Any Mommy Out There and she was talking about her surprise at being through the Halloween ritual three times - time had done to her what it does to all of us: lulled and rocked and moved right on. What brought me up short was when I thought, "she's been through this three times and I only have three more left."

My stepson, 11, wanted a costume. Not to trick-or-treat in (he declared he'd rather just hand out candy, which since we have ZERO neighbors, amounts to "I'd rather just play computer games or watch Bear Grills) but to go to a party. With GIRLS. "Gak," I replied, stunning him with my parenting skills. This is a terrifying turn. Not because it isn't expected (I have two older daughters; I KNOW what is coming), but because ... well, let me tell a story to explain.

I had to take him to get a filling done. My first child with a cavity - I reeled when the dentist told me. It was awful - they had to get a paper bag and everything. So we took the afternoon off, just him and I, and went. On the way home, being Mother of the Year, I bought him a big ol' watermelon Laffy Taffy. He couldn't eat it yet, since he still had to keep checking that he even HAD a tongue, so he was turning it over in his hands and noticed the jokes on the back. Being the loving child he is, he read it aloud:

"Hey Rikki, why are football players never cold?"

I ponder this, and give up (see? Mom of the Year, I'm telling you).

"I don't understand the answer."

Me: "What do you mean, buddy? Tell me and we'll figure it out."

"Under flap."

Me: "huh?"

Him: "It says 'under flap.'"

That I have to explain to this wonderful boy that the answer to the joke is under the flap and he is at the stage where he's starting to notice girls, ah, makes me worry a tad.

So I'm going to enjoy the now, the third-from-the-last trick-or-treating.

Sunday, October 26, 2008

The best 2/3 day of my life

As a teacher, I had hopes - high ones - that I would impact the lives of a few of my students. I know that few kids like to read. Ok, this might just win Understatement of the Year, since the majority of my students would rather rake their eyes out with a rusty Garden Claw rather than read Anne Frank: The Diary of a Young Girl, so I knew that few of my students would even like me, let alone look to me as a mentor.

I had no idea what I was getting myself into.

As with so many things in my life, I was wrong. I was wholly unprepared to have them impact my life. It was Christmas time during my first year of teaching, when I was irritable and a little weepy that I could not afford to buy each of my 168 students a gift, that I realized, with a little start, that I loved my students. Even the ones that made it really, really, I mean really difficult to love them, I still did.

This was not supposed to happen.

I was supposed to be the cool, consummate professional, whirling through my day, encouraging learning in many, a love of literature in some. Of course, since I teach English (if I am to follow the example provided my English professors), I would have to whirl dressed as a shepherd with dangling earrings, funky glasses and truly ugly shoes, but still ... I would be whirling. But my students had other ideas. They smiled at me, talked to me, were nice to me even when they were getting bad grades. Good Lord, what else was I going to do?

Four years ago I took on the job of being an adviser for the class who just graduated. We ran a booth at the fair, held fund raisers, decorated and rode floats in parades and threw red and black drink cups to the bystanders (I had to apologize to the one bystander who really wasn't expecting nor even wanting a cup, but one glanced off her head anyways), put on dances, cried together when we lost a student with the face and heart of an angel to cancer, and laughed so hard at least one girl peed her pants at least 900 times. This litany doesn't even come close to telling our story, but when they graduated it was one of the hardest things I have ever done: saying goodbye to all of them. It was different from when my oldest daughter graduated; I knew she'd come home at some point, even if it was just for homemade stuffing and mashed potatoes at Thanksgiving (I put sour cream in them). I have no blood ties, no holds to make them come back so I can make them mashed potatoes.

But once again, wrong, thanks for playing.

They have come back. Some by emails, some by stopping by, some by seeing me in odd places, like the fair or the grocery. So when my Teacher's Assistant for three years, the one who babysat the Peanut and was her Kindergarten aid, walked back into my classroom, I died a little. Right there, in front of my third period, I died a little bit from happiness. Then, at our BIG football game against our rival, she comes to the game bringing part two of the TA Trio, which made me so happy I wiggled. Embarrassing, but, sadly true. Since the third member of this reunion of joy was too busy (yeah, babysitting, whatever) to be there, making it only the 2/3 best day of my life, I will post a ridiculous picture of him here:

Mess with the bull's happiness, you'll get the horns. And on this one, I am correct.

Thursday, October 9, 2008

kachinas and blogs

I realized that I had not posted to my blog in over two weeks.


I really enjoy doing this, but it sure doesn't look like it if you count how many entries I have made since I started doing this. I thought about this and how much homework I had due for my online masters' course, and how it looked like some kind of Stephen King monster had crept into our home while I was away at work and tried to eat every toy, marker, bill, and sock that had been neatly tucked away in its proper place but, when this proved to be too much, the monster then vomited all of these items all over my beautiful home. So I took the day off work. So that I could do my homework, clean, and then - only of there was time left - blog my heart out.

It was this idea that led me to cement my belief in God. I have always been on the fence when it comes to organized religion (I loved being a Catholic but going through a divorce kinda cured me of that. When I realized that I could have killed my then-husband and all I would have had to do to be absolved and allowed back into the fold was to state "forgive me Father," but to rectify a divorce takes a year and hundreds of dollars, I had second thoughts.) and have always had a faith that could be stronger when it comes to Supreme Beings, but yesterday, well, much of that vanished.

I started my morning off by dropping the Peanut at school and finishing up my last batches of salsa and applesauce (my oldest daughter remarked that I seemed to be canning a little more than usual, to which I replied "Well, this way when John McCain is elected and six months later we are in the throes of a nuclear winter from the crisis his 'energy plan' has plunged us into, I'll be ready!). I cleaned and did laundry and ate a wonderful lunch while watching the latest episode of Life that I DVR'ed. What a great day! Then I figured I would start on the homework that I took the day off to do. Hmmmmm, the internet is down. So I waited a little bit (well, I waited by taking a nap), and then when my husband came home, he took a look at the airport, but things were still down. So we had dinner, and when he tried to get online, it was still down. After 45 minutes on hold with Windstream, it turned out that the entire server for the state of Pennsylvania was down. Please try again in at least four hours.

So an image of a god like Loki, or one of the trickster Kachinas, came into my mind, one sticking out a tongue in a big fat raspberry, taunting "haHAhaHAhaHAAAAA! NO homeowrk for you! Good thing you took a WHOLE day off! HAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA!"

And even worse, no blog. The whole reason I stayed home.

Monday, September 29, 2008

Peanuts and Grapes

Last weekend was such a gorgeous step into Fall - even with the rain. I am finishing up the canning, making Cortland apples into sauce and the house smells all crisp with tendrils of cloves and cinnamon curling into the cool breeze that politely eases through the kitchen window, ruffling the curtains only slightly.

My little peanut wanders into this cornucopia of autumn, searching for red grapes. More grapes, actually, since this would be her second helping.

"Wow," she chirps. "I'm starving."

I am one of those moms. The mom who won't let her kids say "I'm starving." It's just a thing with me and the Nut has always accepted it without question. Until today. So when she says "I'm starving," I respond with the usual:

"Oh, honey, we say 'I'm very hungry,' and not 'I'm starving.'"


"Because they're really children who are starving."

"Like me?"

"No, honey, children who don't have enough food to eat, so they are dying from not having enough food."

"I'M DYING?!?!"

"No, NO, you are NOT DYING. We have plenty of food to eat. You are just very hungry."

"I'm really not dying?"


"Whew! 'Cause that would be unnecessary!"

I dropped to my knees and gathered her up in a big hug, telling her "I love you, my little peanut," shaking with giggles.

I then buried my head back in the sauce pot and wondered if all seven-year-olds were like this or is it just mine?

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

fireworks and ice cream

I am more than a little amazed. In my line of work, kudos are rare; I mean, really, the teacher usually only gets a call when someone is pissed or worried. So when someone says, "hey, you're alright after all" it's the same as fireworks and a cheesecake flurry on a sweet summer night. With no bugs.

And I would like to apologize for taking so long to pay it forward. I have that icky cold with the nasal drip, papers due for my masters' course, and, yeah, the rest. But here they are:

http://ckbykm.blogspot.com/ this is my most awesome friend whose blog I seriously check several times a day. She is a talented photographer whose pictures just capture the essence and joy in every person. I love them.

http://www.strayraisins.com/ Is it creepy to want to be her friend? She has a hilarious, sharp, and real way of writing - the kind of writing I try to get from my students. Well, except for the part about her husband's boobs. Funny from her, but parents would complain.

I have laughed so hard reading her stories that I had to change my sweatpants. Who else would have an army of angry Transvestite Lego people that bear a crazy resemblance to Tony Orlando?

http://knaphrodesiac.blogspot.com/ I love reading what is going on in her life because she is like me - I feel like when I leave comments I'm just taking up my end of the conversation.

http://www.joshilynjackson.com/mt/ It's all her fault I started this blogmadness. She was the first I read - I stumbled upon it while I was researching her for my bookclub (yep, English teacher nerd flag, right there). She is an amazing artist and I love that I get a little more of her writing nearly every day. Plus she keeps dangling a "mailing list" and "fabulous prizes" to keep us coming back.

http://betheboy.com/ uh, he has Mystery Science Theater as his banner, which makes me love him without question. I like it that he asks questions of his readers and responds to the answers! He is such a fun, awesome read!

http://theredneckmommy.com/ Her story has touched me, intrigued me, and her humor has kept me coming back. Plus, who knew Canadians could be rednecks?

Those are my favorites, the ones I faithfully read every day. Their stories have inspired me to tell my own and I thank you all for that.

Tuesday, September 16, 2008

My classroom was taken over by the uber-geek squad. Seriously, not only were they a computer -installation team of seven, but they even wore matching wind breaker suits. I shit you not. I hadn't even realized that they still even made that material since 1984. Fortunately, one of them looked remarkably like Christian Slater, so I chalked it up as a win.

They bustled in, like a swat-team from Revenge of the Nerds, to install my Polyvision board (which is an interactive white board that hooks up to my laptop and I can do all these crazy educational things. oh, um, wait - who's the geek in this story?). I remained at my desk after greeting them, looking all very teacher-busy on my laptop. The plan was to hang the Polyvision board between my two chalkboards, which was really going along very nicely until I noticed that they were NOT HANGING IT LEVEL TO THE CHALKBOARDS. Anyone with a touch of OCD will completely understand my instant stress. So I ask, "Um, excuse me, but could you, like, hang it so it's the same height as the chalkboards?" The ALL turn to stare at me, the only sound the faint rubbing of nylon. "I don't mean to be a bother," I stammer on, "but, um, well, it leaves like a gap."

There is a long pause. The Christian Slater's stunt-double takes a breath and slowly, since I am obviously a mite on the slow side, "that's so the handicapped children can reach it."

"gegh" is all I can manage. They turn back to their task as I ever so gently put my face upon my desk, remaining prone until I hear the last power drill and extension cord packed away, and the soft rustle of nylon as they softly click the door shut behind their exit.

And I wonder why I have yet to win Teacher of the Year.

Wednesday, September 3, 2008

It's NOT ok to swear at Christmas?

Today in class I was lecturing/giving notes - something I rarely do - about Joseph Campbell's
The Hero's Journey. Rather than have them read that book and The Golden Bough, I condense it all into notes and we use those notes for all the novels we read, and in one step the Hero usually has to run away, but I have it written "get the heck out of Dodge."

This reminded me of one Christmas a few years ago when the nut was only three or four. We were at Aunt Sharon's, like we are every Christmas evening, with my husbands ENTIRE family. I was sitting by the Christmas tree, snuggled up with the nut in one of those chair-and-a-halfs, when the now 11-year-old, then 7, decided to join in on the cuddle-fest. The nut hates to share, but tolerated him, it being Christmas and all. Then the older girls, 14 and 16, decided to clamber on. The nut was now pissed. She wormed her way out of the mix, yanked blanky out from under one of her sister's butts, and gave all of us the most silent, darkest glare that I have ever been on the receiving end of. I would have never even thought one so tiny and innocent had such ferocity, such righteous indignation within. Oh, but she dug deep and found it. And then stalked off, her tiny spine ramrod straight.

I laughed and said "she certainly knew when to get the hell out of Dodge."

The middle daughter poked me hard - it hurt - in the ribs and said "MOM DON'T SWEAR IT'S CHRISTMAS! And you're being a terrible role model (yes, this is actually how she talks) - the CHILDREN (looking pointedly at my stepson) will think it's ok to SWEAR TOO!" As I laughed, saying oh no, he wouldn't, don't be silly, the boy of the family slowly stood, turned to face us, and said, "oh yeah?"

He leaned in, our attention riveted, and whispered:


Saturday, August 30, 2008

Bones and magical friends

The nut and I have the best conversations. The first morning of school, my husband was off work. As we are driving down the driveway, the nut asked,

"Where is Daddy going today?"

"ummm, I think to go buy socks."

"For who?'

"For him."

"Who is Tim?"

I remind her that it's 6:38 in the morning and Momma needs a few minutes to clear out the cobwebs. Especially since I am driving.

I have been fashing over this school year with the nut, worrying about her, especially socially. I staunchly decided to NOT worry about her friends or lack of them - if she is happy alone playing with who she calls her "magical friends,' then I will let it go. I will open my hands and just let it go. I will NOT worry about her feeling all alone, a single leaf adrift on a creek.

But then she threw me a bone. A test bone. I am beginning to think it may have even been a Let's Fuck with Momma Bone.

Driving home on day 2 of 1st grade she nonchalantly throws out:

"I made new friends today."

"You did?" My heart pounds a bit harder but I keep my voice normal.

"Yep. And they're real."

I am not convinced. "What are their names?"

"Megan. I don't remember the others."

There are others. My palms slip a little on the steering wheel.

"They sat with me at lunch and we talked."

"Honey, that sounds awfully nice! What did you play at recess?"


"Did you guys have fun?"

"Oh, I played chase by myself."

Definitely a Let's Fuck with Momma Bone.

Thursday, August 28, 2008

Here we are on our first day back to school. We made it. Taylor is a bit blurry because she was giggling and so excited to go and smashing my face with her noggin!

These are my fabulous shoes that I started my school year off with. I realized as I fashed about over which shoes to wear that God more than likely has not allowed me to win Power Ball simply because sometime not too long after winning, my husband would be heard in three counties demanding "who the FUCK is Jimmy Choo and WHY do YOU keep giving him ALL OUR MONEY?"

Tuesday, August 26, 2008

THIS is why I teach.

I am asked, often and with a slightly puzzled expression, "um, and why do you teach?" This picture is why. Yeah, I supposed I touch children's lives and make an impact on the culture
and very future of this glorious country, although I really don't see myself as being that big of a cog in the wheel. But this ... this ... well, let me explain.

A few years ago I looked across my classroom and noticed something askance on one of my posters, the poster for "assonance." Not having my glasses on, I walked over to take a closer look. I saw this:
I started shaking so hard, with my back to the class, staring at this poster, that the boy who did this, the child of one of my very closest and most amazing friends, was a bit worried. Then he realized I was laughing. Laughing so hard I had to sit down and they had to bring me the Kleenex. Without saying a word, I stood up, went and fetched my camera, and took this picture. I also immediately emailed it to his mom.

Some people might see this as disrespectful. A defilement. Rude. I see it as a slice of genius. We hadn't even discussed these poetry terms yet in this kid's class and here he is not only reading it but seeing it differently than anyone else in the room, including me.

This is why I teach. I live for the moments when the light bulb goes on and a student really SEES something, FEELS something, and - most importantly - finds his or her OWN meaning in something, even if I don't agree with it. Hell, especially if I don't agree with it. Learning to think for yourself is WAY more important than knowing how to define assonance.

Thursday, August 21, 2008

There's a first time for everything

Ok, I'm a little nervous since this is my first blog. Well, not my FIRST first, since we blog all the time in my classroom, but that's SO different since they are writing about what they think and feel and all I have to do is respond and encourage.


But when I am thinking about school starting next week, I'm thinking about my daughter who is going into first grade for the second time. It's the best decision for her, but still it haunts me that the kids will make fun of her and then I will be arrested for fist-fighting an eight-year-old. She is a strong, sweet, funny little peanut and I loathe the idea of someone taking that away simply by being unthinkingly cruel. They are, after all, seven and eight years old. So we are being upbeat and positive and arming her will ALL kinds of self-esteem without making her unbearably big-headed (tough to do!). I would LOVE to believe my husband who says she'll be fine and would I just GO TO SLEEP already, but I know just how wonderful or awful kids can be.