Friday, November 30, 2012

Friday's Letters

Dear Dreams... Thanks for being much nicer to me last night.  I was a little nervous about going to bed last night, but you took care of me and gave me a great night of rest.

Dear Santa... Get ready.  Starting next Friday, my "Friday's Letters" post is going to be a special "Friday's Letters to Santa" for the remaining Fridays between then and Christmas.  I'm looking for some fun ways to spruce up the blog for Christmas - and I think a few letters to you will be the perfect way to do that.

Dear Motivation... Where are you?  We still have 14 days of work before Christmas break, yet you decided to go on vacation about a week ago.  You need to get your behind back here to me so that we can get through the next 14 days together.  Yes, I know you're excited and you're just ready for Christmas to hurry and get here... but you're going to have to suck it up.  I can't do these next couple of weeks without you.

Dear Inner Scrooge... There's not an ounce of my blood that wants to hold an inner Scrooge.  The way you've been ranting and raving at these kids the past couple of days because they're not focused and they need to pay better attention and that you're tired of repeating yourself over and over is getting a little out of hand.  I just can't allow you to interfere with my Christmas spirit one bit.  I am going to remind myself over and over that these kids just aren't interested in learning about subjects and predicates again, or what compound sentences are, or the bazillion steps to solving multiplication problems.  In order for all of us to get through, I'm just going to have to bring out my inner Christmas spirit and make the learning as fun as possible.  That means, Inner Scrooge, it's time to pack your bags and get on out.  I won't be hearing from you again.

Dear Frustration Level...  OK, I just explained to my inner Scrooge that I just can't allow any form of negativity around me while I'm trying to teach these kids just a mere 14 days before Christmas break.  Unfortunately for you, that also means that I'm going to have to lower you down to a non existent level.  I'm making it a personal goal that I won't allow myself to get frustrated one more time between now and Christmas. 

Dear Weatherman... Long time no talk!  So, I'm taking the kids to the zoo tomorrow to celebrate Jelly's birthday.  Yes, I'm fully aware that it's the beginning of December - but I'd really appreciate it if you could help us out and give us a semi warm day.. just for tomorrow.  I don't want hot, I just don't want freezing cold.  I know, I know, I've been wanting colder weather.. and now that it's here I'm asking for warmer weather.  But, it's just for one day.  I promise I won't bother you any more for the rest of this year if you could just do this one little thing for me, K?

Dear People on Facebook Complaining About the Whole Happy Holidays Ordeal - Again... I just can't believe that I'm seeing so much of this AGAIN.  Now that the election is over, you all just had to find something else to whine and complain about, didn't you?  The most wonderful time of the year is not a time to start fighting with people over the correct way to greet someone.  This time last year, I wrote an entire blog post about this very subject.  It just burns my britches that some of you think that people would be offended by being greeted by a total stranger based on a holiday that's celebrated.  If you are someone that would get offended because I went out of my way to wish you Merry Christmas instead of Happy Holidays, then you need to check yo' self!  A greeting is a display of courtesy.  I don't know a single person that would give a greeting to someone with the intent to offend or upset.  Regardless of your religious beliefs, if someone wishes you well this holiday season - freakin' plant a smile on your face, thank them, and move on.  Geez, it just seems like no one can just be happy.  There's always something that's got to be fought over.

Dear Me... It's been a tough week.  Huh? Yesterday was the first time in a long time that you actually felt like crying.  To hear from any student that they think you hate them or that you are mean is tough to hear - especially when you hear it from two students in one day.  You know that isn't you.  Yes, you are firm.  Yes, you have high expectations.  Yes, I know you care and that you want the best for these kids.  But, at the end of the day, you have to take a step back and look at what you're doing - not at what they are not doing.  If they aren't "getting it" for the bazillionth time of talking about it - then something is wrong with the way you're teaching it.  You know that.  I don't have to tell you.  You are starting to fall in to that trap, again, of doubting your ideas and practices and trying to conform to the practices of others.  You see how much your kids' eyes light up when you're reading to them and discussing the story and breaking apart the stuff that's happening in the book.  Why on earth, then, do you feel like you have to shy away from that to fill out grammar worksheets or study guides for a reading skill?  You have learned through your very short time at teaching that kids learn best through doing.  When they are seeing and applying the stuff they are supposed to learn - they want to do it, they understand it better.  I am challenging you to walk in to that school this morning and take back your confidence.  You remind those kids your mission, you promise them that you're going to make things better... and then YOU DO IT.  I'm counting on you to get through this - and so is every kid in your class.  You are NOT a mean teacher.  You are a great teacher who sometimes cares a little too much.  Just channel that frustration and desire for them to succeed... and run with it.  I have full faith in you.


Thursday, November 29, 2012

Nothing Like a Bad Dream to Get Me Ready for the Day

Let me start out by saying, first of all, there's a big difference between bad dreams and nightmares.  Nightmares of those horrible dreams that are full of scary, crazy images that cause you to wake up screaming and crying.  Bad dreams are unpleasant dreams that leave you a little out of sorts with reality and the dream world...and you wake up wondering if that really happened or was it all in your head.

I haven't had either for as long as I can remember.  I usually have really great dreams or dreams I just don't remember. 

Except, I had a bad dream last night.  A bad dream that verged on the boarder of nightmare, because I remember waking up at one point wanting to cry.  The worst part was that even though I woke up, and the dream should have been over, I went right back in to the dream as soon as I fell asleep again. 

Why can't that happen when I'm having a really good dream?  You know, those dreams where you're sitting in a beautiful house, kids are playing wonderfully, and you get a visit from Channing Tatum.  And then the dream turns from good to great...and naughty. 

OK, moving on.

It's probably because I enjoy those kinds of dreams way too much that caused me to have the dream I had last night.  When I like dreaming about dream boat guys - then I'm bound to get some kind of pay back.  Right?

Last night's dream was about Hubby.  Which isn't usually a bad thing.  But it was last night.

He decided to leave me.  Not just leave me, but informed me that he'd been seeing another woman for about a month.  My two worst nightmares rolled in to one.  Him leaving me.  Him cheating on me.  Except this wasn't a nightmare, it was a bad dream. 

With most nightmares, the bad stuff happens and then you wake up and it's all over with.  Done.  No more worrying about it.  This dream, however, just wouldn't go away.  When Hubby let me know he had been seeing another woman... the rest of the dream was full of him tormenting me with the other woman, trying to figure out how I was going to move on without him, and trying to explain to the kids why daddy wasn't going to live with us anymore.  I remember actually waking up more than once with tears in my eyes... but I just couldn't shake what was going on in my head each time I closed my eyes.

Months of my bad dream life played out in the course of a few hours.

The dream was way more realistic than I would have liked.  Seriously, I would much rather dream of zombies or monsters or some other mythical creature.  I hate waking up in a state of wondering what the heck was just going on in my head... especially when the first thing I hear when I do finally wake up for good is the sound of the front door letting me know that Hubby is home early from work.

Now, I know that some people are going to have a field day with this. Let me state right now, I'm not asking for any form of "dream interpretation". There's not an ounce of me that feels like Hubby may actually be cheating on me, or ever would cheat on me. He's not like that. Trust me, I know. It was a bad dream. Period. Nothing more, nothing less. I'm simply sharing my experience.

I don't believe in subconscious messages that break through trying to tell me anything.  If I did, the message I would be taking from it is that I need to stop dreaming about Channing Tatum.  Hubby is the innocent party in all of it.  I probably dreamed about him doing that to me because I haven't been giving him enough attention, lately. 

And there I go with trying to play in some mixed messages... which is exactly what I said I WOULDN'T do. 

OK, that's enough.  I've mumbled and stumbled over this post long enough.  I'm ready to move on.  Shake it off.  And get on with my day. 

Only 15 more school days left!


Wednesday, November 28, 2012

Out of the Mouths of Babes

When I was in college, I had several professors tell me that it was a good idea to keep a journal of all of the funny things I hear in my classroom.  They shared stories with us future teachers of America of some of the hilarious things they'd heard when they had worked in a classroom. 

Almost on a daily basis, I tell myself that I wish I had started that journal on day one of my teaching career.  The amount of times I've uttered "Oh, I need to remember that one..." or "Hey, you got to hear what one of my kids said to me today" in the few short months I've been teaching would amaze you.

One day, I might actually get to the point where I start writing stuff down as it happens, but until I actually remember to get out a notebook and start jotting stuff down - here's a glimpse at some of the wonders that have escaped the mouths of my students...

While discussing the states and regions of the United States:
Me:  Each day, I cross a state line twice.  Once in the morning on my way to work, and again when I drive home.
Student with a look of complete horror on his face:  Ms. Hill!  Don't you get shot at or arrested?
Me:  What?
Student:  When you cross the line.  Don't police shoot you or try and arrest you?
Me:  No, honey.  No one tries to shoot me when I cross a state line.

While learning about rounding and estimating:
Me:  Who can remind me what a rounded number is?
Student:  A number that isn't flat

After an extenisve conversation and showing examples of subjects and predicates of sentences:
Me:  Alright, just to make sure we've really got it, someone remind me again what the subject of the sentence is.
Student:  What or who the sentence is about.
Me:  Excellent!  That's right.  Now, can you tell me what the predicate is?
Student:  A person, place, or thing.
Me:  No, honey, that's a noun.  Don't you remember that the predicate is the action that the subject does?
Student:  Oh, yea
Me:  OK, so what is the predicate in the sentence "Sally rode her bike to the park"?
Student:  A person, place, or thing
Me:  *sigh*
(And I just want to point out that we hadn't really talked about nouns at all in several weeks)

Before reading the next chapter of a read-aloud, and it's been over a week since I last read.
Me:  OK, I know it's been a while, but who can remember what happened in the last chapter?
Student 1:  The animals are looking for their owners and they've found a town to stay in.  They saw a picture of the evil queen, but she was happy in the picture.  The animals could have slept right by her picture, but they were too scared to, so they decided to try and find another place to camp for the night.
Me:  Wow, that's very good.  That's exactly what happened in the last chapter.  What a wonderful summary.
Student 2 (speaking of student 1):  Yeah, now if he could just remember to behave as well as he remembers what happens in the books.

While answering summary questions from a guided reading book.
Me:  OK, the next question is asking why you think that Wilbur thought that Charlotte was bloodthirsty and not someone he would like very much.  So, the question wants whose opinion? 
Students:  You
Me: OK, but who is "you"?
Students:  You
Me:  No, the question isn't asking for me to answer it, they are asking for you to answer it.  I want to know what YOU think, what YOUR ideas are.  So, again, who is going to answer this question?
Students:  YOU
Me:  OK, nevermind, just answer the question the best way YOU can.

While standing on the playground in the freezing cold watching the kids play, while a student is standing next to me.
Student:  Look at those kids playing without their coats on!
Me:  I know!  What do you think I should do about it?
Student:  Smack 'em!
Me:  What?
Student:  Yep, with a fly swatter.  That's what my momma would do.

And these little gems, my friends, have all happened in the last two days.  I could go on and on and on with some that have happened over the course of the past few months. 

These little moments are just another reason why I have the best job in the world.  I don't know many places that I could work that could make me laugh so much and love so much.  Each kid I come in to contact with puts a smile on my face - in some way or another. 


Tuesday, November 27, 2012

Truthful Tuesday

To be honest... I'm so happy that Jelly is as excited about Christmas as I am.  That girl has watched Christmas movies with me everyday since Thanksgiving.  She shocked the heck out of me last night, when she stayed up until 10pm watching A Christmas Carol and then Polar Express.  Is she going to be tired and cranky today because of it?  Probably.  But, she can take a nap at school.

To be honest... I much more prefer counting down the days left of school rather than the weeks until Christmas.  There's only 17 school days left - counting today.  That sounds SO much nicer than saying there's four weeks until Christmas.  It almost sounds like half the time!

To be honest... My motivation level is running a little low.  It's so hard to get the kids to focus when I'm just as stir crazy as they are.  Fourth graders are fully aware about how much time there is between now and Christmas - and they know it's not very long.  They are already switched in to that mindset, and don't really care too much about multiplication, main idea, complex sentences, weather, or regions of the United States.  All they are interested in right now is what they are getting for Christmas.  I have to suck it up, though, and be strong.  Lead by example - right?

To be honest... As excited as I am about Christmas, I've already started thinking about the new year.  I've decided that I'm going to try again at losing some weight come January 1st.  I'm not going to get all drastic and change my blog again, but really just start making more conscious efforts to cut back on the eating, find some form of exercise, and see if I can't at least get back to the weight I was the last time I lost a bunch of weight.  At this point, I'd be ecstatic just to get back in to my size 16s.

To be honest... I've decided that I am going to make it a goal to crochet as many hats and head warmers I can between now and Christmas break so that I can donate them to kids.  Especially the kids in my school.  I was so shocked yesterday, when the temperature outside was barely in the 40s, at the amount of kids that were playing without any type of winter wear.  Most of the yarn I own was given to me by my mother-in-law, there's tons of it.  There's no reason I need to think about trying to sell stuff when there are so many kids that could use something as simple as a warm hat or head warmer.  At least.  So, that's my Christmas project.

To be honest... It felt really good yesterday to give a ear warmer to one of the teacher's aides at school.  Every morning she goes out for bus duty.  No matter what the weather.  She's also a wonderful help to me in my classroom, so I thought it would be nice to make her one.  The joy came to see how grateful she was for it.  It really is the little things like seeing the appreciation in a small gesture that melts my heart this time of year... and any time of year for that matter.

To be honest... I was shocked and overwhelmed at the amount of support I received over my blog post about my family the other day.  It was all that support, and a perfect timing phone call from Therapy Dude yesterday that made me realize I just don't need to worry about it.  Seriously, I haven't spoken to Therapy Dude in months, and he chose yesterday to call me.  He was calling to check in on Butter, but after I got to talking... I just couldn't stop.  His advice was very similar to the advice given by all of you:  Stop dwelling on it.  Enjoy what I have.  Realize that I'm not the parent in this situation, and that if my mother doesn't realize how much she hurt me - she probably never will.  He and all of you that sent me emails and messages are right.  It's not worth dwelling over.  I can either accept the relationship we do have and learn to live with it, or cut all ties.  That's never going to happen, so I guess just accepting the relationship I have is what I have to do. 

To be honest... I was really shocked yesterday morning when Peanut and Butter both made some comments about the recent lack of visits with my mom.  Both had seen stuff on Facebook about trips to the zoo and ice-skating from my sister, and thought about the same way I did.  It was really hard to talk to them and try and explain that we can't be involved with everything they do - despite having always been in the past.  It goes to show that my kids aren't as naive to the situation as I thought.  While I won't bash my mother or my other family members to my kids, I also won't make up lies to defend them either.  My kids will make their own decisions on the current events that have taken place.

To be honest... I really need to think about going to get ready for work.  If I focus, stay busy, and do the best job I can possibly do I'm convinced that the time between now and Christmas will fly by.  Just 17 more days of school! 


Monday, November 26, 2012

Back to Life as Normal... For Four More Weeks, Anyway

These past five days went by so fast.  Not that I mind having to go back to work, but I also feel that I didn't get much of a "break".  I was so busy the whole time... well, most of the time.  OK, OK, FINE.  I was busy two days out of the five.  But that just leaves me a normal weekend.

I guess I can't complain, though.  I did have a lot of fun.  The shopping, the cooking, the eating, the movie watching, the tree trimming - just what I needed to really give me a jolt in to Christmas.  Every night since Thursday, we've watched at least one Christmas movie.  I've shopped more in the past few days that I think I have all year.  And let's not mention the food.  UGH!

Yesterday, Peanut and I went and saw the final Twilight movie:  Breaking Dawn Part II.  And Oh Em Gee, it was FANTASTIC!  I will go out on a limb and say my favorite one of the entire series.  I'm not one to give out spoilers, but if you liked any of the Twilight movies, you'll absolutely ADORE this one.  I got a little teary eyed at the end of the movie - not because of anything that happened, just because it hit me that this was another of my favorite movie series over with.  First Harry Potter, now Twilight.  Done.  Gone. 

It's OK, though.  Peanut and I were reinforced with what movie we'd be seeing this time next year - the same time we've watched all of the Harry Potter and Twilight movies - The Hunger Games.  Oh yes, Mockingjay comes out next November.  Thank you previews!  Not that we got to preview the movie, but we did get a nice official notice that the movie would be out November, 2013.

On the way home from the movies, Peanut and I stopped and picked up Arthur Christmas and The Christmas Story.  Two more Christmas movies to add to our evening line-up. I watched both of them last night, but I'm sure I'll be seeing them again and again over the next four weeks. 

I found out a travesty last night.  Peanut has NEVER watched The Christmas Story before.  As in NEVER, EVER.  I know.  I was as shocked and appalled as you probably are right now.  Normally, I would take the full blame for an injustice of this magnitude - but this time, its' all on her.  I've watched 24 hours of A Christmas Story on TBS for as many years as they've been showing 24 hours of A Christmas Story on TBS.  As in I turn it on the minute I get up Christmas Eve, and it stays on - apart from the time we're out visiting family and stuff - until the 24 hours are over.  It just goes to show that child spends WAY too much time locked up in her room.  Metaphorically speaking.  I don't literally lock her up.  She stays in her room a lot.  I don't put her there.   

Anywho, despite some of my recent troubles with family and such, I feel more in the Christmas spirit this year than I have in many years.  I'm sure a lot of it has to do with the fact that I'm an active teacher and I feel like I've overcome a major life struggle.  A lot of it has to do with the fact that all of my children and happy and are succeeding in their new school surroundings.  And a lot of it has to do with the discovery of recent events that all the family I really need to keep me this happy is right here under my roof. 

The next four weeks are going to go by about as fast as molasses.  Four weeks still sounds like such a long time.  But, I'll be making the time go by as fast as I can by talking A LOT about Christmas.  So, I guess this is your forewarning.  If you're a Scrooge that mumbles "Humbug!" at the mere mention of Christmas... you might want to stay away from here for the next four weeks.  If you're a Christmas lover as much as I am?  Well, then you're going to be just fine.


Sunday, November 25, 2012

And What The Heck Did I Do To You?

I squandered about whether or not to say anything.  I figure I will probably regret it the minute I hit the "PUBLISH" button... but you know what?  I really don't care.  I'm mad.  Upset.  And when I'm having feelings like that - this is where I come.

OK, so I've mentioned once or twice or several times that my mom and I had a falling out a few months back.  I thought it was over with.  We haven't really spoken that much or seen each other much since it happened - but when we have spoken and seen each other, things have been peachy.

Or so I thought.

Since the ordeal, I feel like I've totally been pushed out of my family.  Not that it's entirely my mom's fault - not really her fault at all... but I definitely feel like I don't belong there anymore.

Two weeks ago, my brother came to town.  The brother I thought I got along pretty well with.  OK, so we haven't spoken to each other in ages - but nothing has happened since I last spoke to him to make me believe he should be mad at me for any reason.  I wouldn't have even known he was here if my youngest sister hadn't of "accidently" posted something about it on Facebook.  Come to find out, my brother had instructed my mother NOT to tell me he was there.

That left me a little dumbfounded.  I mean, I can understand if he were just visiting for a day or two - and wanted a quiet visit alone with my parents... but he's been here for 2 WEEKS - and not a word was said to me about going to see him or my neice and nephew - who just happen to be here too.

Last weekend, my parents, and my brother's family all took a trip to the zoo.  How do I know?  Yep - saw it on Facebook.  Yesterday, I called my mom to see what they were up to - she informs me that they are on their way to the ice-skating rink to celebrate my niece's birthday.  Whole family - again - going out for a family day out... not a single word spoken to me.

I remember a time when my parents wouldn't have gone anywhere like that without asking if I wanted to go along. You know, so that they could see their other grandchildren and spend some time with them. But, my kids are apparently not important anymore.

Let's not forget Thanksgiving.  The holiday I have hosted at my home for the past five years.  Every year my parents have come to me.. but this year?  Nope, my brother was in town.  Thanks, but no thanks Jo.  I was excited about having a small family Thanksgiving - but once I got to thinking about the fact that I was passed over because my brother was there... it started to bother me.

And yes, I know it sounds a little selfish.  I mean, my mom hasn't seen my brother in ages either.  And she hardly ever gets to see his daughter and son.  I get that.  But that's not my fault.  That's his.  He's the one that never picks up the phone or checks in or talks to my mom.  Maybe I should understand the trick.  Don't have any contact with my parents for months and months on end, and maybe I'll be important to them again. 

If that's not enough salt for my wound, I get to constantly watch my little sister post stuff on Facebook to my brothers.  She posts about how much she loves the neice and nephew that live with her.  Post after post after post about how great her family is... except me.  There's never anything posted on my page.  The brothers that visit once a year - they are far more important to her. 

When I got my teaching job, I finally thought I had struck it gold.  My parents would be so proud.  Their oldest daughter - a college graduate, a teacher.  But, it's not gone how I thought at all.  And yes, I'm partly to blame for that.  I've been so darn busy all of the time that I haven't had the normal amount of time I usually have for them, either.  But, things have started to slow down now.  I've finally started to find my groove so that I have some free time.  But, apparently it's too late. 

I'm pretty sure if it wasn't for my youngest brother - I'd be pushed out entirely.  He texts me, quite often actually.  Just to see how I'm doing.  Let me know what he's been up to.  You know, keeping me in the loop.  And I won't bring my dad in to this, either.  He can't take any of the lash of my anger - because he's just not the type of guy that picks up the phone to call me.  And that's always how it's been.  So, he can't take any blame for my being snuffed out from the family.

For as many years as I can remember, I have been the constant oldest child in my parents' lives.  My oldest brothers moved out of town, out of the state.  There are phone calls here and there from them.  But, I've always been a stone's throw away.  I've been there for them.  But, when my life gets a little crazy - and I have to juggle working 10 hours a day, working at home on the weekends, and trying to fit in time with my immediate family... I get forgotten about. 

To say that I'm upset is an understatment.  There has been a huge wedge planted firmly between my family and I - a wedge I NEVER thought would appear.  But it's OK, I get it.  I'm a big girl.  I apparently don't need my parents anymore.  It's not just me, though, is it?  It's my kids too.  But, like me, they will be OK.  My parents have plenty of other grandchildren to occupy their time... and I will do what I need to do to shelter the effects from my own kids.  I won't allow my kids to suffer. 

I am a big girl.  I am all grown up now.  I'm not skating around this issue anymore.  I have a job.  No, I have a career.  I have stability and comfort in my life.  My children have stability and comfort.  I have a man that loves me.  I have in-laws and a psuedo mother-in-law that have not forgotten about me.   I'm not going to let this bother me anymore.  They don't want anything to do with me?  Fine.  I guess it's time I start getting used to that now.


Saturday, November 24, 2012

Finished, Finito, Fin...Stick a Fork in Me, I'm DONE!

With four weeks left to spare, I have officially completed my Christmas shopping.  OK, almost completed.  There's still a few more minuet things I have to get - but the bulk is done.  Finished.  Over with.  What's left is family members... and the kids like to do that part of the shopping, so my job is just about done.

I tell you what, I whine and complain about the craziness of Black Friday - but I had the most wonderful Christmas shopping day EVA yesterday.  Hubby and I waited until noon before heading out to the hustle and bustle - and didn't get home until after 6pm.  We shopped, and shopped, and shopped some more.

The best part of the day, by far, was stumbling across tons and tons of leftover Black Friday goodies that hadn't been snatched up during the midnight madness sales.  Once again, I patted myself on the back for not getting up at the butt crack of dawn or staying up all night to shop for stuff - when I still managed to find some great deals during the afternoon.  Even some of the big TVs and stuff were still on sale in the stores - not that I had any intention of buying one, but I was surprised to still see so many electronics still on sale. 

Christmas shopping is usually a task I take on alone.  Hubby just isn't in to the whole thing.  His job each Christmas is to sit, Christmas morning, with camera in hand ready to capture the kids opening up the gifts.  That's it.  I do the lists, the shopping, the wrapping, the everything.   But this year?  This year has been different.  He's been involved, a great help, shared the load of the shopping.  And I couldn't have been happier. 

Now, of course, the worst part starts.  The waiting.  I hate waiting until Christmas after my shopping is done.  I'm worse than the kids.  Once I've done my shopping, I want it to be time for the kids to get their stuff. 

It's been very weird this year, talking to Peanut and Butter about Christmas.  This is the first year where I went in knowing full well that neither of them believed in Santa anymore.  And I'm happy to report that neither of them are scarred or hurt or hate me because they felt like I lied to them for all these years.  In fact, I think they are a little disappointed in the "magic" being over.  I have molded my kids in the same form as me - just because I know the truth, doesn't mean I have to accept it.  I can still bring Santa in to our home.  Besides, there's Jelly to think about.  We have to keep the magic alive for her - and now Peanut and Butter can join in for her sake.

It was just very weird for us to come home yesterday and know that Peanut and Butter knew that there was Christmas loot in the trunk of the car.  Which makes life kinda difficult, because now that they know the truth - they know that their presents are somewhere hidden in the house.  They will have to be watched at all times to make sure they don't try and snoop.  Which I really hope they don't - because in my mind, the whole point of Christmas is the surprise factor.  Why ruin the surprise by trying to find out what you're getting before you get it?

Jelly is, of course, oblivious.  To her, when Daddy and I disappear, we are going to meet with Santa's helpers to inform him of their Christmas lists.  It takes a long time because we have to wait in line to be able to meet with them.  Oh yes, I have Santa answers for everything.  In fact, last year I wrote a list of the Santa stories I've told. 

She is so excited about everything.  In just a week and a half it will be her birthday.  I can't believe my baby will be turning five.  Then, there's only twenty days until Christmas.  The kid loves this time of year - there's just so much going on for her. 

Anywho, today I'm basking in my victory of being finished with the shopping.  I'm going to relax, lay on the couch, and catch up on some crocheting.  Tomorrow?  Peanut and I are off to see Breaking Dawn Part II.  We've been waiting all year for it... and it will be a great way to end the Thanksgiving Break.

Friday, November 23, 2012

Black Friday Plans

I hope everyone had a wonderful Thanksgiving - and aren't too bloated and miserable today.  It was a great time here in our household.  I spent most of the day cooking - with the help of my little Jelly - and we sat down to a feast fit for kings and queens around 4pm. 

I was amazed at how much food I had prepared.  I guess my head hadn't adjusted to the fact that my parents weren't coming, and that my house wasn't going to be full of visitors, because I'm pretty sure that I prepared enough food to feed an army.  It will be Thanksgiving eating in my house for at least the next three days.

After eating and relaxing for a while, it was time to move to the next main event - putting up the tree.  I had ran to Wal-Mart earlier in the day to pick up a new tree skirt and some lights - and what a shabockle that was.  I'll get to that in a second... but let me try and stay on track for explaining the tree decorating.

Jelly and I did all the work.  Peanut and Butter hung out in Butter's room playing games... which was fine.  In fact, I was amazed and shocked.  I guess a little Christmas spirit does have some powerful and magical effects.  Anywho, we got the tree up, it looks fantastic, we then sat down to watch our movie.  Elf.  It has become a tradition - and this year was no different.  Butter and Jelly had passed out by the time the movie was over, and Peanut went to bed right after.  Guess spending the day on the couch while I ran around preparing dinner wore them out.

I woke up this morning feeling wonderful.  I slept in until 9, and took a second to think about all those crazy shoppers that had been out and about all night trying to find a bargain.  Poor souls.  I just don't get it... never will.  As I mentioned earlier, Hubby and I made a quick run to Wal-Mart Thanksgiving morning to pick up a few things for the tree.  We were shocked and appalled at the state of the store.  Pallets upon pallets of Black Friday crap lined the aisles - blocking shoppers from being able to buy anything.  I had to squeeze my large rear down an aisle in the Christmas shop just to get a couple boxes of lights.  What happened to Black Friday being on FRIDAY??  This was early Thursday morning, and it was impossible to do any form of shopping.  Ridiculous.  I was very upset and frustrated by the time I left the store - and I made sure I let every associate know.  I know it's not their fault - but still.

Black Friday is supposed to be the biggest shopping day of the year... but now, it's not.  Now Thanksgiving has become Black Friday.  Why on earth do people want to leave their families to go out hunting a bargain?  I sure don't.

And you know what else?  I got out of bed at 9am.  I grabbed a cup of coffee, sat down at my computer - and what did my eyes see?  The Wal-Mart website - with all of the instore Black Friday bargains right at my fingertips.  Oh yes.  The Black Friday ad - with friendly pointers on where I could find those exact same bargains online.  Right here, in my PJs, with a cup of coffee in hand, and not a single line or cart to the ankles. 

I found several bargains that I took advantage of.  I got a huge chunk of my Christmas shopping done... no stress, no hassles, no OUT OF STOCK signs anywhere.  Everything I wanted, several things I didn't even realize I wanted. 

Hubby and I are going to trek out in to the world this afternoon, not on the hunt for any Black Friday bargains - just to finish up the last few things on our Christmas lists.  Because we want to. 

That's what I call a wonderful Black Friday. 

Oh, and just a quick note to some of you Black Friday die hards.  This isn't the first year I've done this exact same thing.  Did it last year, too.  It's no secret, either.  I've been getting emails for weeks telling me that I could do my Black Friday shopping online.  Guess there's one bonus of being a subscriber to those newsletters.  No pain, no swollen ankles.  That's my idea of Christmas shopping.


Thursday, November 22, 2012

Thankful Thursday...The Final Installment

This is it. The big day has arrived. Turkey day is here...and with the joy of enjoying to eat tons of yummy food comes the joy of giving thanks for the blessings we have in our lives. I've been counting my blessings all month, and for each Thursday I posted a list of ten things I'm thankful for. Today marks the final installment - which will give me 30 things I'm thankful for - one for each day of the month of November. Today, I'm going to highlight my extended family - the people that haven't been mentioned thus far. Being that I'm not going to be with any of them today, I figured this was a great way to tell them how much I will be thinking of them.

21. I am thankful for my mom. She is one of the people that has always been there for me... through thick or thin. There's only two people in my life that can earn that credit - and the next one comes shortly. She taught me what I needed to know about being a good mother, supported my decisions for my life, and is now one of my closest friends. Our relationship hasn't always been perfect, but we've always had a relationship. There are times when I want to shake her senseless, and I'm sure she feels the same about me - but nothing can interfere with the love that I have for that woman. She is an amazing grandmother to my children, an amazing mother to her own children, and has even opened up her home to be a wonderful foster mother for complete strangers. I'm quite sure she was put on this earth for that reason - to be there for children that need her. Cause Lord knows, I couldn't and wouldn't have become the person I am today if it wasn't for her.

22. I am thankful for my dad. He's the person that earns the other spot of being one of two people that have always been there for me. My dad is my rock, my hero. While he is a man of few words, he makes up for it with the love that flows from him. This man has been there for me through so much. He was the man that gave me hope that there are decent men in this world... because I got to be raised by one. He works hard, supports his family, would lay his life on line for any one of us. He is also an amazing grandparent. My children adore him just as much as I do. I know for a fact that my Butter wouldn't have gotten through his struggles as well as he did without the love and guidance from my dad. He has no idea how much he has done for me throughout my life. I am truly blessed to have such a wonderful father in my life.

23. I am thankful for P-Momma. My mom away from mom. Not that I need a mom away from my mom... but who couldn't be thankful for having one? She came in to my life seven years ago, but it feels like I've known this woman my entire life. From the moment she met me and the kids, she has treated us like family. I know that there's not a single thing this woman wouldn't do for any one of us if we needed her to. The kids think of her as a grandmother - Grammy, to be exact. They adore her just as much as I do... and there are no blurred lines between family in their eyes. She is a member of our family, we are a member of hers. That's how it's been and will always be.

24. I am thankful for my mother and father in law. I'm pretty sure that seven years ago, they were a little nervous about hearing that their middle son was dating a woman with two kids. But, if they were thinking it, they didn't show it. They welcomed me warmly in to their home and their family. Peanut and Butter have never been considered anything but their grandchildren, and Jelly was embraced by a grandmother and grandfather that adored her. I really miss the days when my mother-in-law watched Jelly while I worked, because it was at that time that our relationship was the strongest and closest. Even though we don't get to spend near as much time together anymore, I think of them often. They are amazing in-laws, and I definitely struck gold when I inherited Hubby's family.

25. I am thankful for the food that will be cooked and enjoyed today. Not just that, but the fact that it was paid for with the money Hubby and I earned at our jobs. Even though we're not wealthy, by any means, it's nice to know that we can enjoy an amazing dinner on this special day.

26. I am thankful for Sirius' Holly Station. I discovered it last weekend, and have been listening to it pretty much non-stop ever since. Even though I don't really like to start celebrating Christmas until after Thanksgiving, it has been really nice to listen to a few holiday songs while driving to and from work.

27. I am thankful that I won't be battling the crowds tomorrow morning. I really don't get why people go to so much trouble on Black Friday. OK, so you might save a couple of bucks - but getting smashed with carts, pushed out of the way, and elbows to the midsection just isn't worth that to me. I read a wonderful quote yesterday that said "It's ironic that the day after we give thanks for the things we have, we wage war for the things we want". I'll just enjoy my Black Friday sleeping in.

28. I am thankful that I am blessed with a heart full of love and acceptance. Social media sites have become a cesspool of hate, and I just don't want any part of it. My heart tells me that everyone should have the right to love whoever they want, vote for whoever they want, worship whoever they want - and that it's none of my business. My values and beliefs are no more important than anybody else's. I'm so sick and tired of hearing people condemn others for not conforming to the set of rules and standards offered by one particular religion or group or belief system. I sleep well at night knowing that when the time comes for me to depart this life, I would have lived a good life. I would have loved and respected everyone - regardless of differences in beliefs. And, I will go out on a limb and say that if there truly is a heaven and I'm kept out because I lived my life that way - then I probably don't want to be there anyway.

29. I am thankful that my life long dream was to become a teacher. I hear of people following a calling to certain professions - and I feel that I have heard and answered mine. Nothing makes me happier than waking up every morning knowing that I am going to a job I love, kids that are eager to see me, and challenges to do what I can to improve the lives of my students. I doubted that calling several times throughout my life - but I ended up exactly where I'm supposed to be. My path was laid out for me at the ripe old age of 5. Sure, I questioned that path more times than I can count, but everything came out the way it was supposed to.

30. I am thankful that I can sit here at my computer and easily think of 30 things I'm thankful for, and barely skim the surface of how much thanks I could be given. Happiness isn't measured by the amount of money in my bank account, the possessions that I own, the type of car I drive, or by the house I live in. It's measured by the people in my life that are my family, the joys of waking up each morning and getting to live another day doing what I love, to have a man by my side that loves me for who I am - flaws and all. My life is perfect just the way it is. Every bit of it. And that is something to truly be thankful for.

Wednesday, November 21, 2012

Holiday Cleaning 101

There's only about two days in the year when I actually, kinda sorta, enjoy cleaning.  Those days would be the day before Thanksgiving, and the day before Christmas Eve.  So, Thanksgiving Eve and Christmas Eve Eve. 

I don't know why, but in my mind it's a rule that a house should be spotless for a holiday - regardless if there is going to be company here or not.  This past weekend, I found out I wasn't hosting Thanksgiving for my family - like I have for the past five years.  So,  for a brief few moments I thought that meant I didn't have to run around like a crazy person cleaning every nook and cranny in preparation for company.  But, then I realized that just because I wasn't having guests didn't interfere with my desire or protocol to have a perfectly clean house for the family that would be here eating and celebrating.

I could have done all of the cleaning this past weekend... but then I knew I'd be closely back to square one today.  Why go to all of that trouble twice?  No thanks.  It's much easier to scrub and wipe and sweep and clean the day before a holiday if I actually want it to stay that way for the 24 hours after.

So, this morning, before I get knee deep in mop buckets and clutter, I decided to make up a list of holiday cleaning tips.  I'll warn you right now, I'm not Martha Stewart or any other form of clean house guru.  In fact, these tips probably aren't great tips at all - but I just figured it would help motivate me to get started on the work that has to be done.  My life is based on lists... so why not come up with one today?

1.  Pick an end of the house and start there and work your way to the other end.  I have officially self diagnosed myself as having cleaning ADD.  I will start working in one room, find something that belongs in another room, take it to that room, and then start cleaning in there, then take something to another room, and rinse and repeat.  I can spend an entire day flittering back and forth between rooms which ends up in a day of work but not much progress.  I've now discovered that if I make a pile of stuff that belongs in another room while I'm cleaning - I'm a lot more likely to stay focused on that room. 

2.  Start at the top and work your way down.  Just as I think it's important to start at one end of the house and work in the direction of the other end, I also think it's important to start at the top of a room and work my way down.  That means, I start with the ceilings.  Yes, look up at your ceiling.  If you're anything like me - you often forget to vacuum up there.  And what collects up there?  Dust.  Cobwebs.  Nasty stuff.  I then slowly work my way down to the next surfaces.  The last place I touch is the floor.  I know so many people that will start with clearing things away and then vacuuming or moping before cleaning surfaces.  Do you know how much dirt you're going to knock on the floor?  A bunch.  Trust me, starting at the top is the way to go.

3.  If you want something done properly, do it yourself.  My oldest offspring are 12 and 11.  For half of those years, I've tried to convince myself that they should be a part of holiday clean-up.  I'll designate an area of the house for them to clean or I'll give them specific jobs to take care of.  Then, you know what happens?  I'll inspect the area and decide that they didn't do a good enough job...and then make them do it over... and over...and over.  All I end up with are cranky kids and cranky me.  It doesn't matter how well my kids do a job (when it comes to holiday cleaning), I will find something to complain about.  It's a bad trait, I know that, but I've realized that there's a lot more peace and harmony in my home if I just suck it up and do it myself.  I'll assign them their rooms to clean - and their bathroom - and leave it at that.  Common areas just have to be done by my hand. 

4.  Limit the breaks.  After cleaning for a few hours, a break is most definitely in order.  But, I sometimes get in to the bad habit of taking breaks every 15-20 minutes... which ends up making a 4 hour job in to an 8 hour job.  And yes, it can take 4 hours to clean my house for holiday cleaning.  There's no surface cleaning - it's the deep variety.  I now try and focus on how much I have done, and how much happier I'll be when it's over with to help limit the amounts of time I want to sit down with a cup of coffee. 

5.  Sorting is a break in disguise.  For some reason, my house tends to collect a lot of clutter.  Not hoarders club clutter, just boxes and stuff that's gathered here and there over time.  The boxes that are piled in my kitchen right now are filled with stuff that I boxed up for my classroom that hasn't made it there yet.  There are a few tubs of miscellaneous items that I've boxed up because I couldn't find a better home for them.  Jelly's toys are in drawers and tubs in her playroom - and each tub and drawer are supposed to hold specific items, but usually end up becoming a stuff-all that she's put toys in when she's been asked to pick up her toys.  One of my worst habits during holiday cleaning is deciding to resort all of those boxes and tubs.  Rather than just getting rid of them, or stacking them neatly, I decide to start digging around in them and wondering if I could now find better places for it.  Big mistake!  I'll end up packing all of the stuff neatly back in to the boxes, and realizing that I spent two hours sorting stuff that was already sorted.  No, I don't like having clutter in my home - but until I get a new house that has better storage areas, I got to suck it up.  No point wasting time resorting... I just got to make sure it looks as nice as I can make clutter look and move on.

6.  Put holiday music on or something with a beat while you clean.  One of the biggest mistakes I've made in the past is leaving the TV on while I clean.  For a while it will just be noise, but then I'll start to pay attention to the noise, and then I realize that I'm getting sucked in to a movie or show.  Then, break time happens...that lasts the entire time the movie/show is on.  I've realized that if I put on music while I'm cleaning, I end up dancing around and singing while I'm cleaning.  And I continue to clean.  And I stay in a better mood.  See?  Two birds, one stone.  I keep cleaning.  I don't get cranky.  And, thanks to DirecTV music channels, I can pick whatever type of music I'm in the mood for - and don't have to worry about pesky commercials. 

7.  Stock up on cleaning supplies before cleaning.  There's nothing worse than being knee deep in grime than realizing that you're out of something and having to get ready to go to the store to buy more.  Then you know what happens?  You end up staying out for 2 hours and not feeling like cleaning when you get home.  If it's already too late, and you're on the day of cleaning... check before you start and see if there's stuff that you can make do with.  If not, go to the closest dollar store - and go in your cleaning clothes - to pick a few things up.  I say go in your cleaning clothes, because you are much more likely to make the trip as short as possible so as not to be seen by someone you know. 

8.  Clean while you're dirty.  I know that sounds kinda gross, but think about it.  Don't bother getting in the shower and putting on clean clothes right before you're about to deep clean your house.  Find some old clothes, throw your hair in a pony tail, and get to cleaning.  If you're not clean when you start, you're much less likely to care about how much more dirtier you get when cleaning.  And for some reason, my shower after I'm finished cleaning feels like a reward after what I've been through. 

9.  Don't be afraid to get dirty.  I consider surface cleaning to be the act of cleaning only the surfaces seen by the naked eye.  Deep cleaning is going in to the places that can't be seen - but is still collecting plenty of dirt and grime.  For holiday cleaning, I move everything - furniture, electronics, tables, etc.  It doesn't bother me a bit to be elbow deep in dust bunnies just as long as I know they won't be there when I'm finished.  Have you moved your refrigerator in a while?  You'd be amazed at how gross it is under and behind that thing.  I feel a lot better about preparing my holiday foods in a house that isn't hiding any little dark secrets.  I may come out looking like a chimney sweep by the time I'm all said and done, but my house will be clean enough to eat off of - I can guarantee that.

10.  Lastly, DON'T LET YOUR CHILDREN OUT OF YOUR SIGHT UNTIL THE DAY AFTER THE HOLIDAY!  I can't stress this one enough.  The minute you let them out of your sight, you'll start noticing toys appear.  And then dishes.  And maybe some trash here and there.  Those little dust buckets are like slugs.  They leave a trail of slime wherever they go.  The only way to ensure that all of your hard work stays in full tact until after the holiday is over with is to keep them on a very short leash.  Metaphorically, of course.  Although....  No, just kidding... or am I?  Limit what they can get out and where they can get it out.  Make them pick up every morsel of whatever they touch or eat.  In fact, the best way to handle it is to just lock them in their rooms... with food and water, of course.  It really is the only way to keep your house clean for longer than 24 hours.

And there you go... my holiday cleaning tips.  The tips that I'm going to follow in 3....2.....1.... GO!


Tuesday, November 20, 2012

Truthful Tuesday

To be honest... I'm so flipping excited that today is the last day at school until next Monday.  Five full days off to spend time with the family, eat a wonderful meal, get my Christmas decorations put up, and relax.  I love my job, but I love me some holiday time too!

To be honest...  I'm so flipping excited that I get to wear PJs today - even though I'm not sure I'm supposed to wear PJs.  You see, my kids are having a PJ party as a reward.  They voted on it, I got it approved with my principal.  Except during that approval, I didn't happen to ask if I could be included in the PJ wearing - which means I'm taking a total risk joining in... but what fun would it be if I didn't? 

To be honest... I've sat around way too long talking to Hubby because he came home from work early - and now I have only a few minutes left to write this before I have to go and get ready. 

To be honest... I really can't think of that much more to be honest about today.  Maybe I'm just too excited about today to really think deep... but I gots to go.


Monday, November 19, 2012

Just Two More Days to Get Through

I did not want to get out of bed this morning.  Mostly because I knew that today and tomorrow were probably going to be the longest, most exhausting days I've worked thus far.

I know how kids are right before a holiday.  Thanksgiving isn't near as bad as Christmas, but they are still going to be pretty crazy excited - emphasis on crazy.

They are going to expect to not have to do anything for these two days, because it's right before a break - and kids are programmed to think that going to school a day or two before a break means that they're not supposed to actually do any work. 

I can't blame them.  I kinda feel that way right before a holiday and/or break too.  But, just like me - they are going to have to suck it up.  Because there are still assignments to do, things to learn.  Luckily, I was able to package all of our objectives in to cute little Thanksgiving templates.  Well, let me correct that.  I was able to steal some cute Thanksgiving stuff from my mentor that I'm able to package in to our objectives. 

The kids may be programmed to not want to do any work before a holiday, but they are also programmed to believe that if I slap on a holiday picture to a page full of math problems, or make them write about Thanksgiving, or make them read a story about the first Thanksgiving and then answer comprehension questions about the reading - that they're not actually doing "work" but enjoying holiday stuff instead.  Gotta love a child's brain!

I managed to get all of my Thanksgiving food yesterday - among the hustle and bustle of Thanksgiving food shoppers.  Every year I whine and complain about people waiting until the weekend right before a holiday to do their shopping - and then smack myself in the head when I realize I'm one of those people. 

We decided to make a run to Sam's for a few things - and happened to notice that they were having their "Taste of the Holidays" samplings.  My kids LOVE going to Sam's just because there's always sample carts out letting them try stuff.  I'm pretty sure my kids would eat fried flies if it came off of one of those carts. 

What I couldn't believe were the lines of people waiting to sample a piece of ham or a scoop of pie or a bite of steak.  Yes.  Lines.  Like something you would see at a movie theater the weekend a new Twilight movie is coming out.  It was ridiculous.  I like sampling food as much as the next person, but I'm not willing to wait 10 minutes in a line to do so.  And then I end up getting all frustrated because I'm patiently waiting in line with everyone else, and then I spot a line jumper who just moseys on up to the front of the line and gets a sample - despite the fact that there's 20 people in LINE in front of them. 

The kids and I made a game out of trying to find the sample carts that had the smallest wait times.  We were still able to try a few things - but apparently missed out on the sample of gold that was being handed out at some carts.  Which is what had to be passed out seeing that many people waiting.  A couple of times we were behind one person, and then found out that she'd brought along her entire family - who were waiting close by - so that they could all get their samples while the kids and I patiently waited for her to hand out stuff to the 15 people waiting for her.  Frustrating, I tell you!

I was pretty happy that we were able to get out of there pretty quick - to the disappointment of the kids who would have spent their entire day standing in lines to try the tiny morsels of whatever was being handed out. 

We made a pit stop at P-Momma's house so that we could pick up her turkey roaster.  Hubby likes cooking the turkey in that so that I have the oven to cook all of my stuff.  Yes, I said "my stuff".  Thanksgiving is the one day of the year that I not only cook, but enjoy doing it.  It's a big deal.  I strap on my Stepford Wives apron - metaphorically speaking - and spend the day in the kitchen preparing, and measuring, and stirring, and checking. 

Anywho, back to yesterday.

We made it to the store to get all of our "fixings".  I spent way too long picking out a ham.  Thanksgiving dinner is very important to me, but not important enough for me to shell out $30 on a ham.  Nope, I have to hunt down the cheap hams, rummage around a bit, until I find "the one".  Which I found. A 8lb ham for $10?  Don't mind if I do.

We ended up spending about $35 for the meal.  Which I guess isn't too bad.  Especially since this year it will be just us five - and that amount of food is sure to last us all the way in to the weekend.  So, I look at it as we spent $35 on three days worth of food.  That's not bad at all.  Yes, we are going to be sick of the sight of ham and turkey for a few weeks after it's all said and done, but that's a part of the magic that is Thanksgiving.  We just get over our distaste for turkey and ham just in time for Christmas to roll around.

Alright, I really need to stop talking about all of this - cause it's not helping me with facing the fact that I have to go to work for the next two days. 



Sunday, November 18, 2012

B-I-N-G-O and Bingo Was Her Name-O

Going to play bingo with my mom is something I've cherished since turning the age of 18 - when I was actually legally allowed to walk in to a bingo hall.  My mom has played bingo for as long as I've been alive, and I remember being a young girl wishing that I would one day be able to have that experience.

It didn't take me long to discover why my mom liked going to play bingo so much.  Sure, there was the possibility of winning some money - but it was also a lot to do with no children.  None.  Not a single one in sight - anywhere.  It was a bunch of adults crammed into a smoky hall laughing, joking, cursing, and just having a break from the world outside the doors.  And they knew that they could say or do pretty much anything they wanted and they wouldn't get caugh acting like a fool in front of a child.

And then, there's the chance of winning some money. 

Who doesn't like winning money? 

It has been a time honored tradition that when my mom and I go play bingo together - we split our winnings.  50/50.  No ifs, ands, or buts about it.  No matter how big or small of an amount.  There have been times where my mother and I have split a $20 winning - because that's just how we do it.

My luck has been very good this year.  I've won several times.  Most of those times, my mom has been right there with me - and it's been great to each walk away with a couple hundred extra dollars in our pockets.  She was there when I won my "big win" which was a couple of thousand dollars.  For a fleeting moment, I wonder what would have happened if I just went to play alone - but that moment shortly passes when I think about the times I might be with her and she strikes it big.

Yesterday, when heading out the door, I just had a gut feeling that I wasn't going to have much luck.  But, yesterday wasn't about going to win - it was going to get a break.  And I know that I said that exact thing last week.  I got to go out and eat lunch with my two besties last weekend... and that was a break.  But, it was more than just a break.  It was time alone with my mom - which we haven't had in way too long. 

The past few months have been very difficult on the relationship between my mom and me.  Before August, it was customary that I spoke to my mom pretty much every night on the phone.  And not just for a couple of minutes - we'd talk for 30 minutes to even an hour sometimes.  It was customary that a couple times a month I would go over and see my parents at their house. 

And then my mom and I had our little falling out over a fishing pole - of all things.  That stopped us from talking for several weeks.  But, that's water under the bridge now - and things are somewhat back to normal.  Except for the time we spend talking.  That doesn't happen hardly at all.  My extremely busy schedule - and hers - has left us hardly talking or seeing each other for weeks at a time.

So, a night out at bingo is a way I can recharge my Momma juice.  I get that alone time that we should have together.  And I cherish every minute of it.

Back to bingo.

Last night we got to go to a fancy schmancy new casino that's just opened up.  I felt like a big roller walking in to the place.  It was so clean.  It smelt nice - despite the cloud of smoke and glasses of alcohol as far as the eye could see.  The tables were brand new, and the chairs were comfy.  It was a night out among all nights out.

And it became that much sweeter when I heard the word escape from my mom's mouth that sends shivers down my spine... "BINGO!" 

I'm pretty sure I was more excited as she was.  It wasn't a little amount.  We were both going to be walking away with a few hundred dollars.  Nice.  Perfect.  Just what I need this time of year.  And for the first time, I can say that without a minuet hint of sarcasm. 

I now don't have to wait until Wednesday to go and buy my Thanksgiving food.  I can now put some money back on the credit cards - much earlier than I had planned.  I can afford just a couple more small gifts.  I can breath a sigh of relief that for once, the planets aligned to give me that little boost I needed - right when I needed it. 



Saturday, November 17, 2012

Saturday's Letters... Because I Am a Day Behind and Need to Catch Up

I know, I know... I'm supposed to do a Friday's Letter post.  But, if you were here yesterday, you'd know that my internet was out on Thursday - so I had to do my Thankful Thursday post yesterday.  I could have just forgotten my Letter's post or do it today.  You can see which I decided.

Dear Pathogens... You were something we learned about in class this week.  And that caused my kids to apparently get all excited and share their pathogens with everyone.  Including me.  I've had four kids out sick this week - one of which insisted on coming to school with no voice and not feeling well a day before missing a day.  Thanks to you floating around from one kid to the next, you've now found your way to me.  Why is it that you always decide to pay me a visit on Fridays?  Don't you think I have better stuff to do on my weekends besides being sick?  I do!  I'll make that perfectly clear for you.  I have lots to do this weekend, and having a stuffed up nose and sore throat doesn't exactly make that any easier.

Dear Photography Studio That Took Pics of Jelly Yesterday... WHY did you have to take such wonderful photos of Jelly leading me to spend WAY too much money on photos?  I walked in to the door just certain I wasn't going to spend an outrageous amount of money on photos.  And then what do I do?  Spend an outrageous amount of money on photos.  CURSE YOU!  But, when you pulled out this from your bag of tricks, it's no wonder I caved...

They are the most adorable pictures I've ever seen!  I just couldn't stop myself from buying the biggest package you had.  And now I have to figure out what I'm going to do with all of those photos.  Thanks a lot!

Dear Portable North Pole Website... Thank you for helping me boost the magic for Jelly again this year.  Even though Peanut and Butter have moved out of "believing" territory, it's still nice to have one kid who still believes in Santa.  Getting a personalized video using her name and photos really helps boost her spirits and excitement about the upcoming holidays.  I now have some great ammunition in my tool box to get her to clean up her toys - for the next couple of weeks, anyway. 

Dear House... I found out this morning that my family isn't coming for Thanksgiving.  Now, I know you think that means you won't have to go through that deep clean I've been talking about for the past couple of weeks.  But, think again.  Just because I'm not hosting a big Thanksgiving this year, doesn't mean that I won't be celebrating... in a clean house!  Thanksgiving is not just about having family over and eating an outrageous amount of food - it's also about being the day I put up my Christmas decorations.  Which, in my book of rules, clearly states has to be done in a clean house.  So, get ready.  Prepare to have all of your creases and crevices deeply cleaned.  Soon.

Dear Me... It came as a bit of a shock hearing that you won't be hosting Thanksgiving this year.  You've done it for the past four years, and now you won't be.  Even though you feel a little relieved, especially in the money department, you are a little disappointed also.  Don't worry.  Just because you won't have people coming over doesn't mean you can't still cook up a storm and enjoy the day.  It will just be that more sentimental.  Your first Thanksgiving with just your closest family members.  Get all of the kids involved.. make it a special day.  Enjoy yourself.  You don't have to be hosting guests for it to be an important day.  Remember that.

Dear New Casino... I'm so excited to get to experience bingo with you today.  It's been a while since I've played.  My gut is telling me that I'm probably not going to win - because the extra money sure would be nice right about now with the holidays coming... and I never actually win when I could really use the extra money... but it's the experience I'm most looking forward to.  It's been so long since I've spent some quality alone time with my mom, and I've really felt us drifting apart over the past few months.  I need a day out, where I'm having a good time and catching up with my mom.  I'm looking to you to provide that.

Dear Internet Explorer... It looks as though I'm back to using you.  I know I ditched you for Mozilla a few months ago, but that's because you weren't giving me what I needed.  It now appears that you've stepped up your game, and Mozilla was driving me nuts.  Don't let me down.

Dear Me Again... You need to get your behind off the computer and go and get ready.  Now.


Friday, November 16, 2012

Thankful Thursday - Part II... and a day late

Welcome to my second installment of Thankful Thursday - a list of thirty things (ten each week) that I'm thankful for and recognizing due to the Thanksgiving holiday.  I apologize for it being a day late.  It figures that the one day I'm ready to go with a blog post - and know exactly what I want to write about - my internet decides to bite the dust.  So, I know it's Friday, but I'm totally going to pretend it's Thursday just for this special post.  Just like last week, I'll be mixing the deep with the not so deep... cause I know that not everyone wants to read just emotional stuff. 

11.  I'm thankful for my little Jelly.  Despite growing up so fast, she still makes me realize that she's the youngest which automatically entitles her to the role of my baby for much longer than I was expecting.  And last night, a day after writing my soppy post about how much she was growing up, she curled up on the couch with me because she wasn't feeling so good.  She made me realize that she may be turning in to a big girl before my eyes - but she's not going to outgrow the fact that mommy makes her feel better when she's not feeling well...and that won't change for a very long time.  She reminds me constantly how much she loves me, she always knows the best time to say things like "You're the beautifulist mommy in the whole world" or "I love you so much, Mom".  And I love her very much.  As much as I love her and wouldn't trade her for the world - she has definitely helped remind me on occasions why I never want any more babies.  And, I honestly think that's a part of her plan.  HA!

12.  I'm thankful for my Butter.  Butter has and still faces many challenges.  For a boy of only 11, he's been through more than many adults.  And while he's still working hard every day to face continual challenges, he's grown more and learned more than I could ever put in to words.  He's not the boy he was a year ago.  His ability to adapt and thrive in his new surroundings is purely something of a miracle.  Change is something Butter doesn't usually handle too well, but he's shown me that starting his life over - getting a fresh start - really means a lot to him.  He's making good grades, he's got lots of friends, he adores his teacher, and those are things I would never get the chance to say about Butter.  While there are still days that are better than others, he's really taught me so much about being a better parent, being a better teacher, and being a better person.  The students that come in to my classroom with challenges - both behaviorally and emotionally - have him to thank for how I treat them.  They thrive with me because he's shown me how to care for them, how to motivate them, and how to love them.  And while I'm constantly trying to build him up, I realize that most of the time - he's the one building me up.

13.  I'm thankful for my Peanut.  In a matter of a year, I've watched my little girl turn in to a beautiful young woman.  There's so much of me in that girl, that I sometimes feel like I've stepped in to a time machine and get to watch my younger days played over again.  Her personality, her wit, and her drive are all inherited from me - and I'm happy about that.  What I'm most thankful for, though, is the fact that even though she's turning in to a young woman - she will talk to me, share her life with me, and allows me to be a solid part of her world.  If she's having a problem, she knows she can come to me and I'll help any way I can.  If she just needs to vent, she knows she can do that.  Having that bond is so important to me - and I never want to lose it.  Peanut has done so much for me the past few years, that it's so important for me to show her how thankful I am.  She takes care of Jada when I need her to, she does her chores, she keeps up with homework and extra studies.  And while she also has her days that are better than others - she keeps a smile on my face and a warmth in my heart.. always.

14.  I'm thankful for Hubby.  And not just his cooking.  I've never met any man in my entire life quite like him.  I truly feel like I live with my best friend.  I can talk to him about anything and everything.  I hate that we don't get to spend as much time together as I'm used to - but the time we do spend together is happy and harmonious.  He keeps me grounded, he reminds me of the important things in life, and man.. can that guy cook!  I really am having a hard time putting in to words how much he means to me - and that's because there just aren't words to fully express how much I love him.

15.  I am thankful for the internet.  Even though I was really upset yesterday morning when I didn't have internet and couldn't get on here to write this list, I really don't know what I'd do without it.  It keeps me in touch with my passion for writing, allows me to find answers to questions, keeps me connected to long lost family member and friends - without the cost of a huge phone bill or actually having to talk to them.  And while technology often gets a bad rap - the internet is a world of discovery and tools right at my finger tips.  It makes my job as a teacher easier, that's for sure.

16.  I am thankful for fuzzy fleece pajamas.  Whoever came up with these need to be kissed.. many times over.  Putting on a pair of fleece pajamas is like putting on a blanket for me to walk around in.  They keep me so warm and comforted.  And while I love curling up in a blanket when relaxing on the couch - my fuzzy PJs keep me feeling that way no matter where I am or what I'm doing in my house.  

17.  I am thankful for coffee.  Well, to say that I'm thankful for coffee is a HUGE understatement.  I love my kids and Hubby and my job and my family... but they are all able to love me back thanks to the beverage in my cup.  It's the first thing I turn to in the morning, and it's the last thing I hold on to before going to bed.  I just don't know what my life would be like without my coffee.  Wait, yes I do... and it's not something I ever want to think about again.  This time of year, my coffee is even more important because it keeps me warm and comforted with delicious seasonal coffee creamers... can you say heaven in a cup?  Life is better when there's a cup of coffee in my hand.

18.  I am thankful for the two teachers that work with me in 4th grade.  I really couldn't have asked for better mentors or friends.  It's really as though everything I could ever have wished for in cohorts were granted to me.  They make me laugh, they offer support, they give me confidence in taking risks, and never have they ever made me feel like "just a newbie".  Every day, I look forward to going to my classroom... and a lot of it have to do with them.  No matter what my day is like, I know that I can always walk in to one of their classrooms and know that everything is going to be OK.  

19.  I am thankful for the kids I get to teach this year.  Because as much as I'm teaching them, they are teaching me.  They offer me daily struggles and challenges to overcome.  They give me goals to work towards.  They have shown me that teaching is most definitely a calling - and one that I know I've been called for.  The kids that walk in to my classroom each day give me a purpose, a drive.  They are a reason that my job isn't a job - but a career.  I know that I will never forget their little faces no matter how many years I stay a teacher.  I love each and every one of them.

20.  I am thankful that there's only a couple of days left to work before I get a nice five day weekend.  Even though I love my job, it's always nice to have a few days where I can just focus on family and relaxing.  I have no intention, anymore, of going to the Black Friday sales - so I'm just going to use the time off to spend time with my kids, get our Christmas stuff out, and enjoy the time for what it's meant for.

Next week will be my final installment.  I'll be sharing my thankfulness for my extended family, life lessons, and anything else that pops in to my head.


Wednesday, November 14, 2012

That Moment When You Realize Your Baby is Growing Up WAY Too Fast

In a few short weeks, I'll be writing a special post for Jelly.  That's because in a few short weeks - three weeks to be the will be Jelly's 5th birthday.


It's such a scary feeling for me.  It's not like I haven't been through this twice before, but this year is different.  Jelly is my last child.  The last baby I had and will ever have.  And in my mind, five is the year where they move out of baby mode into the independent (kinda) "I'm not a baby anymore" mode.

Yesterday, when I picked her up from school, I heard something I didn't expect to hear for quite some time.  "Mommy, my tooth is lose"

Upon further inspection, it appeared that her front bottom tooth was indeed lose.  Really lose.  Like it won't be very long before that sucker is out. 

How did this happen?  Babies aren't supposed to lose their teeth.  That's supposed to happen once they start school! 

Hearing those five words almost brought tears to my eyes.  They put a lump in my throat.  Here I was thinking I had a few weeks left to cherish and bask in the last of the baby days... and here she is speeding things along with the talk of a loose tooth.

I remember that five was about the age of Peanut and Butter when I started getting the urge for another child.  I started connecting the dots that they didn't need me as much.  Sure, they still needed me to cook for them, and clean for them, and do all the motherly duties I will have to do until they reach the age of 18.  But, it was the little things... getting them dressed, tying shoes, kissing a boo-boo, rocking them off to sleep in my arms that were fading away.  Once in a blue moon, if I could really persuade them, I'd get an evening of snuggling on the couch after they reached the five mark.  But, it didn't occur near as much as it did prior to the transition from four to five.

I can honestly say, I don't have those cravings this time around.  I know that I'm done.  My pregnancy and birthing days are over.  No more babies.  Which is why this time around is probably a lot harder to swallow.

Jelly has always been one step ahead of the game, though.  A few weeks ago, she discovered how to tie her own shoes.  For months, she's been insisting on getting herself dressed - even picking out her own clothes on most days.  She fixes her own flavored water.  And two nights ago, she went in to the kitchen and made herself a slice of bread with butter on it - all by herself.

She's years ahead of her age.

One thing that hasn't gone, yet anyways, is her desire to want to snuggle.  Most nights, she wants to lay on the couch with me and she'll fall sleep in my arms.  If by some chance, she's gone to bed by herself... which is something else she does quite regularly... then she may sneak in to our bed in the middle of the night and want to snuggle up next to me.

I wonder how many other mothers feel the way I do?  Especially if they've decided that there will be no more children.

Oh well.  Time to suck up my meloncholyness.   My children are growing up - nothing I can do about that.  I just need to cherish all of my moments.  Spend every bit of time I can soaking it all up.  She may be officially moving out of baby mode in to growing up to fast mode... but that doesn't mean I have to really accept it.  She will always be my baby.  In fact, all of my kids are and will be.  Even if they don't appreciate it now as much as they did when I was changing those stinky diapers.  HA!


Tuesday, November 13, 2012

Truthful Tuesday

To be honest... I really don't have that much rolling around my head to be honest about today.  The days are going by in such a blur that it feels like I just wrote last week's Truthful Tuesday post and that not much has happened since then.

To be honest... I'm not thrilled about having to miss another day out of the classroom for another training.  While I believe that professional development is very important - I just hate having to miss so many days with my kiddos.  And by so many days, I mean once a month.  And that's too much in my opinion.  While I always get great stuff from my trainings - stuff that will help me in the classroom and better the educational experience for my kids - I can't help but miss them when I'm gone.  That's the part I don't like.

To be honest... I'm really going to have to keep myself from falling in to the Christmas bubble I get in to this time of year - when all I can think about is Christmas and I don't want to do anything but think about Christmas.  I've already started planning the Christmas party for school, and the activities we're going to do.  What I need to be planning is the content I'm going to be teaching for the next few weeks before any of the Christmas activities can take place.

To be honest... I really feel so blessed that I'm allowed to be able to think about Christmas celebrations at school. Then again, I do work in a town called Noel.  I just don't think it would be right to work in a town with that name and not be allowed to celebrate.

To be honest... I find it pretty humorous and mildly disturbing how much media attention is being given to the petitions for state secession.  From what I last read, twenty states have filed petitions for succession from the United States.  I don't know who started these petitions - but I think it's ridiculous.  Do people actually realize what succession would mean?  No more government funding for anything - which includes education and military.  Do all of the 20 states that have requested the petition (my own state and the state I work for is involved with this) believe that they could stand alone as their own nation?  But, at the end of the day, it's really not going to matter much.  Yahoo news says it best when they reported that being granted secession is:  
"Of course, this is mostly a symbolic gesture. The odds of the American government granting any state permission to go its own way are on par with winning the lottery while getting hit by a meteor while seeing Bigfoot while finding gluten-free pizza that tastes like the real thing."

To be honest... I'm now on the verge of going off on a big political rant and just don't have the time or energy.  I think it best that I just quit now and go get ready for work.