Thursday, December 30, 2010

Sweet Independence

Can I tell you how great it is to be single and independent? It's a secret that single people seem to keep quiet. It's actually quite funny because all of the couples seem to look at us single people and pity us or think how do they handle being alone? But what they don't seem to know is that we like being alone. I like it because I have such freedom. I can do and say whatever I want without consulting anyone. I am not subject to another person's judgment. I don't have to worry about my thoughts, opinions, or personality being subject to another. Marriage was not a friend to me. Don't get me wrong if Prince Charming swept down and looked longingly into my eyes, I probably would give it a try. But my heart was given long, long ago. And it has not found that soul mate since. So, I relish my freedom and look with pity at people I know who are married, knowing they don't have the independence that I do.

Friday, December 24, 2010

The Night Before Christmas

I just picked my kids up from their dad's. I have them from now until New Year's Eve. I've really missed them. It's just the best feeling in the world to see the delight on their faces because they see me. I can't describe how it feels to have my daughter say as soon as she takes her coat off, "Come here and give me a hug!" I can just tell they're so glad to see me, and I'm so glad to see them. I can't wait to see them open their presents tomorrow and to feel their delight. There's nothing like it. These are the moments that make life good. It makes any other petty thing that may happen melt away and not even be worth my time.


It's so great to have a break from work! But I have to leave with an example of middle school humor. One of my sweet, innocent 7th grade girls gave the teachers a present of toffee covered peanuts in a pretty bag. She gave me my bag and must have left the others in my room. She came back later when I had a class of 8th graders and said something about looking for her bag of nuts. She got what she needed and left. The whole time one of the boys in the front row has a grin on his face and is looking around the room, looking like he's thinking, "Did she really say what I think she said?!" After she leaves he say, "Bag of nuts! Huh, huh, huh." What do you do but laugh a little yourself and move on? It's a good thing I like this kind of immature behavior. What a crazy job I have!

Sunday, December 19, 2010

I Don't Want to Go Back!

I cannot believe I have to go back to school tomorrow! Can you believe that our district has us going back Monday and Tuesday? It's pure torture. I feel like I'm already on break. But tomorrow morning at 6:00am, I will remember that this weekend was just a cruel joke.

So, tomorrow the students will come. It is what I call a "fun day". And yes, I do use the quotes purposefully. We always have a crazy schedule with fun stuff for the kids to do. The schedule is different every year, so it sends the teachers into a bit of a tizzy. Usually 3-5 different versions of the schedule are sent out before the day. And the final schedule is sent out in the late afternoon the day before the actual event. I have learned to role with these days and schedules. There are many teachers in our building who are power players and who have influence in these things. I am not one of them, neither do I want to be. The first year I was at my school this kind of thing drove me crazy. I never knew what was going on, and I always felt out of control. I still don't know what's going on until it is happening. But I don't feel out of control. I just don't care. It amuses me that so many of the same teachers still care over and over again every year. Basically, all I want to do is teach and try to get those crazy kids to learn. Although, I will say that this year's schedule is really hard to decipher. I'm going to have to really sit down tomorrow morning and put my thinking cap on.

Then Tuesday will be a frantic grading of 7th grade projects and 8th grade final papers. I really don't want to take anything home over the holiday. When I'm at work I'm all about work. But when I come home I need a break. Besides, they don't pay me enough to work at home.

I'll be fortifying myself!

Friday, October 15, 2010


I can't believe it's the end of the first quarter! This year has flown by. My seventh graders this year are a dream . They make my two hours of 8th graders tolerable and sometimes even enjoyable.

My own kids are growing up. Tonight we went to the school carnival. I was informed that they did not want me to walk around with them. They are nine, and I guess it's time for that. I'm not sad, just shocked. I'm shocked that it's here already. Where did the time go? I know I sound like a cliche, but it's so true. I know every mother asks herself this. Believe me, when they were 3 months old, throwing up or teething, when I had such sleep deprivation that I thought I was going to die, I never thought this day would come. Before I know it I will be at their high school graduations. It's weird.

Sunday, September 5, 2010

Time Flies!

I cannot believe how crazy it is that I have not written in so long! Once school starts, my life just goes full speed ahead. It is only because it is Labor Day weekend and my kids are with their dad that I have a chance to sit down and be a little lazy!

Only those who teach can know how time consuming and draining the beginning of the school year can be. Actually those kids can take it out of my all year. But I really do love it. Middle school is the best grade level ever. I was thinking what it was that seems to make this age so amazing to me. I think it's because their just on the precipice of things. They don't even know all of the potential they have. But everyday I see it, and it's an amazing thing to behold.

But it does make my life full, and it makes me exhausted. After dealing with children all day, I come home to be with my own children. And I just have very little to give at the end of the day. Hopefully I can rectify that and start to write a lot more, at least on the weekends!

Saturday, August 14, 2010

School's Starting!

I love this time of year! School starts on Monday. Not only do my own kids go back, but I go back too. This year I'll be teaching 7th and 8th grade. I do not know why I'm so excited. At the end of last year, I walked, almost ran away! It was such a rough year. Some of those kids were real boogers. They were just constantly testing, pushing. The fact that I'm going to have some of them again should not be making me happy. But I am really ready to get back in there and teach and share. This is why summer break is good for teachers. It dulls the pain from the previous year, and allows you to do it all over again!

Wednesday, August 4, 2010


I was sitting in the front room talking to my mom on the phone while my kids were in the living room watching a DVD of The Brady Brunch. Yes, The Brady Brunch. I found a DVD at the library and wondered if my kids would like it. Oh my gosh, they loved it!. I have to say that I have enjoyed watching it again too. Who wouldn't love The Brady Brunch? Even though they fight and have problems, they always work it out. And Mike and Carol, while not perfect, are pretty amazing parents. But I digress...

While I'm on the phone I hear a loud, prolonged scream from nine year old son. Now, it is not unusual for my kids to have arguments of their own. And when they argue, sometimes they scream. I'm not proud to admit this, but there you are. So, I wasn't too concerned, except at the end of the scream there was a hint of fear. The scream sort of went up in pitch-just a pinch of hysteria. I had heard this very same scream from him a couple of years ago in the winter when I mouse ran over his foot. This was right after we moved in to our house, before I knew that mouse poison had to be a permanent winter time fixture in our house. So, my first thought was that he had seen a mouse.

I went in to the other room, asking him what in the world was the matter. He was all the way in the kitchen, and he pointed at the couch. "There's a spider," he said. I'm thinking, oh, ok, I can deal with this and get back to the conversation on the phone with my mom. I ask him where it is and he points the the edge of the couch. I look, and there is the biggest spider I have ever seen. It was definitely tarantula-sized. I know what a tarantula looks like, because when I was about nine years old, I was one in the latrine at Girl Scout camp. I didn't see it until I was actually on the toilet, looked up and saw it staring down at me. It scarred me for life.

I don't think I can explain how much I hate creepy, crawly, things or varmints of any sort. And seeing that spider took me right back to my childhood. All of the fear and revulsion that I felt at that time came pummeling back to me. My heart started pounding, my hands started sweaing, and I'm sure I was chalky white.

All this time my mom is still on the phone. I tell her in a quavery voice about the spider. Now, she only lives a couple of blocks away. I'm thinking she'll say, "I'll be right there." She is pretty fearless. But, no. She asks how I'm going to scoop it up. Scoop it up? Are you kidding? As far as I'm concerned, it can take up residence on my couch. My son will have to find a new seat. My mom starts telling me to grab a pot and place it over the spider. But the spider is near the crack between the cushions on the seat. There's no way that will work. And I know that spiders jump. Do you think that I want that spider to jump on me? No way. I don't think I could recover.

So my mom asks if I have any bug spray. I tell her irritably that I think I do, and I go out to the garage to find it. All of this time the spider is just relaxing, not moving, as if he's king of my living room. When I get back to the living room the spider is still where I have left it. I take a deep breath of courage, and with my two kids cheering me on I (across the room, mind you) aim and squirt insecticide all over that spider. I pretty much annhilate him with insecticide. The thing is, the spider doesn't move. The only movement is from the force of the spray. I ask my son if he is sure that the spider is alive. He assures me that it is, that he felt it move when he touched it. All of this is just too much for me. I tell my mom that it is still alive and can she come over? She says she will, and when I hang up I hysterically start crying. My kids are amazed. I don't usually cry in front of them. And I'm just sobbing. A spider can reduce me to this. Again, I'm not proud.

When my mom arrives, she scuffles up a pot to scoop it up in. She also is amazed at huge this spider is. She cautiously approaches it. As she scoops it into the pot, it lands with a dull thud. All of us rush over to peer inside. What do we see? A plastic spider. At this point my daughter speaks up. "I didn't think I left that spider in that couch!"

Monday, July 26, 2010

Girl Scout Camp

This weekend my daughter went to three days of Girl Scout day camp. I was signed up to go for three days with her. I was set and poised to go through three days of mud, sweat, sun, and fun all for her. She's nine, and this was her first experience with camping. I didn't know how she'd do. Would she fit in? Would she drink enough water? Would she stay with the group? You have to understand that my daughter's a lot like me. While we like to be social, we also like to be alone. We're not your typical girly girl. I think we both have tried to fit in with girls. And there are some girls that like us, but a lot don't either. I just wanted to be sure that she wouldn't be wandering through the day by herself.

But after one day of camping, I was done. I live in Kansas, and let me tell you, it was hot! It was so hot, no human being should be out there. It felt like I had jumped into a pool with my clothes on. It was just gross. I would have endured this if I felt like my daughter needed me. But I saw her purposely hanging back with me, asking me to do things that I knew she could do herself. She was reallly concerned about me and my fitting in. I really felt like this was inhibiting her.

So, when I got up the next morning, I just decided I could not do one more day. When I broke the news to her that she was going to camp without me, she just looked at me and said, okay, shrugging her shoulders. Later, she professed that she was glad I was not going. I asked her why, and she said that now she could walk up front with the girls. I explained to her that she never had to stay with me if I did something as a parent with the group of girls, that I was there for her. I also told her I was glad that she was able to do all of these things without me. I told her my job was to get her ready to go out in the world so that she could go out and shine and just be herself. When she came home that night, I asked her how her day had been. She said it was the best day of her life. I smiled and thought that I must be doing my job if she wanted to go to camp without me.

Monday, July 19, 2010


So, as a single mom, sometimes I have to deal with sticky questions from my kids. I have twins, a boy and a girl, who are nine. Every parent has to start answering questions about all kinds of things in life at that age. I am absolutely sure that these questions will only increase as they get older. Tonight we had quite a lengthy conversation about the divorce between their father and myself. They wanted to know how long we had been married, why we got divorced, why I had initiated it. Then we went on to whether I would date or not. Their father is dating. I have not dated at this point. We have been divorced for five years. I would date if someone showed up that I felt was worthy to date, but that hasn't happened. This is just a recent development. For so long, I just felt so wary and exhausted from men. But that's a whole different subject.

As my kids were plying me with these questions, I'm thinking, here we go. Here are all of the questions that I would rather not answer, that I would rather leave in the past. But they seemed ready. So as honestly and age appropriately as I could, I answered their questions. I didn't tell them anymore than what they asked, but I did try to be as honest as I could. I tried to answer from my perspective as unbiased as I could. I tried to do this as respectfully towards their father as I could. They seemed satisfied with what I answered. They had their opinions on the subject, and I let them air those opinions. I always think honesty is the best policy. It's not always the easiest, and I definitely think as they get older it may really not be easy to be open, but it's the best. And I will strive to be as honest as I can. How else can they learn from me?

Thursday, July 15, 2010

People Watching at the Pool

One of the things I love to do the most is take my kids to the pool. I have to admit that I am rarely one of those moms who gets in the pool and plays with the kids. I love to take my book, spread my towel out on the chair and read. It is so relaxing. Almost as much fun as reading at the pool is people watching. I think people forget that they are in public when they're at the pool. Maybe it's because you go to the pool in your swimsuit. Let's face it, it's almost like going in your underwear. Some people's swimsuits are even more bare than underwear. Whatever the reason, people just let it all hang out at the pool (literally and figuratively). They just forget that other people can and do see them. I probably do the same thing.

Today, I watched this elegant old lady (She really was old. She was shuffling instead of walking). She was dressed in an Esther Williams-like, black swimsuit. Her gray hair was perfectly coiffed from an era long gone by. And for her age, her body looked really good. She was truly joyful to be there. She was walking by the pool towards her lawn chair when a woman in her late thirties swooped down upon her. This woman was a little heavy set, was wearing a tankini, and her blonde hair was unfashionably braided. She lit into this woman. You could tell that she was furious with this woman. The younger woman pointed towards the direction that the older woman had just come from and strode angrily off. The older woman started shuffling after the younger woman. She did not seem upset. In fact, she forebore this treatment very patiently. She arrived where her daughter (I'm assuming) was busily spreading blankets out on a couple of beach chairs. Then the older woman slowly and elegantly sat down. The younger woman continuted her tirade, gesturing, pacing up and down, getting in the woman's face. Her face became so twisted up with anger that at first I thought she was smiling; and I thought maybe she had been joking with the older woman all along. I realized though, that she had just twisted her face into a horrible, angry grimace. I really could not tell that the older woman had even spoken. There was no gesturing. she did not even move her head. She stared straight ahead with her hands in her lap. But she must have said something, because the younger girl became more and more agitated until she finally sat down in her chair (two seats away from her mother) in exasperation.

Now, at first I thought that the poor, older woman was the victim in all of this. But upon further reflection, I think she was the passive-agressive manipulator. I think that over the years she had honed this quiet way of controlling and making others feel helpless and small. It was something about her manner, the way she was dressed. Even though I thought her daughter was behaving abominably, I think she was desperate and frustrated. Remember, that things aren't always what they seem. In fact, I have found that most of the time, things are almost just opposite of what they seem.

The Knife of Never Letting Go

I just finished The Knife of Never Letting Go by Patrick Ness. What an amazing book! At first, I did not think I was going to be able to read this. The characters in this book live on New World. In this world, a war occured, a germ was spread, and everyone can read each other's thoughts. You can even hear animals' thoughts. This is what tripped me up at first. The main character, Todd Hewitt, has a dog; and the reader gets to know what the dog is thinking also. I arrogantly did not think I was going to be able to handle this. Thank goodness, I stuck with it. Within only about 5 pages, the dog did not bother any longer. This book just took off. Ness has quite the imagination. Just when I thought I knew where this book was going, he would surprise me with another twist. There are two other books in this series. One is published, one is not. I cannot wait to read them, because hardly any of my questions from the first book have been answered.

All of the characters are very vivid and well developed. My heart was constantly bleeding for Todd Hewitt. And yes, I even grew to love the dog, Manchee. This book was written just like a screenplay. I would not be surprised to see it in the theater soon. It was a great ride.

Friday, July 9, 2010

The Grand Canyon

I finally have time to write! Seriously, this is the first chance I've had to write since I got back from vacation on July 2. I went on vacation with my two kids, who are nine, and my mom to Yuma, Arizona, The Grand Canyon, and a short day stop in Colorado Springs, Colorado. We drove from Kansas City. That sentence is a loaded sentence. Anyone who has driven 24 hours one way should know how loaded that sentence is. I drove because of the horrible airfares and air restrictions, and I used to think I was a driver. Now, if I can't get to a place by driving in one day, I think I will fly. As lovely as the landscape was, driving for 12 hour stretches with two kids and a mom was just too much for my mental state.
You might wonder why I went to Yuma, Arizona, right? I decided to make this trip and make it part of my and my kids' vacation because my sister and her family just moved there. Her husband is a marine, and he just took over command there. I felt it was really important to be there for her, and it was. I am so glad I did that. There are moments in life that are really important to other people. These moments may take time and effort from others, but it is really imortant to be there. And it was really fun.
But I learned some important lessons about myself and traveling. First, a ten day vacation is too long. I think five days is pretty perfect. I really did get homesick for my house and routine. Second, I think I am a one destination kind of girl. Going from place to place, staying in several hotels, opening and closing the suitcases, traveling in that blasted car was incredibly gruelling. I would much rather pick one destination, stay awhile, and really explore what the place has to offer. Third, and I'm iffy on this one, more than one day of traveling by car in order to reach the destination may kill me. This was a weird vacation, though, because it was kind of a joint trip. My mom was definitely going to go to my sister's thing and presented that to me. I wanted to also incorporate the Grand Canyon. It was way too much.
I may sound negative, but I truly am not. This was an amazing way to see the Southwest, and the landscape was incredible. The culture was very different. We stopped at a restaurant in Wyckam, Arizona (Nana's Sandwich Saloon, which was superb), and my daughter said, "I feel strange. I'm different here." That's one of the amazing things about traveling. You get to see how different people are, even in your own country. I loved seeing my sister and her family. My kids did too. However, I know I will travel differently next time.

Saturday, June 19, 2010

The Double Bind

You must read this book. I have to admit when I started reading this book, I was not impressed. It was a little slow, and I felt that as Bohjalian was describing his main character, Laurel, it was if I was viewing the action from outside a window looking in. I just could not connect. The only reason I stayed with the book is because my book club was reading it. I am so glad that I did stick with it. Around page 50, the action started picking up and it became intesting.
Bohjalian slowly develops Laurel's character, building layer upon layer who this girl is and why she does the things she does. She has suffered a traumatic event, and the reader has to figure out how that event fits into her present day life.
Bohjalian also cleverly weaves in the fictional characters from the book The Great Gatsby. He continues to develop Fitzgerald's story and artfully includes these characters in his book. He tackles the issues of homelessness and mental illness.
But what really makes this book is the ending. He interjects a suprise that hits the reader right between the eyes. I did not see it coming. This book is well worth reading up to the last page!

Monday, June 14, 2010


I've been thinking about what the what the word forgiveness means. I think all to often people think forgiveness means forgetting an offense. I think sometimes people think that just because they're forgiven everything will go back to the way it was before the offense was committed. Forgiveness doesn't mean everything is okay or that the bad behavior is excused. It doesn't mean that things will go back to the way they were before. Once something is cut, sliced, diced, or broken it will never be the same again. I do think people can go forward after forgiveness, but both parties have to realize that things will be different than they were before. This may or not be okay with both or one of the parties.

When I forgive someone I think I''m saying, "I a
m not angry at you, neither do I resent you. I do not want to get even with you, and I do not want you to pay for what you've done. What you said or did matters, but I can go forward with something different."

Sometimes the hurt is still there. Sometimes the trust isn't there yet.

Saturday, June 5, 2010


Just came back from visiting with my sister at mom and dad's house. It is always so great. I just am always amazed how much we are concerned about weight. I am number one in line when it comes to weight obsession. I'm 41, and I am definitely aware of slowed down metabolism. My sister is too. I follow a modified South Beach diet. I try to keep sweets, processed food, breads, and fried foods out. I try to eat a high protein diet. It works pretty well. My sister follows it much more rigorously. It works successfully for her too. I probably will always be aware of my weight and try my best to keep in check. Since I was twelve years old, I have been aware of my weight. Lately, I've been watching Drop Dead Diva. The message is obviously that big can be beautiful and that there is so much more to a woman than the way she looks. Sometimes I get so tired of being aware of how I look. Quite a bit of my past self worth has been tied in with how I look. As I get older and care a little less about that, I'm hoping that who I am on the inside is enough to draw people to me and keep them liking me-not just the way I look. I think this is the case. I would love it if I could just let go, eat what I want, and trust that people will like me and think I'm beautiful despite what I look like based on just who I am. I think people do this more than you would think. I see it all over with other people. Can I trust that for me? Right now I'm still trying to fight the weight thing, but hopefully a little less than in the past.

Friday, June 4, 2010

Dead As a Doornail

People may not know it, but I love Charlaine Harris. Are her plots pretty flimsy? Yes. But I always feel as if she's writing kind of tongue in cheek. Her writing is just fun. This installment in the Sookie Stackhouse novels was a little more flimsy than the previous novels. Quinn, the weretiger was introduced. I think it's fun to think of reject Sookie having all of these supernatural, hot, hunkie males falling for her. Every girl would want that, right? I think one of the reasons I keep reading is that I want to know who does Sookie end up with? I can tell you that Eric is my favorite. In fact, I might be kind of put out if she doesn't eventually end up with him. The fact is these books are escapism at its best. So I'll keep reading. You go, Charlaine!


Yeah! It's finally summer. It's time to take a break for this weary teacher. This year was a tough year. And I am ready, ready, ready for a break. It's time to spend time with my kids, go to the pool, and write and read.