How Teacher Appreciation Week Nearly Killed Me Last Year (and How I Plan to Survive This One)

Teachers are da bomb, y’all.  Da. Bomb.

They show up – every single day – no matter what.  Budget cuts, political upheaval, poor working conditions.  Kids from single parent homes, military homes, families living below the poverty line, families who’ve never caught sight of the poverty line.  Kids with no support at home, either because the parents place a minimal value on education or they’re working two or three jobs to pay the bills.

Teachers show up for all of our babies, and they lay it on the line.  Because that’s the only way to reach so many different kids in one classroom.  Because no one goes into teaching for the salary and prestige.

Continue reading

it’s almost time for high fives and salsa dancing

We’ve got spirit
yes we do,
we’ve got spirit
how ’bout you?

Oh, these long, long days of elementary school…reading logs and flash cards.  Homework folders, #2 pencils, and letter grades.  Field days and cafeteria drama.  Good times.

After enrolling as runny nosed midgets who can’t walk in a line, kids slowly adapt to school culture.  They learn to take turns in the bathroom and use up all the paper towels.  They figure out which kickballs are the good ones and how to get an extra turn on the tire swing at recess.  They even gain an appreciation for certain cafeteria foods.

By the time kids move on to middle school they’ve morphed into nearly functioning humans.

Continue reading

Forever Family: what to do when the KKK walks out of the history book and into your lives

If you visited the blog yesterday you know this has been an intense week.  Frankly, I’ve downed a lot of Advil and done more than my fair share of stress eating, neither of which really fixed what ailed me.  Beer didn’t help either.  That’s what I get for trying to self-medicate.

Bee recently talked about what it’s like to live in redneckia and it made me laugh.  Then it made me cringe.  Then laugh again.  Because sometimes the world is so freaking distressing, so overwhelmingly frustrating and infuriating, that my only coping mechanism is to find humor in the macabre.  Which is certainly how I categorize the racist sh*t we’ve run into over the last three years or so.

Continue reading

when the KKK and middle school collide

You might want to skip this one if you’re looking for the typical lighthearted RFTM fare, or you could play whirl-a-post.  I get it, sometimes you just want a fun read, so if that’s the case just go down the right hand side of your screen and click a tag or visit the Greatest Hits page.  But don’t expect me to bring the snark today.

The KKK sucked it right out of me.

Continue reading

sex, abstinence, and the health class dilemma

Ah, the beauty of middle school.

Social drama and texting.  Girls and P.E. class.  Low man on the totem pole, switching classes, and brand new lunch options.

Plus graduation from a fifth grade puberty discussion to the health class that spans a range of topics including – wait for it – sex education.

Let the good times roll.

Continue reading

gratitude: capitals, planets, math, and geography

"Thirty days hath September,
April, June, and November.
All the rest have thirty-one,
'cept February..." 

blah blah something...

whatever, February has twenty-eight,
twenty-nine in a leap year.

5-things-i-cant-do

I have a rather porous memory.  Some of my friends had the gift of reading something once and it was lodged firmly in their long term memory; I had to work a bit harder than that, and even then I wasn’t always successful.

I mean, learning the capitals for all fifty states?  Talk about torture.  (And talk about gone.  If that info’s still stored in my brain it’s hiding behind some long lost episode of M.A.S.H. or something.)

Mnemonic devices were my saving grace for everything from remembering planet names to the order of operations.  It’s how I memorized the colors of the rainbow, names of the Great Lakes, and that dessert is spelled with two esses.

Having a brain that needs those connections made me a better teacher, too.  Anyone can lecture from a textbook…I taught my kids tips and tricks, how to link facts together, ways to make learning personal so it’s easier to retain.  The same memory glitches that made me work harder are what helped me find better solutions for the kids whose lives I touched.  Including our own.

Thank goodness for those memory aids.


My post as part of Colline’s Gratitude Project.

in matters of the written word

Listen, I know I can be a bit of a nut with the English language.  I’ll admit I have plenty of triggers in this area, both spoken and written, and that it’s entirely possible more than one person has given me the side eye if they overhear my rant.  That’s my baggage.  I own it.

Grammar mistakes – especially on important stuff like, you know, artwork titles – make me crazy, and pretty much any sentence ending with at (“Hey, Jim, where’s that remote at?”) makes me shudder.  I’m not asking for the Queen’s English here, just a reasonable resemblance to proper English.  It doesn’t even have to be fancy English.  I’d be satisfied by casual language with some slang thrown in if we could only avoid those traffic stopping blunders.

Oh, and in case our texting generations were wondering, writing still matters.

Continue reading

gratitude: 24/7 mother/daughter time

I’ve written about the fifth grade field trip to D.C. a few times, but I don’t know that I got to the heart of it yet.  Sure it was cold and exhausting, with days as long as the IRS tax code, and there were moments of pure pain when my back decided to act up.

And yet…

It occurs to me that I haven’t had that sort of one on one time with Bear or T-man since, well, ever.  Last year BrightSide took T-man to D.C. so technically it was just us girls at home, but we were going about our regular lives.  There’s nothing like traveling together to really get to know someone.

Bear and I spent every waking (and sleeping) moment together from 6:30 Sunday morning to 11:45 Tuesday night.  Just me and her (and a hundred other people or so), no buffer zone, nowhere to hide.  And it turns out my daughter – my very hormonal, somewhat unpredictable, sweet natured and smart daughter – is a lot of fun to hang out with.

Not only did I get to see her hanging out with her friends but she got to see me hanging out with other parents, listening in as I shifted into adult mode.  I got to see how she’s affected by the social dynamic in her grade, how her behavior shifts based on who she’s around, and she noticed the same sort of things about me.

But most of all, we were in it together.  We could complain and be miserable or we could joke around and have fun; we chose the latter, and our travel experience was richer for it.

It’s easy for me to recognize how I see Bear differently now.  Lucky for me, she was kind enough to clue BrightSide in from her perspective.  Sometime last week she turned to him and said, “You know who I’d want to spend a whole day with?  Gem.  But also mom.  She’s really funny, you know.”


My post as part of Colline’s Gratitude Project.