Wednesday, December 4, 2013

Some Pre-Christmas Rhyming

Twas 3 weeks before Christmas, and all through my house
The clutter was piled by my kids and my spouse
The stockings lay unmatch in the basket with care
In hopes that the laundry fairy soon would be there.
The children were nestled all snug on the couch
Watching their programs with all kinds of slouch
And I in some sweatpants and Tony in his cap
Were dozing at 7pm in a pre-bedtime nap.

When down in the basement, there arose such a clatter
That I struggled to stand upright to see what was the matter.
When what to my grateful eyes should appear
But a big glass of wine and for Tony a beer.
And a cranky young adult child who was grumpy and quick
I knew in a moment it was my son Nick. 
He spoke not a word but handed us our brew
And then started hollering at the rest of our crew.
"Clean, Tara!  Stop, Vinnie!  Hey, Mom, they're not helping!
Dad, make them!  They're lazy!"  That's what he was yelping.

I spoke not a word but swallowed my wine
And three glasses later, I was feeling just fine. 
But holiday d├ęcor should not pair with liquor.
Getting the tree up could have been that much quicker. 
The kids, oh so helpful, were playing their cell phones
And the dog was attacking the branches like they're bones.
But we still exclaim as this poem takes its flight:
"Merry Christmas in 3 weeks but for now it's 'GOOD NIGHT'"

Wednesday, October 30, 2013

Halloween Blahs

I have the Halloween Blahs, and I am not really sure why.  It used to be my favorite holiday.  Many years were spent choosing the perfect costume. 

As a child, I could be Princess Leia...

Or Wonder Woman...

One year, my mother even made me into a flower pot.

That was the year I won "Most Colorful" in the annual Magic Show/Halloween Costume contest that my dad used to perform in.  The costume fell apart a week later when I went trick-or-treating...all it was made of was cardboard, fabric, tissue paper, and my winter hat...but it got my face in the newspaper. 

Even as an adult, I've dressed up.  I've been Cleopatra, the Bride of Frankenstein, "Kitchen" Spice (a very inspired 1990s Spice Girls send-up), a body bag, a French maid, and yes...

Wonder Woman again.

So, I'm not sure why I have the Halloween Blahs.  Maybe it's stress.  Maybe I'm just not feeling the creativity this year.  Maybe it's the hoards of children that will come to my door tomorrow night looking for candy and maybe a fright.

Hopefully, then, I'll have my spirit back.  Just the walk down memory lane kind of puts me in the mood...

Monday, September 30, 2013

Wine Whine

Today has been the kind of Monday that would make a cartoon cat hide under his blankets and avoid like the plague. 

Today was a Hide The Sharp Objects kind of Monday.

Today was a Glass of Wine kind of Monday. 
Or 3...

I think I am spent.  I woke up feeling like crud.  My kids are driving me crazy.  My body is falling apart (well, my knees and joints).  I'm clearly whiny. 

 Perhaps Tuesday will be an improvement.  It can only go up from here. 

Friday, August 16, 2013

Annual Summer Lament (or Why Non-Teachers Hate Me)

So here it is.  My last "official" day of summer vacation.  Come Monday, I am back to the grindstone of a 9-5 job (ok, 8:10-3:40 are my official hours but when does THAT ever happen???).  And I'm feeling blue and I'm feeling guilty about feeling blue. 
Ok, I'm not crying this much about it but still...

Last year, I was part of a Facebook rant where some teachers caught hell from a non-teacher friend who reminded us that we have "all summer off" and we get to "mold young minds" so we should just "stop being ungrateful" and "suck it up."  Yeah, that was a lovely post, but it rang somewhat true.

It's not like I don't like to work or like my job.  I enjoy teaching.  But the start of the school year signals the end of those lazy days of freedom.  Mine and my kids' freedom.  I don't think my 11 year old has gotten to bed before midnight or up before 11 am all summer long.  His bed lies untouched (well, in late July I got sick of the massive junk on it and cleaned it--and his entire room--while he was at scout camp), as he does not feel the need to leave the couch to go to sleep.  My 18 year old has only been slightly better, with his bed alternating between a laundry hamper and sleeping place (and sometimes both at once).  For a kid we suspect of having OCD, his room sure is a mess.  My 16 year old daughter has been slightly more consistent with sleeping in her room...well, once she actually cleaned it up so you could see floor (seriously, we thought it was the 7th sign of the Apocalypse when she cleaned that Hell Hole). 
I truly thought we'd see the Angel of Death, that room was so clean!

And sports will start up.  For my 11 year old, last night was the first night of a Tuesday/Thursday soccer practice that will go until basketball starts up in November (which will go until the February start up of LAX).  At least my daughter doesn't do a fall sport but she wants to take driver's ed.  Ugh!  My oldest starts community college and will be vastly more independent but that also means he will not be available to be my slave boy driver for times when schedules conflict (and they do quite a bit).  With my hubby never getting home before 7 (gotta love beltway traffic), I kind of rely on the 3rd driver in the house. 

And I haven't even MENTIONED my job.  Lots of paperwork--lots of changes (again!). Actual thinking beyond what page of World War Z I left off on because the UNO card I am using for a bookmark has fallen out of the book again.   I know that I will change from a sunny, carefree Dr. Jeckyll of Summertime to that bitchy, snappish Mrs. Hyde of Schooltime. 
Yeah, I'll be looking like the guy on the left too by December

So don't begrudge me my whiny time.  I KNOW that I am lucky to have a job that gives me off 2 months a year.  I KNOW that I get to be all rested up while others (most noisily, my spouse, who thinks it is his job to turn on every light in our bedroom to get ready for work) have to get up at 5 am even through the summer and drive to their jobs and think and earn money.  I am not being ungrateful for the time I've had.  I am simply having adjustment issues.  After the next two weeks (when my kiddos head back to school too), I will be in full-on work mode, and life will be "normal" again.  But I'm not going quietly. 

Tuesday, August 6, 2013

Counting down...

Two weeks from yesterday, I will be heading back to school, but already the signs are there.  Last week, I received my school's "Welcome back to work" letter with the myriad of inservices, meetings, and professional development workshops that I will be required to attend.  Today, I received my son's back-to-school letter from his new school (he's heading to middle school).  It can all be just a little overwhelming. 
Wonder if this will be in my mailbox when I get back?

Time to head back into my head.  Denial ain't just a river in Egypt. 

Sunday, July 21, 2013

Living Vicariously

Two days ago, my daughter was swimming in a waterfall in Costa Rica, and today they are headed to see the sloths.
Bet it looked a lot like this one...

A month ago, my 18 year old was flashing his pecks on the beaches of Ocean City with his buds.
This is actually a beach in Ocean City.  Missing are the drunken teenagers sleeping off their hangovers in the sun.

Today, my 11 year old went off for a week adventure at Boy Scout Camp, where he will shoot guns, swim, hike in the mountains, and camp under the stars.
This is the Scout Reservation he's at...looks pretty boring, right? 

I managed to mow the lawn and chop a few branches off an overgrown tree...sigh...
Yeah, I wish this was me...

Friday, July 12, 2013

10 (ok, not quite) Commandments

One of the things that I love about being a teacher is that every summer, I get to read stuff that is not required for teaching, school, or my job.  This summer, I picked up Gretchen Rubin's The Happiness Project.  While I consider myself a relatively happy person (she considers herself happy too), I liked the advice and the mindfulness to be happy that is the focus of the book.  One of the things that she does is list her "commandments," rules and advice that she lives by.  Her very first one, "Be Gretchen", is probably the best and hardest advice to take. 

So, I have been thinking about my own "commandments."  And I decided to share what I came up with.  The list is certainly not exhaustive, nor do I harbor any fantasies that it will stay the same as the years wear on.  Sadly, I wish I always followed my commandments, but like the ones in the Bible, they are ideals and NOT always easy. 

So, here they are.  They may not be yours.  You may think they are crazy or unrealistic (some I'd agree).  But they are what's in my head today. 

1.  Be happy and be grateful.  I think this is the hardest one.  I am not always happy.  I am not always grateful.  However, last summer's reading (a book called Magic by the same author as The Secret) inspired me to start a gratitude journal.  I try to write 10 things for which I'm grateful everyday.  It is not always easy.  It doesn't always happen.  However, I am finding that it keeps me from dwelling on the bad things in life, the disappointments, the negativity.  And who isn't happier when there is positivity in your life?  There is a trending hashtag on Twitter called #firstworldproblems that makes fun of the things we think are tragedies. (Example:  "I had to wait 20 minutes in the bank line and now my friend is mad at me #firstworldproblems")  While I do not believe that I never have the right to feel sad, it keeps some things in perspective.

2.  Don't cry over spilled milk, but for goodness sake, wipe it up!  If you have kids, you know what I'm talking about.  My kids are messy, and they spill.  I nag my children regularly to clean up after themselves.  However, when I screw up, I tend to either beat myself up for it ("Another bounced check?  I'm an idiot!")  or not learn from it ("Another bounced check.").  The "crying over the spilled milk part" I think I have under control.  It's the "wiping it up" part that seems to get me regularly. 

3.  "Carpe diem" but not every diem.  I hear regularly from people that they are amazed at all the stuff we do--sports, scouts, tree plantings, school functions, etc.  I got into the habit of feeling very guilty during non-busy periods of my life.  Why?  This is something both my husband and I struggle over.  My kids are not going to be irrevocably scarred because they missed a soccer game.  Not everyday has to produce some kind of greatness.  At the same time, we can go through very lazy periods (probably brought on by exhaustion and poor planning) where we do absolutely nothing.  I think there is a balance.  

4.  Be kind.  I have at times had a sarcastic sense of humor.  When I look back at some of my social media posts, I am not always very nice.  My husband and kids are quite frequently the targets for sarcasm, complaint, or otherwise.  In my personal life, friends who get on my nerves can warrant less-than-compassionate responses.  I have really made an effort to be kinder and gentler.  Gretchen Rubin talks about "cutting friends slack" and I like that idea.  Meeting people where they are is usually a much happier method of dealing with things. That does not mean I take abuse or allow meanness back.  There's a shirt in a lot of novelty stores that says "Mean People Suck" and they do.  But I do not think all people are intentionally nasty or hateful or directing their baggage at me on purpose.  Kindness can help, even if it kills 'em.  

5.  It doesn't last forever.  In bad times, this is a good thing.  In good times, this can be a rather sad thing.  I will never have my kids' infancy and toddler years back.  Any time that I wasted wishing those years away cannot be undone.  My parents are both gone.  Losing them has given me a keen sense of how fleeting time is.  However, in the bad times, this thought gets me through because I know it will change or get better.  

6.  Accept criticism, accept praise.  I used to be the queen of the "Yeah buts..."  Here's what I mean.    Friend:  "You look great."  Me:  "Yeah but I need to lose x pounds."; Boss: "You could have done x to improve your teaching."  Me:  "Yeah but you caught me on a bad day."   I am really working on responses that don't include excuses.  Criticism?  Give it some credence if it's valid.  Praise?  Just say, "thank you."  I have enough "but(t)" already!

7.  It's ok to be a quirky nerd mom who does not fit into a size 5 any more.  This advice is similar to Rubin's "Be Gretchen."  I find as I get older, I like me.  I am not perfect.  I have a big blue Tardis in my basement.  I know more about Star Wars than most people I know.  I have to pluck chin hairs out of my face.  But I find if I don't compare myself to others, if I don't worry about how others see me, I am happier and others seem to like me more anyway.  It goes back to Commandment #1.  I am grateful for who I am.  

That's as many as I can muster today.  Do I always follow my commandments?  Nope.  But I do find value in writing them down.  I hope that you find value in reading them, but if not, that's ok too.  Below is the link to Gretchen Rubin's blog--free advertisement for her, I know, but inspiring to me.