>We bicker like family.

>Our staff meetings are loud. Passionate, enthusiastic, fast paced, argumentative. People interrupt each other, speak forcefully, gesture with their clipboards and coffee and pens and knitting needles (knitting needles? I thought knitting was supposed be calming?!). No one wants to give in; each and every one of us wants what we need and what we want. Bend an inch? No, thank you. Putting together a testing schedule, accommodating requests, making class lists, establishing services for special groups, balancing budgets, determining goals or mission statements, and getting enough supplies… all take cooperation and compromise. Somehow, we get it done, and we do what’s best for the children we serve.

Lunch periods are rushed. I usually spend my 40 minute lunch break making copies, setting up math materials, cleaning up science labs, and returning phone calls and emails. That is, if I’m not fielding concerns from one or two of the many teachers in my team or listening to colleagues rant because they know I’m a safe sounding board.

But when push comes to shove, I cannot imagine a more caring, spontaneous, and supportive group of coworkers.

I walked in last Friday morning exhausted, lugging my heavy schoolbag, my purse, my lunch bag, and a special treat for surviving a challenging week: a cup of hazelnut coffee from Jo to Go. I walked down a few stairs to put my lunch in the lounge refrigerator, back up those same three stairs and tripped. Hard. Down on my knees, rammed my right wrist on the floor, and lost the entire cup of coffee. As I watched that precious liquid coursing across the floor, I felt ridiculously close to tears.

Immediately, before I even stood, I was surrounded by five people sporting rags and paper towels, helping me stand, asking if I was okay, wiping up the coffee, moving my bag and purse so they didn’t get damaged, and generally taking over to make sure all was well with the world again.

And then the physical education teacher brought me a fresh cup of coffee from her own personal stash in the office off the gym.

Again, even as I laughed at my klutziness, despaired of my bruised knees and ego, I had a sense of gratitude and a feeling of being very, very lucky.

If I had to have a bad day, I’m glad I work here.

Happy Love Thursday, everybody.

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>Actual "discussion" at the supper table

>We were discussing, of all things, social skills and social awkwardness.

La Petite: I have good social skills. *Braaap*
Husband: That’s *Braaap* Excuse me. Care to try that again?
La Petite: *Braap* Excuse me. Was that better?
Me: (hides behind napkin and pretends not to be at the table with these two heathens)
Husband to La Petite: She’s going to blog this.
Husband to me: It’s spelled B-R-A-A-P.

Where was Amigo? In the den, already finished with supper, laughing and wishing he could belch on command like his sister and father can.

Happy Love Thursday, everyone. I hope your families are more civilized than mine.

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>role reversal

>I came home from the July Fourth Fireworks to find La Petite sitting on the couch holding a clipboard: my clipboard, with my latest and greatest rough draft of a grad school project. She had pen in hand and was proofreading, revising, and making suggestions.
I used to do this for her. The last time I proofed one of hers was a full three years ago, when she was a freshman in college. Now she helps her friends when they need advice, and now, yes, now, she’s helping her mother.
The comments all sound like a 21-yr-old. Here’s a sampling:

This is a long and confusing sentence.
What the cr** is this supposed to mean?
Make this verb active, not passive.
Check APA style.
Is this really related to (the topic)?

Then there were the comments she made that built on my own comments and revisiions.
My notes: Run-on
Hers: Yup. You dangled a participle, too.
My notes: best word?
Hers: Yes.

The next morning she referred to my run-on sentences as “Awesome” as in “Mom, that run-on sentence that was the whole paragraph by itself? That was awesome.”
Maybe she meant awe-inspiring. After all, I did teach her writing class in 6th grade. She got some of her skills from me, somehow.
Later, though, she had to ask me how many cups were in a quart. Then she had to ask if we had any three-quart containers for the planting kit she wanted to assemble. Snicker. Mom still knows best. Wait…I was her math teacher in 6th grade, too….

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>April Showers bring May — flowers?

>PTA decided to extend Teacher Appreciation Week to be two weeks long. They asked kids to bring in flowers. Despite the poor quality photo from my cell phone camera, I think you can see that I feel appreciated. Yes, that’s my messy desk behind the vase. Hey, it’s May. My workload is at its heaviest right now. In other words, it’s the perfect time for kids to give me flowers.

But I must say I like these flowers even better.

P.S. PTA gave us “breakfast” in the lounge at recess, including Starbucks coffee. W00T!!

Happy Love Thursday, everyone.

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>What’s your return policy?

>It isn’t wordless, so it’s not Wordless Wednesday. It’s definitely not an illustration of dedication and unconditional love, familial or otherwise, so it’s not a Love Thursday. I see this sign every time I take La Petite grocery shopping, and I finally had to take out my cell phone and snap a picture. Taken literally, it just doesn’t work. Come to think of it, the sign doesn’t really click in the figurative sense, either.

I still think it’s crying out for a caption. But maybe, just maybe, the label stands on its own. Perhaps I should say it parks in its own…never mind.

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>I can see the ground!! And — and — more!

>It’s not exactly aesthetically pleasing. Muddy brown, with old half-decomposed leaves, sunbleached boards that soaked up their share of snow for months, and a snake-like dead zucchini vine.

It’s not traditionally beautiful. The trellis is falling down, and that is an old broom handle leaning against the wall. One lone (dead) raspberry bush, if you can even dignify it with the term, stands weakly in the dirt, untrimmed last fall and uneaten by the neighborhood wild bunnies over the winter.

But walk around the corner and look closely. Not green, but red: the rhubarb is poking its head through the matted blanket of last fall’s leaves. Mmm. I can taste the muffins already.

Happy Love Thursday, everyone. I hope you’ll all see the sun, and soon.

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>Valentine, will you be mine?


I’ve never been a big celebrator of Valentine’s Day. Husband and I used to go out for lunch or dinner when we were young and childless. Now and then we’d get a sitter and do the same thing. But now, we rarely celebrate this seemingly created-by-Hallmark date on the calendar. We have some nice Valentine stories in our past, and it’s a good time to look at wine glass as half full rather than half empty or (in engineering language) twice as big as it needs to be.

In the deep and philosophical approach, a day when Husband knew what I needed and took care of it, would be nice. But those days don’t happen very often because, well, we don’t need them very often. We take care of ourselves and each other a lot, but we also make sure there’s a little specialness now and then.

My February 14th would have been exhausting and crazy, if I’d been in school. I feel for my substitute! Being sick on Valentine’s Day was not in my planning book. My students are usually almost as hyped as they are for Christmas. Sugar, holiday, big snowstorm, long weekend ahead…oh, this sub might never speak to me again.

Husband has Friday, February 15th off, but it won’t be an easy day. He will be home with Amigo all day because teachers have staff development and students have no classes. They’ll probably sleep in, have a late breakfast, and then Husband will start packing for his weekend train show. As soon as I get home (if I’m well enough to go, that is), he’ll hit the road.

I don’t need a celebration of the hearts and flowers type. I’ll put a simple supper on the table Thursday as usual for a weekday, maybe simpler than usual due to the extra stress of being ill. If Husband is home early enough, maybe we’ll break open a bottle of wine and relax a little bit.

But I have to admit, he surprised me this morning with a coffee mug flower arrangement and a small package of really nice chocolates. What a sweetie!
Happy Love Thursday, everyone.

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>Winter Break, and the livin’ is (not) easy

>To do list for today:

  • Clean bunny litter boxes
  • Return overdue book on tape to the library
  • Pay fine on overdue book on tape (cringe)
  • Buy bunny food and bread
  • Sign and mail adjudicator contracts for 2008 music festivals
  • Update family prescriptions
  • Take Amigo to doctor to look at potential ear infection
  • Pick up prescription for ear infection (When Amigo says his ear hurts, he’s usually infected)
  • Fill car with gas for La Petite’s trip to job interview at her university
  • Prepare car for possible winter emergency in case back roads are bad on the way to university
  • Remind La Petite to pack food, since her apartment cupboards are bare
  • Make sure all errands are done before La Petite leaves us temporarily without wheels
  • Laundry, including La Petite’s extra baskets
  • Pack boxes for thrift store pick-up tomorrow
  • Clean kitchen (again)
  • Fill refrigerator with fruit from music dept. fundraiser
  • Write thank you notes for student gifts (smile; fourth graders are still cute)
  • Grind coffee beans (oh, such a sacrifice: two Christmas gifts inlcuded whole bean coffee)
  • Nibble on Christmas cookies
  • Read A Wrinkle in Time with Amigo (he got the Braille edition for Christmas)
  • Snuggle up on the couch and watch CNN or the Weather Channel
  • Catch up on Time Magazines and sip coffee or hot cocoa

Come to think of it, maybe the livin’ isn’t so hard after all. Any to-do list that includes reading, nibbling on cookies and sipping coffee can’t be all bad.

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>Three things I hope my children will inherit

>There won’t be any heirlooms or trust funds, surprise visits to the Antiques Road Show, or other unexpected windfalls for my children to inherit. Instead, I wish for them these three thoughts, these three concepts.
I hope my children will inherit a passion for learning. Whether they seek knowledge through books, the Internet, or quality cable television, I hope they will always want their minds to grow.
I hope my children will inherit an attitude of caring and stewardship for the world they live in. They might take on the reality of slogans such as Think Globally, Act Locally and Reduce, Reuse, Recycle. Maybe they’ll grow gardens or have compost bins of their own. Their generation may find new, more efficient ways to care for and preserve our Earth. Whatever the future holds for the land around them, I hope my children take an active part in it.
And finally, I hope my children will inherit an appreciation and enjoyment of stories, their own and those of others. Family stories, often passed on in the oral tradition, are part of the fabric of our lives. (“Brother, you’re adorable.” “Mom! She called me adorable! Mom, what’s adorable?”) Those stories we learn from others are part of their fabrics, woven to complement and contrast our own. Stitched together, they make a patchwork quilt of both harmony and dissonance, and ultimately a richness that cannot be equaled.

Would you like to join the Group Writing Project organized by Jordan at MamaBlogga, click here for more information or a submission form.

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