Monday, March 31, 2008


So tonight, after getting home from dance at 6:30, I'm standing in the kitchen while Weather Boy cooks our dinner. (Yea me!) We're talking about our respective days, when the door opens, and in walks my friend carrying a birthday cake. "Happy Birthday! I had Nana make you a cake!" Now, this friend of mine used to work in my classroom with me, and left about a year ago for a new job. She and I are very different in many of our opinions on things-- Sports Done Right being the most obvious one-- but we both value the same things: friends and family and making someone else feel special. She certainly succeeded tonight. I'm speechless. I expect my bestfriends will treat me well (as they more than did this weekend), it goes without saying my husband and kids will, but this was unexpected, and just so thoughtful. I am lucky to still have this woman (and her family!) in my life.

So tomorrow, I will crack open my famously delicious Nana's chocolate cake, and think about how blessed I am. Yes, Aimee, life is f***ing great!

Saturday, March 29, 2008

In response to SJ...

What My Shamrock Says About Me:

You are well balanced and good at taking charge. You have good judgment.

Sometimes you take on too many projects at once. You get stressed out rather easily.

You don't really consider yourself a lucky person. In your view, people create their own luck.

You are traditional, easy going, and appreciative of the simple things in life.

I do believe in luck, however. Sometimes it's all about who you know, which family into which you were born, or someone leaving your dream job 2 weeks after your youngest starts kindergarten. It is luck when a nice person drives by and helps you after an accident instead of the rapist coming by 15 minutes later. Luck, and lack thereof, is the only explanation to why some people float through life and others struggle for every penny. Yes, we all have some control of our own destiny, and can work to change out luck, but when there are 25 qualified canditates for 1 position, luck is the deciding factor.

I don't mind being traditional, easy going, and appreciative of the simple things in life. At one point I thought I didn't like tradition, but it turns out what I really didn't like was being like everyone else.

Taking charge? Um, yea, never had a problem there.

3 is a magic number

I have always believed in the "things happen in threes" adage. Good or bad, when there are 2 things, it's extremely rare that I don't happen upon a third in the series. This year, it seems, has a lot to do with babies. I have 3 grandstudents either here or on the way, and in the last 48 hours I have learned of 3 babies coming this fall, one of whom is my nephew!

I had a dream earlier this week that a dear friend was also pregnant for the first time, which brought much rejoicing among everyone who knows her and her husband. This is the second such dream I've had about them being parents, so I have a pretty good feeling that this too will come to pass. I guess we'll just have to wait and see if my dreams match those of Allison-- and if this could be the third set of baby magic to pass my way this year.

Friday, March 28, 2008


So Cheer Chick and I lived on the edge today, and hopped onto the haircut bandwagon. The others had cut their hair over Feb vacation, but I wanted to be sure we were really sure. She went for an adorable bob, and I went big and cut off... 8 inches? It's hard to say, since I always have it up in a pony.

When Miss Patty started cutting, I didn't flinch. It occurred to me that maybe I should be a bit nervous-- I mean, I was going radical and could end up looking a bit silly-- but really, I was just excited to do something different. I'd also had a conversation with the sunshines recently about how mad they get when their girlfriends cut their hair, and that was the push over the edge I needed. Well, that and having two different hats for each of my dances this year, and I just had too much hair to deal with such a costume change. We'll see if I keep it up or let my usual apathetic, cheap self skip hair cuts and end up back with long hair hidden in ponytails constantly.

The only downside to all this change? I look in the mirror and see my mother looking back at me. Perhaps it's time for some hair color...

Tuesday, March 25, 2008

do as I say...

Every year I say 'something has to give' and every year I take on too much. I'm tired, and getting too old to run around like someone in their 20s. The hard part isn't knowing this, but knowing what to leave behind. Scrapbooking and dance are as non-negotiable as motherhood and teaching. What does that leave me? Usually dishes, laundry, and housework. Anyone who has been here knows I've already left those chores in the dust, so I guess I have to dig a bit deeper (and I do, evenutally, need to do the shortbread/nutella speedy quick dessert dishes from Sunday!). Coaching may not make the cut next year. Giving up a one night per month book based mentoring thing won't really save me much time. That leaves me with 10:00 TV shows, but I can't resist being sucked into Runway and Medium.

As a good friend of mine once said, "Humph!"

Sunday, March 23, 2008

Happy Easter

We hosted a Dickvale gathering last night, and, as always, it was a wonderful night. I always awake feeling refreshed and renewed after these gatherings (although still exhausted; I've given up hope of ever not being tired again). It is truly amazing to be part of a group of friends who accept people as they are, without pretense. The kids run around, join in conversations and songs as they go, a part of the fabric of our lives. I can't imagine ever living anywhere else and leaving these beautiful people behind. And so I will stay, happily, forever. Enduring winter and mud season are minor sacrifices and more than worth it.

Today we are coloring eggs, finding presents left well hidden by EB himself last night, and sharing a meal with the kids' grandparents. What a wonderfully lazy Easter Sunday! I must go find a dessert recipe to try out... I'm thinking some sort of shortbread with Nutella spread. I wonder what I'll find?

Thursday, March 20, 2008

the measure of a good day

I can't find the words right now to explain what I'm thinking, but it has something to do with knowing deep in my soul that the connections I have with people matter so much more than how clean my house is, or how perfect my lesson plans, or how bad I am at 'looking like a girl'. Talk about feeling blessed...

Monday, March 17, 2008

Power of 10

I learned in January that my mother-in-law's family has it's own decade birthday phenomenon thing. Her oldest sister was born in 1928, she was born in 1938, Weather Boy in 1968, and Weather Lad in 1998. It's not quite as cool as Mike's family, that currently starts at 8 and counts by 10s to 48, but you have to admit, having a 'decades party' would be kind of fun. 80, 70, 40, 10. Grandma told me over the weekend that she realized her parents would have turned 110 this year, adding them into the equation. (Turns out they were born on the exact same day as well. Talk about partners for life!)

Doing the math has also highlighted the magic of 30 in parenting in their family: her parents were 30 when her sister was born, and both she and her son were 30 when their sons were born. 20 years seems a long time to wait and see if the pattern continues, or if it's just a random bit of luck, but it's kind of fun to think about isn't it?

Even fancier math tells me that 20 years from now is the magic time for both the boys to keep the trend going. Granted, Mike's brother and nephew have to play their part first (no 18 year old dads allowed, thank you very much!), but isn't that really freaky, don't you think? It's at least fun to think about when I feel the need to think about something over which I have no control.

Sunday, March 16, 2008

Roger Daltrey must have had parents

We met up with my parents today. They drove up to Auburn, we drove down, and we met at Central Maine Archery to watch Weather Lad shoot some arrows. I don't know why it didn't occur to me that they'd arrive in their RV, but it totally took me by surprise. After the shooting, they took us to lunch-- which was great-- but we then got to hang out in the parking lot eating popsicles while smelling the dog's breath. Good times.

I'm not sure what happens after the age of 60, but I'm really not looking forward to it. I love my parents, and I am so thankful that they love each other enough to want to spend weeks on end squished into their bedroom on wheels with only each other and their smelly dog for company. Will Weather Boy and I feel the same in 20 years? (That we're only 20 years away from that is a separate post in itself.) Equally importantly, will Weather Lad and Cheer Chick feel the same about us? When their Bestfriends ask how our visit went will they say we're "as insane as ever"? My guess is the odds aren't in our favor.

My parents are members of their generation. I'm glad they didn't die before now-- I'm pretty sure they are too. So I guess if insanity is a part of longevity, then bring on the RV!

Saturday, March 15, 2008

that sucked

Well, the Praxis gods are not on my side today. First of all, my buddies at DOE refuse to acknowledge at Alt Ed should be it's own certification, and not just whatever regular ed cert you hold. Since I don't hold a high school certificate yet, I get to jump through the hoops to be social studies certified (it's what I was closest to). Which means, Praxis II. Yea me.

So I decide to go for it March 15. Why not? Seems like a fine day. Turns out it was another one of those snowy Saturdays we've been having of late. Not a fun drive to farmtown at 6:30 AM, but whatever. The plows weren't on the road, but no one else was, either. I do arrive in enough time to prove that everybody does run on Dunkin, so at least I'd had my sip of coffee.

Now these Praxis people have lots of silly rules. Like no coffee in the testing room. Not cool. Also you have to report at 7:30, but they're not scheduled to start testing until 8:30! Um, that's my extra hour of sleep you just consumed, but no worries. And when you're done, you can't leave. Why? How are you going to influence the people in the room if you're gone? Whatever. Then there's directions to read after everyone is done... and based on the random selection of social studies questions today, I'll get to repeat the process in June. Yea me indeed.

At least I hadn't wasted a ton of time studying things that weren't even on the test. That really would have put me over the edge. Note to fledgling educators out there, pursuing history positions: know your economics well!

Friday, March 14, 2008


Since yesterday I told you about my delightful son, and in fairness I need to also tell you about my darling daughter, so neither of them can use it to get me to pay for therapy in the future. I don't believe you always have to be equal to be equitable, but sometimes discretion is the better part of valor.

Cheer Chick has certainly inherited my nervous qualities. She has started to get stomachaches from nerves, and last night reported a headache for no obvious reason. She is a pleaser; if any of you out there share the malady, you know it's not always a great thing. I hope she learns to manage it better than I ever did.

She is also stubborn. Family lore still tells of the 2 year old who refused to apologize to Mike, and sat on the stairs for close to half an hour before she finally realized I was more stubborn than she. Now, she will not speak to someone new unless she decides it's ok. NO ONE can force her to change her mind-- she must change it for herself. A great quality on the playground, but not so great when, say, meeting Great Aunt Millie for the first time.

So far, her school experience has been easier than her brother's. I hope that remains true for her, and that her brother is able to enjoy increasing peace in his adventure. Since I know schools are not created for boys, no matter how smart or sensitive, it is likely her journey will always feel easier. I also know, someday, she will no longer delight in making everyone happy all the time, and will start demanding attention herself. Again, that will not be a horrible thing, but it probably will cause me to go a little bit grayer.

Which, I guess, is really the job of my kids: to figure out who they are, drive me nuts in the process, and grow up to be strong, independent thinkers. These 2 are certainly on their way.

Thursday, March 13, 2008

in my day....

My darling son, dubbed by a fellow RVB as Weather Lad, is driving me insane with his school work. Turns out, on this front anyway, he's got more of his father in him than he does me. I was the 'perfect' elementary school student: If we got a project assigned, it was finished the first night. I saved all my drafts, just in case, and followed whatever format I needed, no matter how seemingly ridiculous. Weather Lad, not so much. He questions everything: "Why do I have to do the math this way? My way makes just as much sense." "Why should I save my rough drafts? She didn't say I had to." I'm sensing a few battles breaking out over the next few years.

The kicker at the moment, though, is his multiplication tables. "Why do I need to learn these? I can just look them up."

HA! Gotcha! "Multiplication and division are so much easier if you can just rattle off the answers."

I wasn't expecting the I-told-you-so moment so soon.

Fractions. Reducing them, to be precise. 42/63 is much easier to do quickly if you know your 7s by heart. His resigned look was satisfaction enough. I helped.

I think mumma is going to have to turn into a task master on this one. We need to master these facts, and quicly. It's not likely to be fun, but that's ok. He'll thank me for it when he gets to Algebra.

Tuesday, March 11, 2008

there's a little Buddhist in all of us

We have been making small changes to our lifestyle to try to be more conscious of our environmental impact. Honestly, the changes we've made are insignificant on the face of all that's happening, but it's as much about changing the thought process as anything. We got an external wood furnace longer ago than I like to think about, and finally got it hooked up this year. As other River Valley Bloggers (RVBs from hence forward) have posted, our oil consumption for the month of January was 19 gallons. As in less than we pay for cable. It's been exciting to put it mildly.

As a result, of course, we've had to gather ourselves some wood. This being the first year, we really didn't know how much we'd need. We probably had 3 cord left from last winter, cut and split, but it's better to use longer, tree sized logs. (They burn less quickly so you have to fill it less often-- which is a bonus, since you have to go outside to fill it.) We had been given a bunch (I have no idea how much it equated to in cord terms-- none whatsoever) of scrap wood and left over pieces from some friends building a new house, and then my dad brought up a huge truckload of ends from his mill work business. In addition Weather Boy had cut down 3 or 4 trees. So we had a lot of wood out there, but no idea how long it would last. We figured we'd have time to figure it out before it snowed.

And then it snowed for the entire month of December, and most of January and February, too. All that wood was buried, many times over. Eventually I took it upon myself to dig out the wood. Not because I had to, or wanted to make anyone feel guilty, but because I could, and it needed to be done. It became part of my daily routine: go through my regular day, and then either after lunch or after school, head outside with my iPod and work for about an hour. I'd exercise, get some fresh air, and accomplish a task all at once. When I reached the End of the Pile a few weeks ago, I actually felt a void in my day. What would I do now?

We have burned through all we had to start the winter, but winter is showing no signs of ending. And so Weather Boy has cut a few more trees, creating more wood for me to move. This project involves cutting it at the edge of the field and hauling it in on the kids' sleds. Some days we fall through the 3 feet of snow, and have to pull ourselves out before we can move forward. It's become a zen-like project: bundle up, bring the tools, figure out the setbacks, and get it done. My own little meditation session. Zen and the Art of Wood. I like that.

Monday, March 10, 2008

6 words to describe me

When faced with challenges such as this, I find myself trying to be as brilliant as Hemingway. "For Sale: baby shoes, never worn" carries as much emotion as anything I've ever read. I'm not a professional writer, however, so I guess I need to just start where I am and see if I ever get there. Here's the best I can do at the moment:

happily devoted wife, mom, and friend

*for those of you reading along who are under the age of majority, realize that when I say "mom" I really mean MummaNanny, but that just doesn't flow well in my phrase. As I've said before, I consider all 4 of you mine.

Sunday, March 09, 2008

updates on the sunshines

So I just read through last year's posts (meaning last school year-- I really think in school year terms) and have a few updates on life in my classroom.

I lost both my ed techs and gained one new one, a former teacher and administrator looking for a change. The shift in staff was monumental! I think the sunshines needed that last visual reminder that the old way was finished and I have a completely different view of how our classroom should run. We laugh a lot this year. A lot. Yes, they whine and moan about work and still hate school, but I don't think they hate being in my room. A subtle difference, but a big one. There is a sense of community this year that just feels good.

I think we've also had some real learning happen this year. It's still not in the higher levels of Bloom's as often as I'd like, but we're making progress. Credits are being earned, for real. They can all talk intelligently about To Kill a Mockingbird. That is no small task, my friends. The "tree hole" on my desk is filled with candy, which they can partake of whenever they want. I've been dubbed with a nickname. We're really having a good year.

Three of my seven seniors from 06-07 graduated on time with their class. 3 others returned to finish up during this year. (The last one dropped out the day before school started last year. No GED yet, but I keep harassing, because I can.) Of the three returning as 5th year seniors, two graduated in January. Now that was a good day. Turns our they really do like me calling them 'sunshine', and taking them into my circle of people I care about. One of them got me flowers, and sincerely thanked me for my help. He came back to visit this week, and took my gentle yelling about getting-a-job-and-getting-off-the-couch with a shy smile, promising to look for a job this spring.

I also have two students this year becoming parents themselves. While it makes me sad to see their childhoods end so abruptly, I am proud of the way they are "stepping up" and being as responsible as needy teens can be. My goal is to watch their kids graduate without ever needing to be in my room, and they know it. I think it's their goal too, and I think they know I will always be here if they need help reaching it.

Once a student enters my program, he or she enters my world. I have the ability to ask questions and have conversations you can't have in a regular class. It's why I teach Alt Ed-- I like the line between academic and emotional learning being blurred. I like watching them grow up,and having some influence on what that looks like. I love being invited to their bridal and baby showers, having them come back and visit me, and still being able to give them grief about less than smart choices they are making. They know about my life and I know about theirs. I hope I always do.

Spring Forward

I have to say, I'm not a fan of Daylight Savings Time. That's not entirely true-- I guess it would be more accurate to say I don't have an opinion about it. My husband is, as I type, joyously proclaiming the benefits of it being 4:00 and looking like 3:00. I just don't get it. Never have. I am not bothered by shorter days nor do I get riled up about longer ones. There are 24 hours in a day, every day, and I use them as I desire, sunlight or lamp light.

I realize I am in the minority on this one, and that's ok. My father used to say "Ten thousand Frenchmen can be wrong." I never quite got why it was the French who were followers, but that was always beside the point. What matters is I'm at peace with my ambivalence about the whole time change thing.

Every year I come back to the central question: what's with all the switching? Can't we just go to daylight savings and stay there? I understand why we switch now, but why do we switch back? Why bother?

So Happy Extra Hour of Daylight to all of you out there who care. As for me, well, I guess the best thing about today for me is a good reason to take an afternoon nap.

Saturday, March 08, 2008

I'm back....

So I took a little vacation from the blogging world.... ok, maybe more like a 1 year sabbatical. Anyhow, Mike has insprired me to start this thing up again, so here we go. Maybe he'll post comments to mine as much as I do to his.

So we've collectively been sent down this "7 things about me" path. I think I'm as facinated by watching the friendship links unfold as I am by the facts revealed. (Am I remembering right that Beth tagged Sarah who tagged Amity who tagged Mike who indirectly tagged me? How fun that I know all these people, although some better than others.) I also checked Mike's link to Chad, whose friends thought 50 things was way cooler than a measly 7. Must be the difference between city and country life.

So here are 7 things about me that might not be well known. Since I'm not known for keeping things to myself, there is a chance that none of this is news.

1. My best friend in first grade was a boy named Mike who had mild CP. He used to "mess up my hair". This was 1976, so the Children witih Disabilities Act was newly enacted. As I remember it, we hung out together every day. I cannot remember any other friends from school in Hampden, at all. We moved at the end of my second grade year, and I have no idea where Mike ended up. In high school, when I was realizing that special education was the place for me, I suddenly remembered my old friend. That friendship helped solidify my college path. While I'm no longer technically in education, I'm still hanging out on the fringes. I guess I'm happier there. (Thanks, Mike.)

2. I used to steal sips of my mom's Coke on a regular basis. I came by my addiction naturally: she always had a 2 liter bottle on the counter, in the corner by the sink. I was probably in fifth grade when I figured out I could steal a sip or two and she wouldn't notice. I've never asked her if she did.

3. I remember the day I decided to no longer see the world in black and white. I was talking to my dad in the basement (he still smoked then, and mom wouldn't let him upstairs when he did. We spent a lot of Friday nights talking in the basement while he drank manhattans and smoked Lucky Strikes.) He described me as a black and white person, and gave me a few examples. I decided gray was a pretty cool color, too, and think that shift in thinking has served me well.

4. I have more close girlfriends now than I ever did as a kid. I much prefered the company of boys my own age, or adults and young children.

5. I hate playing board games. I don't know why, but I do. Sometimes Scrabble is fun, but I always end up feeling stupid because I can't spell to save my soul. The only game I've ever really loved is Trivial Persuit. It's the one game we don't own.

6. I have a hard time leaving a major venue with everyone else. I am constantly feeling the need to turn around and swim upstream. I really hate being a follower, even when it's the most logical thing to do.

7. My whole childhood I swore I'd never live in a mill town, I'd never have a Christmas baby, and I'd never have 3 kids. My lifetime average should remain .334.

Thanks for the inspiration, buddy. That's what friends are for.