Friday, October 28, 2011

Hello?

I’m so fed up with telemarketers. I hate them. Hate. I wish evil things upon them. I know I’m going to get emails from people defending telemarketers, saying, “They’re people too. This is their job.” My response? “I’m people too. And it’s my job to mess with them.”






Thursday, October 27, 2011

Can You Tell me How to Get, How to Get to Poopy Street

And the poopstravaganza continues. Living in Florida, I’m getting used to seeing unusual things while driving around. I saw two armadillos and four chickens on my way to work earlier this week. Whenever I pick up Savannah from swim practice, I see houses that have miscellaneous appliances and broken-down vehicles in their yards. I see food trucks with signs that read “pupusas” on them. I’m sure I’m mispronouncing this, but poo poo sauce does not sound appetizing.

However, the other day, I saw something even stranger, and I knew immediately, who was responsible for it. As I turned into my subdivision, I beheld this sight . . .

CONTINUE READING HERE!

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

I Shoulda Been a Doctor

Brooklyn woke up at 10:30 last night, crying that her throat hurt and her eyes burned. The poor baby was running a fever. I gave her some Motrin and a cool washcloth for her eyes. Then, instead of lying down and cuddling with her like I would’ve done in the past, I lay there worrying that I was going to have to miss another day of work. No work = no pay. It also scares me that the administrators will come to their senses and fire me so they can replace me with someone who isn’t a single mom of six kids.

CONTINUE READING HERE!

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Addamatation

Those of you who have read my blog for any amount of time know that I don’t do math. I never really understood math back when I was in school. Math people say it’s easy, precise; there’s only one correct answer for each problem. It’s neat and ordered. It makes sense. But for non-math people . . . well, it makes our eyes bleed. At my job, I work with 6th, 7th, and 8th graders. Most of my sixth graders need help with math. A LOT of help with math. In a weird way, I actually like working with them on math because I remember what it was like to sit there, completely lost, back when I was in school. And the thing about math, is that one skill builds on another. If you don’t understand chapter 3, you’re not going to be able to do chapter 4, and so on. In that way, once a kid is lost, the work snowballs out of control and they simply can’t catch up.

CONTINUE READING HERE!

Sunday, October 23, 2011

Another Trip to Old Time Pottery

I don’t know what it is about this store that fascinates me so. The low prices? The eclectic variety of merchandise that makes you wonder if it’s a Frank’s, Walmart, Crate & Barrel, or Michael’s? The great decorating items? Or, more likely, the “made in China” type mistakes on the products. You can see my first installment of Old Time Pottery fails HERE. Go ahead and click the link. It’s worth it. I promise you’ll laugh. Go ahead, I’ll wait.

CONTINUE READING HERE!

Monday, October 17, 2011

My Son, Tony Hawk (NOT!)

It had been about three months since I’d taken one of the kids to the emergency room.  I knew we were overdue for a visit, but was hoping against hope that no one would get hurt or sick before my new insurance kicked in. We’d been doing pretty well in my quest to avoid doctors at all costs until this weekend when Jackson got in a fight with his bike. And lost.

Jackson was supposed to be at home, cleaning his room and mopping the kitchen floor. Everyone else had completed their weekend chores, but Jackson kept finding distractions to keep him from his work. I dragged him inside and reminded him of his jobs for the twentieth time. I went upstairs to finish putting sheets on my bed when Savannah walked up to tell me, “Jackson fell off his bike and got hurt.”

I’d like to say that I rushed to his side immediately, but I’ve experienced more than my fair share of “Jackson just got hurt” stories, and I knew from experience, that it probably wasn’t a big deal. I mean, yes, Jackson has had more ER visits than all five of the others combined, but he sustains even more minor injuries on a very regular basis. I asked, “Is he really hurt or is he just trying to get out of doing chores?” Savannah looked a little freaked out and said something was sticking out of his stomach. This can’t be good, I thought to myself and headed downstairs to check out the damage.

I found Jackson lying on the couch, tears making muddy little tracks down his dirt-covered face. He had dirt and sand on his limbs, his hair was matted to his face with sweat and he was crying that he was in pain. “Where does it hurt? What happened? What hurts?” I fired my questions in rapid succession, trying to ascertain how seriously he was injured.

Jackson’s tummy hurt too much to talk, so he explained in short little bursts. “Riding bike.Tried to do a wheelie. Handlebars turned around. Flipped off. Bars jabbed me in stomach.”

He lifted up his shirt and lowered the waist of his shorts to reveal a mass about the size of a baseball sticking out from his abdomen. I decided that either an alien had taken up residence in my son’s stomach and was about to be born by bursting out through his skin which was quickly turning red and purple, or his guts had been rearranged. Each scenario was equally disturbing. This wasn’t an injury that made me wonder, “Hmmm, should I take him to the ER or put some ice on it?” Nope, this was an injury that had me wondering, “Do I rush him to the ER myself or call an ambulance?”

Being new down here, I didn’t know which hospital to go to. I quickly called my friend and asked her where I should take him, while issuing instructions to the rest of my kids. Trying to get Jackson off the couch and into my van proved to be a huge challenge and I was just about to dial 911 when he managed to slowly walk out to my car. Clay hopped in the van and despite my protests that he’d be bored and hungry, insisted he needed to come with us. I stupidly agreed to avoid a fight that would prolong our departure.

When we arrived at the hospital at 5:45, the triage nurse asked me for my insurance information. I had just gotten an insurance card in the mail on Friday. This was Saturday. (I want to jump for joy on the amazing timing, but I’m afraid to jinx it. Although I received my insurance card, I’m afraid the insurance hasn’t quite kicked in yet. If my calculations are correct, it won’t be effective for another week. We’ll see, I guess.)

Anyway, we waited for what seemed like an eternity despite the fact that Jackson was pushed ahead of all the kids with runny noses and the man who had been having chest pains for a week even though he “only smoked 2 packs a day”.

The doctor took a look at Jackson and ordered a CT right away.  While waiting for the CT, a nurse started an IV and took some blood. Generally, getting stuck with any kind of needle, makes Jackson scream loud enough to be heard in the next state. He was in too much pain to care this time. If you know Jackson, that speaks volumes of his pain level. In fact, he kept mentioning things like, “This hurts more than my broken arm. This hurts more than my broken nose. This hurts more than the stitches on the bottom of my foot. This hurts more than my broken toe. This hurts more than the time I fell off the swingset and couldn’t breathe. This hurts more than the time my arm got stomped on in football. This hurts more than . . .” This quite possibly could’ve gone on all night if the technician hadn’t wheeled him back for the CT scan and broken up his train of thought.

The technician who took Jackson for the scan had a strong Jamaican accent and every time he asked Jackson a question, Jax gave him a blank stare, then turned to me for translation. He injected iodine and scanned Jackson’s midsection. Then we went back to the room to wait. And wait. And wait. At around 9:30, after I pestered the nurse a few times, we were finally informed that the huge bump was just a large hematoma (fancy word for bruise).  But, along with the blood and fluid in the muscle and tissue under his skin, there was also some internal bleeding. The CT showed a small amount of fluid and because of this, we were told that a pediatric surgeon needed to take a look and decide if he could go home, or if he needed to spend the night to make sure there weren’t more serious injuries internally.

Around 11:00, they finally managed to get Clay something to eat, and they delivered the news that Jackson would be admitted for the night, but not at that hospital, no. He had to be transferred by ambulance to a different hospital with a pediatric unit. I rushed Clayton home, gave instructions to Austin and Savannah and sped back to the hospital where I found Jackson watching some BMX competition on TV. “Seriously, Jackson, seriously?” I asked, rolling my eyes. He flipped the channel to a Friends rerun. The episode where Joey had a hernia ran through my mind and I couldn’t help laughing. Evidently, Jackson couldn’t stop laughing either and every time he laughed, he’d start to cry in earnest because the pain was so bad, so he flipped to the Food Network until almost 4:00 AM when they finally loaded him up in the ambulance to take him to the other hospital. By this time, the pain meds were starting to wear off and he was running a fever.

I was thinking how much it sucked that I couldn’t go in the ambulance with him, but someone needed to drive the car. And how much it sucked that I had to leave my other kids alone, but someone had to be with Jackson. And how much it sucked that I might have to miss some work. And how much it sucked that I’m not paid if I miss a day. And how much it sucked that none of this might even be covered by insurance. And how much it sucked that we were supposed to go to the beach later that day to meet one of Lexi’s friends from back home who was here on vacation and now we couldn’t do that. And how much it sucked that none of this would’ve even happened if Jackson had listened to me and been doing his chores instead of screwing around on his bike. It’s at times like these when being a single mom to many (especially in a new place without much of a support system) just stinks.


But, on the bright side, the people were nice and attentive at the new hospital, there was a couch that opened into a bed for me, the room looked more like a hotel room than a hospital room, the doctor who saw Jackson there was young and cute, and best of all, his fever went away, he felt a little better the next day, and he didn’t need surgery.


Saturday, October 15, 2011

Dinner Traditions

My parents are coming to visit us next week. This will be their first time seeing our new house here in Florida. I'm looking forward to visiting with them and showing them all our new favorite spots to eat, shop, walk around, hang out, swim, etc. I'm sure the kids are going to want to show them their new schools and where all the ice cream places are. So, this week, I'm in "Keep the Freaking House Clean" mode. I'm also trying to figure out what to make for dinner while they're here.

I figure we'll just order pizza (or what passes for pizza down here) one night while they're here. Growing up, we always had pizza on Sunday nights. That was the one night my mom would let us watch TV at the dinner table (Wonderful World of Disney, of course.) As a kid though, I was always jealous of my friends who went to their grandparents' house for Sunday dinner. It was a traditional, weekly event for many of my friends. My own grandparents lived out-of-state, however. When I grew up and had kids of my own, I thought my own parents might incorporate a weekly, or even monthly, gathering for dinner, but they never did. I hope to host Sunday dinners at my house when my kids are grown and have kids of their own.

But back to my parents' visit. I think we'll cook out and eat our meals on the lanai so my parents can enjoy the gorgeous weather down here before heading back to the cold. That has become a new tradition for my family - eating outside. We do it several times a week. The weather is just too beautiful to stay inside.

What kinds of dinnertime traditions does your family have? Check out this family's cool, fun tradition of
"Theme Dining" for some fun ideas! And while you're there, share your own stories and ideas on the Fresh Takes on Family Time site. Every time you share, you'll be entered to win a $50 gift card from Subway. And, more than that, you could be the next lucky family chosen to have their story filmed and featured on their site! One new family is chosen every month! Check it out here!

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

Pterodactyl

Savannah came home from school and said, "Let's play Pterodactyl!"

"Pterodactyl? That's a game? Seriously? How do you play?" I inquired, one eyebrow raised, wondering where she was going to go with this.

"You just take turns going around the circle. Everyone has to say pterodactyl, but you have to keep your lips over your teeth like this," she demonstrated. "If someone squawks instead of saying pterodactyl, the direction reverses. If you laugh, you lose."

Well, that sounded simple enough. How hard could it be to keep a straight face when all you're doing is saying pterodactyl?

It's VERY stinkin' hard!



Tuesday, October 11, 2011

What a Dirty, Disgusting River. It's Chocolate!


I should be used to getting up early. I mean, I’ve been doing it for nearly two months now. That’s plenty of time to adjust, right? One would think. But still, I’m exhausted to the point of passing out nearly every night. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve awakened on the couch in the middle of the night, still dressed, makeup smeared across my face, hair plastered to my cheek with drool. I know, I know, I’m totally hot. And every morning, I perform my ritual of blindly flailing my arm around in an attempt to either hit the snooze button, knock the clock off the table, or stop time altogether.

Last night, after helping my kids with their homework, we ate the dinner I cooked, then, I told my kids, “I need you guys to clean up the kitchen because I have work to do.” I took my laptop and retired to my room where I could work in peace. At some point, before finishing, I passed out asleep without even checking on my kids to make sure they’d done what they were told. Big mistake. Big. Huge.

This morning, after playing the snooze game for half an hour, I got a text from Savannah who had just walked out to the bus with Austin. “So, you might be disgusted when you go downstairs.”

I weighed my options. I could simply stay in bed and never set foot downstairs. Yes, that’s my plan! I’ll stay in bed, I decided! Then I remembered I’d have to call the school and let them know I wouldn’t be in today. How would that phone call go over? “Um hi, this is Dawn Meehan. I can’t make it in to work today. What? My kids? Oh no, they’re fine. No, I’m not sick. Oh, well you see, my daughter warned me that I’d be disgusted if I went downstairs so I’m simply avoiding the whole situation. What’s that? Don’t bother coming in tomorrow or the next day either? I’m fired?”

Dreading her response, but firmly believing in being prepared, I texted back, “Why?”

“First of all, the dishes are still out and there are bugs all over them. Someone spilled cocoa powder in the pantry and tried to clean it up by sweeping it all the way to the front door and putting it under the rug so there’s this trail of it still. Annnnnnd, the garage door was open all night.”

That’s all? I thought. I can handle dirty dishes sitting out all night. It wouldn’t be the first time. Although I like things cleaned up before I go to bed, now and then I leave the mess and clean it before I leave for work or give my kids instructions to clean up when they get home from school. I figured Savannah had probably just seen a stray BOUS (bug of unusual size). As far as the cocoa powder, I figured I could sweep that up in an instant.

And then I walked downstairs.

Jackson had spilled the entire, brand-new container of cocoa powder in the pantry. Instead of wiping it up right there, he, with his brilliant thirteen-year-old brain, figured it would be easier to sweep it under the rug. Literally. Never mind that the rug was through the kitchen, down the hall and across the entryway by the front door. And did he use a broom for this endeavor? Nope, that wouldn’t be nearly messy enough. Instead, he used the Swiffer Wet Jet. Here’s a riddle for you. What smells like brownies and floor cleaner? The Willy Wonka style chocolate river o’ sludge that runs through my house!

Then I walked in to the kitchen and saw the mounds of dirty dishes on the table, the island, the countertops, the stove. The crockpot had a couple pieces of chicken floating in a sea of congealed sauce. And ants were crawling over much of it.

You know that scene in The Exorcist where Linda Blair’s head spins around? That was me after I got ahold of myself and calmed down.

I quickly left the kitchen before I completely lost it. Lexi immediately started unloading the dishwasher and cleaning up. I started scrubbing the chocolate-flavored grout between the tiles of my floor. I did that for about ten minutes. You may be wondering why I didn’t wake up Jackson and demand he start cleaning immediately. I needed some time to calm down, and taking my rage out on the discolored grout seemed like a good way to do it. Before I left for work, however, I gave very specific instructions to each and every one of my kids that there was not to be a single dirty dish sitting out or the merest hint of chocolate dust on the floor when I got home from work or they would all be sleeping out on the lanai with the lizards, frogs, turtles, cockroaches, alligators, snakes, and other creatures that would eat them in their sleep. What? My story was no worse than Hansel and Gretel or Little Red Riding Hood!

When I got home this evening, I discovered that Austin had locked Jackson outside and was cleaning the cocoa powder mess himself. When I asked him why he didn’t just make Jackson do it, he said, “Yeah right. If I’d let Jackson inside, he would’ve made a hundred more messes and there would still be chocolatey floors and knowing him, he’d probably smear it on the walls and carpet too somehow!”

“Good point! I mean, don’t lock your brother outside.” Still, little tendrils of anger, nay disappointment, continued to wrap themselves around me, so when the kids asked, “What’s for dinner?” I replied, “Whatever you make because I’m not cooking for you guys if you aren’t going to do your part and help clean up when I ask. You can make sandwiches or have bowls of cereal or soup or whatever you want to make. Whatever you get out and mess up, you WILL clean up, however. They put their heads together and decided on making chicken nuggets because then they’d only have one cookie sheet to clean. After their chicken nuggets, they were still hungry, so they made ham and cheese omelets and toast. And you know what? They cleaned up every last crumb. (I think the Linda Blair thing scared them straight. Nothing like seeing mom’s head spin around to make you shape up.)


And no, I didn’t take pictures this time. I was trying way too hard not to commit homicide to take pictures of the mess.

Monday, October 10, 2011

A Fresh Take on Trick-or-Treating

Over at Subway's Fresh Takes on Family Time site, they've got some great articles with fun fall and Halloween ideas. One that caught my eye was an article named Trunk-or-Treat. It talked about getting your friends together, heading to an empty parking lot, opening your trunks, and letting the kids go from car to car, gathering candy from the tailgates. That idea is okay, but I'd go one step further. That is, I'd go a step further if I was back home in Chicago, surrounded by friends. But since I've recently moved across the country and have no friends, it would be kind of lame for me to try it here.

If I were back in Chicagoland, I'd invite everyone over to my driveway for a potluck. I'd get the fire pit going and roast hotdogs. All my friends and neighbors could enjoy the collection of salads and desserts from everyone. Back in Chicago, since it would undoubtedly be 40 degrees and rainy, we'd bundle up while the kids drank steaming mugs of hot chocolate with marshmallows (you know, in case they hadn't ingested enough sugar from their candy). The adults would drink hot toddys or Irish coffee (because Halloween is traditionally known as a drinking holiday). We'd sit back and complain about the cold while we enjoyed each other's company and breathed in the scent of fall in the air - the leaves, the crackling fire, the brisk breeze, and the mist starting to roll in.

But since I'm here in Florida, I guess I'll take my kids around the neighborhood by myself while wearing shorts and sipping a frosty, refreshing pina colada. And I'll enjoy the palm trees and the sunshine and the fact that this year, I won't need to stuff handwarmers in my pockets, or figure out a way to cram winter coats under my kids' costumes.

Check out the
Fresh Takes on Family Time site to add your own story! One lucky family will be chosen every month to have their story filmed and featured on the site! Plus, you'll be entered to win a $50 gift card from Subway! Check it out today!


My blog is a part of an incentivized online influencer network for Fresh Takes on Family Time Powered by Subway.

Thursday, October 6, 2011

I Suck at my Job

I hate feeling stupid. Hate it. I hate feeling like I don’t know what I’m doing. I like being the person that others come to for advice. I like being the one who knows everything; the one others ask for help. I do not like having to ask anyone else for help. Yeah, yeah, it's good to let others help. It makes them feel good. Blah, blah, blah. Whatever. I still don't like it. And no, I don't have control issues. I just always need to be right. And in charge.

If someone was to ask me a parenting question on nearly any topic, I’d feel confident that I could give an intelligent and constructive answer. That’s an area of my life where I feel like I have some degree of expertise. I may not be perfect at it, but I know what I’m doing. At school, however? I feel like an idiot. I don’t understand the terms they use here. Everyone tosses them around like they’re common knowledge, yet my head spins because they might as well be speaking a foreign language, as far as I’m concerned.

I don't know all the procedures and protocol for doing things here. What do you do if you have a student who is tardy to your class seventeen times? I assumed the attendance people would catch that I was marking him tardy every day and would do something. I guess not. When I brought it up, I was looked at like I was stupid for letting a student get seventeen tardies without saying anything. Sheesh, now that I think about it, maybe I should continue to let the kids get tardies. I should encourage them to take their time getting to my class because it means less time spent here making me insane. Kidding. Just kidding.

But really, I’m not a teacher. I didn’t go to college to be a teacher. I didn’t go to college at all, in fact. I didn’t student teach. I haven’t been doing this for years. Don’t get me wrong, I do believe I’m qualified for my position, but I lack experience and, unfortunately the only thing that can fix that is time.

I’m pretty sure all the eighth grade math teachers hate me. Yesterday, I alienated the eighth grade history teachers as well when I gave a student a copy of a vocabulary quiz with the answers filled in so he could study the words. In hindsight, that was a stupid move. Duh. I have no idea what I was thinking. Clearly, I wasn’t. I should only have gone over the words and never shown the student the test for him to simply memorize. The history teachers have every right to be upset. I was stupid. I hate being stupid.

When I (half) joke about quitting, some teachers nod their heads and commiserate, saying, “I don’t know how you do it. I couldn’t take working with those kids every period, every day.” But, honestly, it’s not even the kids who make me want to quit. They’re not the problem. They are who they are. They do what they do. I try to keep them on track, help them develop organizational skills, encourage them to be responsible. Sometimes it sinks in; sometimes it doesn’t. Sometimes they respond and surprise me; sometimes they don't. It’s more like being a mom to thirty kids than a teacher. I’m fine with that. Yes, it gets discouraging at times. But other times, it’s pretty darn rewarding.


Nope, it’s not the kids. It’s me. I feel like I suck at this job and I don’t enjoy doing things that make me feel all suckish. Sigh.

(Don't worry, it's not all doom and gloom. Come back tomorrow for a fun-filled poop extravaganza courtesy of Clayton. Ugh, he's gonna get us kicked out of our neighborhood.)

Monday, October 3, 2011

Comments from the Peanut Gallery

I love getting comments on my blog posts. I get giddy with excitement when someone takes the time to write to me. Of course, I especially like it when someone finds something I've written humorous, useful, or comforting. I love it when someone tells me that they appreciate the levity or the glimpse into my life because it helps them to see their own life in a different, more positive light. But as much as I love all those comments, I think I particularly like these inane comments the best . . .

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If you're going to leave me spam comments, asking me to check out your online pharmacy for discount Viagra, at least have the sense to learn English or hire a translator. Really, is that too much to ask? I unequivocally thanking you so very many.

Sunday, October 2, 2011

The Big Book of Poop

When you first have a baby, you spend hours gazing into his/her little face, dreaming about the person they will become. Will they have your way with words? Their dad’s height? Their grandma’s musical ability? Their uncle’s artistic talent? Imagine my pride when I got home from work the other day and saw on the kitchen table, a book written by my own son. Clay had not only written, but had also illustrated his very own book. Yes, I thought, my son is following in my footsteps! He’s going to be an author! Sure, he’s only seven years old now, but he’s undoubtedly destined for greatness! And then I actually looked at the book. Yeah. Let’s just say that I hope Clay has a “Plan B” for future employment.
CONTINUE READING HERE!


When you first have a baby, you spend hours gazing into his/her little face, dreaming about the person they will become. Will they have your way with words? Their dad’s height? Their grandma’s musical ability? Their uncle’s artistic talent? Imagine my pride when I got home from work the other day and saw on the kitchen table, a book written by my own son. Clay had not only written, but had also illustrated his very own book. Yes, I thought, my son is following in my footsteps! He’s going to be an author! Sure, he’s only seven years old now, but he’s undoubtedly destined for greatness! And then I actually looked at the book. Yeah. Let’s just say that I hope Clay has a “Plan B” for future employment.



Here’s a sneak peek at Clay’s masterpiece. I may have to take orders for this book as I’m sure you’re all going to want your own copies for your coffee tables.

Poop
A favorite word for seven year old boys everywhere.

Butt
It's like a Dr. Seuss book. Splat butt poop, it looks like soup.

Sinker
This is what happens when you don't get enough fiber.

Floater
I love how he identified and labeled the undigested corn. Classy.

Splat
I think this is what happens when you eat half a dozen Fiber One bars at once.

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