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.

Tuesday, July 9, 2013

The Doctor Will See You Now...and Now...and Now

So, I am calling this summer Summer of the Endless Doctor Visits.  It seems as though I have spent quite a bit of it running from one doctor to the next to the next.  Kid appointments are pretty much standard.  I am a teacher, so I make those intentionally or the summer:  yearly physical, 6 month dental.  No, I am talking about MY doctor visits, which are way more annoying and scary. 

I am not one for the doctor.  I don't go when I'm sick.  I don't go when I'm well.  I pretty much have avoided all doctors relatively successfully for years. 
I wouldn't avoid THIS Doctor.  How could I, with 2 kids and a hubby who are fans?  (Well and I'm a closet fan too).

But I'm getting older (42--the answer to "life, the universe, and everything"--check out my April birthday post).  And my friends are getting a bit more forceful about making me take care of myself. 
They are hammering it in my head, so to speak.  Some have threatened real hammers. 

It's just that now, one doctor appointment has spiraled into 2 and 2 into 4.  Ugh!  When will it end???  I've had my boobies squished, my cholesterol checked, my leg poked and X-rayed, will have a skin check from a dermatologist, and if I don't make that GYN appointment soon, my one friend has threatened to call the office herself to make my appointment.  (Hey 11 years is not that unreasonable, right???)
Sorry, Judge Judy does not agree...

But the truth is, I needed the proverbial kick in the arse.  It's been shamefully overdue.  And so far, the news has been all good.  But I can tell you, I'd much rather hang out with the David Tennant incarnation of The Doctor than make one more appointment this summer. 

Thursday, June 13, 2013

Another Year Down

As of today, another school year has ended.   We teachers have packed up our classrooms, had our annual luncheon, said our goodbyes, and turned in our keys.  School's out for summer. 
Sing it, Alice!

It's been a tough year for our staff.  Our team leader was promoted mid-year, leaving us to fill the holes as we tried to fill her position.  Several...far too many...of our staff lost very close family members-children, spouses, siblings.  Paperwork increased, responsibilities multiplied, and pay stayed the same (really, decreasing as cost of living went up). 

But there have been many good times too.  Just today, we danced to Just Dance 4 (don't tell the Ortho--I'm probably not supposed to be dancing around on a bum calf but I didn't really do much leg moving).  Faculty meeting with a side of B.S. Bingo (didn't win).  Wedding showers, baby showers, celebrations.  Laughing with students.   Those times are what we hold onto as teachers.  It doesn't make the bad times any better, but it gives a small bright spot in the stressful times. 

So, goodbye, school, for a couple of months.  See you in August.

Sunday, June 2, 2013

Big things...

Last week were two big milestones in my life. 

Not my wedding cake, but if I was going to get married again or renew my vows, this would be a cute cake to have.
The first was that it was my 21st wedding anniversary.  That's a pretty big deal in of itself just because that's a long long time to put up with another person.  But it's also a big deal because it means that I have officially been married half my life. 

Yep.  On May 30, 1992, the day I got married, I was 21 years old.  So, I have had this last name as long as I had my maiden name. 
May 30, 1992

And I still like my husband.  Hell, I'll say it.  I love him as much (if not more) than the day we got married.  That is rare in today's world, I'm told, and given the divorce rate, I half believe it. 

The second milestone was running my first 10K yesterday morning.  Now, I ran my first Half Marathon back in January, so this may seem anti-climatic, but it was a pretty big deal for me.  I love to run.  Love it.  And I have never run a 10K.  And that Half was on flat ground--this 10K was HILLY.  Oh, and hot.  It was 75 degrees at the start of the race and temps rose pretty darned quickly.  I also did this race with a good friend, and it was nice to have a mini-girl's weekend, even if we were putting ourselves through major torture to do so. 
Good motto.

So, last night was a celebration of my two milestones.  My wonderful hubby took me out to dinner and we ended up in our favorite wine bar.  They even gave us $2 off because it was our anniversary!!!  Big things happened this week. 

And it only gets better from here...

Monday, May 6, 2013

Fly paper

It's been a long couple of weeks, these last few that lead up to the end of the school year.  Busy, busy, busy all the time and feeling just a little overwhelmed.  Ok, A LOT overwhelmed.

These days, I feel like I'm a fly stuck on fly paper.  I try to wrestle myself free but the more I wrestle, the more I get stuck.

Eww!  Gross!

And I'm stuck there with all my other fly friends, wiggling and watching the others succumb to the stickiness or starvation or whatever it is that finally causes them to breathe their last breath.  And I wonder why I ended up on this metaphor of fly paper. 

Maybe it was the stinkbug I found in my hair today. 

Yep, it was In.My.Hair.
Actually, a student pointed out to me.  Well, she screamed.  Then the substitute teacher in the room also squealed and knocked it out of my hair.  So maybe I'm more feeling like a stinkbug on flypaper...except that's kind of dumb and there are no google images to support that metaphor. 

Friday, April 12, 2013

Life, the universe, and everything...

So, last Friday, I turned 42.  Yep, 2 more than my "magic age" of 40, which was the age my mother passed on and haunted me (well, scared the bejesus out of me) for 39 years and 364 days.  But I passed that milestone and now I'm 42, which, my daughter tells me is "the answer to life, the universe, and everything." 
For you less savvy (read:  nerdy) folk, it's a reference to The Hitchhikers Guide to the Galaxy.

Remind me why I made her a sci-fi nerd?

Duh!  So, she'd watch all 6 episodes of Star Wars with you, Steph!

So, here I am, at the apex of life, the universe, and everything, and I pretty much know I have the answers to absolutely NOTHING. 


I'm empty space.
Sing it, Pink Floyd (and your sexual flowers!). 

But I'm not stressing it too much.   Nope, not one single bit....because here's a secret.  NO ONE has those answers.  Not me, not my friends, not my siblings, not my bosses, not people who are twice my age.  And that's ok. 

See, one of the things I love about living (aside from the whole not-being-dead-thing) is that I am always learning, always growing. 
No, not THAT  kind of growing!!!

And it's that growth that keeps life interesting, me interesting.  (you all ARE interested, right?).  Or maybe it's just the wine I've had tonight. 

Because tonight, I feel like I have all the answers to life, the universe, and everything.  But I wish I knew what my questions were...

Wednesday, March 6, 2013

Ready For Spring

It's snowing again and schools are closed.  As a teacher, I live for snow days, those blissful days of sitting on Facebook all day and reading books and eating until my butt fills up the couch cushions. this, except I'd prefer a glass of wine to the beer.

But truthfully, a March snowstorm just depresses me.   I really want spring.  I really, REALLY am ready for summer.  At this point, I want warm weather, lazy days by the pool sipping Sangria out of a box, sunny runs outside, and no stresses. 

Mr. Pool Boy, bring that Reisling over here.

You see, at this point in the school year, we are knee-deep in state testing.  This week started our state math assessment.  We are missing Day 2 today.  I just want it over with.  I just want to fast-forward to June.  I'm not wishing my life away, but I also am one who gets bored with stagnant, and I feel stagnant in the winter.  I would sooooo like to dig out. 

I can see you, Spring.  You're almost here!

Friday, February 15, 2013

Too Soon

This week was a double whammy for two colleagues.  On Monday, the son of one of my co-workers, himself a teacher, was killed on his way to work when his car slid on ice and collided with a private school bus.  He was only 24.  He was someone who had also worked at our school (although I didn't know him personally), so it was a devastating blow to the entire staff, those who knew him and those of us who know his mother. 

Then, on Wednesday, our director sent out a notice that the son of one of the supervisors had died unexpectedly.  He was only 21.  I had worked with her for nearly 8 years at my position at my old school.  She had often talked of her sons.  There has not been a reason given why he died.  Again, a devastating blow. 

These deaths come on the heels of a November car accident that claimed the life of a 17 year old male classmate of my son and not a year after an April car accident that claimed the life of a 16 year old female classmate.  They are almost too much to bear. 

As a mother, I wonder how parents survive burying their children.  My own grandparents buried two of their children before they themselves died (one of them my mother).  I remember my father talking about my uncle's death.  His car hit a brick wall just months after my parents were married.  My grandparents were so bereaved that my mother temporarily moved back into their house to help them through their daily lives. 

I can tell you that each time something like this happens, it awakens that deep fear inside of me.  I have teens.  One of them drives.  Every day that he leaves by himself, I trust that I will see him again.  Every time he works late, I pray he is makes it home safely even though he only works 2 minutes away right now.  I imagine that when my daughter and later my other son drive, I will be the same way.  My worst nightmare is to experience what any of these parents this week and this year have experienced, to have to pick out a casket and a burial outfit and a plot for my child.  I think I would collapse and never get up again. 

But these young men died way too soon.  They shouldn't be gone.  They should be dating and planning weddings and having children and laughing and living.  Their parents should not be getting sympathy cards.  They should not be burying their babies.  They should not have to experience this.  It's just not fair. 

Thursday, February 7, 2013


I have always considered myself a flexible person at work.  I mean, I chose a profession that demands it by its very nature.  Yet, lately, I find myself increasingly feeling like a piece of taffy...a pulled, chewed up piece of taffy that's stuck to the bottom of you shoe.  I was actually thinking of changing my name to Taffy, but I don't look much like a Taffy. 

And I'm just a little weary of mimicking confections that get stuck in my teeth anyway.   I believe there is a point where you can be stretched to the point where you border (or even reach) incompetence.  I also think I may be damned close to that level.  I do not think I'm alone.  Even the best taffy, if pulled and pulled will eventually come completely apart.

It's too bad the people who need to actually read this are under a different impression.  

Wednesday, January 23, 2013

Thank you

For those of you who follow my blog (both of you), my last post was a pre-run jitter-fest in preparation for my very first 1/2 marathon.

Yeah, I was worried.  Yeah, I was REALLY worried.  I had my doubts.  13.1 miles.  Thirteen is bad enough, but that extra one tenth of a mile???  OMG!  

But on Sunday, January 20th, all that worry was put aside.  I did it.  13 miles PLUS that one tenth.  Me.  I ran it.  It took me 2 and 1/2 hours to do it (ok, technically 2 hours and 32 minutes), but I did it.  I believed in myself, and I did it.  That's a pretty good lesson. 

But more importantly, others believed in me.  I am so grateful to my cheerleaders--friends and family who believed I could do it even when I didn't believe it myself.  Those Facebook "likes" and comments cheering me on and cheering me after.  The necklace and the sticker with 13.1 on it.  All of those things mean more to me than you all will ever know. So, thank you all.  Thank you from the bottom of my heart. 
Here I am about to cross the finish line--pigeon-toed and exhausted but better because you all are awesome!

Sunday, January 6, 2013

A Little Pep Talk

For those of you who follow me on FACEBOOK (or TWITTER or just know me), you know that I have signed up to run a 1/2 marathon on January 20th. 
St. Pete's Beach classic.

Yep--that's what I said...Half...marathon...13.1 miles...

Now, I've been running for quite awhile now.  Probably 5-6 years consistently.  I don't have a runner's body.  I've got a fat butt and chunky thighs and weak ankles.  Up until 3 weeks ago, I had only run over 6 miles at a clip one time. 

I know, I know...
I ask myself this a lot.

I wasn't really.  But that's probably a good thing.  My problem is I think too much...I OVERTHINK too much...and then those little voices in my head start.
Not THOSE voices...

You know the voices.  The ones that tell you that you are not good enough or smart enough or pretty enough or worthy enough.  Those voices that completely kill your confidence. 

I have to admit, my confidence takes a regular beating.  Always has.  I go along fine and then I think, "Maybe I can't do this."  Or someone doesn't like me and I blame myself and figure it must be because of me.  Or I get a small scolding and feel like I am completely worthless.  It's a struggle, but it's one that I have worked hard to overcome. 

So, I'm fighting those voices in my head.  I've adopted my yearly "theme song" to combat the hits to my confidence.  I AM running that 13.1 miles.  I AM going to cross that finish line, if I have to roll over it.  But I'm doing it! 

Here's my theme song.

That's what's going to be blasting on my iPod as I cross.