Saturday, February 28, 2009

I'm not sure what I did but the sleep gods are angry with me

Earlier this week, I lost hours of sleep because I stupidly nicely went to the school at 3:30 a.m. to let the parents in line for PK registration come into the building. You'd think that the sleep gods would give me some good karma for some amazing, uninterrupted sleep.

Instead, for the next couple of nights, I kept waking up thinking about all the insane lies the parents tell me things I need to remember to do at school. I keep a pad of paper and a pen by my bed so I can sit up, write down my random thought, and go back to sleep. Usually, I use up about one Post-It note a week. This past week, I used four. In two nights. Hopefully, this isn't a sign of needing to buy stock in Post-It notes.

Today is Saturday, a day in which I usually sleep in a little. Seeing how I've unknowingly ticked off the sleeping gods, I shouldn't have been surprised when my son called me after school on Friday to report he needed to be at the school at 4:45 a.m. on Saturday morning because everyone in the school system is too cheap to send the kiddos on the bus the night before and get them a hotel room. He is on the Science Bowl Team and they are going to the State Science Bowl competition. Since he is becoming so well versed in Science, it might be time for him to figure out where he came from seeing how his father and I barely made it through school. As for me, I think they may have accidentally swapped babies in the nursery when he was born. Somewhere in Mayberry is a doctor or lawyer with a child who is barely making it in school and they are scratching their heads at the misfortune.

I digress.

Adding insult to injury in regards to my sleep deprivation, I am driving to my mother-in-law's apartment to entertain her as her other son and the movers move her shit stuff into the assisted living unit. The lucky bastard known as My husband is extremely fortunate because he has a catering gig. He'll miss out on the hell all the fun.

As I finished polishing my halo before going to bed last night, I was looking forward to some good sleep. That is, until the alarm was scheduled to wake me to get Mr. Funny up for his day of science trivia. Again, the funny, funny sleep gods had other plans. During the night, Mr. Strong's stupid cool phone kept twittering to let him know he has a message. I would have turned it off but I was afraid I'd throw the damn thing up against the wall mess something up. So it just bleeping beeped all night long.

I'll be back later tonight and I'm sure I'll have some great stories after spending the day with my mother-in-law. Really, the woman is hilarious (even though she isn't trying to be). The only problem is I'll need to get some sleep before I can share them so I can once again remember how to pick the right phonemes to form real words.


Wednesday, February 25, 2009

And there wasn't even a ride at the end

Each year, we have one day set aside for Preschool registration at our school. Georgia has really been a pain in the tushie with their stupid, stupid rules and regulations on the front runner in regards to preschool. Because there are a set number of slots (our school has 40 slots), each school system is allowed to register the kiddos in one of two ways: first come, first serve or a lottery drawing. For a variety of reasons and our system's ability to be creatively cruel, we go with the first come, first serve method.

After school on Monday and after the halls had been sanitized again from the god-awful stomach virus making the rounds, we set up for the registration that was scheduled to begin at 8 a.m. the next morning. When I got home, I reminded my husband of all the excitement called "Preschool Registration" that was scheduled to occur the next morning. And despite having several parents be rude to me on Monday (unrelated to preschool), I had a sucker of a happy and forgiving heart and I set my alarm to wake up at 4 a.m. (which is stupid only 30 minutes earlier than usual) so I could get to school early. I had even planned skip reading your blogs at home and just read them at school while the few early-bird parents thawed out in the lobby.

So there I sat on Monday evening tooling around on my computer when the phone rang. It was one of my custodians (she is from the Philippines - and is an awesome person). We'll call her Ms. Electrolux in honor of the vacuum she loves.

Ms. Electrolux - "Thay is people at da door and thay shake it and I is scared."

Me - "Holy &@*$! Those must be parents out there waiting for the preschool registration."

Ms. E - "Thay is got thay face up against the glass in da door and thay is looking at me. It only eight tirty and we supposed to stay until nine tirty but I is scared."

Me - "Well, just go on home. Let's call it a day."

I could not believe there were parents in line already. When I checked the weather report, the prediction was for the temperature to dip below freezing again. Didn't they know we weren't giving away any computers. And there were going to be no concert tickets available for purchase.

As I went to bed, I tossed and turned. I kept thinking I am nice and warm in my bed. They are probably freezing. Would it look bad if a parent froze to death right outside the front door? They'd probably blame the school because after all the schools get blamed for everything wrong in society. I can just see the front page of the local joke of a rag newspaper - "Human Popsicle sticks found outside school doors."

Finally, I got up at 2:30 a.m. (again, thanks insomniac sleep) and jumped in the shower. And holy automotive oil at the difference in traffic when you leave for work three hours early! I only passed one car and it was a police car. When I got to school around 3:30 a.m., it looked like a squatter's community had descended upon the school grounds. The parents were sitting in chairs with piles of blankets covering them. One parent who will probably have a child in the gifted program even had an extension cord plugged into an electric blanket.

I've never seen parents so excited about coming to school. There were FIFTEEN parents in line at 3:30 a.m. Unbelievable! It was probably my golden opportunity to plump up the principal's account but I resisted.

But next year, I am so going to capitalize on the preschool registration. We'll be selling coffee and donuts and for a small fee, we'll let them camp out in the lobby.

Monday, February 23, 2009

If You Can't Find One, Raise One

We have a friend who likes to say when you can't find a wife, then you should just raise one. He IS a few years older than his wife (who was born the same year I got my driver's license). But isn't age just a number? Once you get beyond holding up your fingers, most people just don't give a shit about the actual number.

My husband is a lot few years older than me. Other than his gray hair and music taste, you'd never know. Well, and those conversations about our memory of Disney World opening in Florida. I was in Kindergarten. He was smoking pot and going to college.

So, this Monday Tuesday Tribute is for you, Mr. Strong.

The man who made this headboard with my step-father from an old door and two old columns. I love it! And the best part was hearing about the conversation you had to endure with dear, old dad. But he was right, wasn't he? The extra glue support from routing out the columns to snuggly fit the door in does keep it from wiggling.

Geez. What a conversation to have with your father-in-law.

And the same man who made this ridiculous cute little conversation starter of a table. I actually do think it is hilarious cool that you used to wear those colorful hightops.

Let's take a minute to appreciate the finer qualities of this unique tv stand made from old doors, glass shelving, and wood scraps from the garage. You are as cheap resourceful as you are creative.

And while I know it must frustrate humor you to have to deal with my lack of decorating sense, I was appalled that you'd get rid of a perfectly good traverse rod impressed by the funky curtain rod you made from bamboo cut from the neighbor's yard and random metal rings found in a bin at Home Depot.

And what an artist you would like to imagine you are! After drying the flowers and restringing several chandeliers, this piece made its presentation on our bedroom wall. Who wouldn't be impressed with the title, "Oh shit, it looks like rain. I think I'll have a drink."?

I've never really known how to keep from crying over what to say about this little duckling who stays on top of a column in our living room. It was a REAL duckling. And I thought Jews didn't stuff animals. Isn't it, like, not kosher? The poor, poor duckling. It is just creepy. In a cute kind of way.

One of the reasons I was suckered into dating you fell in love with you was the way loved your daughters. And when they expressed their feelings for you, I love that you framed it.

Thanks for being my biggest encourager. At the risk of sounding cheesy, you heal me.

Sunday, February 22, 2009

Why I'll Never Be Nominated for Mother of the Year

In light of the upcoming Oscars, I am reminded of how I used to have dreams of being awarded Mother of the Year trophies. I just knew some day, some how some one would recognize the value in the combination of my patience (you aren't going to interview my boys, right?) and my unique perspective on the world. I've kept a shelf cleared for any possible awards. So far, the only plaque I've ever gotten in my life is one for Academic Improvement in the 8th grade (which is basically a nice way to say "You started off the year sucking wind; however, you ended up passing. Yay. Good for you. Better for us."). It would be nice to be recognized for something besides not failing 8th grade.

Some people questioned my judgment when I hung this in my son's room as a joke. Mr. Strong and I found it at his parent's house (and I don't want to know the story behind it). I thought it was funny. Four years later, it is still hanging over the nightstand.

As a former art history major, I do see the beauty in a large variety of art pieces. Including the human body. Therefore, it didn't even phase me to hang this in the boy's bathroom.

It is art, after all. And the walls were bare (no pun intended) until we hung this gal up there.

And this hangs over the potty in the boy's bathroom. I rather like this retro picture. The girls used to make post-it note clothes for theses ladies a few years ago. They see the body as a blank slate waiting for fashionable clothes.

And now, thanks to my real life BFF (thanks Kippy!), I have this GREAT poster. I LOVE IT! Without a doubt, my youngest son will love it, too. So, while he was at his father's house for the weekend, I took the liberty of hanging it in his cave (closet turned into an office).

It really brightens up the space in there, don't ya think?

And you guys are probably thinking all this nakedness is what will automatically disqualify me from any Mother of the Year contests. Well, I think you are wrong.

When my son comes home from his father's house, he'll find the new poster hanging in his office. Along with that is a nice note from the heavy girl.

Sorry, honey!

I've been a mother for nearly 2 decades and I've yet to be nominated for the elusive Mother of the Year crown. Since I don't have a snowballs chance in you know where of winning, I might as well lose with a bang

*Note to self: Find number for adolescent therapist.

Friday, February 20, 2009

Future Blogger

Yesterday, while in a Kindergarten classroom, I overheard this scenario.

Small little girl with small little voice is reading her journal when one of the boys in the class yells out, "I can't hear her."

Small little girl with the small little voice tries reading louder. The same little boy becomes agitated. "I CAN'T HEAR HER!"

The teacher stops helping small little girl with the small little voice to give Mr. I Can't Hear Her the "look." He looks right at the teacher and says, "Ok. Ok. I can't hear her but BRAVO. Good job. Is that what you want?"

I love when kids can be sarcastic!

Thursday, February 19, 2009

Big Hairy Deal

I have big hair. Really. And I didn't love the 80s that much. It is just that I have curly hair. Girls with curly hair tend to have big hair.

I've never been very good at *fixing* my hair. It probably didn't help that I was raised by a mother who doesn't know how to "do" hair. She is of the old school. You know, the ones who have a standing appointment every Friday to get the hair washed and styled. And then she doesn't wash it again until, well, the next Friday.

Vacations of my childhood were planned around her hair appointment. "We can leave after my appointment." Or, "We have to be back on Friday by 4."

I used to question her lack of hair washing. As for me, I have to wash my hair EVERY DAY! When I don't, the curls stand up on the crown of my head making me look like Alfalfa's love child. My mother can't relate. I once asked her if she got hot and sweaty. Like after exercising. She then proceeded to demonstrate the rigor of her finger exercises. Apparently, they don't make her break out in a sweat.

I was in high school before I learned to NOT brush my hair. This was also around the same time I learned to use gel. Nothing says "I look good" like crunchy hair. Since then, I've had basically the same hair with varying lengths and degrees of crunchiness.

This past weekend, I went to a new lady for a hair cut. After the cut, she dried and ironed my hair (it took a LONG time) until it was straight as a board. Amazing! I loved it! Immediately, I bought the straightening cream and a round brush never thinking about the time it would take to carry out this straightening act every morning.

Mr. Strong took one look when I walked in and said, "I hate it. How long will it be that way" which motivated me to say something like "forever."

On Sunday, I had high aspirations. One of my friends and her husband were coming to dinner. I was going to surprise her by opening the door with straight hair. The scene in my mind was great. She was going to rave about my hair and prove Mr. Strong wrong. My hair was going to look GREAT!

After over an hour of drying my hair (really, untangling the damn brush from the curls that kept popping up like a bad dream), I started in with the flat iron (and that thing is friggin hot) borrowed from the kids.

What a disappointment! In the end, I looked like Buster Brown.

There was no raving over the new do. So, I took her shopping for shoes in my closet and gave her a golden egg.

Any one need a round brush and straightening cream?

Wednesday, February 18, 2009

The Education of a Principal

Today, two new students started at my school. They are not in the same grade and they do not go home to the same address.

And they have left us wondering how in the heck Charles Manson got conjugal visits with fertile women.

They make Barbie Stickers seem like, well, a doll.

Child number one stripped down to just his pants (no socks, shoes, shirt or jacket) and then ran. His mother says he is adjusting to our school. My dad was in the military and I changed schools several times. This may explain my predisposition for stripping.

Child number two just talked out of his head about flying around the school. And there were lots of grunts and groans. We called the last school and they were working to get a copy of the psychological that was completed on him after he jumped out of a window. Apparently, he often acts out scenes from various movies. The flying talk clearly suggests he is involved in a Spiderman scene (I swear that is what the counselor told me). We hear his Indiana Jones scenes are not to be missed.

In addition to trying to settle down the new kids, one mother got upset with me because I had her daughter call her about the checks she stole from home. I now know my place and won't bother this mother again with concerns about her daughter's future. Or the future of her money that may be vamoosed if the wrong person (besides her daughter) gets their hands on her random personal checks floating around.

Just when I was feeling a bit frustrated with the stress (and it was stressful today for some reason), I ran into my friend's son. Mr. Brilliant is a happy go lucky kid who seems to know far more than the average 6 year old. Since his mother's cancer diagnosis, I've given them a lot more attention. Today, he gave me attention.

Mr. Brilliant: Hey. I've been thinking about how you could help my mom. (I love the honesty of children.)

Me: Really. What can I do?

Mr. Brilliant: Well, she is going to start chemotherapy next week and two weeks after that she is going to lose her hair. I think you should get her some hats. My mom would really like that.

And suddenly, Charles Manson's love children and the angry parents didn't seem to matter so much.

Tuesday, February 17, 2009

You make 'em. I'm amused by 'em.

I woke up in the middle of the night with two thoughts racing through my head (damn thee, insomniac sleep). First, it is Tuesday and I haven't thought about or written a tribute (check out Jay and Deb's tribute information here). My second thought was holy hockey sticks... it is a teacher work day. That means I won't have the protection of the children to keep me safe from the teachers.

So, this Tuesday, the tribute goes out to the children of the world (particularly the ones at my school because they are the cutest, most charming, and smartest ones). Because where else but an elementary school can you be entertained by the things the short people say. And check out what they can write.

Such raw honesty. Not everyone on a journey will admit to shitting a bear. And the good news... he didn't die. If I had shit a bear, I probably would have died. Right there on the toilet. Kind of like Elvis.

Monday, February 16, 2009

Time flies like an arrow; fruit flies like a banana

I'm really not ready to go back to work tomorrow. My bag of work keeps calling me from the corner where I shoved it last Thursday night. Eh, I don't even know why I bring home all that stuff. One day, I'll accept that I'm just giving the stuff a ride.

But really, I have no room to complain. The schools were closed Friday and Monday for President's Day. Not a bad break. I'm trying to figure out where all the time went.

Yesterday, I decided to bake some Key Lime cupcakes.

I love little cupcakes (Because there is no way I'm eating all the calories that a whole piece of cake has to offer. Really. How many calories could be in each of the little buggers. I'm banking on about 5 or 6 calories. About the same as a Tic Tac. While we are on the subject of calories, I wonder why my damn jeans are tight. Must've shrunk in the wash.). The butter cream icing recipe that goes on top is so good! My husband told me I was a MASTER BAKER! A compliment from a cook. He just made my weekend.

The real story of the weekend is the truck Mr. Strong bought (for the next 36 months) on Saturday. We spent the day of love driving 5 hours round trip then waiting two hours in the dealership to pick up this baby (Not really this baby. I borrowed this picture from the Toyota site. Dig the happening jet ski in the background. Cool trucks can hang out with the jet skis.). A green pickup truck! I can't wait to rumble with my man now. And is it just me but I swear Mr. Strong has more chest hair since this purchase.

Now that Mr. Strong has a truck, he can actually pick up the pine straw he finds on the side of the road. It never ceases to amaze me how jazzed up he can get over pine straw. I know I disappoint him regularly because I don't share the same excitement over the straw. Sometimes I think he wants me to act like a dog in heat and hump his leg. He really gets that emotional. And apparently, he isn't alone. I've had conversations with other men who compare notes on where they found the best *free* pine straw. Twenty years ago, they probably had similiar conversations about women.

In the end, no matter how emotional he gets. No matter how much he drools. No matter how much he begs and grovels. The man around the corner will not let him "just rake his yard for free." He even put up a sign to keep all the pine straw whores at bay.

Saturday, February 14, 2009

Synchronicity in Songs

A couple of weeks ago, someone out in the blogosphere wrote about synchronicity. According to Wikipedia, in order for it to count as synchronicity, the events should be unlikely to occur together by chance.

I decided to pay more attention to the meaning behind random events in my life. My first notice of synchronicity was when I was driving up to the drive through window of a local mexican restaurant when I realized Melissa Etheridge's Come to My Window was playing. I was suddenly blown away by the synchronicity. What are the odds?

Since music isn't typically piped into the halls of an elementary school (not a bad idea, eh), the main locale of my music listening diet is in the car driving to and from work/home (So let us take a sec to pause for a moment of thanks for XM radio.). My powers of observation grew sharper with the revelation of synchronicity in songs.

On the way home from school, I got stopped by a train. At about the same moment, Sheena Easton's Morning Train started playing. Although it wasn't morning, a song about a train while waiting for a train to pass wasn't lost on me.

While singing along to Chicago's Hard Habit to Break, I noticed a sale at the Cigarette Outlet Store. Don't get distracted by my sucky music taste to not notice the synchronicity in this one. For the record, I still miss the days of big hair and cheesy music.

At the red light, while singing Sweet Dreams by the Eurythmics, I looked over and noticed the Sleep Clinic on the corner. And while driving past the local track, I Ran by Flock of Seagulls started piping through the speakers.

The next morning, I had a meeting at the board of education. While driving past the local nut house, I noticed that Crazy for You by Madonna was playing.

Are you with me in thinking I just may have been handed a keen gift of observation? It isn't often I impress myself.

After leaving the long meeting, I was really focusing on finding the unlikely chance in the random songs. As I pushed the buttons, I just couldn't find anything related to what I was driving past. That was about the same time I realized I had missed the turn to get back to school. And what song was on the radio? You guessed it. Supertramp's Take the Long Way Home.

The best one I saved for last. Why? Because that is how you build suspense, now isn't it? And it was the last to happen. Order can be important. When I drove into my carport at the end of the day, one of my all time favorite songs began it's familiar thump. Red, Red Wine by UB40 is a sure sign of how I am to spend my evening. And now that I am enlightening myself with all this synchronicity, I am questioning less. I took this sign and indulged myself.

Now, where is the Tylenol?

Friday, February 13, 2009

The Story That Changed My View on the World

Last night, my husband and I attended a wedding. It was not your typical wedding as it was held in my school lunchroom. And the happy couple were puppets. It was the wedding of Q and U and my sweet husband was the Rabbi (apparently Q is Jewish). The second graders have been about to burst with excitement over this wedding.

You should have seen the decorations! The lunchroom was truly transformed into a chapel suitable for a wedding and reception. If they'll do this much for two puppets, I want to hire these teachers and parents for the end of the year party. It'll be a blow-out!

Only one child misbehaved at the wedding. Unfortunately, his mother makes a lot of excuses for him. "He peed his pants because he was really interested in the computer program." "He likes to collect a lot of things - even broken glass." "He doesn't always listen to me until I can promise him a new toy. That is how I get him to do his work." "The doctor says he has ADHD. That is why he hides under the desk when he doesn't want to do his work."

Last night, when this child started his shenanigans, we just sent him to his excuse maker. We don't get paid for evenings, so she can just deal with him.

While at the wedding, I saw the daughter of one of my teachers. This daughter is about my age. She is very close to her parents and is one of the nicest people you'll ever meet. And it reminded me of the story her mother once told me. I've used this story many times since when parents are giving excuses about their children. I think it is time for me to have a meeting with Mrs. Excuse Maker.

When nice daughter was 15, she was diagnosed with leukemia. It was very serious and at a point, the daughter was living on the cancer ward with a grim prognosis. Mom let this daughter talk to her however she wanted. She was terrified her daughter was going to die. The doctors kept talking about numbers and counts and the daughter got sicker and sicker. And meaner. And more demanding.

If this daughter said "I want" she got it. She became so mean and demanding the nurses had difficulty getting her to comply with her medical treatment. And her mother made excuses for her. "She doesn't feel well." "She really doesn't like getting shots." "She isn't very nice when she isn't feeling well."

All the while, the dad watched what was going on. He was scared. He didn't know what to do. Their life was turned upside down and they were on the verge of losing their youngest child.

One day, after the daughter had been especially ugly to her mother and a doctor, the dad took the mother down to the cafeteria for a chat. And the dad said, "We've got to start making our daughter be nice again. I can't stand the way she talks to you. I can't stand the way she talks to anyone."

When mom tried to interrupt with her excuses ("But she may be dying..."), he held up his hand.

Dad continued, "She has gotten gifts from you just because she demanded them. We have been at her beck and call and she isn't even appreciative. We need to start treating her like she is going to get better because we will have to live with the child we are creating."

Mom cried. "But what if she dies."

And dad's response was, "And what if she lives."

Thursday, February 12, 2009

The B Word

Yesterday, at the end of the day, I got a message from a parent who stated her child had been called the B word on the bus. Because one can never be too careful when dealing with elementary students, I called the parent back to clarify. Was that B word bitch? Or bastard? Or butt ugly? Or possibly buck toothed fool? You can never be certain and we always feel a little proud of students who actually use appropriate swears in the right context. So often, they don't.

In this particular case, a boy was calling the girls on the bus a bitch. And according to the mother, her child thought it was a first grader.

So, I added to my to-do list. Pull bus video. Not one of my favorite things to do as the bus drivers would rather not wait around for even 27 seconds (my best timed-test) for me to pull the hard drive to get the video.

And then there is the watching of the video. It makes my ADHD kick into 5th gear as I am so distracted by all the action on the screen. Usually, I have to rewind several times in an attempt to focus on what I am supposed to focus on.

This morning, before I could even get out to the bus line to get the drive, I received an email from a mother telling me about her first grade son coming home and asking her what a bitch was. She wrote on to explain that a 4th grade student who lives in the neighborhood was telling her son to call the girls a bitch. He said it would be funny. This mother was not laughing.

Ironically, neither was the mother of the girl who had called the day before.

There was one fourth grader at my school who had a horrible, no good, rotten day. Now I wonder what B word I am when he talks to his friends.

Tuesday, February 10, 2009

Little Miss Poopy

It's Tuesday and this is my day to pay tribute to someone or something. Today, I dedicate this tribute to my dog, Miss Poopy. You can read her story here.
Thanks for being the only being who was happy to see me today. Even if it was so you could get close enough to eat my tissues.

Monday, February 9, 2009

Roses are red

It is February and along with that is the season of love. One of my teachers had her students make some Valentine cards to send to soilders in Iraq. The cards were quite lovely. My favorite went like this:

"Thank you for helping us win and I hope you don't get shot because if you do I will start crying and then I will see you in the newspaper. Thank you soilders. Love, S."

You can just feel the love and encouragement. Just for kicks, I decided to keep this card for myself. I don't want to feel like anyone got jinxed by this card. We can just say her heart was in the right place.

And speaking of a heart in the right place, my youngest step-daughter, Little Miss Sunshine, got a text message today from a friend. And it went like this:

"Roses are red.
Violets are blue.
I like boys
But you may just do.
Go to the prom with me?"

And she said yes. Mr. Strong is a little clueless as to why his lovely daughter wants to go to the prom with her gay friend. But I get it. He will know how to dress and dance. He can even help out with her makeup and hair. And there are no worries about lewd suggestions or dark corners. How perfect is that!

And from there, I've been thinking of how little I have used the "Roses are red" poem for the various people in my life. It is the perfect poem for rewriting to whatever special occasion or particular person you intend it for.

Here is one for my husband.
"Roses are red.
Violets are blue.
You snore so loud.
That's why I kick you."

And one for my sons.
"Roses are red.
Violets are blue.
Here is some money.
Should I schedule a time to see you?"

And, of course, one for the dog.
"Roses are red.
Violets are blue.
Your poop really stinks.
It smells like cheese fondue."

For the student who drank out of the toilet.
"Roses are red.
Violets are blue.
Was bobbing for turds
Really the right thing to do?"

I think I'm going to use this poem more often. Who would you write a poem to? And what would it say?

Dear Mr. Happy

Dear Mr. Happy,

Last night, when you were in such a bad mood, did you realize that you growled? I'm sorry you have so many assignments and tests due at one time. Didn't you say that the English paper was originally due on Friday and then the professor said it could be turned in on Monday? You should have been happy to have the weekend to work on that paper. And didn't I see you on Flickr uploading pictures from this past weekend? It's all about time management.

And please note, the next time I ask if there is something I can do to help, please don't suggest that I smother you with a pillow. Because that is dangerous. And it sounded like a great idea.

I won't be here when you get up because I don't feel that your ray of sunshine will help me have a great Monday. Good luck on your music theory test!

Love you!


Sunday, February 8, 2009

Where is that you'd like me to go?

One of the positives to living in the deep south is the mild winters. Now, in my book, mild would be temperatures above let us just say the freezing mark. I realize when a tour guide is published about an area or region, the temperatures are averaged but that would still only allow for a night or two of outlier temperatures.

I took this picture one morning about 3 weeks ago when the temperature was 25 degrees. The reason for this picture was my complete fascination with the appearance of the little snow flake right above the temperature. How nice for the Volkswagen people to tell me when it is freezing. Ironically, I've never noticed a flame icon when the temperature is hotter than that place down below. And most of the time, it is that hot here. So, you see, there has been no reason to have almost 3 weeks of below freezing temperatures. We just weren't built to cope with that.

Fortunately, today was finally a nice day with temperatures in the low 70s. After just sitting in the yard for a while, some friends came over to visit. And have a drink. Or two. Why are we counting drinks? Carry on. We talked about all kinds of random things. You know about school. Then food. Then pets. Which, of course, led to pet poop. And from there, it was a natural progression to religion.

As we were talking about the Holocaust denier on the news, we started swapping stories about various people who've prayed for our souls. I'm always amazed by Holocaust deniers. Really, there is more evidence the Holocaust occurred than there is that Jesus walked the Earth (I'm not doubting it, just making the point about all the pictures and visual accounts of the Holocaust). Really, it pains me to see so many people have to say their religion is THE right one. I wish everyone could just accept that each person is allowed to have their own beliefs. But I digress. The whole point of this post today was I wanted to share this story with you all.

Once, over a decade ago when I was teaching behavior disordered kids in a middle school, a fellow teacher came into my classroom during our planning time. When I looked up at her, she had tears in her eyes. Thinking one of my students had had a moment with her, I jumped up to see what was wrong. She then said she'd just heard I was dating Mr. Strong.

I was speechless and thinking really, he isn't that bad. I mean, he sometimes runs a few minutes late and often can't remember to put the toilet seat down but nothing is majorly wrong with him.

Seeing the confusion in my eyes, she went on to say she knew Mr. Strong was Jewish and therefore he was going to hell. And if I was with him, then I was going to hell, too.

All I could say was, "Then I'd rather be in his hell than your heaven."

Years later, I still remember this teacher. She wasn't a bad person and her intentions were to "save" me. In reality, I wish it could have been me that saved her. If I could have, I would have saved her from having such a closed mind.

A special THANKS goes out to my mother for teaching me to find the good things about people - no matter what their beliefs.

Saturday, February 7, 2009

Books, books, books for me, me, me

A week or so ago, Pseudononymous High School Teacher wrote a post about a book meme. She nicely didn't tag any specific person but left the meme open for takers. Since then, I've been thinking about completing the meme - especially since I can't seem to reign in all the random stories in my mind. Plus, I'm a sucker for anything about books.

There were specific questions to answer, however, I've taken a few minor liberties (ok, ok, some are more major liberties) with the questions I answer.

What books have been on your shelf the longest?

In all seriousness, probably some of the ones on the top shelf. On the left hand side of the top shelf are three books I've had since high school by Ferrol Sams. He is one of my all time favorite writers. And he is (or was) a doctor who was born and raised in Georgia.

There is one book I'd like to point out - What Girls Learn. I've only had it for about a year, but already I've read it twice and loaned it out to other several times. It is a great one!

What book brings fond memories to mind?
That would definitely be a toss-up between these two books.

My boys were fascinated with knowing where they came from. I think I read Where Did I Come From about ten million times. Seriously, we had the stupid book memorized. My mother kept telling me this book told them too much information. I kept telling her all the experts say to answer their questions and that the kids would only digest what they could understand. While shopping with my mother, my oldest son announced he wanted a baby sister. When I explained to him that his mommy wasn't having any more babies, he loudly exclaimed, "You have thousands of eggs. You are just being selfish." My mother gave me that look. You know the one that says "I told you so."

And I Love You Forever - ahh, what a tear fest. I think my boys brought that book to me just to watch me cry. For whatever sick reason, that just cracked them up.

What books are in your waiting to read pile?

Currently, I'm reading Father Melancholy's Daughter (on top). All the ones underneath are part of the ones next in line to be devoured. Plus I just bought 4 more books this evening at the book store. I get a little freaked out if I don't have an adequate reserve of books to read. In fact, I worry more about not having a new read more than I do showing a random body part.

What book have you reread the most?

I love to reread certain books. Of all the books I've reread, The Good Earth has been read the most. I know of five times I've read the book since 7th grade. Several years ago, I found out it was the first in a trilogy of books. I've read the other two - but only once. They are good but they just didn't capture my attention like The Good Earth.

What is your favorite non-fiction book?

Without hesitation, my favorite non-fiction category would be cook books. I love food. My favorite collection of recipes is the old Better Homes and Garden Cook Book from the early 60s. Nothing like an old-fashioned recipe with some shortening. And did I mention, I love food. There are those who think in coincidental that my husband is a caterer. I say there are no accidents in life.

There are books all over the house - here are a couple more shelves for those of you who want to take a gander. I will read just about anything. Poor Mr. Strong has had to get used to my obsessive ways regarding books. And I've adjusted to all of his knick knacks. For the record, the books are easier to dust.

Thursday, February 5, 2009

Can't you smell that smell?

Yesterday, a father came in to talk with me about the number of tardies his son and daughter have gotten so far this year. Of course, he didn't call to make an appointment. And of course, I dropped everything to meet with him since he has been a rather elusive parent. Much like Bigfoot.

He came in and sat down. In no time at all, the smell of him wafted over to where I was sitting. He smelled like a mixture of old cigarettes, body odor, dirt and feet. I've smelled skunks that smelled better than this dude. In an effort not to gag, I turned around in my seat to grab the lemongrass lotion and busied myself by squeezing out an enormous gob of lotion. As soon as the lotion was somewhat coating my hand, I pretended to listen to Mr. Stinkbomb while holding my fingers under my nose. It didn't do much to cover the stench.

And to make matters worse, it was obvious that Mr. Stinky has not become a big fan of the 'ol toothbrush. Surprisingly, he appeared to have his major cuspids intact. It was the strings that got to me. You know, the strings of gloppy goo that form in your mouth because of lack of oral scrubbing (not that I know from experience). Those strings stuck between his lips as he mumbled to me about why his kids were tardy. For God's sake, I was ready to never mark his kids tardy again if he would just get the h - e - double hockey sticks out of my office.

That gag reflex is a powerful thing. And when you surpress it, it puts pressure on your stomach. It makes for an excellent appetite suppressant and that is fortunate, as I'm on a perpetual diet.

Right as I started fighting the hallucinations, he stood up to leave. Mr. Stinky stuck out his filthy, gloved hand to shake and didn't seem to be surprised at all by my response. I simply waved good-bye. For the love of all things clean, I was fighting serious hurling urges.

Meeting Mr. Stinky explained so much about his poor children. I just wish the Department of Family and Children's services would do something. Apparently, it isn't a law that parents must be clean. At least, his children come to school clean most of the time. Even if they do wear pajamas and bathing suits in the winter.

On to a different story.... Today, we had a child sent to the nurse. The teacher was so flustered, she couldn't tell the nurse what was wrong. Finally, the kid said, "I drank from the toilet." After the nurse regained her composure, she made him say it again. "I drank some water from the toilet."

According to the teacher, while the class was taking a bathroom break, this child stuck his head into the toilet and drank. Much like a dog drinks from the pot.

And for the record, this child does not belong to Mr. Stinky. But I'm thinking of introducing Mr. Stinky to Potty Boy's mom.

Wednesday, February 4, 2009

6 Things - I think I can handle this

I recently discovered Sunny's blog and let me tell you - she is a great writer! You'll love her so check her out soon. Today I was tagged by Sunny and the rules go something like this:

1. Link to the person who tagged you.
2. Post the rules on your blog.
3. Write six random things about yourself.
4. Tag six people at the end of your post and link to them.
5. Let each person know they’ve been tagged and leave comment on their blog.
6. Let the tagger know when your entry is up.

1. I have an obsession with books and I read every night before I go to bed. My idea of a perfect day is to spend the entire day reading to my heart's content.

2. I never wanted to be a principal. When I was teaching, my principal talked me into applying for a program that would pay for an administrative degree. When I was accepted, I really thought I would just have the degree and that I wouldn't try for a principal's position for some time down the road. Before I even finished my degree, I had an assistant principal position in an elementary school. 5 1/2 years later, I became the principal - and I love it (most of the time). So much for planning.

3. For a Southern girl, I'm not too impressed with Southern food. You can have all my cornbread, grits, and greens. I'd really rather have sushi or stir-fry.

4. I love shoes! And I don't mind spending too much money for a pair of shoes (like these) that are both comfortable and stylish. While style is most important, comfort is also a priority as I walk between 4 to 6 miles a day at school (yes, I've worn a pedometer).

5. I am 14 years younger than my husband. We met while with our children at a birthday party. Most of the time the age difference seems to not exist. It is most apparent when we pick out music for the cd player.

6. I am completely freaked out by roaches. Living in the deep south means trying to make ammends with these awful creatures. I don't do well in that regard and all roaches within my house must be found and punished - no matter how long it takes.

Ok. I'll tag Kulio, Amy, Only A Movie, Pseudononymous High School Teacher, Sarah, and Candice. I'd love to know more about you guys.

Sometimes, you just have to cry

As I went to bed last night, I was thinking of the meeting I am scheduled to have first thing this morning with Mr. Bigwig Lawyer. To begin with, he is very defensive about this meeting even being scheduled. He operates well with his head in the sand. But I have things to tell him that he can not afford to miss. Namely, his wife is not going to be allowed on my campus after the fiasco that followed when she showed up high on who know what trying to check out their daughter. The child was not released to the parent. The resulting scenario wasn't pretty - but I have to keep all children safe no matter what kind of car they drive or how much money is in their checking account. It's what I do. I look out for kids.

As I climbed in the bed to read and hope that my mind wouldn't keep me up all night playing out different imagined conversations, the phone rang. It was my sister. From the moment I heard her voice, I knew something was wrong. My sister and I are only a year apart. We were often mistaken for twins when we were growing up. No matter what life throws our way, we've learned to be strong. And when we need to cry, we call each other.

Through the tears and the gasping for breath as she tried to get the words out, she told me that a friend of ours was just diagnosed with Stage 4 Ovarian cancer. This friend has two children who attend my school. They are only in 1st and 3rd grade. My mind was reeling.

How could this be? Just a couple of years ago, this friend had a hysterectomy. All they left behind were her ovaries. How the hell is it fair for the only part of the reproductive system left behind to be riddled with cancer. And they already know the cancer is in her lymph nodes. The current prognosis is grim.

Maybe I sound like I've lost hope before we even give any treatments a chance. But my sister and I know what kind of thief cancer can be. He struck out at our father and took him from us when he was only 36. He didn't care that young children would be left behind. Cancer is ruthless that way.

Today, I will need to tell the teachers. I know I'll cry. But I'll say all the right things.... We'll be there to support the kids..... Let's organize some folks to bring in food for the family... We need to include the counselor so she can be aware of the situation.

We'll rally around them. And when I see the kids, I'll smile and hug them. And when the time is right, I'll admit to them I'm scared.

Monday, February 2, 2009

Asphalt Urges

The weekend is supposed to be a time of relaxation, rejuvenation and drinking. For some reason, the calendar gods must have conspired together to teach me a lesson. I’m not sure what lesson, but I have some ideas. It started on Saturday morning - a time when I usually sleep in and lounge about the house in my pajamas until noon. Instead, I found myself taking Mr. Funny (the 16 year old riot of a child) to an interview four hours away for a summer honor’s program.

At the beginning of the trip, hope sprang eternally that this would be a great time to bond with Mr. Funny. Next year will be his senior year and he is doing everything he can to find a college as far away from home as possible. I tried to talk with him about music. Then movies. Then books. Regardless of my lofty aspirations, I finally admitted defeat. It is impossible to converse with someone who has had his Ipod surgically attached to his ears. Plus, he grunts and says multi-syballic words without vowels. Really, the only pleasure I got from the trip was knowing that I was driving him insane. What? You don’t sing at the top of your lungs in the car? I like to think of it as building a memory.

After EIGHT hours in the car (GAH!), I had to get up the next morning to go to a conference whose destination was about 30 miles past yesterday’s interview location. Cruel, huh? Thankfully, Mr. Strong took a couple of days off work and volunteered to drive. Really. He is so nice.

Now, according to Mr. Strong, he doesn’t need my help in driving. He says I interject too much – to the point I’m not sure we can continue to travel in the same vehicle.

That aside, the 250 mile stretch of highway we were traveling has approximately 234 miles of construction going on. This really messed up the flow of things. And for the record, the signs that say “Minimum speed 40 mph” – well, that is only a suggestion and was never placed there to be taken literally. This is America, people. We don’t do anything minimally. Speed limits shouldn’t be an exception.

All this build-up is really just to let you know about my powers of observation. Have you ever realized that the interstate is just full of SEX?! Unless of course, this is a twisted issue of folks from Georgia, then I just embarrassed myself (Note to self: travel interstates in other states to look for issues, then blog about it to the world.).

With Mr. Strong behind the wheel and me with my trusty camera (and my explicit orders to NOT SAY A WORD ABOUT HIS DRIVING EVEN THOUGH HE ALMOST RAN INTO FOURTEEN CARS NOT TO MENTION THE GUARDRAIL AND HE ACCELERATES WHILE THE DRIVER IN FRONT IS CLEARLY APPLYING THE BREAK), I entertained myself with all the drama that unfolded itself on the highway. Apparently, the traveling on the asphalt brings out a primal lusty drive. See for yourself.

Is it just me, but isn't a giant sculpture of a peanut a bit phalic?

Not far down the road, I found a peach for that penis. Uh. Um.. I meant to say that peanut.

And need I say more. Truckers welcome where the strippers strip. And a hotel with a midnight special. Convenient, eh?

Rest areas have taken on a new meaning. What are they doing behind those closed stall doors? Hey. Why are you tapping your foot like that?

Another spa with truck parking. I'm beginning to get a picture of truckers as being less than angelic.

At first you might think this has a Lion King feel - but then take notice of the way the boy lion is dominating the girl lion. I'm pretty sure Disney would have had this the other way around.

Strippers who do good things. Does this message confuse you? It confused me.

We all know what is going on at this exit.

Somehow I get the feeling this girl will give the trucker a happy ending. My view of truckers has forever changed.

Conveniently, you can get a massage at the Lucky Spa while waiting for your divorce to dash through. I love the drama! How lucky!

And nothing says Thanks to our Troops like a rabbit vibrator and edible panties. God Bless America!

Are they saying they are crazy? Or trying to lure nut-loving women? No mention of trucker parking... Hmmm. Maybe there aren't enough truck driving, nut-loving women out there to warrant a truck parking lot.

And a special note to all the testosterone driven truck drivers out there. I think this is a warning that you might get crabs from un-godly women.