Wednesday, December 29, 2010


First off, I have had almost 4 glasses of wine as I write this.  Please forgive any typos that may be forthcoming.

Hubby, E and I made it through the two days with my parents (it would have been three but snow overtook us) and we headed to the middle of our state.  I had found this lovely cabin near our destination to stay in.  We had friends with family in this area come just to spend time with us.  The idea was our two families would meet at the cabin and have dinner.

We arrived exactly at 4:00 as the proprietors had requested to check in...only there were no proprietors.  We walked around the property for 20 minutes waiting for them to arrive.  Finally, after being visited by the mangiest collie I have ever laid eyes on, they arrived and I suddenly heard  banjos playing in the background.  The man was wearing his camouflage pants and orange hat, and the woman had bleached white hair and was missing her front tooth.  The woman apologized for being late, she said they had thought we were arriving tomorrow.  (I have the email that says otherwise.)  And she walked into her house to get some "towels" (they looked as bad as the collie) and led us down to the cabin.

I had looked over their website with a fine-tooth comb.  I was promised a fully stocked cabin with nice furnishings.  What they had in their pictures was not what they actually had!  She showed us upstairs and as I was looking at the bedspread from the 70's when I noticed something.  It was several small objects, oblong and brown.  IT WAS MOUSE DROPPINGS ON THE BED!  I immediately said I couldn't stay there and the woman tried to convince me it was bird droppings.  She tried to tell me that a former customer had left the door open and a bird had come in.  I KNOW BIRD DROPPINGS!!! THIS WAS MOUSE!!!  ON THE BED!!!  It doesn't really matter what it was, the cabin was a good old bait and switch and I was not spending my hard-earned money on it.

Needless to say I am typing this from a very nice Marriott and have had a very nice evening and feeling very tipsy.  Bird droppings my ass!

Saturday, December 25, 2010

A Gift to Myself

This year has been a rough Christmas for me.  I won't go into depressing details, but the Holiday Malaise hit me hard.  But therapy seems to be working and making me a stronger person willing to address my needs, so this year I gave myself the best gift ever.  I gave myself the gift of simplicity.

Hubby has three church members who have separate mysterious, undiagnosable and possibly terminal illnesses.  He has not been home much since the nearest big hospitals are an hour away in a different state.  He's been going back and forth to three different hospitals AND working extra hours to create a meaningful Advent season for the church.  As a result, the season preparations have fallen to me and E to do by ourselves.  Instead of going out and getting a large real tree for the living room we are never in (as we have done every year), we bought a smaller, skinny fake one that fits in our tiny family room.  I'm not normally a fan of fake, but it was so easy.  I still baked 6 dozen cookies, but instead of making them all from scratch, I bought the pre-cut refrigerator cookies AND I didn't bake anything else for the shut-ins.  Instead I took all of the sugary treats my preschool parents made me and split them up for Hubby to take and share.  That way they didn't destroy my diet and I didn't drive myself crazy by trying to add one more thing to my already packed schedule.

Instead of buying tons of presents for each other, we decided we wanted to spend our money on going away to a cabin in the middle of the state this week.  E still got a few gifts from Santa, but then we set a $15.00 limit per person.  I am so looking forward to getting away (as long as the hospital people stay out of ICU).   We are meeting some friends who have two daughters around E's age at the cabin and I am finally going to get to talk to a girlfriend.  Plus, the husband is one of Hubby's best friends and also a pastor, so you can imagine how much bitching is going to occur.

But the best gift I gave myself this year was refusing to allow my parents to come up for Christmas.  Unless snow prevents us from driving the 5 hours to their house, we are going to leave right after church tomorrow and go to our old town and spend a belated holiday with them. Which leaves just the three of us here spending quiet family time together.  I didn't realize just how much I struggle with people here at Christmas.  It doesn't matter if it is my parents or Hubby's, I become obsessive about creating the perfect Christmas for others and ruin my own.  I gave myself the gift of no criticism this year.  If I burn something, forget something, drop something, no one will care.  If I am tired and just want to watch TV with E, no one will complain.  I don't have to entertain, feed or worry over other people.  E and Hubby wouldn't care if we just had tv dinners for Christmas.  For the first Christmas in a long time, I can just breathe.

And lastly, (as weird as it  may sound) for the first time in 17 years I gave myself the gift of a sports injury.  Wednesday when I was doing a chest press on the Cybex machines, something in my chest popped and I had shooting pain.  I stopped that exercise and continued with my workout.  When I went back on Friday to do another weight workout I noticed a muscle in my chest was tender and swollen to the touch.  Not enough to prevent me from working out, but enough to make me realize just how far I have come this year.  I am damn proud of this muscle strain.  It's symbolic to me.  6 months ago I was terrified of my back going out, or my neck twitching and I couldn't lift a thing.  This Christmas I worked out so hard I popped something and went back for more.  I call that a win.

So while I may be struggling through Christmas this year, I think I have a lot to be proud of...and thankful for.  It's been a tough year, but I made it through.  And I made it through by becoming a stronger, better, healthier person.  Here's to 2011!

Merry Christmas...or as Charlitan says, Happy Holiday of your choice!

Thursday, December 16, 2010

Where I stand....

1. I think E has a crappy, burnt-out teacher this year.  The teacher is very nice, but completely disorganized and can't follow through with anything.  This is what I have observed with my own eyes.

2.  The parents her teacher is dealing with are the same parents I deal with at my theater.  They are a formidable group when they all get together.

3. These parents and the gifted teacher have a folder of studies that show gifted children thrive when placed in one single classroom instead of being mixed in with lower performing students and have used these studies to create an "elite" society, of which E is finally swimming on the edges of instead of being completely shunned.

4.  I think the showing of the movie was totally appropriate and generated the discussion for which it was meant.

5.  The troubled girl could not have been stopped from making her admission and yes, I know the admission to be true.  Her parents have been in jail for at least 2 years.  As for medication, I do believe that to be true but can't confirm it.

6. As for E, this girl's admission gave my child a great deal of relief.  E is smart and empathetic and totally gets the kids with issues.  Her best friend for the longest time was an almost non-verbal autistic child.  When E heard this girl's meanness was not a result of a fault of E's, but something unrelated, she felt better.  She felt that the things the girl had been saying about her were not true, just  a result of trouble at home.  And knowing the girl was on medication made E feel better as well.  I explained to E that just because this girl admitted all this, that still doesn't give her a right to be a bully, but E felt better just knowing that someone was trying to control this child.

7.  I believe the parents of the gifted children created this problem by constantly forcing the class selection for so many years.  Yes, gifted children may thrive when placed with similar children, but that is not the real world.  In the real world they must learn to adapt and help, not look down and intimidate.  I have a Montessori background and expect E to step up and help a child who may be struggling to read, or tutor an child in math.  But, I also expect her to receive that special attention that challenges her and makes school a fun place.  Neither is happening right now because the parents created a monster system...and in effect, a monster child.  I am not sure she would be so disruptive if she weren't in a classroom where EVERYONE was so much smarter than her.  If she was in a blended classroom, her self-esteem would not be suffering as much.  She'd still be a problem, but....

8.  I know this because the shoe was on the other foot last year.  E was tortured by her class mates because she was the smartest kid in the class, in a class of the lowest performing children.  She had one friend and that was it.  Only she didn't act out, she retreated, but it is the same concept.

9.  I know that many parents are in an uproar about this movie and girl's admission and I am being asked to join the crows and complain, only it is the one thing this year that I agree with.  Do I maintain my silence, join the group and try to use this to force the teacher out because of her other flaws?  Or do I stand up against the crowd and speak my peace, dooming myself and E to be outcast yet again just when she is finding her place amongst her peers?

I wish there was an American Girl movie for adults in this situation.

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Where do you stand?

Here's the story but I am not going to say which side I fall on.  I will when all the verdicts are in.

My daughter is in the gifted program at school.  There are 350 fourth graders of which 22 are in this program.  Over the years the parents of gifted students and the gifted teacher here have banded together to keep these students in the same class.  In fact, most of them started together in the same preschool I teach at now.

Last year things hit a boiling point, however, and the closeness became a problem when Mean Girl Syndrome hit.  Some of the gifted girls started bullying each other and were understandably miserable.  Last year, when this was all going on, E was not a part of this.  Even though I had written on her entry forms that she was in the gifted program, somehow her records never made it to the new school.  She attended the gifted program but was not truly considered "part" of the program.  Her class last year held 16 of the lowest performing students in third grade and 3 students similar to E who had also not been earmarked yet.  Her teacher, however, was exceptional and although E struggled with having no friends, her teacher more than made up for that.

This year is different.  E's fourth grade teacher is brand new to this school.  She is an older woman who has taught for many years but is currently in school to receive her masters.  She is absent at least 2 of every 10 days.  Since she is new and the gifted kid's parents complained about last year, the gifted kids were split up into two classes, one being hers.  Essentially she was given this gift of 11 high performing, love learning kind of kids, but she also got 3 on-level kids and 3 of the worst discipline problem kids.  This has created a situation.

The 3 discipline problem kids have been allowed to take over the classroom and create an environment almost impossible to learn in.  Several parents have talked to the teacher. The teacher's response was to say she would never allow HER children to attend this school and she's never even heard of kids as bad as the kids she is dealing with.  This prompted the parents to go to the principal who has made several visits to the classroom.

So here is what I would like your opinion on:

Bullying is a problem in this classroom.  The teacher showed "Chrissa Stands Strong" to the students, an American Girl movie on bullying.  After the showing, the girl in the classroom who is the most disruptive to the class stood up and told the whole class that her parents were both drug dealers and are now in jail so she lives with her grandmother.  She then went on to tell the class that she had to take a pill everyday to help her control her anger.

Question:  Was it appropriate to show this film and allow this child to make this admission? 

Feel free to answer however you would like.  I know exactly where I fall on this issue, I would just like to know how you feel.

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Brain-Dead Me

E  likes to make presents for the family for Christmas, so we bought a fizzy bath salt-making kit.  You mix two ingredients together with some water and place the batter in a mold to dry.  It seems pretty easy, doesn't it?

We had placed the molds on a cookie sheet and left them on our table in the living room.  All evening the Raptor kept barking at the table.  I had left two Christmas gift bags on the table to take to work in the  morning, so I just assumed he was barking at the bags.  He does that occasionally, barks at indiscriminate objects.  Although he is much better than he used to be.  But I digress...

Well E and I must have gotten the amount of water wrong.  It turns out the fizzy bath salts weren't exactly hardening, they were fizzing.  They fizzed right out of the mold, off of the cookie sheet and onto the 60 year old table.  Raptor must have heard the fizzing and thought there was a snake on the table.  He is a terrier after all, aren't they small snake and rodent hunters?

Anywho, our realtor called and said a family was coming to look at the house.  Our house was pretty clean, but I didn't want the family to come in and see hard pink goo on the table.  I tried to pick it off with my fingers-didn't work.  I got a knife and tried to scrape it off-didn't work.  I stared at this stuff and started to panic...after all, the table is an antique and it doesn't belong to me, it belongs to the church.  Had I just ruined it with fizzy bath salts?

Um...but then I thought about what it was.  It was fizzy BATH salts.  The word bath must imply that it dissolves in water.  DUH!!!  I got a wet paper towel and the problem was dis-solved (wink, wink, nudge, nudge) in seconds.  I'm such an idiot!  But in my defense, I have a nasty cold and blame the snot.

Oh...and for the third time in two weeks, the realtor never showed up and never called us to let us know she wasn't showing up.  All the while the raptor and I walked around outside in 20 degree weather so we wouldn't be in anyone's way.

Maybe I need to take a nice warm, fizzy bath.

And a shot of whiskey with some rock candy.

And Nyquil....lots of Nyquil.  (I've never taken it before, does it work?)

Friday, December 10, 2010

Actual Conversation I Had Today

A woman I work with at the preschool is a Pentecostal.  She's very nice, but....according to her all Catholic people are going to hell and if you are not from the South you aren't worth spit.  This same woman just returned from a trip to Israel.  I kid you not, I worried just a little bit that I would hear about some international incident taking place and I would know whom to blame.

She returned to work today and I asked her how she enjoyed her trip.  She found it very fulfilling to walk where Jesus walked, but didn't like the food.  According to her it was all "fruits and vegetables, nothing but fruits and vegetables.  And for dinner they would bring you a salad with this dressing made from oil.  Then they would bring you a bowl of rice, no sauce, no gravy, no nothing.  I would sit there with this bowl of rice getting cold until they served the chicken.  And it wasn't fried either.  It was just plain grilled chicken that I had to mix with my plain cold rice just to give it some taste.  I couldn't even drink anything because they wouldn't give me any ice!  Even their desserts weren't sweet, just flaky.  I ate a lot of fries, just fries."

And after this conversation I had two thoughts in my head: No wonder America is the fattest nation in the world and no wonder most other countries hate us.  This woman just couldn't grasp that water is a fast disappearing commodity that some all countries need to conserve.  And that most people don't have the luxury of using precious things like flour and grease to make artery clogging gravy instead of stomach filling bread.

After our conversation we went to a gathering our school was having wherein every family brought a dozen cookies.  Two tables worth of cookies.  The irony was  not lost on me.

Friday, December 3, 2010

You put your right hand in....

I am a very active teacher with my two year olds.  I believe that they need to have "adult-free" playtime, but I also believe some guided playtime is extremely important.  Usually at the the end of their day we do yoga together.  Let me tell you, two year olds love "oga."  But sometimes I succumb and do normal things, such as sing the itsy bitsy spider song (which truly makes me want to poke my own eye out.)

I also refuse to wear expensive clothes to my class.  More often than not, my clothes attract hands with yellow paint all over them, or lovely green snot rockets (yes, I had to go there), and occasionally even the wet bottom where the diaper leaked.  It's just not worth it to wear anything fancy or not wash and wear.

So the other day I was wearing a pair of knit khaki colored capris that have become well-worn and a little too big.  As I was leading the kids in the hokey pokey I noticed all of them were holding their pant legs just above their knees.  It was the weirdest thing.  Why, I wondered,  would they be holding their pants?  But just then, as I went to put my left foot in, I discovered that I was holding my over-sized pant leg up...just above my knee. The kids were only imitating what they were seeing.

So know my husband calls those particular pants my "hokey pokey" pants.