Monday, March 30, 2009

Nurse Nancy LOVES her job!

I have what I consider to be the most dedicated of all school nurses working at my school. Nurse Nancy is awesome with the students and the overly dramatic parents. She even takes care of the teachers.

Several times a week, Nurse Nancy makes pronouncements about how much she loves her job which is GREAT because the state only pays her the salary of a sanitation worker! We love that Nurse Nancy loves her job because who else could handle all the puke. And someone pukes almost every day.

Last week, the one of the Kindergarten classes wrote letters to various people who help in the school. One particular student wrote one for Nurse Nancy. I think it may explain something about why she loves her job so much.

And why do you love your job?

This Tuesday Tribute is in honor of school nurses every where. May others appreciate their hardwork and dedication while merely working for peanuts.

Sunday, March 29, 2009

Smiling through the pain because what else would you expect Ms. Sunshine to do

For the past several weekends, Mr. Strong and I have been working on getting the garden beautiful for Ms. Sunshine's 18th Birthday Garden Party. Ms. Sunshine had a vision of how the evening would go. There would be lights in the trees, the yard would be blooming and beautiful, a fire would be roaring in the fire pit, and the lantern would hang over the table where dinner would be served (with the quad of parents as the servers).

The lantern was plain white until Ms. Sunshine took it to her art teacher. The hand painted flowers were gorgeous and perfect for a garden theme.

The day prior to the party, Ms. Sunshine had gotten bad news. She was being put on the wait list of the university her sister is currently attending.

Why? There never is a good explanation other than somebody in the admissions department may or may not have been coked up that day. Somebody has some 'splaining to do because I'm ready to go up there and open up a can of whoop ass! Not to disrespect Ms. Busy (who is very busy off at the university), Ms. Sunshine has a higher GPA (somewhere on the edge of perfect) and has taken more AP classes and more electives. In addition, she has been the President of this club and that, the leader of the student senate and on a variety of boards about town. To say the least, she is very involved and a very good student.

But after a short tear-fest because we really would have allowed her to milk this for the weekend we all (by all I mean Mom, Dad [Mr. Strong], Step-Mom [me], and Step-Dad - we all get along because we are weird that way) loaded up and went to eat some Mexican food. In our world, when the going gets tough, it is time to break out the enchiladas and mole sauce and the Coronas with extra lime. Did I mention it was raining? Buckets? The day before the Garden Party?

And the weather report was predicting a 70% chance of rain for the next evening. Which, of course, would be during the Garden Party.

We decided to wait to see what the predictions would be the next morning. And the predictions HAD changed! They had changed to 100% chance of rain during the hours of the party.

Since we couldn't convince Ms. Sunshine to change the theme to a Flash Dance party she said it was no big deal and we just planned to move everything indoors which meant I had to clean like a maniac. She was all smiles as her guests arrived.

Now I've got a little explaining about the icing (and doesn't the green look a lot like poop from a bird who has eaten a whole freakin can of spinach?). You see, when the humidity is 100%, icing goes flat. At the present time, they do not have Viagra for limp icing. So, again, we made the best of the situation and just lit the candles and carried on. Thankfully, the Reece Cup Cheesecake had come out just like it was supposed to come out (it is was rich but delicious!).

I'm not sure what Ms. Sunshine's birthday wishes were for but I can guess what Ms. Poopy was wishing for... For someone to take off her adorable, party dress.

What can I say. She is just happier when she is nekkid.

Thursday, March 26, 2009

Parents, Lawyers, and 911, Oh My!

It was such a wild and crazy day. Not the Steve Martin *fun* wild and crazy day but the OMG what the heck has happened kind of day.

It started with the phone calls from the school board attorney and one of the assistant superintendents regarding a student who is medically fragile. Without going into many details, the student is returning to school after a long stay in the hospital for almost dying. As it turns out oxygen IS important. Suffice it to say, I was a bit nervous about making sure we were doing everything to ensure the child's safety.

I was meeting with the mother while the teacher got the child out of the car and into the classroom when my cell phone began to ring. It was one of the secretaries informing me that a parent was coming down the hallway searching for me. This parent had refused to sign in at the office. She was going to find me NOW.

DAMNIT I need a school resource officer. And not for the kids but to help deal with the crazy-assed parents.

The parent who was ready to take me out back and shoot me on her way set me straight has a really great daughter, Ms. Drama, who can get a bit physical with some of the students. The previous day, Ms. Drama had forcefully elbowed a student in the gut. It was enough for him to puke and have difficulty catching his breath. Not behavior anyone could ignore.

I went out in the hall and told the ridiculous crazy mother she needed to make an appointment because I couldn't meet with her at that moment. The mother kept walking and talking. Spittle sprayed from her mouth. Again, I told her I couldn't meet with her. I then nicely told her she needed to leave as she hadn't even signed in at the office. She kept arguing. And she got closer and closer.

Finally, I loudly said, "Turn around and leave or I WILL call 9-1-1."

She kept arguing. And she was really becoming intimidating. I wonder where her daughter learned how to be so physical and so dramatic. I began to worry about her elbowing me until I puked. Puking before breakfast is a surefire way to start the day off on the wrong foot.

I held out my phone (while trying to keep my hands from shaking due to the massive adrenalin rush) and dialed 9-1-1.

Once that happened, she turned around in disgust and said something about calling the school board.

Being my usual mature self, I asked the 9-1-1 operator to hold the phone while I shouted out the phone number to the board office. No need in her having to look up the number.

Once I was sure she was gone, we cancelled the National Guard call for police back up.

As I headed back into the classroom to continue my meeting with the first parent, I looked at my watch. It was 7:35 a.m.

Tuesday, March 24, 2009

Obviously we need to work on Mr. Funny's conversation skills

After making the hamburger patties for Mr. Strong to grill on the grill (where else), Mr. Funny came into the room with his car keys.

Me: "Are you going somewhere?" (You see, I strive to be a master of the obvious.)

Mr. Funny: "Yes."

Me: "Where are you going?" (Which should have been the first question. What can I say. Its been a long day. Sue me.)

Mr. Funny: "To my friend's house."

Me: "So, are you not eating with us?" (See how my power of observation has already improved.)

Mr. Funny: "I'm not sure."

Me: "What friend are you going to see?"

Mr. Funny: "Someone you don't know."

Me (glaring at him, wondering if I should start the massive search for contraband in his room): "Who?"

Mr. Funny: "A guy named Chris. You don't know him."

Me: "What are you doing at your friend's house?" (And why can't he come here? What do his parents do? Doesn't he know I need names so I can Google them.)

Mr. Funny: "I'm just going there then we are going someplace else."

Me (what ever patience I did have remaining at the end of the day is quickly leaving me): "Where are you going after you leave your friend's house?"

Mr. Funny: "I don't know." (Holy schnike! Is there anything you DO know?)

Me (hearing a hum in my ears): "Then you can't go if you can't explain where you are going."

Mr. Funny (with agitation in his voice): "We have to go hear some speaker for extra credit in our class. " (This from the kid who has a frickin 97 as his lowest grade. How can I explain this without sounding callous? We are proud of him but we think he was swapped at birth.)

Me: "Who is the speaker?" (As if I think he'll know.)

Mr. Funny: "I don't know." (Are you beginning to see a pattern here?)

Me: "Where is the speaker speaking?" (Really. Where? Where?)

Mr. Funny: "I don't know." (I have nothing to say.)

Me (giving Mr. Funny the stink eye)

Mr. Funny: "That is why I'm going to my friend's house. He knows where the speaker is."

Me: "What class is this for?" (As if that will make a difference.)

Mr. Funny: "U.S. History."

Me (now searching for a sharp stick to poke in my eye): "I know this is probably going to be a stupid question, but what time do you think you'll be home? Just a ball park estimate will do."

Mr. Funny: "I don't know." (Bad-dum-ching)

And to think I thought conversations with Kindergartners was challenging.

Monday, March 23, 2009

Are you nuts if you can't open your coconut?

About a month ago, I read a post by GreenJello that reminded me of a little story about my grandmother. Which reminded me of a lot of lessons I've learned from my grandmother. For this week's Tuesday Tribute, I want to take a moment to reflect on a few of these lessons learned from my grandmother.

Lesson #1: Winning is everything! I was in elementary school before I realized my grandmother wasn't like other grandmothers. When she took my sister and I to bowl, she always kicked our ass won. To her, winning is so important, cheating is allowed.

Lesson #2: Food Poisoning is a myth. Refrigeration is truly optional. Thanks to my grandmother's refusal to properly store food efforts, I have a digestive system that is tougher than nails. Mexico, here I come!

Lesson #3: Any thing edible can go in the microwave. Even if it is a coconut. And it was the coconut's fault that the door of the microwave blew off. Not my grandmother's, that is for sure. Who could have guessed the coconut would explode taking the microwave door off and blowing it clear across the room?

Thank you, Grandma, for all you have taught me. I can't imagine where I would be without all your wisdom.

Ok, ok. He wins.

We had another weekend filled with great weather. Since next weekend is Miss Sunshine's garden birthday party, we've been capitalizing on the weather by working extra hard to make the yard look good again. So, there we were. Mr. Strong and I working in the yard. It could be said we don't always agree on things. In fact, I'm sure it has been said before. It is probably carved in a stone somewhere.

That is what happens when two stubborn strong willed people join forces.

I volunteered to put out the mulch since Mr. Strong never looks behind him and "accidentally" stomps the crap out of the plants out of the goodness of my heart. Of course, while I spread the mulch, Mr. Strong likes to give me advice on how to correctly do it. If I'm not mistaken, people without high school diplomas can do this. So, I tuned out the advice.

Mr. Strong has a love-hate relationship with Home Depot. He loves to go to Home Depot and I'd rather poke my eye with a stick because then I have to hear about how much he hates Home Depot to Lowes.

He found a Passion Vine which made me wonder who the heck was on duty when they named this plant as there is nothing seemingly passionate about it this weekend. The flowers aren't opened all the way, but they look like dragon faces to me. Nice dragon faces. Maybe it should have been called a Mythical Dragon Vine. Obviously, people without high school diplomas have been naming the plants.

Whatever it is called. We both agreed on where to plant it. Amazing!

Yard work is exhausting and one must keep their body nourished. So I took a two hour break to slave in the kitchen to make my ravioli recipe.

These ravioli are seriously good! Just boil frozen ravioli for a couple of minutes, then drain (duh!). Spread the ravioli on a baking sheet and drizzle melted butter over them. Sprinkle freshly grated asiago and Parmesan cheese on the top. Broil until browned on top. Delish!

Mr. Strong is a lucky man to have someone who can gourmet up ravioli so well. Even if he just wanted a sandwich. But, alas, he suffered through the ravioli instead of taking a chance and hurting my feelings.

So back to the yard we went to finish planting plants. And replanting plants. And changing our mind and digging up the plants again to move to a different location. And holy schnike! Could we just put the plants in the ground and leave them alone?!

We found this plant at Lowes. The tag says it is from Texas. I didn't know Texas had plants. Having never been there, I visualize hell a big, vast desert with cacti and roadrunners. I wonder if this plant will need desert sand. And no water. We'll see how it does in Georgia. I'll keep you posted.

The trees all over the yard are in bloom. I love the tiny blooms on the Japanese Maple. They are so understated and call no attention to themselves. On this plant, the leaves are the attention whores.

This is one tree Mr. Strong and I agreed upon. We like this tree and we like where he is planted. Sometimes the gods smile down on us.

Then we come to this. A hardened mass that sits upon our front steps leading to the door no one except the pizza delivery guy uses.

And all I'm going to say is I told Mr. Strong NOT to put the jack-o-lantern on the steps because I knew the heat would make it rot and decay. And he said that he'd throw it away after Halloween.

I give up. He wins. I'll put the pumpkin into the trash today. March is a good month to get rid of jack-o-lanterns, yes?

Saturday, March 21, 2009

How narcissism starts

I called a mother the other day to come help me deal with her son who was pitching a fit for more than an hour. The teachers and I could not get the child to calm down. Since he was crying and snotting (not a pretty sight on an 8 year old), we could not understand what he was saying.

When the mother walked in, she cuddled and hugged him and interpreted his whining. It turns out, he wanted his money he forgot at home so he could go to the book fair.

So she rewarded his fit pitching abilities by taking him to the book fair.

Since she forgot her money at home, she asked if money could be borrowed from someone at school.

Lets sum this up. Your kid interrupts instruction in multiple classrooms by screaming and crying. Office staff and administration stop everything to help out in during this crisis which includes finding thrown eye glasses and dragging screaming child out from under a computer table. A teacher is pulled from her class to assist in interpretation attempts even though her second language skills were clearly not in the language of whining. Patience has been tried and drinks have been planned. And now you want someone to whip out their wallet to assist you in your sick game of rewarding bad behavior.

Just how big must the ovaries in this woman be but not likely I will ever know as I'm not an OB-Gyn?

This child will have many hard, hard lessons to learn later in life once he finds out the world, in fact, does not spin around him.

Thursday, March 19, 2009

Maybe I should have been a counselor

As a former special education teacher, there were many, many days that I was more of a counselor than a teacher. Kids who are hurting or raging are not usually good students. And for the record, I went to school to be a teacher. Because I like to help people. However, there were no counseling classes in my course of study to become a special education teacher.

I once mentioned this to one of my former professors and he told me I should remember my role as a special education teacher. I wasn't a counselor. Do my job and let the counselors do theirs.

But wasn't my role to help children? No matter what?

If they were hungry, I don't think anyone would have argued the need for anyone (even the teacher) getting the child food. We wouldn't look at a teacher handing a child a banana or some crackers and say, "Well, look at that. This teacher is obviously confused and thinks she is a nutritionist. We should get her a hair net..."

Teachers wear a variety of hats every day. Sometimes all at the same time. All in the name of being everything for the children. And often, school becomes one giant therapy session.

After teaching for only three years (yeah, yeah, screw up, move up), I became a special education coordinator. This basically meant that I helped the special education teachers with meetings, writing IEPs, and with classroom issues. At first, I was shocked at how needy many of the teachers were. I expected the neediness to come from some of the parents. Without a doubt, it is emotional when people are sitting around a big table to discuss the issues your child is having. But time and time again, most of the tissues were for overwhelmed, frustrated, overworked, tired, and burnt-out teachers.

During my year as the special education coordinator, I applied for an assistant principal job never expecting to get it. First of all, I was still in school working on my leadership degree. And second of all, I didn't have much experience. Applying for the job was meant to be for interview practice. I just wanted to see how what to expect. Besides, I really wasn't convinced that administration was for me.

You could have bowled me over with a feather when the announcement was made during a board meeting that I was the new assistant principal. Seriously, I swallowed my gum and almost choked and died on the spot. Since then, I've never chewed gum in a board meeting (and besides, that was just tacky of me to try to sneak that contraband inside a school building).

As an assistant principal, I spent many hours counseling with the students trying to encourage good behavior. I spent many hours counseling with parents, too. Basically, trying to encourage good behavior (you know, good parenting skills - not that I am the master but it does stand to reason if Lil' Johnny gets in trouble at school, it isn't a good idea to beat him with a belt until purple welts show up). And I counseled with the teachers. Again, trying to encourage good behavior.

One part of me knew that adults could be so needy. I have been in enough relationships to teach me that. But teachers are professionals. They aren't supposed to be needy. Yet, they are human and therefore, they aren't really like the teachers in the movies that replay in my mind (and have I ever told you how much I LOVE the teacher in Little House on the Prairie - you know, when Laura and Mary were little).

This is my third year as the principal. The needs of students, parents and teachers can overwhelm me. And during these current challenging times, people are experiencing more and more stress. And the cracks are beginning to show. Sometimes, I want to run away rather than tell the teachers about one more mandate or one more change that has to be made. They are giving it all they've got. Teaching has consumed them. The more time they dedicate, the less their nose is above water. It is a cruel cycle.

Then add in the parents who can't be pleased, cancer scares, children who are beaten, lack of personal money, family issues, cancer realities, shortage of instructional money, kids moving in and out and back in, parents who can't be found, unrealistic standards for kids who can't even speak English, PTO meetings (again), children who are starving, a newspaper who has a deep seeded hate for all things education, parents who think that because they were once students they could be teachers, female issues, lack of time to go to the doctor much less exercise, and on and on and on.

But I try my best to counsel them through it all.

And have I said lately how much I LOVE wine. And beer. And my new favorite drink, the Georgia Peach (try it! - vodka, peach schnapps, OJ, and cranberry juice). If only I could stay awake long enough to drink it.

Yesterday, I found out that my school is losing four teaching positions. Thankfully, no one is losing their job. But four teachers will have to be relocated within the system.

So, I emailed the faculty to announce a brief faculty meeting scheduled for this afternoon. Already, I can feel the hysteria settling in. People don't like change. Unless they order the change. And this change hasn't been ordered.

Fortunately, I'm trying to be ready with my counseling hat. And the tissues.

Wednesday, March 18, 2009

Lucky in something

On my resume, I have the privilege of listing that I am the district president of a state elementary principal association. Before you get all excited and start congratulating me, please realize there are only two members in my district - me and my assistant principal who was coerced into joining in hopes of a favorable evaluation.

For some reason, I joined this association last summer. Almost immediately, some powers that be began calling about the president position. I was all excited and ready to campaign until they explained only current members in the district can vote. And since there was only me and no one else to vote for, I got to add *President* to my laundry list of duties.

After listing my responsibilities which really was just to get members, I decided to take a decidedly Obama-like approach and host a meet and greet. I was even willing to kiss babies. And since people will come to a meeting when food is served, I contacted a sponsor who paid for lunch to be brought in. And I had about 30 people suckered present who pretended to listen to my presentation about this wonderful association and how they've helped me over the past couple of months and now I am SO much more professional and I even look smarter and more principally. You get the point. I laid it on thick. And how many members signed up? Just one. My own assistant principal. I am good, eh?

So, yesterday I attended a district meeting over in the other district. They were kind enough to invite me to attend and I decided to go to see what I was doing wrong so I drove way out into parts of Georgia I've never seen.

The meeting was held in a little town not even listed on a map. My husband pulled out his GPS device - from here on out referred to as "Bitching Betty" - and I plugged in the address and followed her instructions. I turned down many, many random highways with some number on the end. There were no cute names for the roads, just numbers. The roads weaved and curved for no reason other than for the fun of it. It is nice to know our Georgia founders had a sense of humor about them when planning out the roads. That or they were active participants in local moonshine drinking competitions.

And all was well with the world and Bitching Betty was pleased with my ability to follow her asinine directions until I came upon a terrible accident involving a semi-truck and an SUV. Nothing will bring the neighbors out of the woods like a BIG accident. Instead of clearly marking a detour for directional cripples or letting me just sit and gawk I was forced into turning around.

This did not please Bitching Betty as I could hear the frustration in her voice when she had to recalculate. And because apparently, she sits to the left of God, she decided to pay me back for not following her directions by sending me down some dirt roads and through a trailer park. All while needing to go potty (me, not Betty)(and you try driving down a bumpy road while holding it).

As luck would have it, I ended up right back at the accident. And the helpful citizen who made me turn around fifteen minutes earlier was not humored. Neither was Bitching Betty.

As luck would have it, I finally found the school where the meeting was being held. You would have thought Bitching Betty deserved a medal she was so excited.

It was an interesting town - the kind of town that looks like it would be full of grandmas. There was no traffic light or even a bank. The only signs of progress were the random trailers tucked between the little old-timey grandma houses. And their main industry appeared to be a taxidermy shop and deer processing plant. How nice. I'm sure I'll fit right in with these folks (seriously, they were nice).

Now I really don't know what I am doing wrong because I couldn't help but to compare meetings. My meeting was much more organized. And the food I had brought in was a full-fledged barbecue dinner. These guys brought in Chic-Fil-A boxed lunches. The barbecue alone should have gotten a couple of members.

After the meeting, I apologized to Bitching Betty. In return, she got me the hell out of there home.

Because I had way too much energy after sitting on my badonkadonk all day, I decided to do something productive. So I chose to contend with the weeds. Namely, the clover. Which made me feel a little guilty because it is getting ready to flower.

And for the first time in my life, I found a four leafed clover! On St. Patrick's Day! Actually, I found NINE four leafed clovers. They are currently being pressed for prosperity. How lucky is that (for me, not the clover)!

By the way, I bought some lottery tickets, too. If I win, I'll share.

Now I just wish I could get some of this luck to pour over into the principal association. Besides, I want to have more members than the neighboring group in Podunkville. I am a poor loser.

What's up with the lack of members?

Come join the fun with Three Boys One Mommy! She is way funnier than me. And she'd probably have a lot of principally members for her group.
What’s the Deal With That?

Tuesday, March 17, 2009

Bless you, bless you bumblebee

When I think of you, Mom, that little poem you used to say when we sneezed always comes to mind. I always thought it was a cool little poem. And we heard often as we all sneezed a lot.

Bless you, bless you bumblebee
Say, when will your wedding be?
If it is tomorrow day
Take your wings and fly away

I don't think it had much to do with sneezes. But I still liked it anyway.

Most mothers and daughters go through a rift and we were no different. Honestly, you were probably more patient than I deserved. Remember that time after I didn't have a curfew anymore right after I graduated from high school when I came home at 2:30 in the morning? Then for some reason the next night at the dinner table I lied and said I was home at 1 a.m. because 1 a.m. sounds a whole lot better than 2:30 a.m. and you shamed me by announcing how much you trust me even though you knew I came in at 2:30 a.m. Yeah? Remember that? Because I was amazed you actually knew what time I came in since for the prior several years I had to wake you up to announce my arrival home before curfew. Actually, I appreciate that you did trust me. I didn't deserve that trust but I do appreciate it none the less.

Remember after Dad left? I barely do. But I do remember how extremely sad you were. And the sister and I tried to cheer you up. By the way, I'm sorry that the picture we drew on the wall in the closet didn't really make you happy. Or the one on the ceiling. Now that I'm older I see the tremendous inner strength you had then.

And I appreciate that you never talked bad about Dad. He deserved some negative coverage but you just wouldn't go there. And when he became sick with cancer, you were there to assure us that all would be OK. I remember that day, two days after Christmas, when you woke us (the sister and I) up to let us know that even though we wouldn't have our Dad anymore, he wouldn't be suffering. Even my young, junior high brain knew you were strong to be able to talk to us at all about Dad.

But your strength shouldn't have surprised me. You grew up on a farm although I'm not sure you realized you were living on a farm given your girly, girl ways with a mother who was strong. I always loved the story of how you overheard the adults talking about the mice problem then you went to play under the house and discovered a little nest of kittens. Thinking they were mice, you snapped each of their little necks. And people wondered why I obeyed you. Hmph! I knew you could snap a neck if needed.

Once you told me that you worried that you yelled at us too much when the sister and I were growing up. I don't remember much yelling but I'm sure the sister and I deserved some yelling at because I'd definitely yell at me if I could. I do remember a lot of laughing. And thanks to you, I appreciate the finer aspects of sarcasm.

Mom, thanks for being such a great mother! I love that you are my friend and my mother.

And bless you.

Sunday, March 15, 2009

I think Ms. Poopy needs an intervention

Spring is in the air and I couldn't be happier. The birds are singing. And Ms. Poopy gets more outside time. This makes Ms. Poopy happy. Not to mention the odds of her going poop-dee-doo outside increase substantially. Which really makes us all happy.

The southern God of flowers (azaleas) are in full bloom. And the colors are breathtakingly beautiful.

All over town, the azaleas and dogwoods are beckoning the birds and the bees. But spring in the south is brief.

Soon all those blooms will be gone and the azaleas will be just another green bush. That needs to be trimmed.

While working in the yard this weekend, I noticed a LOT of gold dust. Every place I stepped became a miniature dust storm.

Pine pollen! It seems a cruel fate for the pine pollen to roll out just when the weather is beginning to be kinder.

This pollen covers everything. Our town is covered in a yellow blanket. My car is barely recognizable.

And have I mentioned my pollen allergies? I sound like Peter Brady when his voice was changing. Really the only difference is I dress better.

And how does a short dog react to pine pollen? Why, she sniffs as much of the stuff up as she can. She seems to LOVE it! Snort, sniff, lick, lick.

If she didn't have a gimpy back, I swear she'd be humping the pine trees.

Does Betty Ford have a rehab unit for dogs?

Thursday, March 12, 2009

Ding Dong Ditch

Some students came to the office today to rat out express their concern about a fellow student who lives in their neighborhood. According to these students, their former friend has been home pretending to be sick all week.

Me: "How do you know he is pretending to be sick?"

Informative Little Girl #1: "Because he has been running around playing Ding Dong Ditch after we get home from school."

Me (wondering whether or not to ask for clarification because what in the heck is Ding Dong Ditch and do I really want little girls discussing anatomy...): "Uh... um... Ok. I'll just call his mother and check on him."

Informative Little Girl #2: "Yep! You should. His momma will be so mad when she finds out he has been ringing the doorbells and then hiding in the ditch again."

Geez. I can't believe my mind went straight to the gutter.

Wednesday, March 11, 2009

Full Moon + Weather Changes = Attitudes!

This morning, while on morning duty, one of the 5th grade girls stomped up to me to announce she needed to talk. She was in such a huff and her parents always angrily blame the school when their daughter is upset (and she is upset often) and seemed to truly need to talk NOW that I stepped aside to talk with her.

Besides, the last time I ignored that the earth revolves around her "made" her wait, she bitch-slapped another student. And her parents went all the way to the Assistant Superintendent to complain about how I ignored their child in her time of need.

These parents find their argumentative girl charming. I wish I could tell these same parents how charming their baby sounds when she makes pronouncements declaring hate for her parents. The same parents who make fools of themselves defending her honor.

I; however, generally stick to the rule "My problem through 5th grade. Their problem FOREVER." At some point, she'll make the same hateful statements directly to her parents so why be the bearer of bad news. And besides, it'll be more meaningful coming straight from the source, eh?

Argumentative 5th Grade Girl (arms crossed and already almost out of breath with rage): "We have a problem!"

Me (smiling as I am still slightly amused... and clueless): "What problem would that be?"

Argumentative 5th Grade Girl: "Is it true that Twilight has been banned at school?"

Me (still smiling but not knowing anything about any book being banned at my school as I generally am not a book banner - nor am I a book burner while we are on the subject): "Why do you ask?"

Argumentative 5th Grade Girl: "Well, Mrs. Mean 5th Grade Teacher said that Twilight could not come back to school any more and I have a problem with this!"

Me (a lot less amused and suddenly remembering Mrs. Mean 5th Grade Teacher telling me last week about the kids fascination with all the implied sex scenes in the book thereby causing a group of 5th grade girls to hide out in the bathroom with said book): "Do you think it is a good decision to question Mrs. Mean 5th Grade Teacher's authority?"

Argumentative 5th Grade Girl (speaking with her hands in an attempt to emphasize her point): "Yes!"

Me (now, not happy at all): "I am going to walk away and pretend this conversation did not happen because a teacher has the authority to run her classroom as if it were her own and not yours. This conversation is over."

Argumentative 5th Grade Girl (clearly upset that her powers over her parents don't work so well on other adults): "But she has no right..."

Me (turning to walk away): "The conversation better be over because if you continue it, you won't like how it ends."

Argumentative 5th Grade Girl (crossing her arms and stamping her feet as she spins her body to storm away): "I can't wait to tell my parents about this."

So, how many hours do you think will pass before the Superintendent calls me?

UPDATE (3/12/09): The mother called to tell me that Argumentative 5th Grade Girl was in trouble at home. The daughter went home to tell about the book incident and it turns out her parents had told her she could not read Twilight until she turned 12. They were upset with her trying to get others to bring it to school. Whew! You never know what is going to happen!

Monday, March 9, 2009

You can't judge a book by it's cover

Right before Mr. Strong and I got married, we were looking for a new stove to replace the aging one that came with the house we were buying. There was one department store where an obnoxious eager salesman was hoping to land a sale.

As soon as we walked in the store, he came running up to see if he could assist us. When we told him we were looking for a new stove, he proudly pointed to his name tag and pronounced he was the "Appliance Expert."

Sure enough, we looked at the name tag. And it, in fact, said he was the "Appliance Expert."

Honestly, I don't remember much of what the "Appliance Expert" said that day. I was a bit distracted by what one must do in order to become an "Appliance Expert."

Do you have to study the different breeds of appliances? Do you have to go live in the wild while simultaneously learning to coexist with appliances? And is data collected on what kinds of people order a particular color of appliance? I mean, it could be a well known fact that educators usually go for last year's "it" color since the pitiful size of their wallets help with that life altering decision.

And on a different note, why would someone want to become an "Appliance Expert?" I've met many children who have wanted to grow up to be a fireman, a nurse, a teacher, and even a principal. I've never met a future "Appliance Expert."

There are a lot of unanswered questions here and I'd appreciate some wisdom.

About a year after marrying Mr. Strong, I moved up to the position of "Principal." Even if it was never my goal, I do; however, take my job seriously. Why else would I dedicate my life to a mere 4 or 5 hours of sleep a night?

Today, a parent came in and demanded to see the principal (This surprises you? Well, it shouldn't because it happens several times a week.). She was UPSET and stamping her foot about blah, blah, blah and something that happened on the bus. When I walked out of my office, the parent was unable to hide her look of surprise. And I often get that look when someone doesn't know who I am. Many, many parents think I am a teacher. Or maybe even the counselor. But no one EVER walks right up to me and says, "Ah. You must be the principal."

And day after day, I find myself pointing to my name tag to let them know I am the "Principal." And it always takes me right back to that moment with the "Appliance Expert."

So, really. What does a principal look like?

This Tuesday (or Monday evening), the tribute is to my name tag. Without you, I might never be taken seriously.

Sunday, March 8, 2009

The weather is nicer. Now, it is time for the economy to follow suit.

I've lived in Georgia for over 35 years and I never remember having a winter quite like the one we just had. It seems Old Man Winter forgot his part of the pact to make winters mild. That is the deal we have in place for living where summers are hotter than that place down under. Granted, we don't usually get snow so I'm sure there a people who could one up me with their winter stories, but we chose to live where the snow doesn't fall. I don't really care to ever see snow at my house. Just sayin.

Yesterday, was gorgeous with temperatures in the upper 70s. I decided to take stock of what plants weren't frozen to death.

I do love that pansies are winter plants. They put up a fight throughout the freezing cold. And we appreciate their efforts.

Somehow, a few of the pink flowers made it. I don't know what they are but I like them. And the really stand out since the vast majority of the yard is brown and dead.

While pulling weeds (and how the heck do they thrive in the winter) from around the holly fern, I talked with my only favorite niece who lives in New York City (please say it with a really southern accent - because my niece likes it said that way).

She lost her job a couple of months ago. Throughout it all, she has kept a positive outlook but yesterday I could hear the desperation in her voice.

First, I wish I could go beat up her former bosses for letting her go. They are obviously idiots. Idiots without money. But still idiots.

And second, I wish I could send her a bazillion dollars so she wouldn't have to worry about money and rent and food.

My niece is a wonderful person who grew up with very little. She has worked hard for everything she has and it just slays me to hear the anxiety in her voice.

When I ventured into the front yard, I noticed some of the dogwoods blooming. Amazing how the blooms can just pop out overnight. And for some reason, it gave me a sense of hope.

This warmer weather is lifting my spirit.

After working for a while, it was time to take a break with Ms. Poopy. She was so excited about me getting out a blanket for us to lay on in the yard. And to show her appreciation, she promptly climbed on the blanket and peed. Thank you, Ms. Poopy. Nothing says spring like laying on a dog piss blanket.

Thursday, March 5, 2009

This is why I drink

Days like today make me eager to get home and relax with a spicy Bloody Mary or three. At least the added bonus is I'm getting my vegetables, too.

For some reason, various departments at my school system's Central Office called a variety of meetings. Conveniently, they fell on four consecutive days this week. Nothing says overwhelmed like not being at the school to get the work done and apparently, I'm not supposed to have a life and learn to just commit to working 24/7.

So, today, after getting back from a budget meeting (where *ironically* we were told to cut back on traveling to the Central Office for meetings as if we get paid for using an extra tank of gas - which makes me realize that someone is getting paid for their gas usage), I was greeted by a teacher who had had it with a particular child. I do believe there was smoke hovering around her ears.

Me (reading the office referral): So, why are you here? (I sound like a damn doctor don't I?)

Mr. Stares-A-Lot: shrugs his shoulder (At least he didn't answer with answers related to his health.)

Me: Seriously? You don't know why you are here? Would you like me to read the referral to you?

Mr. Stares-A-Lot: No, thanks. Ms. Mad Teacher is just a little angry because I make a lot of noises in the classroom. And she says the girl in front of me can't pay attention.

Me: Well, that is part of the problem. Ms. Mad Teacher has told you to lay off with the noises. And yet, you haven't stopped. Is there a problem?

Mr. Stares-A-Lot: Kind of. You see, I make the noises even if I don't think about them.

Me: Well, you aren't making them now. Have a go at it. Make some of the noises. I want to hear just how annoying you are in the classroom.

Mr. Stares-A-Lot (after a pregnant pause): Ummmm... Well... Ummmmm...

Me (thinking I've made him really uncomfortable): If you can make the noises in the classroom you can make them here. I want to hear what you've been doing.

Mr. Stares-A-Lot: Well, then can I have a piece of paper?

Me (with that head cocked-to-the-side confused look): A piece of paper?

Mr. Stares-A-Lot: Yeah. You see, first I need to make the paper airplane.

Sadly, our airplane escapades were interrupted by a bus driver bringing a runaway 4th grade student back to school. Apparently, Mr. Runaway wasn't allowed to go out for recess because his mother wanted him indoors due to an ear infection. He decided to run back to the house (only 5 or 6 miles away) to change his mother's mind. Thankfully, a bus was driving on the VERY BUSY road and tricked Mr. Runaway to get on the bus by telling him she'd take him home. She brought him back to school instead.

Me (barely able to speak with the fear of all that could have gone wrong): What were you thinking?

Mr. Runaway: I don't want anyone to yell at me?

Me (regaining vocal abilities): Well, you picked a fine way to show that.

In the end, Mr. Runaway's mother came rushing to the school when I called her. She promptly held and cuddled him and I was shocked because if it had been my son I probably would have smacked him across the room for being so stupid. When I announced Mr. Runaway would be a Kindergarten student (remember, he is a 4th grader) the next day because I couldn't trust that he wouldn't run away, the mother argued and said he shouldn't have to be punished because, after all, he scared the living holy crap out of us imagining all the things that could have gone wrong.

It saddens me when parents don't get the simple rules of the universe.

Good choices = good consequences
Bad choices = bad consequences

And the worst part is this mother is currently going to school to be a teacher.

Wednesday, March 4, 2009

I sleep with Santa Claus

First, I was tagged by Only A Movie (one of my favorite hangouts for reading - I love her insight and calmness) for a meme and I am to list seven things about me. And since this has been the meeting week from hell (I have fanny fatigue, I tell ya), I decided to play along. Plus, I'm just a rule follower at heart.

Mr. Strong is Santa Claus

1 - I really do sleep with Santa Claus. My Jewish husband has been Santa Claus for over 30 years. I actually sat on his lap as a kid (me as the kid, him as the Santa). Kind of sick, huh?

2 - I was almost 40 before I really learned to eat strawberries. I always loved the taste but had to learn to get past the seedy texture. And the chocolate helped.

3 - I only taught for three years before moving into administration. You know what they say. Screw up, move up.

4 - I miss teaching and I dream of moving back to the classroom. I was a special education teacher and I'd love to be right back in the middle of a class of Emotional Behavior Disorder filled students. Those are my kind of people.

5 - My favorite word is sequester and my favorite math fact is 7x8. What? You don't have a favorite math fact? You should try it.

6 - My closet is organized by clothes type. And color. I can get dressed in the dark (which is handy during hurricane season) and still match.

7 - I get attached to cars. All of the cars in my life have had names. And they have all been girls. My first car was Agnes (as in Agnes of God) and we were together for 13 years. I was truly brokenhearted when Agnes left her earthly home for that place in the sky.

I was also tagged by Michel at Facts are Strictly Optional for a different type of meme. If you haven't read her, she is funny!

The first rule of this Meme (you decide, is it Me Me or Meme as in theme) is that you put Your Name in a Google search and post your results.

Well, Beth came up with the Kiss song, Beth. Which totally rocks. Cuz they can hear me callin'. Which is probably more than I can say about my own ears.

And as for the tagging of others, do we have any volunteers? Anyone? Any one? Bueller?


Tuesday, March 3, 2009

This one's for you, Mr. Happy

Dear Mr. Happy,

Sometimes a mother needs a moment to reflect. And be sappy. So I'll start with you. Besides your brother still needs attitude adjustments.

You were my first baby. Even though it wasn't a "planned" pregnancy, looking back I realize you were just what I needed. You came into my world and simultaneously reorganized my priorities. I like me more now that I am a mother. You'd have liked this me over the pre-mother me, too.

Honestly, I have loved every stage of your life. When you didn't sleep, your grandmother smiled with satisfaction at the payback I was getting. But as for me, I learned to hide the clocks (even putting electric tape over the one on the VCR) so I wouldn't know what time it was when you got me up (over and over again, on many nights). All you seemed to want was to be rocked and held. And after 9 months of being right under my breasts, it felt good to have you so close again. I can still hear the squeak of the rocking chair, feel the warmth of the blankets, and smell that sweet baby-clean scent that makes people swoon. With mixed emotions, I have to admit I miss those long, long nights.

When your brother came along two years later, you instantly seemed so much bigger. So much older. And I'm afraid in return, I lost a lot of patience. I remember thinking "if I could have just one day where no one cries, I'd be happy." And that day came and went and I didn't notice. What I would give to have one more poop-filled, snotty nosed, I neeeeeeed my mommy kind of day again.

You, however, waited it out with seemingly adult-like patience. You always were my sensitive one. When I was sad or upset, there was no fooling you. Once, you even followed me around with a box of tissues. And I felt guilty for you knowing I was upset. I wonder if one day a wife will appreciate this sensitivity in you? I hope so.

You were only four when your father and I decided our marriage couldn't be fixed. We worked hard to keep things the same through these drastic, life-altering changes. And, overall, you seemed to be okay. Sadly, you did lose some of your openness by shutting out some people who wanted to be in your circle. But those who were in got the benefit of really knowing you. To the others, you seemed sullen, moody and unreachable. They just didn't know.

The years seemed to race by giving no hesitation to my thoughts on stopping the merry-go-round to take a moment to reflect. The pictures in my mind all flash in sync like the ultimate photo story. School, sleepovers, riding a bike, baseball, soccer, trips to the beach, braces, a trip to New York, band, driving, going to school dances, going to Europe.

Once, after Mr. Strong and I had been dating for a couple of years, he told me you acted like the man of the house. And I knew it was true. I didn't ask you to take on that role. You just did it by default and I worry it was too heavy a load to carry.

And while it hasn't all been peachy-keen, it has been our story. Still, your wisdom and patience amaze me. You are wise beyond your years. Thanks for being someone who will talk to his mother. Someone who never quit saying "I love you" even when his friends were around. Someone who was kind to all people. Someone who wasn't so into what was popular. Basically, thank you for being my son.


Sunday, March 1, 2009

Trust me when I say the movie version would be better

As the saying goes, getting old ain't for sissies. This past weekend, my mother-in-law was moved from her apartment in a retirement complex to assisted living within the same complex.

It would be safe to say she didn't want to go.

About a month ago, we had all agreed to move her after many nights of her calling in the middle of the night wanting someone to come pick her up from the hotel. She never remembered how she got there. And she was amazed they had EXACTLY the same furniture as she did. Personally, my favorite conversations were the ones when she said she was in synagogue and how are you doing. Weirdly, the synagogue also had EXACTLY the same furniture as she did.

The plans were in order when my brother-in-law called off the whole thing. He backed out because she told him to fucking take her off his to-do list and leave her the heck alone because if you want to see crazy, move her there and she was going to show us crazy. And we had to agree with him. It sounded like a conversation of a capable, well-adjusted woman.

That is, until she fell. And didn't remember what to do. It scared us and we knew we had to do something.

So the move got put back on the schedule. I drove two hours to her apartment only to find her still in bed. Passive aggressive was the thought rolling through my mind. My brother-in-law met me in the parking lot to announce he couldn't get her to budge.

Ok. I knew I needed to pull some tricks out of the hat. Maybe something from my stint as a middle school teacher of kids with behavior disorders would help. Only I knew I couldn't call a principal or her parents for backup. I had to find carrot to dangle.

Me: "Mom, let's get up. We are going to have a girl's day. Just you and me."

Mom: "Is this necessary?"

Me: "Well, yeah. We need to get up and moving."

Mom: "I'm so tired. I just wanted to sleep in today."

The conversation continued like this for about 10 more minutes. Until I was willing to hang up the halo for good and get really mean reached the point of desperation.

Me: "If you don't get up, I'm going to go get one of the moving men to scoop you up and put you in your wheelchair. You wouldn't want to go hang out in the social hall in your panties now would you?"

This got her attention. Within 20 minutes, I had her pottied, dressed and in her wheelchair.

As we headed out, I offered to fix her breakfast. She quickly told me she was mad and she was not eating. Even when I offered her some bread and cake, she refused to eat.

Great. A hunger strike. There are already issues with her fitting into her skin. For a woman whose primary sustenance is cake and bread, she is skinny, skinny, skinny.

We first settled into the social hall. I tried to get her to talk about her past. About her children (especially Mr. Strong as a wee lad). About her marriage. Just about her life. But she kept expressing how angry she was at everyone. When I asked her if it was hard when she moved her mother into a nursing home, she said no because her mother was talking crazy and she needed the help. Ummmm. Ok.

In one corner of the social hall, there were women doing some sit down exercises. I tried to get Mom to join in. She was still seething about having to get out of bed for the move and not willing to give up the pity party. That was about the time she noticed the haggard looking woman in the red jacket.

Mom (kind of whispering but really not which lets me know that the decibel level of whispers is probably genetically passed on since I previously thought Mr. Strong learned to whisper in a heavy metal concert): "That lady over there is so mean."

Me: "Shhh. I think she and everyone else heard you."

Mom: "I don't care. She is mean."

Normally, I am a risk taker but considering Mom's agitated state, I decided to move her. Especially since the lady in the red jacket was now glaring at Mom. Plus, if she wanted to scrap, she had several clear advantages over Mom. Advantages like walking and being able to raise both arms up over her head.

We moved over to a table of older, non-exercising ladies. They all seemed to know Mom and expressed their concern over not seeing her for months and months. When she pouted and told them she was being moved into assisted living, they all looked at me and nodded while telling her that it was a great place to live. One of the ladies offered Mom a cookie and she refused as she was still too mad to eat (But don't you love the idea of sitting in the social hall watching the exercisers while nibbling on cookies!). As the conversation progressed, one of the ladies talked about how much she loved the sub sandwiches from the grocery store down the street. Mom agreed. When I offered to go get her one, she happily said yes. Deal! The hunger strike was over in less than two hours.

After several hours of conversing (we had several conversations over and over) and hanging out, Mom's room was ready. We spent some time getting her settled in when she finally admitted it wasn't so bad.

All the remaining things from her apartment are now housed in our garage. And that made me kind of sad. The random pieces of furniture and the relics are sad reminders of the life this family once lived.

And I am a bit sad I couldn't get some great tales for her children, grandchildren and beyond.

But we did get this fantastic bird. It was Mom's grandmother's show piece (I think that makes it a bazillion years old). Isn't it wicked!?