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Tuesday, December 20, 2011

RALPHIE

      Do you remember Ralphie from the movie A Christmas Story ?  There is a scene where he imagines his teacher grading all of the essays and marking them with F, F, F, while sobbing in disappointment....THEN...she gets to Ralphie's essay, reads it, gasps, weeps in delight and marks A, A, AAAAAA.  Then Ralphie wakes up from his daydream.  It doesn't turn out as he expected.

       This is one of my all time favorite movies for a few reasons.  Never mind how Dad pronounces the word "fragile".  It shows a child in his true light.  He hates the bunny costume.  He wants what he wants for Christmas no matter how ridiculous.  He knows what he wants to tell Santa and nearly misses the opportunity to sheer shyness.  He's scared to death of a bully who is really just a creep of a kid.  He has curse words in his dictionary, but does not use them at all...well, until the slip up.  Most of all, he has this incredible imagination.

       The relationship between a teacher and student is special.  In the 4th grade, I played the role of "Fern" in Charlotte's Web.  I was super shy, just like my middle daughter.  I spoke to no one (((ever))).  I had this incredible imagination and a deep love of reading, though.  The first time I read Charlotte's Web by E. B. White, I was so enthralled in this book, that I missed my bus stop.  When I looked up from my book, I was in the next town.  I was slouched down in my seat, so no one noticed.  My brother and sister had gotten off at our house and not noticed I had not {{Well, that's another issue}}.  My teacher saw the passion I had for this story and gave ME ((the shyest kid in the grade)) the lead.  I practiced, practiced, practiced, for weeks and weeks.  I imagined what it would be like.  I imagined applause, laughter, gasps, standing ovations...the works.  The play was a success...well, I guess it was.   Who knows.  It's what my child mind wanted it to be.  I am still grateful to that teacher for believing in me.

          That feeling has helped me as a teacher.  My parents were always terribly involved in school, so every holiday we showed up with gifts.  My mind worked as all children's minds work.  My mom would show me the gift, or I'd help to make something.  She would wrap it and put my name on it to give the next day.  My mind would race with possible reactions...jump up out of her chair and hug me....announce to the class that this was the best gift she received....tell me she always wanted that exact thing....let me know how she could use it.  I don't remember specific reactions, but I know what I imagined.  I imagined that I had made my teacher so happy.   Today, when I get a gift, I do my best to make that child feel like this is their moment.  I always come up with a reason I need it, where I can use it, how much I have been wanting this!   It could be a fabulous gift card to my favorite spot...or it could be a craft that a child made because her parents couldn't afford gifts (those are pretty special).  I receive each gift with a hug, if possible.  I hope that a child never goes away feeling that I did not appreciate their kind act.  As a teacher at a private school, I had to pull my truck up to the classroom to load up all of my Christmas goodies.  Each gift is so special to me, not because it is exactly what I have been wanting or needing, but because each one of those kids were so proud to give a gift to someone that was such a big part of their lives.  Whether you see it or not, a teacher and a child can have a pretty special relationship. It's why I teach.  Every child deserves success and encouragement.  I hope I fulfilled the imaginations this week.

Thank you to all of my angels for so many special gifts this week:)

Merry Christmas,

ACZ

Lesson:  God has given me the gift of teaching.  It's not all rainbows and sunshine, but it touches a child.  I am blessed.

Sunday, November 27, 2011

SANTA

Santa Claus.  Well, he used to start appearing just after Thanksgiving in the local mall when I was a kid.  We have plenty of pictures of  my brother and sister and me in matching outfits, frilly socks for Britt and me, clip-on tie for Nick.  Britt always wore braids.  I was the cute one in the middle ;)

I think Santa was at Dillard's back in the day (or another major department store).  As you entered the area to line up, it was a magical, makeshift hallway with Christmas figures and decorations.  I don't mean just a little.  A lot.  It was fake, white, puffy snow, white and silver glitter, white lights, Rudolph, carolers, evergreens all through this very loooong hallway where the line winded and winded and winded...until finally, after ooooing and aahhhing the whole way,  you came to the front where the man of the hour was sitting.  There were elves, presents, candy canes.  I was a very shy kid, but I am not sure any child could resist the grand finale of sitting on Santa's lap after all of that hype.  You know what happened from there.  I told Santa what I wanted, received my obligatory candy cane, and off we went. 

Santa is different these days.  He sits in the middle of the mall, amid the hustle and bustle of Christmas shoppers, at the end of a long, boring, no frills line.  I think I brought Zac to see Santa when he was little only because I felt I was supposed to as a new mom.  That was the last time.  It's not because the "magic" is not there (or because those pictures cost and arm and a leg).   It's because my shy kids might stroke out if I would actually make them sit on Santa's lap.  Year after year, I see pictures of kids screaming on this giant, scary man's lap.  I just don't see the point.  Who knows, maybe one day I'll look back and wish I had those kinds of pics.  Actually, as I think this, I imagine the petrified kids I would see in those photos.  I imagine what a cat looks like when you try to put it in a bathtub.

So here we are.  Another Christmas.  With Catie growing up and noticing more around her, it's a different Christmas experience.  Santa is everywhere now.  Today it was WalMart.  No longer do I have the option of quickly shuffling past Santa.  Catie stops, pivots, gasps, and is on Santa's lap before I can notice where she went.  Abby, to my right, whispers, "I don't want to go, " as she quickly shakes her head. 

Last week, we had a visit with Santa while visiting my mom.  It was a Country Christmas (a week before Thanksgiving and 87 degrees).  We were some of the first in line, and Santa was in a great, big, magical sleigh.  Catie bounced in and out happily.  Abby was lured in by a very clever, rosy-cheeked Santa Claus waving a candy cane.  That was not the case this time.  This Santa just was not as magical sitting between the crafts and the $5 DVD display at WalMart.  As we walked away, I could see Abby's entire little body relax a little, as if to say, "Whew!  That was a close one."

Lesson:
<------This is not fun.  (No, these are not my kids)



Merry Christmas to all and to all a good night!


~ACZ

Sunday, November 6, 2011

Heroes

I am not sure what draws me to think of certain heroes so often...but, I do.  Military.  Active or not.  It is unbelievable to me that these everyday people make a decision to put their own lives at risk to ensure that my country is a free and safe place to live...and that others have a safe place to live around the world.  Whether or not you believe that war is right and just, we all owe so much to these men and women.  It doesn't stop there.  They leave families behind.  There are husbands and wives holding up the fort while their spouse is deployed for months and months and months.  They are absent for births, birthdays, first steps, graduations, deaths, heartaches, Christmases, report cards, and so much more that I cannot even imagine. 

When they come home, we celebrate, throw parties, honor them, and tell them how much we appreciate them, AS WE SHOULD. 

But, then, we go on living our lives, as they go on...dealing with all of the memories they will forever hold of their deployment.  We go on living, and they go on dealing.  Simply dealing.  Dealing with adjusting to this life that they once left.  With this life that they have returned to.  They deal with the memory of the life of when they were gone for SO long, in another surreal world.  In that life, I can only imagine, the heartache for the desire to be with their family must be so great.  I can imagine that they must remember only the good of life back at home.  They must be so anxious for the comfortable feeling of American living. 

When they return, though, they are left to find work again.  Sure, their jobs are supposed to be available for them upon return, but it is not always the case.  They are returning to the fairy tale they dreamed of during their deployment.   In actuality, they return to a life we ALL know.  The economy.  Money.  Kids arguing.  the daily 9-5.  In addition, they can add the stress of their memories.  Memories we cannot imagine.  War.  No one else talks much about it.  How would you?  No one brings it up, really.  They just have to deal with it.

I have an uncle who proudly served for 10+ years in the military, was in the Delta Force, and has secrets he will take to the grave.  He is one of the kindest, most thankful people I know.  For the trees, the early morning sunrise, his morning coffee, his family.  He rarely complains of the back pain inflicted from shrapnel from enemy fire.  He texts often how much he loves us all.  He has seen so much.  He knows a blessing when he sees it.  I am so thankful for his courage and service to our country.  I can count my cousins, Seth and Christie, and a few friends from the past that have sacrificed so much to serve.  I am so thankful to all of them, more than words can even express.

Friday is VETERAN'S DAY!  Don't wait until Friday to pat a VET on the back.  Do it every chance you get.  They deserve it.

Lesson:  Heroes are disguised as everyday people who did something great.

~ACZ

Saturday, October 29, 2011

FiElD tRiP!!!!

Ah, field trips!  A day we dedicate to the kids from dusk until dawn just to have a little break from the normal classroom humdrum and trick them into learning :)

Today was our annual field trip to our Louisiana State Capitol and the Louisiana Art and Science Museum.  Our trip began bright and early at 6:45 am when we loaded two chartered buses and traveled east for 2 hours.  For the teachers, this meant 2 hours of work talk about how to figure schedules, how to help our struggling students, and reviewing options for the upcoming Advent celebration at school.  For the kids, this meant loading up on early morning junk food brought from home, chatting on the DSi, playing ipod touches, or simply reading a book.

The museum was a bit rushed, but the activities were enjoyable.  We were having fun learning.  Who needs a bathroom break anyway?  Our kids learned the science behind why we cannot touch art due to the oils in our skin and the damage it does over time.  They also learned how to build a series electrical circuit, a parallel circuit, and how to make a light bulb work with a D battery.

The Capitol was the best, though  Thank God I teach Social Studies.  I love history.  In addition to being a grammar nerd, I get abnormally excited to learn about history.   I'm pretty sure my students do, too (wink, wink). 

I have a student in my class who has struggled all of his life in the classroom.  Of course, he's not the only one.  This kid, however, has a shy personality and lacks confidence in the classroom.  It is obvious to me, and, unfortunately, it is obvious to his peers.  He requires help that others don't.  Well, yesterday was his day to shine.  His dad is a former Senator,  former Louisiana Representative, and currently holds an office in our state government.  I was hoping he would just be able to meet his son at the capitol and enjoy the tour, since this child's parents don't live in the same city.  The second his foot hit the ground off of the bus, he turned to me, and said, "Mrs. Adrienne, I don't see my dad."  Well, there is a bit of the walk up to the capitol, so I told him to wait until we get there.

As we approached, there his dad was, waiting for our arrival.  He came to me and said he had arranged to do the tour himself with the help of another tour guide.  He arranged to have us tour the House, the Senate (these are the norm), and he would take us into the Governor's office, too!  He swore in all 75 of the students as Honorary United States Senators, called them all Senators as we toured, gave them Senate pins, let them run their fingers along the bullet holes still in the wall from Huey Long's assassination, showed us the pencil that remains in the Senate ceiling after a bomb exploded there long ago, and escorted our whole loud crew into the Governor's office.  His son beamed as he stood beside his dad as he told us some history behind the items that hang there.  He had that "I'm trying not to smile so I can remain cool but I really can't help it" smile.  His dad introduced himself to all of us with the offices he has held, currently holds, "but, most importantly" as his son's dad.  He ended the tour by taking all of the kids to the top of the capitol from the 4th floor of the Governor's office.  What a treat!

Finally, as my half of the group roamed the top of the the nation's tallest capitol building overlooking the Mighty Mississippi, I got a call.  Our time was up.  It was 3:00, and the other half of the group had not been able to come to the top.  I just couldn't imagine telling the 40 kids in GROUP B, half of the group, that they could not come up.  So, I made a quick decision and told my team teacher to let only the kids up with one parent per group, leaving lots of parents on the ground floor.  It was the only way to lessen the amount of people.  The elevators are small and take a long time to get up there.  I probably made a few parents unhappy, but the fied trip would not have been complete without those kids coming up, and they NEVER would have forgotten that they didn't get to come up.  They came up.  It took a long time.  We left 45 minutes late.  I worried about that decision all the way home since I had heard that some parents were not thrilled with it.

My son is in my class this year and calls this the best field trip he's ever had.  After we were home, I asked, "What was your favorite part of the entire day?"  "Going to the top, "he said.  He was in GROUP B.  So, I've decided I'll take the blame if any.  It was worth it.

I can't wait to get to school Monday and start working on thank you notes for these men who made our day so special....and of course tricking them again into writing a friendly letter.

Lesson:  Kids remember heartbreak longer than they remember a good time.  I'm glad there were none today.

~ACZ

Zac at the top overlooking the Mississippi.


Over 100 of us crammed into the Governor's office.

The Senate

The kids being sworn in as Honorary Senators

Father and son.  Look at that sweet smile!

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Times Three

This is my life...this thought....times three.

When you have 3 kids, everything happens in threes.  Not just bedtime, bathtime, dinnertime, morning time, and snacktime.  Tuition to that sweet private school.  New winter shoes.  New winter coats. New winter wardrobes.  New booksacks.  New school supplies.  New sporting gear.  Christmas.  Easter.  In my case, birthdays since their birthdays fall in July, August, and September.  Halloween.

Halloween...have you been to a costume store?  Are they insane?  I guess there are some people out there who pay $40 for a costume to wear one single night.  That's not me.  In fact, we have been blessed to have hand me down costumes most years.  This year, we're on our own though.  I was able to talk Catie into wearing her "beautiful princess dress" in her closet.  I bought a cheap tiara and robe to complete the ensemble.  Zac will be a zombie like every other 10-yr-old this year.  Abby is difficult.  She is not girly at all.  She would wear the dracula costume if I allowed it.  She finally decided on a lady vampire and only if blood can drip from the corner of her mouth.

So, tonight, after dancing, we decided to make the trip to the dreaded costume shop.  It is important to know that no mother toting more than 1 child in the history of the world has ever left a store feeling like a successful parent.  We either leave utterly embarrased that these whiny children are following us out the door, starving and crabby because this trip was taken too close to dinner time, or like a total loser that we did not buy the 2,345 things that our kids asked us to buy THAT day.  We get into filthy minivans and SUVs (noticing the mess again when opening the back door), fuss at the kids to get in already, drop a teddy bear and a DVD on the ground, throw it back in, and calmly back up while trying to see around our 45 blind spots that our cool SUVs have brought to our lives.  We eventually calm down before the return home and all is well with the world again.

Anyway, the shopping trip.  Just as expected, this entire scenario happened once again.  Abby was a perfect angel and found a costume that did not cost $500.  It was a dress :(  but I told her she could put black leggings with it, so she's cool.  Catie asked for eyeballs, a princess mask, clown hair, a bloody arm, a crawling zombie, spiders, a bloody ax, the dry ice machine, a pirate costume, fishnet stockings, and a zombie baby.  The horrid zombie baby was $60 and she cried into the next store about that one.  "I WANT THE ZOMBIE BABY!!!"  {{{Who is this kid following me out the door?}}}

Next we had to go to Wal Mart for fangs to complete the ensemble (of course, the Halloween store was all out of fangs).  Here, Catie asked for cantaloupe, donuts, a "cute" T-shirt, SLIPPERS!!!!, pumpkin lights, pumpkin candies, pumpkin napkins, pumpkin pretzels, a pumpkin, fangs, spiders, a hoola hoop, a basketball, some jeans, pajama bottoms, a purse, and cookies.  She got the pajama bottoms since they were on clearance anyway.  That was not sufficient.  As usual, I left with an unhappy child whom I clearly do nothing for.....ehem....for whom I clearly do nothing.    [[[[[don't end sentences in prepositions]]]]]

She has now nibbled on the few morsels of food that were lucky enough to grace her palate, she has fussed at me for not getting her some ice cream, and she has faked throwing up 3 times.  It is time for the princess to lay that pretty head down.

Lesson:  Leave the kids at home when shopping!

~ACZ

Friday, September 30, 2011

Is That a Garage I See?

Today, as I returned from a looong day at work, I was able to smoothly pull into my new garage at my new house.  Big deal, you may say.  You have no idea.  You see, at my old house I only was able to park in the garage on very few occasions.  When my husband bought our SUV, he called me and said, "Honey, the truck won't fit in the garage.  It's too wide.  Should I still get it?"  After drying my eyes from the tears of laughter, I said, "Todd, I don't park in the garage. Buy whatever you want!"

Now that we have moved, it has been a long process of unpacking and organizing to get to this day.  How ever was this impossible task finally conquered?

Well, that's easy.  You see, around 2:30 on Wednesday afternoon, my husband sent me a quick, innocent email just as my students went to PE.  It said, "There's a kayak fishing tournament in Lake Charles this weekend.  What do you think?"  I had to sit back and give this some thought.  My husband and I, in our 12 years of marriage, have always been very respectful of allowing each other the time to go and do what we'd like to do whether it be social or hobby. 

Not this time.  The reply he received was long, detailed, heartfelt, definitely more than he bargained for.  To spare the details, it had something to do with junk...mess...clean...respect...work hard all day....hanging shades...love...garage...boxes...Sanford and Son...you get the point.

So, to make a long story short, I came home to a dust colored husband finishing the lawn and a wide open garage to pull into.

Lesson:  Sometimes a girl's gotta do what a girl's gotta do.

~ACZ

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Teacher Tip: Top Reading Mistakes

This is a list I quickly decided to put together after working with a couple of kids today.  When a kid has trouble with reading comprehension, it really affects them in all subjects.  Worse than that, the kid's parents have no clue how to help.  For advice on that, you must read this post:

http://atozlesson.blogspot.com/2011/06/teacher-tip-reading-like-champ.html

Moving on.....

TOP REASONS YOUR KID DOES NOT UNDERSTAND WHAT THEY JUST READ:

1.  They may not be stopping at ending marks.  This makes sentences flow together in an odd sort of way.  The meaing of the sentences are lost.

2.  They make mistakes in reading and do not go back to correct what they read.  When a child does this, they are not paying attention to the story, but sounding out the words...again, losing meaning.

3.  They do not understand the vocabulary.  The struggling reader will simply continue, hoping to get the meaning figured out.  They typically do not.  They passed up the sentence or two that would've helped.

4.  They do not ever reread.  If they do not understand what they read, or forgot, or was daydreaming while reading, they continue.  They think that it will show their struggle if they have to read it again.  When I tell a struggling reader that I have to read things more than once all the time, they are shocked.  Their eyes actually get wide.  They have no clue that successful readers reread and poor readers do not.

5.  They do not envision what they read.  I always thought this was a natural thing until my husband and a couple of friends said to me, "I don't see the movie in my head when I read"  Gasp!  Use art to help this skill.  Have them draw their favorite scene and tell you about it.  They are retelling the story when they do.

6.  They are reading above their level.  My daughter is notorious for this.  She wants to read what her brother is reading.  They are too hard. This causes frustration and eventual disinterest, causing them to think all reading stinks....and giving up.

7.  They have not found a genre or author they enjoy.  A dyslexic student came to me this week and said, "Hey!  Mrs. Adrienne, I hate to read, but this book is so good!  I can't put it down!"  I quickly had him write down the series and the author encouraging him to find more books by him.  He got in trouble for reading during class today:)

8.  They do not find out anything about the book before reading.  Have them read the back cover.  If they do not, they spend the first few chapters distracted until they find out what is really going on here.

9.  They are still learning how to read.  In this case, read with them.  Listen to how they read, and read to them in a way that fixes those mistakes, exaggerating your pause at a comma, the stop at an ending mark, the excitement with an exclamation, and the sadness the character may feel.

...and # 10~  Well, you'd have to read another post for #10.  Here's the link.
http://atozlesson.blogspot.com/2011/01/teacher-tip-getting-that-dang-straw.html

God Bless!

ACZ

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

The Sprinkler

My sweet little ballerina just came back from her second ever ballet class.  Now, both girls can't get enough of dancing.  Catie is showing Abby the pliet she has learned, which she insists is called "Cliet" /kleeyae/ {{no matter what you or I say}}.  That is the extent of Catie's ballet knowledge thus far.  Realizing this, Abby seized the opportunity to teach something new to her baby sister.  Catie is now well versed in the "Salsa" (which looked more like a Tango).  She then proceeded to teach Catie the more complicated Pas de Chat.  To which Catie exclaimed,

"That's boring.  I hope they teach us to do the Sprinkler."
((Immediately giving her best Sprinkler))


Lesson:  Catie needs more involved classical ballet training, stat!
The sprinkler???

~ACZ

Sunday, September 11, 2011

Drama Club

I can't decide where the personality of my sweet youngest daughter, Catherine Alyce, also known as Catie, comes from.  My middle child, Abby, clearly is my daughter in personality and all.  I was the painfully shy tomboy that I see when I look at her.  My son exhibits my personality when he is too indecisive.   We are unsure about the influence which created Thing 3.

Catie, hmmmm...currently (past bed time) she is doing quick claps and shimmying from side to side mimicking Michael Jackson.  Every now then, she busts into a quick rap about her socks and sandals (I think this is a Disney Channel thing).  Daily, she makes fake phone calls to order room service..."Yes, this is Catie Zembower.  I would like Honey Nut Cheerios and Cheetos and Apple Juice.  I'm going to need A LOT!  I'm SO hungry!  Thanks.  Bye." ....click..."Yes.  This is Catie Zembower.  I need a large pizza with everything on it.  Thanks. Bye." click.

She fake calls fake friends.  "Hi, this is Catie!  Are you coming over to sleep?  Okay, see you soon.  Bye"...click...."Hi.  This is Catie....ummm, I can come pick you up.  I'll come in a little bit.  Yes.  Mmhm.  Well, I drive a really big truck.  We can go to California (squealing).  My truck doesn't have seat belts either, so we don't have to buckle up!"...click.

I often have to say "Amen" to the Ritz cracker or Wheat Thin that is presented to me with a serious "The Body Of Christ".  She changes her clothes 5 times a day.  Spells things to me like, "Mom, d-a-h-f-r-g-v.  That means I love you (head tilt, smile)."  She thinks it is a cruel and unfair world when her brother and sister can have friends over and have sleepovers, but she can't. When asked who she would invite, she lists 3rd graders (Abby's friends).

She's a big faker.  Often, when we are getting out of the car, she quickly closes her eyes and pretends she's sleeping. It would benefit her if she could control her laughter when faking, but she can't.  Her eyelids flitter furiously as she tries hard to keep them closed while still making an effort to see my reaction.  Lately, she has realized that if she fake sleeps through mass, she does not have to get up and down so often.  So, immediately upon finding our seats, she goes limp in our arms, faking, faking, faking, then finally actually sleeping.

The most embarrassing so far, though, would have to be when Zac's 9-year-old visiting friend (also my 4th grade student) walked through the living room sans shirt after a stinky fishing trip on his way to the shower.  Catie whistled at him, except she can't whistle, so she faked it in a high pitched squeal.

Dear God, give me patience and guidance and the knowledge I will certainly need to steer this child in a positive, fulfilling direction.  Guide me to opportunities to help her imagination to grow.  And please, God, show me the best location in our home for her first Oscar.    Amen

~ACZ

Friday, September 9, 2011

My First Born

Sunday is my son Zac's 10th birthday.  He's growing up fast.  This year, though, I have watched this boy turn more into a young man.  This is a major year of growth.  There are a few things that have happened recently, suddenly, overnight.  A few nights ago, I was getting dinner on the table.  It suddenly felt odd to give this big kid the plastic kid plate he's eaten dinner on for years and years.  I shrugged and pulled out an actual full sized dinner plate for him.  A few weeks ago we were barbecuing.  It felt like we HAD to teach him about the barbecue pit and how to grill.  So, now he grills.  Tonight, at dinner, as I ordered drinks for everyone at a restaurant, I had to say, "Wait, instead of 3 child drinks, make that 2 child drinks and one regular."  The biggest sign of all, though, may be that this alien has suddenly chosen to shower without whining, bargaining, complaining, sometimes without even being asked!

Sunday will be 10 years since that tragic day in New York, Washington D.C., and Shanksville, Pennsylvania where thousands of innocent fathers, brothers, mothers, sisters, aunts, uncles, friends, servicemen....(((children))) lost their lives.  It was a day that our security of living in this invincible country was shaken, shattered.  We've never gained that feeling back, either.

Zac was due on September 3, 2001.  I was examined and told I had no progress, come back in a week.  I was big, fat, pregnant, dying from the heat, and extremely anxious to meet my first child.  We came back in a week.  Still no progress.  We were instructed to check into the hospital the next morning to be induced.

So, at 4:30 am Tuesday, September 11, 2001, we left for the hospital.  Around 6:00 am, I was examined again, and was told still no progress.  In fact, it seemed as though this baby was nowhere near the point for delivery.  My doctor decided to schedule a C-section feeling my labor could be long and possibly dangerous for both of us.  We would just wait in the room until the next available operating room.  So, that's what we did. 

All I could do was watch TV.  A little before 9:00 the channel was interrupted because a plane had hit the World Trade Center.  Shocked, I watched the horror of that burning building.  Actually, I assumed it was a smaller plane, and not a passenger plane.  I don't know why, but maybe I was more focused on the flames than the airplane.  The news media, of course, stayed with the story.  Suddenly, as a reporter stood in front of the flames, I watched a 2nd plane crash into the other tower {{{{silence}}}}}
Todd had been down the hall and came running into the room.  "Did you SEE THAT??!"  {{{Silence}}} This is when I realized the size and appearance of the planes.....passenger planes.  This is when the magnitude of the events struck me...TWO passenger planes don't hit buildings on accident.  Oh, and all of the people INSIDE the buildings!....oh, no. {{{Silence}}}}  I don't remember even reacting or saying a word.  I remember it all being surreal, trying to process what just happened, how many people may be killed...THIS will be my son's birthday.  This tragic day will be the day I will also have cause for celebration.  This was hard to process.  It already felt wrong to celebrate...anything at all.  My most joyous day of my entire life was immediately filled with sadness for these families who would lose loved ones on the same day I would welcome one.  The day went on with 2 more terrorist attacks at the Pentagon and in Pennsylvania.  Nurses and staff kept coming into my room, watching a bit of the news, then moving on to their next patient.  I was glued to the TV until I was wheeled into surgery.

Zac was born at 12:24 pm.  He had a head full of black hair and weighed 8 lbs., 12 oz.  He had been so high up that they literally had to push down on my belly to get him out via C-section.  (A hint of what motherhood would be like).  We were thrilled.  The rest of the world and all of its anguish disappeared for the time.  Family and friends galore came to see this blessing that had come on such a dark day.  I stayed in the hospital for 3 days.

I left the hospital on September 14th (as my cousin was being wheeled in to deliver her first as well).  I remember that when we got to the car, we had a flat tire.  Strange, I remember that now.  Normally, I guess that would be a story to tell as you leave the hospital with your first born, but it is a vague memory.  I was mesmerized at what had happened to Lafayette while I was in the hospital.  The town was painted red, white, and blue.  All cars had flags, stickers.  Businesses had their windows painted...it was crazy.  Everyone had been living with the circus of it all for these 3 days, and I had been ...absent.  I was absent for over a week more as I stayed home while I healed.  Again, when I left the house, the same patriotism could be seen everywhere.  What a time that was!  You almost felt an incredible bond with every American, like we had all been through this tragedy together. 

We visited the site of the Flight 93 crash in Shanksville, Pennsylvania about 6 years ago.  What a feeling you get being there.  It is nothing I can put into words.  It's very spiritual.  You just want to hit your knees and pray harder than you've ever prayed for peace to these victims and their families.  You want to ask God "WHY???"  over and over.

As I think back on that day, my feelings are like a roller coaster.  Every year, for Zac's birthday, I feel I cannot fully enjoy it until I give credit where credit is due.  This is Zac's birthday, but this is also the 10th year that loved ones and servicemen will be missed around the dinner table.  It's the 10th year that those families will celebrate the upcoming holidays without their family members.  It is the 10th year that our military risks everything to protect our freedom.  It's the 10th year that military families sacrifice their togetherness for us.  I cannot fully express my gratitude for any military who gave so much as a weekend dedicated to this cause.  I cannot even begin to express my sympathy for those families who lost someone in New York, D.C, or Pennsylvania.  Now, on to another bittersweet birthday.

Happy birthday, Zac.
This is Zac at age 4 in front of the shrine that has been
placed upon the fence in Shanksville, PA. 



Peace,


ACZ

Thursday, September 8, 2011

"QUIET" time

So, we've been in school now for close to one month.  I am teaching my son this year (umm..that's another blog post).  My daughter, Abby (click for more),  is in 3rd grade right next door.  Sweet, precious Catie started Pre-K 4 with her beloved teachers Mrs. McIver and Mrs. Miller (along with her fauxmance, Grant).  Her classroom is also in a very close proximity to mine.  It's adorable........you'd think.  However, this ideal arrangement that I so longed for has backfired.  I have gone from having at least a few minutes of quiet as I begin my work day, to none...at all...nada...zip. 

As my precious 4th grade angels are entering my classroom, Catie, Abby, and Zac are just making their exit.  Not to mention the added drama of having your 4-year-old at work with you.  AND, as my 4th grade angels are leaving for the day, I have already had 2 booksacks, a plastic folder, several papers from school, a pair of shoes, a ponytail holder, and 2 assignment pads handed to me.  My kids are already arguing, asking for snacks, taking out markers, paper, crayons, scissors, library books, and on, and on.  This is all happening in unison with parent pick up.  I still have 8-10 students and 2 parents in the room....AAAGHGHH!

Somewhere I must draw the line, somehow.  I have to stop being Mrs. Adrienne, T H E N become "Mom".  Obviously(!!!!) since this post was supposed to be about my "quiet" run tonight, and it has viciously spiraled into the stress of my day to day.

So, I get home, and decide {{Today is the day}} I will get back into my running routine I meant to stick to weeks ago.  The air is cool, the sun is shining, there is no excuse.

quietly, I sneak into my room and change my clothes, slide into the closet and grab my running shoes, sneak past the 3 kiddies mesmerized by "So Random" on Disney (or whatever).  I gently grab the dog leash.  My trusty, faithful, needy, co-dependent, over sized dog is already by my side {{of course}}.  Ever so carefully, I click the lever on the door.  It creaks a bit as it opens, but those kids are zombies now, luckily.  I exit....free...freee....I MADE IT!!!

No, this is not me, but it is how I felt!

I made it out of the house without one mini Zembower noticing!  My music is on what I want to hear (Take Over me by Aaron Shust)  all seems to be well ......for the most part.
My dog did become obsessed with every vehicle that chose this hour to grace the neighborhood.  He lost all of his marbles when the UPS man rounded the corner, tying me into his leash, viciously causing me to spin, turn, and nearly crash into the pavement.  He even gave me the added bonus of collecting his poop in a little, black bag. 

When I finally had him calmed, I could hear the faint calling of a familiar voice.  (((Abby)))).  I should have known she would find me out <<crinkled nose>>.  I mean, Disney Channel is pretty awesome, but these kids check to make sure I am, in fact, devoting all of my love, time, and attention to their cause each and every second.  I knew she would eventually check on me, notice, and follow.  Luckily, she was the only one who discovered this opportunity.  She ran with me in her Peter Pan collared starched uniform shirt, her navy modesty shorts, her navy knee highs, and her running shoes. 

This run was a hard one.  I was out of practice.  It was a mess, but I completed it.  It was, however, my "quiet" time which never actually became very quiet at all.

Lesson:  Not so "quiet" time ain't so bad either.

How do you get YOUR much deserved quiet time??

~ACZ

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Saturday, August 20, 2011

Honey Do .......pLeAsE!!

I have been in my beautiful new house for over a month now.  It is lovely and spacious and full of light.  Mostly, this is because I have been asking my husband to hang our shades since before the move.  I have asked nicely...firmly...sadly....in writing....with a please.....nagging, nagging, nagging.  You know the drill, ladies.

I think I may resort to comedy, or desperation.  I have 5 shades to hang.  I shall place one over his sink in the bathroom.  One will go on his computer in the office.  One will lay on his pillow.  One can block his way to the garage.  Where can the other go.......ahhhh, his beloved shower.

I'll let you know if this new form of nagging is a success. :/

Lesson to come.

~ACZ

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

Welcome Back!!

First day of school today....whew.  If you think the first day of school wipes the kids out, you should meet the teachers at the end of the day.  My legs are threatening to give out on me without any notice, my feet hurt from my shins to my pedicure deprived toes, and all I want to do is go to bed.  If anyone stops by to hand out Mom of the Year trophy today, they would probably leave laughing.
I need eggs, wheat bread, apple juice, and turkey.  It can wait.  I'll have to be creative for lunch tomorrow.  The only thing that would get me to the store would be if coffee or wine was on that list.  It is not.  I'm safe.

My kids asked for McFlurries after school.  I stopped to get those after realizing my purse was left at school and I had to go all the way back there, through road construction, and BACK to the drive thru window I HAD JUST LEFT as they snored in the backseat.  While there, I decided I may as well get dinner (since Todd is out of town on the worst night to be out of town).  We are home now.  They have just eaten their McFlurries and dinner all at the same time.  Normally, I would die before that would happen.  Not tonight.  Just give me a bed.

Currently, the only words coming out of my mouth are, "Maybe you should get ready for bed."  This would be in response to "Mom, I'm tired"; "Mom, my tummy hurts" (that's what we get for eating dessert with our fast food meal); "Mom, we are out of apple juice." ; "Mommy, Zac hit me." ; and "Mom, I need socks for tomorrow."  To ALL of this, I say, "Maybe you should just get ready for bed."

The dog is pacing since no one in this house will walk him.  My kids are arguing.  The house is a mess.  My laundry room suddenly needs attention that it will not get.  There are dishes in the sink.


.....I just want to sit......rest.....sleep.  zzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzz

Lesson learned:  I will never be fully prepared for the first day of school.


~ACZ

Saturday, July 30, 2011

She's Crazy I Tell You

When I was younger, my siblings and I ate wheat bread.  We had a cereal choice of Cheerios or Golden Grahams (our whole lives).  We never had any type of soda grace our refrigerator.  We bathed nightly, brushed twice a day, went to bed on time, made our beds in the morning.  We even had the utter embarrassment of all 3 of us being dressed the same.  Often this included our matching Tshirts that said, "If You Love Me Don't Feed Me Candy".  Not only did she NEVER give us candy (unless you count the treat of sugarless gum), but she requested the same of anyone who dared look at us.  My sweet Maw Maw (whom I miss daily) always lovingly disregarded this request, took us to Jesse's Food Store, and bought us any candy we wanted.

This has all changed.  Somewhere between her own motherhood, and her acquisition of the title "Nana", she has completely lost her marbles.  The signs have been slow and subtle, like having the baby tootsie rolls for the kids whenever they wanted, then buying Pop Tarts, buying a sugary cupcake or cookie treat anytime she knows we will visit.  But today, she has crossed the line.  I feel she may require some sort of medical attention, therapy even.

We have all decided to come on a long weekend to my Aunt and Uncle's fishing camp.  We are deep in South Louisiana (where the actual Swamp People dwell).  It is hot and sticky outside, barely a breeze.  The kids have been fishing and crabbing all day.  They've had 3 coats of bug spray on them.  In the middle of the day she brought the girls to the only store around for miles.  They came back with each a stuffed animal (grrrrrrr, every mom hates these creatures), each a notepad with several writing tools, sour kool-aid drinks, and each a sour spray candy.  Yes, you read right, SPRAY CANDY!  A sour "candy"  that is sprayed directly in the child's mouth, thereby coating the teeth with a layer of cavity inducing SUGAR!!!   Ugh..I could barely stand it.

Nighttime is here.  We have all had dinner.  It is time to settle down.  I tell the girls to go take their showers as any good mother would.


Then....it happens........the sign of all signs that she has in fact cracked........


She turns to me......as if I'M being unreasonable......a n d   s a y s,


"Adrienne, I hosed them off earlier.  They're fine."


WHAT??????  Who ARE YOU and what have you done with the woman who forced me to try the peas and green beans on my plate?  Where is the woman who demanded baths nightly??  Where is that lady that shielded us from every bad word, bad kid, bad food, bad anything to come our way???

"You hosed them off!!???!!?"

I give up.  She's clearly beyond help at this point.

Lesson:  Being a Nana is a lot more fun than being a mom.  Moms are mean, but Nanas can be absolutely crazy and the kids think they are just cool.

You know what I'm talking about.
~ACZ

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Friday, July 29, 2011

"Fishing"

Location:  Dulac, LA for a fishing vacation
Scene:  a sunshiny afternoon on the fishing pier/boat dock thingy.
Characters:  Catie and Zac

Catie:  Zac, I really, really, really want to fish!!  (insert fake crying face and batting eyelashes)
Zac:  Okay, I'll help you.  Get your fishing pole.
Catie:  Here you go.  (Catie hands her fabulous pink and black Shakespeare to her brother)
Zac:  Okay, come here while I help you cast.  (Both hands on rod.  Both cast the line.)
Catie: (Immediately)  Thanks, Zac.  You hold it there while I go inside for a snack.  (walking away).....Be sure to watch it........don't let go.......Oh, and call for me when you catch MY fish.

Zac sits happily and fishes for Catie.

Lesson:  Catie will not enjoy our fishing vacations for long.

~ACZ

Thursday, July 7, 2011

We're In!!!

FINALLY!!!!  We have moved into the new house, and the itty bitty rent house is a distant memory.  We booked the movers the instant we learned that we had passed our final inspection (for the very next day).  I listed, in detail the items we had to move, along with the large storage unit full of our forgotten belongings (really, who even KNOWS what lurks in there!).  I warned them that our move from Lafayette took their largest truck and the help of another crew for a few hours.  8:00 AM rolls around the next morning, I anxiously swing open the broken front door of the itty bitty rent house with its dangling door knob, and I see 2 smiling movers and their itty bitty moving van parked on the road.  I can only imagine I must have looked like a puppy dog when they turn their head to the side in confusion.  "That's not going to work,"  I said.  This was their SmAlLeSt moving van.  The kind I imagine would have been used if Tom and Jerry were moving little Jerry's family out of the home.  NOT my family of FIVE!  "Well, we use this truck for local moves because it's quicker.  We use the big truck for out-of-town moves."  Again, head turns sideways. "That doesn't make sense to me."  After speaking to the manager on the phone, much confusion, and the realization that we will have to just throw our hands up get another crew to move us as well, we tread on.  This moving crew, whose name I will not mention, except that it rhymes with "2 Fajuns and a Muck" charge by the hour.  So, our budgeted $125 per hour has just doubled to $250 per hour, putting us at $1000 after 4 short hours.  {{{Insert angry, violent screams here}}}  The cheapskate in me was twitching.  So, after 4.75 hours, we moved the rent house ONLY!  They never touched the storage unit.  Keep in mind, we moved here from 80ish miles away from a 2600+ square foot house with a large shop, got stuck on the interstate for half an hour longer than needed, dropped half off at the storage unit, moved the other half into the itty-bitty rent house, and set up all beds.  That move costed only a little more than this 4-hour circus.  So, we still have an entire storage unit to move (on our own...the "Fajuns" are not invited to this party)

Regardless of how we got here, today marks 2 weeks in our new house, which just yesterday started to really feel like a home.  It's an odd thing, moving into a new house, even if you have been working on it for 11 months.  For a short time, it still feels like THAT house that you've visited with wires hanging here and there, sheetrock dust everywhere, nails scattered around, and the general feel of construction.  Then, a moment comes that gives the feeling of being "home".  For me, the feeling was last night, and it was tremendous.  I was cooking dinner (hamburgers, a family fave), Catie needed juice, Zac was getting out the plates and napkins...and it happened.  I suddenly had this overwhelming feeling of being home.  It was wonderful.  I felt like it was MY kitchen, in the middle of MY home.  My kids were all behaving beautifully in this moment and all the world was working just as it should.  I haven't had the feeling...ever.

Our home is beautiful, in a beautiful neighborhood, with beautiful views.  It will take some time to get all of our crap belongings where they need to be, but it will happen.  Patience, patience, patience.  It's a hard thing to remember when you can't wait to throw some pictures on the wall and make it official.  The time will come.

Now, I must get back to unpacking {{I'd rather slide down razor-blades}} and mop my floor yet again (sheetrock dust lurks still).  Another chapter begins......

Lesson:  Patience is a virtue......which I often lack.

~ACZ

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Thursday, June 23, 2011

Proof


Catie's view from stolen iPhone
 I just realized today when I looked at my pics that Catie had actually stolen my iPhone to take pictures to entertain herself during the  workout circus.  These are only a few of the 27 she actually took.  One was actually the backside of ME on the elliptical!  That was a treat.



























with motion

treadmill mat




















 
The thief




















 


Catie's view from edge of treadmill

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

The Most Ridiculous Workout Evaaaa

Let me tell you about my gym.

Once upon a time, there was a wonderful, dearly loved priest, named Monsignor Deblanc.  He had a vision to not only build a strong church community, but to take care of that community in body, mind, and spirit.  He did that, exactly.  The church is beautiful, warm, welcoming, inviting.  Along with that church, is a school bearing the same name.  Monsignor had a big hand in helping this school to grow, and it continues and continues to grow.  But, that was not enough.  Monsignor decided to build a Family Life Center.  This community center has a full basketball court, indoor/elevated track, Olympic-size swimming pool, weight rooms, cardio room, free evening babysitting, several meeting rooms, locker rooms, saunas, Jacuzzis...it's got it all.  Monsignor believed "if you aren't moving forward, you're going backwards".  The whole community supports and uses the Family Life Center regularly and we are all living happily ever after.

This wonderful amenity is so low-cost for a family membership, it is almost free.  For my family, it is free because I teach at the school.  It is also open at 5 and closes at 9.  Seriously, there is NO reason why I should not be there DAILY.  Did I mention the free babysitting in the evenings?  Not to mention, it is so safe that my kids shoot hoops on the court while I exercise next door.  This usually works...usually.

Well, this is how my workout went on this night.  Once we get there tonight, we notice the babysitter is not there. {{oy :/ }}  Well, that's okay, because Zac and Abby can play basketball in the gym.........Oh, there's a big basketball game going on. {{double oy oy :/  }}  Abby and Zac decide to go play on a side court, and Catie will just come and watch me (she can do that at my gym...pretty cool..well, not really). 

ME:  huff, puff, puff, huff
CATIE:  MOM, can you put the TV on the Disney Channel?
(Get off of machine, search diligently, though unsuccessfully for Disney, go to basketball court, ask Zac what channel Disney is, go back to cardio, find channel 24, get back on machine.)
ME:  huff, puff, puff, huff
CATIE:  Mom, can I have a drink of your water?
ME:  No.
CATIE:  PLEASE!!
ME: No.  huff, puff.
(Catie throws giant fit on unplugged treadmill, so the other cardio-goers can watch my embarrassment)
ME:  OK!  Here.  (Start workout again)  Huff, puff
{{{{ring, ring, ring, ring}}}
Interrupted for phone call from Todd who needs to speak to the children one at a time.  Go find Thing 1, Thing 2, and hand the phone to Thing 3.
Ugh!  The treadmill stopped because I wasn't pedaling fast enough.  Start over.  How much time passed the last time???
CATIE:  Mom, do I have bones in my teeth?  Mom, why are you watching baseball?  Mom, can I have some more water?  Mom, you're not wearing a ponytail.  Mom, why aren't you wearing a ponytail?  Mom, this is a kids' show.  Mom, can I go get that chair?   Mom, where is the babysitter?  Mom,  was Pepper in your belly?  Mom, you were in Nana's belly.  Where is Pepper's mom?...................................
...................................................................................................................................................................
.........................................................................Mom????  Mom?  Mooooommmm????
{{These poor people exercising in here must want to throw their water bottle at me.....and my beautiful children :(  }}}}}
ABBY/ZAC:  Mom, Abby called me stupid.  Mom, Zac kicked me.  No, I didn't!  Yes, she did!  Mom, I can't play with that game going on.  Mom, what are you watching?  Mom, can we watch the game with you?  Mom, can we get a chair?  Mom, can I have some of your water?
{{{{{{{{{HUFF, PUFF, PUFF, HUFF}}}}}}}}}}}}}
ME:  Yes, you can get a chair.  No, I cannot turn it on ALL of the TVs.  No, you cannot have my water.  Go to the water fountain.  If you don't behave, I will call Dad to come get you.  No, you can't have...will you just...you have to....kids, share the chair.  Darn the time restarted A-G-A-I-N?  How much time have I been on here?

As the final cardio champ left, I apologized for the noise and fussing and whining and fighting.  He pulled his earphone out, and said, "Oh!  I had my music on.  Didn't hear a thing.  I was actually going to compliment you on how well-behaved they are being."  {{{Oh, thank God!}}}}

Lesson:  There is no room for kids during "ME" time.

~ACZ

Leave a comment!!  Can you relate??

Thursday, June 16, 2011

You're Wearing That?

Last weekend my husband and I celebrated 12 years together.  We decided to go out to dinner since the kids were spending the weekend with Nana.  We've been working a lot on getting the new house finished, so we deserved it.  We worked most of the day on the house and were really late getting to dinner.

With the few opportunities I have to get fancied up, I seized the opportunity. I attempted a quick shopping trip for a new outfit, but was unsuccessful with such few places to get a decent outfit in this town little time. So, I came home, put on the cutest thing I could find that did not require ironing, dug out the high heels that I admittedly wobble on, and the new chandelier earrings that my mom gave me (insisting they are all the rage).   I.  was.  ready.  for.  a.  night.  out!

My husband came home, took his typical 5 minute shower......(how do they DO that?), stood in front of his closet, and said, "Can I wear my fishing shirt?"  {{{{{{wwwhhhaatttt???}}}}}} 

I pivoted on one trembly heel, saw him in his jeans, holding up his "nicest" fishing shirt, wobbled past him, and took off the chandelier earrings that are all the rage.  I replaced them with another pair that does not make such a statement.  I mean, how can I put chandelier earrings next to an Under Armour fishing shirt.  I guess he could sense the curdling screams that must have been boiling inside me.  I said nothing, but he did not wear the fishing shirt that night.

We had a nice dinner at a really fantastic restaurant (that wouldn't have been able to handle those earrings either).  I  realized during that dinner, as I thought of his obvious blunder,.......................
........................ He asked me that exact same question last year!!!! {{swap fashionable earrings for shiny blouse}}.

Men!

~  Lesson:  Men are from Mars, Women are from Venus.  Simple enough.  This was a review lesson, though.

ACZ



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Tuesday, June 7, 2011

Teacher Tip: Reading Like a Champ

It's summertime!  The time when the kids can sleep late, play on the Wii until they start bouncing around like Mario and Luigi, eat enough to feed third world countries, and annoy the living heck out of each other.  In all of this madness, we, the well-meaning moms, are just mean enough to require them to fit in some quality reading time.  My kids must be mutants because they love reading time.  In all fairness, I taught reading to 2nd grade for quite a few years and know all the tricks to make this happen.  They also come from me, the nerd who once missed her bus-stop and traveled to the next little town because I was enthralled in a good book (Charlotte's Web).  I thought you might like to know some tricks.

This blog is geared more toward the child who needs a little more help in their reading comprehension.  If your child comprehends just fine and soars as a reader, all you need is to share the reading time with them.  Read with them.  For example, Mr. Popper's Penguin will be in theatres this month.  We all read this story together last week.  My oldest whizzed through it alone, but my 7-year-old preferred that I read it with her.  They had fun, and we can't wait for the movie.

Now, for the tips. 

1. Find what they like.
Go to the library and see what genre they like best, or find an author they like.  Girls tend to like fiction more, boys tend to like non-fiction more.  If they don't like their book, let them get another.  They need to know that people don't always like every book they pick up, and that's okay.  They think that THEY don't like the book because they don't like to read.  (Books they could later watch as movies are great.)

2.  Read with them.
If your child is of elementary age, they are never to old to be read to, especially if they are struggling. You CAN read with your fourth grader.  It's called shared reading.  You read, I read, you read, I read.  Take turns.  They love the attention, and it helps when they hear a good reader read.  Remember to use expression.  (If you're going to fly through a book devoiding it of all meaning, don't waste your time...sorry so harsh)

3. Mess up.
While sharing, make it a point, as the more efficient reader, to mess up, catch your mistake go back and reread.  Kids who struggle think that good readers don't mess up.  Tell them there are times you read a whole page and have to reread.  They think that doesn't happen, too. 
(Struggling readers will read, mess up, and not reread, making the story impossible to understand.  They may not even realize they skipped 2 lines because they are only reading words and not a story.  When your child finally stops and rereads, it is a milestone.  Acknowledge it, but be cool about it.)

4. Make it real
If the story is about a dog who eats a slipper, talk about the time your dog did something he shouldn't have.  Relating the story to real-life helps them to remember it.  It's okay to talk about something else while you're reading, and go back to the story.

5. Ask questions at opportune times (when you're not stopping the flow of the story).
This is the most important one.  Never ask any question that can be answered with yes or no.  Ask questions that require thought and were not stated by the author.  How do you think that made him feel?  Why do you think her friend is so angry?  What do you think she should do next?  Do you think she will do that next?  Why do you think he wants to go there so badly?  How do you know?  What would you do if it were you?
These go along with the skill of drawing conclusions and inferencing (figuring out things that the author meant but didn't say).  These are the skills that kids struggle the most with.  Think of when you go see a movie.  As the plot unfolds you try to guess what will happen next, you feel what the characters feel, you try to guess the ending.  Bring those questions to the story being read.

I guess that's all I have for now.  I could go on and on, but these are the most important.  So, Go!...read...get out of this heat.  :)

~ACZ

Saturday, June 4, 2011

I'm Not Alone

As a mom, and other moms will say the same, I sometimes wonder if everyone's life is as frantic as mine.  Does everyone's house get THIS messy {{that you may just faint away if anyone would stop by unannounced}}?  Do all siblings fight THIS much?  Are all little girls THIS dramatic?  Does anyone actually feel like they have any of this really figured out?  Well, I think I know the answer.  We are all in this together.  None of us are alone.  There are the occasional moms who come around now and then, with all kids in bows, not a Kool-Aid mustache to be found, has a full-time job, leader of the PTA, volunteers in the community, drives a clean vehicle ((notice, I did not say "nice vehicle".  My only goal is "clean")), and just generally seems to have all her ducks in a row.  No offense to any of my friends, but we are not them, they are not us.

Yesterday, I was lucky enough to visit two friends that I adore while our children who also adore each other played.  When moms visit, they do so with one eye on the conversation, the other eye on the goings on of the kids, and yet another eye on dinner.  Oh, that's three eyes...well, count the ones behind our head.

During these visits I witnessed three temper tantrums, many displaced toys, familiar piles of laundry awaiting attention from someone,  messy bedrooms, a dozen toys being thrown, a treasured set of drink ware that only has one single glass left, reheated pizza that had lost its umph, a full meal being prepared to satisfy one adored child, countless interruptions, two kids stripping to their birthday suits, two sisters being splashed for "fun" where the sister was not having fun at all.....all things that I have at my home, daily, hourly......always.  It was a fabulous feeling.  I can breathe easier knowing that we are all teetering on the very edge of sanity as a collective group. 

So, together let's figure it out.  Share your secrets.  We all need the help.  How do you make it work at your house?  This summer, I plan to keep a daily schedule so the kids do not get bored, so I don't go insane, so the kids keep reading, so the world keeps spinning according to plan.  I plan to involve them in the planning of our lunch and dinner menus.  One week has passed and it has not yet been done...yikes.  Welcome to my world.  Help. 

Comment with your best so we can all learn a thing or two!

~ACZ

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Wednesday, June 1, 2011

Summer Vacation, Day Three

It is the first week of summer vacation.  My kids hung in there from 10:00 until 3:30 ish today while I ran errands for the house that is almost finished.  (Yes, I fed them in that time.  I'm not that cruel.) However, by the time I allowed them the luxury of some quiet time at home, they, nor I, were on speaking terms.

All in all, it was not so bad.  It did cost me a couple of drinks, a bag of Skittles, a Push-Pop, and a Hershey's Cookies-n-Cream bar.   Abby and Zac each lost only 15 minutes off of their lenient summer bedtime of 10:00 for arguing.  This is always a good thing for me, but the worst type of torture for them:). 

It's Catie I am a little concerned about, though.  Each time her sparkly toes exited the air-conditioned chill of the Expedition's cab, she dramatically swooned, "It's hhoooot.....I'm so hhhhooooot."  She needed to be carried, fanned, watered...something to relieve her fragile 3-year-old frame. {{eyes rolling}}.  What do I say at these horrific times to this sweet brown-eyed child?  I say what any loving mother would say. 

--->  "It's June 1st and 99 degrees, babe.  You ain't seen nothin' yet.  Deal with it."

~ACZ

P.S. Another Hermit Crab has passed on at our house.  There was no sadness, no sulking, no pleading for a replacement.  It was cold...cold I tell you.  No more hermit crabs for us, for a long time.

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Monday, May 23, 2011

This Heart is Not for You

Lately when Catie leaves school, all she can talk about is her sweetheart, Grant, and his refusal to play with her as often as she'd like.  Recently, she made a heart for him, tried to give it to him, and he didn't want it.  Crushed, Catie dragged her feet from the classroom that day.  Like any good Mom would, I stuck it in his cubby anyway.

Well, today, an interesting turn of events has my girl's heart all aflutter again.  When I picked her up, her teacher leapt up and came to tell me about her day.  Apparently, Catie made a heart again today.  She went to her teacher's desk and asked if she can put it in her cubby to give to her brother.  Grant was standing beside her.  She looked him straight in the eye, and said, "This heart is not for you.  I'm giving it to my brother."  He looked at her, and said, "It's not?"  "It's not, "  she said.

For the rest of the day, Catie could not shake sweet Grant from her side.   As her teacher told this delightful story, Catie giggled, "And Grant told me something......umm...but I can't tell you."  We told her we had to know what he said.  She replied, "I'll tell you when it snows."  ((Well, that'll be a short wait in South Louisiana, I'm sure.))

Eventually, she could not stand it and whispered in my ear, "Grant told me he's my boyfriend."

Lesson:  All stinky boys are the same no matter if they are 3 or 30.

~ACZ

Saturday, May 21, 2011

Saturday

There are some days that just stand out as such a Mom kind of day, you can't help but laugh at the comedy that has become your existence compared to your life before kids.  No offense, but often when someone who has no children says, "I just have no time!" I secretly roll my inner eyes at their idea of having no time. 

Today I spent the day with only 2 of my kids.  Zac was at a friend's house getting much needed boy time, and giving Abby a much needed shot at being in charge around here.  Sitting here, now, at the end of this day, I think it would have been easier to have all three.  Abby and Catie fought, cried, yelled, and fussed all day long.  Girls are so dramatic.

Abby woke bright and early and dressed immediately.  This is completely uncharacteristic of my sweet girl, but today was special.  Her 2nd grade class has had twenty something eggs in baby chick incubators for some time.  This week they have begun to hatch.  Since they have to be checked on daily, her teacher invited the whole class to a "Chick Party" today.  This party was at 10:30.  Abby was up at 7:45, standing on the side of my bed, fully dressed, asking if she needed a belt to go to her class.  We got up and around eventually, and all headed to school.

The party was exciting.  The kids loved it.  However, behind the scenes, a neighboring classroom's incubator showed signs of the travesty that had unfolded just 20 minutes prior to our arrival.  Apparently, 2 chicks hatched overnight.  One was fine, but the other had not fully developed and was hopping all over the incubator, leaving little chicky inside parts all around. (Gag!)  Thankfully, someone with farm animal knowledge came along and put the little critter out of its misery.  The incubator, however, looked as if a little chicky horror flick had been filmed.  Abby's poor teacher gagged when she showed me and could not stand to see it.  Not wanting the kids to see it on Monday, I offered to clean it. {{{Gag!}}}  So, I did.  Lovely.  Fun times.

Next we went to my classroom where I was certain I would spend 30 minutes grading my last test of the year, enter them in the computer, and go.  Sure.  I spent 30 minutes refereeing, 20 minutes finding a snack where equal parts were available, 10 minutes setting up their movie...the list goes on and on.  I was there several hours.

Next, Home Depot.  I spent too much money on electrical supplies for my house, paid an extra $20 for a light that hides in a rock because Abby put it in the basket, was plowed down by the basket being steered by the girls several times, and suffered through the embarrassment of Catie's Oscar-nominated performance after she received a tiny paper cut apparently almost lost 2 fingers to a finger thirsty fan.  The paper cut  gash was one I could not see and had no blood.  That did not stop her.  She cried.  She whaled.  She kicked.  She screamed.  She shook, shook, shook her tiny fingers.  The Home Depot employees fell  into her scheme, offering her ice and band-aids giggling the whole time.  This performance went on for the rest of the day, periodically, at times when she felt I may have forgotten about her.

Finally, we went to our new house where my husband is tirelessly tiredly installing lighting fixtures all around our house.  We were going to "help".  As it turns out, a hungry 7-year-old and a whiny, dramatic 3-year-old are not very helpful.  In fact, Dad was better off without them there.  So we left.  I, feeling like I was no help to him, came home and put the whiny girls to bed.

So, I end this day exhausted, still in a messy rent house, not from working hard, but from simply being so overwhelmed I feel I can't see straight at times.  It will be worth it in the end.

Lesson:  Carry a first aid kit anytime Catie is concerned.

~ACZ

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

Deep Thoughts

I have this overwhelming feeling lately that I can do more

Not sure what it means or what to do about it.  I mean, already my house is completely neglected due to the sheer lack of time.  With 3 kids, a full-time job as a teacher, kids in sports, building a house, and all else that falls into my lap each day, I am not sure when I think I would have any time to take on anymore tasks.

I don't think it's about time, though.  I think it's about DOING more.  I give a lot in the classroom, and I try my best each day to make a difference.  There is always room for improvement.  I will change a few things for next year to teach a few things that I don't feel I touched on enough this year.  It has nothing to do with language, spelling, and social studies.  It has everything to do with citizenship, morals, values, kindness, and simply being what God would like us to be. 

My kids came home with notes about one day next week being a "game day".  They could all bring whatever gaming device they own and have a party.  This brought my mind to the typical assumption in a private school that every kid in class has some type of device from a DSi to an iPad.  When I told my students today that most of the kids I taught last year did not own a Nintendo DSi, iPod Touch, or iPad like they do, they didn't believe it.  When I told them some of them never left their town or even went as far as Baton Rouge, they said I was lying.  "I go to Baton Rouge for every LSU game, Mrs. Adrienne!"  Yes, my point exactly.  These kids have no idea how easy they have it.  So, I guess that's the first way I'd like to do more.  Show these kids another side of this world.  Teach them how blessed they are.

It's about DOING more, being more, giving more back.  With all of the natural disasters robbing people of their homes and businesses today, I decided to sign up for the Local Red Cross and United Way.  I also plan to sign up for the local Catholic Charities when I figure out how to sign up.  So, I guess I've made a step...maybe too many steps.  What kind of time do I think I have to donate?  I guess I'll figure it out. 

I guess I am looking to see if there is anyone who can relate?  Is it age?  Is it motivation?  Is it spiritual growth?  I'm just not sure why this feeling is so strong.  I need to figure it out soon, though.  I may start overwhelming people by being overly helpful.  People at work may start walking the other way when I approach.  If you work with me, my apologies in advance.  I think I may be possessed...{{but, if you need anything, PLEASE ASK ME!}}}  :-)

Lesson:  ....none yet.

~ACZ

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Sunday, May 8, 2011

The Perfect Mother's Day Gift

May is always such a busy time of year.  Every festival, dance review, First Communion, fishing tournament, graduation, and birthday party are battling to be at the top of your to-do list.  For us, May has all of these things with the added ingredient of our new house being very near completion. {{excitement!!}}

This weekend holds the priority of blowing insulation into the attic.  Today, Mother's Day, is THE only possible day we were free to do it.  Mother's Day has been rescheduled for my family to next Sunday.  My mom has also followed suit since she is moving this weekend.

I love Mother's Day for several reasons.  The obvious...It's my day.  Moms don't often get to call ANY day her own, except for this day (and her birthday).  All of the other 363 days of the year are solely dedicated to the needs and priorities of the household and all who dwell in it.  We are pretty fabulous creations in this sense.  We multitask in our sleep, people.

Another reason I love this day is because I just love to see husbands show their absolute adoration of their spouse, knowing fully that she deserves this treatment on many more than just one day per year.  I also love it for the comedy of it, really.  All month long they agonize over the perfect gift....well, okay...for at least 2 days leading up to Mother's Day they agonize over the perfect gift.  My husband was thrilled when I told him I was buying my own gift this year:) Sometimes they hit a home run, sometimes they give you a toaster.  Either way, most of them never realize that the best Mother's Day gifts are free.  For all of you Dads, here's the list:

Breakfast in bed (quietly, and pick up the mess when you are done)
Hugs (from all in the family all day long)
Clean the house (make the kids help.  Send Mom away because Moms cannot sit and watch.)
Bring the coffee cups back into the house from your truck back to the cabinet where they live.
Sweep the back patio
Let Mom sleep late and go to bed early.
Do the dishes (it helps if this is done more than once)
Wash some clothes (and fold them, and put them away...in the right place)
Cook dinner (and clean up the mess when you're done)
Feed the dog in the am and the pm
Walk the dog
Clean the kitchen
Get the kids ready for bed
Clean up after all are in bed and have already half undone the original gift of cleaning
All day be sure to kiss any bo-bos, resolve all conflicts, help build confidence, spread love evenly, kill scary bugs, monitor TV/gaming, put out fires, praise the good, kiss, kiss, kiss, hug, hug, hug.

I know.  It seems like a lot to request in one single day.  I mean, how could one person possibly do all of this in one day?  You'd be exhausted!  You'd be.....living this one day as the Mom you love lives everyday (and I left some things out so as not to make your head explode). 

To all of the moms and dads who are doing BOTH jobs (as Mom and Dad) you are an absolute RoCkStAr!  Enjoy your day.  Happy Mother's Day to you all!


My 3 blessings.  Catie was scared she was not fully
able to be seen by the camera in this picture.












~ACZ

Saturday, May 7, 2011

The Middle Child

You hear it all the time...the poor middle child.  I am a middle child.  My sweet Abby is my middle child.  Tonight, Abby made her first communion.  We are so blessed to be part of a school and church community that celebrates this sacrament in such a special way.  The mass was beautiful, attended by as many as the church could hold, including every priest who is a part of the parish, and several who are not, our school administration team, and tons of friends and family.  Personally, five of our 7 guests traveled to be able to attend this event just for Abby.

I styled her hair as requested, like Taylor Swift, with fresh sprigs of Misty adorning her loose side-swept bun.  She wore a simple white dress with a thick, white satin sash.  I think she was the most beautiful one there, but, you know...I'm biased.  Abby was so thrilled to receive her first communion today because this wonderful team of 2nd grade teachers did such a great job of preparing them and teaching them about its relevance in their lives as Christians.  She was the belle of the ball tonight and she took in every moment of it.

This fact made me realize she needs more.  A middle child is a tough spot to fill.  You are not the oldest, so you can't do all of the things you're older sibling can.  You are not the youngest, so you have to help or do things for the younger one.  No one has to do anything for you.  You're fine.  In the case of my family, my oldest and youngest kids have formed an unbelievable bond which often causes Abby to feel left out.  As she looked up at me tonight in church with this big, wide smile, I realized that she was being phased by this attention so much more than her brother or sister would have been.

I get it.  I'll try harder.  Each night, one kid will stay up with me 20 minutes past bedtime.  We will talk, or read, or watch TV, or pray, or cuddle.  They all need to feel the love that I divide equally among them.  They do not always get that message in our daily lives.  I will make it a point to take a kid to the store with me when they want to go (one at a time, let's not get crazy).  I'll devote at least 1/2 an hour after work each day to what they need...not the laundry, or sweeping the floors, or cooking dinner.  I'll continue to hug and kiss them as I already do, but I'll do it more.  Zac may not like this, but the girls will love it.  I'll try harder.

Lesson:  Pay attention to what makes a child smile :)


~ACZ

Friday, May 6, 2011

Her Grace

As she does every school night, Catie picked out the perfect outfit for the following day.  Today it was a fairly new pink dress with a sassy little halter top.  Since it was chilly this morning, I put her white sweater on her. 
As we approached her classroom door, she started fiddling nervously with the sweater buttons.  She turned to me anxiously and said, "Take it off, Mom!  Take my sweater off.  Hurry!"  I asked her why, and she said, "Just take it off...please!"  I did.  She swiftly turned to face the classroom door, put her shoulders back, chest out, back straight, chin up....and   g  l  i  d  e  d   into the room.  As she did this, she watched each face as if they would just fall over from the sheer elegance that had just graced the threshold.  Her teacher, Mrs. Janet, was the first to notice (as she does everyday) the absolute beauty of the moment.  Catie. was. pleased.

Lesson:  Kids are born with a some of their personality all on their own with no influence whatsoever from their parents.

~ACZ

Thursday, May 5, 2011

Fauxmance in the Threes

My 3-year-old has a crush.  Yesterday, when I picked her up, her teacher told me she had made him a special heart and put it in his box.  Grant, the crushee, is apparently oblivious to the beauty, wit, and charm of my sweet Cate.  Mrs. Vickie said that Catie blatantly informed Grant that he was her boyfriend.  "No, I'm not," said Grant.  "Yes you are!" snapped sweet little Cate.  Grant has a thing or two to learn about girls at his ripe young age of 3. 

So, last night, all Catie could talk about was Grant this and Grant that.  "Mom, " Catie said, "When I tried to line up by Grant, he would not let me line up by him."  Which made me realize something key about the "fauxmance".  Catie may be stalking this poor boy.  You see, the other girls in the Threes have an eye for Grant as well.  My Catie loves a good competition.  Grant may need a little space with all of these girls chasing him and fighting over him, which I am sure Catie will have none of if others are trying to get the sweet boys attention as well. Poor kid.

Today was the Annual Stick Rodeo at Catie's school.  Catie pranced around the barrels in her frilly pink skirt and her Hannah Montana shirt.  Grant raced faster than anyone like a champ as Catie cheered him on from the side.  Who can blame her.  He's one cute kid.



<---------  This is the happy couple.  Grant is holding his yellow horse pretending my Catie does not exist. Who could resist that sweet girl.














Lesson:  May need to turn off Disney Channel now and then.

~ACZ