Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Quaker Chewy Superstar Search!

A few weeks ago, I wrote about the Quaker Chewy Superstar Search. The entry period is over, but now comes the fun part- the voting! Your votes will let one lucky kid's dreams of becoming a superstar come true!

Go to the Quaker Chewy Superstar Search page here to check it out! Besides voting for your favorite performance, you can play Quaker Chewy Superstar Riff Master. It's like Tap Tap Revenge. My kids laughed at me while I tried to play. Let's just say, I am not a Riff Master.

You can also send customized ecards from Nick Jonas and watch a video about his rise to fame. And, another cool thing that makes this contest a win/win all around is that Little Kids Rock (a non-profit organization that brings music education to disadvantaged public schools nationwide) is the official non-profit partner of the Quaker Chewy Superstar Search.

Want to win an iPod Nano and some Quaker Chewy yumminess? Vote for your favorite video, then leave me a comment here and tell me who you voted for and you'll be entered into a drawing for an iPod Nano and an assortment of Quaker Chewy products. I'll choose a random winner on September 9th when the voting ends. Contest open to residents of the U.S. Good luck to my readers and to the contestants of the Quaker Chewy Superstar Search!

And don't forget to check out the page and watch these great videos from amazing kids and vote for your favorite! Voting began August 29th and ends September 9th. Have fun!

Quaker has empowered me to write about this promotion.

Tuesday, August 30, 2011

What's For Dinner

Last week, I came home from school most days and wanted to pass out. It took everything I had to stay awake long enough to help my kids with their homework and brush my teeth. (I don’t recommend falling asleep with a toothbrush in your mouth.) I hadn’t planned out dinner and most nights didn’t have the time or energy to cook. I was naive. I was clueless. I was unprepared. I stopped at Chick-fil-A a lot.

Actually, I only stopped at Chick-fil-A once. The other nights, we had Taco Bell, and pizza. Some of you may ask what the big deal is. I mean, it was my first week at work after staying home for seventeen years. It’s understandable that I might have relied on fast food that first week, right? But the thing is, that kind of stuff is not in my budget. It was obvious I needed to change things, so, I came up with a plan.

I decided I needed to plan out menus and do some cooking ahead of time on the weekends. Great plan, yes? Sunday night, I made grilled garlic chicken, knowing I’d have enough left over for lunch for the week. While I grilled the chicken, I browned some beef stew meat on the stove and chopped carrots, celery, onions, and potatoes in anticipation of Monday’s dinner. Monday morning, I threw the fixings for beef stew in the crock pot and went to work, all happy that I was so organized and so amazing, confident in the knowledge that dinner would be ready when I got home and there would be enough left over for another night this week. Oh yeah, I gloated, I’m awesome.

So, we ate the beef stew and by “we ate”, I mean, six of us ate while Brooklyn turned up her nose at the yucky, non-peanut-butter-sandwich gruel I’d placed before her. Life was good. I decided I could do this working thing and still manage to feed my kids. Hot diggity dog! Oh and speaking of, I checked that we had buns so we could have hotdogs for dinner the next day. I went upstairs to read with my little kids, fully planning on coming back down to finish cleaning up the kitchen and to put the leftovers in the fridge.

I fell asleep.

This morning when I trudged to the kitchen to make some coffee, I realized I’d left the beef stew sitting in the crockpot all night. I’d have to dump it out. I almost cried at the waste, and more importantly, at the fact I’d have to plan another meal this week. I started to grab the crockpot to clean it when I noticed that not only had I failed to clean it up last night, but I never even turned it off! For those of you who might be interested, this is what beef stew looks like after it cooks for 24 hours. 
DSC 0171 300x200 Whats For Dinner?

There’s a reason Pioneer Woman has a show on the Food Network and I don’t. A very good reason.

Monday, August 29, 2011

Will the Real Dawn Meehan Please Stand Up?


Okay, so apparently there’s a contestant on the new season of Survivor. Her name is Dawn Meehan. My name is Dawn Meehan. She’s forty-one years old. I’m forty-one years old.  She has six kids. I have six kids. Apparently she’s all fit and ready to compete on Survivor. I like rum. Okay, well I may not be exactly fit, but I compete in my own version of Survivor every day. And I win!

Seriously, let’s see that other Dawn take care of six kids while working two jobs, and let’s see her do it as a single mom without an ounce of help. I don’t know if she can be considered a survivor unless she can move across the country, away from family and friends and start over by herself. And let’s see her deal with students who have 50 minutes to write 3 sentences, but despite my constant help and hovering, only manage to write one mediocre phrase that doesn’t really accurately use the vocabulary word at all. (No lie and no exaggeration. This job may kill me.)

And really, can this other Dawn survive on four hours of sleep a night? Can she make dinner, help kids with homework, pay bills with the money she and she alone earns, vacuum the crushed Cheerios out of the carpet, insist the boys clean the bathroom again and this time use actual cleaning products and not just their socks, pick up her daughter from swim practice, teach her son to drive, make a doctor appointment for her daughter, cut her son’s hair, break up an argument over a red crayon, read to the five-year-old, and search for her secret stash of chocolate all at the same time? I think not.

And she’s not only a name-thief, but she’s messing up my Giga Alerts! Every time I get an alert that my name has been mentioned on the web somewhere, it’s not about me; it’s about her. My alerts used to be about me, but now there’s this, this, this impostor stealing my thunder.

Really, I’m sure she’s a delightful person (she has to be with a name like Dawn and six kids, right?) and I hope she does well on Survivor. If she lived around here, I’d invite her to join me for a glass of wine so we could compare notes. We could be best friends (unless she makes her kids wholesome lunches in bento boxes with little organic mustard smiley faces in which case, she needs to go down. But I’ll give her the benefit of the doubt because her kids are all adopted so I’m guessing she’s an inherently good person. But she needs to stay out of my Giga Alerts. Just sayin’.

Sunday, August 28, 2011

Sunday Sound Out

From Orlando, where it's not Chicago, it's your host, the woman who (barely) survived her first week of school, Dawn Damalas Meehan!

Tonight's introduction was written by Austin who still misses home more than the rest of us put together. And now here are the answers to this week's questions.

wow [your teens have to catch the bus at] 6:15? when do they have to wake up or go to sleep?
Austin stays up late talking to his girlfriend. He wakes up 10 minutes before the bus comes, brushes his teeth, and runs out the door. Savannah goes to bed at a decent hour and gets up to primp before catching the bus. That's the difference between boys and girls.

6:15 AM? That is too early! What time is their school day over?
It's WAY too early! They get out around 2:00 every day, but Wednesday when they get out at 1:00ish.

Are you working at your kids' school?
Nope.

What exactly are you doing at the school?
Beats me. I'm just trying to survive.

Really, what are you doing?
I'm working with the lowest performing kids; the ones who need some extra homework help and support. I help them to get organized, teach them how to form good habits, encourage them, and help them with their work where needed which means I have to have knowledge in each subject. Every day, I ask the kids, "Don't you need help with spelling? Grammar? Any punctuation questions? No? Nothing? Just math? Sigh."
Right now, I have kids in 6 periods a day. My smallest class is two kids and my largest is eight. Things will change after the first few weeks, however, and I'm likely to get more kids in my classes.

How do you like your job so far?
I like it, but it's exhausting. I'm not just tired because I'm working out of the house after being a SAHM for 17 years either. No, it's a different kind of exhaustion. I feel simply drained, mentally and physically. It's not like a regular office job where you can check your email, make a quick phone call, take a break, or go to the bathroom whenever you want to. People who work in education are "on" all day long. There's no downtime. You are always on and smiling and working and going... I'm not sure what I'll do if I ever have to go to the bathroom in the afternoon when I have four classes back-to-back.

Just wondering, do you have an education degree??
No. This is why I took that para pro exam a few months ago. I needed to prove that I know all this stuff so I could apply for the position. (BTW, I got the highest score possible on the test. Do you hear the crowd cheering for me?) It's a non-instructional position so I didn't need an education degree.

You really need to get to bed earlier. Let the housework slide so you can sleep.
Oh, I have no problem letting the housework slide, believe me! But I still can't go to bed early because I have to fit my writing jobs in somewhere. It's not optional. I love writing and I absolutely need the income it brings in order to stay afloat. Sooo, sleep will just have to wait for when I'm dead.

How are your kids adjusting to school?
They're adjusting, some better than others. The three youngest like their school and their teachers. Jackson and Savannah seem to be fitting in, making friends, and having fun. Austin, well, Austin is kind of shy. He doesn't make friends easily just because he keeps to himself, not because he's awkward or dorky or anything. He'll find his place to fit in eventually.

I still feel unsure of myself and probably will for a while. But on Friday, a student shared with me, a song she'd written herself. That was cool - that she trusted me enough to open up like that. I guess this new job might be okay. If I can get past the exhaustion. And the algebra. Oy.

Lands' End Backpacks

I always feel like it's an act of cruelty when I send my kids to school that first day, weighed down with all their school supplies. Over the years, I've bought many cheap backpacks at the store and I was always afraid they wouldn't be able to handle the weight of those supplies the first day. They generally did hold up that first day, but they rarely had the strength and durability to last throughout the year.

Not only are they super-durable, but they're classic. A couple years ago, I bought Clay a Cars backpack. Not only was it falling apart this year, but Clay had outgrown the Cars theme. Lands' End backpacks (along with their clothes) are timeless.

I've since given up buying those backpacks at my local store. It's not worth the money I save on the initial purchase when I have to replace them every year (or in some cases, less than a year)! These days, I stick with Lands' End backpacks. These things are well-made. They can take the daily abuse of hauling text books to and from school, and being flung to the floor every day after school.

Lands' End offers backpacks in dozens of sizes, styles, and colors to fit your needs. Many styles come with matching lunch bags as well! And, as with all Lands' End products, the backpacks come with Lands' End Guaranteed. Period. promise. Right now, you can get free shipping on your order of $50 or more. Just use promo code FREESHIP and pin 4229.

Saturday, August 27, 2011

Operation Christmas Child

With temps still in the 90s every single day here in Florida, it's hard to think of Christmas. But this is a great time to start thinking about Operation Christmas Child! Operation Christmas Child is a program run by Samaritan's Purse. They collect shoe boxes that you fill with small toys, school supplies, socks, shirts, washcloths, etc. and they distribute them to needy children around the world so they know they're thought of at Christmastime. For more information, click here!

My kids and I have participated in this program for the past few years, but it seems like every year, we start a little bit later and are scrambling to mail the boxes in time. So, here's my reminder to you guys - start now!

School supplies are on clearance and they're great items to put in your shoeboxes. While shopping for school supplies and back-to-school clothes, kids tend to develop the "gimmes". Gimme this, gimme that, can I have this, can I have that? What a great way to remind them to think of others.

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

It's Kinda Like that Movie, Wildcats


The kids and I all started back to school yesterday. The little kids had a good day. They came home and reported that they liked their teachers and school. Brooklyn is giddy at the prospect of going to school every day. Ahhh, the innocence and eagerness of kindergartners. The three older kids were less than thrilled with their first day. The schools are big. The kids at their schools are different. They didn’t know where and how to get their books or IDs, or how to request a schedule change.

Austin and Savannah had to catch the bus at 6:15AM. It was still dark out. The street lights were on. That’s just wrong. Another thing that’s just wrong is that 95% of the kids down here wear jeans to school. It’s in the nineties! Jeans! Ninety degree weather, jeans, ninety degree weather, jeans. Back home, 95% of the kids would be wearing shorts and flip flops or sandals. Not here. It’s all jeans and new shoes. I think 99% of the kids had brand new, fancy, expensive shoes. Apparently, it’s all about the shoes down here. All day long, I had that Pumped Up Kicks song running through my head.

How did my first day go? Sigh. Remember that movie Wildcats with Goldie Hawn? Yeah, well I feel like she did her first day. Let me put it this way, I texted the principal last night and said, “Just so you know, I suck. I’m not qualified to do this. I don’t know what to do with the kids. I have an urge to hand out Ritalin to half my classes, my oldest 3 kids hate the schools here, it took me until 7:45 to finish filling out all the paperwork my kids brought home, I haven’t even started dinner, and I’m moving back to Chicago. Who cares about income or insurance.”

The principal, who is not only a friend, but obviously darn good at her job, gave me a pep talk and assured me that I have withitness. She went on to say that people could be taught how to teach and they could be taught the curriculum, but that you can’t teach withitness. You either have it or you don’t. When I finally figured out that she wasn’t making the same typo repeatedly, I decided that I loved that word – With-It-Ness. Some people are “with it” and some are not. I’m delighted that she believes I have withitness.

The thing is, the kids aren’t really bad. Some of them are going to be challenging, to be sure, but it wasn’t the kids that stressed me out. I think it was more the fact that I didn’t feel confident in what I was doing. Mine is not an instructional position. I’m not a teacher. Yet, I still have to teach these kids something. My job will primarily be helping them to get organized, stay on track, complete assignments on time, and support them. However, until they have homework assignments, I’m not sure what to do.

Yesterday, I pretty much just chatted with the kids and played get-to-know-you games. Today, we started reading The 7 Habits of Highly Effective Teens. We talked about what a paradigm is and how your thoughts lead to actions which lead to habits which often lead to self-fulfilling destinies. I showed them drawings from artist, Julian Beever, who creates amazing chalk drawings on sidewalks that, and when viewed from the right angle, they show hard-to-believe, 3D images. But when you view them from another angle, you see distorted two dimensional drawings. I told them a great story that illustrated how stepping back and shifting your paradigm can make you see things in a whole new light. I gave the kids ideas and asked them for examples from their own lives. We talked about the 7 habits and shared our own good and bad habits.

A couple classes responded well. Two classes of kids stared at me blankly, daring me to teach them anything, trying to prove that they are far too cool to care about school. And yet another class got excited and jumped out of their seats a thousand times. Of course, they also jumped out of their seats a thousand times yesterday when they saw a bird out the window, so take that as you will.

I have a new respect for educators.


The biggest adjustment for me is being at work all day. I’m not used to that. I have to admit that I hate being gone all day, then coming home and having to do everything that used to take me all day to do. I put the youngest three in after school care. They hate it. They hate staying after school for two and a half hours and can’t understand why I’m not home to get them right away. And I’m tired. Oh my gosh, I’m tired. I can’t survive on so little sleep. And on that note, I need to figure out what I’m going to do in class tomorrow and get more than four hours of sleep tonight if possible.

Sunday, August 21, 2011

Things That Make You Go Hmmmm

I don’t know why, but I started looking through the pictures on my phone today. I have a couple nice cameras that I generally bring with me if I think there may be photo ops. But even if I haven’t brought a good camera along, I always have my phone with me and sometimes use it to shoot pictures of those unexpected moments that creep up. However, I rarely remember to transfer those pictures to my computer. Tonight, I did.

Heil Hitler?

Behold the Christmas clown! My grandma made this guy. She is awesome at knitting and crocheting. She's made some really gorgeous blankets and lace over the years. I have no clue what's up with this guy.

https://web.archive.org/web/20111011060753im_/http://blogs.babble.com/babble-voices/because-im-the-mom/files/hmmm/photo7.jpg
What a daring fashion statement! Polka dots, stripes, and crazy colors all at once!


This is the best design they could come up with? Awkward.


Caught red, er, um blue handed? And she managed to do this while buckled into her car seat!


Who knew that the arm pads could double as elf shoes?


I took this picture last year when we arrived at church and I realized Brooklyn had forgotten her pants and was wearing a pair of my shoes. What? I have six kids! Sometimes this kind of thing happens!


"Look, Mom, we made soup!" As much as I like the idea of not having to cook, I had to take a pass on this one.


Why did I take a picture of kids standing by a tree? Oh yeah, Clay is IN the tree. And like a good mom, instead of getting him down, I grabbed my camera.


"Really, Mom, the marker just slipped off the paper a little bit. It was an accident!"


Socks with sandals should be against the law, true, but why did I take this picture while on the plane?


Oh yeah! THAT'S why I was taking random pictures on the plane!


I could be wrong, but I think you may have grabbed the wrong shoes, Brooklyn.


I got nothin'.


What? You act like you've never seen a cow drink Dr. Pepper through her nose before.


Thursday, August 18, 2011

The One in Which I Lose It


It was meet-the-teacher night this evening for all six of my kids. Six kids, three schools, all tonight. And it’s not like my kids have gone to these schools forever. If we were still back in Chicagoland, I’d be comfortable if we didn’t make it to every school. My kids know their way around the schools. I know the teachers. We’re all familiar with the rules, dress codes, and procedures for getting to and from school, etc. If we were back home, we’d walk around the school while stopping every few steps to talk to friends.

But here? Well, we don’t know anyone here. We don’t know the layout of the schools. The schools are comprised of multiple buildings and portable trailer-like units that seemingly span miles. There were no familiar, friendly faces in the crowd.  And I obviously felt the need to get to every school for every child.  All at the same time.

We started at the junior high. There wasn’t nearly enough parking for the number of people who came out to the school. We got there ten minutes early and still had to park in the grass, blocks away from the school. It was well in the 90s and by the time we walked to the building, I was sweating. The little kids were complaining that they were tired and hot. I had no idea where to find Jackson’s schedule. I made my way to the office, the kids trailing behind me, and found someone who was handing out papers. I grabbed a paper and tried to move out of the crowd in order to take a look at it, but there was no moving out of the crowd. I don’t like crowds to begin with, but having to look after six kids, figure out where I’m going, and sweating my butt off in the heat while in a mob of people? Well, that was making me go postal.

We found Jackson’s name on the paper and headed to his home room class, which is in a trailer, in order to get his schedule. In fact, most of his classes are in portables which seems to be a common thing down here in Florida, but is unheard of back home in Chicagoland. I guess it’s no big deal unless it’s raining, in which case he’ll get soaked going from class to class.  He didn’t get a locker. I don’t even think they have lockers at this school which is another foreign element for us. There were classes on his schedule I’ve never heard of.  When I registered Jackson, he filled out a paper with his top five elective selections. His first four choices were band. Band was nowhere to be found on his schedule. I spoke with someone in the guidance office who assured me he could change that next week. We’ll see. 

I have no idea what supplies he needs, where to get him a gym uniform, if he needs a lock for a gym locker, or where he can park his bike if he rides to school. By the time we left, my shirt was actually stuck to my back with sweat (my kids were so kind as to point that out to me with great volume), I was frustrated because things are just so different down here, I was tired of hearing my kids complain, and I was feeling bad that my kids have to start all over in this strange new environment.

We drove to the grade school and met the little kids’ teachers. The teachers all seemed really nice. Only Clay’s room is in a trailer. I started to relax a little, thinking that school wasn’t going to be all bad. Until I had to fill out the forms indicating which things I’d like to volunteer for and then it hit me. I can’t volunteer for anything anymore because I’m a working parent now. Not a stay-at-home, care for my kids, be involved parent. Not a work-from-home parent. But a go-to-work parent who is too busy during the day to care for her kids; who will no doubt be too busy shopping, paying bills, writing, cleaning, and cooking in the evening to spend much time with them. I hate that! I mean, you gotta do what you gotta do and right now, I need to work outside the house as well as from home. And I am looking forward to this job, don’t get me wrong. But I hate that I’m no longer available to be there for my kids during the day.

That hit me hard, but I didn’t have time to deal with my feelings because my kids were still whining that they were hot and bored. The teens were anxious to get to the high school and walked out to the car despite the fact that I still needed to find someone to ask about drop-off procedures. I didn’t know where to take my kids in the morning and it’s not like I can leisurely walk them to school and make sure they get to their classrooms. Nope, I have to drop them off as early as possible, then speed to my own school.

By the time we got to the high school, I was feeling pretty bad about everything. The high school (that looks more like a college campus) was crammed with people. Moving through the crowd, hot and sweaty, trying to keep track of all my kids, searching for someone, anyone who had a clue where schedules and maps were just pushed me over the edge. I started crying. I’m not going to be around to help my kids. The schools here are huge. There weren’t any helpful folks in the crowd directing people, handing out maps, or answering questions. No bus schedule was included with the class schedules. How are my kids supposed to know when and where to catch a bus come Monday? Where and when do they get IDs? How about supply lists? Gym uniforms? Lockers? Do they even have lockers? Is there a dress code?  What is it?  What kind of crappy school doesn’t hand out information to parents upon registering? What kind of subpar educational system doesn’t send information about new student orientations?

My mind whirled crazily out of control. I came to the conclusion that I was a horrible parent for moving here. Bottom line – I’d ruined my kids’ lives. It didn’t matter that I’d made the right decision and did everything I could possibly do to ensure our future. It didn’t matter that I’d moved across the country away from everything and everyone I knew just so I could have a job with a steady paycheck and insurance. It didn’t matter that I’d moved into a more affordable house. No, my brain just shut that out and all I could think of was how my kids were having to start all over in these strange schools and it was all my fault.

I bawled, unable to get a grip on my emotions, then I got mad at myself for losing it which made me cry more.  To top it off, it was Jackson’s birthday today. He’s thirteen. There was no party, no relatives, no special dinner since we were running to schools all evening, and his day ended with his mom losing her mind. I don’t lose it. I DON’T LOSE IT. I handle everything with a sense of humor. I find the good and the funny in everything. I smile through adversity and keep going. I’m strong for my kids. Always. And I absolutely detest it when I break down. I don’t care if it’s human or healthy or okay. I hate it. And I hate that instead of encouraging my kids with a positive attitude, I made everything worse by freaking out.

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

Always the Comedian


The parenting “experts” recommend parents spend one-on-one time with each of their children every day. It’s a great idea, in theory, but here in the real world, that’s nothing more than an unattainable goal designed to make parents feel like failures. As a single mom to six kiddos, I’m happy if I can find one-on-one time with one or two kids a year!

Today, I took Lexi to get new glasses. She lost hers sometime between the last day of school and the time we moved to Florida because, for some odd reason, she can’t manage to keep a pair for more than a couple months. I kept thinking her glasses would surface eventually, but I’ve since given up all hope of ever finding them.

So, Lexi and I took a little trip into town to pick out new frames. We talked on the way there. We sang along with the radio on the drive home. While at the store, Lex answered the clerk’s questions, smiled, and looked generally cute. It was nice. It helped me recover from the trauma of spending one-on-one time with Austin the day before.

Two days ago, I took Austin to the DMV so he could get his permit. The delightful DMV employee who, ah, “helped” us, was more interested in filing her nails than anything. She actually had the nerve to sit there, giving herself a manicure while we stood, staring at her, open-mouthed.

“Ahem, are we done here? Doesn’t he need to take the vision test?” I inquired.

“Ms. EmployeeOfTheYear gave us a disinterested glance. And WENT BACK TO CLIPPING HER NAILS!

We finally finished there (I have TWO drivers now!Eek!) and went on to do some more errands. I stopped at Sears to get a garage door opener clicky remote thingy because the previous homeowners didn’t leave me one. As the cashier rang up my purchase, he asked, “Would you like a small bag for this?”

I whispered, in smart-aleck fashion, to Austin, “No, I want a very large bag for it.”

Austin was supposed to chuckle at my terribly clever hilarity and that’s it. But instead, he asked the cashier, “Yes, and please double-bag it so the weight doesn’t break the bag. (Keep in mind, the only thing we bought was the little remote garage door opener that clips onto the visor in your car.)

Then Austin said, “Do you have a flatbed we can use to get this out to the car?”

The cashier’s look was priceless.

Austin continued, completely deadpan, “How ’bout we pull the car around and someone can bring it out and load it for us?”


Yep. That’s my son.  I can’t wait until the next time I get to spend one-on-one time with him.

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

Sun, Surf, and a Renewed Spirit


The kids and I went to the beach today for a last hurrah before school starts. I love the ocean so much and I’m finding it surreal that I now live close enough to the beach to go whenever I’d like. I love the smell of the air. I love the sound of the surf. I love the soothing feel of floating on the waves. I love watching the seagulls and pelicans glide over the water, then dive in to scoop up fish. I love the warmth of the sun on my skin. I love the feel of the sand squishing between my toes. I love swimming in the cool, refreshing water. And I love to watch the power and energy of the waves crashing again and again. Bliss.

If I’d had any second thoughts about moving to Florida, they were banished today. Year-round, whenever I feel like it, I can drive one hour and be at the beach. What better reason to live here than that? I find the ocean so breathtaking. I sit in my beach chair, the water lapping at my feet while staring out at the depths, taking in the majesty of it all. It’s such a wonderful way to empty my mind and reflect.  I have a bad habit of getting caught up in all the demands on me. I forget myself and what’s really important when I start to feel overwhelmed with all my self-inflicted pressures. It’s so freeing to take some time and relax. When I clear my mind and simply listen, I get a sense of calm; a renewed spirit. It’s good.

That is, until my kids drag me out of my reverie and into the water so they can jump on me, splash me, pretend to be a cat and lick me, throw seaweed at me, and decorate my face with a hundred seashells while I lie on a raft. But even that is good too.

Where’s your place favorite place? Where do you go to unwind? Do you have a place that makes you feel alive, closer to God, recharged and renewed?

Monday, August 15, 2011

School Rules

I went into the school this week to check out my classroom. It’s a nice sized room and I’m so excited to decorate it and make it inviting for the kids who will be studying in there. I got a tour of the school and saw some amazing rooms that teachers had painted, stenciled, and decorated with plants, curtains, rugs, and other personal touches. I don’t have such lofty aspirations, but I did put fresh paper on my bulletin board and a couple posters on the walls. But the biggest change I made was in taking down the rules. Whatever teacher was in the room last year had TWENTY posters of rules on the walls. For the most part, all those rules could be summed up with Be Responsible and Be Respectful. I may have never worked in a school, but I know kids and I know that if you blabber on with rule after rule, eventually they’re going to tune out. And some of these rules . . . whew! They’re doozies! Check out a few of my favorites… 

RULE 2 I'm not sure how things are today, but saying, "Hi, Mrs. Anderson! Good afternoon, Mr. Smith! Hello, Miss Jones!" while walking through the hallways would've given you instant nerd status back in my day. I do like the random capitalization and missing punctuation, however. 


RULE 3 Heaven help the kid with ADHD in this class. 


RULE 4 Maybe this is a southern thing, but I think "yes" and "no" is sufficient. Using "ma'am" and "sir" is almost an insult where I'm from. 


RULE 6 Yes, this rule makes sense, but these are junior high aged kids we're talking about here. Why take up precious wall space with a poster about covering your mouth? If they don't know to cover their mouth when they sneeze by age 12, I'm not sure they'll ever learn.


  RULE 7 ...or even more worrisome is the incorrect use of the word "then" by a teacher.


  RULE 9 So, if the teacher hands out an assignment and the student doesn't thank her within 3 seconds, do you think she takes it back? 


RULE 13 I don't have a clue what this means, but in junior high, shouldn't kids be able to understand  the concept of "talk quietly"? 


RULE 15 Here's my new rule to replace this one - Less is More. Stop talking already!


  RULE 16 Can you imagine explaining this one to the principal? "Why were you sent here, Johnny?" "My teacher said I didn't clap loudly enough." 


RULE 17 Ummm, what's with the random hearts? Is this a class rule or a note written to someone's boyfriend?


RULE 20 My replacement rule is this - Learn When it's Appropriate to Use "Lie" and "Lay". They are not interchangeable and they have vastly different meanings. 


 I’m replacing those gems with posters of famous, successful people who struggled in school and/or were told they were failures, but persevered and succeeded despite their rocky starts.

Sunday, August 14, 2011

Sunday Sound Out

From Orlando, where it's apparently legal to turn right from the left lane, it's your host, the woman who may have just made the People of Walmart site, Dawn Damalas Meehan! And now, here are the answers to this week's questions.

Whilst visiting the US I have always been confused by the number of churches you have there, and what the differences are.
Join the club. I don't think most Americans know the difference between all the different denominations.
In the UK I belong to the Church of England, C of E, as its known and every town/village has a parish church belong to the C of E.
But in Florida they seemed to have names I just didnt recognise or understand - apart from the Catholic church of course!
I'm not familiar with the churches in England, but we have several different denominations here. Aside from Catholic and Orthodox churches, there are a bunch of protestant religions like Baptists, Methodists, Lutherans, Presbyterians, etc.
And we have Priests in the UK whereas you have Pastors? Our priests are ordained and wear a 'dog-collar' whereas your pastors always seem to be in a shirt and tie.
I think the Catholics have priests whereas most protestant religions have pastors. I'm no expert on this though.
Just think how confusing it is for us Brits when visiting trying to find a church that feels comfortable! :) And I was also wondering that I thought your family was from Greece (or do I have this wrong) and is there such a thing as Greek orthodox in the US?
There are Greek Orthodox churches in the U.S. and my dad is Greek, but that's not my religion.

But did the new church have donuts?!?
Ha! They didn't have donuts, but they always seem to have coffee cake, brownies, cookies, etc., which, as everyone knows, is the mark of a good church.

Hi Dawn: Where did you find that cute photo of the ARMADILLO just napping by the side of the road?
I take all the pics on my blog. We saw this guy a block from our house and pulled over so we could lean out the window and snap a pic and the little guy stopped walking and just kinda plopped down. Do armadillos play dead like opossums?

I was wondering, what are your feelings on Gothic teenagers? I'm 16, and I'm a goth, but I like normal things as well (like I've been reading your blog for about a year now), and my mum supports me 100%. She often times gets attacked for my decisions, such as, "What mother would let their child dress like that?" If Savannah or Lexington, or any of your kids really, decided to become "goth" would you support them, or try to disuade them?
Honestly, I would probably try to dissuade them, but I wouldn't force them to look any particular way. I'm all for letting teens express themselves. What's inside is far more important than hair, make-up, or clothing. "What kind of mother would let their child dress like that?" The kind of mother who knows that appearances aren't all that.

I saw you mentioned toddlers; however my son is 6 years old and we are having some serious bed wetting issues. I NEED HELP.Does Goodnights have an age cut off?
This is a topic I'm passionate about! Goodnites are designed specifically for older kids! They go up to 125 pounds and they look and feel much more like underwear than training pants. BTW, it's not at all uncommon for 6 year olds to wet the bed. There's a wealth of information on the Goodnites.com site. You can even ask the experts your bedwetting questions and get them answered there.

If anyone knows where the cable is so I can plug in my fax/answering machine, let me know. I haven't seen it since moving. Everything is unpacked. I can't find it. It's driving me to the brink of insanity. Thank you and have a great week!

Friday, August 12, 2011

What Goes Around, Comes Around


I stopped at Walmart today. It was on my way home from school and I needed toilet paper and cleaning supplies, so I decided, instead of driving out of the way to my beloved Target, to stop at Wallyworld. As I walked in, a Walmart employee started to say, “Welcome” to me, but coughed instead. Actually, coughed isn’t quite the word for it. It was kind of like a, “Welcome to Walcough cough hack hack aaaaaggghhhh hauck cough.” And then her lung fell out at my feet. Without missing a beat (because I am so much cooler than your average Walmart shopper), I carefully maneuvered my cart around her lung and went about my shopping while Typhoid Mary spread her disease.

As I pushed my cart down the aisles, I noted the degenerate interesting folks shopping there. There was the young boy wearing socks and sandals which should be a crime in and of itself, but these were no ordinary socks, no ma’am. These were pink socks. And they weren’t just ordinary pink socks, no sir. One had pink butterflies on it and the other one had pink and red hearts. Yeah.

I noticed a couple teens wearing knit ski caps. I know this is fashionable in teen world, but when the temperature is in the 90s every stinkin’ day, why on earth would any sane person put a knit cap on their head??? Why?!

I saw an old man who looked like Uncle Jesse from The Dukes of Hazzard. I thought about asking him how it was working with John Schneider and Tom Wopat, but after seeing his toothless grin, reconsidered and simply smiled back instead.

And then I saw the most priceless outfit of all. A woman, easily in her 70s wore her long gray hair, braided and twisted into a lovely grandmotherly-looking bun. She wore sensible, orthopedic shoes. And she wore short-shorts with a skimpy halter top, leaving her abdomen, which, if she wasn’t in her 70s, I would swear was nine months pregnant, bare. Attractive. I pulled out my phone, clicked the camera icon and nonchalantly aimed it at her, ready to click a picture. She smiled and said, “Hah” so I wimped out, lowered my phone and smiled back.

After paying for my purchases, I walked out to my car, loaded the bags into the back, and sat down in the driver’s seat. As I pulled my seat belt across my lap, I realized my shorts were unzipped. Yep, I just walked around Walmart making fun of people and the whole time my fly was down. 

Now that’s class.

The moral of the story is: Make sure your pants are zipped before you make fun of the characters at Walmart or you might find them taking pictures of you even as you snap pictures of them.

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