Sunday, November 16, 2014

Skydiving and then some

I made it. 
I survived skydiving. 

Then again, I wasn’t nervous or scared about it at all. It went by so quickly. Well, the jumping out of the plane and the free fall went by quickly. The sailing down was no different than paragliding. My pilot was a grizzled old Vietnam vet who trains people at the Navy Academy. He was close to 2 feet shorter than me. I was bummed because I thought I would get someone closer to my height. Anyway, he had no patience and when he was fitting me in my harness, he kept slapping my hands away when I checked the strap. It made me laugh a little bit. I’ve climbed many, many times, and that’s just what you do, you double check your harness. Anyway, he cinched me SO TIGHT, I waddled when I walked. Now, as if that wasn’t enough, he kept yanking and tightening us together once we were in the plane. That is a good thing, right? Well, I looked at the other people in the plane and their pilots weren't doing anything other than clipping on. Needless to say, I was really, really squished. I am definitely going diving again though. It was cool. What makes me go “hum” is, I get more nervous and panicked when I scuba than I did skydiving. 

I don't know why we HAVE TO sign this. 

This plane takes 2 tandem jumpers at a time. 
Our plane held 5 tandem jumpers.

We were just so excited, we couldn't stand it.

Here we are practicing.

Here is my pilot. I'm surprised he wasn't swatting 
my hand DURING the picture.

If you ever wondered what he did in the off season.....

Dawn, ya, she got someone her own size.

We are so stinkin' cute.

I put my life in the hands of that little backpack right there.
Yep, that's it. That itty, bitty, pack.

O Speaks
The following are from phone conversations I've had with O.

Unintelligible wailing, something about a shower and then more wailing. "Dad isn’t acting like a Dad, it’s like he doesn’t have any kids. He’s making me take a shower.  I don’t want to take a shower in the morning. I want to take it at night, but daddy is making me take it in the morning."

"Dad owes me $4.95 and he won’t give it to me. He owes me $4.95, I polished his best shoes and he only gave me a compliment. He owes me $4.95."

Boob Talk
O was having a rough night and throwing a fit about brushing her teeth. We told her she needed to go into the bathroom to brush her teeth and she couldn’t brush them in our bedroom. She stomped past me, in the bedroom, and reached out and grabbed my boob. 

The boob note I added to my last post is also my desktop. 

Well, O had a friend over. They wanted to listen to some music on Spotify, so O woke up my computer and HELLO BOOB SIGN. Her poor friend was quite disturbed. I felt so horrible, I told her Mom and apologized. (Her daughter was seriously upset.) Fortunately, her Mom is a good friend of mine and she just laughed at it. What a relief. I don’t know how most people feel about boob talk with their children.

Another person who saw this was my Dad. Once I noticed my desktop was open, I closed it as quickly as I could. I was embarrassed he had seen it.

O - “Mom, I’m going to miss you.”
Me - “I’m going to miss you too. I won’t have anyone squeezing my boobs until I get back on Saturday.”

On the Nightstand
Well, I finished the Overlander series by Suzanne Collins. The plot is different than Hunger Games, but the same messages are present. The “Hero” is forced into killing people they don’t want to kill.  The internal struggle of the “Hero” to make sense of what they did and how they are going to live their life post the traumatic events. I liked that, even though it is young adult fiction, it didn’t have a cheesy, everything ends up happy ending. It was more realistic than the lovers can be together after all, or everybody ends up alive and happy. If O chooses to read it as a teenager, I think we could have some interesting conversations. 

The Hound of Rowan , by Henry H. Neff
I decided to start another book I took from my nephews stash this summer. They were at my Mum’s house, so they were fair game. This one has potential. 

One of the really cool things I get to do with my 5th graders is something called, Team Time. Twice a month, I get each class for 30 minutes and I am suppose to teach them a lesson on a monthly topic given to me by the guidance counselors. WELL, I decided to take the time to get know them this past Team Time. SO, I took them outside to play games and, yes…. we did, Dum-Dum-Da-Da. :) It was hilarious watching them try to figure it out and keep up. Oh my gosh, I don’t know if it was more entertaining for them or me. 

Recently, I went with a class to the Chesapeake Bay for field work. We rode on a boat and harvested oyster shells. Yay/Ew. A teacher wanted to keep some shells to put on a doc panel in the hallway. Okay! and Okay? We brought them home in a ziploc bag. I left it open and on my desk when we returned. I wasn’t at school the following day because I was suppose to skydiving. Anyway, when I came to my desk on Monday, I saw the bag and, it didn’t stink! YAY!!!  I picked it up and then… the stench…oh, the smell. It almost knocked me over. It was SO BAD.  I put water and soap in the bag and let it sit in the staff bathroom for the day. I laughed to myself wondering what others thought when they were in there. :) Well, since I knew the smell was toxic and I didn’t want it spilling in my car, I held the bag the ENTIRE drive home. I opened the bag and put it in the sink. This was Monday, I didn’t get to scrubbing them until Tuesday night. I set them on cloths to dry and left the room. I came back and OH THE STENCH! NO!!! Scrubbing didn’t help, so I just put them in the garage. It will be interesting to see what the teachers have to say.

At the last meeting, one of the regulars made some comments, not about me, but they reminded me that I am not only the facilitator, I am also meant to be a resource and a leader. I know with more of my energy being directed toward taking care of my Mum, I have not put as much energy into my role of the group. I don’t want it to fail. 

Tuesday, November 4, 2014

Happy November

This statement doesn't have anything to do with the rest of this post, but I'm so excited about it, I wanted to share it first.

I'm going skydiving this Friday. 

Okay, now I can move on.

I have a lot of stray quotes and conversations I want to share. Carry on and enjoy, if you'd like. (Oh, and I didn't proofread, again.)

O has been obsessed with Harry Potter for quite some time now. For her birthday, she received a Hermonie Granger wand. She loves it. Unfortunately, she misplaced it the week of Halloween, but, fortunately, her aunt had made some wands for a Harry Potter themed birthday party. These pictures are from a trip LT took with her to a Harry Potter Festival on the Eastern Shore. 

Watch out for the Whomping Willow

On the way to Hogwarts.

On Halloween's Eve, Monarch Academy had a reading night and students were invited to dress up as their favorite literary character. 

Hermoine found Harry

O Speaks
O - "DAAAAAAD, I HATE bacon!!"
L - "Who hates bacon? Where did you come from?"
O - "The hate bacon planet."

O and A playing with the prince and princess.

O - "I love you!"
A - "I love you more!"
O - "But, you're married to Belle."
A - "But, I love you more."

O - "Hey Mom, I actually like your outfit. You look like you actually have a job."


"Sometimes, when I want to shake up things in my life, I try to come to a full stop at stop signs." Genny Busch.

Boob Talk
After a girls night.
LT - "What did you guys talk about?" 
M - "Everything."
LT - "Did you talk about boobs?"
M - "No, we didn't talk about boobs."
LT - "Well, that's not everything."

This note could have been written for me.

M - "I love my boobs, they're perfect, and your boobs will be too. If they're not, we'll just cut them off and they'll grow back."
O - "Mom, boobs aren't like teeth."

M - "I know someone who's pregnant."
O - "Who?"
LT - "It's me."
O - "Daaaaad! I know it's not you Mom, you'd freak out."
LT - "Me too."
M - "That's right, I'd yell, NOOOOOOOOOOOO!!" I turned to LT and said,"I told you to get snipped, it's your fault."
O - confused comments and then, "It's a good thing you guys don't do the special hug!"
M - "Yep, that's right, You only do it to have children."
My poor kid is going to be so messed up.

The 5th grade TA quit and now I am the 5th grade TA. The teachers I work with are nice. It's an adjustment being with the older kids. I do like the sweetness of the Kindergarteners and 1st graders. The older kids are....different. 

One nice thing about being a full time TA is, I don't have to do any more one-on-ones. I called them my "near death experiences."  I hated them. UGH!!!! They where horrible. One of the last ones I had was with two boys in the 8th grade. I was grossed out by so many, many things and by the end of the day, I was crawling out of my skin. I had to keep putting my head in my hands to deal with it. The last class threw me over the edge. One guy, not one of my guys, popped a pimple in the middle of class. It was an obvious, two-handed effort. I gagged. GROSS!!! 

Instead of dealing with one-on-ons, I get to have interactions like this. Some students were being really chatty and rude during a math class, so I announced, "I had a lot of garlic in my dinner last night. If you don't listen, I'll come over and breathe on you." Later, in the same class, one of the students asked me if I'd ever been to ...... I told him no and he said, "they have a great garlic sauce."

On the Nightstand
The Underland Chronicles by Suzanne Collins
This is the same author who wrote The Hunger Games and I wanted to see what else she wrote. I'm on the 5th book and I started about a month ago. It's fun young adult fiction. If O chooses to read it in the future, I won't have any concerns. 

Yardsticks, Children in the classroom ages 4-14 by Chip Wood
I had some questions about how to interact with and have appropriate expectations for 5th graders, so one of the Staff Instructors, I don't remember what they are called at MA, chatted with me for a bit and suggested I look through this book. So far, I've found it pretty interesting.

The Price We Paid, by Andrew D. Olsen
This book is in the queue, but I'm not sure how long it will take me to get to it. My neighbor wrote it. Well, I know his little brother more than I know him, but still, there's a neighbor connection. 

Well, That's Just Embarrassing 
I was talking with Judy Davis, a spunky a spry friend of mine and she said, "I'm 73 years old."
My shocked response was, "No way, my Mum died when she was 73!"
Judy - "Gee, thanks a lot."
M - "Oops, sorry."

Q & A with O

What was your favorite part of Halloween?
Dressing as Hermoine Granger

Who is your latest crush?
Uhhhhhhh, no one!

Who is your BFF?

What do you like about 2nd grade?
That we get to learn about times.

If you could have a superpower, what would it be?
Eh, being a wizard... I mean a witch. I would learn like Hermoine did and go in her footsteps.

Sunday, October 26, 2014

A little bit Savage and a lot COLD

You can tell you are hardcore when you do the Savage Race in rainy, cold weather. Well, some call it hardcore, others call it an unfortunate lapse of judgment. I went with two friends a few weeks ago and we were wet, muddy and cold. Midway through the race, my fingers were so numb, I couldn’t work the buttons on my shirt and I hardly had any grip strength left. In order to get warm, Helen kept running in circles and at one point even did a jumpy, skippy thing that made laugh out loud.

Here we are at the starting line

On a side note, I have a pretty pathetic camera and not only is it slow, but it pooped out shortly after we started. Before the next race in May, I am most definitely getting a different one.

Here, Helen successfully completes the first obstacle in the kiddie race. Yep, she’s that competitive. She wanted to show those 8-year-olds who’s boss. Not really, she was either warming up, or jumping over it on a dare. 

(The actual name is really vulgar so I’ve renamed it for this post.)

I was trying to get an awesome shot of the 
huge clamp used to hold the boards together,
 and then Helen decided to jump in. 
It totally ruined my shot. 

AND, she couldn’t wait to get out! 
The wide-eyed panicked look on her face when 
she got out was a highlight of the obstacle. 

Can you see me in this picture? 
NOPE, because I’m underwater. 

Notice the difference between me and Helen while exiting. 
Me = calm, Helen = panicked. :)

The best part about doing the ice bath when the other runners aren't around you is, you can go right under the board instead of standing it the freezing cold water waiting for the person in front of you to get their courage up to do it. The first time I experienced the ice bath, we were with a whole pack of runners and there was quite a line-up. I nearly climbed over my friend, Sarah, trying to get out as fast as possible.

Muddy water and tall boards… yay!

Bootie shot!!!

I was working on my synchronized swinging with the lady next to me.

Hum, what to do.

This one was kind of hard for tall people.

It was easy for Sarah, because she’s mini.

The flower is for O

Sarah on the wobbly boards.

Helen was intense and she nailed it.

Here is a nice shot of her rugby socks.

It was muddy.

And, this is why Helen got fired from taking pictures. 
The first one is okay, but….. 

you see what I mean.

Unfortunately, my camera pooped out right after this obstacle. There were so many others that we did I wish I could have documented. 

I must say, the medals we received for this race were much cooler than previous ones. 

Okay, on to the end of the story. We were so cold, we didn’t rinse off and instead changed at the car and headed off to get something warm to eat. By the time we found a place, I was near death because I was so cold. Okay, maybe not really near death, but certainly doing the bone chilled full body shivering.  Sadly, I had developed a bit of a headache on the course and I didn’t take my imitrex in time. SO, it was a rough drive home. I felt a bit delirious and couldn’t put sentences together. What a mess! It was embarrassing. Overall, doing the course in the wind and rain, AND cold temperature, made for a completely different Savage experience. I wonder if my friends will do it again in the Spring?

Sunday, September 28, 2014

Inappropriate behavior and the 7th grade

I was assigned to substitute in 7th grade twice last week. 

The first class, a math class, it freaked me out to be in MATH, wasn't all that bad. Before I stepped into the classroom, I called LT and left a message, "I've got your dream job, I'm in 7th grade math today. PRAY for me!" However, there was little need to panic, it went fairly well. The teacher had left plans that kept the students busy with worksheets so there was very little need for them to talk.

Friday I was in the 7th grade Humanities class and it was HORRIBLE. The students weren't behaving the way they had earlier on in the week during math class. It was, by far, the worst day I've had at work so far.

Friday was a strange school day to begin with. The kids were a little off because they weren't in school on Thursday. Also, they had a "community meeting" (think school assembly) during their first period. I chose to use that time to review the lesson plan for the day. (When I get to school, I have very little time to prepare for the days assignment because I arrive later than teachers do.) The community meeting ended early so I had to teach a portion of the lesson for the rest of first period. My second period class was TERRIBLE. Not only were they disgustingly disrespectful, I had students calling each other racist and other lovely things. I called the SSC (Student Support Center) and had a staff member talk with two of them. Then she talked to the entire class. They settled down until the last 5 minutes of class.

Fortunately, I had a planning period next. I reviewed the plan, the article, and organized how I wanted the class to flow. I came up with several directions the discussion could go and how to direct the conversation, or ask questions to make them think. I did my best to be as thorough and prepared as possible. I felt good about going into 5th period so I headed off to have lunch.

The 4th period class is what the school calls "crew". It's a class that "is meant to create supportive relationships between students and caring adults." The first time I had a crew experience was when I subbed for a female teacher in the middle school, it was easy and no big deal. They were all girls. Well, since I was subbing for a male teacher this time, I had all 12 and 13 year-old boys. Just so you know, I really don't like teenage boys. They drive me crazy. Really, really crazy. I'd rather eat dirt than interact with a teenage boy. LT knows this and when I told him about my day, he laughed because he understood completely. I know what it is that bothers me, so I do my best to avoid them, but UGH! I had to spend an entire class period with obnoxious, rude boys.

We went outside to play a game that Mr. Stephen had asked we play. They were terrible. All we had to do was stand in a circle and toss a ball to each other. The challenge was to make it more complicated by adding more balls. Of course it was an object lesson, but the boys had no interest in playing. Some were laying on the ground, others were wandering off, two were trying to hit each other as hard as possible with the ball. I finally called it and we went back inside. Mr. Tim, in the classroom right next door, came over to ask how things were going. I'd been fine up until that point and then, unexpectedly, I was on the verge of tears. He offered to hang out with them until crew was over and said I could go into his class since his crew was just watching a video and playing games. What a relief!

I wonder if Tim passed on my "close to tears" moment to the front office. Ms. Maurine, the principal, visited at the beginning of 5th period. She was there briefly. It's possible she was simply making rounds, but I think it was more likely she was checking out the grade from HELL!

My 5th period was the best one of the entire day. That's not to say it wasn't challenging, but it was the least challenging of them all. We actually got to discuss some of the worksheet that went along with the article. I still had to remind groups to stop talking and be respectful, but we ACTUALLY got to have a discussion.

My 6th period class was rough. I think by then, I just expected it to be rough.

I did my best to manage the classroom, truly, I did, but, wow, it was hard being in such a negative space for a long portion of the day. Repeating, "Voices off. Please stop talking. You need to be seated. Please don't sit on the desk. That behavior is not appropriate. Please be respectful to your classmate she/he is talking. Eyes up front." gets tiring. The entire experience was challenging. I know there are things that I did very well, and there are things that I didn't do so well. I think what made it more challenging than the math class was there was a portion of time for the students to talk. They didn't handle that well. The time they were reading was nice. This feedback is going to the teacher.

On a side note, my past experience with teaching was at a massage therapy school. The students were adults, they were paying to be there and they were interested in the material. For me, teaching teenagers is significantly harder than teaching adults. Besides, I have no training to be an elementary/middle school teacher. There is a lot that goes into being an effective teacher.

So, on to the part that got me seething.

I can't post a link to the article that we had to read, otherwise I would. It was just a page in Junior Scholastic entitled, Should short-shorts and leggings be banned? It presented claims from both sides of the argument, "yes they should be banned" and "no they should not be banned." Simple enough right?


But there is a message in the article that aggravates me. In the "yes they should be banned" portion, the message, that may not bother a large portion of the population, is, it's okay to objectify women. These aren't the exact words from the article, but it states that if a girl is wearing clothing like that, the boys will be distracted. It said it in another way too. I realize I am possibly making this larger than is it in the context of the article, but this implication is real, it's understated, and it bothers me. (I also have pretty strong opinions about modesty too, but I won't go into that here.)

I agree that bodies are beautiful, both genders, but I don't think women should be blamed for a mans lack of ability to check himself. The message, in essence, gives men "permission" to act as if they are incapable of curbing their lustful desires simply because a woman is beautiful. AND, then the blame for THEIR actions is put on the woman. THAT IS WRONG, and I hate that message. It is so subtle that most people don't even notice it. But, I do.

During a conversation in class, one male student commented on this, blaming the girl/woman for being distracting. "If you're walking in the hallway and you see..."

I stopped him and asked, "is your comment going to be appropriate?" Anyway, he made another attempt to say the same thing and I stopped him and said, a little heatedly, "You know, I'm a woman and I don't appreciate being objectified. There is more to me than my body."

Then another guy interjected, "Wow, this has turned into a feminist conversation."

Oh no!!!    

I kept it to myself. Thank goodness class was over 2 or 3 minutes later.

Once school was over, I talked with the assistant principal about my concerns with the article and the comments in class. It was a brief conversation, I felt heard and we even laughed.

So, here is more on this topic and message. This link is to an article about an incident that recently happened in my home town. It reinforces the legitimacy of my concerns. (And reminds me why I really don't like some small towns.)

Pocatello teacher fired.

First of all, the teacher wasn't doing ANYTHING remotely school related AND, it was her boyfriend holding her boob. SHE wasn't holding her boob, his pecs or even his crotch. HE was the one doing that, and SHE'S the one that got fired. He only got reprimanded. WHAT?!?! HE was the one being inappropriate! What the HELL??????

Why is that okay? 

IT'S NOT!!!!

Sunday, September 21, 2014

Olivia and I survived a week without LT

He was on a "hardship" assignment to Hawaii for the week. He had a great time, and his youngest Sister just happened to be there too. So, they spent some time together. 

We, on the other hand, struggled. We were busy with something EVERY SINGLE NIGHT! So, that meant we got to bed late, homework suffered and we hardly read. AND, I think O was experiencing PMS for the first part of the week. Wow, we had a rough time in the mornings. Once, on the way to school, I was talking about getting ready and being on time. She told me, "I don't want to hear it." Whoa.... I don't think so. 

Here is a snapshot of conversations with LT.
LT - "I went out to dinner with Tab and her family. Blah, blah, blah... happy, blah, blah, blah.. relaxed, zero stress."
M - "O has turned into the spawn of Satan."

LT - "I am meeting up with Tab to go on a nice hike."
M - "We had a 45 minute stand off because I wanted to brush her teeth."

LT - "I went to the PCC and I'm outside of the Temple waiting for the next session."
M - "When you come home, I'm going on a vacation for a week."

He came home with a ukulele for me, so, I forgave him. (I've always wanted a ukulele. I took a class when I lived in San Antonio, but never bought the instrument.)

I'm several weeks into the school year and so far so good. I absolutely LOVE what I get to do. I go from grade to grade and help with whatever is needed. I've done some "one on ones", meaning, I've been with one student for the entire day as their aide. I dread those assignments because they are so boring. UGH. This last week I filled in for O's 1st grade teacher. I was in her room for 2 hours. Wow, it's a lot of work to be in 5 different places at once. The students were working in groups for a portion of the time and, of course, each group needed help at the same time. I really enjoyed it though. It could have been rough, but since I'd been in Helen's class last year and I had a sense of how she ran things, I wasn't stepping into the unknown. It also helped that I'd visited her class a time or two already, and the students had seen me. Besides, my cubby is in her room, so they see me come in and out.

One day, a student made me a sign with my name on it. I thought it was sweet. Later that same day, she made me a heart. Aw, how nice. Finally, she made me this hand. I thought, once again, it was sweet, and it started bordering on creepy.

It's just plain EMBARRASSING
I had a MAJOR deodorant fail at school. The sad thing is, I didn't know it was a deodorant fail for a few days. I had just started wearing Carinessa tops (mo-mo) and I thought the synthetic fabric was holding the odor. So, I put on a BRAND NEW top and I still smelled. I thought maybe it was my shirt, but it wasn't. It took me several days to even consider it was my deodorant. UGH! It's embarrassing to walk around all smelly. 

So, someone threw up in class last week. I have "issues" with that and I never know how I'm going to respond. O threw up this summer, in front of me, and I, surprisingly, handled it very well. But this time....well.... when it was all over, I was pretty embarrassed. 

It was the end of the day and the students were sitting in a circle on the floor getting ready for dismissal. One girl was walking toward the door and she emptied her stomach, splat. I panicked. I tried hard to ignore it and calm down, but.... I plugged my ears and said, "no, no, no." I made my way to the door as quickly as possible. Unfortunately, the most direct route took me close to the offender. So, instead of going that way, I stepped over people in the circle and made it through the door. Car riders had just been dismissed so the halls were starting to fill up. I had to get somewhere private quickly. The music room was the first empty room and I ducked in. Wow, I was in bad shape. I was hyperventilating and crying and... it was ugly. Bear, the service dog who shares that room with the teacher, came over to comfort me. Kenzie, the music teacher, talked with me for a bit. It was so embarrassing. 

What the Hell????
I was in a professional development training last week and the person I was sitting next to was stressed out. She was using a coping strategy to help her. Don't get me wrong, I think coping strategies/skills are great and I'm all for them. However, hers was one that put me over the edge. I shuddered a lot and nearly gagged twice. What was she doing, you may ask? She was eating ketchup. Yep, she had a bunch of packages and she was sucking the ketchup out of them. Shake, shake, tear, slurp is what I heard. What the hell?

I was sitting in church last week next to a lady with a little boy who was a year-and-a-half. He liked to roam and he was occasionally fussy. When he fussed, she picked him up and gave him a toy or a book. Once I looked over and she had her boob out and was feeding him. Don't get me wrong, I'm all about breastfeeding (and boobs in general) but there is a way to be discreet. I DON'T want to see someone else's boob. AHHHHH. It was horrible. Based on what I already know about her, I shouldn't have been surprised. But, really? Her blouse was unbuttoned and she was squeezing her boob. Why couldn't she use a cover or something. What the hell?

O Speaks
M - "I don't know how to decorate a table."
O - "Leave that to me, I'm a party maker."

O talking about her baptism dress - "It's so beautiful. It's like a thousand minutes of beautiful."

I was talking about what I needed to write down /say for my Mum's memorial service. O went into the other room and came out with a note pad and a pencil.
O - "I think you need a red pen because it's like Nana's blood."

"My son Eli has been pretty anxious lately. He is overly apologetic and always thinks people are mad at him. So we are temporarily removing the phrase "I'm sorry" from our vocabulary. During this hiatus we are allowed to say "fart." Sometimes you just gotta laugh so you won't cry." Jesse Curtis

"Life's a beach. Unless you're a lifeguard, in which case life's a long day of babysitting all the sunburnt morons of the world." Tiffany B.

M - "I need to get a referral to take my daughter to Patient First."
Them - "Have you tried to contact her primary provider?"
M - "No. They are closed on weekends."
Them - "Is is a military facility?"
M - "Yes."
Them - "Do they have another number to call?"
M - "Yes, but the message tells me to call this number."
Them - "Have you called their number?"
M - "No."
Them - "You need to call that number first before I can help you."

From the Hank's file
Fionaism of the day: Mom, thanks for not doing stupid things!

Fiona - Where's my backpack? 
Dad - I have no idea. 
Fiona- of course you have no idea, you're not MOM!
(I sure miss that family.)

Monday, September 1, 2014

Of Death and Dying

My Mum died 4 weeks ago. 

It's okay.

Sunday, August 3rd, 2014

I chewed out my brother for being an asshole. He hadn't visited our Mum since she left her home at the end of June. I was the one taking his kids to see her, and I was in no mood to hear him complain about how busy he was and how hard it was to pack his house for an unexpected move. I was doing all that for Mum, without him. I got it. So, I chewed him out. He walked away pissed off and I left in a sour mood for the hospital with my nephew and daughter. 

She wasn't doing well, at all, when we arrived. The social worker needed to talk to me about where my Mum would go when she was well enough to leave. All of it was overwhelming. 

It was always overwhelming. 

Next, I had a brief conversation with the nurse and then stepped to my Mother's bedside. 

I just knew.

I sobbed. For the first time, I just let it go and sobbed. I think it surprised O and Rowan. O left the room to get me tissue, that's what she does when I cry. Rowan sat in a chair in the corner with a shocked look on his face. I held my Mum's hand, smoothed her hair and kissed her forehead. The nurse came in and tried to comfort me. She rubbed my back, I thought it was sweet. And, I still sobbed.

I just knew.

I told O we needed to go in the hall to give Rowan some time alone with Nana. He was the grandchild who was closest to her. They loved each other a great deal. 

In the hallway, I texted my cousin to see if she could take O and Rowan up to Sun Valley. We were supposed to leave that night. Rowan was participating in the Symphony Youth Workshops and needed to be there in the morning. My Dad made the 6 hour roundtrip from Sun Valley to get them.

My brother and his daughter showed up, Rowan had texted them. I took off to get dinner and pack an overnight bag.

The room was peaceful when I returned. Mum was just resting. I held her hand. 

The doctor asked to speak with me outside of the room and we talked about my decision to switch my Mum to palliative/comfort care earlier on in the day. It was in accordance with her living will, but he wanted to make sure I understood. 

I did.

I curled up next to my Mum. I told her I was going to be with her the entire night holding her hand and that she wasn't going to be alone. 

She died an hour and a half later. 

I listened to her breathing and then, she stopped. It was one of the most beautiful moments of my life. A mother and daughter holding hands, and one peacefully passes away. I memorized that moment, and it will always be with me.

I'm so glad I was with her, and I'm glad she didn't die alone. 

I don't remember much between her passing and the memorial service. I know a lot of people helped me but, it's all a blur. Although I wasn't fully aware of life that week, I did remember a poem Mum shared with me decades ago. She said she wanted it read at her funeral. It is beautiful.

Gone From My Sight
Henry Van Dyke

"I am standing upon the seashore. A ship, at my side,
spreads her white sails to the moving breeze and starts
for the blue ocean. She is an object of beauty and strength.
I stand and watch her until, at length, she hangs like a speck
of white cloud just where the sea and sky come to mingle with each other.

"Then, someone at my side says, "There, she is gone"

"Gone where?

"Gone from my sight. That is all. She is just as large in mast,
hull and spar as she was when she left my side.
And, she is just as able to bear her load of living freight to her destined port.

"Her diminished size is in me -- not in her.
And, just at the moment when someone says, "There, she is gone,"
there are other eyes watching her coming, and other voices
ready to take up the glad shout, "Here she comes!"

And that is dying..."

My Mum is not a taboo topic. 
I don't mind talking about her, the summer and how I'm doing.... Death is a part of life, and it's okay. I'm sad. Her passing was expected though. I've grieved a lot. 

However, when the phone rings, I wonder if it's my Mum. 

But, it won't be. 

It never will be. 

And, that's hard.

Most of the time, I'm fine. And then, sometimes I get hit with emotion. At school last week, a fellow TA was talking to me about a "team time" she wanted me to cover. She mentioned it was grandparents week and I realized O doesn't have her Nana anymore. And then I remembered I didn't have my Mum anymore, and I started crying. 

I know all of this will take time. 

Saturday, August 30, 2014

The First Week of Students

First Week of Students
Day 1: I stayed really busy and I did a lot of mind numbing stuff. I'm glad I could help out, and I made copies.

Day 2: The bathroom flooded in the 3-5 hallway. It leaked into the art room and music room. It turns out a pull-up was flushed down a toilet. Ms. Helen had a student break her arm, and I made copies.

Day 3: I helped Ms. Sue, Kindergarten, and learned about pencil norms (you could kill someone if you're not careful) and made copies.

Day 4: I subbed in the 5th grade. At one point, I had to cover for a teacher for a few minutes. One kid would NOT stop talking. It was annoying. He drives his teacher crazy too. I held a bearded dragon and I made copies.

Day 5: In the morning, I got to help Ms. Sue, that woman is a nut case and I can see why O loves her. I was informed I have a schedule posted for me each day at the front desk. Oops! I found a home base for my water bottle, (see lessons learned, below) and I laminated.

Lessons Learned
I can never find my water bottle. I leave it everywhere because I don't have a home base. Next weeks goal is to find a home base. (This was actually my goal the week before last.)

I never hear my name over the P.A. and other people have to tell me. I need to listen closer. I just block it out because I think of it as just noise. I will have to work on that.

Monarch sends out a minimum of 10 emails a day. Well, maybe not 10, but it's close.

Knowing where all the extra school supplies are stored makes me a valuable asset to the education team. (I forget what Monarch calls the ed team.)

Some TAs are VERY territorial. WATCH OUT!! Wow, I was shocked.  I love the one who said, when asked if she needed help, "Sure, come on in, I would love help."

It's been such a long time since I have been in a work environment, I've forgotten what it's like to be around a variety of personalities at once. I paid attention to how people talked and interacted with each other. You can learn a lot from listening to the types of words people use and the topics they choose to talk about. One person, in particular, LOVES to talk about themselves. I asked questions but it was never a back and forth conversation, it was always a, "let me tell you all about myself, not ask you anything and then leave" interaction. I struggle with people like that. I call them "monologuers", or Shauna. (That's an inside joke.) It's never a conversation and you are just the "lucky" audience.  There are other things I noticed, but I'll share them later.

M - "What are you going to do now that all of your kids will be in school?"
Abby - "I don't know, probably make meth or something to kill the time."

Ms. Sam - "The line between being a savvy art teacher and a hoarder is very fine."

Ms. Kenzie - "We are going to do great and follow the norms."
O - "Back in 1st grade we didn't behave so well." (Which is true, I heard they were little turds.)

Ms. Kenzie - "Why do we want to be respectful and how can we be respectful?"
Jordan - "We don't want to be crappy to each other."

One little guy couldn't stand still in line and he pushed some people.
Ms. Kenzie - "Be respectful, hands to side."
Interrupted - "Well, I'm not on medication."

Me - "Is there anything I can get for you?"
A teacher - "Some alcohol? A glass of wine?" She'd been having a rough day with her class.

O Speaks
O - "Can we get something to eat that's food?"
M - "What do you have in mind and I'll tell you if it's food." (We'd been having a lot of Jamba Juices.)

O - "Mom, did you have mac n' cheese when you were alive?"
M - "I'm still alive O."
O - "I mean when you were a kid." (I guess some sort of death occurs when you become a parent.)

There is nothing as fun as getting a phone call from your 7 year-old telling you, "This is a warning, if you do.... I'm going to take away your driver's license and debit card."

Boob Talk
O - "How do you spell birthday?"
M - "What is the first sound?"
O - "B"
M - "What is the second sound?"
LT - "You spell the rest of it F...A...R...T!
O - "Dad, it's B...U...T...T!"
LT - "Butt Day."
O - "No, it's Bust Day."
LT - "No, it's Breast Day!"
M, fingers in my ears, "La la la la la la."

LT has ruined my daughter.

M, repeating something O said, "Why is there a birthmark by my nubbie?"
O - "Hey, mind your own nubbins. It's a breast joke."

Monday, August 18, 2014

The End of School, The Beginning of School

O finished 1st Grade in June

We are so proud of her for persevering, she had the roughest year she's EVER had in a school setting. By the end of the year, she hated going. The last 5 or 6 weeks of school, she would ask, at least once a week, if she could stay home. The second to last week of school she told me she didn't want to go because she hated it. I just said, "I know, but it ends next week." She was okay with that.  As you can imagine, LT and I are very, very concerned. 

I'm hoping she will have a much better experience this year. We are working on her behavior but she isn't the only one culpable. Before this year, she's never had a friend call her "stupid", "fat" or tell her, "I'm going to punch you in the face" or intentionally exclude her from something. It was quite upsetting to her. These life lessons are hard. 

Here she is with her boring, horrible, awful, inept, terrible, professional embarrassment, sorry human being of a teacher. Not really, despite the rumors, she's a pretty cool lady. I volunteered weekly so I can confirm she's not a professional embarrassment, except for when she laughs. In general, laughing is not allowed nor professional. :)

Ms. Helen and O are discussing the flight pattern of an Alpine Butterfly, or the end of school party at Ram's Head Tavern, I don't remember which.

Maybe it was a butterfly.


Something that REALLY surprised me was a thank you gift and book I received from the teacher and students at the end of the year. I even got a little teary-eyed when it was presented to me. 

Helen gave me a "that's so beautiful.... what is it?" plant. 

Here is the cover of the thank you book.

The picture is my favorite part of this page. It looks like someone, hopefully not me, is in the stocks.

"I thank you for caring for us. And I love (friend) your darter."

I'm on top of the world, hey, I'm on top of the world, hey!
"Dear Ms. Melissa. Thank you for being the best helper in the wholl intier world. You are one of the best teacher in the world." I like that I'm standing on the world.

"I think you are so nice because you some times help people."
Only sometimes? I need to work on that.

"I appresheidte you for helping us, and helping us when were hurt."
I don't remember doing that.

O told me I was the RED one!!! She thought it was REALLY funny. Also, that is her name on top of the paper. She wrote it in "cursive."

Ms. Helen's picture was my favorite.

The Beginning of School

School starts in less than a week and I think O is excited to go back. 

Also, I applied and was hired as a Teaching Assistant. I get to float from grade to grade and assist anyone who needs help. I like that I will have a variety of things to do. 

I was driving from Idaho to Maryland during the first week of training, so, unfortunately, I missed some of the "getting to know you" activities. Oh well, it will be good for me to seek out each person to get to know them. Also, because I was out of town, I didn't have the most current schedule for work this week, my first week. I showed up today at 8:30 and things started at 8:00. I was really, really embarrassed. And, oh well, I got over it. 

I spent time with each of the elementary grades while they were planning their fall expeditions. I'm excited to see how they all turn out, AND, I get to be involved with each one. At least, I plan to be involved. Actually, I'm really not quite sure what my new job requires. 


O - "Mom, why do I have a mustache?"
M - "Oh, it's no big deal. Lots of people have them. We can take care of it when you get older."

L - "If you get cold, you can cuddle."
M - "No, cuddling is for sissies."

M - "I really like my cargo shorts, but they're not very girly."
L - "But, they're comfortable."
M - "Ya, I don't want to sacrifice comfort for fashion

M - "To ensure the longevity of our relationship, I suggest you NEVER use my towel again."

M - "Ya, he's a jerk."
O - "He's like an ice cream cone where the ice cream fell off and the cone melted. He's like a jelly bean that got squashed."
M - "Wow, those are interesting analogies."

Conversations with my Dad usually catch me off guard.
Dad - "You looked so lovely at the memorial service. Sometimes I think you're getting heavy but then I see you next to...."
M - "Well, I am about 30 pounds heavier than I want to be."
Dad - "Yes, you're not as small as you used to be."

M - "Do you want to wear something that matches?"
O - "Aw Mom, do I have to?"

Boob Talk
O - "Mom, am I in puberty yet?"
M - " No, not yet. You are in pre-puberty."
O - "But, I'm getting boobies."
M - "Would you like me to buy you a bra?"
O, shyly - "Yes."

My friend Joanna doesn't have boobs. Truly, she says so herself.
Josie - "Mom, when do I have to wear a bra?"
Joanna - "Probably never."