Wednesday, March 31, 2010

Random March Madness

Just a few random thoughts to get me through until spring break officially starts tomorrow at 4:00...

Today a student told me, "My mom said you'd be really skinny if you'd just drink a lot of water." I used to like that kid.

I ran early this beautiful, chilly morning under a full moon while listening to Jason Mraz sing "Bella Luna." Very cool.

I love this time of year because it's the only time you can get Reese's peanut butter eggs. They're WAY better than regular Reese's cups because of the peanut butter to chocolate ratio. Mmmm.

I hate this time of year because, either everyone in my neighborhood has forgotten to bathe this entire week, or the Bradford pears are blooming.

I love this time of year because the dogwoods, forsythia, tulips, daffodils, and plum trees are also blooming and it's so impossibly lovely.

I hate this time of year because all that blooming stuff sends my kids and me into an allergy tailspin.

I love this time of year because it's not too hot yet.

I hate this time of year because I'm still too fat for my spring clothes, but it's too pretty to keep wearing my dreary winter clothes.

I love this time of year because I can start wearing skirts and sandals again.

But I hate this time of year because I have to shave my legs every day.

I woke up in the middle of the night last night with nightmares about TCAP. My students' scores, not my own kids. The ones that used to rent my womb will do fine. It's the ones I'm supposed to teach that stress me out.

Why does the super-fast-drying nail polish chip so darn soon? My nails are so stinking cute in their hot pink polish...if only it wouldn't chip two days after I polish them.

We were watching Buzz Aldrin on Dancing with the Stars
the other night.

Digression: bless his heart--the man cannot dance; and how many freakin' space program/NASA/lunar landing T-shirts does he own!?! As they said on the show: We get it, already. You went to the moon. I went to Dollywood, but you don't see me wearing that T-shirt everywhere. Sorry, back to the story...

My younger son had just pooped a cloud of despair in the boys' shared bathroom. His older brother was scolding him for not using the air freshener spray before he left the bathroom. Then Twelve said, "Go back in there and see if it stinks. If it does, use the spray." Nine stood in the bathroom doorway, preparing to go in. Then he turned to us and said, very seriously, "I'm about to take one giant sniff for mankind." I don't think I've laughed so hard all month.

More reasons I love living in Hendersonville:
1) I saw twenty deer on my way home from school today.
2) My mom helped me survive the last hour of the school day when she brought me an iced coffee for no good reason except that she loves me.
3) Garage sales with Mom are way more fun than garage sale-ing alone.
4) Being employed is a very good thing.
5) Running/walking the dog along the lake is spiritually soothing--even if I have to keep pulling her away from the goose-poop buffet.
6) Having a TWO-WEEK spring break. Seventeen days off, baby!!!!

Tuesday, March 30, 2010

Spring Fever

Somehow I have to dig deep down and find the strength to teach Two More Days before I can enjoy seventeen days off.

Lord, please give me the energy, courage, and fortitude to get through it. :-)

Saturday, March 27, 2010

The Girl Cave

My twelve-year-old came racing into the room and said, "Mom! Quick! Before my brother comes back, I need you to help me find a base camp!"

Me: Huh? What kind of base camp?

Twelve: You know, like a secret lair.

Me: Hello? I'm the only girl in this house. Don't you think if I could come up with some kind of secret lair I'd be in it all the time and you jokers would never find me?

Twelve: Oh yeah. Good point.

Friday, March 26, 2010

Brainy Brewer Boys

I'm happy to report that none of my boys' teachers had to resort to comments like "you've reached a new level of mediocrity," on their report cards since they both made straight As.


As they have for the entire school year.


Thursday, March 18, 2010

Keep Up the Good Work

I was working on my class' report card comments tonight and I realized that I was completely abusing the phrase, "keep up the good work." I started trying out variations like the following:

You've maintained a consistent level of excellence.
Continue doing your best work.
I'm proud of you. Keep it up!
Way to go, again.
Awesome as always. (I awarded myself bonus points for the use of assonance.)

My students usually have really good grades. Most of them work very hard and most are above average, with a few exceptions. I love my class and I am truly proud of them 98% of the time.
At first I sincerely meant every utterance of Keep up the good work.

But then I started running out of ideas. The praise well had run dry. For some of my students the praise came easy. It flowed from my brain, through my fingers, and onto the computer screen. I freely used adjectives like awesome, great, fantastic, super, wonderful, amazing, incredible, and a couple of times I even said
tremendous. For others students, I had to really concentrate, hold my tongue just right, and do some serious creative writing just to get enough words to fill that rectangle on the card.

And I wondered why.

I started looking at the megawatt intelligence kids who always make straight As because they work hard and they care what their grades are. Then I looked at the kids who are not super-bright, but they have character out the wazoo and they work twice as hard as the straight A kids just to get Bs.

Then there were the kids who don't have the same advantages as the others. They come from single parent homes. Or homes with so many kids that the parents can't possibly give them one-on-one attention so they have to fend for themselves. Or the wonderful, caring two-parent families who are working two jobs just to put food on the table and can't be home every night to work on homework and preparing for tests. Those kids try and try and might never make above a C but they never give up.

Then there are the kids who frustrate me the most. These are the kids who have every advantage, but they take it for granted. They're the ones who don't make any effort and then act like the world owes them an apology when they make a B. The kids whose Moms make excuses for their behavior when the teachers dare to discipline them. The same kids whose Moms call the principal if their kid makes a C, because they haven't bothered to check their child's graded work each week. The parents who complain that the teacher isn't doing her job, despite the fact that said teacher has been sending home late work notices for weeks and the parents have neglected to sign them.Those are the kids for whom I struggle to write report card comments.

There are only so many ways that you can say, "Congratulations. Once again you've made the A- B Honor Roll. Because your parents have decided to show up in your life and help you out every step of the way, you continue to barely reach the bar which was set by those kids whose parents can't get off their lazy butts to help their kids score above a C. Ever. But they work ten times harder for that C than you ever thought about working for your As and Bs. Yay for you."

Or, "Congratulations on having the good fortune to be born to a rich father so that your Mommy can stay home and devote her every waking moment to you and the completion of your homework. Because of her efforts, you've made the Honor Roll once again. Whoopdy Freakin Doo."

When what I really want to say to some of my kids is, "Way to go, punkin. Despite the fact that your parents suck at life, you've once again managed to score in the dead center of average. You've landed in the 50th percentile for your grade level completely independently, without the help of any responsible adult in your life. I'm so proud of you. Keep on truckin."

ARGH! See why I stopped at "Keep up the good work"? I should never be encouraged to write what I really think.

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

Wait. What?!

Two different conversations overheard in the car today on our very short commute home from school...

Nine: We had two different colored balls, but neither one of them was blue.

I can only assume that he was talking about playground balls at recess. Because I have a twisted mind and I'm very immature, I found this sentence hilarious.

Twelve: Aw, look at that cute little kid playing in his yard.

With a very large stick.

Which he's wielding like a giant sword.

Yikes. His parents might want to consider anger management classes or something.

Yes, ladies and gentlemen, my kids are as weird as their mother.

Monday, March 15, 2010


My oldest child just walked into the den, where I was deeply engrossed in Wheel of Fortune and asked me, "Uh, Mom? Didn't you ground me yesterday for something?"

Me: Um. Yeah. I, um, I kinda forgot about that.

Him: Really?

Me: Yeah. Not my best parenting moment, huh?

Him: I don't mind it so much.

Me: Well, it kind of robs me of some of my parenting power, don't you think?

Him: It's okay. I'll pretend I'm terrified of you again tomorrow.

Me: Thanks, kid. You're all heart.

Him: What can I say? I'm a giver.

Sunday, March 14, 2010

It All Started with a Tooth

It began with a tooth. A tooth, I'd like to point out, which wasn't bothering me one little bit.

I went to my regular six month dental check-up in the fall. Both my dentist(who I've been seeing since I got my first tooth) and his son (who is his dental practice partner) agreed that this one particular tooth had some serious issues. They said it would need a porcelain onlay (whatever the heck that is) and I would need to do it fairly soon. Even though the tooth wasn't hurting me at all, I signed up for an appointment to get this onlay on December 22 because I'd have the day off from teaching. I also scheduled a breast MRI that same day because, not only am I a glutton for punishment, I'd be leaving to visit the in-laws the next day and wanted to get it all over with.

So, three days before Christmas, I forked over $400 to fix a tooth, at which point I discovered that "porcelain onlay" is a fancy word for "tooth-colored crown." I also discovered that my neat little plan to take care of everything before we left town had just crashed and burned. They were supposed to make the crown there in the office and have me all set to go in one visit. But there was a problem with the crown, they couldn't make it right, and would have to send it off to the lab to be made. Meanwhile, they gave me a "temporary crown," which is a fancy word for, "sharp, uneven fake tooth which hurts like hell and prevents you from chewing on that side for the rest of your life." Roughly translated.

So, around comes January 12 (which, if you're doing the math like I did, you realize is more than two weeks after they were supposed to need to get my permanent crown back from the lab) and I go back to the dentist. They put the new, permanent crown on and I ask if I need to avoid anything, be careful not to chew on that side, or any other kind of warnings. Doc said, "Nope. That tooth is better than the original and should feel like you never had anything going on in there."

Right. You mean, how it felt before I let you people mess around in my mouth?

From the very first night I knew something wasn't right with that tooth. It hurt to chew there. Eating or drinking anything cold felt like needles in my jaw. Even room temperature water while rinsing my teeth after brushing felt like torture. Finally, in the middle of February, I got a frozen coffee with my mom and she saw how much pain I was in and made me call the dentist's office. I made an appointment for the afternoon of my anniversary. Glutton for punishment again, see?

They poked around, did X-rays, looked at it from every angle and then doc said that I might need a root canal. Oh goody. Because that $400 I already spent is really doing a lot for me. Doc said that the tooth's root might just be inflamed but not infected, so he prescribed pain pills (which made me nauseous), anti-inflammatories, and corticosteroids. A dose pack of Medrol, to be exact. And, here's a special treat...the label says that Medrol can weaken your ability to fight off infections, so you should avoid people with colds or other illnesses while on the medication.

Did I mention that I teach elementary school? And that I had SIX kids in my class out sick that week? Naturally, I got sick too. Despite taking Sudafed, Nasonex, Mucinex, and Netti-potting enough saline solution into my sinus cavities to fill the Pacific Ocean three times over, it turned into a sinus infection. I went to my doctor on Saturday morning (because OF COURSE I wouldn't take a day off work just because I was sick) and he prescribed Levaquin. He said it's a very strong antibiotic, but I would need it because the gunk in my head was so packed into my upper sinuses that I needed something with superpowers to clear it all out.

So, I started the Levaquin. The doc prescribed eleven days of it, just to be on the safe side. A few days after I took the last dose, I started feeling very itchy. I just assumed this was the natural feminine reaction to antibiotics, until it spread to my belly. Then my elbows. By the time I left work Thursday evening, I was covered in big, hot, itchy, red welts. By the next morning I was covered from my ears to my toes in hives. I finally broke down and called in a sub on a Friday, so you KNOW how bad it was. It's nearly impossible to get good subs on Fridays, and we'd just gotten a friendly reminder from our principal that if we were attempting to get a sub on a Friday, it better be because we were knock-knock-knocking on death's door.

I went to the doctor and got a shot in the butt of steroids. For those of you keeping score at home, those shots hurt. Badly. By that afternoon I was feeling well enough to drop by school for the last hour to see my kids do their oral book reports. But by 3 a.m. Saturday morning, the hives were back with a vengeance. I was clawing my skin off, despite the double dose of Benadryl. I called the doctor back and guess what he prescribed...

a dose pack of Medrol. To go with it.

Since when did my life become a grown-up version of If You Give a Moose a Muffin?

Sunday, March 7, 2010

Big Ol' Mama Brag

This here is a big ol' mama brag. Deal with it.

My youngest child is my sweetest treasure in life. I thank God every day that He lets me spend time with this amazing kid.

Last weekend Nine wanted to work on a big science project that his teacher assigned, but I was too sick to help him. I told him to wait until this weekend and I'd feel well enough to help him. Instead, he took out his Legos and built an entire rain forest ecosystem all on his own--complete with a well-thought-out food chain and all of the required components on the teacher's rubric. He had the flow of energy in the food chain, the living and non-living items, all of it.

By. Him. Self. This kid rocks.

Of course, it didn't look at all the way I would have done it, which is even more awesome. See, I would've taken the easy way out. I would've gone to Michael's and bought the little plastic animals, stuck them in a box, and called it fi
nished. My kid not only did the whole thing himself, but he did it on the cheap too, which is even more fantastic. He used his imagination to make each animal and plant out of Legos. It's true, some of them aren't recognizable as the animal they're supposed to represent, but that's what the labels are for, right?

This weekend I fo
und him a shoebox and, because I felt a little mommy guilt about not helping him at all, I painted some trees on the box for him while he played football outside with his dad and brother. Then he sat at the computer with me and I taught him how to use SmartArt to insert pictures to make a chart which shows the flow of energy through the food chain. Whenever his older brother has a project, I end up doing so much of it for him because he loses his spine, gets all whiney, and practically slides out of his chair onto the floor in a heap of helplessness. Not so with Baby Brewer. After showing him ONCE how to find, save, and insert a picture, he did the rest of them himself. He figured out how to type the text to go with each animal all by himself. When he couldn't spell a word, he looked in the rain forest book he'd checked out from the school library and looked it up himself. Yes, that's right. Not only did he take the initiative to get his own research materials at the library, he actually remembered to bring it home. SO not what I'm used to with Kid #1.

Digression: Now, don't get me wrong. Kid #1 is brilliant. He's certified gifted, extremely intelligent, freaky-brained in math, and he makes straight As without really ever trying. That's the problem, I think. He's never really had to work for his grades. He tends toward laziness and gets by with very little effort. Kid #2 works hard every day to earn his good grades and he has a great work ethic.

Back to Kid #2: Then he said, "Hey, wouldn't it be cool to have the scientific name for all these things?" So, naturally, he had to Google the scientific name for every organism in the whole diorama. He was only required to have about 8 labels, but he included 20 of them. He even labeled the parts of the rain forest because he'd just seen a BrainPop movie about that at school.

I tell you, it is so much fun to
do projects with him because a) he loves them, b) he actually does them himself, cheerfully, 3) he gets that the whole point of the project is to learn something and he always does, 4) he always wants to do more than the basic required components, 5) he doesn't whine, act lazy, or try to get me to do everything for him because it would be faster. In fact, it took quite a while for him to type in all the labels for the project, but he never gave up or complained. I sat on my hands whenever I was tempted to take over, even though it would have been much faster for me to type it for him.

I love this kid. Oh, and here's the final project:

You can't really see all of it because of the sun's glare. But my camera's flash won't work, so we had to take a picture outside. (For those of you keeping score at home, this is the second camera whose flash I've killed in two years. That's gotta be some kind of record.)

And here's the proud creator himself:

The kid is my hero.

Thursday, March 4, 2010

Facebook Killed My Blog

I keep thinking of things that I want to put on the blog, but then I'll abbreviate the thought and just post it on FB as a status update instead because I'm lazy. So I haven't blogged in almost a month. I haven't even kept up with my "Books Read in 2010" entry. In short...since, apparently, that's the only way I can write these days...I suck as a blogger.

Let's see if I can recap the last month in condensed, status update-type format:

I'm over the whole winter thing. Done. Bring on the spring, allergies and all.

The fourth graders at my school have been switching classes for the last month to focus on TCAP skills that they haven't mastered yet before the big test. I hate it. Nine and ten year olds are too damn young to switch classes. It's awful. Luckily we only have to do it for two more weeks and then I get to keep my own kids all day again. Thank goodness. I love my class.

My brother is a big butthead and his wife is a psycho. My poor nephew is being raised by wolves.

My county had so many "non-snowy" snow days that we had to give back two days that were supposed to be used for conferences and teacher in-service. Hey, how 'bout if we actually go to school on days when we only have flurries? 'Cause that'd be great. I'm going to really wish I could have those days back in the middle of March when I'm ready to kick someone in the teeth.

Valentine's Day still sucks. Just in case you were wondering.

People who cannot cook should not try to do so professionally in a restaurant. People who have no people skills should not choose to be a waitress. Managers who can't do math should not try to adjust the bill. Just sayin'.

Mean people still suck too.

For the first time in about four years my oldest child brought home a school picture that actually looks as handsome as he is in real life. AND with no fever blisters. He somehow always manages to have one on picture day, but not this time. Probably because I forgot it was picture day (Mother of the Year, right) so it wasn't on the calendar, so the Herpes Fairy did not save the date. I bought the whole package because the kid is so stinking adorable.

Sinus infections, ear infections, and bronchitis also suck.

No one should ever fuss at my youngest child when he's not doing anything wrong. You really don't want to poke the angry mama bear. Really.

A pan of brownies can make a whole lot of bad things suddenly seem a whole lot better.

Women who eat all the brownies without saving any for their children should not be judged harshly. It was medicinal chocolate.

Well, I guess that's about it. Hopefully I'll manage to be more regular about blogging. Maybe there's a chewable tablet for blogging irregularity.

Blog-a-Lax, maybe?