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Sunday, September 8, 2013

Bloggety, blog, blog...

Well, it seems I have dropped the ball on any existence of a blog.  Since it is a Sunday, and I should be working on my lesson plans, this seems like the perfect opportunity to catch up.  Not much has changed, however.  We are currently in birthday season when all of the kids turn a year older (Catie, 6; Abby, 10; and Zac, 12), the kids have begun a new school year, and I am still grappling with herculean task of conquering the chore chart.  This is how my whole blog got started with my post Washing The Clean Dishes.  That chore chart lasted about 72 hours.  You remember what a lousy housekeeper Abby was at 7-years-old.  This family has a ton of experience with many different chore charts.  If you are looking for that mom blog with all the answers, you've knocked on the wrong door.  This family is real and struggles the same as you to <<>>.

Yesterday my kids were all off at different activities, so I got on my dust fairy wings and cleaned...and cleaned...and cleaned.  By 4:00 the house was sparkling.  By 10:00 the house was back to the way it was before I started.  I had even cooked a nice dinner which I, and only I, ate. 

Today is a new day.  I have resorted to locking the girls in their rooms and not allowing them any privileges until their rooms sparkle.  Oh, I know that sounds mean.  They don't actually REALIZE they are locked in their rooms.  I am a pro at this MOM thing by now.  I called them both into the living room, told them that they would have to earn their electronic devices back today, told them what good cleaners they are (((God accepts some lies, right?))), armed them with two types of cleaning spray and paper towels, and told them to surprise me with how clean they can make their region of our home.  I told them I believed in them.  I told them they could DO IT!  WE HIGH FIVED!! 
So far, they have come out for an oreo, a piece of gum, to tattle (twice), and to make a playlist on my iPhone for added motivation.  Now, they are back in their rooms.  We shall see what is to come.  More later.



Success!!  YipEE!!

Friday, January 4, 2013

The Little Things

I'm not even sure how to begin......

Yesterday, a dear friend said, "This Christmas seemed to come and go so quickly.  It was so filled with hurt."  She is a very talented musician and our school's choir director.  She is also in charge of the music for our church.  Over our Christmas break, as we were relaxing by the fire and planning how to entertain our kids, she sang for seven funerals....<<<SEVEN>>>..

I can't even imagine what the families are going through who are suffering with the loss of a loved one over a holiday like Christmas.  It makes you really count your blessings and wonder, "How did I get so lucky?"  I have three healthy, normally developing, well socialized kids.  ((You have no idea, as an educator, how much I know this to be a blessing)). I have a husband who I know loves me immensely even though he can't seem to clean the garage like I asked.  I have a beautiful home.  Not just any home.  I have a big home near the water with the sweetest front brick steps you could imagine.  I have a nice car.  My kids have everything you could possibly ride on.  I have a dog ((who won't quit barking))) that I love.  I have a job in this dwindeling economy.  I can pay all of my bills and have a pantry full of food and snacks.  We don't often think of what others go home to.  Our lives are so busy.  Some are going home to sick moms, dads, and relatives that they care for almost daily.  Some are going home to hours and hours of homework for subjects that seem so simple, but our child just.doesn't.get.  Some of us are going home to nothing.  Some of us can't pay our bills.

I'm not trying to be depressing.  I'm only trying to be truthful.  It has been heavy on my heart. 

Today, I attended a viewing.  It was not a funeral, nor was it a wake.  It was the first one of its kind I have ever attended.  It was also one of the most touching...and eye-opening.

Our school has a cleaning "crew".  My school is large enough for almost 700 kids to attend comfortably and stretch their legs.  It's big.  Our cleaning "crew"  consists of Claudette and Frank.  2 people.  They are husband and wife.  They are probably in their late fifties.  They are hard workers and as kind as they come.  Those of us who often stay late greet them each afternoon as they dump our trash and try to stay "out of our way".

When I started working there, there was a faculty meeting where it was stated that we pay tens of thousands of dollars per year for janitorial service.  Let's say it's over $50,000.  I thought, "Whoa.  Frank and Claudette do well with this one account."  But, as I looked closer, I realized that they have very little.  They dress in rags.  When I offered the left over class pizza, they did not hesitate.

Two weeks before Christmas, during morning prayer, our principal asked to keep Claudette in our prayers because she wasn't feeling well and felt like she may have a heart attack.  She went on to say thay have no insurance and can't afford the medical care she needs and they couldn't afford to miss the hours away from work.  They don't work for themselves.  They work for a janitorial service, likely making minimum wage or a little over.  (((Oh.  Well, that makes more sense.)))  We decided we would take a collection for them around school to try to help.  Many teachers gave generously.

Two days later, Claudette had the heart attack she feared she would have.  She was found by her 22-year-old son in her chair early on a Friday morning.  She was unresponsive and remained that way for 14 days.  Over the Christmas holiday.  Frank and her son sat faithfully by her side, even telling us that they thought she could come back because they think she is responding, even though the doctors don't.  Her son finally had to make the decision to terminate life support.  Claudette held on for 6 more days.  She died yesterday, probably mid morning.

Frank could not afford her death anymore than he could afford the hospital bill.  His only option was to cremate her, plain and simple.  When I asked about a service, he said we would have to say we were family because they would only allow family to see her.  He said, in a very humble way, "Mrs. Zembower, don't dress all fancy to go see her.  I'm just gonna put her in her sweatsuit, you know."  When I told him we didn't have to go, he insisted.  "No, please, just tell them you're family.  Tell the teachers to say they're family."

My principal made a phone call to allow for our staff to "visit"  Claudette from 1:30-4:30 today.  There was no casket.  Not one flower arrangement.  No pictures.  Just Frank.  Claudette was in her sweatsuit on a gurney, covered in a sheet.  Someone (maybe Frank) had placed wilted white roses and a small religious item on her chest.  Frank wore jeans and his nicest T-shirt.  His hair that once reached halfway down his back is shaven.  In his culture, you shave your head when you lose someone you love.  "My hair was so long, because I haven't lost anyone in so long, "  he said.  Just after we arrived to the small room and paid our respects, teachers began arriving since school was out.  One after one...until the small room was FULL.  We gathered in a circle and prayed together.  Our music director sang for one more funeral as she led us in "Amazing Grace".  We told Frank to make a list of what he needs and he would get it....  He needs so much.... We all have so much.  We told him he was part of the FAMILY, even though he didn't know it before now.

Hours after I got home, I realized....I guess GOD gave Frank the funeral he wanted for Claudette, but couldn't afford.  I hope he felt some peace and closure from the "visit".  I think he did.

This week, as this weighs on my mind, I have one verse that keeps running through my head like a broken record.

For I was hungry and you gave me something to eat, I was thirsty and you gave me something to drink, I was a stranger and you invited me in.  ~  Matthew 25:35

Lesson~ See Matthew Chapter 25.



Friday, December 28, 2012

My Most Read Posts

These are all from 2011!!  Why was I so much better at this in 2011??  Anywho..EnJoY!  Some will make you laugh out loud, some are serious, but all have drawn quite an audience.  Tell me which is your favorite!  Comment below!

10.  Heroes   A tribute to our military

9.  Quiet Time  The time I escaped :D

8.  Welcome Back  A teacher's reflection of the first day of school...God help me!

7.  More Bang For Your Buck  For all you cheap skates out there!

6.  Marriage 101  Note:  I'm not nearly as sociable as I once was either as stated in this post :(

5.  Blessings One of my personal faves

4.  Summer Vacation, Day Three  Summertime and a drama queen!

3.  Teacher Tip: Getting That Dang Straw in the Capri Sun is a Skill My BEST teacher advice ever!

2.  My First Born  The story of 9/11/01, the day my world and your world changed.

1.  She's Crazy I Tell You!  Hilarious...about my mom and every grandmother on the planet!

Thanks for the Ammo, Santa!

Well, as NORAD Santa Tracker predicted, Santa Claus made his appearance around 11:15 p.m. on the night of Christmas Eve just as soon as the kids were asleep (or at least faking sleep well enough for Santa to begin).
This year proved to be just the same as any other.  One kid had too much, one kid had way too little, and one kid had it just as originally planned.  The lack of communication in this house caused us to spend $$$hundreds$$$ more on Christmas than we originally intended.  I blame Mr. Zembower since he just had to have the new gun for his sweet male offspring.  Our middle child scored big with a new TV for her room so that they finally quit fighting daily over Zac's TV.  She was thrilled.  Our youngest scored what was left on the shelves the day before Christmas Eve.  She's only five and still easy to please, though ((and there were no more KAROAKE machines left in this town!!!)).  Their family time for Christmas also proved prolific in the gift department.
Now, as the holiday winds down, we are getting back into our normal swing of things.  I am doing what any good mom does, using these new possessions as ammo.  ((Don't judge.  You know you do it, too))
 My middle child is losing things left and right.  I've checked her "clean" room three times already.  I've written of her housekeeping abilities before in this post about chores and this follow up post.  She's a disaster.  Picture the child of Pigpen and the Tasmanian Devil.  If she touches it, it remains where she left it...all over my house.  When asked if she cleaned her room, brushed her teeth, took a shower, etc, she responds with a fully believable, "Yes."   Lies...all of them.  It's time for action.  No matter what I am doing, how busy I think I am, I will have to go to her task and double check.  I've started this today.  She was told that each time I checked and she had lied, she would lose a new beloved item.  So far, she's lost her TV and her new Heeleys on my only two checks.  Next is the Nook, then the football.  I will WIN...I will be VICTORIOUS!!  I WILL have a home that I can actually have surprise guests one day without being utterly embarrassed at the state of disarray that our home is in!

Lesson:  The middle child is a tough nut to crack.

In other news, Santa has since found two more bags of gifts (mostly clothing) in the bag of her his sleigh.  I also blame this on Mr. Zembower since he was the one designated to retrieve said items from the back of the sleigh at 11:00 pm on Christmas Eve.  :(


One more note to defend my grammatical intelligence.  This font apparently makes my uppercase S look like a lowercase S in my title on the word "Santa".  I assure you, I have checked and rechecked, and I definitely put an uppercase letter there.  :(

Tuesday, December 11, 2012

A to Z: Life is a Lesson: Ma'am I Think You're On Our Team

A to Z: Life is a Lesson: Ma'am I Think You're On Our Team: It has taken me over 2 weeks to admit this to anyone, even my husband.  Actually, I haven't even told him yet.  Once you read this, erase it...

Ma'am I Think You're On Our Team

It has taken me over 2 weeks to admit this to anyone, even my husband.  Actually, I haven't even told him yet.  Once you read this, erase it from your brain.  You are not allowed to question me or ever bring it up again.

Basketball season has begun.  Once again, Catie was ready to try out for another sport.  T-ball was short-lived, having spent most of the time faking a headache or tummy ache, then bouncing back for the post game high fives and popsicles.  Zac and Abby play ((and L-O-V-E)) basketball, so Catie must at least give it a go.  If she takes after me, basketball will NOT be her thang.

Well, for the first practice, we arrived to find a school friend on the team.  I thought, "I don't remember seeing a school friend on the roster?"  I dismissed it and thought he must have signed up late.  I sent Catie to the coach on Court 2, watched him check to see if he had her name, and stayed for her practice.  Truth be told, I usually walked the overhead track and watched simultaneously, stopping at the rare occasion that it was Catie's turn to shoot, giving a quick thumbs up, and continuing on.  That's what Moms of the Year do, right?  We were on time, even early for practices.  We practiced like champs for 3 solid weeks.

At the end of the 3rd practice, just as Catie was getting the hang of actually reaching the goal with the ball and really enjoying her brand new teammates,  the Family Life Center Director approached me and said, "Um, we don't have a uniform for Catie on this team, but that team does."  She pointed to the team we had practiced next to for 3 solid weeks...on Court 1.  The team with a lot of short people, a.k.a. 4-year-olds.

"Is there any chance we can just play with this team?"
"No.  The teams are full, sorry."
"And you think they'd notice?"
"Yea.  The teams are all full."

I stood in the middle of the court staring at Catie frolicking with her new buds on her team, dreading having to break the news.  I lied and told her this new team was so much better and practiced much better than hers.  It would be so much fun.  She didn't buy it.  There was one sweet girl on the team, which was a plus (who has not attended a practice or game since that day).  We finished up practice with our "new" team long enough to get the last minute "1-2-3 Hornets!" huddle at the end.

So there it is.  We currently practice with the Hornets on Court 1...with the short kids.  Games are at the crack of dawn each Saturday.  Catie's 5-year-old maturity combined with her mad dribbling skills have proven an asset to her new team.  Sure, most of practice is spent with half of the team on their backs while spinning in circles, the other half sipping their apple juice, but it has been fun.  She really does have great coaches.  Last game, one of them pulled me aside and said, "I am just so proud of Catie!  She is so shy and quiet, but she got out there and really gave it her all today."  Shy and quiet....sure...and I'm Jennifer Lopez.

Lesson:  Pay attention, Mom-of-the-Year.


Friday, December 7, 2012

Free Christmas Tree!!

Last week my aunt said she knew someone giving away a NINE foot artificial tree.  The cheapskate deal seeker that I am jumped on the deal, since I have been meaning to buy a fake tree for years.  When I asked what was wrong with it, she said, "It was in perfect condition.  The man and lady are just getting older and don't want the pain of such a large tree."  ScoRe!!

Well, the tree is now up.  It is quite lovely with the exception of one major detail.  The former smell of Christmas that emanated the air is no longer there.  It has been replaced with this smell.  The smell of a fake tree...that sat in the attic for month after month...the attic of old people...the attic that also housed MoTh BaLLs!! 

Who uses moth balls??  There has to be another way to protect the treasures you keep. 

Anyway...the smell.  You know the one, with the live tree...the pine, the fresh smell of the wood, and the sap.  I didn't realize how much I enjoyed it.  Now it's gone.

It's okay.  I am a teacher.  I am completely armed with every Yuletide flavor of candle you can imagine from years and years of thoughtful Christmas gifts.  I could try to be authentic with the smell I choose, but I am all out of "pine", and there is no "Muggy Louisiana Heat" candle on the market.  I settled for "Winter Wonderland" which could not be further from authentic, but what the heck, neither is the tree.

Lesson:  Beggars can't be choosers.

Merry Christmas