Friday, December 30, 2011

My New Year's Resolutions

It's the end of the year and most people make resolutions for the new year to come. Do they stick with them? Not typically. I've considered changes I could make to a new year, but it's always so boring. It's always the same thing. It's always something unattainable. So today, I, Non-Mommy, resolve to accomplish the following tasks in the year 2012:

I resolve to wash my car more than twice a year. So what if it's a waste of money, water, and the car will only stay clean for a few moments? Take pride in your ride, Non-Mommy!

I resolve to consider online dating. Consider. And people (MOM! SISTER!) that nag me about it will only firm my resolution to consider it, and not do it!

I resolve to get my nephew to really and truly try a piece of meat. This is going to be difficult. He's a tough nut to crack.

I resolve to try and slip "That's what she said" into at least one conversation a day.

And finally, I resolve to not give up on the dream of getting together with Anderson Cooper. He's sweet, he's funny, he's intelligent, and he's...oh...where's a good synonym for "happy" when you need one?

Hey. There is always hope.

Wednesday, December 28, 2011

Sugar Daddy Needed

I really, really don't want to work.  I'm enjoying not working.  Where's the rich guy who is going to provide enough for me to be able to live on a desert island (sunburn free, of course!), adopt children from all over the planet, take us on fabulous trips regularly, and provide for all my needs?

I don't think I'm asking too much!

Friday, December 23, 2011

Death by Ladle

This school year has been quite a challenge for me. I've moved schools and grade levels. I'm teaching a much younger age group than I am accustomed to, and that has come with its pros and cons.

Pros include very affectionate children that are extremely enthusiastic and appreciate the tiniest things.

Cons include tattling, tattling, lack of independence, and tattling.

Being in a building with teeny, tiny children has been a lot of fun.  Every morning I stand in the hallway and watch the teeny little children in their puffy coats, hat and mittens.  They don't even know me, but that doesn't stop them from telling me all kinds of details.  I feel like a goddess when I walk down the hallway.  Little adorable children come up and fling their arms around me saying random things like "I love you!"  "You're my brother's after school bus holding area!"  "Today is my teacher's birthday!"  "I ate cereal for breakfast!"  It doesn't matter if they don't know me, or I don't know them.

Back in my classroom, my students are taller than these kids, but their enthusiasm is equally high.  The week before winter break means that my students are at MAXIMUM ENTHUSIASM!!!!!!!!  They speak a mile a minute, they fight, and they come in on a sugar high before school even begins.  And let's be honest.  I'm tired and less than patient.  Not a good combo.

On the last day of school, we were going to do hot chocolate in our classroom.  I'm ten miles from the nearest water source, and have two outlets in my classroom, so planning was of the essence.  I filled a Crock Pot with water, carried it the ten miles back to my room, and plugged it in to make sure it was warm on time.  Our grade level was showing "The Polar Express" and was going to have hot chocolate
after the movie.  As it turns out, very few of the teachers got the supplies they needed, or the movie, so I ended up with several classes in my classroom.  It was packed, and my room smelled like stinky feet.  A little trouble maker from another class was seated near my Crock Pot and I basically told him with my eyes that anything that would happen to the Crock Pot would mean eternal torture.

The movie ended, everyone left the room, and I went to prepare the hot chocolate only to find...


I had cold water.  Miles from a water source, no way to heat up water.

I seriously thought I was going to beat the kid with my ladle.

All day long, the kids were wild.  This was the straw that broke the camel's back.  Ms. Non-Mommy was NO LONGER HAVING FUN.

So what that the kids were excited about hot chocolate?

So what that they didn't know that I was planning to load the cups with huge globs of whipped cream?

So what that they didn't know that I was going to put sprinkles and a candy cane in the hot chocolate?

All the fun was sucked out.  All I wanted to do was go home and rock in the corner, sucking my thumb.

I felt like Kate Gosselin.  You know what I mean.  Kate "We're going to have fun and make memories, damn it!!!!!!!" Gosselin.  Kate "I make everyone miserable" Gosselin.

I mechanically made the kids large, sweet hot chocolates.  I was grumbling in my head.  I just wanted the day to be over.  Why do I bother trying to make my classroom homey?  Why do I bother to do fun things that the other teachers don't even do?  Why do I put myself through the trouble?  No one even appreciates it.

And then, a sweet, sweet child said something that jerked me right out of my pity party.  This child is a very angry child due to sad life circumstances.  Everything in his life has changed in the last 6 months, and he's been fighting it every step.  He's always so unhappy.

I gave him his hot chocolate.  He smiled and said

"This is the best day ever.  I feel so cozy and special."

Cozy and special.

In two words, that child summarized the reason I go to school every day.  It isn't unnoticed.  And from that child, it's high praise indeed.  Of all the children in the world, this child needs to feel cozy and special.

With a little pep in my step, and a second wind, I went around and squirted a blob of whipped cream in each child's mouth.  And they loved it.

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Damon Claus for a Cause

Matt Damon is kind of funny! This is a good cause, and the video is enjoyable as well. Not as funny as another totally not bloggable video Matt Damon made with Sarah Silverman (family blog, folks!), but still funny.

Monday, December 19, 2011

Supermarket Sweep

I miss this show. It gave me a whole new understanding of money value. I remember my sister and I shouting at people to go get the expensive hams!

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

A Hairy Situation

I generally try to stay out of politics. The less I know the better. I know, I know. Not patriotic of me. But it keeps my blood pressure low and also keeps me from ranting about the fact that, apparently, no one reads the freaking constitution!!!

Anyway, there is one thing that I am willing to discuss in relation to politics.  And that, my friends, is the beast that we call Hillary Clinton's hair.  Seriously.  You know, you can say and do all that you want in the public eye, but image talks.  And Hillary's hair has PUH-LENTY to say.  Let's lean in and listen to its messages...

The above look says: "I am president of the Future Homemakers of America!  Would you like a biscuit?"

The above look says:  "My armpit hair is just as long.  And, hey, birds of a feather flock together!"

The above look says: "Would you like my recipe for making scrambled eggs in the microwave?  And by the way, these pants are HAWT."

The above look says: "Kids, we're gonna have to eat this cake by ourselves.  Uncle Joey didn't make parole again."  Name that movie.

 The above look says:  "My pants go up to my boobs!"

The left look says: "I will cut you."  The right look says: "I'm trying to channel my inner Martha Stewart."

The above look says "Power.  Femininity.  Patriotism.  I finally got someone to decently do my hair."

The above look says "I like to spend 18 hours a day writing curriculum for teachers that no one will use, but oh well!"

The above look says:  "It's time to wash my face, put on my most comfy pajamas and curl up on the couch with a glass of wine."

The above look says "Hoke?  Where are my papers?  My papers.  I had them all corrected last night and I put them in the front so I wouldn’t forget them on my way to school. What did you do with them? The children will be so disappointed if I don’t give them their homework back."  Name that movie.

This look says:  "Did you remember to put more wiper fluid out at pump ten?  Did you restock the coolers with Red Bull?"

Yes, Hill, your hair is talking.  Is this really what you are trying to say?

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Repost: 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!

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 27, 2011

Vampires for Planned Vampirehood

I have two friends that force me to go to movies against my will.  Both of these girls are tremendous friends to me.  Between the three of us, we've been through broken bones, broken engagements, weddings, sick family members, births, job changes, and deaths in the family.  So because I love them, I go.  It's a tradition.  But since they make me go to movies about vampires and werewolves, I don't go without a fight!

I read the books and I HATED THEM.  This is not a popular opinion, I know, but I thought the Twilight series was extremely poorly written.  In both the books and the movies, I have a few fundamental problems with some major story elements.  Let's dissect the problems, shall we?

Let's start with Bella, the most obnoxious character ever.

Bella, Bella, Bella.  She's so whiney!  I mean really, Edward, that is who you've been waiting for all eternity for?  Come on!  There are much more pleasant girls out there for you to pick.  Also, Edward, perhaps you can't hear her thoughts because there are none there.  I'm just saying.

And then, to add fuel to the fire, they pick Kristen Stewart to be Bella in the movies!  Seriously?  Is this actress a) capable of ever closing her mouth b) do anything besides breathe heavily and twitch like a nervy Chihuahua and c) able to act?

Next, we have the problem of Edward Cullen, vampire hottie.  Or coldie.  Apparently, his body is like a marble statue and is cold to the touch.  I'm sorry, but snuggling with a cold statue is not my idea of fun.  And you know, making love to a cold statue does not sound pleasant.  I was very pleased to see, however, that they did not skimp on the lipstick budget for Edward in this last movie.  Heavens above, he must have enough lipstick!

For those that don't know, the family doctor, Dr. Carlisle Cullen, is a vampire, too.  He realized the error of his ways and dedicated his life to not sucking blood from humans.  He instead chooses to ignore the blood he deals with day in and day out and change his life by helping others in the medical field.  COME ON.  Seriously?  A vampire doing surgery?  You know, if you had a prescription drug addict and they took a job in a pharmaceutical factory to "help people" you know we'd all be like "SURE."

All these reformed vampires choose to stay in high school forever so that people don't see that they age.  I don't really understand that choice.  High school?  Not my favorite time of life.  There are such greater time periods!  I would not want to go to high school forever.  Life beyond high school is so much better.

And finally, spoiler alert!  After Edward and Bella get married, they go on a honeymoon and manage to get knocked up immediately.  I'm guessing that Bella didn't think to go to Planned Vampirehood before the honeymoon.  The baby turns out to be some mutant, and the book gets very, very bloody.  Yuck.  I read this book while I had a student teacher, and she interrupted her lesson to ask me why I was grimacing (PS, she sucked as a student teacher).

OK, let's just make this very clear.  You can't have a vampire/human pregnancy.  Seriously.  Let's go back to Edward and his lovely freezing cold body temperature.  Everyone knows that sperm have to be at just the right temperature to survive!  Too close?  The sperm fry up.  Too far?  The sperm freeze up.  There is no way that a vampire could have sperm if he's freezing cold!  Perhaps Stephenie Meyer should go to high school forever, like the Cullens, and maybe after a few hundred years a biology teacher will get through to her.

Then, this crazy baby thing inside of Bella needs to be fed.  It needs blood!  So Bella drinks blood to feed the mutant, and of course, it survives and thrives.  Seriously?  Stephenie?  Do you know anything?!?  She couldn't just drink blood and feed the baby!  It doesn't work like that.  You can't say "Gee, the baby needs a cheeseburger."  If you eat a cheeseburger, the baby doesn't get the cheeseburger.
Go back to high school, Stephenie!

I could really go on, but I better stop myself while I am ahead.  Overall, I don't get the big deal.  My mother tells me that it's romantic, and that's the appeal.  But I just can't get there in my mind.  My very patient friends put up with me griping all through the movies, and last night was no exception.  Kristen Stewart was at her breathiest/twitchiest.  The over-acting was killing me, and the music was like a horrible soap opera.

The search for a man continues.  And thanks to this dumb series, I now know that I do not want to be with a vampire.

Thursday, November 24, 2011

Happy PJGiving

I know that I always wish I could wear jeans to bed!

I only have to mention the words "pajamas" and "shopping" and I know what is coming.  My sister can't fathom how much companies charge for pajamas.  She thinks it is a total rip off to buy pajamas, and don't even get her started on the cost of children's pajamas!

Me?  I am the total opposite.  I love wearing pajamas.  In life there are a few things that I think are worth investing some money in...trips to foreign countries, dental work, and comfortable night clothing.  After a long day's work, when I know that I won't be going anywhere for the rest of the night, it's not uncommon for me to change into pajamas as soon as I get home.  In fact, that is one perk of being single - I can wear pajamas whenever I like!  And since they cover me nicely, and no one is touching my legs, shaving is on the bottom of my to-do list!  (Perhaps, on closer examination, this is why I am still single.  Food for thought.)

It's hard for me to understand what isn't to love about purchasing pajamas for yourself.  They are so comfortable and can be very cute.  It's so easy to get cheap, comfy pajamas at places like Target, Kohl's, even Sam's Club!  When it is cold outside and your body is tired, it's so refreshing to slip on a pair of pajamas that are soft and warm.  I mean, what is the alternative?  Wearing a t-shirt and sweats?  Yuck.  Sleeping nude?

Actually, I have to say that I tried sleeping nude once.  I wondered what the big deal was, and it was very hot outside.  I lived by myself, why not?.  I felt like such a rebel.  Hot stuff, sleeping in the buff!  But, it was not a good situation.  I couldn't sleep well at all!  What if there was a house fire and I had to race outdoors and I was naked?  What if I had a medical emergency and had to call 911 and they found me naked?  I'm also quite a sleep walker.  I've woken up many times in strange places, doing strange things. Taking clothing out of that scenario just makes it worse.  Imagine, me standing in the middle of the road talking about being the mayor of the town, totally naked.

I woke up all night long worried about my lack of clothing.  That is unlikely to be something I will do again.

So, pajamas are something I will continue to invest in, and I think it's time that my sister did as well.  I'm going to keep giving her pajamas until she becomes so addicted that she comes to "the dark side."

Are you particular about your night wear?

Sunday, November 20, 2011

A Message From Beyond

Lately, I've seen a lot of television about psychics and messages from the dead.  Personally, it is not something I agree with and would not participate in it.  But that hasn't stopped me from noticing a pattern, even on the commercials endorsing a show.  The skeptic inside of me reacts, big time.

The psychic will say something like "I'm getting an image of a coat."  And then the vulnerable person, almost ALWAYS a woman, says "Yes!  My father had a coat!"  And this is supposed to prove something?!  Wow, a coat is VERY distinguishable.

I also like it when the psychic says something like "I'm sensing that you have had someone in your family that was sick.  Was there anyone in your family that was sick?"  No s!@#, Sherlock!  There's always someone sick in a family.

But what really, really gets to me is the messages that people who have departed choose to share.  I love it when the psychic says that she's getting a message about buttons.  Or red flowers.  Or something.  And then the vulnerable woman bursts into tears and says "My mother had a button collection/a rose garden/etc."  And then the dead person segues into a message that is something along the lines of "You should keep my button collection shiny."

Now, I miss my dad in a very raw, emotional way.  I know that I won't see him or hear from him again on this earth, and that sometimes makes me really sad.  But if I got contacted by him from beyond the grave and his message was

"Non-Mommy, my coin collection.  Keep my coin collection!"

I would be pissed!  Shouldn't these messages be significant?  Shouldn't they say something like "I left the directions for the universal remote in the third box from the left in the attic?"  or "I buried a chest of gold in the backyard by the rose bush?"  I'd even settle for something sentimental.

I am very skeptical.

Sunday, November 13, 2011

I've Got a Fever

I've got a fever, and the prescription is NOT more cowbell.  I've got baby fever.  BIG TIME.  But there are a few problems.  See, I don't even have a date.  Let alone a significant other.  And apparently, these pesky kids need a father - who knew?!?  So, no children on the horizon at this time.

This doesn't mean that my eggs are not getting more brittle by the second.  This doesn't mean that I'm not sick of being single.  This doesn't mean that I don't want a family in a bad, bad way.  I have pondered this many times.  I have thought about being a single mother.  The problem is, how to go about it?

Kidnapping one of those Duggars.  Would they really miss one?  I mean, really?  But what if they grew up like Jim Boob?  I'm not sure my heart could take it.  Plus, if I try to kidnap someone I'm kind of a wuss and don't think I'd do well in jail.

Going to one of those anonymous donation places, if you get my drift.  This is quite a gamble.  How do you select a father for a child based on a form?  The choices, it's too much!  A tall child would be nice, they could clean the top of the fridge for me.  But an average sized child would be nice because they don't feel like they stand out.  A short child could be considered cute, and I would like a cute child.  And then, I'm very pale (read:  pigmentally challenged) so do I want to pick a donor that will give my child a chance at some skin pigmentation?  Do I look for a fellow half-albino so that my child looks like me?  And then there's the whole gross out issue of a donation from a stranger.  I don't want to put anyone else's snot anywhere near my body, so other bodily fluids...

Adoption.  Adoption is actually very near and dear to my heart.  I'd adopt a house full of children in a heart beat.  But is anyone going to want to send a child to a single mother with no money?  And, I'm a bit like that book If You Give a Mouse a Cookie.  If you give me one kid, I'll end up with a house full and I'll end up having to have my mother as a permanent caretaker for my child zoo.  I'd also be a total hypocrite because I've been steaming mad about the Duggars going for a 20th kid.

Praying for a miracle.  It could be an interesting life having people arise up and calling me blessed.  But that's a whole lot of pressure, and I don't like to stand with my head cocked and my hands outspread.

So, I'm up a creek without a paddle.  In the meantime, I'm drooling other over people's children and wishing that someone in my family would have a baby that I could cuddle and spoil.  My nephew is getting too big to cuddle, and my cuddle bank is running low.

Seriously, I'm sick of being single.  Really.  Ideas?

Monday, November 7, 2011

Say it isn't so...

The Duggars have an announcement on NBC tomorrow morning.  Please tell me they aren't announcing baby number 20.  Please, please, please.

It's like a car accident.  I am horrified, and yet, can't turn away.

Sunday, November 6, 2011

I Love Fall

I love cooler weather.

I love the vivid colors of the fall.

I love frosty mornings with air that feels crisp.

I love needing to wear layers, and needing a blanket to watch TV.

I love hearing the wind outside, knowing it's cold, and yet feeling cozy and warm indoors.

I love that now that I am working with younger children, making scarecrows, turkeys, and other fall icons is a regular part of my job.

I love that a good hot bath or a warm cup of tea warms you right up.

I love that my favorite colors of red, orange and yellow are everywhere.

Autumn is amazing.

(Don't tell my mother, I used to make fun of her all the time for loving trees and fall. Shh.)

Tuesday, November 1, 2011

A Day in the Life With an Autistic

Teacher:  Barney, why are you so upset?

Barney:  [makes explosion noises and waves his fingers around]

Teacher:  Barney, look at my eyes.  Look at me, Barney.  Barney, look at me.

Barney:  [mutters and reluctantly looks at her eyes]  Kaitlyn made me so mad.  I'm so mad.  [more explosion noises]

Teacher:  I can see you are upset.  What is bothering you?  Why are you shouting?

Barney:  Kaitlyn said that Star Wars isn't real!!!!  [more explosion noises and finger waving]

Teacher:  Um...well, Barney, I'm sorry, but Kaitlyn is right.  Star Wars isn't real.

Barney:  WHAT?!  Yes, it's real.  I can't believe it.  [explosion noises]  Grrrr.

Teacher:  I know it's hard to hear that, but it isn't real.  Just because it isn't real doesn't mean you can't still enjoy it.

Barney:  [grumbles/groans/grimaces/mutters]

Teacher:  I need you to take a deep breath and calm down.

Barney:  I can't believe this.  Are you trying to tell me that Transformers isn't real, either?

Teacher:  Um...

Sunday, October 16, 2011

Not again


Bless you, sweet girls.  I am stunned at the news that you are gone.

Seriously.  No more student deaths, huh?  This teacher's delicate heart can't take any more this year.

Sunday, October 2, 2011

I'm a Drip

Yesterday I decided to tackle a leaky faucet.  I have never in my life done anything with plumbing.  I have always had my dad to do things like that.  He loved being Mr. Fixit.  And let's be honest, I loved allowing him to be Mr. Fixit!

So, I followed directions for fixing it, went to the hardware store to get the new part that I needed, and I fixed it.  I was very proud of myself!  I know that my dad would have been very pleased.


I do have to wonder, though, when this grief crap will ever get over.  Going to the hardware store was hard for me.  My entire life, even as an infant, my father took me to the hardware store.  It was his favorite place!  He really believed that you should support the local Mom and Pop hardware stores.  I've spent unknown hours of my life looking at the weird odds and ends in those stores, waiting on my dad.  He'd stand there, staring at the item, thinking about it.  He was a slow thinker.  As I got older, I'd suggest something to him, or he'd ask my opinion about a purchase he was going to make for the house.  He'd stand there, hand on his hip or one finger over his lips, listen to what I'd say, stare at me intently while he visualized what I said, and then say "Yeah, you're right."

So going into the hardware store was difficult.  The smell hit me instantly.  That smell reminds me of my dad.  And his absence.  But, I know he'd be bursting with pride that I did it all by myself.

I wish very much that he was here, and that I could go to the hardware store with him.

Tuesday, September 27, 2011

In Which I Revolt

I'm secretly a quasi-granola cruncher.  I'm very, very paranoid about my food sources and their environmental impact, I recycle as much as I can, and I even use Lunchskins in place of plastic baggies (I don't know why they have cuter designs at Abe's Market than they do at their official site, but they're worth the money.  I love them!).  So I am usually on board with environmental issues.


I am so not in favor of the lightbulb replacement initiative that is looming over us.  I do not want to use the stupid compact fluorescent light bulbs.  The bulbs are physically ugly, but that isn't what really bothers me. The light that comes from these bulbs is awful.  Awful!  I feel like I'm in a clinical lab.  Or that I'm cast with a greenish ghoulish tint.  It is very cold and uninviting.  Lighting is very important to me.  I want lighting that is warm and soft.  I don't want to feel like I'm living in a Wal-Mart Super Center all the time.  I also really dislike how they can take time to warm up.

Also, how much money do you want to bet that years down the road, the government will say "Oops, heh heh, so the lightbulb thing was a bad idea because of pollution.  We're going to go back to a more simple time and use the light bulbs that God intended us to use!"  What are we going to use for small lamps, night lights, and other odd light sources?

I've already been very bothered by the Christmas light evolution.  The LED lights are so cold, and I see a miniscule flicker in them.  Putting up those lights is just wrong, I tell you.  Wrong!

Since this is being forced upon me, I guess I will have to become a light bulb and Christmas light hoarder.  I don't plan to sell them.  I plan to be like in the book The City of Ember, sitting in my basement enjoying the last few precious light bulbs left on the planet.  In reality, it's more likely that they will find me, buried up to my ears in light bulbs in my shed.  And when they tell me "Non-Mommy, you have a hoarding problem and need help" I will cry "But the light!  The light out there is so cold!  Let me have my precious light bulbs!"

Saturday, September 24, 2011

Special, Indeed!

Working in a public school certainly presents teachers with many challenges.  You have an odd assortment of students with many needs, and it can be fun, challenging, and down right frustrating to try and meet the needs of everyone.

I think that when people outside of the educational world hear about working with children with special needs, they don't understand what they can really be like.  A special needs child may be simply learning disabled in a particular area and need more support, or they could be someone with behavior issues such as Oppositional Defiant Disorder, ADHD, or other diagnoses such as Autism or Cerebral Palsy.  In one classroom, I might have a child that I need to read a test to, a child that I have to cut apart and highlight assignment parts in color, and a child that throws furniture.  It's all in a day's work.

What you don't hear is how special a special needs child can be, and how fun they are.  They may be in their own world, but often times they have fantastic personalities and you just can't help but love them.

This year, I have an autistic child that I love.  I'll call him Zach.  Zach is classically autistic.  He is extremely bothered by the slightest routine change and needs constant reassurance (and advanced warning of schedule changes).  He flaps his hands.  He is extremely repetitive in his thoughts and actions.  He has a very hard time making eye contact with you.  But Zach is very special!  I LOVE this kid.  He has the greatest personality!  It makes me so sad to think that people are unkind to children with special needs, because even in their own world, they have the greatest sense of humor and have something special about them.

At the beginning of the school year, Zach asked me to draw him a British flag.  In fact, he asked me, oh, EVERY 30 SECONDS or so.  Finally I had a moment, so I agreed to do it.  If you didn't know, the British flag is sort of a combination of the St. George's flag:

and the Scottish flag:


So I begin by drawing the easiest part of the flag, the red cross in the middle.  Zach doesn't remember that the flag has red in the middle, so he thinks that I'm drawing it incorrectly.  He immediately grabs both sides of his head and begins shrieking "Oh, no, you're doing it wrong.  This is terrible, terrible, terrible.  Oh no, it's wrong.  It's wrong.  Oh, what are we going to do?  It's supposed to be white in the middle.  Oh no no no no no."

I try to reassure Zach that it will all look normal when I keep drawing, but the more I add to the picture, the more he freaks out.  He starts rocking and says "Oh, this is terrible.  Terrible.  It's all wrong.  What are we going to do?  You owe me a million dollars.  You owe me a million dollars.  This is terrible, terrible!"

At this point, I am drawing as FAST as I can, wishing I had a picture of the UK flag to show him.  At the time, my internet wasn't working in my classroom, so I frantically email my sister.  She works on a computer, so I type her an email telling her that Zach was having a cow and could she email me, quickly, a picture of the British flag?  I didn't think Zach could read at the time (this was very early on in the school year) and I hear him yell behind me "HAVING A COW?  I'M NOT HAVING A COW!!"

So I continue drawing, and he continues pulling his hair out that he has such a dumb teacher, when my sister swoops in and saves the day with a picture of the flag.  I open it up, tell Zach the moaner to look at it, and all he says is, "Oh."

After a moment he says "Heh heh.  I was just teasing you."  And he slinks away.

I know that, to him, at that moment, the flag was a very big deal.  But I found the situation to be hilarious.

Since then, Zach has made himself my own personal body guard and he walks around not protecting me, but telling everyone that he is my body guard.  On Fridays, his schedule changes and he doesn't like it.  Beginning at about 8:10 a.m., he asks me "Is it 1:25 yet?" and continues to ask me that about every 3.4 seconds until 1:25, despite having a clock, classmates that tell him the time, and a schedule right in front of him.

Yesterday was beautiful outside, so I took my students out for extra recess.  Zach asked me if I wanted to go on a root hunt with him (looking for tree roots).  So I faithfully wandered around the playground looking for tree roots and shouting "Oh wow, Zach, that is a big one!"  At one point, I hid behind a tree and jumped out to scare him.  I then ran away with Zach chasing me, laughing his head off.  He was so happy.

He's special, all right.  And I wouldn't want him any other way.

Sunday, September 18, 2011

Pencil Me In

I have a major, major problem in my life and I have no idea what to do about solving it.  You're going to think I'm crazy, problem is...PENCILS.

Pencils are single-handedly wreaking havoc on my sanity.  This has always been a small issue, but now that my job has me working with younger children, it's a problem that is taking over my life!

Now, for those of you not working in a classroom environment, this will probably not make much sense.  But, you know, in a classroom, you use pencils frequently.  When you have 20-30 children that each need at least one sharpen a day, it ends up taking a lot of time out of the day.  Pencils break.  It's part of life.  But I swear, my students aren't just using them, they are eating them.  They are building log cabins out of them.  They are doing some serious magic on them.  So what happens is that I have children who are at the pencil sharpener all day long, NOT doing work.  Or they are at their desk, not doing work because their pencil broke.  Or they insist, dramatically, that someone STOLE their pencil.  News flash:  NO ONE STEALS PENCILS.  They are always in your desk.  Always.

I'm teaching a much younger grade than I am accustomed to.  It's been a huge, huge adjustment for me.  Before the school year began, I worried about many things - how do I teach kids how to read?  What do I do during science?  How do I discipline younger children?  I never dreamed that what I should have been worrying about was dealing with pencils.

Throughout my teaching career, I have noticed a few interesting "rules" about the pencil situation, even with older kids.

Rule 1:  Electric Pencil Sharpeners Can Be Your Best Friend/Worst Enemy.  Electric pencil sharpeners tend to make the pencils much sharper without "eating" as much of the pencil.  They are, however, noisy.  Take this, for example:

"Class, I'd like you to [WHRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRR.]  Billy!  Please sharpen your pencil when I'm finished.  Thank you.  Anyway, as I was saying [WHHRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRR].  BILLY!"

"Boys and girls, during the test you need to show respect to your classmates by remaining very quiet.  People need quiet so they are able to concentrate.  You may now begin."  [WHHRRRRRRRRRRR]

One great solution, one which I use, is to unplug the electric pencil sharpener after a certain time so that the children physically can't use it after the morning.  However, this will become an issue later down the list in the rules.

Rule 2:  Children Will Put Things that Do Not Belong in an Electric Sharpener in Said Sharpener.  Certain colored pencils, crayons, oddly shaped pencils, or the rubber peel off pencils that book fairs are so fond of selling do not go in a sharpener!  It will break the very expensive sharpener that you will purchase.  And despite telling the kids this over and over and over, Billy will still shove something weird in the sharpener and ruin it.

Rule 3:  Wall Mount Sharpeners Eat Entire Pencils.  Kids will stand there forever, sharpening, sharpening, sharpening.  The pencil isn't yet sharp, so they keep going, and sharpen an entire pencil.  Grr.  Kids also stick things in these.  They can also be very hard to turn, and you have small children giving themselves a hernia simply because they want a point on their pencil!

Rule 4:  Handheld Sharpeners are a Tool of the Devil.  In case you hadn't noticed, Billy is ADD.  And Billy LOVES his pencil sharpener.  He will play with it all day long.  He will dump out the shavings in his desk and then flip them at Susie.  He will accuse others of stealing his sharpener.  And, he will drop it on the floor approximately 10 times a day.

Rule 5:  Mechanical Pencils Require a Love/Hate Relationship.  I once purchased my entire class four mechanical pencils each, in an effort to curb the sharpening situation.  Personally, I love them using mechanical pencils.  Their handwriting is neater, they don't deal with sharpening it, and my ears don't bleed from constant WHHRRRRRRRRing.  But.  The children, especially Billy, also love pencil sharpeners.  They can take the eraser out of the top of it, pour out the lead, and rub it on the desk.  Or try to write using just a thin little piece of graphite.  Or, they can take apart the pencil, playing with the spring and shooting it at other people.

Rule 6:  There is Such a Thing as Too Many Pencils.  You might be saying, huh?  But you're complaining that they say they don't have a pencil!  Well, some kids come in with 72 pencils.  And they use them to build sculptures.  They spend all their time sharpening them.  They break them in half and chew on them.  Help!

Rule 7:  Pencil Organization Doesn't Seem to Help.  I have tried community pencils, where all the pencils go into one pot.  This kind of grosses me out from a germ standpoint, but it also doesn't really help.  You can tell them to trade a broken pencil for a new one, but they don't really do it.  You can write their names on all their pencils (which I do!) and they still accuse their neighbor of stealing all their pencils.  You can tape flowers to pencils so they don't get lost, but they still do.  You can tape spoons to the pencils so they don't get lost, but they use them as miniature catapults.  You can attach a pencil to their desk, but they will play with it, not sharpen it, etc.  You can create a necklace for the child to wear the pencil around their neck, but they will hate it and complain, and it seems like a dangerous area to wear a pencil.

Rule 8:  Boys are OBSESSED with the mini pencil.  This is something that I truly don't understand, and want to.  Boys will sharpen their pencils down to teeny, tiny, itty, bitty stubs.  So small they can't really write with it.  And then they'll stick it in a sharpener, not get it back out, and break it.  Seriously.  What is the male fixation with a small pencil?  Is there something I need to know?

This is where you come in.  These younger children, well, at least the boys in my class are incapable of maintaining a writing utensil.  What should I do to ensure that they have enough to get through the day, but not cause a distraction?  I need help!!!  If I hear one more time that someone stole their pencil/they don't have any pencils/the lead fell out/their pencil won't sharpen/etc, my brain is going to leak out of my ears.  HELP!

Monday, September 12, 2011

Suffering from SPA

Working in an environment that is 99.9999% female means many things.  This list includes catty fights, tears on a regular basis, more cutesy crap than you can shake a stick at and...parties.  Not just any party.  These parties are money makers.  I'm talking about

Pampered Chef


Home Interiors


Mary Kay

Beauty Control


Lia Sophia

Miche Bags

Thirty One bags



Celebrating Home

Longaberger baskets

parties.  The list could go on and on.  These are all things that I have been invited to/guilted into/suckered into throughout my teaching career.  And perhaps I'm just a little bit cynical, but when I get an invite to one of these things, I inwardly (and perhaps outwardly as well) groan.  There seems to be an unwritten rule.  If you get invited to one of these things, you have to buy something.  I don't get it!  I must have missed that 11th commandment "Thou shalt support thy fellow coworkers by purchasing cheap faddy crap whenever presented with the opportunity."  And like a dutiful person, I do it.

The thing is, I have enough Pampered Chef orange peelers to tunnel my way to China.  I don't want a bag that has interchangeable sides.  I think expensive baskets are a waste and frankly, most of the Scentsy stuff stinks.

Now, however, I'm feeling the pressure.  I know someone that works for a jewelry company and she wants me to have a party.  My mother and sister think I should have a party.  I am completely immobilized, however.  I am suffering from a severe case of SPA - Severe Party Anxiety.  Don't get me wrong.  I love a good party!  I enjoy having people over!  But in my mind, if I do this party, one of two disastrous things will happen:  1)  people will groan and resent having to buy something and not like me and/or 2) no one will come and I'll feel like a loser.  I feel their pain!

If I really do this, I want to beg people to come.  I want to lure them to my party with promises that the food will not suck, the party won't be filled with awkward silences as people race to fill out an order form and get the heck out of there, and it won't be lame.  They don't have to buy anything!  They just have to show up to boost my poor self-esteem.

Men should really throw these kinds of parties.  They miss out on all the fun.  Imagine the possibilities!

Screwdrivers with interchangeable handles

Wickless candles that smell manly

Storage containers for the garage that are ridiculously overpriced

Skincare products for men only

Anyone want to come to a jewelry party?

Sunday, September 11, 2011

I Went to St. Louis...

...and all I got were lousy bruises!

I was in St. Louis this weekend to meet my most favorite people in the entire world.  It was so good to see them, and I was sad we had such a short time to be together.  Leaving them was hard!  But all I have to do is look at my bruised arm and knees and I will have fond memories of them.  Why?

Because they took me to the most amazing place ever, the City Museum in St. Louis.  Now, you might be thinking "A museum?  Yawn."  Oh no, my friends.  This is no museum.  It's a giant, giant playground for adults.  An artist purchased an old shoe factory and using reclaimed industrial parts like airplanes, fire engines, rebar, engine parts, etc. created a monstrous structure to play in.  Sure, it has lots for children, and they love it, but it's totally designed for adults, too.  The former shoe factory is filled with tiny tunnels and holes that you crawl through.  You have no idea where they are leading you, and you have no idea if you'll ever find your way back.

They turned the former shoe chutes into slides that will lead you all over the 10+ story building. 

Everything in the area, including the rope swings, tree houses and skate park, is made of industrial leftovers.  The bathroom walls are made out of restaurant baking pans.

 There are caves throughout the building.  They smell damp, and are dark and scary.  Perfect for spelunkers. 

I found myself crawling on my hands and knees, scooting on my butt, climbing, and seriously wondering if I was ever going to make it out.  At one point, my friend was trying to wedge himself through a tiny hole and yelled back that my other friend and I were not going to fit - it wasn't boob friendly.  And then he had to seriously work to get back out of the hole.

It also has a ten story tall slide.  You can get there in more than one way, but I preferred the stairs.

It was when I was walking through this wet grate, very high in the air, in the dark that I remembered that I currently have NO health insurance this a very good idea?  Also, Non-Mommy, do NOT look down.

It is open until 1 a.m.  After 10 p.m. they turn off the lights and you can explore the entire factory using flashlights and glow sticks.  They also have a bar for those interested. 

Despite my bruised knees, very sore muscles, and sweat soaked clothing, I had a great time.  This is really an incredible place to visit.  You could be there all day long and never see anything.  It's truly huge.  It is well, well worth a visit - even if you have to drive a day to do it.  It is extremely child friendly, extremely adult friendly, and a great work out.  Don't believe me?  Go read reviews online.

If you go, I strongly recommend that you wear pants that you don't mind getting dirty in.  You will literally be pulling yourself up, climbing, shimmying, scooting, etc.  You need good shoes with good traction.  Be prepared to sweat a lot.  Knee pads are a great idea.  But I promise, you will love this place if you are active!

City Museum of St. Louis


Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...