Friday, February 29, 2008

Exhausted

I want to post pictures from our trip. I want to post about LM's latest mispronunciation, I want to post about George (I probably have three posts just about George) but tomorrow is the SAT (which LM is not going to score hgh enough on in math to qualify for the gifted program, but sine I already shelled out my dollars, he might as well take the darn thing) and next week LM's Science Fair project is due, and I've been fighting a cold and the house is a pit, the dog is desperate for attention and I haven't seen anything green outside in months and well, I guess posting is going to have to wait. Even if I still can't see grass or leaves outside, I'll post soon. I promise.

I will say this much, though, hibernating through the winter months is sounding better and better every day.

Nothing but sleep, baby, nothing but sleep.

Thursday, February 21, 2008

Long Overdue

I can't quite get my mind around how long it has been. More than five years, and even then only long enough for a quick lunch at one of my favorite restaurants. For LM, it's truly been longer than he can remember. He was 2 when we moved away and has no recollection of the dear sweet, polite, quiet, methodical boy he used to play with.

Since we moved, our friendships have only grown. Stacy and I email nearly every day. She's been my friend, my support, my cheerleader, my secret-keeper, my joy, my laughter and my sister in Christ. LM and her son are sporadic but heartfelt pen-pals. Trading jokes, successes, pictures and contrasting details about their lives the two are a study in opposites bonded by friendship.

Tomorrow, after all this time, we will set off on a long overdue visit. To her house that I've never seen. To see children of hers that I've never met. To finally sit and talk with the dearest friend I have in my small precious collection.

While we are in the area, we'll stop in and see how my grandpa is doing. I hope to also take LM on his first-ever tour of the college where his parents met, including the famous ice cream shop and maybe even a sandwich from Arthur's where his dad and I used dine.

The trip will be far too short, and it will be hard to leave, but I can say with certainty that this trip will be good for the soul.

Does It Have Anything To Do With the Currency in France?

I've posted previously about LM's fantastic pronunciations for various words. Today, I give you three more: 'documentary' pronounced 'documentarry', 'Shaff-er" which is LM for 'chauffeur' and my new all-time favorite, "uROphic", which is the new, trendy, LM-way to pronounce "euphoric". Try it in conversation for yourself and see if you don't like it.

"The thought of never studying the pythagorean theory again in my lifetime makes me simply uROphic!"

Wednesday, February 20, 2008

Perhaps All of the Above?

A train leaves the station at 6:34pm with a child aboard who is studying for his SAT exam less than two weeks away. If his mother has just taken a heavy dose of cold medicine after an agonizing day with first graders, and the dog desperately wants to go out, which of the following is true?
A. The child will forever associate the acronym "SAT" with "Stupid, Absurd, Test";
B. The mother's head will implode at the mere mention of the words "algebra" and "geometry";
C. The dog will actually score higher than either the child or the Nyquil-induced mother, but will be unable to properly mark his answer key without an opposable thumb; or,
D. The child, the mother and the dog will all mutually agree that the train is an antiquated and nearly obsolete form of transportation in America and thereby declare all questions involving, pertaining to or referencing trains to be null and void.

The New Game

As part of her sub plans, the teacher I filled in for today left me a new game she wanted me to teach to the kids in small groups so that they might be able to play it independently during center time in the future. I looked at the instructions and chose a version of the game that would best accomodate small groupings of first graders working on their own.

As per her instructions, I called over small groups of students to learn the game while the rest of the class worked on their centers today. The game itself was fairly simple, and the version of rules I chose kept the format simple enough for everyone to follow. There were two decks of cards: one with beginning sounds (individual letters or blended sounds) and ending word sounds. Every student in the game was dealt five ending word sounds. A typical hand might include "-ick, -it,-at, -uck, and -am" Then each student took turns drawing a beginning sound and matching it up to form words. The goal was to match all the cards in your hands with a beginning sound.

The students have been working hard on their letter sounds and grew quite agitated with me when I said "skor" wasn't a word, nor was "wram". The students both gave me several examples of the words "score" and "ram" to set me straight. Then we had a whole bunch of words that were indeed words, but the students just didn't know them. Words like "skit" and a "bray" and "jock".

When I left my notes for the day for the teacher, I made sure to mention these concerns with the game. Knowing her intentions to allow them to work independently on it, I wanted her to be aware that it might raise some issues.

Most importantly, however, I also let her know what an interesting round of play we had when one student paired "d" with "-am" and once he had it all sounded out, thought his new word was hysterical. He was quickly out done when a second player accidentally paired up "f" with "-uck" and only upon sounding it out outloud did he realize his blunder. Before I could stop him, a third studentpaired up "sh" with "-it" and nearly fell out of his chair laughing. Even "dr" paired with "-unk" brought on a squeal of laughter.

I can just hear these children reporting back to mom and dad tonight the new game they learned with a substitute today.

Tuesday, February 19, 2008

Have Your Heard The One

about the boy whose mother spent every day substitute teaching to pay the bills while hoping for a permanent teaching position, and every evening helping her son cram for the SAT test. The boy who sat with his mother for two and a half hours just trying to understand equations; the mother who walked through every single practice equation with him, doing the steps right alongside him in an effort to teach him the methods solidly and yet quickly as possible. The mother who applied her background in teaching to demonstrate the steps in a variety of ways, helping the boy overcome the obstacles of learning algebra in three days or less.

This would be the boy who made his mother very nearly cry when he then shared his thesis for his English essay. "I'm writing about how teachers are so hypocritical," he said, as he went on to explain the frustrating things teachers do to students.


Have you heard about that boy? No? Well, maybe you heard about the boy that was sold on ebay for $1.92 yesterday? Yeah, that'd be the same one.

Sunday, February 17, 2008

Chocolate Cake for Everyone!

Happy Birthday to my "Bestest 3000-Mile-Away Friend", Mig!! Here's to the best year yet and many many more to come!

Thursday, February 14, 2008

What I Learned About Valentine's Day From First Graders

I didn't think I would have a sub position for Valentine's Day, but when a funeral pulled a teacher away unexpectedly, I got the call and eagerly agreed to help. Next time I might not be quite so eager. Here's what I learned about Valentine's Day from from 24 First Graders:



1. If you think an activity will take 25 minutes, it will only take 5. Valentine Word Search? Better make them find 100 words, not 10 if you want it to last long enough to exhale


2. To ask them to sit in their seats on a day of such celebration, you are just kidding yourself. Their behinds automatically fling them in the air if it even gets close to the seat of the chair.

3. Even if the teacher only requests snacks from a portion of the children's parents, you will be given 35 white-frosting cupcakes, 30 red-frosting cupcakes, 30 peanut butter cookies with chocolate kisses, 40 brownies, 30 chocolate peanut butter no-bake cookies, 3 different kinds of suckers (not including yourself), tootsie rolls (the big ones), crackers, Cheese-Its, oranges and strawberries and other assorted bags of candy.

4. The parent in charge of plates, napkins and cups needs VERY specific information. Large styrofoam cups will be the death of you one way or another. It would be better to just pour a mouthful in each thirsty child than to place this much liquid in a container on their desk.

5. The parent in charge of drinks, likewise needs VERY specific information. Red juice is NOT a good idea, especially in conjunction with #4.

6. Apparently, any DAD put in charge of bringing a snack also needs VERY specific information. ONE deep dish apple pie will not serve 24 first graders evenly or easily. Especially when no utensils accompany the pie.

7. If you are the mom purchasing pixie sticks as part of your child's Valentine to each classmate, you MIGHT receive an anonymous phone call that sounds like 24 six year olds tearing apart a classroom. I'm just saying.

8. If you are the mom who bought a bracelet for her six year old son to give to another six year old girl in his class, you need your head examined.

9. If you are the parent of the two children who received their third warnings and a subsequent referral for kissing at recess, you need to talk with the mom in #8 and tell her what's in store.

10. When you stop at your sister's after school to drop off Bird and George and to thank her for lending you something red to wear, take three aspirin, not just two.


But no matter how bad the day was, no matter how big the headache is, no matter how many times you had to raise your voice today, remember the fun you had before school slipping cards into the desks of your two favorite elementary students: Bird and George. (Oh, and looking ahead to your next paycheck isn't so bad, either.)

Wednesday, February 13, 2008

Please Don't...

...complain about it being Valentine's Day.

We're thankful all year through, but especially on Thanksgiving.
We're giving all year through, but especially on Christmas.
We're kind all year through, but especially on someone's birthday.
We love our mom's all year through, but especially on Mother's Day.

Yes, we should be loving all year long. But can't we also spread a little extra love today, too?

Now, I'm no proponent of Hallmark. I don't encourage materialism on any other holiday so I won't start now. But I also don't think love has to cost a dime. That said, sometimes it's nice to do more than just say the words; sometimes it's really nice to do them.

After all, love is a verb.

Happy Valentine's Day!

Saturday, February 09, 2008

Why My Sister Never Comes For Dinner

(Her family doesn't like tomatoes, or beans, or any veggies that aren't also a starch.)

Amy's Chili
I don't measure, so add as much as you like of the following:

brown the following together:

cooked lean ground beef
green pepper
yellow onion
garlic cloves

Move to big chili pot and add:

stewed tomotoes
tomato sauce
kidney beans
pinto beans
northern beans
tomato paste

Season with:

oregano
chili powder
A-1 sauce

Simmer on the stove until you can't resist the aroma anymore. Enjoy with crusty bread and cheese. We've just made a pot big enough for the whole neighborhood, so come on over and join us!

Frustrated

As I look ahead to the next year and our goal to be back in a house by next summer, I've been looking at ways to cut our budget in order to get more money in savings. One of the things I have been looking into is dropping cable. Since we mainly watch sports and movies, and now that football season is over and there's a Blockbuster just down the road, it doesn't make uch sense to me to pay $60 for our television portion of our cable bill each month. I made a couple calls to the cable company. Despite the fact that my bill appears to show a fee of $9.99 for internet (with a $10 credit for the package with television), the cable company tells me my internet alone will cost $30 a month if I cancel the cable TV.

So I call other internet providers. There are plans for $15 a month for basic DSL, but only if you have a landline phone already in place. Otherwise, everywhere I turn it's $22+ for internet alone.

What happened to free TV? What happened to internet for $10 a month? What has happened?

I am so frustrated at spending $80 a month for the TV.

Which makes me wonder, what will people do in 2010 when it's all HD? Will everyone be forced into cable or satellite? Are the days of free television over? And if so, why are we paying for the shows and still being forced to watch so much advertising?

UGH!!!

Thursday, February 07, 2008

T'is The Season

for Girl Scout cookies. My favorites are the thin mints right out of the freezer. You'd think subbing I'd be inundated with order requests, but none so far.

Which is good.

Because if you can believe it, I found something better.

Edy's Girl Scout Cookie, chocolate, thin mint ice cream.

Seriously.

(Mig, stop waving that finger at me. You'd love it, too.)

P.S. I'd love to be posting pictures and making my blog all pretty and such but my computer is dead and so I'm working off of Jacob's and it has challenges enough to deal with without trying to deal with my pictures. So sorry.

Close But Not Quite

Last Friday night, before we went to see Blast!, I suggested to LM that perhaps it would be a perfect night to use a gift certificate we had received from friends for Christmas (how cute is it that they sent the card to LM and told him he was to take his mom out to dinner?) LM readily agreed saying it had been a long time since we've eaten at Cracker Barrel. I thought for a moment and replied back that I couldn't even remember the last time we ate at a Cracker Barrel. LM did, he seemed to recall it perfectly. "Were there other people with us?" I asked, certain that we must have gone when company was in town or something. "No, just us," he replied confidently.

I thought awhile longer.

"LM, I don't even know where a Cracker Barrel is back in PA. The only one I can think of was in Iowa, but you were way too young to ever remember eating there."

"No, Mom, we ate at one, I'm certain. I got my clock there."

Well, they do have a gift shop, but for the life of me, I could not remember eating at a Cracker Barrel with Jacob.

When we arrived at the restaurant, I dropped LM off to get us a table while I parked the car. When I came in , they escorted us to our table and LM whispered to me, "This one doesn't have a very big store."

I looked around. "LM, this is exactly like the Cracker Barrel I remember."

"No, Mom! The one we went to had a much bigger store. Remember, I got my alarm clock there."

"You bought an alarm clock at Cracker Barrel? No, LM, I do not remember this. You aren't thinking of a Cracker Barrel. You must be thinking of something else."

We looked over the menus with our eyes as big as saucers. No where else can you get a meal so smothered in gravy, so laden with cholesterol, so deep fried, covered in corn bread, served extra thick and dripping as at Cracker Barrel.

"I can't even decide what to have, everything looks so good!" I exclaimed.

"We didn't eat at the restaurant the last time we went, Mom. This looks incredible."

"LM, what are you talking about? Why would we go to a Cracker Barrel and not eat?"

"We went there to shop, Mom. I don't think I even knew they had a restaurant."

"LM, you are not thinking of a Cracker Barrel. I have never in my life gone to a restaurant just for the gift shop."

"Mom. I know what I'm talking about. We've been to a Cracker Barrel in Pennsylvania. We just shopped, though, and I bought my alarm clock. I know I'm right."

I just shook my head, tired of the argument, not wanting it to contaminate our night out together, but I was bothered by hi recollection. I was nearly banging my head on the table trying to figure out why he was being so stubborn about it when he was clearly so very wrong. Finally it came to me.

"LM, you are thinking of Crate and Barrel. It's a store. A big one. And yes, you might have bought a clock there, but they don't have a restaurant. It's just a store."

"Oh, yeah, Crate and Barrel, that's what I mean," he said with a sheepish grin.

A New Food Group

I was subbing at Bird's school today and happened to see her as she was headed in to lunch. I had a few moments, so I went in to say hello. She had her lunch open and had already eaten everything out of one section of her divided container.

"Hmm...peanut butter and jelly and pretzels for lunch, huh?" I commented.

"And marshmallows! I already ate all those!"

"Marshamallows? For lunch? Bird, it's obvious who packs lunches in your house (the biggest child of them all, Bear.)

Wednesday, February 06, 2008

Happy Birthday Bear

A wish for the best of years and the greatest of blessings
to the best brother-in-law and uncle around.

Monday, February 04, 2008

It's My Fault

While it would be easy to blame Tom Brady the imposter, the one who was at the SuperBowl last night but was clearly NOT the Tom Brady we have come to know and love, for the tremendous loss - no, loss doesn't even describe what occurred last night - meltdown? humiliation? debacle? I must admit, it really is my fault and my fault alone.

You see, earlier in the season, when the pundits started whispering about "the perfect season" I may have not- so-quietly quipped that I wished the Pats would lose - just one - but lose, nontheless. Because in my mind, I hate to see cheaters prosper and even if half a dozen other teams in the league (or more) were doing exactly what the Pats were caught doing, commonality doesn't make it right. And so I might have said, "just lose one". Might have. I'm just saying.

So for those of you like me, who were screaming at your television set last night; for those of you, who, like me, may have thrown a thing or two in the direction of the television; for everyone who was still shaking their head in complete disbelief even today, you can blame me.

I am so sorry. I never intended for the ONE game to be the BIGGEST game of them all.

Be careful what you wish for.

(If for some chance it was not my wish that made it so, it may very well have been the RED sweatshirt Bill was wearing on the sidelines last night. Everyone knows you don't suddenly change the color after you've won 18 in a row!!! Stick with the grey, Coach!)

Friday, February 01, 2008

Anticipation

5:15 am - LM is in the shower, I am on the couch watching the scrolling list of closures across the TV screen while I watch the latest weather updates.

5:30 - LMasks for an update. So far, school is on, but more and more cancellations are coming up as I watch.

5:35 - LM gets breakfast, reading his latest James Patterson book. Mom watches the announcement that the school she's to sub at today is closed. Not good news. The computer is booted up, hoping to pick up a sub position elsewhere today.

5:45 - LM is brushing his teeth with just a few minutes before we head out to meet the bus at the curb. Mom opens the bathroom door and announces LM's school has been closed. LM gives a shout for glee!

5:50 - Mom starts to search the computer for the one last district that isn't closed yet hoping for a sub job.

5:52 - Mom sees the last school district in the area announced as closed on the TV. Mom gives a frustrated moan. LM is stationed on the couch, already absorbed in his book.

I can't wait for us to both cheer when we have a snow day.