Thursday, October 29, 2009

Love, Grandparent-Style

IMG_6854 After spending a weekend with my extended family for a wedding, I couldn’t help but notice just how feeble my grandparents have become.  Still, I can only hope to be as strong as they have been in character and determination.

It was 1944 when my grandmother was busy working in her garden on the little farm my grandparents had purchased.  Their first baby, my mother, was due that summer and my grandfather had just come home from the war for leave until the baby came.  For extra money, my grandfather, a pilot, taught flying lessons.  It seemed like a great idea until one of his students flew the plane into the ground.

My grandmother’s whole world crashed around her.  How did she have the strength at 20 years of age to handle being a widow while expecting a baby?

My mother came along, right on schedule.  Since my grandparents had already agreed to name a boy Junior, my mother was saddled with her father’s name (which is a whole different story). 

Right after the accident, the grandfather I know arrived on the scene.  He loved my grandmother and wanted to take care of her.  Two years later, they were married – despite the protests from his family (this wasn’t the time or age where men married widows and took care of children not fathered by them).  They went on to have two more children, another girl and a boy. 

Next month will mark their sixty-third anniversary.

We should be so lucky to be loved as they have loved each other. 

Friday, October 23, 2009

Black is the new, well, um… black

For the wedding I am attending this weekend, I’ll be wearing my little black dress.

black dress Not my dress.  But you get the idea.

Along with my fabulous sparkly black high heeled shoes.


And for fun, I’ll be sporting a new black accessory.

black eye This is a fairly accurate depiction of how my eye looks.

For the record, I blame the Yankees.


Before anyone gets all excited and calls 1-800-Poor Gal, I need to explain how this happened.  Mr. Strong got all excited about the Yankees scoring some runs and excitedly rolled over to tell me.  In the process, his elbow connected with my eye.  Apparently, my eye is allergic to his elbow.

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Randomness Mess

If you’ve been a reader of this blog for any length of time, you’ll know that Miss Poopy is the pack leader a demanding little yapper our precious dog who had back surgery almost two years ago when she became paralyzed after a disc ruptured in her spine.  She was only three years old at the time of her surgery and our whole house changed as a result into a doggy yellowy pee-y river and pile o’ poop abode

The miracle is that we let her live she can walk now albeit a bit like slinky dog!

The other day, I found something just for Miss Poopy!


A diaper!  Obviously, Miss Poopy hates loves it!  Please disregard her tail drooping and the fact that she is hiding her head in shame.  Miss Poopy lasted almost 5 minutes in her diaper before she peed it up we decided to remove it. 

For Hanukkah, I’m thinking of getting Miss Poopy a special gift since she has been such a needy good dog.


A Snuggie for dogs!  How awesome is that?!  Are there any other suggestions for gifts that can shame for my sweet doggie?

Sunday, October 18, 2009

Thoughts while running

It’s cold. Hope the cheap gloves are warm enough. Wow. It really warmed up. Let’s toss the gloves into this driveway. Hasn’t it been 5 minutes yet? Ugh. I’m not sure I can do this for an hour. Yay! I made it 5 minutes. Only 55 to go. Focus. On something besides running.

Spanish mission architecture. Colonial homes. God, I love the south. Blue skies. Magnolias. Big oaks. Spanish moss. Crap. Did the Spanish Moss touch me? I hope I didn’t get any chiggers. Note to self: Get clear fingernail polish to get rid of chigger infestation. Also, need to get manicure. And pedicure.

Sprinkler system. Magnolia leaves. Slippery as owl crap. Almost fell. Sidewalk uneven. Grass is, too. Puddle. Jump. Almost made it. Squish. I don’t know if I can make it. I’m just pretending to be a runner. Think about something. Anything. Good song. Don’t Let Me Down. Love the Beatles. Still. Remember when Mr. Happy was one? And knew the names of the Beatles? And he liked the word rhododendrons. Rhododendrons. Cool word. Better than azalea.

How much longer? Halfway? I can do this. I think I can. Donut shop. Closed today. Lunch? Maybe a salad. Or soup. And grilled cheese. With ketchup. Wrong to think about food while running. No wonder I don’t lose weight. Pink ribbons. Signs. Save the tatas. Funny. C in high school. B after having babies. A after running. Not fair. No one saved my tatas. Wish it were my rump that shrunk.

How much longer? Did the timer mess up? 15 more minutes? Think about something. Passed someone. With a Mountain Dew. Thirsty. Cars. Refocus. The cars. Not me. Cemetery. Old one. Thoughts of my father. Remember when he went through the health phase? With the bicycles? Sister still can’t ride a bike. She’s been talking to me more lately. Maybe things are better. Looking forward to Thanksgiving. Pumpkin cheesecake. Cranberry bars. Stop it. Quit thinking about food.

Uh oh. Dog. Mangy. Barking. Heart racing. Chasing. Screaming. Need pepper spray. What good are leash laws? Wish I could take Miss Poopy for a run. Poor, gimpy dog. How much longer? I hate the voice in my iPod. She is mean. She taunts. She can’t tell time. Slow. Backwards. I. Don’t. Think. I. Can. Do. This.

Five more minutes? I can do this. I can make it. Dyin’ To Get Home. Perfect song. Really. Just around the block. Blue skies. Cool breeze.

I did it!

So. When will I feel like a real runner?


What I love about Sunday morning

My mother would tell you there is something wrong with my wiring.  I can’t sleep late.  I have vivid memories of my mother showing me what the clock had to look like before I woke her on the weekends.  My husband has had the same conversation with me. 

Most Sunday mornings, I run my long run for the week.  Today, I decided to savor the morning and run later in the day. Besides, it is COLD outside!


As I fixed my first cup of coffee, I noticed the message on the Splenda packet.

Be sweet.  Pass it on.

Just as I was sitting down to warm my hands and my soul with some some strong coffee, Miss Poopy sounded out from her crib in the bedroom.  As we stepped out into the cool morning air, the sky was beginning to light up – much like someone turning up the dimmer switch.


A harsh, “Shhh.  No barking!” warning was given to Miss Poopy.  The birds were singing as we headed back in to snuggle on the sofa.  There is something calming about how needed I am to this little dog.  Her sighs, the way she conforms her body to mine, tucking her nose under the blanket give me a sense of things being right with the world.  Breathing in her sweet dogginess and relishing this time I have alone, it dawned on me.  Sunday morning is my favorite time of the week.


Friday, October 16, 2009

When a joke backfires

Yesterday was our last day of school before getting out for two days of Fall Break and a furlough day.  We were giddy with excitement which may or may not have accounted for some of our poor judgment

Coincidentally, my assistant principal and academic coach were gone to a training.  Somehow, the idea to do something to their offices was hatched.  My secretaries and I made a pact to blame the ghost that inhabits our school.

This school year, we have a western theme going on and as a joke earlier in the year, I hung up two buffalo right outside my academic coach’s office.  She has commented on them several times.  We decided to wad up brown paper to make buffalo patties on the floor.  In an effort to make it look more realistic, we sprinkled in some grass.  Then we made a sign “While you are gone, you never know where the buffalo will roam.” 

For my assistant principal, we went to one of my new favorite websites ( to print up some pictures to replace in her 18 picture frames cluttering scattered all over her office.


Seriously, this is a much better picture than the one she had of her daughter getting married.

Click on the picture to visit Awkward Family Photos. You won’t be sorry.

We were pleased with our efforts especially since it had been a very busy day.  

Last night, as I was slothing on the sofa, my cell phone rang.  It was one of my secretaries.  She was almost crying because she had just checked her email and our academic coach had sent a message about how disappointed she was and that she didn’t appreciate our BULL and we should GROW UP.  Being the concerned responsible principal I am, I called her.  And when I heard her laughing, I knew the BEST joke had been played on us!

Still, because obviously I’m immature I can’t wait to see my assistant principal’s face next Wednesday morning when she sees her office.

Monday, October 12, 2009

Sometimes we all need a little perspective


Today was Monday.  All day long.  I’m really not trying to be a Master of the Obvious.

The fire alarm was set off twice by the AC repair guy soldering wires in the electrical room.  The good news is that we get to count this as our monthly practice fire drill.  The bad news, we had to evacuate the building in the rain.  Even though the teachers fussed, I had to laugh when the kids cheered about the fire trucks arriving on the scene.

The aforementioned air conditioner is still not working in our Media Center.  This can’t be good for the books all of us during the freak heat wave.  The good news is that we are getting a totally new AC unit for the Media Center.  The bad news is that they think this will be up and running by freaking Thursday.  I wonder if they’d work faster if we all wore our bathing suits.  Then again, they might just pour bleach into their eyes.

Just when we thought things might slow down in the clinic because how many kids can puke at school on one day, little Mr. Why Walk When I Can Run ran into the fence and cut his eye and forehead.  The good news is that it WILL be better before he gets married even if he thinks getting married is yucky.  The bad news is that he needed 8 stitches. 

As the day pulsed on giving no indication of ever slowing down, in walked Mr. Hero donning a Sponge Bob Square Pants face mask.  Mr. Hero was sent home with flu-like symptoms almost a month ago.  When he didn’t get better, the doctor ordered more tests and sent the boy to some specialists.  The end result for this 7-year old trooper was a diagnosis of Leukemia.  Mr. Hero wanted to see his friends at school before he had to go back into the hospital for another spinal tap and chemo.

As I fought back tears, I stood in awe at the strength and tenacity in this little guy.  Suddenly, I realized it had been a great day.

Sunday, October 11, 2009

Next time, I’m going to hang out with the kids

wedding dress

Designer wedding dress: $4000

wedding cupcakes

Specialty wedding cupcakes: $750

royal restroom

Rental of Royal Restroom with music and air conditioning: $6000


Repellant to fight plague of mosquitoes in record heat and gill growing humidity: $150

people standing in line

People standing in line for restroom because the flower girls realized the only air conditioned spot was in the Royal Restroom:  Priceless

Saturday, October 10, 2009

Exactly what is the age of responsibility?

According to some of my parents, we can’t expect young children to bear any responsibility for their actions.

Mad Parent:  “I want to know why my son rode the bus home to my empty apartment when I told the teacher he was going to after school care!”

Me: “Ma’am.  I know you are upset and I understand.  Your son was lined up to go to after school care in the lunchroom but he chose to get into the bus line to go home.  He told us that he wanted to play with his friend at home.  He has a responsibility to go where he is told to go.”

Mad Parent: “But how could he be responsible?  He is only 5 years old!”

Me: “Ma’am.  We have to start teaching responsibility from the time children are very young.  We have children with special needs who understand that they have to go where the teacher tells them to go.  The ones with more significant needs have someone assigned to them.  But I don’t believe that is what your son needs.  He just needs a consequence in place if he doesn’t follow directions.”

Mad Parent: “He will not be held responsible for this!  And I don’t care if someone does have to be assigned to my son.  I just need a guarantee that he will never be allowed to move to a different line when leaving at the end of the day!”

Then again, according to some of my teachers, they are free from responsibility, too.

Whining Teacher (at 7:35 a.m. – school starts at 7:45 a.m.): “I need to take a sick day today because <insert any minor reason here>.”

Me: “You are supposed to call that in to the substitute finding service by 6:30 a.m.  The only exception is when there is an emergency and this doesn’t sound like an emergency.”

Whining Teacher: “Well, I didn’t know.  You haven’t told us that before.”

Me: “Actually, I’ve told you every year at the beginning of the year for the past 4 years.  In addition, it is in the Faculty Handbook in which you signed acknowledging that you’d read it.”

Whining Teacher: “How am I supposed to remember everything in that manual?  You should have reminders about this more often.  It is not my fault.”

So, any ideas on when I can expect people to be responsible?

Tuesday, October 6, 2009

My mother probably should have named me Helen

We (and by we I mean me and anyone who has decided to tell me that I can't hear because that won't happen twice, eh?) have known about my hearing issues since I was about two years old. Apparently, my mother had the wherewithal to realize that my chimpanzee-like speech was not going to be acceptable in society although people should be more understanding since we likely descended from apes. Back in the day, my hearing aid consisted of a box strapped to my chest with delightful wires running up to the earpieces wedged into my ears. According to my mother, I frequently pulled the plug on this sound enhancing contraption.

In first grade, I got my first behind-the-ear hearing aids and started regular sessions with a speech therapist. And for the record it is EASY to get words such as kitchen and chicken confused. But I get it now. One you eat and one you eat in. I was well on my way to becoming a normal little girl. Well, normal as it applies to me.

If only the kids hadn't noticed the ear accessories that sometimes squealed maniacally. I hated standing out. I hated not being able to hear well. I hated that my mother always insisted I sit on the front row in the classroom. I hated that my teachers couldn't remember to face the class when they taught because while they may have had eyes in the back of their head, they did NOT have lips there causing me great difficulty in reading their lips.

Enter Mrs. L, my 5th grade teacher. After breaking my leg, I was moved to the far right front row seat. There, I began to struggle to read the squiggles on the board. Surely the teacher was not using the appropriate amount of pressure on the chalk while writing on the board. I squinted and squirmed and tried to read her hieroglyphics. Mrs. L called my mother in for a meeting. Within days, I was fitted with a pair of glasses that would have made John Denver proud.

I hated my glasses. I hated having to work the stems around my hearing aids in order to find to right place for my ears to be able to support all my correction devices. Again, I stood out only now I stood out as the poor girl who couldn't hear or see.

Time passed. I learned to wear contacts. I learned to pronounce most words if only all words followed the sensible rules that make phonics work. And I learned to stand up for myself.

Truthfully, I still hate not being able to hear or see well. But I do love having the gift that this struggle has brought me. When I was teaching middle school kids with behavior disorders, they appreciated that I clearly had faults. My elementary students and parents like knowing that I was once a struggling student. I think it gives them hope "See, Ms. Beth couldn't hear a jackhammer in the next room and here she is a principal! Who would have thunk that? So, now you know you have what it takes to pull your act together.".

Still, I need someone to explain to me why it is fair that I may soon need some freaking bifocals (contacts).

Thursday, October 1, 2009

Wishful Thinking - with a little help from John Mayer

One day, I really do wish I could say what I want to say.  What I should have said.  There are a lot of things out there that really aren’t funny and should probably be said.  Still, I want to be able to earn my retirement.  Maybe I should look into placing advertisements on my blog.

“Take all of your wasted honor
Every little past frustration
Take all of your so-called problems,
Better put ‘em in quotations

Say what you mean to say…”

If I were independently rich felt like my job wouldn’t be in jeopardy, I’d have a lot of things I’d like to say to my supervisors.  It speaks volumes about how out of touch you are with what is going on in the schools when you call me during dismissal time.  And let’s not even open the can of worms called “passing the buck.”  You are the boss.  That means it is in your power to make a decision and stick with it - even if there are some who don’t like it.  Just grow a spine.

“Walking like a one man army
Fighting with the shadows in your head
Living out the same old moment
Knowing you'd be better off instead,
If you could only ...

Say what you mean to say…”

If there could be a motto to use with my teachers, it would be, “Grow UP!”  How old do you freakin have to be to figure out that life ain’t exactly fair.  Learn to take the high road despite having ovaries.  And just because you don’t agree with a rule doesn’t mean it is your right to challenge it.  Besides, the grass will never grow in the side yard if you don’t stop parking your car there.  And, yes, I do think you need the extra exercise that you’ll get by parking in the teacher parking lot.

“Have no fear for giving in
Have no fear for giving over
You'd better know that in the end
Its better to say too much
Then never say what you need to say again”

The creatively cruel manners of some parents never cease to amaze me.  There is absolutely nothing funny about using duct tape in any shape or form as a means for discipline.  And not having your kids in school on time or at all because you are too sorry to get up is educational neglect.  Try to put yourself in your kid’s shoes.  It isn’t fun being the one who is always tardy or trying to catch up on missing assignments.  It is obvious you can procreate well.  Now try to learn how to demonstrate a caring attitude.

“Even if your hands are shaking
And your faith is broken
Even as the eyes are closing
Do it with a heart wide open

Say what you mean to say…”

Some of my students can be so mean.  And so street smart.  How sad I feel for you and your loss of innocence.  Who treated you so cruelly that you felt it was okay to do the same to another human being?  I hope one day you’ll know that you were loved.  Even when I was disappointed or angry, you were loved.

Just don’t grow up to be one of those spineless supervisors, whining teachers, or disassociated parents.  There is only so long I can hold my tongue.  There will come that day when I really will say what I mean to say.