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Monday, February 28, 2011

Hello Patience--Are you there? It's me...

I had a lot of trouble with patience this weekend.   For multiple reason, I was short-tempered and irritated.  Since making a list always makes me feel better, I thought I'd compile in list format what had me irked this weekend.
  • Germs. Although I realize it is unreasonable to be mad at a virus, I was particularly irritated with the one that made my oldest daughter sick on her birthday.
  • Fans.  Daughter cheered at a basketball tournament this weekend and some of the parents of the 5th and 6th grade boys should be ashamed of themselves.  Their behavior was so appalling that I may have to save the details for a blog post of its own.
  • Hormones.  I know, its kind of a chick cop-out, but I'm telling you I think I had a legal defense this weekend.
  • Banquets.  It was my son's first boy scout banquet this weekend.  He's 7.  I figured it would be about 1 1/2 hours.  3 1/2 hours later
  • Cakes.  My son needed to make a cake for the banquet.  It would either be auctioned off or put in a cake walk.  Really?  He's 7.  Why does he have to make a cake the same weekend I have to make a cake for oldest?
  • Silent auctions.  My MIL thought it was just a donation sheet and she put down the winning bid on the cake that my son brought.  Seriously?  Did we just buy the cake, make the cake and then buy the cake back?  I have another cake at home!
  • Sighing.  People who sigh loudly rather than tell you that you are irritating them irritate me.  We went to our school musical this weekend.  We paid just as much for our seats as the little old bat behind us.  The fact that my husband is 6'2 and my son is a squirmy little boy who loves to sing along is no reason to sigh. 
  • Volunteers.  Why is it that my husband had to set up for the boy scout banquet, provide multiple dishes for the pot luck and help tear down from the banquet?  I mean there were over 100 people there.
  • Cake walks.  Do you know what this is?  It's musical chairs more or less and if you "win" guess what you get?  A cake.  Guess who was one of the winners?  Middle daughter.
Does anyone want to come over for cake?
Friday, February 25, 2011

Lessons from the Lunchlady: the cafeteria can be a touchy feely sort of place

Here are just a handful of the things that I learned in the cafeteria this week.

  • Doritos are nutritious.  Um...okay.  That's a bit of a stretch.  It continues to be an enigma to me how a bag of Doritos, a cup of cheese, a cup of taco meat, some lettuce, some tomatoes and a spoonful of salsa qualifies as a reimbursable meal.  I mean even if eaten with the Mexican rice and the fruit cup, it can't possibly be considered healthy.
  • Heritage meals.  Our tiny elementary does a number of these meals.  The kids are taught facts about Fiji, Morocco, Egypt and Portugal (just to name a few) and then they are given the opportunity to try some foods from the region.  Sadly, I don't think the kids like the foods much.
  • Pears are a member of the rose family.    Really?  I mean how can that be right?  Turns out they are one of the healthiest natural foods you can eat.  They provide a ton of fiber and have few calories.  Of course, convincing a child to try that's like trying to stay dry during a thunderstorm.
  • Syrup.  Breakfast used to be served on Styrofoam trays (gasp) and then we were told to come up with ways to save money and we thought maybe throwing away all that stuff wasn't the most cost effective thing to do so we decided to use "real" trays.  After a month of this, it can be confirmed with out much objection that children bathe their trays with syrup.  We have tried to teach them to dip their pancakes or to dunk their french toast stix but alas we have learned that this is a terribly difficult task.
  • Groping.   Today I had on a new shirt.  It has a row of smiling peas holding a flag across the front that says "Give Peas A Chance".  A second grader took his hands clear across the front of those peas today, touching both my breasts along the way.  "What are those?" he asked, innocently(??)  "Peas," I said,  pulling his hand away, "and let's ask without touching next time."
We took down the Valentine's Day decorations and started to put up some St. Patrick's Day items.  We started a lengthy discussion about why we celebrate St. Patty's day.  Even after Googling it, I can't say for sure why we do.  Can anyone enlighten me?

What did you learn this week?
Thursday, February 24, 2011

An open letter to my 12 year old daughter

Dear Oldest G,

On your birthday it has become a sort of tradition for me to articulate to you some random words of wisdom.  It is my hope that one day you will look back on some of these blog posts and smile.  Perhaps they will mean something to you.

Twelve years ago today I was exhausted, overwhelmed and terrified.  I was about to be released from the hospital with you.  Your dad and I were young and entirely on our own.  Your grandparents were all at least six hours away.  Your aunts were even farther. 

Daddy took five days off of work and we decided that for those five days we were just gonna try to figure out what life as a family of three meant to us.

Nursing was foreign and I was convinced you were starving to death.  You made so many different noises.  You were never really completely quiet.  We were at a loss as to why you were crying.  We weren't sure if you should be using more or less diapers.  We had many conversations about your bowel movements, when your umbilical cord would fall off and whether or not you had thrush.

For a while, Daddy and I forgot how to talk about anything but you.

The funny thing is I can't believe that more than 12 years have gone by.  Often times I still feel at a loss.  I still feel terrified.  I still wonder if you are eating what you should.  I still can't figure out all the things that make you cry.

You are no longer that little baby who needed me endlessly.  Nor are you that toddler who said funny words and was obsessed with Blue's Clues.  You are an adolescent, soon-to-be a middle schooler.  Your looks are changing, your body is changing.  I have no doubt that before this time next year you will be taller than your 5'2 mom.

It has been a privilege to watch you grow these last 12 years.  I realize that over the next few years our relationship is going to be a swinging pendulum full of emotion.  For many of those years you will value the opinions of your friends more than you value mine.  I want to say that I'm ready for this.  That I know whole-heartedly that I can face anything that comes my way.

But to tell you the truth I'm as scared about these next few years as I was the first day I tried to safely secured you into your car seat.

It is my hope for you that you will always be true to yourself and to your beliefs.  That you will not let those around you sway you from your core values.  That you will always give faith a fighting chance.  That you follow your passion and figure out a way to earn a living doing it.  That you will treat others the way you want to be treated.  That family means something to you.

That you will surround yourself with an inner circle that will always be there for you and that you remember, it is not the quantity of your friends, it is the quality.

Always there for you,

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

A book...I actually read a book. So how about a review...

This isn't a book that I picked randomly from the library.

This isn't a book that I read because someone recommended it.

This isn't a new book from an author I previously read.

This is a book that I heard people talking about.  Their descriptions peeked my interest.  It's supposed to be an intermediate level book--ages 9-13.  It's supposed to be something that my 9 1/2 year old 4th grader could read and comprehend.

I'm not sure who determines this but I think a perquisite should be having or at least knowing a child this age.  Thankfully, I have two and based on this expertise I can clearly determine that my children (both whom love to read) would not enjoy this book.  Plus I'm certain that my younger daughter wouldn't understand it.

The book is set in 1935 and takes place on Alcatraz Island.  The main character, a boy named Moose, has a dad employed at the prison.  In 1935, most of the prison employees brought their families to the island to live.  Moose, 12, has a sister named Natalie. 

Her age is unclear in the book as she is afflicted with severe autism and acts significantly younger than her chronological age.   It is indicated that she is older than Moose and that her symptoms started shortly after he was born.  Given what we now know about autism, symptoms become clear between ages 2-3.  This makes Natalie approximately 15.

The title of the book is misleading as the portion of the book that focus on the fact that the prison staff's laundry is completed by the convicts on the island is minimal to say the least.  The book centers around the fact that Moose is often saddled with afternoon and evening care of his sister. 

She has failed to get into the school her family hoped would "save" her and her mother is devastated.  She has tried everything from diet to voodoo to cure Natalie and when her therapist suggest that Moose begin to treat her like any other sister the boy is saddled with her care.

At one point in the book, he looses her.  She is minimally vocal and when he finds her she is sitting hand and hand with a convict.  Granted it is a convict, due to be released in six months and someone who has been giving gardening duties by the warden.  The book implies, but never says, what happened to her.  This implication is clear to an adult but I think when read by a child it wouldn't make much sense.

"The con is smiling.  He's missing a front tooth.  There are dark greased comb marks in his hair.  I wonder about this.  Inmates aren't allowed hair pomade.  Why is he wearing pomade on his hair?  Maybe he isn't a con.  Please, God, don't let him be a con. 

I haven't even looked at Natalie.  I'm afraid to take my eyes off of the guy in the denim shirt.  I think somehow I can protect her this way.  But now I watch her too.  She's smiling.  Sometimes Nat looks concerned or sad, or raging mad.  The best she ever looks is interested.  But here is my sister, Natalie Flanagan, looking happy."

Moose tries to drags her home, while she keeps repeating 105 over and over (the convicts number) he feels sick to his stomach. 

"Nothing happened."  I say this out loud to shut up the voice in my head.  My teeth are chattering like I'm cold.  They were just sitting there.  There's no law against that.  But I can't stop thinking what the warden told me the first week we came here.  "Some of these convicts haven't seen a woman in ten or fifteen years.  I think you're old enough to understand what that means...."

I don't know what comes to your mind when you read that but is it something you would want your 9-year old to do a book report on?

The book received a Newberry Honor and I will admit that it is cleverly written and fast paced enough to keep my attention.  However, award winning or not I concur with the chatter I heard about this book. 

It should be offered at a middle school level and above.

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

Another snow day in the trenches

Last February we had over 50 inches of snow in one week and that was a sight to be hold.  This February we've had just random plowable snows over the course of the last two months.  I suppose it is what January and February are supposed to be like, but I personally think it's worse than the 50 inches we had last year.

This snow is like the annoying relative that won't go home.  That keeps staying just one more night.  The kind of snow that isn't good for snowmen, isn't all that great for sledding in and is difficult to snow blow because it flies back into your face. 

Friday it was 71 degrees here.  We were playing in the driveway with chalk and wearing nothing but t-shirts.  Today we are off of school.  The low tonight is supposed to be in the single digits and we have a fresh six inches of snow. 

I can't explain it but I have spring fever this year far worse than I did last year. 

I'm ready to put the sleds, the boots and the snow pants away.  I'm ready to bring the lawnmower to the front and push the snow blower to the back. 

I. am. ready. for. spring.
Monday, February 21, 2011

Weekend Update: Indoor Water Fun, A touch of Spring and a Slap of Winter

Oldest G turns 12 on Thursday.  Just typing that makes me feel a little old.  For her birthday, we decided to go to a not-to-far-away indoor water park and spend the night.  She was allowed to bring a friend but unfortunately her friend got sick and wasn't able to join us.  Big G was only bummed a short while and quickly made a friend at the park.

Here she is looking more and more like me (posture and all) on the side of the jacuzzi.

Here is middle G crossing these crazy monkey bar things the had.  You could tramp on the floating alligator pieces, but they actually made it harder.  It was fun to watch the kids try this but I was too chicken to give it a go.  No upper body strength.

Now the jacuzzi...that was more my speed.

Here's middle G on the dolphin in the middle of the pool.  We had a good time.  The sign out front was advertising 84 degrees in our indoor water park...I beg to differ.  Maybe the air temp was but the water wasn't even close! 

Which explains why I spent most of my time in the jacuzzi. 

Speaking of the weather I may have to write another open letter to Mother Nature.  On Friday it was 71 degrees here and I was thinking about sending her some fan mail.'s 27 and we are expecting 8-10 inches of snow. 

If we don't have school tomorrow then we have to tack this snow day onto the end of the year and I'm not happy about that.  Tacking days on means less days at the pool for me and quite frankly that's gonna annoy me.

Sweet Mother Nature...what's the problem?  The groundhog said early spring.  Can't we all just get along?

Friday, February 18, 2011

Lessons from the Lunchlady: Full moons are worse than snow storms

This week I learned that kids (and grown ups) can be annoying, that life is sometimes overwhelming and that there is usually a reason to laugh.
  • There are fancy names for things:  A litte boy said I know a fancy name for a spoon and a fork.  I was leaning towards Spork.  Nope.  He said...silverware.
  • Words can sound similiar.  For example:  A student, when asked what he was telling the boy who just hit him, might be saying "I said what gives?  Your dad is a bastard?"  Or he could be saying, "I said what gives?  Your dad is a pastor."  Sound similar.  Have totally different meanings.
  • High pitched whining is my kryptonite:  Imagine if you will a 2nd grader yelling in a high pitched squeaky voice "Hurry up!"  "Why are you taking so long?" and then leaning up over the counter to grab his own sandwich and then once again squeal "Hurry up will ya."  I leaned over the counter and got eye level with him and with my voice raised said, "If you continue to speak to me in this manner I will move you to the very end of the 2nd grade line.
  • No one reads the menu.  Our district is looking for ways to save money.  My suggestion--eliminate the menu because no one reads it anyway.
  • Snow isn't the only thing that makes kids wild.  We had kids dancing inappropriately, we had hitting, we had biting, we had groping, we had inappropriate language.  I'm blaming it on the full moon.
What did you learn this week?
Thursday, February 17, 2011

Today was one of those days

Today was one of those days. 

One of those days where nothing goes right.

One of those days when you feel like the worst parent in the entire world.

My day started with my son bursting into tears at school while I was serving breakfast.  I'm in the middle of that and he is literally sobbing because he...wait for it...

wait for it....


OMG.  Is someone playing a joke on me?  Why does my seven year old son care what he looks like in his sweatshirt.  He's a 42 pound 1st grader.

Not only was he crying, but he couldn't get a hold of himself.  Even after the bell rang he was still crying.  He went to class sobbing.  His teacher made it a point to talk to me.  She wanted bring it to the attention of the school counselor, whom he already visits regularly because he has trouble controlling his emotions.  A.K.A. He cries all the time.

I told his teacher that I already mentioned it to the counselor.  Apparently the counselor spoke with Little G later in the afternoon. But when I asked him about it he told me he prefers to speak to Miss R about it and not to me.

That hurts...just a little.

Middle daughter has been nothing but belligerent all week.  Today was no exception.  She has a way of being the bully and the victim at the same time.  She has a way of thinking that everyone is against her and nobody loves her. 

She screams at me a lot.  She tells her dad that she doesn't think I love her.

That hurts...just a little.  Okay...maybe a lot.

Oldest daughter won't get out of bed.  Oldest daughter doesn't like to shower.  Oldest daughter smells like an old gym sock.  I beg her every morning to put on deodorant.  I ask her repeatedly to address her hygiene.  She doesn't.  She rolls her eyes at me and tells me she is wearing deodorant.  Her clothing smells.  Her coat smells.

I feel bad that I miss the toddler version of her.

My evening was suppose to be enjoyable.  I was taking the kids to swim at the high school.  It was a school function.  It was free if you brought a can good.

It was from 6-8:30.

We shoveled some food in our mouths at 5:00; we picked up some friends and we were at the high school at 6 sharp.  A miracle.

And the door was locked.

The librarian was there.  She organized the event.  The high school principal was located but he didn't know anything about it.  The pool was closed.  There were no lifeguards there.  Could we wait while he called some?

More people started to arrive.

It was louder than 3rd grade lunch.

It was crowded and it was hot. 

We had been waiting for almost 45 minutes when I see a fifth grade teacher bringing my kid back to me.  My son apparently was punching people and may or may not have spit on someone.  Fan...frickin...tastic.

The lifeguards arrive but the lights aren't on.

Not one of the administrators there knows how to turn them on.  They need to locate the custodian (who I'm sure makes a lot less money) to turn on the lights.

After an hour long wait the pool is open.

I am not letting my son in.  He is pissed.

I made him wait 5 whole minutes before letting him swim.  He stuck his butt in the water and got out.  It was too cold.  Seriously?  After pissing around for another 30 minutes he finally got in the water.

This day has just sucked. 

This week has been dragging since Tuesday. 

So I ask you am I the only mother out there that loves her kids with all her heart but on some days doesn't really like them?
Wednesday, February 16, 2011

Short Story: The Pledge of Allegiance

My son decided to say the supper time pray yesterday because his sister was stalling so he figured he would bail her out.

He cleared his 7 year old throat and with his head bowed and his hands clasped he said...

"I pledge allegiance to the flag of the nine states of America..."

I stopped him and said, I think you mean the United States of America.

And he said "No I mean nine.  That's what my teacher says everyday."

Still laughing.
Tuesday, February 15, 2011

How big is your inner circle?

As most of you know, I freelance for a local afternoon newspaper and as part of my job I attend school board meetings as well as township meetings.

An assistant superintendent at one of the districts I cover recently was arrested for DUI.  It happened over the Christmas holiday and according to police reports she claimed she had two drinks--nothing more.  The police report however indicated that she had slurred speech, failed to use her turn signal and crossed the center line.

She subsequently failed the field sobriety test as well as the Breathalyzer.

The entire story is very sad to me for many reasons but mostly because I want to know where her friends were.

Obviously she wasn't out alone. 

She was with either her co-workers or her girlfriends or perhaps even some family members.

Shouldn't they be held in as much contempt?

This situation made me stop and think about who is in my "inner circle"?  You know the people who you can laugh with or cry with.  The friend who will come and pick you up at 2:00 a.m. when your car won't start.  The people who know if your okay to drive home just by how you look.  The group that would shave their heads if you had to fight cancer.

Everyone needs an inner circle.

And when I'm long gone, I hope my inner circle says things like "We could always count on her."  She made us laugh, she held our hands, she just knew.

Monday, February 14, 2011

Lessons from the Lunchlady (what I learned last week)

What happened to last week?  Is is really Monday?

I'm a little lost.

Here's what I learned last week in the cafeteria.
  • No Snow Makes for A LOOOOONNNGGGG week.  This was the first week in a long time that we didn't have a snow day or a two hour delay and let me tell ya I was feeling it.  Can you say afternoon nap?
  • Kids View Age Differently than Adults.  My co-worker turned 42 last week (gasp).  Our school announces all the birthdays in the building during morning announcements and when the kids were coming through at lunch they were all wishing her Happy Birthday.  One little boy said at least your not over the hill like my mom.  She's 40!  Baaahaaa....
  • Boys don't like Valentines Day  Third grade boys don't like Valentines Day.  Some of them act like they are allergic to pink.
  • Mean girls exist in all ages.   If there's one thing that gets my blood boiling it's mean girls.  Girls who box you out of the lunch table; girls who say things like 'You're not my friend anymore'.  Girls who act like they are better than you.  I had to talk with a few of them last week about what it's like to be the girl that no one will sit with.  It's sad to see this on the elementary level.
  • Government Egg Patties look like breast pads.  This one is kind of self explanatory.  They would fit perfectly into a nursing bra which is somewhat frightening.  You'll be happy to know that the words Le Leche didn't appear anywhere on the box.  I know because I checked.
What did you learn last week?
Tuesday, February 8, 2011

I'm gifted with the ability to piss people off

Turns out I have quite a gift. 

I have the ability to piss people off at random.  The thing about this is that I sort of take it personal.  I'm not sure why but I do.

Yesterday at the PTO meeting I was just joking around but I'm pretty sure the one mom took it personally.  See I don't hold a position with the PTO I just like to go and get the scoop on all the business.  Find out where the money is going and what the plan is for raising more money.  I am not opposed to holding an office and next year I probably will, but currently I don't.

I'll spare you the boring details about how I'm usually misunderstood, but let's just say I'm sarcastic and often described as "funny".  I'm not sure that is a good thing or a bad thing. 

Most people get me but for those that don't, I tend to just piss them off.

The problem is I have got to learn not to care whether or not I do.  Repeat after me.  "Be who you are and say what you mean because those who matter don't mind and those who mind don't matter."  Dr. Seuss.

Dr. Seuss Rocks.
Monday, February 7, 2011

Tired of the hate

For those of you living in a secluded cave in Antarctica equip with wifi, the Steelers did not win the Superbowl. This might come as a shock to all of you, but I'm okay with that.

I like the Steelers because I grew up outside of Pittsburgh and it is a birthright--sort of a requirement, if you will.  In fact, I'm surprised that we didn't have to take a Steel Curtain 101 class in high school.

My dad has always cheered for the Steelers.

My grandmother still cusses at the Steelers.

So I guess you can say that my family lives and breaths black and gold.

Does that mean that I love the choices that Big Ben has made?  Hardly.  Does that mean I agree with every coaching decision they make.  Not so much.  I'd like to believe that I'm a gracious loser.  That I know there is always next year.

What I can't understand is why people whom I call "friends" felt the need to spew nothing but hatred on their Facebook pages. 

F**k this and F**k that.  S**tsburgh loses.  Let me whip my *ss with your terrible towel.  Really?  This is how you celebrate?

What it comes down to is that this is a football game played by overpaid adolescences.  Apparently most of their fans are adolescences too. 

If you are a Green Bay fan, a true fan, than I say congratulations to you.  You played a great game.  You capitalized on all of our mistakes.  You turned those turnovers into point.  You brought your A game.  Pittsburgh did not.

To all of you routing for the the Packers just because you hate the Steelers, please don't FaceBook me.  I'm
 busy deleting some of my "friends".

Friday, February 4, 2011

Lessons from the Lunchlady: What I learned in the cafeteria this week

I worked this week with walking pneumonia.  Of course, I didn't realize I had pneumonia until today when I finally went to the doctor to find out why it felt like a case of frozen broccoli was resting on my chest.  Turns out that feeling shouldn't be ignored.

Here's what I learned in the cafeteria this week.

  • The menu:  For most parents reading the menu is optional.  This really shouldn't surprise me as many parents don't seem to read anything that comes home.  They don't know when we change the menu, they fail to realize when school is dismissing early for half day parent/teacher conferences and very few of them actually care to discuss their child's progress with their teacher.  It is a little disheartening.
  • My son beats up people.  Not really.  In fact, I'm not sure he could hurt anyone.  However, for a writing assignment he was told to use the word CAN in a sentence.  His sentence.... "I can beet ppl up."  Really.  That's the first thing that came to your mind?  Disappointing.
  • Syrup.  A second grader spilled syrup all over himself this morning.  It was messy and sticky.  I got a wet towel for him and attempted to get the mess off of his shirt only to find out that most of the syrup landed on the crotch of his pants.  I handed him the towel and told him he would have to take care of that himself.  It was at that moment that I realize this would be a funny SNL skit.  "Hey lunch lady...."
  • Grape or Strawberry.  If I just stop asking kids if they want Grape or Strawberry PBJ they will just stand there.  And stand there.  And stand there.  Some will even look up at me inquisitively and say, "Please?" like they are attempting to guess what I'm waiting for.
  •  3rd grade.  It is possible to get all the way to 3rd grade without realizing you have to pay for milk.  "I thought I could just take one and sit back down."  Guess it never dawned on him why everyone else was in line.
What did you learn this week?
Thursday, February 3, 2011

Writer's Workshop: Laugh Out Loud

When Mama Kat asked what made me laugh out loud this episode of Modern Family came to my mind.  If it doesn't make you have no sense of humor.

Wednesday, February 2, 2011

My oldest daughter is scared of her own shadow

So oldest is scared of EVERYTHING!

She likes to read Harry Potter and Charlie Bones.  But as soon as the dark arrives she turns into a wee baby afraid of everything.

Last night it was werewolves.

The night before it was vampires.

The night before that I found her nearly 12 year old body sleeping on the floor by my bed.

Any suggestions?  Any ideas?  I can restrict her reading list, but I doubt that will help.  I already limit her movies.  I suppose she is gonna grow out of it but until then I'm not sure when.

Do you have a child that is a scaredy cat?  If so what do you do?

Tuesday, February 1, 2011


Seeing as I live in Pennsylvania, I expect to have cold temps and snow for a few months.  Sometimes we get more snow than we think we will and sometimes we don't get much of anything.

The one thing I ICE.

Ice isn't fun to play in.  Ice isn't pretty when it's falling.  Ice wants to be snow but it isn't.

We didn't have school today because of ICE.  It's looking unlikely that we will have school tomorrow because of ICE. 

I'd rather have snow.

Here's what I worked on during my Ice well as refereed a few fights, did a few loads of laundry and changed the sheets on a handful of beds.

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I'm a 41 year old (gasp) freelance writer, school cafeteria manager, wife and mother. I have three children and one anxious and overweight beagle. I use my blog to make others laugh, to share some cool crafts, to document my lunchlady adventures and to lament about the challenges faced by us all on the journey called life. Thanks for visiting. Please leave some meant some comments.
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