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!