Friday, December 31, 2010

See, ya, 2010

I've never done much on New Year's Eve.  In fact, for the past I don't know how many years, New Year's was celebrated with just two people - myself, and my father.  It usually involved spending a great deal of time on laptops, eating Wheat Thins out of custard cups, visiting and watching Anderson Cooper on TV.  Around midnight, I would get up and get us something to drink to toast in the new year, and we'd go to bed. 

Oh yes, and I'd be remiss if I left out that my cousin/best friend's husband usually calls me on the exact second that it turns midnight to wish me a happy new year.  So usually, the new year involves me sprinting to my phone while juggling some beverage and a custard cup of Wheat Thins.

Last year, I rang in the new year in bed at my parents' house.  I was still very, very weak from a severe case of the Swine Flu, and my parents were invited to a party.  They went to the party, I laid in bed wishing that someone would shoot me.  Deep down, I felt sad because I wasn't spending the night with my father like I always had, but I was so exhausted and weak that I didn't care that much.  As it turns out, that would be my father's last new year.  I'm glad he spent it with my mom.

2010 sucked.  Big time.  There were good things about it, but overall?  I give 2010 an F-. Tonight for the first time, I have to ring in a new year with one less parent.  I have to watch my mother suffer through her first new year without the love of her life.  2010 is just a series of four digits.  Somehow, though, the change from 2010 to 2011 is a hard number change for me.  Irrationally, it feels like since 2010 was the last time I saw my dad, leaving it is hard.  It's like I'm leaving him behind forever.

God has truly blessed me.  I've seen so many good things happen through twelve months of pure torture.  I know that what doesn't kill you makes you stronger, and I'm glad for that.  I don't wish him back.  I know that he's supremely happy and healthy.  I know that we've all made it nine months without him, and that we'll continue to do so.  I know that even through the fog of sadness and torture, there's been a beam of bright light, guiding us along and reminding us that we are loved and part of a greater plan.

Walk in the Light, beautiful Light,
Come where the dew drops of mercy shine bright;
Shine all around us by day and by night,
Jesus the Light of the world.

But 2010?  Don't let the door hit you in the butt on the way out.

2011 is going to rock.  It has to.

Thursday, December 30, 2010

I Need to Join C.A.

Those of you who know me in real life, please refrain from mentioning who the actual celebrities are so that my location can remain a secret.

I have a problem.  It's a legitimate one.  I go nutso around famous people.  I don't even remotely get it.  I don't.  I don't even have to like them, but then the idea of seeing someone famous gets me all dizzy.  Or, I totally lose it and scream like a loon.  There is a very real chance that I would have reacted like this for the Beatles, against my will.

A very, very famous couple has been here visiting his parents.  You know he's brought a lot of women around over the years.  They ALWAYS come to eat at this one pizza place.  It's small and good.  They also don't take reservations.  So....imagine what I thought when I heard that the pizza joint had mysteriously accepted a reservation for a party of 12 under the name "GOMEZ."  Just hearing that made me go iron a shirt, put on a push up bra, and get the heck to the pizza restaurant!

Is this the famous family?
We got there, and were seated by the magical table for 12.  PERFECT!  We were also seated by the restrooms, and by the back door!  Could this get any better?!  I mean, with small children in their family, someone is going to have to go to the restroom, and of course they will want to come in a back door!  According to one employee, there was definitely a reservation for the "Gomez" family and it was a party of 12.  They never take reservations, but this one had been made.  Also?  They were told that they may have to turn over their cell phones.  CELL PHONES!!!!!  The Gomez party of 12 was looking better and better.

Or maybe this is the famous family?
We ordered food and waited, and waited, and waited.  I practically pulled a muscle because I was madly searching for any sign of the Famous Family.  THEN, at the large empty table next to us, a waitress started to add chairs.  She grabbed a high chair.  I almost wet my pants.  Seriously.  I mean, they are going to need high chairs!  But, sadly, it was not them.  Not at all.

Perhaps this is the family?
Defeated, we finished our meal and left.  The Gomez party of 12 at 6:00 never came.  IT HAD TO HAVE BEEN THEM!!

What about this family?
We sadly went to a nearby frozen yogurt place, hoping they might come in to allow their kids a frozen treat on these cold winter nights.

This family is a possibility as well...
The Famous Family never came in for frozen yogurt.  They didn't go to Target or Kohl's.  And they did not come to my house, either.

Could this be the family?

Epic fail.

Monday, December 27, 2010

I Got French Kissed by a Two Year Old

 Now that I am on winter break, I have time to spend with my nephew, the Former Baby.  He and I love going to the pool, and we try to do it as much as possible.  Today I took him to the fancy indoor pool that he loves.  In fact, he calls it the "Special Kool." 

I took him this afternoon and he was a wild man.  He was splashing like crazy.  He was shouting Toby Mac lyrics at the top of his lungs.  He was having a great time.  We were taking a lap around the pool, he was hanging on around my neck and kicking his feet behind him, when suddenly, out of no where, he leaned in.  I thought he was going to give me a kiss, but I had no idea what was coming.  Before I knew it, he shoved his slimy, nasty tongue into my mouth!  I don't know what my sister and brother in law are teaching him, but the "Special Kool" is rated G!

I tried very hard to ignore the fact that he's been coughing like an 80 year old with emphysema, prayed with all of my might that the chlorine would kill germs, and took a Flintstone vitamin.

The things I put up with in the effort to be a good aunt.


Sunday, December 26, 2010

Oh, it is on now!

I love buying Christmas gifts. I look forward to it, think about it for months in advance, and usually have my gifts purchased early. Hey, don't judge me! I get paid once a month. I get a panicky feeling inside if I think "I only have three more pay checks until Christmas!" so buying early ensures that I remain the bubbly, happy Non-Mommy we all know and love.

Last year, my family suggested that we drawn names for gift purchasing. The problem is, they suggested this in like October or November. I'd already purchased my gifts! So, we decided that we would drawn names this year. Soon after that decision, my father passed away unexpectedly. This meant some big financial changes for my mother, and we all agreed that drawing names was a good choice. A $20 price was suggested. I immediately protested. A $20 gift is harder to find than you would imagine, and there aren't that many of us. How about a higher limit? We all agreed.

I agonized over the price limit, as well as only being able to get gifts for one person. I kept finding things that I wanted to give to my mother, brother in law...everyone! But, I am nothing if not a rule follower. I carefully selected something for my sister and eagerly placed my one gift under the tree.

Christmas was good. It was hard without my dad. We all miss him terribly. It just felt a little more sad knowing he wasn't with us. Gift exchange time came. I gave my sister the one gift I had purchased. I was happy. And then, gifts started coming to me.

They were coming...

and coming...

and coming!!

WAIT A SECOND! I thought we were drawing names? What about the rules? And the price limit? Don't get me wrong, I loved each thing that I was given. But I felt like the cheap chump compared to everyone else. Granted, some of the gifts were of a sentimental nature in memory of my dear father. But I would have loved to give more to my family members.

I love buying things for the people I love. I even love wrapping the gifts. I'm fairly certain that I enjoy gift giving more than anyone else in the family, so the fact that I was the only rule follower stung a little.

It is on, family. It is on. You are going to have gifts coming out of your ears by the time I am done with you.

Saturday, December 25, 2010

Ode to My Appendix

Twas a few weeks after Christmas, in the middle of the night
when Non-Mommy woke up sick, and worried with fright;
Her plastic popcorn bowl she grabbed with care
in hopes that vomit soon would be there.

Non-Mommy was nestled all snug in her bed,
"Hmm, something isn't feeling quite right" she said.
When down far below there arose such a pain
Non-Mommy thought she'd never get out of bed again.

She poked and she prodded her side, left and right
and realized that she may be facing a desperate plight.
When what to her wondering eyes should appear
Google confirmed her very worst fear.
With a sharp rapid pain on her right side alone,
she knew more than ever she needed the phone.

More rapid than eagles her fingers they dialed
Her appendix, however, didn't appreciate being riled.
"Call the doctor!  Call Mom!  Shave your armpits!
Shave your legs!  Pack a bag!  Before your appendix splits!"

As dry leaves before a hurricane they fly
she knew her parents would hurry to come by.
So up to Non-Mommy's house her dad flew
with a pillow, a cell phone and her mother, too.

And then, in a twinkling, the crew had arrived,
whisked Non-Mommy to the E.R. - she'd survived!
The hospital bed was moved all around,
off to the O.R. Non-Mommy went with a bound.

Non-Mommy begged "Knock me out well, if you please"
and skillfully they made her sleep with ease.
Carefully and quickly her appendix came out,
Non-Mommy awoke with a thankful shout.

Blue Cross, you suck!  You are incredibly cheap.
But I guess I'm alive, so for that I must not weep.
It's been almost a year, I don't miss my old friend.
Appendix, you were faithful until the very end.

R.I.P. Appendix

This past week, as school wrapped up for winter break, my class chose to donate a few dollars each to a charity in place of purchasing gifts for a class gift exchange.  They then chose to do a White Elephant gift exchange using only items from home (to avoid purchasing things - it is nearly impossible to buy a $2 gift that is remotely interesting anymore).  This has worked well in the past, so I decided to go ahead with it.  All the students had to pre-approve the gift from home with both their parents and their teacher (me!).  They excitedly asked me permission to bring gifts, and I only had to not approve one gift idea.  One young lady, who is particularly clingy, asked permission to bring an item from home.  I approved it.

The next day, she came in and told me that her mother became very angry and told her daughter to tell me that she would NOT be participating in the gift exchange after all.  I just said "OK" and went on, but it bothered me.  Her mother is an alcoholic.  Her mother isn't stable.  So I later approached the young lady and asked if she wanted to still participate in the exchange.  She told me that she did, and I told her that I had some items that she could choose from for a gift.  I also told her we'd wrap it together.

The day of the party, I went to the "kid holding" area before school began and took the young lady back to my classroom.  I handed her materials to wrap her gift, and she just stood there.  It was obvious she had no idea what she was doing.  I sat down on the floor with her and taught her how to wrap a gift (even though I'm no good at it!).  I showed her how you should make the part of the gift that the person will open the part of the gift that looks the prettiest.  As I was showing her how to curl ribbon, she said "Ms. Non-Mommy, how do you know how to do this?"  I told her that my mom had taught me how to do it.  She sighed and said "I guess that is what moms are supposed to do, huh?  They teach you how to do cool things.  Or, they are supposed to."

With a lump in my throat, I sent her back to the "kid holding" area carrying her gift.  I knew that I'd just had an important moment with a sad little girl.

Sometimes, my job is very overwhelming, but not in the sense that you would think.  I went into this job to make a difference in the lives of children.  I did not go into teaching to make sure that kids knew the order of operations in math, or that they understand and have memorized their guaranteed rights in the Constitution of the United States.

I'm not overwhelmed at what I have to deal with.  There are so many heartbreaking situations out there.  I deal on a very regular basis with sexual abuse, physical abuse, and neglect.  I've had to help out many children over the years who have lost a parent.  I have personally been responsible for a child being taken out of their home due to abuse.  I buy clothes every year for kids.  I have packed lunches to send home with kids that I know are not being fed.  I've dealt with transvestite situations, suicides, extreme violence in the name it, I've dealt with it.  But even all of that is not what I find overwhelming.

I find it overwhelming that there is so much need, and I don't have enough to give.  I lay in bed worrying about these kids.  I'm overwhelmed because, while I do care that they learn, I am held back from helping these poor children whose only safe place is school because of all the government interventions that I have to give them.  I'm overwhelmed that I am still expected to be accountable for a child's academic progress (or lack thereof) when I know that so many of these kids are living in deplorable, unhappy conditions.

I'm overwhelmed.  I just want to make a difference.  There is so much need out there.

I am a good teacher.  I am a better role model.  But there is only one of me.  Today at Christmas, I hope you will consider how you can make even a tiny difference in the lives of others.  Just taking the time to do something small like teach someone how to wrap a gift can be a positive lifeline that someone in a desperate situation can grab onto.  There are so many needs, worldwide.  Remember, though, that even in our neighborhoods, wealthy, poor, rural, urban...there is always someone that needs encouragement and kindness.

We are so blessed.  Merry Christmas.

Monday, December 20, 2010

Moment of Awesomeness

I'm currently sitting in a chair with a Shiatsu massager rubbing my sore back, watching my nephew sing Toby Mac's "City on our Knees" into the faucet in the bathtub, and thinking about how in a mere 1 1/2 days I will get a break from work.

No more teachers.
No more books.
No more students' dirty looks.

I love being an aunt. I love this massage chair. I love not having papers to grade tonight.

Friday, December 17, 2010

This could be why I'm still single

I have a dirty little secret.  Something I like to hide.  Something that I am going to admit publicly for the first time.

I'm addicted to Cuddl Duds.

You might want to avert your eyes.  Or, sing "Boom, chicka wah wah!"

In my defense, I have a job that requires me to stand on an arctic wasteland day in and day out.  With a whistle frozen to my lips, I'm expected to monitor the safety of hundreds of children.  Without an extra layer hidden under my clothes, I'm useless.  I'm a little bit like Kate Gosselin in this episode where she is supposed to be camping with Sarah Palin:

Video removed due to obnoxious talking ads that scared me!

So, Cuddl Duds it is.  They are so silky.  So warm.  So snuggly.  They help me find my happy place.  Plus, they are just soooo sexy.

I'm too sexy for lined pants, too sexy for lined pants
too sexy for cold rants
And I'm too sexy to shiver, too sexy to shiver (the fear of cold makes me quiver)

I'm a model, you know what I mean
and I do my little turn on the playground
Yeah on the playground, on the playground yeah
I shake my little toosh on the playground

(Disclaimer:  I don't wear these all the time, I don't really show them off, and there is definitely no shaking of any body part on the playground - except, of course, on days when I forget my Cuddl Duds). 

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Raise the Flag, the Queen is Home

Several weeks ago, I ordered some Christmas gifts online.  While I was browsing for these gifts, I ran across one of the greatest things I have ever seen:  the solar powered waving queen.

 As a huge anglophile, with a tacky sense of humor, I found these delightful.  More importantly, I knew my mother would get a kick out of them, so I ordered her one.  Nothing cures the blues like a solar powered monarch in pastels!

I anxiously awaited the surprise.  I knew it'd make her laugh.  I couldn't wait to see the tacky thing.  And then, the package didn't come.  And didn't come.  And didn't come.  At first, I thought nothing of it.  It's a busy time of year.  Then, I thought that maybe this company was just slow.  And then, I began to get irritated.  I had paid shipping for this package.  Where was it??

I tracked my package obsessively.  I needed those other gifts, there was a time factor involved.  Plus, I needed the queen!  NEEDED HER!  The package took five days to process.  I found that excessive, but was willing to overlook it.  Then, it took three days to prepare to ship.  Three days!  Finally, the package left.  It was on its way!

Next, the package took a five day pit stop in Indiana.  Do I live in Indiana?  No.  Do I live anywhere close to Indiana?  No.  Why did it sit there for five days?  I have no idea.

Then, it shipped to my local area.  Apparently, it came via Pony Express, because it took that long.  It arrived to my local area, but never came to my door!  Where was my package?  More importantly, where was Queen Elizabeth?

Ten days later, I was pissed.  I started making phone calls.  I needed that package within 24 hours!  And the queen, what about her???  The tracking info said it had arrived locally, but it never came to my house.  The company was eerily silent about the package.  On a whim, my sister and I happened to be near the postal loading dock annex that is approximately 10 minutes from my house.  My sister suggested that I go in, even though it doesn't even really have an office open to the public.  I went in some door, came to another door, and rang a doorbell.

A man that looked exactly like Moby opened the door.  I explained my predicament to him.  He told me that he didn't know anything about the package.  I then got out my handcuffs, chained myself to the mail sorting machine, and began chanting "Free the Queen!  Long live the Queen!  Free the Queen!  Long live the Queen!"

In the middle of the third round of my chant, a postal worker from the bowels of the annex piped up and asked my address.  It seems that the random postal worker knew about my package, and it was sitting in a corner.  10 minutes from my house.  FOR 10 DAYS.

Immediately, smoke began pouring out of my ears and I gave a new meaning to the term "Going postal."  I then cleared my throat, and in my best Patrick Swayze voice, shouted "NOBODY puts Lizzie in the corner!"

OK, so the sit-in and smoke things didn't really happen.  Neither did the Patrick Swayze thing.  What DID really happen was that I tossed that package under my arm like a football and sprinted out of there - only to find that my solar powered waving queen did not work!  To quote one of my Canadian friends, "Vot da hoont??"  She probably worked 10 days prior to my picking her up!!!!!!

After another very tersely worded email, a replacement queen was sent.  This time, rather than the Pony Express, the company used the Concord to deliver her.  And, without further ado, I present to you, HM Queen Elizabeth II.
Just like those fine people in Britain who get angry at the slow moving, antiquated ways of the monarchy, they take one look at their beloved leader, in her sensible shoes and her solar paneled purse, and all is forgiven.

It's good to have you home, Your Majesty.

Saturday, December 11, 2010

Friends in Low Places

 After I graduated college, I made lots of friends.   I've always had plenty of friends.  It became a little weird when my friends started getting married.  Sure, I was still friends with the person, but then they had a spouse to worry about.  And spend time with.  After the honeymoon period, the friends would start wanting to do things again - only when their husbands were gone.  I didn't mind that, but it does get old after a while.  Then, those friends started popping out babies.  The first time around, it was so fun, so cute, so blah blah blah.   NOW, however, their time was really in a crunch. Not only did they have a spouse to think about and plan around, they also have a little poop machine that dominates all their time and thoughts.  Suddenly, doing anything with these friends involves careful planning and sitter finding.  Again, I don't mind this, it's just kind of inconvenient for "Free as a Bird Non-Mommy."

THEN, evidently these friends didn't figure out that sex = babies, so they KEPT popping them out! One of my friends is pregnant with her fourth baby. The other is due in March.  I readily admit - this is very weird for me. Partly because I thought I'd be in this place, too, and I haven't gotten there yet. Mostly I'm OK with that, though.  I just miss having single friends.  When they invite me over, it's me...and the couples.   I hear things a lot like "I can't wait until you get married so we can go on a double date." Thanks.  Helpful.   Conversations on the phone generally go like this:

Me: Hello?

Them: Hi, how are you?

Me: Good, how are you?

Them: Oliver didn't sleep all night long.

Me: That sucks.

Them: Hang on. *Yelling* JACOB!  I told you not to draw on that with markers!

Me: Do you need to go?

Them: No, I'm good.  JACOB, I'm serious.

Me: So, what's new?

Them: [Kid screaming into phone]

Me: I can really let you go.

Them: No, really it's fine.

Me: OK.

Them: I gotta go.

Again, I love my friends, married or not.   However, the problem these days is, I'm basically stuck with zero single people.  None.   Zip.  Zilch.  This isn't even about dating, it's just about wanting friends in a similar life stage as me.

The conundrum is, what to do?  How do you meet people?   I don't want to hang out in bars.  It's not my thing, it's gross, and I'm way beyond the partying stage.   I just don't want to.  Put an ad in the paper? "Help me, I'm single and just want a friend. But I'm really not as lame as this ad sounds."  Join a club?  What club?  And finally, the church option is always there.  Locally, there are no churches I want to go to.  I have tried them, and their singles groups.   The single people are either 18 years old (And, like, so, like excited about college!) or 40 year old divorcees (Sigh.  Their father didn't pay child support again.).  Hence the reason I went for years to Gigantor Church even though it's a billion miles away.  At least I got something out of it.  But it was so far away, it was hard to get involved.  So I switched churches to a closer one, not gigantor, but not dinky either.   I finally signed up to join a singles group.

I have to tell you how much HATE this kind of thing.  It's usually held in homes.  Do you have any idea how much fun it is to drive to a stranger's home and just walk in?  My stomach hurts just thinking about it.  It completely blows.  Plus, if you get there and there are a million cars with fish stickers all over them and then you get in and they are freaks, you are stuck.   Hopelessly stuck.

Churches seems to sense this is a major problem for people, and so they have huge get togethers.   You go, and then kind of get into a group and see what you think.   I must not be the only chicken, because there are always plenty of people saying things like "We know this is awkward, yadda yadda yadda."

Even though I know going to these events is not just for finding men, but also single friends, you know what it's going to be like.   Everyone that walks in is going to be fresh meat, and there are lions waiting to pounce!  They are going to look around and think "Too fat, too bossy, not enough clothing, oh yes, now SHE could be my wife!"  Yes, yes, I know this is all in my mind.  But that's what I feel like it's going to be!  I imagine it'll be a feeding frenzy.

I'm good enough, I'm smart enough, and doggone it, people like me!

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

Who Needs eHarmony??

A student of mine, Susie, recently approached another teacher who happens to be single. We'll call her Miss Vavavoom. The other day, Susie came up to Miss Vavavoom and asked her if she could ask a personal question. Miss Vavavoom said she wasn't sure she should ask the question if it was personal. Susie went on to ask "Miss Vavavoom, how long has it been since you went on a date?" Miss Vavavoom did not answer her, and thought nothing more of the exchange. Susie mentioned that her uncle was single, and left.

Today, Susie approached Miss Vavavoom and said "Haven't you graded my history packet yet?!" Miss Vavavoom found that odd and went immediately to look at Susie's papers. Inside, she found the following note:

My uncle, Jimmy Dean
Phone number (555) 867-5309

red brown hair
Dog / Fido
Dupelex [sic]
20 something i think
awsome [sic]


All of the teachers found this note hysterical.  We thought it was so cute.  When Susie came to my class, I called her Susie the matchmaker.  She laughed and then said seriously "Well, Miss Vavavoomis never going to do anything.  If I don't do it, it'll never happen!"

This is why I tell my students very little about my personal life.

Monday, December 6, 2010

My Worst Nightmare

Today I opened the CNN page to find a headline that said "Oprah for President?"

I then ran down the hallway, shrieking "NONONONONONONONONONO!"

I have a deep secret.  I hate Oprah Winfrey.  There.  I said it.  I HATE OPRAH WINFREY!  I don't understand why everyone goes ga-ga over her.  She's so loud and so opinionated (UNLIKE me, HA!).  She never lets her guests get a word in edgewise.  She's never been married, never had kids, but she's an expert on marriage and parenting.  She spouts off all this quasi-intellectual drivel and women eat it up!  I have read some of her book club books and they were terrible!  Her guests, and audience members, fawn all over and you can practically see her head inflate!  Dope-rah is always spouting off this weirdo spiritual stuff, under the guise of Christianity, and then acting totally the opposite.

Too bad I don't have any strong feelings about this.

Anyway, I didn't even read the story, but it got me thinking - what would this country be like if Dope-rah were in charge?

First, President Winfrey would probably have Vice President McGraw. Or Vice President King. Either way, I don't want any of those people in charge in the event of a world catastrophe. Their answer to solving the world's problems would be to sit with Maya Angelou and sing "Kumbaya."

AND, Dope-rah's all about spending.  Spend, spend, spend.  Does our already staggering deficit need Dope-rah to buy everyone a Volkswagen Beetle and some Spanx?

She insists on being on every cover of her magazine.  Can the woman EVER close her mouth, even for a picture?

She thinks she knows everything.  Al Gore already claimed that he invented the internet, so what will she take credit for?  LED Christmas lights?

Can she think about anything other than herself?  We need someone in charge that is not thinking about their secret lesbian lover or her dogs.

If she was president, would she shout like this every time anyone "high profile" came over?

Just say NO to Dope-rah Winfrey!

Saturday, December 4, 2010

Things Teachers Want You to Know

(These are just some of my observations – and the observations of some of my colleagues. I have worked in a very poor school, and a more middle class school. Please keep in mind that this may not apply to all schools, or that not all parents are this way. I also teach older elementary/middle school aged students. Also, keep in mind that I do know that there are some very unreasonable teachers out there!)

Parent/Teacher Relations

I love your child. Even if they can make me crazy, I do love them. I think about them all day long, worry about them, and miss them when I don’t see them.

I appreciate all parents. I know parenting is really hard work. Combine that with other commitments, and I don’t know how you stay sane!

I appreciate you keeping in touch with me. I know that can be hard (on your end and mine) but touching base really helps us understand your child better.

Please come to me if there is a problem.  I know it can be uncomfortable, but I want to try and solve it right away.  It can be uncomfortable for me, too!

Please contact me if you have a problem, not the principal first.  There are extreme cases where the principal needs to be contacted immediately, but most things can be solved with me, first.  Going to the principal first makes us feel a) blindsided b) like you don’t trust us and c) it makes more work for he or she, when it probably was simple enough for me to take care of.  I am more aware of the situation than the principal.

Remember, being fair doesn’t mean being equal to all.  I will be fair at all times, but there are different situations for each student.

For better or for worse, your child probably acts differently when you aren’t around.  I am astounded when I see students with their parents.  They typically, not always, act very differently than they do at school.

I know it can be hard, but try and read the notes sent home.  I know you are bombarded but it is very helpful if you stay informed.

I agree, you are asked way too often for money or for your time.

If I have ever hot-lined you, you probably don’t know about it.  Probably anyone reading this hasn’t been hot-lined.  Please know that I am a MANDATED reporter.  I must, by law, report any suspicions. This means that I have made careful observations and documented things.  I did not call on a whim or call because I was mad at you.  Also know that hot-lining a family is a horrible experience, no matter how bad the abuse.  I am aware that I am altering your family life forever.

Relationships with Other Students

I will try my best to make sure everyone gets along.  Sometimes in life, you have to deal with people that you don’t care for.  Please teach your child this important lesson.

Please don’t ask me about another student’s private life.  There are many things that can be going on in their life (divorce, illness, abuse, etc.) that I cannot tell you about.  Don’t put me in an awkward position.

As much as I try to keep an eye on everyone, I cannot watch 30 children at once, or listen to every conversation they have all day long – including lunch and recess.

I will do my best to resolve any student-to-student conflict.  Keep in mind that I am not the other child’s parent, and that I only can do so much – I have rules to follow as well.

Keep in mind that I have to deal with a class full of students, each with their own problems. Sometimes other students may be acting the way they are because of problems at home that I cannot tell you about.


I try to be reasonable.  I will never send you a project at the last minute or a huge assignment to be completed the next day.  If that happens, there probably is a communication gap with your child.

Keep in mind that it is hard for me to keep up with grading assignments.  I could grade papers 24 hours a day and still not be finished.  I have to eat and sleep sometime.  I will return papers as soon as possible.

Please do not ask me unreasonable things such as to call you every night and tell you what your child’s homework is.  Unless there is a different circumstance that I am willing to work with, your child should be completing a planner each night to let you know of their assignments.  They need to be learning responsibility.

We have a homework policy for a reason.  You signed it, stating that you and your child read it together and understand it.   I know most people don’t read what they sign, but I have it here as proof. Your child needs to know that the electric company won’t accept late payment without a penalty. Don’t enable your child. Teach them to be responsible themselves.


I hate fundraisers.  I think children are asked WAY too often to sell things for various causes.

Please do not allow your child to sell things to teachers.  Remember, we have 30 kids (I actually have 120) and they are all selling something.  If I purchase from each of them, I will have no money.  And I hate seeing their crushed faces if I do not purchase from them.

Please remember that I have to purchase many, many school supplies with my own money.  It gets costly to do things like science experiments.

Please also keep in mind that there are less fortunate students in our class.  I may not be able to buy a fundraising item from you because I have just paid for five students to go to the after school class party, five students to go on a field trip, and purchased clothing for another student.

It really burns my hide when I pay for a field trip because a student cannot afford it, then they show up with $100 for souvenirs.  That happens more than you know.

I think it is as thoughtful as you can be if you can afford to donate extra money for an event for a student who cannot afford the event without financial help.

On the other hand, please tell me if you can't afford something!  I am willing to help or can find someone else who will.


Please don’t feel that you have to give me a gift.  It is certainly VERY appreciated, and it is nice to know you care.  But don’t stress out over one or spend money you don’t have.

I appreciate kind notes just as much or more than a gift - from you and from your child.  I keep all notes from all students and parents.  I just want to know that my work is appreciated.

If you feel that you must get us something, keep in mind that most of us don’t collect apples.  I have a closet full of teacher-y, apple gifts.  While I treasure them for their meaning, and appreciate it more than you know, I have a lot of apple paperweights, apple pictures, blah blah blah.

Good ideas – a candy bar now and then, maybe a bottle of water, flowers (from your home garden or not), plants, gift certificates, books for the classroom, etc.


You think you are sick of hearing about state testing?? So are we!

It is a lot of pressure for us because we are evaluated on student performance. Students who maybe don’t do well on tests (but they do well on a day to day basis), students who are feeling ill, students who went to bed too late, students who are hungry, etc.  I even had a student gone all year because he had cancer.  He had to come back for testing and couldn’t even stay awake for the test.  Bless his heart.

I will never value your student for their test performance.  I care more about seeing academic and personal growth throughout the year.


Please remember that we have a life, too.  If it is an emergency, I am happy to talk to you outside of school.  Otherwise, unless I have specifically given you my home number, take care of it in the morning.  Send me a note, e-mail, a phone call at school, or a visit.

Please don’t let your child call me just to chat, either.

Please keep in mind that we want to have a life outside of school.  This means sometimes we will want to go out to eat, see a movie, have a drink with dinner, etc.  I try very hard to be a good role model. Please don’t judge me because you see me on a date or anything like that.

Working with Older Students

I work in a building with older students.  Generally, parents seem less and less interested about the teachers and about their child’s schooling as they get older.

We love the kids just as much as a kindergarten teacher loves their students!  We spend just as much time working with them.  Middle school kids are especially hormonal and crazy, all the more reasons to remind teachers now and then that you appreciate them!

We think the world of you if you take the time to come to a 15-minute conference or other school meetings.  It’s nice to know that parents still care.

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

The Girl Curse

I am someone that gets along easily with others.  I think that I don't have a lot of conflict with others, and I work really hard (almost unhealthily, I suppose!) to keep everyone else happy.  So when something goes wrong, I don't take it well.  I'm good at what I do, I follow the rules, and try to be flexible.

Today a teacher that I thought I got along well with was ugly toward me.  I truly don't think I had done anything wrong, I think I was just in the wrong place at the wrong time, and was the unfortunate victim of a "Drive-by Crabbing."  Anyway, some unsavory conversation took place in front of all of my coworkers.  I was shocked, confused, and embarrassed.  The moment the Snarky One left, all of my coworkers were like "What?!  What is she even talking about?  Don't worry, Non-Mommy, you're always in control of your class.  She was just in a bad mood."

Then...the Girl Curse began. The meeting we were waiting on was beginning.  I could feel a lump in my throat. "NON-MOMMY, NO" I told myself. Then I could feel that tightness around your eyes and in your throat that mean tears are imminent. "You cannot let anyone see you cry!!!!"

I hopped up and raced to the restroom, hoping no one would see.  Didn't matter.  It came out.  I hate being a girl sometimes. I truly envy you people that don't cry, because it's the last thing I want to happen in situations like this.  I wasn't crying out of guilt. I was crying because I was so frustrated that I didn't know what else to do. I couldn't say to her that I didn't do anything. I was stuck.

Did you know that when you are super blonde, people can see on your face, all day long, that you've been crying? I just LOVE the Girl Curse.

I hate crying.  It happens when I'm mad.  It happens when I'm frustrated.  It happens when I watch anything sappy.  When I feel the Girl Curse coming on, I need to think about these things to get my mind back out of the dumps.

Why are you cast down, O my soul,
   and why are you in turmoil within me?
Hope in God; for I shall again praise him,
   my salvation

Psalm 42:5

Monday, November 29, 2010

Huked on Fonix Wurkz Fur Me!

I commute to work every day with an absolutely hilarious friend. When you spend a great deal of time in the car with someone, you get to know them fairly well and also have some interesting conversations. Today, this song came on the radio:

I began making the bull whip sound earnestly, as it is my favorite part of the song. Somehow or another, my friend and I got into a deep conversation about how you would describe this whip sound. Specifically, how would you spell it?

Before you know it, my friend and I are making the whip sound over, and over, and over. We are really analyzing the sound and trying to put letters to go with it. Of course, every time we make the sound, we have to make the whipping motion with our hands! I'm sure we looked VERY odd, sitting in traffic, whipping the air repeatedly in the car.  We were also dying of laughter.

To better clarify the sound, I turned the volume WAY up so we could study the sound in detail. Here we are, sitting in my old lady car, music BLASTING, whipping the air with a frenzy.

My friend suggested that you spell the whipping sound like this:


My argument was that sounded like a whip that had a stutter, or a whip that is cold. Besides, you'd need the hyphen earlier in the word! But hey, try spelling her suggestion outloud to yourself and listen to how silly it sounds!

I don't know if it's


Or, as Chandler Bing says it...

Don't you wish you carpooled with us to hear our stimulating conversations?!

Sunday, November 28, 2010

Why I Should Move to Minnesota

For the Thanksgiving holidays, I was invited by some very kind people to their home.  Their home happens to be in another state that I'm not very fond of, but I went anyway.  The last time I went to this state, it was hotter than the surface of the sun.

Just so you know, there are three things critically important that you need to know about me:

1)  I am a weenie.  A big, big weenie.  I don't like to sweat. 

2)  I am white.  Really, really, really white.  I sunburn just thinking about the "s" word.  The rumor seriously went around that I was half-albino when I was in college.  HALF-ALBINO?! 

3)  I am not an outdoorsy girl.  I'm just not.   I don't like getting hot, I sunburn like bacon in a frying pan, I am an insect magnet, and I am petrified of ticks.

For these reasons, I love snow.  Love, love, love it.  It's beautiful!  It's refreshing!  It requires me to be bundled up!  It is virtually impossible to get sunburned when you're wearing a hat, scarf, coat, gloves, and pants.  I like feeling cozy and warm in the house when it's cold outside.  Heck, I don't even like being outside, so winter is perfect!

So imagine the sadness in my heart when I left my state for Thanksgiving and, in my absence, it snowed.  There is still snow on my roof.  I missed it all.  I am the snow repellent!  I always want snow.  Wherever I go, the snow goes the other way.  I'm so sad.  I wish I could have sung "I'm dreaming of a white Thanksgiving..."

Maybe next year.

In the meantime, I'm ready to move to Minnesota.  I'll blend in beautifully, I'll have plenty of opportunities to stay indoors, and I'll get snow.  Lots of snow.  And, I can say "baeg" instead of "bag."

Praying for snow days,

(PS - Wait, I need more info.  For schools in colder climates, what is the temperature cut off for playing outside at recess?  Do they ever get snow days?  I DO love snow days...)

Saturday, November 27, 2010

Grandma Got Run Over by her Neighbor

 My grandma is hilarious.  She's really an interesting bird.  I could write an entire blog about her life alone.  However, it is the story of her being run over by one of her neighbors that I am sharing today.

My grandmother lives in a housing development filled with old people.  She spends a lot of time with a group of widowed women.  They go out to eat and see shows together.  You'd think, since this group is pretty much in their 80's, that they would be boring and drama free.  NO, SIR!  They fight as if they were in high school.

Two of the characters in the group have been battling one another.  The first Fighting Geezer is Sally.  Sally is old.  Really, really old.  She's tottery, forgetful, and looks as if a strong wind would blow her over.  Sally has been good friends with Dorothy, Fighting Geezer number two.  Dorothy had a stroke recently, so Sally has been helping her by driving her around.  Sally and Dorothy regularly go out to eat, and Sally always cuts Dorothy's food for her because Dorothy's hand strength is weak since her stroke.

Recently, Sally and Dorothy got into a fight.  As a payback, Sally declared that she would no longer cut Dorothy's food for her.  THAT SHOWED HER!  So Dorothy called up my grandmother and asked her if she would cut her food from now on, because Sally wasn't going to anymore.  When I heard this story, I laughed so hard.  The silly drama!  The best part is, they still go out with one another, even though they are mad.

Fast forward to a few weeks ago.  Sally, Dorothy and my grandmother went out to eat at their country club.  Sally, who is very frail and probably doesn't even remember her own name, drove.  Don't ask me why!  Every time I see Sally, I think that she's on Death's door and can't see.  Doesn't fill me with confidence to think that my grandmother is riding around with her.  So Sally drove the ladies to and from the country club.  My grandmother was helping Dorothy into the backseat and buckles her in.  She walked around, put one foot into the car, and was about to bring the other one into the car, when suddenly, Sally floored it.  This caused her to run over my grandmother's foot that was still on the pavement.

My grandmother found her shoe on the other side of the parking lot, and her foot was badly bruised, but nothing more. 

The next day, Sally showed up at my grandmother's house, apologizing profusely and handed her cash to get new shoes or to put toward a doctor's visit.  My grandmother was insulted, but I told her not to be.  Sally was just feeling guilty.  Then Sally called my grandmother four times in a row, prompting my grandmother to stop answering the phone.  Then Sally showed up AGAIN, acting as if she hadn't been there before, and handed my grandmother more money.  I'm just glad that a) Sally isn't my grandmother and b) my grandma was okay.

I'm going to choose to ignore the fact that there are people like Sally, all over the world, driving around when they shouldn't be, and instead focus on the fact that my grandmother got run over by a senile woman because the senile woman was fighting with her friend and wouldn't buckle her up.  In honor of this story, I composed the following song:

Grandma Got Run Over by her Neighbor
(Sung to the tune of "Grandma Got Run Over by a Reindeer)

Grandma got run over by her neighbor
buckling a friend into her seat
you can say that old folks are pretty boring
but I say they're an entertaining treat!

She'd been riding with Senile Sally
and we'd begged her not to go.
But she's a stubborn little old lady
and chose to be a friend, not a foe.

When they found her in the parking lot
at the scene of the attack
there were tire marks on her foot and
her missing shoe in the lot, way in the back.

Grandma got run over by her neighbor
buckling a friend into her seat
you can say that old folks are pretty boring
but I say they're an entertaining treat!

Now we're all so proud of Grandma
she's been taking this so well
See her there sipping her cocktails
encouraging Sally her car to sell.

It's hard to walk without a shoe
and a foot swollen and black
But we just can't help but wonder
if she'll go back?

Grandma got run over by her neighbor
buckling a friend into her seat
you can say that old folks are pretty boring
but I say they're an entertaining treat!

Now the shoe has been repaired 
and the foot is almost healed
I think my grandma needs a helmet
and a full length body shield.

I've warned all my friends and neighbors
better watch out for yourselves
they should never give a license
to an old lady who hears bells.

Grandma got run over by her neighbor
buckling a friend into her seat
you can say that old folks are pretty boring
but I say they're an entertaining treat!

Friday, November 26, 2010


This was such a crazy  Thanksgiving holiday.  I won't bore you with the details, just know the story involves starvation on a certain picky blonde's part, sleeping in my brand new ski jacket, hat and gloves, and coming home smelling strongly of bacon. 

Instead, I want to talk about being thankful.  Seriously, the last year of my life was almost the worst it could possibly get and I came about 10 seconds away from having to go into the looney bin, but I made it through.  Victory!  If I talked about all the things that have happened in my life, all the blessings through the rotten pain, I would cry.

You don't want to make me cry.  Trust me.

So, instead, I am going to talk about the silly things that I am thankful for.  I mean, I am genuinely thankful for these items, but not as much as the important people in my life and the way God has taken care of me.  My coping mechanism is humor, so humor you get!

1.  I am thankful for friends who will send me or pick me up food from Trader Joe's.  Trader Joe's, despite my deepest love and support, and many letters written to them, has refused to put a store within a reasonable driving distance from me.  I love you, Trader Joe's!  Stop snubbing us!  We need your unique and organic goodness just as much as everyone else!  So, until they finally decide that I am a genius and build a store closer to me, I am instead grateful to people who will buy me things like chocolate covered edamame or Meyer lemon thins.

2.  I am thankful for flat iron spray.  Without the stuff, my attempts at flat iron curls would, well, fall flat, for lack of a better term.

3.  I am thankful for the electric blanket.  Whoever created that baby was a genius.  I salute the inventor of the electric blanket from September to May.  Bravo, inventor!

4.  I am thankful for my missing appendix.  Because of its absence, I will never have to have another appendectomy.  This saves me a great amount of pain, time out of commission, and money.

5.  I am thankful that I get to work with a man.  In the education world, men are rare.  Without any testosterone present, the women work themselves into a frenzy and rip one another to shreds.  Even though I am female, sometimes I just need to hang out with the guys.  In my case, guy.  He's hilarious and he lets me use his restroom, which is much cleaner than the overly used ladies' room.

6.  I am thankful for bell peppers.  Without bell peppers, this certified veggie hater would be in big trouble.

7.  I am thankful that I have the ability to play the piano.  I don't play it well, and certainly don't want anyone to hear me play it, but it's a pretty cool feeling to be able to do it.  I enjoy it.

8.  I am thankful for Google Reader.  Thanks to Google Reader, I am able to keep up with lots and lots of blogs - and it even recommends new ones for me!

9.  I am thankful for the tankini swim suit with a skirt bottom.  Who knew that just a few more inches of fabric would make me strut around the pool belting out "Boom, chica wah wah!"  OK, not really.  But hey, the fact that I'm even walking around the pool at all is progress.

10.  I'm thankful that I have a job in which I can require my students to put on flower leis and dance to Elvis Presley's "Blue Christmas" every day during the Christmas season.  Is it educational?  Welllllll......

What random things are you thankful for?

Monday, November 22, 2010

I Needed Some Ruby Red Slippers

Tonight I just happened to be in the wrong place at the wrong time.  You see, I was determined to get my mother's extremely late birthday gift.  I had ordered her DVDs of the Canadian show Corner Gas (hilarious, trust me!) but apparently it is hard to find.  It never came, even after I ordered it.  I recently located a copy and was finally able to give her her gift, five months late. 

On my way to pick up the DVDs, I decided to try and take a rural route to the store to see if it was any shorter than the way I usually went.  I happened to be in an area that was literally flattened by a tornado a few years ago.  I knew it was rainy and very dark looking, but didn't worry until I noticed a really low cloud.  I thought I knew what a wall cloud looked like, until I saw a real one several years ago.  I had no idea that they were so low.  So this afternoon, when I noticed a very oddly shaped dark cloud that was very low to the ground, I noticed.  I called my mother and asked her if we were in any storm warnings.  She looked, said that it was just a small storm that was about to blow over, and that I'd be fine. 
RUN FOR YOUR LIFE!  This is not a good sign!
Approximately two and a half minutes later, I found myself in an area with no buildings around.  In hindsight, I did notice branches and leaves swirling around in the air, but I ignored this.  I drove onto this large bridge when suddenly my car was slammed by this freak "pop up" storm.  I couldn't see anything at all.  It was hailing incredibly hard.  My car was swaying side to side.  And where was I? 

On a freaking bridge. 

There was no where I could go, and I didn't know what to do.  I was in major trouble. 

Being calm is just not my forte.  I called my mother, bawling, and yelled into the phone "Are you sure that I'm safe out here?"  Which, by the way, never call your mother crying and asking things like this.  I contemplated what to do.  I mean, in a real tornado you should get as low as possible.  But I was on a very tall, large bridge.  I was seriously concerned that my windshield was going to be broken, and my car was literally swaying from side to side.

Turns out that little freak pop up storm caused quite a stir.  It turned out that I was in a tornado warning.  I was in exactly the wrong place at the wrong time.  The winds were 70 mph and it was quarter to golf ball sized hail.  Just as quickly as it had come, it blew over and I was on the side of the road, teary eyed and petrified.  And THEN, suddenly on the radio, they were telling me to take cover, that I was in grave danger!  Gee, thanks!  A little too late, don't you think?!

I don't know why I can't remain calm at times like this.  If I am at school and something goes wrong, I remain calm.  But on my own?  Not at all.

Last year the stupid tornado sirens went off right before 6 a.m.  I'm a very light sleeper, so I woke up immediately.  I'm also not one to wake up suddenly in the morning.  It makes me rather frantic.  I looked outside and saw a sky that looked exactly like this:

This is also very, very bad.
 So when I turned on the TV and they said "People living in Non-Mommyville need to take cover IMMEDIATELY, you have MAYBE 10 minutes before the storm will hit" I immediately ran around like a chicken with my head cut off.

"Bra, bra, you need a bra, where is your bra? You have to get your purse out of the car.  Hurry Non-Mommy, you have like 9 minutes.  You need shoes!  Shoes!  HURRY!  Should I pack my laptop? Seriously, it's solid black outside and you're worrying about your laptop? Get out of here!   8 minutes!"

They really need to stop giving specific times until you die.

So off to the snooty neighbors house I went.  She's seriously one of those people who smiles at you and says sweetly "Oh, those are an interesting choice of shoes. Hmm."  So here I come, with my hair literally standing straight up, in mismatching clothing (because I just grabbed something to wear), carrying my purse (because, after all, if you are going to lose everything, you'll want a credit card to buy yourself a toothbrush.  Not that my $200 credit limit on my Target credit card was going to help me much). And then I had to sit in her basement and make small talk.  At 6 a.m.  Talk about torture.  I'd rather go through a tornado.   Annnnnnd we sat there.  Listening to it outside.  It was scary. 

I hate storms.  Does anyone know where I can find a remote island that has no scary storms, no UV rays to sunburn me, and is fabulous enough for me to live with my rich, rich husband where we can have lots of babies?  Anyone?

Saturday, November 20, 2010

I've Lost a Good Friend

Recently my class was acting like it was a full moon, on party day, with each child acting as if they'd consumed an entire two liter of Mountain Dew.  It was so psycho that I didn't notice a major lifestyle change.

I lost a dear friend.

Goodbye, Fashion Form Push Up Pad.

Sniff sniff.

Eight years ago, I was going to be in a wedding.  The dress was way too big on top for me.  No matter what, there was just too much space in the upper chestal region.  When I arrived for the wedding, there was nothing left to be done.  So I purchased my new best friends, the Fashion Form Push Up Pad.  It's like a little boob shaped balloon you slip into your bra to turn your little mosquito bites into juicy, juicy mangoes (I stole that from "Bend It Like Beckham").  I got them just for the wedding, but then I discovered the joy of the push up pad in my every day bras!  They've gone on many a date with me.  They keep things nice and smooth on cold days.  They're wonderful.  For eight years I've been washing them and wearing them.  It's just messed up that I'm not a teeny stick of a person, but I don't have boobs.  I mean, come on, I should at least get to have some boobs out of the deal!

I noticed recently that one of them looked a little weird when I took it out of the washer, but I didn't think anything of it.  I mean, they are like 8 years old!

After the crazy day in my classroom I came home and sat down, and looked down.  Something was definitely amiss down there.  The little air filled ballooney part of the pad had shifted somehow to the TOP of the pad instead of the bottom of the pad where it should be.  But then the best part was, apparently this shift made my fake boob spin all the way around in my bra, and stick out of the top!!  MY FAKE BOOB WAS STICKING OUT OF MY BRA.  Seriously, how talented must I be to be able to turn my fake boob all the way around with no hands?  How am I still single?!?!

I didn't notice anyone looking at my chest weirdly.

Dear God, if you are listening, please let me not have walked around looking like a dipwad all day long with a third boob sticking out of my chest.

Please, God.  Please.

It's time for a new purchase.  Good bye, old friends.

You men have it so easy.

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Christmas Rules According to Non-Mommy

The Christmas season is approaching and I already see people preparing for the holidays.  As you consider what you listen to, what you eat, and how you decorate for Christmas, I hope you will keep in mind the following rules in regards to Christmas:

1.  Harry Potter is not a Christmas movie.  Containing a Christmas scene does not a Christmas movie make.

2.  LED lights are of the devil.  Yeah, yeah, yeah, one bulb going out doesn't knock out the whole strand, and you can plug in 43 strands at once, and they are way more energy efficient, blah, blah, blah.  They just are so...cold.  Flouresent.  Unappealing.  I can't handle the light!  It's so uncozy.  Some day when I die, they are going to make an episode of "Hoarders" (sickly fascinating show, by the way) about me.  Instead of finding me taped to my bedside toilet so I don't fall into the garbage and dead cats around me, they are going to find my home packed to the ceiling with boxes of REAL Christmas lights and REAL lightbulbs.

3.  Never, ever, ever, EVER mix regular lights with LED lights.  LED lights are bad enough, but the two lights should NOT be mixed!

4.  Inflatables.  They are not my favorite, but you should never do a yard full.  And don't even GET me started on how it looks during the day with them deflated all over the yard.  I have to stifle the urge to yell "The carnage!  THE CHRISTMAS CARNAGE!"

5.  The following song should never be played at Christmas time (or ever, although this video is so ridiculous it's almost funny):

6.  Don't put red or green bulbs in your outdoor light fixtures.  The first thing I think is "drug deal."

7.  Don't ever, ever make a dessert that LOOKS like those Oreo balls (hehe) but really make stupid CREAM PUFFS.  I hate cream, and that was a most unpleasant, gagging surprise.  And yes, the sexual overtones in this rule are not lost on me.  I wasn't intending that, truly.

8.  This song should be put to rest permanently as well:

I realize it makes a lot of people cry, and feel very sentimental, me Scrooge if you must.  I want to blow my brains out when I hear this song.

9.  Instead of watching music videos that make you want to hurl, you should instead watch CLASSICS like this one!

I loved this cartoon as a kid, and still enjoy it today.

10.  Send Christmas cards.  Don't resist.  Getting real mail is such a rare treat these days.  It's totally worth the cost.

 I have other nuggets of wisdom, but I'll leave you with 10!  I know that some of you will consider this a little premature, but you can't plan ahead enough when considering these important Christmas rules!

Sunday, November 14, 2010

Bis vivit qui bene vivit

About a year ago, I sat in the front yard of my parents' house, watching my dad scramble all over the roof at precarious angles, installing Christmas lights.  He was crawling around like a monkey and scaring the crap out of me.  From my sunny spot on the grass, I yelled "If you kill yourself, I will be really mad at you.  I still need you!"

Four months later, my beloved father passed away unexpectedly. 

For years I have longed more than anything in the world to be married and have children.  For years I have been frustrated and driven to tears that I was still alone.  This, my friends, has been one of the greatest gifts of my singleness, and it took one of my biggest nightmares for me to realize it.

I have been single and going at it alone for a long time.  It hasn't been easy, but because I have no family of my own, I frequently found myself with my parents.  There was no juggling of holiday schedules - it was just the three of us.  If I wanted to get away for a weekend?  Go spend the weekend at Mom and Dad's.
My father and I have always been close.  I could talk to him unlike anyone else.  We had similar senses of humor.  He was so giving and loving.  I loved to spend time with him.  I loved to go to the hardware store with him, even as an adult.  I enjoyed going on motorcycle rides with him.  I liked that at night, when my mom would go to bed early, Dad and I would still be up late talking.  We spoke on the phone almost every day.  The last year of his life he was traveling quite a bit.  I made a concerted effort to call him every time that he traveled so that he wouldn't get lonely.

He was the only man in my life.  I could always count on him.  He could talk me off of a ledge better than anyone.  Tonight I lay in bed, tears streaming down my face, missing him so much it literally takes my breath away.  But through the tears, I am still so very thankful for this season of singlehood in my life.  I was able to get to know my father on a much deeper level because I had the time for it.  How blessed was I?

After his death, people would cluck sympathetically and ask if we were close.  I think regardless of closeness, death will always hurt.  But what really shocks me is how many people say to me "I can't imagine how much that hurts, but I can't even THINK about losing my mom."  I find this so sad.  Don't get me wrong.  I am extremely close to my mother and I don't even want to try to imagine my life without her.  But it's sad that in our society, fathers are not stepping up to the plate.  It's sad that their value is downplayed.  Fathers are so critically important.  I had the best.

In the next few weeks, I face some hard times ahead without my dad.  It seems like he was just here.  It is wrong that he's gone.  I don't wish him back.  I know he's in a better place.  But I still long for a tight hug from him.  For a phone call from him.  For him to try to show me some ridiculous plane crash video that he found online (that requires me to ask "This isn't one of those trick videos that anything will jump out of and scare me, is it?").  To listen to him sing as loudly as he could in church, his toe tapping and his hands beating the rhythm on the pew in front of him.

He may not have been the man I was looking for during this season of my life, but I was never alone.  I had my dad.  And I'm so grateful for that time.

I Wonder What They Think of Obama?

Alternately titled:  Rough Times in France

I am seriously considering a trip to England this summer.  It's been a while since I have traveled outside of the country and I think I might just die if I don't use the old passport again.  Also, there are plenty of rumors that Prince William will be getting married this summer and I think it would be really cool to be in England during a royal wedding.  The cougar inside of me cries at the idea of him getting married, but I'm willing to put those feelings aside so I can see lots of bunting in England.

 The last time I went to England, a friend and I took a trip over to France.  This was my second trip to France.  It is not my favorite place in the world, but I still went.  Then...the following trauma ensued.

I was sitting in an outdoor cafe, eating lunch with my British friend and her French friend, minding my own business, when I noticed a small French man in a beret.  He was an old man and was shuffling along.  The three of us were visiting and enjoying the sunny day.  I said something, and the old man suddenly froze, shooting me a deadly look.  I had no idea what he was doing, so I continued on with the conversation.  No doubt it was something really important like wondering about the weird rotating toilet seat in the bathroom at another cafe we'd been at.
 Suddenly, the old man began shouting at me in French.  I had no idea what he was saying.  He was very animated, screaming and waving his arms.  I tried to pretend there was no crazy man shrieking at me, and kept eating my salad, trying to avoid eye contact with him.  Then, the old man began SPITTING ON MY SHOES.  I repeat, SPITTING ON MY SHOES.  I continued to eat, acting like it was completely normal for a short man in a beret to spit on me while I eat.

He shuffled away, and conveniently, the police drove by.  When I no longer needed them!  The French woman at the table said that she was confused by what he was saying, and didn't know what he thought we were.  We kind of chuckled and continued to visit and eat.
 Pretty soon, my French best friend was back!  He began immediately spitting on me and started screaming at me again.  He wasn't doing it to my British friend, or the French woman, just little innocent me.  The French woman was trying to reason with him and he shuffled off again.  After he left, the French woman said that he was calling the three of us lesbian whores and telling me that Americans were going to get the French all killed.  He told me to tell President Bush that he didn't support the war and to stop it.

You know, all Americans know the president.  Sure, French Dude, we're like this:
 I'll pass on your message!

So, with spit on my shoes and an apparent invisible target on my back, I left the cafe.  It was a Sunday and we had to take the Metro to get back to the hotel.  We purchased tickets to the Metro, but mine wouldn't work.  I tried and tried.  There was no one at the ticket counter because it was a Sunday.  I had paid for the ticket, but it wasn't recognizing it.  The only solution was to cozy up to the French woman and go through the turnstile as one person, all the while staring at the surveillance camera watching my every move, mouthing "I'm sorry!  I did pay for it!" and praying I didn't go to French prison.

So, as I contemplate another trip to Europe, I wonder - what is the political mood over there?  Do they like President Obama?  Should I bring rain boots for shoes?


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