Monthly Archives: September 2008

100% Return Rate

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Eleven kindergartners went on the field trip today.  Eleven came back.

I feel pretty good about that.

Yes, I’ve survived my very first ever field trip as a kindergarten teacher, a milestone that I looked upon with trepidation in the days leading up to our schoolwide expedition to Carver Farms, a beautiful and expansive patch of land in the heart of farm country.  But, as usual, all my worrying was for naught.  Several parents came along, and I was able to assign a pair of students to each adult, making the hand-to-kid ratio a nice, comfortable 1:1.  We enjoyed a hayride, took a jaunt through the corn maze, picked colorful Indian corn and perfectly plump pumpkins, and filled our tote bags to bursting with festive fall goodies.

Finally, after a lovely lunch break beneath an obligingly shady tree, the whole happy, dusty, disheveled crew piled back onto the bus, covered in corn silk and chattering gleefully to each other about their treasures.  I had a wonderful time, but this was my favorite part–all my little chicks safely tucked back into bus seats for the drive home, counted and accounted for.

Thank you, God!

*I took a lot more photos, but I didn’t want to post pictures of anyone else’s kids without their express permission, so you’ll have to make do with my little pumpkins.

M.M.M.*

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As a fairly busy full-time homemaker and stay-at-home mom, I often wondered how women who worked for a paycheck by day and cared for a home and family by night ever found the time to do it all.

Now that I am a member of the legion of working mothers, I can finally and definitively answer that question for myself:

I don’t.

(Apologies to those of you out there who can and have and currently are doing it all and doing it quite well, thank-you-very-much.  Clearly I’m not talking to you.  You are Super Mom.  I’ve heard of you.  You have inadvertently stumbled across the blog of a well-intentioned, intermittently inspired, but *Merely Mortal Mom.  This blog is like yours, but with whining.  Allow me to redirect you: kryptonmoms.wordpress.com.  Be sure to check out their online store for the stylish new Maya Wrap/cape combo!)

Anyway, what was I saying?  Oh, yes…

I miss housework.

Did I type that?  I must have, but I dozed off for a minute there, so I’m not entirely sure.  It’s true, nonetheless.

When I was at home, I did housework every day.  Mostly when I felt like it, with occasional breaks for reading or playing with Caleb or running errands, but with a regularity and efficiency that rendered my weekends completely free for family frivolity and lovely, languid afternoons of shameless vegetating.

Now the dreamlike landscape of my weekends has given way to a strange continent of laundry mountains, flowing with rivers of dishwashing detergent.  I’m playing catch up, but I must not be very good, because I haven’t caught up yet.

When I was working at home, I stayed up until midnight every evening with my night owl husband, nourishing my marriage with long, soulful talks and marathon horde-bashing sessions, knowing that I could always make up for it the next day with a quick doze on the couch when Caleb went down for a nap.

Now I’m the fuddy duddy falling asleep on the couch at nine-thirty, head back, mouth open as if frozen in the act of teaching my kindergarten class the short “o” sound–which is probably what I’m dreaming about.

When I was a full-time domestic engineer, I ran a tight ship.  A place for everything and everything in its place.  Dust was banished.  The toilet was clean.  The kids’ toys were sorted neatly into categorized bins at bedtime.  I cared about these things, deeply.

In recent weeks, I have waded through the contents of an upturned toy box to tuck the kids into bed, stopping only to kick a clear path to the door.  I have been slowly cultivating a science experiment of alarming color in the bowl of the toilet, and yesterday I wrote my To Do List in the dust on the coffee table.

To put it simply, I’m floundering.

I know the most important things are getting done.  I’m teaching, and I love it.  I’m spending time with my children, hugging and playing and reading a little every day.  Paul does help out when he can, and he and I still get some time together every night, even if we are under the gun to get in bed before my coach turns into a pumpkin.  Life is good, and I have absolutely no reason to complain (but when has that stopped me?)

The truth is, I miss my tight ship.  How do they do it, those other moms?

I am such a weenie.

Where’s a super hero when you really need one?

R.I.P.

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At approximately 6:14 p.m. Pacific Standard Time on this 14th day of September, after eight years of faithful and unshirking service, our Eureka Whirlwind Bagless Upright Vacuum sucked his last.  His final moments were peaceful and productive, suffused with the soothing scent of Glade Peaches & Petals Carpet Deodorizer.  No rogue Lego or forgotten marble could stop the mighty roar of his motor.  Instead, when his time had come, he simply shut down, his sudden silence descending with a sad finality across our freshly swept carpets.  (He finished the job, of course.  How like him.)

So, what now?

What efficient (but affordable) machine could possibly take over the sacred duty of de-crumbing the Notes family carpets?

Really, I’m open to suggestions.

Shopping List

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“Mom, is this your shopping list?” asked Caleb.

Distracted by an email I was composing, I glanced over quickly.  “Yes, it is.”

I didn’t notice him writing on it, but later, when I picked it up, I saw these additions, scrawled in adorably childish hand, at the end:

WODRMELiN

TOYS

PETTATOS

FROTSNAXS

THIKINEGITZ

Can you interpret?  (scroll down for answers)

*

*

*

*

*

*

*

*

*

*

*

*

*

*

*

watermelon

toys

potatoes

fruit snacks

chicken nuggets

***

And the scrapbook material just keeps on coming!

Cute Kids

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Reading Corner

From the first week of school:

*While reading a story about pythons on the reading carpet, a felt a tap on my knee and looked down into Andy*’s mischievous grin.  “Hey, teacher, do you want to see a python in real life?”  “Um, I don’t know,” I hedged.  “Because if you do, I’ve got one RIGHT HERE,” he continued, pointing with a flourish to his tiny curled bicep.  I tried to look impressed, hoping he didn’t notice I was choking on a laugh.

*Little Kyra was in tears, and I was the duty teacher on the playground.  “What’s wrong?” I asked, and she informed me that she only had “one friend in this whole school, and she’s playing with somebody else!”  I told her that she might only know one person so far, but that there were lots of girls in our class that would love to be friends with her.  As if on cue, sweet, quiet Brandy, who had overheard us, stepped forward and said, “Hey, I want to be your friend, Kyra!  Let’s go play on the slides.”  And off they went.  I just stood there with my eyes tearing up, full of sweet gladness at being witness to such a moment.  I can see already that my students aren’t the only ones who will be learning a lot this year.

*Caleb brought Tiny Tiger to school for Show and Tell on Friday.  He told the kids a little about where he got him, and then delivered what he clearly considered the coup de grace:  “Watch what he can do!”  And with that, he seized Tiny Tiger’s tail and used it to execute a complex series of what I know were karate moves, complete with whipshot sound effects.  The kids laughed (and so did I, I admit.)  Caleb’s face creased in consternation as he admonished, “Guys, don’t laugh!  This is serious business!”

*After school on Thursday, as I stayed to finish up my prep for the next day, Caleb asked me if he could have some more of the Skittles I use to reward the kids for good behavior at the end of class.  I said no.  “Uh oh, Mom,” he said, “You just broke the Number One Caleb Rule.  It’s give Caleb whatever he wants all the time.  You get an ‘F’.”

So I survived the first week of school, but I got an F.  Look at it this way:  At least there’s room for improvement.

***

*Names of kindergarteners have been changed to thwart the papparazzi.

First Day

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If the twelve students in my kindergarten class had a little pep in their step at the end of the day today, it was because they were sucking energy directly from me.  Seriously, I’m tired.  Who knew a few hours of herding five year olds could be so exhausting?

Oh, but it was fun.  I was right about that.  If I close my eyes, I can see those sweet cherub faces–so excited and nervous and mischievous and funny–and hear those sweet piping voices–asking question after question and bursting ardently in on my explanation of the short “i” sound to tell me all about the soft, fuzzy chicks they hatched in their preschool class last year.

It was chaotic, to be sure.  I imagine first days usually are.  There were parents to meet and supplies to collect and classroom rules to explain, and half of my carefully laid lesson plans went out the window in the dizzying rush of first day duties.  But there was also story time in the reading corner, where twelve pairs of eyes gazed with rapt attention at the same book and the hush of waiting for the unraveling of the next written word wrapped around us like the calm eye of a storm.  There was laughter and there were hugs, and I know that there will be more of both tomorrow.

I’m only beginning to know their names and their faces, but already I am praying for them, and praying that I’ll find the wisdom, patience, and knowledge to be the teacher they need this year.  After all, I’m the only one they get.

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You know what?  I just realized that I still remember my kindergarten teacher…

Mrs. Edmundson.

Thank you, Mrs. Edmundson, wherever you are. (And I was telling the truth.  I really didn’t let that stray cat into the building on purpose.)

10…9…8…7…

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Well, here we are.  Tomorrow morning, bright and early, Caleb will start kindergarten.  And so will I.

What happened to the whole long summer that I had spread out in front of me?  I dipped my toe in the lake, slept a couple of nights in a tent, and suddenly twelve weeks have dwindled down to twelve short hours.

Tonight feels like that moment when you’re all strapped into the roller coaster car, just about to take off, and a large chunk of your brain is wondering what the heck you were thinking, knowing all the while that it’s already too late to get off the ride.

Don’t worry, I keep telling myself.  That’s the feeling you feel just before the fun begins.