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."

Thursday, July 3, 2008

Doing for others Thursday

Today's very simple. I'm taking a huge bag of clothes and a huge box of toys to our local junk shop. (Cross Ministries--it's like Goodwill, but run by a group of churches or something). It helps them with inventory and helps me get rid of the clothes that I'm fooling myself into thinking I'll fit into they're really cute so someone will buy them! :)

Go ahead, folks. Clean out the closets. Go to Goodwill, drop them off. It's nice to clear out the clutter!

Wednesday, July 2, 2008

wednesday means get a good book!! (book 4)

This week's book choice is Light on Snow by Anita Shreve. I just finished it and man was it good! I'm not giving anything away by telling you that it begins by a father and daughter (who lost the wife/mother and daughter/sister in a car accident previously) finding an abandon baby. It preludes a lot of events and a lot of healing. It's an amazing story. Go check it out!