Friday, May 30, 2008

Man, am I going to be in trouble

Take a gander at this fella and tell me I won't be beating the girls off with sticks.....

Yet another one for the books...

School years, that is. Over and out, another school year done. I am now the proud momma to a 4th and 2nd grader. Don't ask, I have no idea how that happened, either. 4th grade? My students are 4th graders, and for the most part, they are 'big kids'. Guess that means my gargantuanly tall kiddo is technically a big kid, too! Don't know when it happened, and sure as heck don't know if I am ready for it!

I spent so much time lately in the mode of "and I need to do this, and this, and this, and this andthisandthisandthis.." that when I woke up yesterday morning, and it was all done, I didn't know what to do with myself. My paperwork is done, my room is not only packed up, but mostly moved, grades are in, goodbyes have been said.... what on earth am I to do with myself until Swim Team starts, and I have a few more "need to do this and this" to keep me busy? I am sure I will figure something out - give me a few days to get used to the idea of vacation, let alone the practice of it, and I'm sure I will be fine!

It was a strange couple of days, this last week. I've mentioned it before, but the group of 8th graders who just graduated have been with me since I started at my current school. They were 3rd graders when I started, and I have known a few of them rather well since they were in 5th grade. While certainly not as dramatic as the scene from "Grey's Anatomy" where Cristina and George have the conversation about not knowing how to exist in a world where their father is not,(this was part of the 2 parter from season 3 that had us all in tears) I feel a bit like that... It will be strange next year to not see J and N and L walking the halls. It will be odd to not field calls from all their parents, or teachers... I know there will be other kids to keep me busy (at last count, my case load for next year has 20 kids on it - which is HUGE for special ed) but still; those familiar faces will have moved on. I guess it is easier to leave than to be left. I know they will do fine (Ok, maybe not N because he will just think he can get by on his cute-ness, but will in fact be eaten alive in high school) and I know I will be fine, but it will be strange, that's all I'm saying...

The boys came home with glowing report cards. Scottsdale does not start using ABC's until 4th grade, but to translate, there was nothing lower than a B to be seen... Matthew basically had all A's and Parker had many A's and B+'s to show for all his hard work. There was a bit of a sticking point when Matthew had better grades (for 2 quarters in a row) than Parker, but I think it could be good motivation for P next year to step it up a bit as not to have his little bro show him up in the grade department.

So now, we relax. Or, we try to relax... I'll let you know how we do with that...

Thursday, May 22, 2008

Holy freaking weird weather, batman!!

We broke a weather record on Monday (or was it Tuesday) for 110* in May. In fact we broke two records in a row - earliest 100* and earliest 110*, back to back. (So I think Monday was 100, and that meant 48 hours ago it was 110*) Today, the high was 68. WTF? We are not supposed to see highs out of the 70's through Memorial Day weekend, and then by Wednesday of next week we will be back above 100, where I am sure we will remain until it is time to don costumes and gorge on candy. It even r-a-i-n-e-d here today, breaking something like a 93 day dry-spell.

I am always amazed when the weather folks make such a big deal about how many days it has been since it rained. Really? Have they not figured out we live in a desert, which, by definition, means very-little-rainfall? Wasn't the fact that we get, on average, EIGHT measly inches of rain per year a good hint that we'd go for very long stretches between raindrops?

I guess not because our "unseasonal" rainfall today made the headlines on every evening news channel. Maybe it was an otherwise slow news day... we only have a president to elect, an economy to recover, global warming to reverse and a war to end, but let's start the news by spending 40% of the newscast talking about our .03" rainfall today, shall we? I get it - its WEIRD, but that's no longer newsworthy - everyone is having freaky weather. When everyone is doing it, it is no longer newsworthy, am I right?

Monday, May 19, 2008

When did this happen?

Or, more to the point, how did this happen? There must have been some HGH-fairies at work during the winter when Parker's legs were hidden underneath denim and fleece, because I KNOW they did not look this long last summer.

Anyone else want to take bets as to when he will officially be taller than I am?

Sunday, May 18, 2008

Franken-baby strikes again!

There is something rotten in the state of Denmark Scottsdale. Something that feeds upon little children in the middle of the night when they are helpless to defend themselves.

Christopher was a feast for something-or-another on Friday night. He woke up with obvious bites all over; his face, arms, legs, feet... anything that was exposed. (which backs up the mosquito theory) But the bites were more like welts with what looked like a pin prick in the middle (which backs up the spider theory). He had about a dozen bites, the most concerning to me was the one just off the eyebrow that was slowly but surely making him look like Frankenstein.

Poor little dude lived on Benedryl yesterday, which seemed to keep him from itching too badly, but the eye kept getting worse. This morning, as I expected, his poor eye was swollen shut. Doing his best Rocky Balboa impression, he staggered around the family room, very unaccustomed to NOT having either peripheral vision nor depth perception!

I called Urgent Care. Closed on Sunday.

I called my friend Angie, who is an RN. No answer.

I called my other friend Heather, also an RN. Also, no answer.

(seriously - you are all not just sitting around, waiting for my obscure medical-quesion phone call? And you call yourselves friends.....)

I called the after-hours line and spoke to the triage nurse. She told me to call Poison Control and informed me she would call the on-call doc because she didn't like the idea of the eye swollen shut.

Admittedly, neither did I, but really, all I wanted to know what how much Benedryl I could pump into a toddler before he blew up.

I never got my answer - we were, instead, told to go to the ER to rule out cellulitis of the eye.

65 minutes (easy day in the Scottsdale ER) and $150 later, we walked out with a scrip for Keflex and my son's eye beginning to open. The Benedryl is doing its thing, evidently.

And for those who need to know - you can max out a 43 lb toddler in 1 1/2 teaspoons of Benedryl every 6 hours before he explodes.

Wednesday, May 14, 2008

I knew it would happen someday...

My son is in love. And, I mean, googley-eyed, can't speak, does nothing but smile at the sight of her, in love. I knew it was going to happen. I just didn't expect it yet!!

And now this concept puts me in a position I was not expecting to be in yet, either. I know as a kid how hard it can be to talk to your parents about "stuff", and that for most kids they'd rather be poked with something sharp than tell their parents about the inner workings of their heart. But I also have a better understanding of how badly parents DO want to know this stuff. To both help their child navigate the murky waters of relationships, or to help mend a broken heart.

And then I hope that, if it is not ME they can talk to, or Steve, that there is some good, caring adult they CAN talk to about all this. You know, the person who can be a good confidant, who can tell them things like don't not-call when you say you will call, or for Heaven's sake, put the toilet seat DOWN when at her house... little pieces of wisdom we all have gathered through out our own choppy courses of finding true love. Its important to have that kind of person. Vitally important. And the optimist in me wants to believe it WILL be us that our children turn to. The realist in me thinks we'd better start prepping the Godparents right-quick!!

Yes, I knew it would happen. There will be another women in the lives of all three of my boys eventually. I will be, if not replaced, then pushed back as the most important woman in their lives, and that is how it is supposed to go.

Just... not so soon.

And... Not Christopher first??!! Yes - it is my youngest who has fallen hard for a very beautiful younger woman. According to Nada, he dotes on her all day long. He brings her toys, talks to her constantly, and if she cries, he quickly goes to get Nada and takes her to his love so that Nada can make the sadness stop. He looks at her with pure love and adoration. He looks at her like he USED to look at Little Einsteins. Oh, my baby is growing up!!

Take a peek at him and his true love...

Sunday, May 11, 2008

Happy Mother's Day to all my mommy-friends!

And, if you are NOT a mommy, and are blessed enough to have YOUR mother still living, close this browser right now, and either go find her or call her and wish her a happy mother's day and thank her for not only giving you life, but putting up with you and feeding and clothing you and taking care of you when you were sick... And anything else you can think of to throw into the mix.

Ok. Done that? Good - welcome back. I was greeted this morning at 6am (note to self, try to teach the boys the joy of sleeping in...) by Matthew, who rose quietly, went downstairs not-so-quietly, and returned with a cacophony of sounds as he brought me his Mother's Day gift. In wrapping he made himself, adorned with a card he made himself, I found a lovely, construction-paper-and-ribbon creation of poems, drawings, and writings. Gotta love elementary school teachers for making sure Mom gets something, because if left to most dads, mom would go away empty handed!

Of course, I loved each and every hand-made page. His handwriting surprises me because it is SO good... much better than his 3rd grade brother's! But what meant the most to me was this: Inside the book, secured in an envelope, was a note from his teacher thanking me for raising such a wonderful boy. It filled both sides of the card - and while I have known from nearly day one how much his teacher loves him, it was so amazing to read this card, with its glowing compliments about how he is a role model of respect and courtesy in the classroom. (I'm thinking my child? Really? The same kid whose antics prompted a call from the Principal for trying to make the toilet overflow? Respect? Ok - I'll take it!!)

In fact, it this simple act meant so much to me that 1) I am going to write her a note in return (truly, I could not have hand=picked a better match for Matthew) and 2)it is something I am going to find a way to do in my own classroom. Because while my students may drive me crazy, I also get to see what makes them wonderful. Sometimes it takes a lot of reminding myself that the wonderful is in there, because they do a good job of trying to hide it, but it is there. Just like the lesson from To Kill a Mockingbird, most folks are really pretty decent once you take a moment to really see them.

I am beyond delighted that Matthew's teacher really "gets" him. I can only hope that next year brings someone even close to Mrs. Jackson. Knowing he is understood, and loved, each and every day at school is the best gift a Mother can get (from someone who is not her own kid!!)

Thursday, May 08, 2008

One more thing I love...


I just got back from a solo trip to Barnes & Nobel. I went in search of 1 book. ONE - to help one of my students who is struggling through To Kill a Mockingbird. Figured, it has been 25 years since I struggled through it myself, it was probably about time to revisit the story.

So... one book. What, about $12? Sounds reasonable, right? Well, I ended up plopping down a whole lot more than I planned to, but have my entire summer reading list set, purchased, and ready to go! I have gotten some recommendations from friends, picked up others because I liked the cover (yes, directly in the face of the old adage)

Its the whole atmosphere of a book store that I love. Generally, its quiet and peaceful. Generally, I am unencumbered by children because I have either been able to leave them at home with Steve, or they have attached themselves to the Thomas the Train table in the kids' section and I can wander away leaving Parker in charge for a few minutes.

So I wander around, looking, browsing, picking up things that look interesting, sometimes sitting for a while thoughtfully leafing through pages. You know, there was a day not all that long ago that a bookstore was a purposeful place - you knew what you needed, you came, you found and you left. Now it is a place full of promise, if not downright usefulness. The promise of having time, the promise of wonderful stories to discover, the promise of a quick little vacation from everyday life that you can find between the covers and jacket.

And, from the look at the bag I brought home from my latest venture to B&N, bookstores love me, too!

Its F-R-I-D-A-Y!!!

Ok, so it's not really Friday yet, but its Friday to me because I am off work tomorrow!! Yeah, ME! The gal who usually watches Christopher is going to her oldest daughter's graduation from ASU, so child care is closed, meaning, gosh, darn the luck, I have to stay home!!

I need a weekend... truly, I do! I also need to get errands done, laundry done, vacuuming done, banking done, grocery shopping done, and a gazillion other things done, so while I am not going to work, I will be undoubtedly busy!

12 days left. 12 - nearly 2 hands worth of days left.... I have a slew of meetings and testing and writing to do next week, so really, I just need to make it through the next 5 days and if I can do that, it will be smooth sailing until the last day. I think at 'press time' I have 4 IEP meetings scheduled for next week and need to test 3 kids. Guess I won't be able to be available as much for one of my inclusion classes, and we all know that just breaks my heart...

I think we have come up with a solution for next year. Part of the problem at my school is that we are a small school. Normally, small schools are a good thing. We love small schools, we need small schools, and we love the individual attention they afford their students. However, when you are a special ed teacher, small schools are bad. Small schools mean scrimping and scraping and giving up prep times and having emotionally messed up kids in with learning disabled kids and it can just get ugly. Plus, the number of teachers we get for special ed is derived by some archane formula and what the folks at the District seem to forget is that it is not possible for a human to spit up into replicas of him/her self and be in more than one place at one particular time. For example, it is against all laws of physics for a teacher to cover an 8th grade language arts class at the same time she is supposed to cover a 6th grade math class. Trust me, if I could figure out how to do it, I'd retire to Bora Bora on my winnings!

So with the help of our super-hero school psych, we have come up with a solution that solves 2 of our problems. (Ok, admittedly one of the problems is just mine alone). We will offer a 6/7 self-contained language arts class and a 7/8 self-contained math class. Everyone (except GW and his GD NCLB) will be happy, we can eliminate the need to be several places at once and solve my 'issues' with our current situation.

Again, yeah me!!

Wednesday, May 07, 2008

Total Exhaustion

I'm beat. There are still 14 days to go (or is it 13? brain cloud... unsure...) before school lets out and on days like today I seriously wonder if I will make it without collapsing and expiriing right there on the spot.

And, you know, I get it that it could be SO much worse. I have been following Kathy's blog for months now. She is younger than I am and battling breast cancer and chemo and radiation and surgery and more chemo and on and on and on. There's a gal who has every right in the world to be exhausted. She is amazing, and brave and luckily on the upswing from chemo and I feel like I don't have the proverbial pot to piss in, let alone a window to through it out of when it comes to complaining about being tired.

And yet. This is me. Complaining again.... I am tired straight through to my bones. My skin and toenails hurt. My poor brain is going about 14 different directions at once, between school stuff and kid stuff and house stuff and moving stuff and job stuff. So when a coworker came into my room today to complain about me to me, well, I didn't take too kindly to it. I am proud of myself - I didn't lash back out at this person and let her have the small piece of my barely functioning mind that I wanted to toss at her. I restrained myself. Today.

Tomorrow - well, lets just hope I get a good nights' sleep for once so I don't end up in the klink for justifiable homicide.

Tuesday, May 06, 2008


We have 15 days of school left, and while I am counting each and every one of them with the same anticipation and glee as my students, there is a part of me that is dreading the end of school.

I think, in retrospect, that I do this every year - want to be DONE with school, and the obnoxious kids and their (mostly) very difficult parents, but then when the last days arrive, I am not ready to go yet. I'm kind of at that cross roads right now.

Maybe this year it has to do with the group of 8th graders who are graduating. Overall, they have been known as the "good group" from the 6th grade team - the class from last year pales in comparison and next year's bunch of hoodlums is, well, a group of high-class hoodlums. This class, the high school class of 2012, is a good group - solid, smart, kind, talented.

And for me, personally, this group is the group that started it all. I was a first year teacher here when these kids were in 5th grade. I have followed some of them for the whole time I've been at this school. A few I have watched grow up from gangly pre-teens to young men and women. And then there are a few I've known for the last 2 years - most of them I wanted to kill with my bare hands last year, and even some of those kids I know I will miss.

Its funny, but somehow knowing that the day will soon come when the kids from last year, the ones I was so willing and wanting to put up for adoption and swore on my grandmother's grave that I would never work with again, knowing that their days are numbered and soon they will move on makes me almost want to go back and work with them again. (almost - I am nostalgic, but not completely insane).

I guess it is just hard to say goodbye. Even when you want to. Even when you think you cannot wait to be rid of the thing you are leaving. Even when the thing you are going toward is great and fun and exciting.

Its weird, this time of year. Part of me wants to just get it over with and be done, and part wants it to linger and to take it all in slowly. Part of me can't wait to say goodbye and good-riddens to the school, the kids, the annoyances, the stress, and part isn't ready to let go.

Saturday, May 03, 2008

~*~*~*~Things I love~*~*~*~

I complain a lot. Admitting you have a problem is the first step to recovery, so I am admitting that I complain because, in all candor, it is a trait about myself of which I am not terribly fond. It is fun to bitch and moan and flap my wings about this or that, and at times it is not only appropriate, it is down right warranted.

But there are good things in life, too, and if you don't stop to acknowledge them on occasion, I fear they may disappear for good, never to return, and will leave me and my flapping wings up a creek without a paddle.

So: Here we go. Things I love. Feel free to follow suit on your own blog if you are so inclined. (And, let's just get it over with now - family, friends, children - they are on top but will not be delved into here - this is for THINGS, not necessarily people)

In no particular order, other than what pops into my mind.

1) My subscription to Real Simple magazine. The cover is always so pretty and it is filled with lovely promises. It promises me to help me simplify, and at times it really does. But more than the actual content, I think what I love most about it is the promise, or a wish, that contained within its pages is the blueprint for becoming the person I really want to be; the one with the perpetually clean but lived in house, the freezer filled with tasty and at-the-ready-in-case-of-impromptu-guests treats.

2) Email. Really - I am addicted. I know it, but it keeps me connected to others I hold so dear to my heart but cannot talk to because my quiet time is something ongodly in their time zone or vise versa.

3) Facebook. Same reasons as above. I have recently reconnected with several gals I knew at Farmington. And its not like we have indepth chats or anything, but just seeing their updates or playing a game of Scrabulous with someone makes me feel more connected to them in some strange nearly-parallel universe.

4) Newborns. And, not just my own! I am one of those women who L-O-V-E the newborn stage. Many, like my mother, need to wait until they can interact, or talk, or pee on their own with zero assistance from an adult, in order to have a blast. But I love the lump stage. Seeing newborns fills my heart with a sense of wonder, delight and utter excitement. I know, more or less, what is in store for these folks, these new parents and it makes me so excited I can barely stand it. A dear friend from college just welcomed his first child into the world a week ago today. I can't get enough of looking at the pictures and taking in the delight/exhaustion I can see on his face and knowing what a wonderful journey lay ahead for he and his wife.

5)Velcro and zippers. Really, when it comes to lightening-fast fasteners, there is nothing better. Yes, I know my nearly-9 year old SHOULD be able to tie his shoes by now, but he will learn someday, and in the meantime, the time we save in the morning because both he and his equally fumbled-fingered brother can get their own shoes on while I do a million other things is not something I can even put a price on; I generally am cutting it so short as it is that another 2 1/2 minutes to address footwear would throw us all off irrevocably.

There is more to add to this list, but I think I will hold that off for another day.