Archive for March 2010

Tues-Dates

March 25, 2010

I am a part time Teacher.  Years ago, when we brought the Princess home from her Russian orphanage, I became a ‘half time’ Teacher.  I taught one section of Kindergarten.  My students came two and a half days per week…and then 2 days one week and three days the next week.  How 5 year olds adjusted to THAT routine is another blog.  This schedule allowed me to bring home a paycheck and STILL do the ‘Mommy and Me’ thing with my new five year old daughter.  She went to preschool/daycare on the days that I worked.  When she started school full time, I applied myself to getting back into a full time position….for seven years.   Not easy……and not fun for the pocket book now that my kids were older.  But I DID like my days off.  Our house was quiet.  I was writing….and sewing….and quilting…..and shopping……and cleaning (sometimes). 

Last year I was upgraded to an 8/10ths position…..or four days a week.   MUCH nicer on the bank account.  And my Principal, who was involved in the “specials’ scheduling process asked which day of the week I wanted to keep as a day off.  I could pick any day except  Monday or Friday. 

I kept Tuesday….which wierdly works to my benefit in the long run.  I am never working on that first day of school so I can get my own kiddos off to a good start.  And those Monday Off holidays always turn into Monday/Tuesday Off holidays for me.  I cherished my Tuesdays.  Our house was quiet.  I was writing….and sewing….and quilting…..and shopping……and cleaning (sometimes). 

So when the Hubby told me last fall that he would be laid off for a considerable amount of time ( five MONTHS…yikes!) , I was a bit crushed.  Lump in my throat kind of crushed.  And not about the money or the time He would be home.  My solitary and quiet  Tuesdays would be gone.

It took us a couple of weeks of dancing around each other come January when his lay off began but my Tuesdays gradually evolved into our ‘Tues-Dates.’

Tues-Dates!

We have taken in afternoon movies together.  We have gone shopping together.  We have gone to  restaurants for lunch together.  We have attended appointments together.  We have driven around and through neighborhoods together looking for a new house.  Sometimes we have just spent the day quietly at home.

Tues-Dates.

When you have two active children who need to be driven to sports events and practices, driven to school, driven to friends’ houses,  have homework monitored and a constant supply of meals and snacks and laundry tended to, that ‘date time’ gets lost in the shuffle.

And to think I always shook my head when I would hear that ‘parents need to schedule time together AWAY from their kids.’  Not us.   We CHOSE this parenting thing.  Its part of WHOWEARE.   Heh.

Our Tues-Dates have given us back what we used to have – before kids.  We talk more.  We share more.  We strategize our parenting more effectively.  We enjoy each other more.

And now that he is talking about going back to work again….about the assembly plant reopening…..I have been crushed.

My Tues-Dates will be gone.   Our house will be quiet again.  I will be writing….and sewing….and quilting…..and shopping……and cleaning (sometimes)…again.  Alone.

Rats.

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A Little Prayer Moment

March 22, 2010

It’s Spring…….and I teach in an elementary school. 

 ‘Nuff said.

Our lack of a Winter Break has taxed us to the max.  Kids have been raring to bust out of their snow pants and mittens and hats for weeks.  If only their energy level could be collected and bottled.

  I believe we would be on Mars by now.

Every time I pass a Teacher in the hall or the workroom or the lunchroom, we roll our eyes and carry on.

But I….honestly….have a little secret.

Every morning, I sit in my car in the parking lot and say a little prayer.  I pray for a good day.  I pray that my children will be inspired to do their best and to make choices and have actions that will reflect their love of God.  I pray for my sister and her family and the trials they are dealing with in their southern home.  I pray for my parents and their life in an even more southern home.  I pray that my husband will find something constructive and healthy to do with his day while he is laid off.  I pray for the new home we are trying to find.  I pray for my colleagues and their students to make the most of their ‘learning day.’  I pray for myself.

To have patience.

To teach something worthy.

To make my students feel good about themselves and what they can do.

To make my friends feel good about what THEY do.

And then I walk inside and face the day.

With a smile.

And a sense of peace.

And it works.

I mean, who says that God can’t come to school?

How…FREAKING how??????

March 12, 2010

When he was little, we read aloud every day a multitude of times.  We sang in the car.  We sang in the shower.  We played with tinted soap in the tub and shot water color aliens off the shower walls with squirt guns.  We built snow castles and snow forts and snow dinosaurs and snow men.  He painted snow with tinted water in spray bottles.  He collected shoe boxes of ‘treasures’ and every single Star Wars action figure that has graced the planet.  He started painting as soon as his fist could hold a paintbrush.  He played with store bought PlayDoh and home made claydough that smelled like gingerbread and grape kool aid.  He built castles and bridges and roads in sand.  We made cookies and brownies and candy and decorated cupcakes and paper hats.  He has eaten peanut butter with a spoon and fingerpainted with pudding.

So tell me how….HOW….did I end up with a kid who apparently hasn’t a creative bone in his body?

Who doesn’t seem able to think outside the box…..or enjoy doing something that requires just a wee bit of original thought?

Just where did I go wrong?

Sigh.

The Crimp in My Morning

March 10, 2010

Having written in the past about how much I have enjoyed my mornings, I have to admit that having him home tends to cramp my style a bit. 

 Him…….being this guy. 

Last fall, the kids and I had fallen into a nice routine.  Prince and I would rise at 5 and take showers.  He would fall into a doze stretched out on the couch in front of the sports channel while I wrote  or cruised email and various internet stop overs.  I would wake Princess at 6ish so she could shower.  We would all dress for the day and pack our back packs.  No need to talk really.  Just quietly reflecting on the day ahead.  It was a ‘system.’

 I would be out the door by 6:50 to drive him to the high school  and then head back home to have breakfast with her.  Then we would be out the door for a drive to the middle school by 7:50.   I would drop her off and then go to my own school – which happens to be right next to hers.   I enjoyed those few moments of one on one time with my teens.  I really did.

Occasionally she would come with me to take him and we would go to a cafe between his school and hers for breakfast.  Not often…and usually when we needed a few more minutes to go over materials for a test.  Pathetically the waitress there knows our order before we even order.  Hash browns and hot chocolate for her, breakfast special #1, rye toast and water for me.   Or we would get a quickie breakfast at a fast food place or ‘power shop’ at the nearest Meijer’s store.  Fresh bagels and juice, fruit and salads for lunches generally fill our basket on those mornings and other things needed at school or at home.   Not very often you understand….but often enough to make our mornings special.

And then HE was laid off from his job of 30+ years.  Its only temporary but is lasting for months.  WAY longer than he is used to.

And he likes to talk in the mornings.

To us.

That definitely cramps our style.

He wakes us up and watches the television news as we shower and dress and pack backpacks/lunches….or not.  HE drives the Prince to school and then comes home to drive the Princess to school and then drops me off at my school right next door.  Once we have gone to the cafe for breakfast…but it was costly for three.  Once we power shopped but he doesn’t know the ‘system.’  Plan ahead, start at the back and work your way forward till you have your basketful.  It was a fiasco.

Definitely puts a crimp in our morning routine.

Aarrrgh.

But some things can be over looked and dealt with after twenty years.  After all, I get to deal with this for a period of time every year.

I mean, how many people are lucky enough to sleep with Santa Claus?

Sushi, Burgers and Birthday Treats

March 1, 2010

Having been in the classroom for so many years, I have seen classroom treats galore.  Parents send them in for holiday parties, classroom celebrations…and birthdays.  Some parents know exactly what will tickle a little kid’s palate and keep a teacher happy.  Others…not so much.  I have had many favorites over the years – popcorn hands, cookies on a stick, ocean jello, dirt pudding (mine came with a daisy, theirs with a gummy worm), ‘puppy chow’ – and a few unfavorites.  I mean NOTHING creates more havoc in a classroom than a sheet cake that arrives with no utensils, no paper plates and nothing to cut it with.  Or a watermelon…just a watermelon.  OR the big plastic containers that have to be carried home on the bus by a five /six year old who is already weighed down with a back pack.   Probably my very favorite birthday treat was brought in by a mom – who arrived AFTER lunch and stayed to help serve it.  She had ice cream cone cupcakes, two tubs of frosting (chocolate and vanilla)  and two butter dishes – one with little round sprinkles and one with long, multi-colored sprinkles.  My students lined up and chose a frosting they liked, it was expertly spread on their cupcake cone, dunked the top in the sprinkles of their choice and went off to their seat with a napkin and a small container of apple juice.  Sweeet. 

And then there was the health conscious mom who brought in fruit kebobs….which became swords and light sabers as soon as the fruit was gone.  Ai yi yi.

I am really not trying to appear ungrateful.  Teachers LOVE to have their students share treats.  Really.  And with two kiddos of my own, I know how important celebrating a birthday with school friends is.  And besides, I sincerely enjoy making them…because Moms have given me so many good ideas.

When the Prince was a little guy, I found a wonderful cookie cutter of a hand print.  When he was two, we folded three fingers down before baking them and he took them to day care.  We did the same when he was three and then four.  When he turned the momentous age of five, we made ‘McDaniel Happy Meals’ – a little white bag with a burger cookie, potato stick ‘fries’, wax pop bottles and a tiny toy treat – for each of his daycare friends.  As luck would have it, the Fisher Price McDonalds we had given to a nephew/niece had been handed back so he had a Mickey D employee apron and hat to wear while he passed them out.  Too cute…..and he doesn’t remember it.

Since he is my child who doesn’t enjoy being ‘out of the box’, school birthday treats were generally things of the norm – cookies on a stick, regular cupcakes, Little Debbie snacks.  He once asked me WHY I couldn’t just go to the store and BUY cupcakes – like the other moms.  I don’t know?  Maybe because….I had too many classroom parties where they would just lick off the mountain of frosting, throw the cupcake away and then fight over lost rings and things that had adorned the top?

The Princess, however, LOVES  ‘outside the box.”  With an August birth date we would generally send in treats on her ‘Gotcha Day’ in late September.  Once, we searched on line to find the cookies we enjoyed while completing her adoption in Russia,  She took them to school to share.  We developed a ‘Gorp’ recipe that she loved.  When she turned seven, we found seven things to mix in a bowl and scoop into a bag with a ‘Birthday Gorp’ poem attached.  Seven things being Fruit Loops, Goldfish crackers, yogurt raisins, chocolate chips, mini pretzels,  animal crackers and Reese’s Pieces. That continued when she was eight and then nine.  We had to get REALLY creative when she turned 10.  She looked forward to it every year.

When they advanced into middle school they became ‘too cool’ for that kind of stuff.  A bag of Tootsie Pops was preferable.  And that was okay with me.  I was a little over the treat thing by then.  Until last summer. 

 Somehow I was commandeered into providing a snack for 54 Youth Police Academy participants, four times a week for two weeks.  Once again we cranked out the cookies, the granola bars, the popcorn balls, the Rice Krispie treats, the brownies and the Puppy Chow.

Then this fall, the Princess stayed after school to work on homework with a tutor for the school’s SNACKS program.  Budget cuts meant that the only snacks the student participants seemed to get were pretzels.  They’re cheap.  So we voluntarily supplemented that once a week with Rice Krispie Treats, chocolate covered pretzel sticks (rolled in crushed candy canes – yum!), brownies, cookies, apples…..and Puppy Chow. 

She plays basketball now and has practice every afternoon.  HOWEVER, she and sixteen other students will be retaking one of their standardized tests this week.  Someone lost the original tests.  Grrrr.  But she is taking these in for a treat when they finish each day.  Too cute.

Rice Krispie ‘sushi’ (with gummy worm centers and fruit  rollup  ‘wrappers’) and Burgers ‘n Fries (vanilla wafer ‘buns’ and GS Thin Mint cookie ‘burgers’ with potato stick ‘fries’) are sure to be a hit.  Our nearest McDonalds happily donated their fry sacks to hold them.  Too cute. 

And I know she….will remember this.

Heh.