Welcome! Join me as I share my experiences as a wife, mom, and kindergarten teacher, and my reflections on them all. Come along as I share my crazy journey!

Thursday, March 31, 2016

Day 31: We made it!

The SOLC has been a lovely ride this year. I have felt the ups and downs of writing every day for 31 days but I have also felt pretty settled into the challenge.  It's so great to see returning slicers and meet new people.  I have read so blog posts that had me laughing, some that made me cry and everything in between. 

As always, I have enjoyed myself and have nothing but gratitude for the Two Writing Teachers Team...you all were outstanding this month as usual!  Thank you for giving us this place to come and share pieces of ourselves.  Thank you for creating this community.

To my fellow slicers...we did it!  We made it!

So...until Tuesday...adios and see you soon!

Wednesday, March 30, 2016

Day 30: A Teenager?!

Today was a momentous day at my house.  My oldest baby had a birthday today.  It was the big one!  He turned 13 today!  I suddenly find myself the mom of a teenager.  I'm not sure what I think about that yet.  I'm still trying to figure out when he got so old?!

Matthew requested Wendy's for dinner and chocolate cake with chocolate frosting for dessert.  Sure, I can handle that!  After dinner, he opened his presents and spent some time bonding with his new video game.  He was a happy dude!

Meet Matthew, my baby boy, my TEENAGE son:

Happy birthday buddy!

Tuesday, March 29, 2016

Day 29: The Reminder

Today I realized why I teach.  I was reminded about the impact that I have the opportunity to make on a child.  I remembered that I have the ability to make a child's day great or terrible.

If you read my post yesterday, you might remember the student I was talking about.  Today I got a message from her mom saying that the child had had a really rough morning at home with a lot of tears involved.  Mom was concerned about how her day at school was going and hoping that it was better than the morning had been.

I reassured her that she was doing just fine but that I thought all of the many, many, MANY testing sessions were really taking a toll.  I feel like that is why she was struggling in the classroom, at least.  The poor girl would hardly be in the classroom for 10 minutes and someone else would come and ask if they could pull her for another session of testing.  She was exhausted today and it showed.

Finally, at lunch time, the speech teacher come and asked if she could pull her again after lunch.  I told her no.  I never tell anyone no because I always try to be as flexible as I possibly can.  But today I told her no.  I told her how exhausted the student is and how much this testing is taking out of her.  I told her how little time she gets to spend in the classroom doing anything remotely fun.  I also told her that if she did take her today she would get very little accomplished because she just doesn't have it in her today.  Luckily, the speech teacher said she'd give her a break and get her tomorrow.

Small victory.

I let the child's mom know today that I was doing everything I could to make her afternoon as fun and relaxed as possible.  She'd get to go to gym, do a literacy activity on the iPad, have recess and snack and spend some time with her peers in the classroom like normal!

Her mom's reply was so appreciative that she had me in tears.  She had no idea just how much the testing was impacting her child but once I told her then everything at home suddenly made more sense (to both of us!).  She was so kind about telling me how much she appreciates everything I have done and continue to do for her child that I had tears running down my face as I read her message.

That is why I do what I do.  That is why I fight for this girl every day.  Because I am the one who is lucky in this deal.  I have learned so much from this child.  I honestly don't know what I will do without her in my class next year.  This child is under my skin (in the best way) and she will remain there forever.  She will always be the one I look back on and miss, wonder about, and hope for.

I needed to hear that today.  I needed the reminder.

I appreciate this child and what she has taught me.

Monday, March 28, 2016

Day 28: Brave

Brave by Sara Bareilles
You can be amazing
You can turn a phrase into a weapon or a drug
You can be the outcast
Or be the backlash of somebody’s lack of love
Or you can start speaking up
Nothing’s gonna hurt you the way that words do
When they settle ‘neath your skin
Kept on the inside and no sunlight
Sometimes a shadow wins
But I wonder what would happen if you

Say what you wanna say
And let the words fall out
Honestly I wanna see you be brave

With what you want to say
And let the words fall out
Honestly I wanna see you be brave

Everybody’s been there, everybody’s been stared down
By the enemy
Fallen for the fear and done some disappearing
Bow down to the mighty
Don’t run, stop holding your tongue
Maybe there’s a way out of the cage where you live
Maybe one of these days you can let the light in
Show me how big your brave is

Say what you wanna say
And let the words fall out
Honestly I wanna see you be brave

With what you want to say
And let the words fall out
Honestly I wanna see you be brave

(Lyrics from www.lyrics.com)

Why the song? Well, I have a student this year who is deaf.  She is six and lost all hearing and speech abilities at 3 years old.  She began learning signs about a year and a half ago.  Her signed vocabulary has probably quadrupled this year.  Her receptive language has blossomed even more than her expressive language.  Last year, in an early childhood delay classroom, she threw fits every. single. day.  Multiple times per day she would throw herself on the floor or flat out refuse to do something.  The staff of this classroom (not in my school) would bribe her with food (M & M's) to get her to do things (I know, say what?!).  The Speech and Language teacher at my school was adamant that this child did not belong in our school and that we could not provide the services that she needed.  There are no programs in the area (closer than 2 hours away) that meet her needs and those distant programs are live in programs - not something her parents are interested in at all.  After visiting her former classroom, I had some huge concerns but I also felt like we could help her.

Turns out, I was right! She is growing and blossoming in my classroom.  She has made huge gains in all areas.  Since September, she hasn't shown much defiance or noncompliance at all...in my classroom.  Since September, she has developed relationships with peers and adults...in my classroom.  Since September, she has been engaged and actively involved...in my classroom.  

She does not have the same successes with the speech and language teacher who still believes that she doesn't belong at our school.  This teacher has made it a point to prove that this child is behind in the kindergarten curriculum.  She believes that the child's interpreters give her too much credit, I give her too much credit, we give her too much information to answer questions, etc.  Worst of all though, she believes that it's her mission to prove that this child is behind because she doesn't think anyone sees that but her.  She is intimidated by the interpreters who work with the child.

I know this child is behind in the curriculum.  HOWEVER, what I also think is important, that she doesn't seem to understand, is that this child has had more than one year's worth of growth already this school year and it is only March.  This child began the school year with the vocabulary of a three year old (that might be a tad generous) and now has the vocabulary of at least a five year old.  This child has had a vocabulary explosion!  She is understanding and signing more words than I ever expected, she is reading, she is writing, she is telling stories, she is adding and subtracting, she has learned numbers to twenty, she has learned all the letters and all of the kindergarten sight words.  Yes, her reading is a little behind and her writing is a little behind.  Yes, she struggles with comprehension because she doesn't understand how to answer open ended questions.  Yes, she struggles with writing some of the words of her signed story because she doesn't know how to spell them by memory yet (and she can't sound out words like her peers).  BUT, she is learning two languages at the same time.  She is reading and writing in English and is learning American Sign Language (ASL) at the same time and is using ASL to communicate.

Yes, this child is behind her peers.  Why do we need to focus on that?  Yes, we need to acknowledge that fact.  No one is denying it.  That truth isn't going anywhere, but there is this whole other side of this child.  A side that has done some amazing things this year.  A side that we never expected (but hoped) to see this year.  This child has blown my goals for her out of the water over and over and over this year.  This is where my focus lies.  This child has done some incredible learning this year and she deserves to be celebrated for that, not shot down for what she isn't doing. 

I have had plenty of opportunity this year for stretching my braveness where this child is concerned.  I have asked questions and had to seek out my own answers when no one else had them.  I have had to push my colleagues to seek out appropriate ways to do things for this child.  I have had to push for services to be given at times because they were slacking.  I have had to...had to...had do.  It's not in my comfort zone to push and demand from others. I don't like to be in conflicts with others.  BUT, I will stand up for this child.  I will speak up for this child.  I will NOT let her be smothered by an adult who can't get past her own insecurities.  

Brave has become my theme song.  It is the song that runs through my head and spurs me on when things get hard.  I'm showing just how big my brave is.

Sunday, March 27, 2016

Day 27: Easter

Easter played double duty today! We had a family gathering for two birthdays and Easter.  It was a busy day but a great one.

The day began with four excited kids in our bedroom persuading us to wake up.  You would have thought it was Christmas morning!  We raced downstairs to find four Easter baskets filled with candy, socks, a new pair of shorts and the Easter must haves...peeps and a chocolate bunny!

Then, it was on to the egg hunt.  We had a lot of fun hunting for eggs. With a new house, there were all sorts of new places for eggs to be hiding.  We do try to tame some of the chaos of the hunt with a couple rules.  Each kiddo has their own egg to find...Spiderman, yellow Spongebob, Hello Kitty, and blue Spongebob.  There are 3 special eggs to find and then the rest are a free for all...until you find 12.  After you load your basket with a dozen, you can move on to opening them.

Finally, we moved out to the garage where the real deal gifts were hidden. For Matthew, the oldest, it was a basketball hoop!  Emma, the oldest girl, became the owner of a shiny new bike!  Maddie and Avery, the two youngest, found brand new (big girl) scooters!

Basketball hoop assembly
    Easter sidewalk chalk

As I moved back to the kitchen to begin cooking our Easter lunch, the kids played with their new treasures outside.  We hosted about 20 people for Easter lunch and birthday treats. After lunch and gifts, we went back outside for more playing.  I have sun-kissed pink cheeks to prove it!  It was a rare 68 degree day in March here in Michigan and we took advantage of it!  We even have some of the windows open to enjoy the fresh air for just a little longer.

Today was definitely a day of family fun!  Happy Easter from my family to yours.

Saturday, March 26, 2016

Day 26: What's Blooming?

We moved into our house in late September. Late September in Michigan is just about the time when the air turns crisp and the leaves begin to change their hue.  Behind our house is wooded and many of the trees were changing to yellow, orange and red when we moved in. It was beautiful!

When we looked at our house before purchasing, it was early August.  We walked the yard and saw the landscaping. I noticed a beautiful hydrangea, several small bushes were planted around the deck, and there were several places where deep green ground cover was growing with little purple flowers that were peeking out among the leaves. I appreciated the effort the former owners had put into the landscaping.  It looked nice, fresh, and well cared for.

Now, as spring is arriving, I am wondering what new little treasures we will find. I have already been delighted with the pretty yellow daffodils that are beginning to bloom along the front porch.  (I'm also realizing that we have a bit of raking/leaf blowing to do to get those ugly brown leaves out of there!)

There are two more things that are beginning to come up and some even starting to blossom.

I think this one is a crocus, but I'm not sure.

I don't know yet what this one will be:

We will just have to wait and see!  It's fun to watch new life unfold around our house.  There are some unexpected things popping up here and there, and I'm waiting not so patiently for the hydrangea to bloom!

Once we see what we have, then we can make a plan to add what we want to make it our own.  I'm thinking maybe some tulips are in order somewhere!  I guess we will just have to wait and see what the rest of the spring brings to us.

Friday, March 25, 2016

Day 25: Finding a Good Mood

How do you put yourself in a good mood?  Do you have any tips or tricks that get you every time?

Brave by Sara Bareillis

For me, a sure fire way to find my way to a good mood is to crank up the tunes and to sing along.  It doesn't necessarily have to be a certain kind of music.  My only requirements are that I know the words so I can sing along and, well, I have to like it!

Fight Song by Rachael Platten

This is what I did today when the girls were whining.  I turned on the computer, fired up Spotify, and sang my heart out. 

Girl on Fire by Alicia Keys

You might be thinking, is that it?  That's the big secret?  No, but it went well with completing a blog post, finishing up my report cards a few days early (Yay me!), sending the girls outside to play in the sunshine, starting a refreshing scent going in the diffuser, and sipping on a nice drink.  Oh, and the chocolate frosted brownie with chocolate chips inside might have helped a little too.  :)

Thinking Out Loud by Ed Sheeran

If you are a Spotify user, or want to download it, here is the link to my Sing Along playlist.  This was my jam today...maybe you will like it too!  1 hour 25 minutes of listening pleasure.

Piano Man by Billy Joel

What are your tricks for finding a good mood?

Thursday, March 24, 2016

Day 24: Currently

I've seen many people post a "Currently" post. It's always captured my attention because it's a quick way to get to know a few details about someone. It is something I have wanted to try for a while so here we go!

Current book: I'm planning to read All The Bright Places next.  With spring break coming soon, I'm saving it for that week.

Current music: I have been listening to the 80s and 90s channels on XM radio lately. I enjoy hearing the songs I grew up with and I find it amusing that I can still sing along word for word after all these years.

Current Guilty pleasure: Watching home remodeling/decorating/buying/selling shows on TV. Fixer Upper is my very favorite.  HGTV and DIY are my go-to channels.  I also really like cooking shows, like Cupcake Wars and Chopped. I could honestly watch them all day.

Current nail color: My toe nails are pink and white. My daughter painted them in an alternating pattern. They are ready to be repainted and I have a new silvery blue nail polish that I plan to try out. I rarely paint my fingernails. It's just too much maintenance for me.

Current drink: Another of my guilty pleasures!! I love Biggby's hot Butter Bear. It's a caramel and butterscotch latte that is amazing!

Current food: I had Mexican today...a quesadilla with delicious guacamole and chips with yummy salsa.  It's my overall favorite type of food.

Current show: I'm watching House Hunters at the moment. My guilty pleasure show is The Walking Dead (so not my typical show but my hubby got me hooked on it).  I also enjoy Gray's Anatomy which was on my TV just a few short minutes ago.

Wednesday, March 23, 2016

Day 23: I Know What the Problem Is

I've been putting off my post all day. I just haven't had the ambition. It's ok. Tomorrow will be better. I know what the problem is.

My daughter is sick again; strep throat this time. The fever started in the middle of the night...
which led to rummaging for medicine with eyes half open...
which led to wondering if I should arrange for a sub...
which led to a 3 A.M. internet session to put in for a sick day...
which led to tossing and turning after the light went out...
which led to a tired Mama when the 5:30 A.M. alarm blared in my ear...
which led to hustling kids off to school.

Finally, we made our way to the doctor to find out it was strep.  Probably.  She wouldn't open her mouth enough to swab and find out for sure.  Treat it anyway.  After a month of various illnesses, a little antibiotic won't hurt her even if it's a virus and not strep.

The doctor appointment went well...
which led to a trip to the pharmacy...
which led to entertaining the sick four year old while meds were filled...
which led to a blue-eyed request for a blueberry muffin...
which led to a trip through the drive thru (thanks McD's for serving muffins)...
which led to Mama not having to make breakfast.

Finally, she was settled in on the couch with some cartoons and smurf toys.   I was pretty sure I had a few minutes to catch a nap after filling her belly and distributing her meds.  BUT, then there were...
dishes to be unloaded...
dogs to be let out...
school work to be done...
emails to be sent...
tv channels to be changed...
cups to be refilled...
snacks to be delivered...
BUT...no naps to be had.

So, I put off my post today because I didn't have enough ambition to sit down and log in.  It's ok. Tomorrow will be better because I know what the problem is.


Now, if you will excuse me...


Tuesday, March 22, 2016

Day 22: Notes Swirl

Notes swirl through the air
toes tap against the floor
5th graders in their finest

Notes swirl through the air
breaths taken in tandem
5th graders at their proudest

Notes swirl through the air
bows taken and smiles on faces
5th graders feeling relief

Tonight I attended my daughter's band concert.  This is just the second concert she has had as a band student, but the difference between how this group of talented 5th graders sounds now compared to the fall is amazing.  They certainly earned their claps tonight as they played their hearts out.  I'm one proud Mama!

Monday, March 21, 2016

Day 21: Lake Memories

I can still feel the warm sun shining on my face and shoulders
The breeze blowing my hair just a bit
The dock warm underneath me
I look above me and watch
the leaves ruffle, shimmering and shaking in the trees
and I sit back and take it all in

My legs hanging over the edge
toes trailing in the crisp, cool water
each little wave licks my ankles
I watch the swallows swoop and skim the water
while the ducks diving down for lunch
and I sit back and take it all in

I am mesmerized by the light
tiny waves sparkle like diamonds
I get lost in the swishing of the cattails
and the calling of the loon
all under the blue sky that goes on forever
and I sit back and take it all in

As I drove home today, I caught a peek of a small lake.  The waves were sparkling, the sun was shining and I was incredibly happy to have this Monday over with and be heading home.  I had some strong nostalgic feelings seeing that lake. It's a small lake, much like the one I grew up on and it was just calling to me.  I miss my lake, my quiet retreat. There were times as a child when I didn't appreciate that place as I should have but I do now.  I understand how special it was, how magical, and a way, a pace, of life that many people will never know.  How lucky I was to grow up there and how lucky I am to be able to go there in my mind on any given day. 

Sunday, March 20, 2016

Day 20: Ten Things Right Now

Ten Things Right Now

1.  My 5th grader is assembling her science fair project display board.  I'm thankful that the science project itself is completed.

2.  My four year old is playing with her Polly Pockets all over the dining room table.  I'm thankful that she's feeling well again and that dinner is still hours away...wow what a mess!

3.  My 2nd grader is happily finishing her math homework.  I'm thankful it will be completed this weekend and we won't have to worry about it during the week.

4.   My 7th grader is getting his hair cut.  I'm thankful I won't have to try to tame the standy-upy collick every morning before school for a while!

5.  Super Hubby is doing the laundry.  I'm thankful he is making sure it's done before he leaves on a work trip this week.

6.   I'm baking brownies for Super Hubby's birthday tomorrow.  I'm thankful he doesn't leave on his work trip until after his birthday so we can celebrate him and his special day.

7.  Basketball games are on the tv.  I'm thankful that we all filled out brackets this year...a little friendly family competition during March Madness with a $20 bill on the line for the grand prize winner!  So far the twelve year old is in the lead.  By a lot. 

8.  I'm unloading the dishwasher and refilling it with the next load.  I'm thankful that the sink will be emptied of dirty dish clutter (finally) and the cupboards will be full of clean dishes once again.

9.  School work is about to be spread on the kitchen table.  Next week I will be thankful for planning ahead and being ready for the week.  I will also be thankful for a FOUR DAY WEEK!

10. Groceries have just been put away.  I'm thankful for full cupboards to feed my family for the week and that dinner is all ready to go in the oven later this afternoon.

Bonus: Slice is written!  I'm thankful for the chance to be thankful today and thankful to be a part of a writing community as wonderful and supportive as this one.  Thank you!


Saturday, March 19, 2016

Day 19: Perspective

The drain in our basement backed up today.  Again.
The four year old threw up in the middle of the night.  Again.
The seven year old had a small anxiety attack because she was nervous about if the ice cream was peanut free.
The kids were chasing each other around the house like wild things.
I worked on report cards for two hours on a beautiful Saturday afternoon.
I burned my tongue and the roof of my mouth on my dinner last night and today it's swollen and sore.

My husband and I are able to afford a house for our family.
She woke up in time to use the trash can next to her bed.  No mess but the trash can!
We are able to take our kids out for ice cream whenever we want.
I have four beautiful children who are able to run and play and be loud.
I have a good job that I enjoy, with a good salary and benefits, even if it means working at home.
I'm able to put a yummy, hot meal on the table each day for my family.

As I thought about all the things that weren't going as I had planned today, I realized something important.  All of these things are small things.  They are things that can be fixed, taken care of, overcome.  There are much worse things that we could be dealing with in this life of ours.  There are people who have much less than we have.  Even on a day with setbacks, I am lucky.

It's all about perspective.  Sometimes we just need to change our perspective and look at things from a different angle.  It can make all the difference!

Friday, March 18, 2016

Day 18: Thing vs. Thong

When I opened my computer today, I intended to write a Top Ten Things post.  Just before I hit that orange publish button, something caught my eye.  Having noticed it changed everything today!  Maybe I'll share that Top Ten Things list tomorrow, but for today...how can I not share what was almost a very significant mistake?!

The power of a letter

what was intended to be ten things was almost ten thongs

one single letter that changes everything

the difference? HUGE!

information vs. underwear

lines vs. strings

public vs. private

BIG mistake.  BIG.

Thank goodness a wise teacher once taught me to reread my work.

Thursday, March 17, 2016

Day 17: Iowa

I looked at my dad, with all my 7 year old wisdom, and calmly told him he was wrong.  

"It's called Iowa, Dad," I explained.  "Not, I-OWE-A!"  

It didn't seem to matter how many times I explained this to my dad, it never changed.  He was set in his ways and he was going to pronounce it his way.  He had several of these unique-to-him words and I tried my best to teach him the correct pronunciation, but I failed, this being my first teaching job and all.  He continued to say I-OWE-A.  There was also the word PO-lice, as in the people who give traffic tickets.  And let's not forget about "chim-ley," the brick thing on the outside of the house.  We used to pick on his about his pronunciation quirks often, and he would grumble about old dogs and new tricks.

My daughter and I were putting together a puzzle last night and her little 7 year old self continued impressing me at every turn.  Mind you, she's assembled this puzzle and played with this puzzle many times.  However, she's still only 7 and it still amazes me every time she tells me what state she needs next without looking at the box. 

She's working on the middle of the United States...Kansas, Missouri, and so on.

Maddie: Mom, can you hand me I-OWE-A please?

Me: What did you say?

Maddie: Can you pass me I-OWE-A?

Me: I stare at her with my jaw hanging open and she stares back wondering what my deal is.

Maddie was born a year and a half after my dad passed away.  While we used to tease my dad about his handful of odd sounding words, it's not a story she's ever heard.

Once I got past the surprise of hearing her use his special vocabulary, it made me smile. I couldn't help but think, at least for just a minute, that there was a special connection between them.  It made my heart (and face) smile.

Wednesday, March 16, 2016

Day 16: The Songs of My Life

Please don't go girl
you would ruin my whole world
tell me you'll stay
never, ever go away

I've had my new vehicle for a year now (is it still considered new if it's a year old?) and I've noticed that my music listening habits have changed.  In high school, I went back and forth between light rock and new country music (let's be clear, NOT the twangy stuff my dad listened to).  In college, my roommates and I listened to a slightly larger variety when we also added in some Jimmy Buffet, Guns N Roses, and Aerosmith.

When I look into your eyes
I can see a love restrained
But darlin' when I hold you
Don't you know I feel the same

After college, I became much more eclectic in my musical interests.  I didn't care so much what type of music I listened to, only if I liked it or not.  I have a wide range of songs on my phone from oldies to Elvis to Blake Shelton to Ed Sheeran.  But lately, XM radio has thrown a wrench into my jams.

When I saw the break of day
I wished that I could fly away
Instead of kneeling in the sand
Catching teardrops in my hand

Now, I have my buttons preset and I spend the majority of my time flipping between two channels.  The 80s on 8 and the 90s on 9 have won my heart over.  Again.

We belong together
And you know that I'm right
Why do you play with my heart?
Why do you play with my mind?
Not only do I just enjoy these songs my children call oldies, but I remember them as the soundtracks from my life.  I remember singing along to New Kids on the Block with my bestie every chance we got.  I remember the concert where we performed November Rain with the full orchestra.  I loved these songs then and I still love them now.  Maybe they are oldies.  Oldies but goodies.

Tuesday, March 15, 2016

Day 15: Spring Hints Are In The Air

It's a beautiful spring day in Michigan with 60 degree temperatures and blue, sunny skies.  It's also spring conference time at my school.  I'm sitting in my classroom awaiting parents and wishing I could be outside feeling the sun on my face instead.  Don't get me wrong, I look forward to sharing progress and growth with parents this evening.  But...it sure does look inviting outside my window!  Here's a little spring inspired poetry for today.

spring hints are in the air

nothing green yet on the trees
but the snow has melted away

spring hints are in the air
flowers are peeking from their hideaways
the clouds are beginning to part

spring hints are in the air
birds are chirping melodies
windows are cracking open

spring hints are in the air
temperatures are creeping up
the sun is coming out to play

spring hints are in the air
bikes are reemerging
children's voices are calling

spring hints are in the air
shadows are beginning to dance
faces smile more

Monday, March 14, 2016

Day 14: I Want My Mommy

I WANT MY MOMMY!!!  Truly.  I don't want to be a grown up anymore.  I officially return my adulting badge. 

Last Wednesday, child #1 went down with the stomach flu.  Tomorrow, she is finally going to return to the human race and head back into the normal schedule.  She's pretty much resided on the couch or in bed since Wednesday.  Finally today, she showed some actual signs of being herself.  I saw a couple smiles, I won a couple giggles, and she managed to eat three meals and a couple of snacks.  And, most importantly, she was able to keep them all to herself! 

So, just as we were feeling pretty decent about tomorrow...as in, no babysitters needed, no alternate schedules needed, everyone back to where they are supposed to be...

[sing it with me now]

Another one bites the dust!

Yes, child #2 went to bed as usual and within the hour...

Yep.  You know it.  You know the sound.  The dreaded sound that every parent knows and every parent HATES like nothing else.

The sound of it hitting the floor.  And...not to be too graphic, but let's just say she sleeps on the top bunk.

And so it begins again.  The child on the bottom bunk shifts to the floor of her older sister's room.  The child on the top bunk is reassigned to the bottom bunk.  The floor is cleaned.  Sheets are changed.  Buckets are RE-placed next to the bed.  Here we go again.

If you read my post yesterday, you may remember that it's conference week at school.  Tomorrow is my late night, meaning I will be at school until about 7:30 or so.  My husband has to be at work as well and has to be able to pick up the rest of the kids from school so we called in reinforcements.  Or, more honestly, we called Grandma.  She will save the day and stay with sick child #2 and we will all cross our fingers that sick child #1 is truly over it and has a fabulous, normal day tomorrow.

Let's also all cross our fingers...yes, you to please...that this stops here.  I'm not sure I can take child #3 and child #4 and, for that matter, husband getting it too. 

Like I said before, I really just want my mommy to come rescue me.

I don't want to be a parent right now.

I hate vomit.

Hate it.


Sunday, March 13, 2016

Day 13: I Have No Words

I feel like a kid taking a test right now.
I have no idea what to write.
I'm staring down this blank page,
like something will magically come out of my fingers
and land on the screen.
I realize how small my world has been
this weekend as I stayed at home
residing on the couch, not feeling well.
When the grocery store is the only place I've been
the inspiration isn't flowing very strongly.
The words aren't yearning to get out of me.
But, tomorrow it's back to school
and parent teacher conferences begin.
I'm sure there will be plenty of fuel
to ignite my writing fire tomorrow.

Saturday, March 12, 2016

Day 12: Thankful

I'm not feeling well today and I am having a hard time trying to find something to write about. I haven't had much inspiration while resting and watching tv.  Then it occurred to me that even though I don't feel well, I have many things to be thankful for.

I'm thankful that my youngest daughter, who has been sick for the last two days, is feeling much better today and is back to her sassy little self.

I'm thankful that my middle daughter is very excited about her "SUPER hard homework" -- playing outside (and I'm thankful for her teacher who recognized the need for that fabulous homework this week).

I'm thankful that my oldest daughter is working toward a lofty reading goal and enjoying every moment of it.  Her teacher has been keeping track (using Accelerated Reader) how many words each student has read this year.  This 10 year old of mine is approaching the MILLION word mark and she has no intention of stopping until she reaches that goal.

I'm thankful for the progress report that arrived in my inbox this morning. My oldest and only son has earned himself 6 As and 1 A- so far this marking period.  He works hard and it pays off! He's proud of himself and I'm one proud Mama!

And finally, I'm thankful for my husband. He's my rock, my friend and my partner. He is truly my other half.  We make a good team and take good care of each other.  I'm especially thankful today that he took the four kiddos to a family birthday party and left me a quiet house for resting and getting better.

Friday, March 11, 2016

Day 11: Recharge and Refuel

It was a strange week.  This week held assessments in preparation for conferences and soon report cards, a math training and half day out of the classroom and two days of a sick child.  I felt drained.  I felt tired.  I felt like a permanent passenger on the struggle bus.

Tonight, however, was a night to recharge and refuel.  I had an enjoyable evening with good friends, good food and good drinks.  We have a small book club and talked a bit about the book we read.  Mostly we talked about school.  Mostly we solved all the world's problems.

Having these moments out with friends makes me realize how important it really is to recharge my own battery.  As a mom, wife and teacher I am always looking out for my home and school families.  I'm a care taker and I make sure they get to recharge and refuel but I'm not always good at recognizing when I need to do the same for myself.

I'm glad to have these ladies in my life.  I'm glad to refuel with them.  I'm glad to laugh with them.

I'm glad this week is over and it ended on a positive note.  Onward to next week's challenges!

Thursday, March 10, 2016

Day 10: 5 Bullet Thursday

I was up half the night with a sick child last night and had a full day of work today. To say I'm tired is a gross understatement.  My well feels dry today.  I'm not feeling inspired to do anything but take a nap.  It seems like a good time to try out a strategy that I saw Shari use in her slice yesterday here at Islands of My Soul.  She's a first time SOLC participant...go ahead...go read her slice first and share some comment love. Come back when you are done...I'll wait...    :)

Here is my sleep deprived attempt at 5 Bullet Thursday!

Song on my mind: Queen's "Another One Bites the Dust" - this is my friend's theme song and I feel like it is so fitting.  It can be applied to my situation last night (sick again, bed changed, kid cleaned up - another one bites the dust) or at school today (assessment time, pull over a child, give test - another one bites the dust).

Quote on my mind: "Writing floats on a sea of talk." I'm not sure where this originated but my writing guru says it a lot.  It's always rattling around in my head, especially in times like now when I am introducing a new skill or new genre of writing to my kindergarten students.

One thing I wish I was better at this week: Getting my assessments finished for conferences which start next week.  It's been one thing after another...snow days, math trainings, sick kids, etc.  I just feel like I'm treading water instead of making the progress that I need to be making.  Tomorrow's a new day!

Best thing I've eaten this week: Raspberry bread with cinnamon topping.  My daughter's babysitter met me at the door this morning with a container and a fork.  She'd made this deliciousness this morning and was giving a container to each mom this morning as we dropped off our kiddos.  She's just simply amazing!

My wonder of the week: I wonder if all of my families will show up for their parent teacher conferences next week.  There is one family I have yet to meet this year.  They haven't ever come for anything, they wait in the office on the rare occasion that they pick her up early, they don't answer phone/email/notes home.  


Wednesday, March 9, 2016

Day 9: Oh Lovely Mud

It was the middle of a very rainy spring which was following a very snowy winter.  To say that it was muddy outside was an incredible understatement.  I'd been traveling the dirt roads to my parents home since before I was born. I knew these roads forward and backward, in the dark and with my eyes closed.  I knew where every mud puddle, chatter bump and large stone were in the road.  But...I had never, in my life, seen mud like this before.

As the last stretch of pavement came to an end, I stopped the car.  At this point, I had two choices.  My house was on the road that was directly in front of me - that is, if I could have driven straight ahead, through a mile of thick forest, marshy swamp and a small gravel pit.  To get there, I had to turn and go the three miles around the block.  I could go to the right, the path most traveled, where I knew every dip and bump like my own face.  I could go to the left, the path less traveled, where I knew there was always a wet, swampy area that encroached on the road in good weather, but the rest of the path was a more smooth passage.

These were the days when a cell phone resided in my glove box for emergency use only.  I had used it exactly three times in as many years.  My boyfriend was coming home from college with me for the weekend.  He knew the roads well also, having made this trip many times himself.

As we sat, stopped at the end of the pavement, we looked at each other.  Neither of use could believe what we were looking at in the road.  It was as if someone had left the sprinkler on in the sandbox.  For a month.  The mud looked deeper than any I'd seen on any road before.  Being the "man" of the situation, my sweetie hopped out of the car, grabbed a stick and started poking to see if he could determine which way I should turn based on the depth of the mud.  Both options were equally terrible.

I decided to pull out the emergency cell phone.  I called my parents and assured them that yes I was fine but that I was stopped at the end of the pavement and couldn't decide which way to go.  I honestly thought that it didn't matter because I was sure I would get stuck in the mud in either direction.  My dad assured me that I would be fine.  Turn right and take the normal route.  Don't go too slow or you will get stuck.  Don't go too fast because the mud will pull you around on the road and you'll end up in the ditch.  You'll be fine, he said.

I looked at my boyfriend, "How about you drive? Dad says it will be fine as long as you don't go too fast or too slow."

Not a chance, he said. He absolutely didn't want to be the one responsible for getting my car stuck in the mud.  So, I took a deep breath and floored it.  It was three full miles of mud-spraying, fighting-with-the-steering-wheel action.  There were muddy trenches to stay out of, puddles that looked like small ponds and ducks swimming in the ditch along side of us.  But we made it!

As we pulled onto my parent's road, I was finally able to loosen the white knuckled grip I had on the wheel.  Our eyes must still have been huge when we arrived home because my mom and dad both burst out laughing when they got a look at us.  I vowed to stay home until summer.  I was NEVER driving again until the mud dried up.

The next day, my parents decided we should go visit their friends for the afternoon.  The friends who lived about four miles away, over the same muddy stretch of road we had just traveled.  My dad said since my car did so well in the mud, we should drive that and since I did so well managing the roads, I should drive.  I didn't say a single word.  I'm sure my face said everything that was needed as I handed him my keys and climbed firmly into the backseat.

He laughed at me and climbed into the driver's seat, all the while shaking his head at my craziness.  We were able to make it to their house and my dad made every effort to be sure I knew the road wasn't really that bad.  If you were an expert driver, like him, then it was really no big deal.  He delighted in telling everyone about our faces after we managed to drive through the mud the day before and spent a great deal of time picking on us throughout the afternoon.

When it was time to leave, Dad offered to let me redeem myself by driving home. I, of course, declined, but the mud was nothing that my dad couldn't handle, so he was happy to drive.  We piled back into the car and off we went.  On the way, I told him in that one certain extra nasty point, I had tried to stay to the right side because it looked slightly more firm.  He just shook his head and told me he had this under control.  He went to the left side.

That was his one fatal error.  We were immediately immersed in mud as deep as the center of the hubcaps in my little blue Cavalier.  At this point, I suggested pulling out the ol' emergency phone to call for help.  He decided we better just get out and survey the situation.  He was sure we could push the car out of the mud.

The mud thought otherwise.

The car sat so deep into the mud that the bottom of the car was resting in it.  And, since we were all out of the car and standing in the mud anyway, we might as well just walk the last mile home and get the truck to come pull it out.

If driving in deep, sloppy mud wasn't wonderful enough...now we had the pleasure of walking through the ankle deep muck.  Good times.

When all was said and done, it took two trucks, a tractor and 6 men to finally get my little blue car out of the mud.  My dad was kind enough to give my car a topside wash in the yard that day and sent me home with $10 so I could get the super duper underside car wash on my way back to school the next day. I may have been kind enough to give him a few little jabs about his amazing mud driving skills.

And yes, I was able to make it through the mud to get back to college the next day...without getting stuck.

Tuesday, March 8, 2016

Day 8: I'm Still Mad At Her

Today was a pretty typical day at school.  I did my thing, I packed my bag, rounded up my own children and ushered them to the car.  It was a rare 70 degree March day in Michigan and I was ready to go home.  I was looking forward to putting the windows down a bit and getting some fresh air.  I was looking forward to getting out of my school clothes and into something more lounge-worthy.

As I crested the hill I could see that the driveway at the end of the cul de sac was empty.  This means that we beat my hubby home from work today.  I sent my oldest into the house to leash up the dogs and take them outside, a task he isn't too fond of at the end of the day.  The three girls went in ahead of me.  I immediately heard the dreaded words.

"Dogs! What did you get into?" Yelled my feisty 4 year old.

"Uh, mom? You aren't going to believe what they did this time!" warned the two older girls.

At this point, I wasn't sure I even wanted to know.  At this point, I was a little disappointed to be the first adult home.

"What did they do?" I asked, mentally running through the list of possibilities.  Chew another toy? Find a stray shoe? What did they do to the couch? Someone have an accident on the floor?

"They got into the cupboard again!" scowled my sweet and sassy seven year old.

I turned the corner and tried to take in the scene.  To the right, the pantry doors stood open, the kitchen rug was laying in a heap in the middle of the room, and one child was indignantly trying to figure out who forgot to put the rubber band on the doors this morning. 

You see, this pantry entry has been a bit of a nasty habit.  We used to keep the dog food bag on the floor of the pantry.  After finding the doors open and the dog food bag chewed and torn open, we stopped keeping the food there.  It is now safely located on the top shelf.  The trash has a lid on it and so far...knock on wood...the dogs either haven't figured out how to get into it or they haven't noticed it there. 

Today, the dogs aimed a wee bit higher and managed to get two bags of chips from the second shelf.  They dragged them into the family room, made themselves comfy on the new rug in the middle of the room, and proceeded to chew on the clips until they could get them off the bags.  There were chip pieces and crumbs from one end of the rug to the other, along with the remnants of the bags and clips.

Apparently, after a nice snack of chips, dogs feel the need to go to the bathroom.  Now, we have two young dogs who are home all day alone.  We, even at one and two years old, leave them a puppy pad for those days when they just can't wait.  No big deal...when they keep it on the pad.  Normally they do, if there is any accident at all.  Today?  Of course not.  I'll just let you imagine the rug for a minute...chips and poop...nice, right?

After a few choice words muttered under my breath, I grabbed the dustpan and broom and got the biggest pieces of chips cleaned up.  I grabbed some paper and picked up the less desirable pieces on the rug.  I gathered the blanket that we keep over the couch while we are gone and began to fold it.  Guess what I found then?  Yep, one of them peed on the floor and the blanket was laying in it. 

Oh, this just keeps getting better and better, I thought.  There may have been a couple more words said in the heat of the moment and out of earshot of the littles.  I wiped up the mess and gathered the blanket and took it downstairs to be washed.  I vacuumed up the rest of the crumbs just as the dogs came back inside. 

Remember, it's 70 degrees and beautiful outside.  Three little girls were in their rooms putting on shorts and preparing to head outside to play.  My son immediately went upstairs to do the same.  I grumbled at the dogs as I began to put away the paper towels.  I was just unplugging the vacuum when I heard the first girl yelling.

"The dog just puked on the couch in the living room!  Mom, come quick!"

At this point, I wanted to go back to school.  Or under a rock.  Or just about anywhere else.

I grabbed the paper towels and ran to the living room.  I guess it's clear which dog is the main culprit now.  I sent my son back outside with the dog in case she got sick again.  Luckily, the majority of the mess landed on a throw blanket.  Unfortunately, there was a pillow corner and a small spot on the  [brand new] couch that wasn't so lucky.  I gathered my wet, soapy cloth and dry towel and began to clean the couch.  I gathered the SECOND blanket and carried it downstairs.  I went ahead and started the washer this time.  As I reached the top of the stairs son was calling me. 

"She isn't getting sick or acting like she's going to.  Can we come back inside?" he asked.

Not more than 2 minutes after coming back inside, this dog jumps up on the couch (the old one in the family room this time) and pukes again.  Kindly, she managed to do it in the crease between the two cushions.  Yes, that means two cushions got it AND the two pillows that were standing on top of them. 

That's it.  I quit.  I'll be in the Bahamas if you need me.

It's this moment that my hubby decides to call and tell me he's on his way home.  So, as I scrubbed the SECOND puke stain off the couch and pillows, I explained to him what the dogs had been up to on this fine day.

Twenty minute later, just moments after I was finally finished with all the cleaning, he arrived.  After getting all the fun details about my adventures and after I had the privilege of cleaning up yet another puke mess on the floor, he looked at me and said the magic words.

"So...should we just order pizza tonight, honey?"

And all was right with the world again.

Except for the dog.

I'm still mad at her.

Monday, March 7, 2016

Day 7: Happy Birthday Dad

A single ray of sunlight
shines down from the clouds
I know it's you there
Just checking in with me

I'm missing you today
on your birthday

I wish I could climb a rainbow
and knock upon your door
I'd like to see your smiling face
and sit with you once more

I'm missing you today
on your birthday

If I could dial your number
just to talk for a while
what things would I choose to say
and how would I decide

I'm missing you today
on your birthday

I'm missing you today
just like every day

Sunday, March 6, 2016

Day 6: My Loves

Sink cleaning
Trash removing
Dinner making
Bill paying

All things that never end

Video games
Curious George books
Mom, will you help me?

All things that will end too soon

I think today I'll ignore the things that won't go away
and pour my time into the things that matter most
the little ones that grow up too fast
and we will make the cookies
play with the toys

read the books
play the games
and enjoy

my loves

Saturday, March 5, 2016

Day 5: Buh-Bye Long Hair

My girls have been asking for haircuts for a while now.  I finally found a Saturday without plans and made the appointments. 

Today was the big day.  Emma, who's hair reached her waist, had decided she wanted to cut it near her shoulder.  She also knew she had long enough hair that she would be able to donate it.  She was pretty excited to be able to donate it and help someone who needed it.

(I may have forgotten to take the before pictures this morning...but I dug up a couple good ones that showed how long their hair was.)

Maddie wanted her hair cut to her chin.  She had it like that a couple years ago and really liked it.  This was what she'd been asking for.  As we sat in the salon today waiting for our turn, I realized that she probably had long enough hair to donate hers as well.  When I told her I thought she had enough her little face lit up!


Our turn arrived and two happy girls climbed up into the chairs.  30 minutes later I was walking two girls to my car that I barely recognized with goofy grins from ear to ear. 


It's the little things like haircuts that we often take for granted.  We had a fun morning together at the salon today.  Nothing crazy or unusual.  Nothing overly special.  Just a mom and two of her girls spending some time together.  These are the little things I know I will look back on and miss someday. 

Friday, March 4, 2016

Day 4: My Daughter, the author

My ten year old daughter has been reading the Harry Potter series.  She is currently reading the fourth book and is enjoying every minute.  She will randomly ask me questions at the dinner table because she knows I have read them and she will ask her dad if he knew some little fact from the books because she knows he has not read them.  She has also watched each of the first three movies multiple times.  That's part of the routine...read the book and then watch the movie (a few times).

Last night, as she was mixing up cookie dough, she told me she thought she'd like to be an author.  She had decided that she'd like to write children's chapter books.  You know, like J.K. Rowling does.  After school, as I was packing my bag to leave, she told me that her teacher told her if she finished her library book (Who Is J.K. Rowling?) over the weekend, then she would have read over 1,000,000 words so far in fifth grade.  Tonight, as I was making dinner, she said she was going to her room for a while because she wanted to write a story.

A bit later she returned, notebook in hand.

"Mom? I need a last name for one of my characters.  Do you have any ideas?  His first name is Daniel."  After much contemplation, she settled on Brooks.  And then she began to tell me the story idea:

"Daniel is best friends with Suzy Palmer and Mat Thomas.  They all attend Mr. Berny's School of Transforming Arts.

Daniel is a brave and curious 11 year old boy who's dad sent him to Mr. Berny's School of Transforming Arts after they find out that Daniel can transform into a snake.  Mat is Daniel's genius best friend that has an IQ of 155% and was sent to Mr. Berny's school by his Aunt who saw him turn into a dog in his sleep.

Suzy Palmer, who is not the sharpest knife in the drawer, but still likes to have fun, was sent to the school because her parents kept catching her eating all the carrots at night.  One time when she was eating carrots, she had a horse nose and was galloping around and around the kitchen."

This sweet girl left her notebook on the counter at bedtime and I couldn't resist sneaking a peek at what she had been working on.  Here is a look at her notebook.  Shhh...don't tell!