solitude, please.

Saturday, April 28, 2012

last weekend was action-packed and full of really great things. this is a picture of the girls and me from exactly one hundred and sixty six hours ago.

we had so much fun celebrating a new marriage with sweet friends, and we were so happy to be back home for what i thought would be a relatively calm week.

while i didn't forget (because how could i?), i didn't entirely process that monday was the start of testing week. last week marked cee's first standardized testing season. she cried monday night because she was so nervous, and i tried my very best to comfort her and tell her everything was going to be just fine.

i knew she would do great, but it was my first time in the role of  'mom-as-comforter-and-academic-cheerleader' (my high-kick would knock your socks off) instead of 'teacher-slash-encourager'. i know she tried her best, and that's all that matters to me.

after giving various forms of the test to various assortments of small groups on tuesday, wednesday, thursday, and friday last week, i realized that this was the state's gentle reminder to me that i'm not doing my job as a teacher quite as well as i should be. and when i say 'gentle reminder', i hope you are creating visions of cattle prods and tasers in your mind...because that's how it felt to me.  as in ouch! and stop! and no more!

i have never been so happy for a friday!

this morning the girls had soccer, and the wind was trying to replicate the free microderm abrasion treatments i used to receive on a daily basis each spring during college. it was not at all unlike the scrubbing, buffing, tanning, and glowing process i endured last weekend before the wedding - except today's 'treatment' seemed entirely free of judgment about age, size, or shade.

after soccer, i came home and had a big glass of 'don't even ask' in my new d-cups glass...

and then i took a really long nap.

and then i whipped together some completely fabulous bruschetta (thanks, p-dub)...

...and things started looking a little bit better.

like last weekend's groom, i am an introvert at heart. i love my people - i really, honestly do.

that said, after lots of human interaction, i am required by the very wiring of my nature to turn off all the lights in my house, pull all the curtains to, light my favorite candles, and recharge my batteries in the company of nobody but my dog.

tomorrow i will be ready to face the world again with a smile on my face. but for now, it's time to slip into my favorite pj's, pour myself another glass of 'don't even ask', turn on one of my favorite movies, and call it a night.

if i'm asleep before 9, then this day will be a complete and total success!



Wednesday, April 25, 2012

ladies and gentlemen:

here's the 257th reason why i love my job. on monday, i asked my sweet eleven and twelve year old students to answer this prompt:

who do you think invented the staar test?

after brainstorming as many creative options as they could possibly muster in two minutes flat, their next task was to write a paragraph justifying their answer about the 'best' item from their brainstorm. finally, they were given the opportunity to illustrate the inventor.

remember that part where i said a paragraph? well, some of my kids are just super fabulous and hate to simply conform to the bare minumum. it's precisely students like that who are most apt to produce greatness like this...

one day when george washington awoke from his bed, he walked to his royal kitchen and there sat his butler jubohakino (or jubo for short). 

'mr. washington, how did you sleep?'

'i want my coffee,' he groaned.

'well i think we are out, sir. but we have orange juice,' replied jubo.

'i want coffee,' he said.

'we don't have any, sir,' jubo said softly.

' i hate my life,' george washington said softly.

just then mr. washington's wife (mrs. washington) walked in and mr. washington said, ' i want a divorce. get out.'

his wife was so surprised that she cried until finally mr. washington left and continued his quest of terror.

he popped a kid's balloon.

he stole ice cream.

and later that afternoon during his world wide speech, he declared that kids must run coffee shops and coffee makers at all times. all day, every day.

he also made a test that would make kids suffer. forever.

he called it the staar.

and this is absolutely, positively why i love my job from here to the outer realms of the galaxy...and back.

in case you're the type who needs a visual to complete the glorious creation that's been presented to you, calm your worries immediately. i would never leave you hanging like that. voila...

...for it is now that i boldly present to you a modern-day george washington (please excuse the  goatee - it was a long trip for him).

do you see the parallel structure in the writing of this novela? do you love the repetition within the syntax? do you see the subtle rhythm and flow?

because i do.

and i think it's absolutely spectacular.


a new fave

Tuesday, April 24, 2012

have you heard of kelly corrigan? i must have been living in some sort of evil cave because i'm pretty sure i was just introduced to her world about an hour ago.

earlier today, one of my amazing friends sent an email with a video of her attached to it.

after i watched it, i went to her website and decided which of her books i would read first...because i just ordered them both on my nook...

this video is pretty fabulous, too.

i've also added a new bookmark to my favorites...greater good: the science of a meaningful life.

what an inspiration...enjoy!


update (7:06 pm cst) - lift rocked. read it today. i know you'll love it. :)

something old, something new...

Friday, April 20, 2012

we aren't usually dress people as much as we are jeans people. we're usually more country than rock and roll. but this weekend will be an we go!!

full circle

Thursday, April 19, 2012

when cee came home today, she was so excited to tell me about the talent show routine she has planned with two of her dear friends. one of the friends is a sweet little one who has practically been a part of our family for the last couple of years - they were in the same first grade class, have been on the same soccer team for several seasons, and have been attached at the hip for a good while.

the second friend was a completely unexpected blast from the past...i am so excited that they're buddies!!! and i sincerely hope the mom can laugh about our spankin' spoon extravaganza...

fingers are crossed!

peace and bygones...

carrots and sit ups

Wednesday, April 18, 2012

in less than three days, i will be donning a blue dress at a dear friend's wedding. i have been on a mission from god-only-knows-where to get in some sort of shape other than the shape i was in for the last few months.

as we approached the final push, cee decided to take over the workout reins...she's been my personal trainer for the last two weeks, and you should all be jealous because she really good at what she does. there was even a questionaire i had to complete and a commitment contract to sign before we could start.

so basically the last fourteen days have been filled with me doing 20 sit ups at a time, cee rewarding me with carrots and water for my efforts, and jay cheering us both on in our vicious quest.

my beta carotene intake is off the charts right now...

and in a very strange way, i feel like someone's pet rabbit.



Sunday, April 15, 2012

i have recently found myself interacting with a certain twenty-something much more than i would have ever guessed. i'm not saying this like it's a bad thing, it's just one of those things that falls into the always surprising category of 'things i never thought i'd be doing'.

in a perfect world, this twenty-something might be the nanny i can't afford because the girls absolutely, completely love her, and i'm pretty sure she loves them right back. but we all know this isn't a perfect world.

therefore, she's not my nanny.

she's the ex-husband's 'new' girlfriend...the same girl who made cee want to wear really tight pants...and who, unknowingly, prompted an unexpected conversation about why we have to be careful about how we dress.

she's adorable, and i feel like i should take care of her in a matriarchal kind of way. there was a time not too long ago where i loaned her my warmest jacket because hers wasn't very heavy and i worried she'd catch a cold.

i'm definitely wading in new territory right now, but i think we're all adjusting to it pretty well.

one of the more comical moments of late happened last weekend when my easter dinner for three suddenly turned into an easter dinner for which time she made reference to time more than once by saying, 'last year when i lived at home...' or 'last year when i still lived with my parents...'

(crickets from me - because i really can't relate to that...i left 'home' when i was 18 and never lived there again.)

and then there was the time the five of us (the girls, the ex, the new one, and myself) went to lunch. the adults ordered a glass of wine...all of the adults except me got carded. if that's not a sure-fire way to implicitly acknowledge my crow's feet and aging parts, then i don't know what is.

even better was learning she was two years younger than what the ex originally reported. awesome.

there is definitely some comic relief involved in this new process, and that helps me keep things in perspective.

on the flip-side, one of the more difficult parts of it is that the girls talk about her non-stop when they get home from weekends with their dad. sometimes i feel like saying (in a not very calm voice), 'enough. already. about. her. please.'


i guess the most difficult part to navigate is actually two-fold...

first, i can't help but root for this relationship to last because i've seen my divorced friends go through girlfriends and boyfriends, and i've seen their kids react to the break-ups. i think it's just as hard on kids to get attached to a new person and then to go through the process of 'losing' them. the kids build their own special relationship with the new person...and because of that (because of the girls), i hope this works. that's a weird place to be.

second, the ex told me about her two months ago, but really i'd known what was up for the last ten months. at least. i asked him about her several times, and he always said she was just a friend...and a babysitter.

in one way, it was a relief to know that my 'instinct' was right; in another way, i wondered why he didn't tell me sooner; and in yet another way, i still can't help but wonder how many other things he wasn't honest about while we were married.

that's the part that makes me nauseous. i could probably make myself crazy with the constant wondering, but thankfully i've learned not to do that to myself.

the most important things are that the girls are happy, and i am, too.

there is a high probability that just when we least expect it, cee's wheels are going to do the math and say something brilliant like, 'oh my gosh - you could totally be my sister!' or 'oh my gosh - you are so much younger than my dad!' or 'oh my gosh - my mom could be your mom!'

but moments like that just have to bloom on their own.

that's what makes them extra special. right?

my babies are back home from a whirlwind weekend of fun, and i'm ready to settle in and enjoy a sweet sunday evening with them...starting - now!!


a.c. top three

Tuesday, April 10, 2012

yes, i love him. he can be serious and all business when he needs to be…

but good grief, he can also make me laugh until i have tears streaming down my face and i can’t quite catch my breath.

yup, he’s done it again with ridiculist brilliance.

here are links to the greatness in no specific order (because these are all-world top three).

1.) tonight he got the giggles about dyngus day (and i did, too).

click here for clip - giggles at 1:40
2. in august, gérard depardieu cracked him up in a huge way.

click here for clip - major giggles at 2:33

3. and last may, he hopped on his pageant mom soap box.

click here for clip
this is why i love him oh so much, and this is why he’s on my life list.

mr. cooper, thank you for the good times!


early celebrations

Sunday, April 8, 2012

i may have gotten a little overly-confident last night. at 10:45, i sent a text expressing another year of elusive easter bunny bad-ass-ness. and then, basking in the glory of my own accomplishment, i fell into a very sound, deep sleep.

the easter bunny did not anticipate that thing one would find the golden egg under her pillow at 4:26 am. the easter bunny also did not anticipate that thing one would actually wake up thing two to search for her golden egg at 4:27 am. finally, the easter bunny definitely did not anticipate that things one and two would then bounce into my bed at 4:29 am to see if i was also a lucky golden egg recipient.

the easter bunny was very pleased when things one and two agreed - without putting up much of a fight - that everyone would be much happier if they were allowed to sleep until at least 8 am without further interruption.

we all did.

happy easter to you and your families!

garden party

Friday, April 6, 2012

mama o is truly the hostest with the mostest. for the last couple of weeks, she's been slaving away on a beautiful garden project (which doubles as an exploration of 'beneficial insects' case you were curious, that is a beautiful example of isn't an oxymoron). i always love catching up with her, and i have been super excited to see the fruits of her labor (literally).

a couple of weeks ago, she and her family built an incredible trio of planting gardens. words can't do justice to what they've created, but she has an amazing set-up. rosemary. basil. radish. carrots. beans. peas. dill. jalepeños. tomatoes. tomatillos. and beautiful flowers. this picture shows a baby jalapeño, and the plant behind it with yellow flowers is about to take center stage with some dynamo tomatillos.

cee and jay had a strong start with the gardens in the front yard, but they were dying to hang with the big girls on the back porch. they adore mama o's girls because they are there was lemonade to be sipped and cookies to be devoured.

after my brief interlude with the outdoors today (in the name of nailing in three fence planks, helping the girls plant flowers, thinking about what my yard's future might be, and getting a jump start on my tan), i was a content and peaceful way. seeing the work that has been put into her gardens (in the name of growing food to can and keep her family well nourished...and as a thankful nod to mother earth) really inspired me.

i can't even get my seeds to sprout, but all good things take time. and patience. and perseverance. i've set a few goals for myself, but it's going to take awhile. it's a process.

in case you missed the memo, today is good friday: a time to slow down, a time to absorb and appreciate the moments around you. a time to stop and smell the roses. and rosemary. and tomatillos. it was a beautiful day to spend time with a beautiful family. my little girls ran around with the big girls, and bless s & g for playing sketch-it, making bracelets with them, and giving the mamas some time to visit. with vodka. win-win.

visiting with one of my favorites was exactly what i needed. my soul was soothed, and i was surrounded by lovely metaphors and an incredible family. i really didn't want it to end, and neither did the girls. i wasn't sure i was going to be able to get them in the car without using physical, brute force, but that would have kind of ruined the mood.

earlier today i was creating a mental map of how i want my yard to look...and now it's time to go back to the drawing board. i have so many new ideas, but i think i'm gonna need a bigger boat. and chickens.

peace and poultry...


today i realized that fencing could become a very serious hobby in a very short matter of time. the girls really enjoy it, too.

oh, and by the way, i'm talking about the fencing in the background...not the sport of fencing. although i think the first could become a sport.

two rogue rescue dogs and three years can do some damage to a fence, and mine was beginning to suffer. first there was hank - hank was an eater. as in he tried to eat part of the fence, which ultimately led to his demise. and then there was walter - walter was a digger. as in he tried to dig under the parts of the fence that hank had nibbled.

i felt like this was something i could fix myself, so i armed myself with three boards, a box of nails, and my trusty pink hammer. without too much effort i was able to remove the old pieces of fencing.

with just a little more effort, i was able to get the new boards attached. however, as with most of my projects, i missed one tiny little detail. i kind of 'guestimated' what size of nails i might need. and by 'guestimated,' i mean i eyeballed it. very roughly.

had i been thinking clearly, i would have thought 'need nails to go through the two part of a two by four plus just a little bit more.' hindsight is always 20/20. and i ended up with this on the flip side of things...

for some reason, this makes me think 'stitches' and 'lawsuit' and 'liability,' and that's never a good thing. i've found a temporary solution, though, so it's all good for now.

while i was busy mending fences, the girls were busy planting some lovely bouquets for our back patio. spring flowers make me super happy! now that i have some pretty, pristine new boards, i feel like i might need a few more...which is why i may take up a new form of fencing.

and now we all need to scrub the dirt and grime from underneath our nails...we're headed to a movie and then a garden party. there's lots more fun waiting for us today!!!

peace, posies, and parties...

do what you love, love what you do

Thursday, April 5, 2012

it's just that simple.

i'm one of those people who can honestly say i love what i do. love, love, love it. every single bit of it.

in case i've never mentioned it, i teach kids how to be better readers. those kids are 6th graders (also known as eleven and twelve year olds). part of teaching them to be better readers is to help them understand what goes through an author's mind when they write, and part of that understanding happens through helping them learn to be better writers. this all comes full circle in helping them be better readers.

but here's the weird part. obviously, i love to write...but i've never thought of myself as a writing teacher. i think there is a huge difference in being able to do something and being able to teach someone else to do something.

therefore, i am ridiculously, overly, off-the-charts excited about my next class: the writing process. here's a sneak peek of the books i get to read for this class...




mentor texts!!

barry lane?


stop. the. madness.

see barry smile. smile, barry. smile!

he is a rock star writing coach. i got to see him my first year of teaching with mama o and our highly flamable aquanet friend. we laughed so hard and learned so much. every since then, i have been in l-o-v-e with him. and how on earth did i get so lucky to have one of his books for my textbooks? i honestly don't know. i feel unworthy.

but it's true.

and i can't wait!!

i think i'll always think of myself as a reading teacher, but i hope this class lets me add lots of depth and variety to what i'm able to teach my sweet little readers.

for now, though, i'm going to enjoy a fabulous three day weekend with my lovelies.

before i end, i have to give a shout out to coach joe. i only met him a couple of times, but he was one of those people who left a lasting impression on me. may he rest in...


a point of argument

Monday, April 2, 2012

there's this kind of well known song after thanksgiving each year that goes, 'it's the most wonderful time of the year...'

(it's talking about christmas)

which is great and all...

but i'm going to have to disagree (and i love, love, love christmas time).

however, i absolutely adore this time of year. i love being outside with the girls in the evenings. i love the smell of fresh everything growing in our yard! i love the sound of everybody in the neighborhood being outside!

i love the soccer tricks that cee tries to teach me. i love that jay wears her bike helmet even if she isn't on her bike. and most of all, i love these smiles. :)

so that song?

yeah - i think i've found a legitimate point of contention.


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