Monday, December 15, 2008

The Sicklies

I've been gone for ages...did anyone miss me? Ha! We've all been sick...first Nova, then Kurt, then me. It's been a blast, let me tell you. I'll have lots to share, though, as Nova has a holiday program at preschool coming up and her Xmas pics will be in soon. Hope everyone is well!

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Wednesday means get a good book!

This week's book recommendation was actually recommended to me and I just fell in love with it. It's called The Glass Castle by Jeanette Walls. It's a memoir that's so unbelievable you'll forget it's real! It's kind of like a modern day A Tree Grows in Brooklynn. What this woman went through as a child, who then became a successful adult in spite of

Sunday, November 23, 2008

The Rage?

I'm a pretty intuitive person. I know how people work and why they do the things they do. Which is why I know the rage is sitting below the surface somewhere and will come out sooner or later. Why the rage? Because my daughter isn't perfect.

Now, no one is perfect. And I don't care for me as much as I care for her. I worry that she won't have friends or boyfriends, that her future won't hold high school dances, cruising with friends, or marching band and sports. I ache for her future because I do not know what it will be.

I know this is normal. I know we have to grieve what our ideas of our daughter were. And I know in my heart, that it will be okay. I know in my heart that we'll have just as many joys---just different ones than we had invisioned. But I also know the grief process and rage has to happen sooner or later. Maybe it's coming soon, as I've been thinking about it--wondering when it would arrive.

Parents, it's okay to feel these things. Our lives are now seriously up and down and spirally at times. If we're not honest about how we feel and deal with it, well, we'll become spirally ourselves and that's not good for our children.

So, I say--Come on, fates. Bring on the rage.

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Wednesday's Book Recommendation!

This week's book recommendation is The Wedding by Nicholas Sparks. It's a sequel to The Notebook, which many of us loved and loved the movie. The Wedding, though, is a different kind of love story. It's about trying to save a love that has changed over years and it's about taking those we love for granted. A quick and great read!

Monday, November 10, 2008


I have been working with Nova on her letters. We learned N O V A. She still won't say "Nova" but she'll say N O V A. That's great. Well, she has this horrid alphabet game that you press a letter and it SCREAMS (and there's no volume on this thing) A APPLE or X X-RAY. It's completely obnoxious.

The other day, my husband had her and my nephew out playing on the swings. He took some sidewalk chalk and wrote Nova and Brady (his name). Nova walks over and says N O V A as expected. Then she goes on, B R A D Y. Uhhhhh WHAT????

Turns out, that darn obnoxious toy has taught her ALL HER LETTERS. Wooohoooo!!!!! Now she knows all letters and numbers 0-10. Woohoooooooo twice!!!!

Tuesday, November 4, 2008

Tonight Changes the Way the World Looks at Us

This is not meant to offend anyone. But I have to celebrate inside a little bit. I have met Senator Obama and I have no problem following him anywhere. I do believe our country MUST find a way to fuse together as one entity. We've lived too long in a place that we call a melting pot, but are separated by economic status, race, religion, sexual orientation, and gender. I'm very proud to have been a part of an election in which not only did I support a candidate I felt was worthy, but of history being made. This is a picture I took one of the times I heard him speak.

Monday, November 3, 2008

Trick or Treat Fun

Nova really "got" Trick or Treating this year. She realized if she holds her plastic pumpkin out, people put candy in it. That got her attention! She was a super cute University of Texas cheerleader. Check out our pics!

Saturday, October 25, 2008

Not a recession?

Forget the presidential race for a minute. Forget the slanderous comments of McCain towards others (can you see where my loyalties lie? lol) Let's talk about money. I know it's undignified. But we've got to be real. Too many people are broke.

I'm not talking about the people who have to give up their monthly trips to the spa, here. I'm talking BROKE. Almost everyone in my small circle of friends is LESS THAN a paycheck from being homeless. Juggling bills to feed their kids. Behind on student loans. Ummm. People got an education so they could live better. So much for that. They'll be in serious trouble for getting that education because wages don't cover paying college loan payments.

And I'm not talking about people who are in trouble for living beyond their means. I'm not talking about "Joe the Plumber who makes a couple hundred grand a year and isn't a plumber at all. I'm talking about hard working, dependable people who cannot pay their bills.

It's not right. We have to reprioritize. Exxon had RECORD BREAKING sales this year. (And we wonder why we were paying almost 4 bucks in gas?) I say Exxon has to give back. Fine, they don't have to pay the taxes they are supposed to. Rechannel that money. Instead of making them pay those taxes (because, come on...we all know that's not gonna happen), let's make them help the people of this country.

They should be forced to adopt communities and do what is necessary to help the people within them. They can buy some houses for people who have always rented, they can fix up the schools that are falling apart, they can set up programs to help people pay for daycare, and they can help people pay off student loans.

It's POCKET CHANGE to these corporations, folks. It wouldn't even make a dent in their profits. I say we go old school and make these corporations help PEOPLE. Get back to the way things used to be, when people helped one another. It's just not as hard as we (being the government and society) make it.

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

Wednesday=Get a Good Book!

This week's book recommendation is Rats Saw God by Rob Thomas (no, he's not the Rob Thomas from Matchbox 20...he is, however the Rob Thomas that writes for the new 90210).

This book is really geared for young adults (teens) but man is it worth the read! I use it in book club and the kids LOVED it. I taught it when I lived in Austin to freshman and they ate it up, too.

It's a story about fitting in and trying to figure out where you belong. It can speak to ANYONE.

Monday, October 20, 2008

Kids are the same as they used to be

You hear people (some, mind you--not all) who have been educators for a million years (and who shouldn't be anymore) say things like, "What's wrong with these kids? They didn't used to be this way!" or "Kids are so different than..."

I understand why they think this. Behaviors really are different. But kids? They're the same. They're just like you were, just like I was. The difference? Their worlds are different.

First of all, students now (even high schoolers) have NEVER lived without cell phones, internet, texting. They've had it their ENTIRE lives. Man, I remember learning how to email IN COLLEGE. And I don't feel THAT old (I'm 34).

Second of all, families are different. Divorce was becoming a big trend when I was in high school. Now it's happening SO OFTEN...or parents were never married to begin with. There are grandparents raising grandchildren, single parent homes, older siblings raising younger ones. Is there really a question of why they act differently than kids did 20 or so years ago???

Thirdly, let's face it---MEDIA! Their information is given to them the second it happens. And prime time tv? Wow. My grandfather would turn in his grave if he could hear the language used on prime time. And that started years ago...Friends (which I love) says the b word, a**, etc. all the time. And they talk about sex like it's nothing. And we wonder why our students have boundaries. When I was a kid, we did what teens do. We didn't always make good choices. People drank, smoked, had sex. *gasp!* But we sure as heck didn't talk about any of that in earshot of a teacher! These kids have no shame in saying ANYTHING, anytime, anywhere.

I get super irritated because if you get to know the kids and have a relationship with see that they really are the same. They want to be accepted by their peers, they want to do well in school, they want adults to look up to, and they want rules and limits. Are they going to TELL you that? Hell no!!!!

You have to just know it and figure out how to sneak them into accepting it!

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

You know what Wednesday means!

It's book recommendation time. This week, check out The Girls by Lori Lansens.

It is the story of conjoined twins named Rose and Ruby. It is narrated by the twins themselves. It's so amazing to get their actual perspective. While it's fiction, you can't hardly believe someone could write it without having gone through it. You really get a feel for what the two girls are feeling and what their life is really like.

It also gives us a glimpse of their adoptive parents and what kind of people they were. They love the girls unconditionally and it really is moving.

Monday, October 13, 2008

A Woman's Guilt

Guilt is a huge drag. What is it that makes women (especially moms) feel so guilty all the time? Today I took a day off work. I'm super sick. I have this huge hole in my ear drum and I have to see a specialist. Had to do the CAT scan thing today. The kind where they inject you full of "contrast" (in my terms...dye). I'm one sick chick. And I don't mean sick like perverted ;)

But all day (well, the hours I was awake) I felt horrible about missing work. Never mind that I'll go back to a nightmare--having a sub. teacher is never easy. But all day, I kept thinking, "People will see me out. They will think, 'Oh she's skipping work.'"

Part of that is teaching in a small town. People really do call the superintendent if they see you in town when you should be working. Apparently, we're not allowed to be sick or take a mental health day, in the eyes of the community.

But part of it is just the guilt I put upon myself. I feel guilty that my kid is playing in a living room that is covered in toys and needs vacuumed. I feel guilty that I have to work instead of take care of my daughter. I feel guilty that I get sick. I feel guilty that I can't get everything done that is "expected" of me.

What is that? Tell me, folks. What do YOU feel guilty about? Maybe we'll all feel better if we just get it out there!

Thursday, October 9, 2008

Doing for Others

On Thursdays, you know I encourage you to do for others. One of the best things you can do for others in encourage them to get a mammogram. Breast cancer is happening to women younger and younger. It's not just important for women in their 50s plus anymore. Remind every woman that's important to you!

Tuesday, October 7, 2008

Go Get This Book!

This week's book recommendation is for Secrecy by Belva Plain. It takes us through the journey of being attacked by someone you know. It chronicles a girl from the age of fourteen into her thirties, and how this incredible hurt helps to determine the adult that she has become. It's a must read! There's even a super big twist that surprised the heck outta me!

Monday, October 6, 2008


A BIG BIG BIG thank you to the people, both my blogger buddies and my friends from "the real world" for helping out my Student Book Club by sending us books or ways to get books.

You have no idea how much I appreciate it. The kids are so excited. We even designed t-shirts for our book club for the second year. I, of course, am loving every minute of it.

Thanks again to:





Ryan Sweeney

Rhonda Wishon

Peggy and Ryan Lundquist

Jerri Black

AEA 14

O.J. Fargo

Andrea Compton

Every single one of you TOTALLY ROCKS!!!!!!!!!

Friday, October 3, 2008

Another Clarke Homecoming

Well, my alma mater had another homecoming. We survived it. By survive, I is it some work for the teachers! (Well, those who care about kids anyway).

We had dress up days all week. I did not partake, as I feel that I should be professional looking at work. I did, however partake in Clarke Pride (wearing the good ol' maroon and white) today.

Then Thursday was Boom Night. For those of you who do not know, Boom Night is a night of class skits and other competitions. It's a big deal here. And for those of you alums who haven't been to one in a while, it's different. No more making fun of staff (good for me, bad for kids), and no more at home skit practice. We do it all during advisory time now (which means 23 minutes per day).

But the clincher is that the other things have to be done during that time. So, the majority of the class is working on the skit and the rest of us are creating indoor and outdoor decorations for those competitions.

My academic team splits up the duties. Gall and Lampe take care of the skit (thank goodness), Owens and Rowe take care of indoor decorations, Bannerman and Bell babysit the kids who won't participate, and I'm in charge of outdoor decorations.

This is a huge pain. But then Boom Night rolls around and it's actually quite fun. The men on our team grill burgers for us while the kids put up the decorations. The kids have a ball. It's like they get to legally vandalize the school. We made "Class of 2010" banners, "Clarke Pride," "Go Clarke" etc. The pictures are of some of my kids doing the decorations.

I think I got home at 11. Except for missing out on time with my own daughter, it's not a horrible night.

Tuesday, September 30, 2008

Book Time!

It's Wednesday again and you know what that means! Book recommendation time, once again. This week's book recommendation is Water for Elephants by Sara Gruen. It's the story of a young medical student in the early part of the Great Depression. When his parents die, he literally takes off and joins the traveling circus life. It's got some seriously great humor in it, and it's a hard one to put down.

Sunday, September 28, 2008

Harvest Barn

If you live in southern Iowa, take your kids to Harvest Barn this fall. For four or five bucks a person, your kiddos can run through a corn maze, feed pigs and roosters, pet goats and sheep, pick out a pumpkin, play games, etc. Nova had a blast. Is it my idea of a grand time? Not so much. But who cares because she LOVED it and loved "talking" to the animals.

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

Twinkle, Twinkle

The coolest thing happened tonight. Nova is starting to get more communicative, as most of you know. She's now starting to sing twinkle, twinkle little star...

Tonight she was singing. Her rendition goes...

tinkle, tinkle lilllllll tar
how i budder budder are

then she kind of lalalala

but tonight, she ended with next time won't you sing...

she combined twinkle, twinkle with the alphabet song (which are the same song, and the same as baa baa black sheep)

it was too cute that she figured that out. i laughed for ten minutes.

2 great giveaways at

Head over to and enter to win a toddler tee or a blanket. they're both adorable!

Monday, September 22, 2008

Tuesday, September 16, 2008

Wednesday's Book Recommendation

Ok, fellow book nerds, listen up. This week's book recommendation is actually a trilogy. It's by Nora Roberts (who I admit, I love). It's about three women who are *gasp* witches. Nell Channing, Ripley Todd and Mia Devlin have to break the pattern set by their foremothers, or the island on which they live will sink.

Someone recommended these to me, and I gotta tell ya...I thought to myself, "Witches? Ummm, don't think so." I wasn't into it at all. But then she gave me one. And I began the book. And. I. Loved. It. They're witches, sure. But modern woman witches which makes them cool. Try them, they're super awesome to read. And you can pick them up super cheap if you look...I found them in the dollar section of Half Price Books.

Sunday, September 14, 2008


Head on over to Tanya's and check out her giveaway for 2 Walgreen's gift cards. She is participating in an autism walk and needs support.

Here's the link:

Saturday, September 13, 2008

Jenny's Book

Jenny McCarthy's book, Louder than Words: A Mother's Journey in Healing Autism is the reason my daughter is doing well today. I read the book because a couple of people had read excerpts in magazines and brought them to me. I'd been worried about a couple of things with Nova but could never really pinpoint it. A few days after reading it, I made the appointment in Iowa City to have her "tested" for autism.

While it was one of the worst days of my life (I mean, let's be real. No one WANTS this for their kid), I'm so happy that I read the book because I knew what questions to ask. Being an educator didn't hurt either. I honestly think I was and am taken more seriously when it comes to my daughter because I am an educator. Jenny's book really steered me in the right direction.

Now, Nova's behind in communication but we're on the right track. Everywhere you look, it will tell you that EARLY DETECTION is the key. I'm so happy that we did this when Nova was two, because now at three (we just had her diagnosed in February), she's in preschool, socializing much better, and learning new vocabulary every day. I know in my heart of hearts that while it won't be an easy road, that Nova will be okay.

Thank you, Jenny McCarthy for giving us direction by writing in an open, frank way.

Wednesday, September 10, 2008

Doing for Others Thursday

It's almost Friday! That means it's time to do something nice for somebody! This week is very simple. If you have children, I'd like you to write a note to someone who does something good for your child: it can be a grandparent, teacher, neighbor, babysitter--heck it can be for the bus driver for getting your child to school safely.

A little thank you will really brighten some one's day!

Tuesday, September 9, 2008

Wednesday means get a good book!

Thanks again to everyone who is sending books to my student book club. I really appreciate every one's generosity.

This week's book recommendation is The Saving Graces by Patricia Gaffney. It is a truly amazing story of the friendship between four women. It leads us through the perspectives of each of the women, so we see all sides of the story. We're taken through divorce, love, infertility, and many other issues. It's an easy read, to boot!

This one's worth reading, folks. It's one of my favorite books and I've read it several times.

Please feel free to keep spreading the word about my student book club and thanks again to everyone who has been so great in helping us out!

Monday, September 8, 2008

Great Day at Preschool (for Mom)

Today I decided to go to work a little late and take Nova to preschool. My husband always does this. I wanted to see how things were. After all, it's my baby we're talking about. As a parent of an autistic child, my biggest worry is that Nova won't have friends. It's a fear that tears at my gut and brings me to sobbing fits when I think about it too much. I know many things about being on the spectrum could make other children wary of Nova. She doesn't always understand directions, she doesn't always understand that something isn't hers, she doesn't communicate well, etc.

Today was I happy. We got there a bit early (20 minutes, and I'm pretty sure the teacher wasn't happy). Nova went to her hook to put her backpack and jacket. What??? She already has that down? I was elated.

Then it got better. She "signed in." She went to her picture on the wall and found her daily schedule. She took the first picture from the schedule and knew it meant for her to go to a certain center. She went there and did the activity. My baby??!!

I was so flippin' proud. She was following directions and totally getting communication. The activity was a hands on puzzle type of activity, which she loves, and she was totally engrossed. She got done and looked at everyone like, "Aren't you going to tell me how well I did?" It was SO GREAT!

Friday, September 5, 2008

Great Giveaway

In honor of Maternity Week at An Ordinary Life I am trying to win a gorgeous Elliott Lucca Limited Edition handbag. It's not your ordinary purse either, this bag also can function as a diaper bag! Maternity Week starts September 13th and there will be tons of great prizes. (Including another big surprise!)
Elliott Lucca bag is valued at $368.00 and is Limited Edition ONLY! Giveaway ends Sept. 24th

Wednesday, September 3, 2008

Student Book Club in Need of Help

Something great happened today. We had our first book club meeting at school. Based on the past two years, I ordered books with the money I was allocated for 15 kids. Ummmm. I had 32 kids show up. :) This is awesome!

Unfortunately, I don't have nearly enough books. Please PLEASE folks, check your bookshelves. If you have any of the following titles and are willing to ship them to me (I know, I'm asking a reallllllly big DO FOR OTHERS this Thursday), then let me know and I'll give you my school address to send them. Our community is very small, so our public library holds only one copy of a book, if they have it at all.

Thank you so much. You have no idea how great it is that this many kids are wanting to read FOR PLEASURE.

Titles we'll be reading:

The Five People You Meet in Heaven by Mitch Albom
Staying Fat for Sarah Byrnes by Chris Crutcher
Shabanu: Daughter of the Wind by Suzanne Fisher Staples
My Sister's Keeper by Jodi Picoult
Ender's Game by Orson Scott Card
Dicey's Song by Cynthia Voigt
At First Sight by Nicholas Sparks


This week, I'd like you to give Black Like Me by John Howard Griffin a try. It's nonfiction but reads like a novel. It's a true story and was very controvercial in its time. Griffin actually changed his skin color and lived life as a black man to see how he was treated differently. It was first published in 1961 and it's amazing--truly changed how I saw some things.

Sunday, August 31, 2008

You Mean Life ISN'T a Musical?

Ok, I admit. I hadn't seen Mamma Mia! yet. I mean, I'd seen the live version and had the soundtrack for ages. But I didn't get to the movie until tonight. It was fan-tabulous. I couldn't believe that Remington Steele/007/Pierce Brosnan could sing! I was duly impressed. And that adorable Amanda Seyfried was awesome, she's got a real career ahead of her. Getting to things like that is tough. One-I have a toddler. Two-I have an autistic toddler and babysitters I trust are hard to come by. Three-Until it gets to my small town, I have to drive at least 35 minutes (usually 45 depending on where it's playing) to get to another movie theater.

Now I know why my husband always says, "You and your think life is a musical," in an amused way. Ummm. Yeah, so we like to sing. So we break out into song a lot. I have so very few talents, and this one just takes over once in a while. I've even had a couple of students write about it in essays about me (apparently I do it in class, too). But hey I think it's a good quality! I mean, how you can be unhappy or stressed when breaking out into song just because something said or seen makes you think of a song?

The only bad part---I had to return a pair of shoes to Wal-Mart that I picked up for my daughter. I could hear "Honey Honey" in my head (and no, I didn't sing out loud at Wal-Mart)---but the bad part was---

I just couldn't believe people didn't start dancing in the aisles as I walked by.

Saturday, August 30, 2008

In Memory of Todd Fletcher

February 15, 1961 - August 27, 2008

What we remember most about our friend Todd:

1. a Parrot on his shoulder

2. Marshall hat and tee

3. Navy dad

4. Michigan

5. guitar jam sessions

6. making up new lyrics to songs

7. Guitar Hero stories

8. Golf stories

9. too many "love you guys" to count

10. a good FRIEND

Thursday, August 28, 2008

Book Recommendation

This week's book recommendation is The Lovely Bones by Alice Sebold. This is a MUST READ! It's different than most things I read, but it really kept me hooked. We learn on page 1 that a teen has been murdered. The rest of the book is this teen watching her family and friends and trying to lead them to her killer. Truly amazing!

When Friends Hurt Us

Ever since getting married and especially since I had my daughter, I've realized that friendships change and hell, I really don't have any. Which is ok in a way, I mean, when do I have time to hang out anyway? I'm lucky in that while I can never give "hang out time" to people, I still have people who aren't family that still love me and are there when I need them.

But it's been a long time since a friend hurt my feelings. It sounds so juvenile, but there's really no way to say it. And it stung. My heart hurt.

The thing about this happening when you're an adult is that unlike when you're a child or teen, it makes you really look at the person. The person was not who I thought they were. I looked up to them, I wished I was more like them, I was proud of how genuinely "good" they were. Now I feel like I didn't know them at all. That's a hurt in and of itself. My heart hurts.

Now, on the upside. The other thing I learned after having my daughter is that while it hurts, I'll be fine and my energies will once again be focused on her and I'll lose a piece of the hurt every day as I go about my life.

Funny how the problems we have as kids are really not that different than they are now that we are adults.

Monday, August 25, 2008

Just Another Monday???

It was one for the record books. I got up early, got ready for work, and left myself enough time to get daughter dressed for her first day (!) of preschool. Got to work, had a billion things to prepare for classes. Got them ready, taught my classes. Everything was okay. We began reading Lord of the Flies today. Everything so far so good.

Talk to hubby at noon. Daughter went to preschool SO EXCITED. Left daddy's side no problem, was ready to go. Then daddy returned to a crying baby girl. No one's happy. Had to get hold of my father to have him help hubby move in our new furniture! (Ok, it's a year old, but it was my aunt's and it's like a 4500 dollar set that I paid 500 bucks for--ya can't beat that). And boy did we need it. We didn't even have a couch, we had two beat up recliners for a living room.

Sent email to preschool wondering why daughter went in excited and left in tears. No reply yet. Called friend whose boyfriend is terminally ill--checked up on the two of them. Called mom to see how terminally ill grandmother was today.

This is all before 1 pm, mind you.

Taught the rest of my classes. I totally deserve an academy award for my performance with my afternoon classes. I was so NOT IN THE MOOD--but I sure acted as if I was! Had a meeting after school. Ten minutes to cry to friend Kirstin about life before the meeting. Did so. Moved on.

Got home, picked up cookies for aunt's going away party--she's moving to Colorado tomorrow. Went to help decorate. Attended party. Ordered a pizza. Came home and fed family.

Took daughter to my grandma's. We try to visit briefly each day. And Lord help ya if you don't take the child with ya! :)

Now I'm home, hubby has daughter in the tub getting ready for night time rituals. It's OVER!

Now tomorrow...

Thursday, August 21, 2008

Doing for Others Thursday

School is beginning all over the United States. So many kids do not have adequate supplies. Get a couple of bucks and head to the Dollar General or some such place. Buy a couple of packs of pens, pencils, highlighters, or paper. Take them to a school near your home. Either give them to a teacher directly or take them to the front office. I guarantee no matter who you find, they will know students who never seem to have what they need for school. This could make a huge difference in someone's first days of a new school year.

Wednesday, August 20, 2008

Great Give A Way!

Check out all the stuff you can win for back to school. Go now to It's easy to enter!


The book I'd like you to read this week is The Bluest Eye by Toni Morrison. I first read it in college for Dr. Calvin Thomas's class (one of the best teachers I've ever had). I've read it a couple of time since and it's just such an amazing story. It really makes you look at how society looks at beauty.

Monday, August 18, 2008

Professionalism: A Lost Art?

Today was our first day back. No kids yet. Just teacher in-service. A few days ago, I found out that a colleague and myself were leading one of the meetings. So we got together, got ready, and had everything ready to go.

We got sort of interrupted a couple of times and it made me forget one of the things I had to tell the senior advisors. So I asked our principal to ask the group (about 9 teachers) to stay for 30 seconds after our large group meeting so I could tell them something. It wasn't a big deal, but something they needed to know so they'd be in the loop for later. Two of the teachers got up and left when we were dismissed. Myself and one of the teachers who DID stay kinda yelled, "Hey guys..." They turned around, looked at us, and the teacher said, "We gotta stay for just a second." And the two men walked away!

Are ya kiddin' me? These are professionals? And they teach our children? And we expect teenagers to act a certain way, yet we won't act that way ourselves? I was L I V I D.

Other than my daughter and my husband, teaching is my heart. I love what I do. I love young adults and the way their minds work. I even love how they think they know everything (I chuckle quite often in my job). So when I see that we have teachers in our schools who refuse to act with just plain decency, I get very angry.

It may have been different if I had done something in the past to offend these two men. But I have not. Or maybe it would be different if I was asking something above and beyond. I was not. All I asked for was 30 seconds. And the teenager with a small town Iowa attitude beats inside me when this happens. I wanna erupt. I don't. But boy do I want to.

I know professionalism is dying. I've seen it a lot of places. But we cannot allow it or accept it in our schools. It's the one place that professionalism should be at its best.

Friday, August 15, 2008

The Bra Blues

It's back to school time. Need new bras. Lost a little weight this summer (not as much as I'd hoped, but it's a small start). Had to get a few things. I'm cheap. I don't like to spend a lot of money on clothes because I'm hard on them. Work: markers, high lighters, coffee. Home: milk, toddler crumbs, coffee. You know how it is. But I will spend the money on good bras. There's a problem, though. We've established I'm overweight. HOWEVER. Being overweight does not mean I'm a size DD. HELLOOOOOO out there. Make decent bras that are comfortable and big enough around with a damn C cup already!!!

Thursday, August 14, 2008

Doing for Others Thursday

This week, I'm doing something that I LOVE to do. Every year, I help out at our high school's nighttime marching band rehearsals. The kids rehearse for about three hours a few nights before school starts. I go and help kids with marching styles, being on count, etc. It's sooooo fun and lets me enjoy something I used to enjoy doing so much as a kid.

Find out what you can do to help out at the high school in your area. I know time is precious, but teens today need A LOT MORE positive adults in their life. I bet a reading teacher would love to have you work one-on-one with a student or a math teacher would help setting up interactive bulletin boards, etc. You will probably have to pass a background check, but it is no big deal and think of how much fun you could have!

Sunday, August 10, 2008


I'm off on my recommendation days, and since I didn't do one last week, I thought I'd do this week's early. I really think every woman should read Jodi Picoult and I'm using My Sister's Keeper with my student book club this year.

I'd love to know what the book nerds out there (and I use that term lovingly, cuz I'm a big time book nerd) think of it. I'll let you know later what my students think when they read it.

Robyn's Giveaway

Head over to Robyn's Blog and you could win a $50 gift card! There are a lot of ways to enter. Also, check out her other posts, she's got a great blog!

Friday, August 8, 2008

Government Gaffaws

I'm not proud to be a smoker. It just is. I have no problem with not being able to smoke in restaurants in Iowa. We don't smoke in restaurants and haven't since we had our daughter. But a bar??? Are ya kiddin' me? Not to mention that I work in one and I don't care what anyone is hurting small town bar owners. It's kinda like seat belts. Do I think it's a good idea to wear them? Sure. Saves lives and all. But I don't like being told I have to.

Now, I'm all for the "health of the employees" thing in reality. But my mom works in a casino. I guess her health isn't important. Hmmm.

Here is a list of things that I think will be "monitored" in the future:

1. number of drinks a person can have in a bar
2. how many times i can change my student loans to another company through consolidation (oh wait! bush already took care of that for me---thanks george!)
3. how much money a school district can spend on one child, with or without disabilities or special needs (including gifted kiddos)
4. how many sodas a person can buy (i mean, c'mon we are the fattest country)
5. crystal meth (oh wait again! supposedly this is illegal and monitored--but each of my students knows how to get it if they want it)
6. television
7. internet usage
8. cell phone usage

ok so while we're at it, why don't we add:
1. number of children we can have and of what gender (yet many insurances still won't cover birth control)
2. how many cars/houses we can own (not that this will EVER concern me lol)
3. how many jobs we can work (cuz c'mon folks, you should be able to feed that family of 4 on 7 bucks an hour)
4. genetic testing--if you have the possibility of passing on ANYTHING negative...nope, sorry you can't have children
5. how much of our grocery bill can be spent on certain items
6. just giving cash each month to EXXON, cuz apparently we are anyway

Kumon Educational Workbooks

Kumon Educational Workbooks

Check out this great giveaway for educational workbooks! Head on over to and check it out.

Thursday, August 7, 2008

Omaha Trip

Recently, we traveled to Omaha, Nebraska to do the zoo thing. If you've never been...GO! Their zoo is awesome!

We also went to a commemerative WWII Air Force musuem which was incredibly interesting. They even took one of the huge planes out of the hangar and started it up for us. It was really cool. We also went to a railroad museum, called The Durham. My daughter actually got to go into a bunch of train cars and see how the different parts worked. It was a very kid friendly place.

Check out our photos!
We've got my hubby and daughter in front of one of the WWII planes, the Bengal Tiger, a bird I don't know the name of, and my daughter looking at the mokeys.

Tuesday, August 5, 2008

Countdown is on...

It's August. Enough said.

I go back to work (at my "real" gig) on the 18th. Kids come on the 21st. Yup. Pretty excited.

I so love my job (well, the part where I get to teach and be with the kids and impart uh humm wisdom...many adults I could do without). But it's like an evil trick giving us this time away and then making us go back.

I don't wanna go back.

Not yet.

Between now and then, I have to do the following:

1. Pack for a trip that starts TODAY (I haven't begun packing and it's 9 am)
2. Go on said 2 day trip to Omaha to the Zoo
3. work at bar Saturday, Monday, and Wednesday
4. Write my syllabus
5. Finish creating presentation boards for Freshman Orientation
6. Create speeches for counselor and principal for Freshman Orientation
7. Go to Freshman Orientation
8. Get daughter's physical for preschool
9. Have home visit for preschool
10. Cry because I'll never get it all done

Monday, August 4, 2008

Stand up to Cancer

On September 5, NBC, ABC, and CBS will be simultaneously airing a broadcast called Stand up to Cancer. It will be a fundraiser to help raise funds in the fight against and research for cancer treatment.

This is dear to me, but I'm sure it's dear to everyone. I can't think of anyone I know how doesn't know someone who has or has had cancer.

Christina Applegate (Married with Children) was recently diagnosed with breast cancer and will appear. The following are just some of the other guests that will appear: Jennifer Aniston, Hilary Swank, Sally Field, Meryl Streep, Lance Armstrong, David Cook, Christina Ricci, and Forest Whitaker.

I hope everyone will do what they can to help. It's a wonderful cause for a dreadful part of all of our lives. Please check out the website at:

Saturday, August 2, 2008

Recession is a BIG DRAG

Here's the deal, folks. Many use the blogs as their income. Not only do some sell product, but they earn their money through advertisers.

Take some time, check out the blogs that are listed to the right and then check out a few of the links listed on their sites.

While there, click on an ad or two if they have them. Each time someone clicks on these ads, the blogger is earning. To find out more, click the button to the right.

Thanks bloggers!

Friday, August 1, 2008

We have a WINNER!!!

The winner of a DVD of the movie Freedom Writers starring Hilary Swank is...

LISA SHARP from Retro Housewife Goes Green

Congratulations, Lisa! I'll get that to you as soon as I hear from you.

Thank you to everyone who entered.

Thursday, July 31, 2008

Doing for others Thursday

This week's task is SO EASY. So many of you are readers so you have tons of paperbacks around the house somewhere that will never be read again. Pack 'em up and take them to your public high school or public library. Donations are wonderful! Many places use the books or use them in a book sale.

Wednesday, July 30, 2008

Book Recommendation

Ok so I'm a day late on the book recommendation. I could give you the lowdown on how busy my day was yesterday, but to be honest--I relaxed a good part of it. I was tired from working at the bar the night before!

This week, I'd like you to read Nineteen Minutes by Jodi Picoult. I must warn you, you cannot read this book without some emotional stuff going on. It's heavy, but so well written that you can't help but be mesmerized.


This is a brand new, factory sealed copy of the movie The Freedom Writers starring Hilary Swank. All you have to do is tell me about a teacher who inspired you. As a teacher, I just LOVE to hear these stories! Let's have 'em! For a second chance, let me know you mentioned this giveaway on your blog and you'll have another entry.

I'll choose someone at random at the end of the day on Friday. Winner will be announced on Monday.

Wow! Give-a-ways!

Check out these bloggy giveaways! Head over to Paula's and tell her I sent you to win her scrapbooking album! Go to:

Then head over to Laurie's and enter to win a COACH bag. Are ya kiddin' me? Do that here:

Then while you're at it, head on over to Kristen's and enter to win an MP3 and dig. cam. or head over here to get a josh grobin CD from sarcastic mom.

And don't forget the Disney gift card at and an giftcard from Robyn at and another gift card from Mrs. Fay at

Definitely check out the stroller giveaway at and the school supplies at

Then you've got to head over to One Day at a Time and try to win her Mary Kay Satin Hands.

Sunday, July 27, 2008

Girls Night Out

Remember when you could be up all night, downing Rum and Cokes and then make it to your 8 o'clock class? I remember the days. I even remember a weird stint when I was 28 when I relived those days for a while (my youngest sister had moved in with me for a while and turned 21. Sadly, I thought I did too.)

Well, Saturday night my other sister and I got the husbands to stay with the kids and we were going to hit the town. Mind you, there's not much to do here so we were going to go to Des Moines, see Mama Mia! and get some great Mexican food at Monterrey. (It's on University...if you live nearby, eat there! It's fab!)

Well, we met up after my sister got her hair cut and colored. She looked GORGEOUS by the way. We decided we were too tired to leave town. So we go grab my mom and decide to take her for a drink at the bar I work out. Mind you, she has about 2 drinks per year...and only when we drag her out. So we have our drink. I couldn't even finish mine, geesh! We decide to go to the casino for dinner. We wait an hour for our food. (We ordered off the menu). So by then it's after 8. We decide to go hit the slots for a while.

Now, mind you--I'm cheap. I have to be a penny pincher with doctor bills adding up and other bills, you know how it is. But I decide--hey, mom picked up the tab for dinner and if we'd gone to Des Moines for dinner and a movie, it would have easily cost me 30 bucks. So I allow myself 20 to play the slots. I lost it, but I actually felt okay about it since it was worth an hour and a half of entertainment.

So at 9:30 I run into sister and mom and they're like, "Tell me you're ready." And of course I am. Our big girls night out and we're all wiped by 9:30!! What has become of us??? This is a rhetorical question, of course. What has happened to us is work, kids, households, volunteering, paying bills, doctor visits, taking care of grandma, taking care of husbands (I mean, c'mon. They can't do some things correctly!), dishes, laundry, etc. Cheers to getting old!

Friday, July 25, 2008

Friday Woes

Things I got done this week:

1. Myself and some students volunteered at the high school (making presentation boards for all the clubs in school for Freshman Orientation)

2. Took daughter to summer school each day

3. Worked out each day (Seriously, I did. It's okay to be in shock!)

4. Worked 2 nights at the bar

5. Did some laundry (still behind)

6. Watched all of season 9 of Friends (I know, I know. I can't help it)

7. Called to find out what I can donate to the family in town who needs help

8. Took huge bag of toys to the Cross Ministries donation center

9. Returned pop cans to redemption center

10. Sent a letter to a former student who is serving in Iraq

Things I was supposed to get done this week and did not:

1. Laundry (ummm...the rest of it)

2. Clean house (specifically, the living room and daughter's room. It looks like a My Little Pony factory exploded)

3. Write my syllabus for classes this year

4. Purchase and deliver items from #7 in above list (WILL do on Monday)

5. Cut back on my carbohydrates. Ok, so I've lost 7 lbs. but know I'll lose better and faster if I quite eating crap.

Ok, so the "got done" list is longer than the "didn't get done" list. That's positive. But I'm telling you, getting my fat a** to work out every day is a huge accomplishment. And yes, I feel better after I've done it. So why is it so hard to get there? Oh yes. Because my three year old has been getting up at 4 a.m. nightly WIDE EYED and ready to go.

Thursday, July 24, 2008

This week's book recommendation

This week's book recommendation is Whale Talk by Chris Crutcher. It's actually a young adult book, but man can everyone benefit from reading it! It makes you look at race and racism, loyalty, education, and what we do for the people we care about it. Go get it today!

This week's helping others: Rally around local family

A tragedy struck my hometown recently. A fire took the life of a 13 year old autistic boy. The mother has four children still living at home and one on the way.

I did not know this boy, but remember seeing him in the hallway at school. He was not old enough to be in my class yet. He was "mainstreamed" all day long and seemed to be doing well socially.

Here is the story from the local paper. At the end are contact numbers if you'd like to donate money or goods for the family.

Tuesday, July 22, 2008

Kansas City Pictures

As I mentioned--I forgot the digital cam when we went on our mini-vacation. Big surprise. But I got our disposable cams developed and here are some of the highlights.

Sunday, July 20, 2008

The Potty Problem

I knew I wouldn't get to post in the morning, as I have to make the bar deposit, work out (yup, been going daily for a week now...can you BELIEVE IT???), take and pick up daughter from preschool and then go into work from 2:30 pm til 2 am.

But something's been really getting to me...the potty problem. My daughter is not yet potty trained. And this is not for lack of trying. We sit her on the chair and "key potty" times, we let her run around naked and then try to throw her on the chair when she starts to pee. (This hasn't worked so far, by the way. I swear she waits to pee when I've got my hands full of laundry or when I'm loading the dishwasher). I've read the books to her while sitting her on the potty.

She doesn't get it.

Our autism team (as I refer to our AEA reps that help my daughter--and who I must say are awesome and have helped us a lot) says to keep reading the book to her. Ummmm. Yeah. Not so much. I don't know about you parents with autistic children, but my daughter has NEVER sat long enough for me to read to her. We have yet to get into page three of a book. She would rather point to things and have me tell her what they are. So the book...well...doesn't really work for us.

I'm scared she'll never get it. Even in preschool, I hate that she has to wear a diaper. She's already different enough from the other kids. I don't want more reasons for kids to shun her. (As a parent, my biggest fear is that she won't have friends). So what to do???

We even went and bought the fancy potty. It sings when you pee and says "up" and "down" when you lift and shut the lid. Very high tech potty here. Yeah. So...umm..she'd rather lift the lid up and down than sit on it. I don't know what else to try.

Then there are those rude people who chastise me for having her in diapers. I'm talking strangers here. It's happened at the lake and at the grocery store. I get so upset. And I'm not proud of this, but sometimes I wonder if I'm more upset that they're saying something bad about my daughter or that they're criticizing my parenting skills. Ugh! Help!

This is a cry out to all parents! Give me your tips! Please!

Thursday, July 17, 2008

An easy one

Here's an easy task this week, bloggers! Do your fellow bloggers a favor and check out their blogs. Then, check out blogs that they recommend. You might find that you're missing out on something cool!

Also, check out pjmomof3boys' blog, she's got a contest going!

Book recommendation

This week's book recommendation is Dear John by Nicholas Sparks. I just finished it and OH MY GOODNESS. It's a TOTALLY different kind of love story. It shows us the kind of person we all hope we can be, but few ever can be. Definitely worth reading.

Tuesday, July 15, 2008

Oh the price we pay

Modern cynics and skeptics... see no harm in paying those to whom they entrust the minds of their children a smaller wage than is paid to those to whom they entrust the care of their plumbing. ~John F. Kennedy

How true is this????

In a school year, not only do I get paid ridiculously, (especially when paying back student loans and having a trillion dollars in doctor bills for daughter and hubby), but I spend money to do my job well. In a given school year, I may buy:

1. crayons, markers, highlighters for projects
2. colored paper (many school districts quit supplying this, saying it costs too much)
3. rewards for grades or behavior
4. food for "togetherness time"
5. an item from each group's fundraiser (this adds up super quickly)
6. extra copies of books for book club (last year I had enough funds to buy 14 of each book but had 20 girls join the group)
7. a notebook or two for kiddos who honestly can't afford one
8. bottled water and snacks for kiddos who forgot/don't have lunch money
9. books from series. when the school buys the first 3 or so books in a series, the kids get hooked and then want to read the rest of them
10. 2 school shirts for "spirit day" on Fridays
11. entry into sports events, plays, recitals, etc. to show support to my students

Good teachers are typically happy to do it. And I am. (a good teacher and happy to do it). But it adds up. I was told about a website, teachers, to check out. I haven't done so yet, so if you get the chance, let me know what you find. The website is

Small Town Life

Things I love about a small town:

1. People say hi to you on the street

2. People wave at you when you meet them on highway 69, if you know them or not.

3. People are super supportive. Help is available if you can ask for it (and sometimes if you don't)

4. My monthly book club meeting.

5. My parents and sister and her family are here.

6. Occasionally, an old friend comes back to visit...that's fun.

7. You don't spend that much on gas, because you only drive within a five mile radius.

What I miss about the city:

1. You can go to the grocery store in pjs and with bad hair and no makeup. Chances are you won't see anyone you know.

2. Shopping for said groceries at 3 am.

3. Cultural events. Cinco De Mayo, the Theater, the Symphony

4. Pro basketball.

5. Pro anything.

6. More resources for children.

7. Spending a billion dollars on gas because you drive 30 miles to work and still haven't left the city. (sense the tone)

The small town has given us what we needed now...why do I miss the city so much???

Monday, July 14, 2008

Kansas City...Kansas City here we...

We came. We went.

Know what's worse than traveling with a 3 year old for 3 hours? Traveling with a 3 year old with allergies for 3 hours. Poor thing. We loaded up my daughter into the mini-van early Saturday morning, then drove the 4 blocks to my sister's house. We then helped her load up a 3 year old, an 8 month old, and her assorted strollers, coolers, etc. (Her hubby is working out of St. Louis right now, so he was meeting us in KC and then sister was following him back to spend a few weeks with him and the kids).

We drive. I-35 is really not all that interesting. I tried to enjoy the scenery, but to no avail. I wasn't in the mood. So I pulled out my book and read. All the while, little feet pushing into my back (daughter is strapped in behind me) and little sneezes are coming from within her.

We reach our hotel with no problems (except I'm pretty sure there was an easier way to get there than the internet directions we got). We waited for brother-in-law to show and then checked in. Two separate rooms THANK GOODNESS. Can you imagine TWO 3 year olds in one room all night? Ugh!

Why did we do all of this, you might ask? We were taking the kids to....duh duh duh....Worlds of Fun. The best part? It rained all the way down and was pouring when we got there. Great start. We watch the weather for a while. It doesn't look good. We don't want to take little ones in the rain. Not good parenting. An 8 month old? She'd be miserable.

So we go to lunch. At one point, I turn to brother-in-law and say, "If we drove all the way to Kansas City to go out to eat, I'm gonna be so mad." What did you do this weekend? Me? Oh I drove to Kansas City to eat. Seriously.

After lunch (an interesting task with two toddlers and a baby), we go outside. Still raining. We head back to the hotel rooms. These were great rooms, by the way, at the Hyatt Place. Great hotel. We're usually an econo-lodge kind of family but the rooms were about the same price, so what the heck? We wait. I look outside. Not sun...but not rain either. Let's go!

So we drive to Worlds of Fun. We get lost. I was the navigator. Woops.

The kids had a BLAST. We rode motorcycles and lady bugs and a school bus and all kinds of things. A good time was had by all. I only had to get into it with one employee. Let's just say if you don't like kids and you would rather talk on your cell phone and do your hair and make-up, maybe working the kiddie part of an amusement park isn't for you. (it was bigger than that--my kid almost got hurt because of her, but my blood pressure is going up just mentioning it so i'll let it go).

We ate candy, we won teddy bears. Kids were happy. All in all, great trip. Minimal and evil employees aside. Oh and guess what? I have no pics yet. Someone ( forgot the digital camera, so we had to get a disposable and they're not ready yet. Did I mention woops? (Why is it always mom who forgets things and does things wrong?)

Oh yeah...cuz we have everything to do :)

Friday, July 11, 2008

Gearing Up...

It's mid-July.

I'm a bit depressed.

Wanna know why?

School starts in just over a month.

Lesson plans, endless in-service meetings that get us nowhere, going from un-airconditioned room to unairconditioned room (I don't have a class room, I have to take over other peoples' rooms when they are on their prep. period). Ugh.

Don't get me wrong. I LOVE my job teaching 10th grade English. I'm good at it. It's the first time in my life I really feel like I'm GOOD at something. But I have to be honest, I don't want to go back in August. It's the same every year.

It's so hard gearing up after time away. Yes, I worked another job this summer (2 if you count teaching summer school for 2 weeks), but bartending wasn't every day and I still had DOWN TIME. Ok, not down time in the real sense. But at least I got to take my daughter to school every day and got to take her swimming and stuff like that. Now, I'll be on someone else's schedule all the time, I'll hardly see my family, and let's face it...I'm just TIRED.

This doesn't make one excited about endless meetings, hard to work with colleagues, or organizing Freshman Orientation which I still have to do in the next 3 weeks.

The answer? Suck it up. I gotta do it. And really, once I'm with the kids and doing my thing, it's okay. I guess schools need to stop having these 3-4 days of meetings before the kids come, because it just sets a bad tone.

How much you wanna bet we can never change THAT? Thank you No Child Left Behind for adding so many meetings and in-services.

Thursday, July 10, 2008

Do Unto Others

Sometimes, trying to find the time and energy to do something for someone else can be tough. At times, you moms especially, we feel like, "Can't someone do something for me???" So today's challenge is to go do something for yourself. Even if it's as small as going OUT for a cup of coffee (don't worry if you have no one to go with...I do this alone with a good book). If you're cheap and pinching pennies like me, take two bucks to Goodwill or Dollar General and buy something silly or a fabulous scented candle. Dollar General actually has some GREAT cherry and applie pie candles right now.

C'mon, moms--do for yourself. Then tell me all about it!

Wednesday, July 9, 2008

You know what Wednesday means

This week, I'd like you to give The Five People You Meet in Heaven by Mitch Albom a try. This book will really make you look at your life, the good and bad, and put it into perspective. I recently recommended it to one of my high school students and she returned it to me with a note, "You HAVE to tell other people to read this is amazing!!" It's a very quick read, but powerful.

How'd y'all do with the Anita Shreve book?

Tuesday, July 8, 2008

Oof! Damn that keyboard!

I tripped over it once again...the red hard plastic musical keyboard with like four piano keys on it. I put it away, ticked off that I have now hit my sore toe...again. Then I think, "Why put this one away when twenty more toys are on the floor?" I know this should be my motivator to pick up all the toys. Then I sigh, get a glass of iced tea and remind myself that in ten minutes, they'll all be back out on the floor again. At least, I guess, I'm not tripping over the 1273 animals we have because my daughter is obsessed. I'm pretty sure 881 of those are horses.

Whenever I pictured my future home (when I was younger), I never pictured living in a house that looks like dorm room because why spend money on anything nice when it's just going to be trashed in no time.

I guess this doesn't help explain the dishes I need to do or the laundry that's piling up.

Guess you know what I'm doing today, don't you? Wish me luck!

Monday, July 7, 2008

Independence Day

Fourth of July fun? Yeah it was okay. Our town parade lasts entirely too long--I mean, when there is only one new car dealership in town, do they really need to have like 15 new cars in the parade doing nothing other than being a new a car? And I'm all for churches and politicians alike having their floats and passing out candy...but do not pass out your literature to me. I'm trying to enjoy the morning with my daughter, getting candy and clapping at the high school band...not trying to be saved or swayed to vote. There's a time and a place.

But here's the kicker of the day...

We're with a large group at the parade---I'd say 20 adults, give or take a few, and probably 7 or 8 little ones. I was very proud of the little ones, too. They made sure that everyone got candy and shared things very nicely, even making sure kids who weren't in our party were getting things too. When my daughter saw the first batch of candy being thrown out, she thought they dropped it and exclaimed, "Oh Noooooo!" It was super cute.

About 10 minutes into the parade, an 18 year old who just graduated from high school came to sit with his folks that were beside us. Great. Family time. Good for you. But said 18 year old dashed for all the candy and Frisbees and stuff. C'mon. An 18 year old??? Are you kidding me?

After about 10 minutes of it (and in these ten minutes, I'm watching all the adults around us get madder and madder and the kids get sadder and sadder), I parked my fat butt up beside him and beat him to the punch. Then I'd throw it down in front of our group of kids and let them have at it, and again...they shared not only with each other but with other kids who were getting beaten out BY AN EIGHTEEN YEAR OLD. I don't know which was worse...the 18 year old doing it or the parents of said 18 year old who didn't think anything of it.

I teach high school. And ya know, I gotta tell you...I'm afraid. Very afraid. Not for me. For our future. Not because "all kids are so bad." I'm afraid because of the sense of entitlement. I see it every single day. I'm afraid for how they've been taught to "stick up for themselves." Being assertive when necessary is one thing, but they think if they don't like how something is going, they have a "right" to fight against it. Sometimes in life, you just have to do accept and do. At school, I hear all the time, "it's my right to..."

My reply....

"You, my dear, are a minor. You have a right to a free education and right to not be abused. These are your ONLY rights."

Usually it works. But then they turn 18 and fall right back into, "my rights."

Well, I'll worry about your rights when you can't hold a job because you're so busy arguing with bosses over "your rights."