Wednesday, December 31, 2008


How do you sum up a year? For whatever reason, it is really important to me to catalog my years on this planet. I've got diaries dating back to '86. I keep scrapbooks for my kids. I take pictures like a crazy person.

I'm a sentimental fool. One might say.

Something I started in 2006 is making an annual photo book for our family album. They are slender, sleek, beautiful printed photo books that keep all of the memories I am so desperate to preserve. I use Kodak Gallery, because it's the first site I used and I'm a creature of habit. I know many sites offer it and there are many to choose from.

I just finished my 2008 book today and will look forward to it arriving next week some time. I ordered it in green this time.

I picture myself an old woman, with a shelf full of these books, pulling them down one by one for my great grandchildren to look at.
Would that I may be so fortunate.

Happy New Year!

Monday, December 29, 2008

Gearing Up

Do you know what sound I love? The coffee pot brewing, especially the very end when it really gurgles. It's doing that now, excuse me while I go get a cup...

Mmmmm. Okay.

The other sound that I love? Silence. It's quiet here now. Hubs took the kids off to daycare for the day at our church. There are two days this break when they are going, today and tomorrow, so that I can go into work and get ready for next semester. A little quality time off the clock.

Today there is much more on the to do list. Licensing the car. Lunch with a friend. Groceries to buy.

It's probably more than one day will allow to get done.

This morning my priority is our house, which is just a disaster area. Christmas, then a two-day trip out of town, then a lazy weekend and we've got ourselves a big mess. BIG. This morning it's digging out from that. The mail, laundry, gifts, trash, and on and on and on.

Here's hoping the coffee kicks in soon. I've got to get moving!

Monday, December 22, 2008

Last Minute

Does Santa get last minute letters?
Last week at school, B wrote a letter to Santa. She had already asked him in person for the main gift she's wanted since September. (This thing, which has been waiting in the basement since early November.) So she thought it made more sense to add something to the list. She went with an elephant. Easy enough, since our little man had mentioned that Santa would bring him an elephant too, so they'll each get a $3 stuffed pachyderm in their stockings. Piece of cake.
Then last night, another letter. I thought about telling her that it wasn't going to happen, but she likes to practice writing and who am I to squelch that? Then I saw what she asked for. A Bible. Well now, how do you deny a kid that? We have lots of children's Bible stories, but not an actual children's Bible. So yes, we'll pick up some last minute Beginner's Bibles.
But really, how is this to be handled? If she tries to add something to the list from here on out, I can say that it's too late, right? Santa couldn't possibly add anything else to his list? Maybe next year I'll have to set a Santa deadline? It's just one of those parenting things that I hadn't thought through. It hadn't even crossed my mind!
I'm wishing you all a very Merry week! We are celebrating several times over this week, enjoying a season that is worth such praise! So Merry Christmas to you. I'm going to try to unplug for the rest of the week. To sit down with some egg nog and maybe read a book (gasp! a book!) something I have done too little of lately. I hope that everyone has a restful and wonderful holiday week. Take care and stay warm!

Friday, December 19, 2008

Our first winter storm, our first snow day. On the last day of school before break.

My kindergartner is beyond bummed, which is the total opposite emotion one should feel on a snow day. I'm bummed too. For B, there will be no holiday sing along (parents come! to sing along!), no corduroy Christmas jumper, no snowsuit on the playground. For me, it's the cards and thank yous and other holiday sentiments I planned to hand out today. Not to mention wrapping up first semester with exams and grades and such. It's a bit of a bummer to start holiday break knowing that will be waiting for me on January 5th.

But I'll get over it!

Now we're on break! For two full weeks plus one bonus day.

There are presents to wrap, cards to address and send out, hot cocoa to sip, children to snuggle. I've been one distracted mama lately and am glad for some time to regroup. To get back to center.

"Sit to us mommy," suggests my little man. And that's what I'm just about to do.

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Happy B-day Hubs!

He might not remember that the first of his birthdays we spent together, we had been engaged for two days. It sort of eclipsed the whole turning twenty three thing. We met friends downtown and there were lots of "Congratulations! Let me see the ring! Oh...and happy birthday J."

Looking back, the past eight years have been my favorite. The best parts of my thirty one years. He likes to kid because I turn the next age two months before he does. I'm the older woman.

So today we're the same age again. It's eight years later. The ring is still on my finger. Be still my heart.

Love you, J.

Monday, December 1, 2008

Spontaneous Santa Sighting

We went to the mall last week for jeans (both kids are growing, what'dya know). I like children's place two for jeans (2 for $22 for our little guy, 2 for $28 for B). I like that these jeans are adjustable and good quality. I seem to have trouble finding jeans that fit these kids. But anyway...I digress.

So we wandered into the mall and we spotted Santa. Hey kids - do ya want to go visit him?

Woo hoo!

An unplanned visit to talk to the big guy. A chance to tell him what we want without waiting in any lines (I told him I want a merry maid - okay, not really). It was great!

I couldn't resist the poor quality, high priced photo.

B told him what she wanted and luckily it has been the same thing since September. Our little man was reluctant, but finally walked up to St. Nick and said with a confident wave, "Hey Santa. I want some trains." Okay then.

I love moments like this.

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

I Could Go On and On

It's funny how memories can just make my heart soar. I bought a $3.99 jug o' wine today. Rose table wine. It's the kind we used to drink at my grandparents on Thanksgiving. It was my first taste of wine and I remember feeling very grown up, pouring myself a glass (or styrofoam cup, more likely) when I was finally of age (or close). So I'm sipping a glass tonight, drinking its sweet, cheap goodness. Remembering putting puzzles together with my cousin and aunt. Playing my grandmother's organ. Eating all of the delicious food, made with love.

Holidays bring such joy to our home. I feel so, so blessed that it is so. I think of people who are lonely, cold, hungry. Instead of mourning that or feeling guilty, I choose to feel blessed and be thankful. I choose to do the little things that I can now to help those in need, and have a feeling that down the road, in my future...there may be big things. I'm not sure what yet, but I know it will come to me when the timing is right.

I'm grateful for all of the good things. I'm also grateful for the challenges. My life is balanced and blessed. I wouldn't want an ounce more.

Happy Thanksgiving.

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

At Lightning Speed

He sheds his baby self and never looks back.
He's so unapologetic about it all.
Thinking it's okay to just keep on growing up.

My baby boy.

Walking before he's one.
Talking soon after.
No more bottle, no problem.
Binky gone at two. No biggie.
Crib - no remorse. In a big boy bed at the end of summer.

Two weeks ago, diapers, buh-bye.

"I a BIG boy, not a baby!"

He's right, you know.
It's enough to make a mama's head spin.


Saturday, November 22, 2008

Pie Time

Today we head to my in-laws' for an early Thanksgiving celebration.

Aside from one finger tip burn, and a nearly burnt crust (don't answer the phone while making baked pie crust!), the pie making has been pretty good today. I make pies every Thanksgiving and have been making pumpkin pie for several years when I found a great recipe in Parade magazine. You can find the recipe here, though I use the one I snipped out of Parade and taped into my Better Crocker cookbook. I get nostalgic about the goofiest things.

Pie crust is surprisingly easy to make, albeit a little time consuming. I learned how in my high school foods class and have been doing it a few times a year ever since. The recipe I use is in my Betty Crocker cookbook. Here is the secret to pie crust success: roll it out between two pieces of wax paper (use some flour too). When it's all rolled out, remove one piece of wax paper and fit it into the pie plate. Then you peel the other piece of wax paper off and you've got a perfect crust. It works every time!

Today I am also making a very fun kid-friendly pie. When I saw mini graham cracker crusts at the store, I couldn't resist. Mini chocolate pies with whipped cream for the kids, what could be better?! For older kids, they could easily make this one on their own. I made the instant chocolate pudding from the pie filling directions on the box, poured it into the mini crusts, and topped with cool whip and sprinkles.



Saturday, November 15, 2008


Slobs Anonymous.
Hi, my name is Melanie.
I am a slob.

Today is one of those days. You know the ones. I'm wiping splatters off walls, digging out of a mountain of laundry, washing out untensil holders and silverware trays. Picking up the random bits that cover my floors. The messes my children manage really are wonders of nature.

I'm not good at picking up as I go along. It does not bother me to sit down after a long day and watch a TV show while the toys are piled around me.

So we're having one of those days. A cleaning-in-my-pajamas day. It feels really good to be getting things put back together.

I just wish I were more of a keep-it-clean kind of mom. Instead of dig-out-after-a-blurry, tired week kind of mom.

C'est la vie.

So while I clean...
Our little guy washes utensils while the untensil holder gets clean in the dishwasher (something you should really think about doing more than once every two years, I can say that from personal experience).

Our B is happy to practice her exciting new mouse skills on an internet game she got to play at school (Sesame Street's website is loaded with games perfect for the 5-year olds set. If your 5-year old is like mine and has had very little mouse time).

All in all, a perfect Saturday at home. Warm inside, protected from the current cold snap in our area. A day to catch up.
Maybe later, a nap.

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Thursday, November 13, 2008


There is something about this cookie that is SO good, that it is hard to explain. Try it for yourself.

Beck is a heck of a cook, but these cookies take the cake.
Or something like that.

Really, I've made 'em twice and they are hella good. Whatever that means.


Saturday, November 8, 2008

Thursday, November 6, 2008

Happy Birthday MKJ!

My mom.
The woman to whom I owe my faith, values, education, and sense of self.
A role model for aging gracefully.
Someone who takes each age, each decade, with attitude and excitement.
November 7th, 1948, a beautiful life began.

Happy Birthday!

Tuesday, November 4, 2008

Can't Contain It

I'm not sure why, well - maybe I KNOW why, but this article made me cry a little. It's just so BIG. So big.

And I'm so freakin' excited!

Maybe it's because since I started voting, I've been on the wrong side of the fence (in my state anyways, and I obviously don't think it's the wrong side...I digress). It's a fence I so rarely step off of. But in politics, I'm happily blue.

I've voted for runner up Dems so many times. For thirteen years now.

This is a biggie. And even if my state may not give their electoral votes to the guy. My vote went there. Mine was for Barack.

I can't wait for the ride!

Saturday, November 1, 2008

Halloween's Passed...Halloween's Past

Halloween 2006

Halloween 2007

Halloween 2008

As the years pass us by, we remember where we've been and eagerly await what's ahead.
Today, life feels beautiful.

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Friday, October 31, 2008

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Barack! Barack! Barack!

I wept through his infomercial tonight. Based on what it was called (infomercial?) I was fully expecting to call in to order a handheld sewing machine or a meat roaster or something.

We are so close.

And this charismatic man could be our president, in just a few days?

This beautiful family could live in our White House. This gorgeous dream. They could make it happen.

When I think of the magnitude. Of the historical significance.

The hair on my arms stands on end.

I'm teaching government this year for the first time (our social studies units run in four-year rotations and the government units always fall on election years, it is so fun!). My students now know the issues, the party platforms, and which candidate stands for what. They can name the democratic and republican party candidates and they can state which candidate falls in line with their beliefs.

I'm not allowed to share my personal opinion. With them.

I will tell you.
I am SO excited. So excited. That Barack Obama, he makes me happy. Tomorrow his ballot will go in the mail, I'm voting for BARACK!

In closing - an anecdote.

Our five-year old, B, to her father this evening. "I voted for Barack Obama to run around for our president. We did it at school and you can talk about it with your family but you can't talk about it at school because who you voted for is a secret and we'll find out who won at our school but I voted for that Barack to run around as president because we watched that on the tv so I hope he wins Evan talked about it and you're not supposed to so he got in trouble but I would tell him I voted for that Barack Obama because he should really run around for our president."

Amen, sister.

Monday, October 27, 2008

Miscellaneous Monday

We had a little Halloween party this weekend. The Hubs' sister, myself, and our five kids (her three, my two) made these spiders and created this web. We also ate pumpkin shaped sandwiches and jello with eyeballs for lunch. It was a great way to spend the day, while the dads were off hunting.

Then yesterday, the kids and I made a beautiful yellow cake that was, I think, a little bit healthy. You use pumpkin and yogurt with the cake mix. It's one of those Deceptively Delicious recipes from Jessica Seinfeld. I'm not sure if the cake is just that good (it is really, really good) or if I'm just being tricked because I used cream cheese frosting and I'd eat just about anything if it had cream cheese frosting.

Then tonight I made a quick and easy meal, which I felt deserved a mention. I'm skeptical of all quick and frozen meals because I'm terribly picky about mystery meat. I don't really like the chicken that comes in any of those frozen throw-together meals. Well, tonight I tried one and was not disappointed. The meat was not scary, the sauce was delicious, and it was truly quick and easy to make. It did not make a lot, so if your kids eat more than mine (which is not much at all) then you'd probably need two, which would be a little expensive. Anyway, Aliki just got me thinking the other day about easy meals for "those" days. And this meal would be perfect to have on hand just for that. Obviously not for the vegetarians in the bunch, but delicious all the same. My kids didn't really eat it because a) it's not orange mac n cheese and b) garlic = too spicy. Sigh. The Hubs and I thought it was yummo. The kids ate bread and butter and fruit. Whatever.

If you haven't checked out Family Education, you should. Aliki's blog there is great. She's informative, insightful, and educational. All of that while also being crafty and a creative cook. Alliteration anyone?
I digress. Go check her out.

This post was brought to you by no one. While it contains a few of my opinions, I received no free samples from T.G.I.Fridays, nor am I drumming up business for Family Education. I just like Aliki's writing, that's all. I'm just spreading the love, ya know?

Sunday, October 19, 2008

Carving Day

Pumpkin carving has become an annual tradition. One that I particularly look forward to. Not just because roasted pumpkin seeds are one of my favorite foods, but that is definitely important!

A quick trip to the grocery store, for our pumpkins to carve.

A long task of getting each precious seed from the ooey-gooey, as my children fondly referred to it.

Little man tried to use utensils.

B's design was ridiculously complicated, including spectacles for her jack-o-lantern. Her father obliged, being wrapped around her little finger as he is.

The Grand Finale. Yummmm!

Saturday, October 11, 2008

I'm Aware

I didn't know that I would cry so much this month.

I lost my mentor and dear friend last Thanksgiving to breast cancer. I'd never known someone so brave.

I assumed that Thanksgiving would be difficult this year, thinking of Jacque. I didn't realize that the entire month of October would leave me crying puddles. Tearing up at the most unexpected times. At times, it feels so good to just let it out. Sometimes, I just get so sad.

It all started with Christina Applegate and Susan G. Komen's sister, Nancy, on Oprah. I don't usually watch, but did catch this episode. I didn't realize that I'd have to shut it off so that I could stop sobbing. I didn't know.

October is Breast Cancer Awareness Month. I have been able to support breast cancer research when a friend at school hosted Lee Denim Day. And when a cousin ran the Race for the Cure. It feels good to get involved, even if it's not directly.

I assume that I will know others in my life who are diagnosed with breast cancer. It could even be me. The thing to remember is the hope. The fight. The survivors.

I'm a better person for knowing Jacque. I want to be a better person in her loving memory. No one ever wants to lose a best friend. I'm so very glad to have had that friend.

Even if it leaves me in tears every October from now to the end.


Thursday, October 9, 2008

I had read back in the summertime about Small Notebooks No Spend Month. Wow.

Last winter I did a piggy bank challenge and was fairly successful.

So now we're gearing up for Christmas and I'm issuing a new challenge for MYSELF. No extra spending this month. That includes clothes, movies, toys, trinkets, etc. We can buy fuel, pay bills, groceries, and necessary toiletries. That's it.

What I'm hoping is that we will be better prepared for Christmas and feeling less of the crunch if we stick to the bill-paying and stop purchasing things to improve our homes, lives, and so on.

I'll let you know how it goes. ;0)

Sunday, October 5, 2008

81 Days

It's not even Halloween yet, and I'm thinking Christmas. I'll tell you why.
I often just live in the moment and the season sort of knocks me over. I get overwhelmed and am maybe not able to enjoy it without stressing. I feel like I'm going to really celebrate this year with a little bit of organized planning. Not to mention, our break starts a full five days before the holiday this year, when we've only got two or three most years. I'm thinking of the gift wrapping, music playing, Christmas baking that I'll be doing in those days and it makes my heart sing!

There's a web site that I've been enjoying. 100 Days to Christmas. Of course, now it's down to 81 or something like that, and I've only been a few times. I know I'll use it more as we get closer.

Another goal I hope to accomplish by organizing my thoughts ahead of time is simplifying and staying in some sort of budget. Unfortunately we've dipped into our Christmas savings more than once and I don't have as much as I had hoped. But still, I want to make some gifts, use my talents, and show the true spirit of giving through a little extra effort and planning. Rather than grabbing some random gift at Target the week of Christmas because I've neglected someone on my list!

What are your planning goals this year? Do you budget? What works for you? I'm curious...

Monday, September 29, 2008

Good Night

I walk carefully out onto the cool, wet grass. I hope that the motion light on the back of my house will shut off soon because I'm not loving the look of my shadow on our privacy fence at the back of our yard.

I breathe in the night air and it's so close to the real thing. I shut my eyes and listen. There are some frogs, crickets, and my neighbor's water feature. So close to being in the country.

I've opened my eyes and thank goodness, the motion light is off. I look up and see some stars. Yes, the night sky is muted along the horizon, where the city lights glow. But straight up, there is my big dipper and my north star.

Breathe deep, find my center.

Sometimes a mama just needs a little fresh air.

As I walk into the house, I pray that the motion light will come back on. Please! I don't really want to squish dog poo on my way back to the house.

Yin and yang. Pros and cons. I'm becoming a city girl, but I can still find a little piece of my country life.

I just have to go looking a little harder sometimes.


Friday, September 26, 2008


My cousin introduced me to the touring production of Rent, about 6 years ago? I don't even know the year. We saw it in Lincoln, and I loved it. I can't even tell you how many times she saw it.

Then came the movie, which I also loved. It's a great story and the music is soul-stirring.

The final showing of Rent on Broadway was recently filmed, with the original cast performing. It's showing in theaters this week and I'm going on Sunday with said cousin!

I'm just a little excited. Just a little.


Wednesday, September 24, 2008

To Be Two

I will scream if you cut my apple in pieces. And don't even try to hand me a banana that you've accidently broken.

I will scream. As loud as I can. Until even my ears ring a little.
I will laugh soon after, because I'm so stinking cute.

I'll tell you I've pooped. But I won't want you to help me clean up. Or go on the toilet.

I will want what I want, when I want it, and then some.

I don't like stripes. Only shirts with basketballs, baseballs, soccer balls, or footballs. Thank you very much.
Unless I want stripes.

I'll throw toys. Right at my sister's head. If I'm so inclined.
Then I'll be mad at YOU for the time out.

I will drink juice.
No water!
No milk!
Unless I want water or milk. Right now!

I am two.

I will also say things like, "I love woo."

And sing my ABC's in the cutest twang you've ever heard.

I'll tell you when things are too girly. Because I'm ALL boy.

I'll melt your heart into puddles with just a sideways glance.

I'll play with my trains, my cars, and run around outside.
But will also beg my sister to play barbies and draw.

I am creative and beautiful and smart.

I am two.

Sunday, September 21, 2008

Moving On

We went back to visit my parents on this same weekend last year. I think it will be an annual autumnal tradition. The corn is turning a golden, dry yellow. The wind crackles. The sun tires much earlier in the evening. It is good to go to the country at this time of year.

I visited my grandmother and also grandfather and grandmother. They've both got apartments in the nearby city now, having moved from their overwhelming homes. It was good to see them, good to reconnect.

I walked through the home my grandparents moved from. Just down the driveway from the home I grew up in. They've moved on now and all that is left are some boxes filled with odds and ends, their odds and ends.

I will take care of my grandmother's sewing machine. The one she used to make quilts for my children. The one that she used for her wonderful talents. I hope maybe I'll give it a spin soon, maybe sew a dolly dress or the edges of a scrapbook page.

Our grandparents had these things, that mean something. These possessions, that they held on to for so long. My children, they may not find that I've done that. I donate anything not being used. I hold on to nothing.

Now there will be a few keepsakes from great-grandparents. Those, I will hold on to.

It makes a person sentimental, all of this going back.

Tomorrow starts a new day, a new week. I need to shift back to the city me. The one who teaches and runs around and tries to do it all. The one who wasted a lot of money this month paying bills a little late, a symptom of procrastination and a tired mind. The one who needs to tend to her home and get on track.

I'm not sure I've got it all figured out just yet.


Thursday, September 18, 2008

Three little heads bobbed to sleep on the way home.

Disney on Ice was a beautiful, magical, musical fairy tale. Complete with a villain, heroes, and tons of great musical numbers.

I had fun.

The kids had fun.

It was a night well spent.

And we all lived happily ever after, though we are far from the end.


Wednesday, September 17, 2008

I'm Broke

My sister-in-law suggested to our little man that if he would stay in his big boy bed, then maybe the sleep fairy would leave him a treasure under his pillow. I know there's a sleep fairy story book, I think she even has it. We haven't read it. But the little man was intrigued.

I had this dilemma. Obviously candy is not a great wake-up-in-the-morning treasure, though he'd be fine with it. I didn't want to add to our stock of plastic crap, so no more little toys either.

I'll (the sleep fairy, I mean) leave quarters! I thought to myself. One under his pillow in the morning.

Well, our B was pretty ticked when she saw he's getting paid. She's been staying in her bed independently and going to sleep in 10 minutes or less for years. So now there's a quarter for her each morning too.

People! This adds up! I can't keep using the same quarters each morning (which I've done several times) because eventually B will figure out that her stash is not growing.

I feel like I need money for laundry again. I guess it's off to the bank with me for some rolls of quarters.

The up side? Little man is figuring out how to go to sleep on his own. For only $1.75 a week.

Rock on Sleep Fairy.


Tuesday, September 16, 2008


Suddenly my thoughts turn to fall, then to winter. It will be Halloween soon. We've got to get a date on the calendar to go out to the pumpkin patch. We've got to round up costumes for the kids. And maybe even some for the big people this year too, since we're going to a party or two. Which means I need to get a sitter too.

Then it will be Thanksgiving time. Figuring out who's going where and when. What we'll eat. How we'll fit it all in and enjoy every moment.

Which brings us to December and the usual rush of Christmas. Only this year I'm determined to slow down and enjoy it for the wonderful time of year that it is. Simple gifts. Simple plans. Lots of togetherness and gratitude.

The details tend to swirl in my mind. I'm think of starting some sort of notebook this year and keep waiting for Beck to post on the secrets to hers (hint, hint). I want to do more, give more, be more. And do it with simplicity.

If my thoughts seem a jumbled mess, they are. I am adult onset attention deficit disorder at its finest. My mind races with thoughts of all that is to come. While my body decides to have a sit on the comfy chair and watch a movie.

That's my life. That's who I am.


Saturday, September 13, 2008

This made me cry. Sob, actually.


Friday, September 12, 2008

The Winner

I put the names in a cup and had my B pick out a winner.

It's Janna!

The funny part is that it's B's best little friend's (Kendall) mom. So he'll get to go now too!

I suddenly realize I don't really love contests because I want everyone to win!

Tuesday, September 9, 2008

Worse Than the F Bomb

I used the word "retard" in my classroom today.

Can you believe that students with disabilities actually use this word on each other? It is a widely used, widely misused, word.

It makes me incredibly mad.

I talked to my students today about bullying each other. It's something they do with each other, just like a lot of other teenagers. The teasing, the name calling, the picking on each other. There are several students who get really fired up and loud, they are the most fun to tease, since they can really put on a show.

I told the kids that the word r-word makes me madder than the f-word. That made a few eyes go wide.

I just don't get it. And I hear it a lot. Kids use it as a common adjective, synonymous with dumb or stupid. Only it has a little more bang to it, I guess.

I also hear plenty of adults using it. "That's retarded." "My mother-in-law is such a retard."


It is not okay to use that word. Just like you wouldn't use any other derogatory word about a group of people to perpetuate a stereotype. Well, some people do that too, but they shouldn't.

The students I teach are diagnosed with mental retardation, mental handicap, or cognitive disabilities, intellectual disabilities. Nebraska state law uses the term mental handicap (mild, moderate, or severe), but the other terms get used elsewhere. It's all the same thing, but it doesn't deserve to be used as a word for dumb.

My students can learn. They are differently abled. They bleed, they cry, they feel. They laugh, they love, they soar. They are people, deserving of respect for the challenges they face, deserving of being treated like...people.

I've been trying to articulate my feelings on this post since the controversy about the ridiculous
Ben Stiller movie (an actor that I usually enjoy) that used the word numerous times. There are several blogs I read that have talked about boycotting the movie, and believe me, I won't be watching that movie. Michelle at Big Blueberry Eyes knows plenty about it, as does LuvMyPeanut. Visit either one of these lovely ladies and you'll get the scoop.

I've also considered ending my reading of celeb news at Perez Hilton (total guilty pleasure, I do in secret on my google reader). He uses the term "celebutard" when describing celebrities' offspring. It's not funny.

So today I taught my students something else. The word retard is not allowed in my classroom. Several have known it before today, when I corrected their individual behavior. Now they all know. I went there and laid it all out for them.

I just really hope they were listening. That you are listening.

Retarded is not an appropriate adjective. Retard is not a funny word.
Please don't use it.

You can read more on the topic here. If you're interested.


Sunday, September 7, 2008

Cooler Times

It was pushing 90 degrees for weeks on end. The kids happily wearing shorts and tshirts to school, me happily dressing them without much thought. Suddenly, it's not even hitting 70. And it's September! Fall approaches and it's time to put another year's worth of summer shorts away. I'm a little sad this year, for some reason. I usually make the switch without a second thought. This year, I guess I wasn't quite ready.

I'm not quite ready.

I need to make the switch for myself too. From sandals to shoes. From capris to pants.

It's my favorite time of year, I guess it just snuck up on me this year. And now I need to go shopping!


Saturday, September 6, 2008

More Than Just a Baby Bed

Our little B in her little nursery.

She grew so quickly.

Then there was her brother, our little man.

Both children quickly grew.
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My white, Fisher Price crib. Purchased at KMart for less than $150. Purchased by Grandpa and Grandma J for the OM babies. You have held two babies as they slept. You have held two babies through play times, tummy time, and time outs. We are so grateful to have had such a strong piece of furniture that lasted the past five years.

Last night, the little man realized he could effortlessly climb to the other side of your rails and step down easily. He felt proud and thought it was hi-larious.
Today we will say good-bye to you. I will find out if a local human service agency could find you a good home. You can help a new family with their baby. You can hold a new baby as he sleeps.

It's another milestone. Another step into this time when there are no babies in our house.
It's happy-sad.
Thank you, white Fisher Price crib, for your service in our home.

Saturday, August 30, 2008

A Contest!

I'm so excited to present my very first contest giveaway!

Disney on Ice has offered to give one lucky Omaha Mama reader four tickets to the opening night of Disney on Ice, on September 18th. It's being held at Qwest Center in Omaha, so if you can be there that night, enter here and win!

Catch the next ride to laugh-out-loud fun with Mickey Mouse and Minnie Mouse in Disney On Ice presents a Disneyland® Adventure. Join your favorite characters on a trip through the park and thrill to “Incredible” excitement when everyone’s favorite superhero family shows up to save the day!

The OM family will be there that night too and I am psyched! A great memory from my childhood, when I was about B's age, was seeing Smurfs on Ice. I don't so much remember it as I do the book that I got as a souvenir. I kept it for a long time, looking at the pages and remembering how cool the show was. Now my kids can experience the same excitement! They love Mickey and Minnie, the Incredibles, and pretty much every Disney character. They will be thrilled to see them gliding on ice.

So enter here, by commenting, if you want a chance to win four tickets to a great show. If you have friends, siblings, etc. who live in the area, send them over to play.

In the comments section, tell me this: If your family was like the Incredibles, what super-powers would they each have? I will randomly select an answer. The winner will receive a family four pack to see the show on Opening Night, September 18th. Disney On Ice presents a Disneyland Adventure playing September 18th-21st at the Qwest Center.

The contest ends on September 12th. I will post the winner then. ~ Good luck!

Wednesday, August 27, 2008

Quiet Here

I seem to be out of words.
My dad used to say that you only get so many words to use in a day, he had usually used his all up by evening. I get that now.
Only I still have many, many that I use once I'm home.

I teach adolescents with special needs reading, writing, math, social skills, work skills, and study skills all day every day. Then I come home and do the same for my kiddos.

So by the time I go online at night, there are no words left with which to write. So I'm stumped.

And tired.

The good news is that I'm going to have my very first give-away! and will put it up this weekend. It's not really something to ship off to far away lands [Canada], but people in and around Omaha will be very excited to enter.
More on that this weekend.


Friday, August 22, 2008

Apple Pancake?

I'm getting in a cooking mood in a big way. The tug of autumn has got me itching to turn on the oven! So how about apple pancakes? I've never had them, but this recipe looks so good to me. Please share your thoughts.

And while I'm on the subject of baking, I've just made these, which are way awesome for the exact reason that Beck shares. Definitely worth a try. I have to bake mine a bit longer for whatever reason, but we all like them lots.

Is it bad that I'm eating them now, warm on the plate, with a cup of milk? What if I told you I haven't even shared them with the children yet? For them, I like them to cool off. For me, I'll sneak off and eat one (or five...) and they are none the wiser. For now.


Thursday, August 21, 2008

Back at It - With a Bit of Gusto

After getting violently ill on Tuesday, while also taking care of my mildly ill toddler, we are all back to school and doing okay today. Luckily the little man lost no weight, never really acted sick, and just struggled with the backside of stomach flu. I haven't been so sick since about age 12, but luckily mine didn't hang on for five days!

So today I was back to feeling pretty dang good, which makes me want to duck since that's what usually gets me in trouble. That's when the universe smacks me in the head with something to remind me that life is not a Rogers and Hammerstein musical! Despite what I hear in my head! (A running soundtrack of South Pacific, in case you are wondering).

I was back to school yesterday and realized that it's all good when you miss your work a little. It's a nice balance to miss your kids during the day at work, and to miss your work a little when you're home sick. Suddenly I'm enjoying my work with a new gusto. Thinking that my students might actually learn from me and maybe that I have something to share.

I feel like I spend a good chunk of my week just explaining to staff at our school how to let kids with disabilities just be in their classrooms and in the lunchroom and out and about in general...without feeling all nervous for them. What if they get made fun of? Well obviously I stick up for these kids with a whole lot of energy, but I also just want them to taste the high school experience. All of it. If that means running into some jerks now and then, didn't we all? And hey, how did you learn? From making mistakes! So how about letting these kids, who have some physical or cognitive differences get those real life lessons too. I'm obviously not talking about bullying or harassment here, but hey - I'm not educating these kids in a plastic bubble either.

"Students with disabilities are more similar to their peers than they are different." said our special education director. And I say Hear Hear!!!


Monday, August 18, 2008

A Pile of Poo

So last week was just this dizzy maze of happy days where I felt I could do no wrong. Then came the weekend, when our little man ended up with some distress in the area of food digestion, which is now on day four. This is enough to let the air out of anyone's tires. I am certainly deflated.

What this means is getting a sub teacher on day 4 of school, getting an appt to the pediatrician on a Monday (because Mondays are so fun at the kiddie dr, not busy at all...), and also taking a dog poo sample from my back yard to my vet because I'm paranoid and want to rule out my kid catching some weird parasite from the mangy mutt.

And how was your morning???


Update: Tests on dog poo, negative on all counts. So relieved.
Toddler, random virus that must run its course. So frustrated.


Thursday, August 14, 2008

bliss - noun
a state of extreme happiness

The Hubs and I, we are admitted dorks. Loving school the way that dorks do. Having our B start kindergarten, well it's feeding that obsession like we never dreamed it could. We are embarrassingly enthusiastic about the whole situation.

I imagine us in days to come saying things to each other like, "Wow! They're teaching her to read?! And they do math?!??! How lucky are we! What a great school! They have a library and books and a gym and a gym teacher!!!! We are the luckiest people ever!"

The school sends home a Thursday folder. It comes home on Thursday. You send it back to school on Friday, to be brought home again the next week. We were hungry wolves, chomping down on that weekly school newsletter, ravenous for more school fun.

Dorks, I told you so.

I don't know if this will wear off, as all things do with me, in about three weeks. I just can't contain it. She's learning so much and it makes me so excited. Every little tid bit leaves us wanting more.

As I'm checking out her school's web site, reading about the weekly routine, I'm partly thinking and partly saying out loud, "She gets gymsic on Wednesdays! The music teacher and p.e. teacher co-teach a class that is music with movement! That is so friggin' awesome!"

Rock on school! You've got a couple of new groupies.

Dorky groupies, but groupies just the same.

Wednesday, August 13, 2008

Tuesday, August 12, 2008

A Woo and a Hoo

elation: noun
1. an exhilarating psychological state of pride and optimism; an absence of depression [ant:
2. a feeling of joy and pride

I've had one of those days where everything came together and I got a ton of work accomplished. My to do list is shorter than it was yesterday. I almost feel prepared for students on Thursday.

I've got friends having babies and makin' babies all over the place, their prayers finally answered.

My daughter, my B, has her first day of school tomorrow. A big kindergartner with big dreams.
Tears will be impossible to hold back tomorrow morning at 8:30.

I'm excited to see students I haven't seen since May. I feel so much less distracted than I have in the past three years. I'm suddenly not a teacher on probation, my position feels a little more permanent. I know a little bit more of what I'm doing than I did last year. I'm getting a system that works for me. There is a sadness lingering way below the surface, but I refuse to let it ruin a day like today. Today, the angels were smiling down on me.

This day, this perfect day. Everything aligned to make it the perfect, productive day.

Now I'm sipping a cold beer, waiting to watch Olympics coverage.

It's days like today that can keep a girl going for weeks.
Days like today that make a girl perky again.

Friday, August 8, 2008

What a Week

I worked all week and to be honest, it felt great. I was so tired last night, I fell asleep at 8:30! Something I haven't done since being pregnant (NO! I'm not pregnant).

Today we had our big district kick-off, where all of the teachers (there are 1500 or so!) are in one place to hear the superintendent speak and then enjoy a keynote address together.

I'm a generally optimistic, enthusiastic person who enjoys such things with great pleasure. There are people who grumble about it being a waste of time, but not me. I like feeling part of something so big, so important. I like having a day where we get a pat on a back and a thank you for what we do. Not to mention, free breakfast.

The highlight of the morning was getting to listen to Erin Gruwell. She's the teacher that Hilary Swank played in the movie Freedom Writers. I love this movie and was so excited to hear her speak. She did not disappoint. She talked about teaching to the kids, not to the test. She talked about caring about the students and really finding out what motivates them. It was a great morning.

I am excited for the year to come. I feel so scattered and tired right now, trying to process everything I've heard today.

It is important, this teaching thing. I am honored to be given the chance to try it out, I only hope that some day I'll feel like I've lived up to the challenge.

Wednesday, August 6, 2008

Feeling Dumped On

Is pouring a developmental stage? Seriously.

I didn't really go through this with B, not to this degree.

In the past month, I've swept up:
  • a cannister of flour from the kitchen floor
  • a cannister of sugar from the kitchen floor
  • countless cups of milk from the table and/or floor
  • the container of salt
  • the contents of my pampered chef dill seasoning
  • the contents of my ground red pepper
  • more milk
  • jugs of juice, cups of juice, pitchers of juice
  • pool water, carried in from outside
  • baskets of toys, over and over and over
  • every box of baby wipes, over and over and over

The kid does not go unattended, but I don't hover either. Left to his own devices for more than 1 minute, he will pour something out onto the floor. I realize he's curious, I know I need to give him opportunities (which he gets in the tub, at the pool, playing with toys, etc...) to pour because he obviously loves it.

The messes. The constant messes. Are enough to make this mama a bit grumpy. Just a bit.

Tuesday, August 5, 2008

Right Now, The Kids Have The Floor

She's an amazing little thinker.

Do you know how much rice I've eaten in my life?

We had it for dinner the other night, a side dish. I mentioned rice-a-roni, we were eating the chicken flavored variety.

Rice-a-roni? She asked, sounding baffled.

Yes, that's what it's called. I told her.

Wow, she told me. It's like mac-a-roni.

Do you know, I've never - ever - made that connection? Do you know how many boxes of the stuff I've eaten, how many years the San Francisco treat jingle was stuck in my head?

She has me turn my head every day...and look at the world from her angle.


"Hey. My name's Sarina. I came all the way from Africa. I was a cowgirl there and helped my dad weather in the horses." (What the?)

Playing Barbies is so much fun! Especially when Sarina joins the party.

Buzz and Woody are always good for a laugh. Ken is usually just sleeping it off.

Good times, I tell you.

A little time away is all it takes to see how good it is here. How much fun we can have on the floor, playing dolls together. A little time away, and I've got my perspective back. Thank goodness for that!

Monday, August 4, 2008

My B has decided that she wants to bring her lunch to school now that she's starting kindergarten. She found a lovely Tinkerbell (the non-slutty Tinkerbell, thank you very much) lunch box and I began researching how to pack a healthy kids' lunch.

Why would someone research this? You ask. Well, it's how I do anything at all in my life that I haven't done before. Even if I already know how.

So Aliki obliged my questioning and wrote me a whole post about it. I knew from previous posts that she's done time in the cafeteria.

I hunted online for a nice container to put B's lunch in. I couldn't face spending $30 to have something nice shipped to my house. If I knew she wouldn't lose it or throw it in the trash can, I'd go for it. Then I found these containers - score! for less than $4. It will hold her crackers, cheese, grapes, carrots, etc. perfectly. There's still room in the box for a reusable ice pack and her milk box. It's just a clear, plastic container with dividers, nothing fancy.

Problem being, is having your already odd lunch (healthy items, no pre-packaged stuff) in an odd container going to lead to lunchroom teasing? If there's one thing I don't want to do is to set up a kid to be teased for something I've done...not this anyways.

It seems I'm doomed to fuss over something and if it's lunch, so be it.

The Party's Over

Today my kids start back to the child care center that we have used for three years. They are gracious enough to let teachers' kids take the summer off with no tuition and still have a spot after the break. It's housed at the church we go to and has been a wonderfully nurturing place for my kids to go during the day.

But still...I didn't know I'd feel this way today. The sun is just starting to come up, I'm sipping a cup of coffee, trying to find a little peace. It's coming, I think. I woke up feeling nervous, knowing that my kids would be upset in a couple of hours as we say good-bye.

They always end up having a great day. It's just that B is starting in a new program and some of her friends haven't made the move up yet (school-agers!) and she's going on field trips this week and I feel nervous for her. So many changes coming for my soon-to-be kindergartner. As of next week, I can't say soon-to-be.

My little man will go back to his same class, with the teachers and friends that he was sad to leave in May. This morning, he will be sad to stay. Hopefully that won't last long.

I wonder if I will feel this way every year. Even as my kids are older, more confident. This ebb and flow of emotions. The ending of one thing, the beginning of another. We do it every year, and with each change - a bit of trepidation.

We will face it, the way we do each year.
I hope it will be as positive as the previous experiences.

Tomorrow I want to wake up with no knots in my stomach.

Here we go!

Friday, August 1, 2008

The Imperfect Homemaker

I think that the flylady and I have broken up. It's an amicable split, we will remain good friends.

I will always be grateful for the advice on keeping the house tidy and how to clean a bathroom. I am especially grateful for the home management notebook I made with her guidance. I've done none of it exactly right, but the information provided helped to give me a great jumping off point.

The problem is, I am not a routine-oriented person by nature per se. I follow a certain loose routine every day, but it is not bound by the day. I cannot always do groceries on Thursday, sometimes I need to go on Sunday. I cannot always clean my van on Friday, sometimes I skip a week! or need to do it on a Monday.

Mornings have been a favorite for me this summer. We get up around 7 and I get the kids something to eat. I make some coffee and spend some time on the computer while I have a cup. On some days, we will then get dressed and go on an outing. On others, we spend the entire day happily at home.

The key to it all, is looking at our own home and our own calendar and doing what needs to be done here. I cannot follow the routine of someone else. I need to see the needs in my home. Today, for example, my kitchen floor desperately needs to be mopped and I must vacuum the popcorn nightmare that my dear little man created last night. On the schedule or not, that's what I need to do. Soon I will put in a load of laundry, clean up the kitchen, and get mopping and vacuuming done.

Soon, meaning some time in the next day or two!

Wednesday, July 30, 2008

Some Day

When you are older, I'll tell you about this time. When you had just turned five.

You are a tall and lanky young lady. Full of energy and emotion. Sometimes you quiver, you feel things so acutely. Your sad eyes can well up with tears, then glimmer a smile all in a minute.

Your favorite show of the summer has been Lazytown. It's such a silly show, but at least encouraged a new interest in carrot eating, so it's not all bad. The funny part is how you've decided you want to be just like Stephanie, the main character. She's a tidy little thing, so you've become obsessive about your bedroom looking just like hers. Of course, her rubbery little animated bedroom is awfully clutter-free, but you are not to be convinced that it's not real.
As you approach kindergarten, you are excited and nervous. You talk a lot about the what ifs and go on and on about hypothetical situations and how we will figure them out. What if the girls aren't nice? What if I miss my ride? Where will I eat my lunch? We worked through every question, the great part being that you remember and repeat each answer we've already figured out, just to make sure I haven't forgotten.
You actually used a double negative correctly at the grocery store. "No mom, I wasn't saying that blueberries are not healthy. I'm saying they are not, not healthy." You continue to tell me everything you know, and it's a lot.

Oh honey, your mom and dad loved you so much. Just like we do now. You are our girl.

My heart.