Sunday, October 25, 2020

A Tale Of Two Teachers

I had interactions with two of my kids' teachers on Friday. And they were so night-and-day different, you wouldn't believe they worked at the same school.

You know that Brooklyn never gets less than an A in any class. She's a naturally smart kid and she's remarkably self-motivated. This is not me being one of those - 'My kid is perfect and can do no wrong' kind of things because believe me, although I love all my kids, I would not use those words to describe all of them! Unfortunately, she's struggling in her biology class this year. She ends the day in tears often, saying, "I'm just not learning anything this year, Mom. She just reads these powerpoints and she goes so fast and she just assumes that everyone knows what she's talking about instead of explaining and teaching it. Maybe it's just me, but I don't know anything in that class."

This teacher gives her students until 6:00PM to submit their assignments each day. For the kids who have activities after school - jobs, sports, volunteer work, church, classes, well that's just too bad. They get a zero. No chance to turn it in later. They can't do it the next day. Nothing. Just a big fat zero for the assignment. As you can imagine, a couple zeros on assignments dramatically bring down the child's grade.

To her credit, the teacher does replace those zeros with the score the students receive on their quarter exams. I'm sure this helps some students. Brooklyn, who has struggled all year, stayed up and studied a good 2 hours the night before that test. She went through every Kahoot (game-based learning platform) the teacher gave the kids to help them review. She literally wrote down every question and answer, felt she had a pretty good understanding, and thought she would do well on the test. When the test came, Brooklyn felt it was over completely different material than what she had studied and she got a D on the test. That was a tough pill to swallow for a straight A student. Especially when that grade was not reflective of her effort.

Incidentally, this is the same teacher who taught from home the entire first quarter of school. I use the words "taught from home" loosely as many of her classes were taught while she was driving, or sitting in her car in a parking lot. 

Which brings us to Friday. On Friday, this teacher told her class that they were going to dissect a flower, but she generously gave them to until 7:00 to complete and submit their assignments. Nothing had been said about this in advance so students could make arrangements to have the supplies they needed. Students on campus were sent into the courtyard of the school to pick flowers, however students who were doing remote learning from home, were out of luck. We don't have any flowers. There are literally no flowers anywhere in my entire apartment complex. 

I had never communicated with this teacher about her policy of not accepting work after 6:00PM. I had commiserated with Brooklyn, I had gotten resources from the science teachers at my school to help her, and I had told her that she would undoubtedly have teachers throughout her education whose teaching method just didn't resonate with her, and that she just had to do her best. But this flower thing just pushed me over the edge. So now Brooklyn would be getting yet another zero because once again, this teacher had set those students up for failure. So I emailed her.

Good morning,

My daughter, Brooklyn Meehan told me that you informed her during class today that she needs a flower to dissect. We live in an apartment that has no flowers around the complex. Had your students been notified in advance, I could have made arrangements for her to have the supplies she needs. I’m a single mom, I work 2 jobs, and I won’t get home in order to bring my daughter a flower or take her to pick one until after your cut-off time for turning in assignments. I feel that making students turn in work by 6:00pm, you’re setting them up for failure. Brooklyn struggles to complete your assignments on days that she has cheer practice after school, and has received zeros because you don’t allow your students to turn in assignments in the evening. Yes, I know you replace those zeros with their quarter test grades, but this does precious little for poor test takers. As a parent, this is frustrating. As an educator, it is mind-boggling to me.

What are you doing for Launch-Ed students who aren’t able to pick flowers in the school’s courtyard today? Is there an alternative assignment? Or are you giving them longer than 7:00pm to complete it?

Ms. Dawn Meehan

J Be the reason someone smiles today. J

This was her response:

Hello Mrs. Meehan,

Your concerns about me, how I teach, my teaching strategies, and my policies are duly noted.

No, there is no alternate. No, they do not get any longer than 2:20 p.m. to 7:00 p.m. to walk outside, pick a flower, remove its parts, use the diagram to label it, and upload the image to a GOOGLE form.

That part of the assignment will simply be adjusted for her, and any other student that finds that part of the assignment too difficult to complete.

Thank you for letting me know.


I forwarded our correspondence to the principal along with this note:

Good afternoon, Mr. XXXXXX,

How can it possibly be acceptable by OCPS for a teacher to refuse to accept assignments after 6:00pm on a daily basis? Brooklyn cannot be the only student with after-school commitments who finds it difficult some days to complete assignments in that time frame. Brooklyn was one of few students in Orange County accepted into the Horizons Scholarship program. She is required to put in volunteer hours and engage in regular after-school Zoom meetings, classes, and mentor sessions. And of course, she’s encouraged to participate in extra-curricular activities as well.

Brooklyn gets a zero from Dr. XXXXXX every time she cannot complete an assignment by 6:00pm because she has cheer, band, or a Horizons Scholarship activity after school. Dr. XXXXXX does not give her the opportunity to turn in assignments after her after-school activities; instead she simply gives my daughter a grade of 0%. These zeros negatively impact Brooklyn’s eligibility in the Horizons program because the coordinators obtain regular grade reports from the high school.

What do I need to do to get Brooklyn a teacher who will work with her and not against her? Brooklyn would love to go back to school face-to-face, especially if it meant a schedule change and a different biology teacher, although I understand I missed the cut-off to change from Launch-Ed to F2F. Is dropping biology at the high school and taking it on Florida Virtual School a possibility? Because I am not okay with Brooklyn missing out on 2 years of college tuition because of a poor grade in biology that is not reflective of her ability.

Thank you for your help on this matter.

I imagine the principal will address this on Monday. If not, it will all be forwarded to the chief of high schools.


While this was going on, I received an email from Clayton's calculus teacher: 

Ms. Meehan,

Is everything ok with Clayton?  He has missed the last two days of class and has not turned in the last 3 assignments. 


My response: 

First off, thank you for being that amazing teacher who legitimately cares about his students and wants to see them succeed. Believe me, that is not always the case!

And this is completely unacceptable and will be addressed with Clayton immediately.

I had a little talk with Clayton that went something like this, "You need to email Mr. XXXXXXX and copy me on that email! You apologize for not showing up to class, you make up those assignments NOW, and you don't miss another class in the future or your part time job is OVER, Mister, because that was the deal when I let you take that job! Get your act together and get caught up!"

And here is Clay's correspondence with his teacher:


This is Clay's second year with this math teacher, and this is not the first time this teacher has reached out to me in concern about Clayton. (Although Clay's really smart, he's a little lacking in the motivation department.) Anyway, Clay says that he's the best teacher he's ever had. Not only does he do an amazing job explaining things and teaching, but he records and puts every lesson online so students can go back and and review. He also gives students his phone number and tells them they can call up until 10:00PM if they have any questions. And he does free tutoring as well. Clay's teacher is clearly invested in his students' success. He goes above and beyond to ensure his kids achieve. He's the kind of teacher who most teachers strive to be. 

And then there's Brooklyn's teacher . . .

Wednesday, September 30, 2020

I Do It For The Comments

I started blogging back in 2007. At the time, I used my blog as an outlet for all the crazy shenanigans my kids pulled so I didn't lose my mind and run away from home. I used it encourage other parents in the trenches. I was hoping in time that it might become a source of income to help my family of 8 financially. While I was writing, encouraging other parents and letting them know they weren't alone, the strangest thing happened. The comments they left for me on my posts encouraged me! I found myself eagerly devouring every word that my readers left for me. It somehow validated what I was doing.

And then there are these kinds of comments. 

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Do you understand that this post was about Monopoly retiring a game piece? So let me get this straight – your previous roommate constantly talked about the dog playing piece in the Monopoly game? I can see why he’s not your current roommate.

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Time for a career change.

Thursday, September 24, 2020

Life Lessons from Love Bugs

The other day I was driving to work when a couple lovebugs hit my windshield with a splat. By "couple," of course I mean a dozen as it's Florida in September where lovebugs swarm in plague-like dark clouds, literally proliferating as they fly. I turned on my wipers in an effort to clear the mess, but managed to just kind of smear the bug guts in a sweeping arc across my line of vision. 

As I drove, my eyes were pulled back to the splattered remains of the bugs. I thought to myself - it would really suck if I got in an accident because I was focused on the smudge adorning my windshield instead of focusing on the stretch of highway before me. I forced my eyes back to the road, paying attention to the traffic, lights, and pedestrians. Before long, my gaze was once again drawn to the spatter on my window. I reprimanded myself. "Seriously, Dawn. Stop concentrating on the splotch of bug guts and shift your focus a few yards ahead." This happened a couple more times until I pulled into the parking lot at work. Each time my eyes shifted, it only lasted a second, a brief moment. It was hardly noticeable at all; I didn't even realize I was doing it.

And it made me think.

How often do we look ahead, pointed in the right direction, traveling along the correct path, and yet our focus is pulled just slightly away from where it should be? We're moving forward, all seems well, and yet we can't help focusing on something just slightly out of our line of vision. Maybe it's something that happened in the past; some blight in our history that we just can't seem to escape. Or maybe our focus shifts ever-so-slightly to the left. Or the right. Or somewhere in the periphery. We're not off-track per se. But something has pulled our attention away and we aren't focused exactly where we should be. It doesn't seem like a big deal at first, but the danger is that those momentary diversions can eventually pull us away from our destination, our purpose.

It happens to all of us. But how do we keep our attention where it should be even in the midst of endless distractions? If you read the first paragraph, you'll have seen that I'm hardly an expert as my attention shifts easily.

That could also say -
"I have so much to do!"
"Oooo look! Netflix!"

Or -
"I am SO over dating!"
"Oooo look! A cute guy!"

So although I'm clearly no expert, here are my ideas for staying focused.

1.  Determine your priorities. It's hard to stay focused on what's important to you if you don't know what's important to you. Unless you have a clear idea of what you want to focus on, your attention will be easily led in ways that won’t get you where you want to be. 

2.  Start the day with that priority. If your priority is to focus on God, begin your day with prayer. If it's to accomplish some goal (for example, weight loss) start your day by telling yourself you can and will succeed. Read a success story, look over the past weeks of weight loss and remind yourself that you're doing well, look at a "before" picture and applaud your success thus far.

3.  Have a plan.  

Again, I'll use the weight-loss example since this is something I've struggled with for a good 35 years. If you don't have a plan, you're doomed to fail even before you start. Plan out your menu, have healthy food on hand, carve out time to exercise. (I'm good with the giving of the advice, but notsomuch with the following of the advice.)

4.  Know that at times you'll lose focus on the big picture. It happens. When you find yourself looking at the messy bug guts of life, just shift your focus back where it belongs. And extend yourself some grace because we're all human. Just don't let your concentration veer completely off course or you could crash and burn.

Psalm 101:3 ESV
I will not set before my eyes anything that is worthless. I hate the work of those who fall away; it shall not cling to me.

Psalm 119:37 ESV
Turn my eyes from looking at worthless things; and give me life in your ways.

Philippians 4:8 ESV
Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is commendable, if there is any excellence, if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things.

Proverbs 4:25 ESV
Let your eyes look directly forward, and your gaze be straight before you.

Philippians 3:14 ESV
I press on toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus.

Psalm 25:15 ESV
My eyes are ever toward the Lord, for he will pluck my feet out of the net.

Job 31:7 ESV
If my step has turned aside from the way and my heart has gone after my eyes, and if any spot has stuck to my hands,

Wednesday, September 23, 2020

I'm Sharing Because Visits to the Gyno are SO MUCH FUN

I had my annual gyno check-up today. I know, I know, contain your jealousy. As much as I hate going to the doctor, especially for this kind of appointment, I admit I'd rather have a pap smear every day of my life than to go to the dentist even once. That might make me a freak, but I bet I'm not alone on this one. Someone back me up here!

Anyway, so I specifically made an appointment with a female doctor because I'm just more comfortable with a woman doctor poking around "down there."

I sat in my car until I got a text from the office that I could come in. Upon entering the building, I had to answer some COVID-related questions and have my temperature taken. Then I proceeded toward the elevators, but some guy was standing in the middle of the hallway blocking the whole thing while he obliviously texted on his phone. I made a slightly dramatic show of walking around him because I'm immature like that people who are clueless to the fact that they share this planet with others tick me off. And it doesn't matter if they're cute young guys. Not that I noticed he was a cute young guy.

When I was called back into the doctor's office, the nurse weighed me and commented on my shoes. 

"I love your shoes! I'm going to get a pair of those. I do baking on the side," she explained.

"I just like doughnuts," I returned as I stepped on the scale. Seeing the number that came up, I muttered, "That might have something to do with my weight."

She lead me to a room, took my blood pressure, and asked a few questions. Then she said, "Stacy will have our newest midwife, Alex with her. Is that okay?"

"Sure, the more the merrier," I said only slightly sarcastically. 

"Okay, Stacy will be in with him soon," she said as she departed.

"Wait! Him? Alex is a him? The midwife is a he? Did she just say him?" I resigned myself to having a guy look on while she did her thing down there.

I changed and hopped up on the table to await the fun.

After a brief knock on the door (side note: I never know what to do there. Are you supposed to say, "Come in?" I never do that. But that has literally never stopped a doctor from walking right in as soon as they knock. Hmmm . . .) Anyway, after a knock, Alex enters. Alex is a guy. Alex is the guy. Alex is the guy I walked around when I first entered the building. Alex is the cute young guy I walked around when I first entered the building. Because I am just super lucky like that. And Stacy is nowhere in sight. A nurse enters and stands to the side while this guy gets out the jack that will pry open my cervix. So it looks like all my planning in making an appointment with a female doctor paid off!

He asks, "What kind of birth control are you using?"

"I've been single for 11 years," I answer dryly. 

Judging by the look on his face, he wasn't sure whether to laugh or feel sorry for me, but he dropped his line of questioning.

"Do you have any questions for me?"

"Well, I'm not too thrilled with the fact that I can go 2-3 months without a period and then other times I get it after only 2 or 3 weeks. And I never used to get PMS, but now I get a raging headache and moodiness bordering on a multiple personality disorder. I assume this is normal because I'm at the fun-filled age of 50?"

"Yeah, that can happen," he stated and I thought to myself - Oh what does a 20 year old boy know about it?

Then he said, "Well, I won't torture you too much. You don't need a pap because it's recommended to do them every 5 years when you get to this age. I'll just do the pelvic exam."

"You do realize that if you have to put your hands up my hoo ha anyway, then it doesn't really matter if you stick a Q-tip up there as well, right? I mean, that really doesn't spare anyone any torture."

Uncomfortable silence.

Trying to make amends for my smart mouth, "Well, at least you're not drilling my teeth so it's okay."

Tuesday, September 22, 2020

When Squirrels Attack

You know how much I love creeping, crawling, flying, hopping, scurrying creatures, right? Feel free to read any/all of the following if you need a refresher.











And  of course, Florida is the worst place to live if you have a hate/hate relationship with wildlife. Seriously, it's like living in Jurassic Park down here!

A couple days ago, I walked out to my car so I could go to work. I saw a squirrel under my van who was chattering away. As I got closer, I noticed a baby squirrel on my windshield. 

I cautiously approached the van. "Hey baby squirrel. Hop off!" I instructed him. "Go ahead. Jump off my car. Just jump," I helpfully suggested. The squirrel just lay there, squirming around a little. Meanwhile, mom squirrel climbed out from under my car and up into the tree where she started yelling at me.

I picked up my wiper blades, thinking maybe he was stuck under one. Nope.

What to do, what to do? I thought. He was pretty cute, but still I didn't want to touch him because 

*  I was afraid I'd squish him.

*  I was afraid mom squirrel might abandon baby if I touched him.

*  I was afraid mom squirrel would come chew my face off.

*  I was afraid I'd get bitten or scratched by him and then I'd get rabies and then my work would have to have a 5k run for me. The Michael Scott Freedom Middle School Orlando Dawn Meehan Memorial Celebrity Rabies Awareness Pro-Am Fun Run Race for the Cure.

I stood there, kind of lost as to how to handle the situation. Maybe I should just call in to work and stay home. "Sorry, I can't come in today; there's a squirrel on my car." I could just picture the principal's face as I delivered that news.

I texted Brooklyn and Clay. There's a baby squirrel on my windshield. I don't know how to get him off! Help!

Clay answered. Use the windshield wipers.

I responded. Clayton!

I tapped the glass behind the squirrel, hoping to motivate him to hop on off my car and into the tree. He scooted forward a little. And mom squirrel, up in the tree, started throwing acorns and branches at me.

I texted the kids again. And now I'm being attacked by the mom squirrel!

I resigned myself to the fact that I'd have to get the little guy off somehow so I opened my car door to search for a sweatshirt or something I could use to pick up the baby squirrel and relocate him. Great plan except I don't carry sweatshirts in my car on account of it being approximately 50,000 degrees every day!

As I contemplated my next move, my neighbor walked out to the parking lot. I explained the situation. 

"There's a baby squirrel on my car and he's too little to jump off and the mom is in the tree pelting me with acorns and I don't have a sweatshirt and I don't want rabies and I sure don't want anyone to have to do a 5k on account of me."

She looked around, and seeing a big stick lying on the ground, grabbed it. She held it up to the baby squirrel who clutched at it with its baby squirrel arms, then she carefully moved the squirrel-on-a-stick over to the tree. Baby squirrel climbed onto the tree, mom squirrel stopped bombing me with foliage, my quick-thinking neighbor walked away, and I drove to work.

I really think it's time for me to move.

Thursday, July 30, 2020

Fire, Fire, Fire

The kids and I have been playing Monopoly a lot lately. Well, actually we've been playing Chicago-opoly which, as the name suggests, is a Chicago version of the classic game. As a kid I LOVED Monopoly, but I could never get anyone to play with me. That may be part of the reason I had kids - to have willing players at my disposal. Although my own kids haven't especially liked playing with me either. It may have something to do with me jumping up and shouting, "Yes! Ha! In your face! That's $950, now pay up!"

Lately though, Clay and Brooklyn have really gotten into Chicago-opoly so we've been playing most nights after dinner.

There's a card in this game that reads - Mrs. O'Leary's cow kicks over another lantern.

I told the kids, "You know we learned a song about Mrs. O'Leary's cow in grade school."

Of course they were super-excited. They gushed about what an interesting childhood I'd had and how they were jealous of the myriad things I've learned. Then they begged me to sing it for them. At least I'm pretty sure that's what they meant as they sat there rolling their eyes while saying, "Oh yay, Mom's searching for the song on Youtube. Lucky us.

"Hey now! Do other kids your age know this? I teach you stuff so you'll be smarter than the average bear!"

I was met with more blank stares, motivating me to skip over the Yogi Bear lesson which was formulating in my brain.

I found a video of the Mrs. O'Leary song and started singing along.

Five nights ago when we were all in bed,
Old Mrs. Leary left a lantern in the shed,
And when the cow kicked it over, she winked her eye and said,
"There'll be a hot time in the old town tonight."

"Mom, roll the dice!" my kids complained that I wasn't focused on the game.

I threw the dice across the board then continued my lesson. "So there was a huge fire in Chicago in 1871 that started in Mrs. O'Leary's barn. There was much speculation about how the fire actually started. The newspaper stated it was Mrs. O'Leary's cow that had kicked over the lantern, igniting the fire that went on to burn 3 square miles of the city, but in 1893 the reporter of that article admitted he'd made it up. Finally, in 1997 Mrs. O'Leary was exonerated. Do you know what exonerated means?"

"Wait! So the cow didn't even start the fire?" Brooklyn asked, appalled.

"Well no, probably not."

"Then that whole song is pointless!" she insisted.

"I'm going to forget that story in 2 minutes," Clay stated. "Oh wait, nope! It's already gone."

I try to impart important knowledge to my kids. Like when, after Clay and I watched the movie John Wick the other night, I told him that I knew Keanu Reeves when he was much younger. I went on to play Bill and Ted's Excellent Adventure for him. In related news, I'm not allowed to pick out the movie anymore.

But I try to teach my kids, and expose them to a variety of information that will undoubtedly come in handy one day. You know, like maybe when they're doing a trivia night at a local bar. And this is the abuse I get. Guess what we'll be singing on our 3 hour drive tomorrow. Oh yes. FIRE, FIRE, FIRE!

Sunday, July 26, 2020

Drag Queens, Caterpillars, And Heath Ledger

As I said in my last blog post, I haven't applied makeup in weeks. Because why? I rarely leave my apartment these days, and I've just adopted a Who cares? attitude about the whole thing. But after the whole "cute guy at the gas station" extravaganza, I decided to put on makeup to go to the store in order to pick up a prescription. Because, you never know - maybe I'll meet the man of my dreams there, right? And then at least I'll be wearing makeup when I make a fool of myself in front of him. Because we all know darn well that's the only possible outcome when you put me near any attractive man.

Actually, it wasn't entirely the gas station incident that prompted me to don makeup for this outing. I'd been watching RuPaul's Drag Race because apparently my current goal in life is to exhaust every series ever made on Netflix, Hulu, and Prime. It floors me that these plain-looking guys can put on makeup and look like these gorgeous women. I thought - I have GOT to learn how to apply makeup better! I mean, I don't necessarily want to look like a drag queen, but you know, maybe I could look a little better than Hagrid.

So I put makeup on. My hand. I mostly put my makeup on my hand. Yep, I eyelined the heck out of my hand.

Don't ask. I'm pretty sure no drag queen applies their makeup like this. I'm pretty sure no human applies their makeup like this.

I finally got the eyeliner on my eyelids. I know better than to use liquid eyeliner. I'm a complete spaz with it. But this was magnetic eyeliner and I wanted to use my magnetic lashes so I gave it a go. And I mean, I had literally nothing else to do all day so I could take as long as I wanted to apply it.

Pro tip: After applying liquid eyeliner, wait for it to dry before blinking.

Or this will happen.

I tried to wipe it off, but this stuff stays on like Sharpie. So I grabbed a Q-tip and eye makeup remover and scrubbed it off. But then I was left with an obvious blank spot where my eye shadow had been removed. So I reapplied my eye shadow. Then I relined my eye. Then . . .

I did it a second time!

Remove the eye liner, apply the eye shadow FOR THE THIRD TIME, and reline my eyelid.

Fast forward. I get to Target, put on my mask, run in to pick up my prescription, grab some more coffee and yogurt while I'm there, and run out. It's all good. I haven't tripped or pushed my cart into anyone. I didn't run into any cute guys or students of mine. Woo hoo! I acted like a normal person! I'm feeling pretty good. I have prettyish eyes, my makeup is decent, I'm on top of the world!

As the cashier is ringing up my purchases, I see something out of the corner of my eye. I can't quite figure out what it is, but there is definitely something there in my periphery. I blink a few times and now I can see it even more. Oh no. No, no, noooo, please, please don't let it be my eyelash. My first instinct is to try to stick the eyelash down. I reach up but then remember - I can't touch my face! The 'rona! So I do some weird winking thing where I scrunch up my face and try to will the eyelash back into place by making demented faces. It doesn't work and now the cashier is thanking God for the plexiglass separating him from the crazy woman in line. Namely me.

I grab my bag and make a beeline to my car. After dousing my hands in sanitizer, I look in my rearview mirror to see what appears to be a baby caterpillar crawling down my cheek. Nice. I adjust the eyelash, aligning the magnets and it clicks back into place. I look in the mirror again to make sure all is well when I notice that although my eyes are once again fine, I have smeared lipstick, foundation, and sweat covering the lower half of my face. I look like the Joker.

So yeah. I'm back to my Why bother? theory of wearing makeup. In that I DON'T wear makeup. Or leave my home. Ever.

Thursday, July 23, 2020

It Just Fell Off. Really!

Although a tank of gas is lasting me a couple months these days, I had to fill up yesterday. In PC (pre-coronavirus) days, I would NEVER have left my house without doing my hair and applying full make-up. Now? I don't even remember how to put on make-up, and my hair? Well, I was mistaken for Hagrid last week.

Now I just don't seem to care. No make-up? No problem. My mask hides most of my face anyway. Pajama pants and a t-shirt with a bleach stain in public? Whatever. What's the point? Who am I trying to impress? I've clearly given up.

So I stop at the gas station, get out, start pumping gas, and notice a cute guy looking at me. Is he looking at me because I didn't put my mask on to pump gas? Is he trying to ascertain if I'm a woman or a man? (see: Hagrid hair) Maybe he's checking out my hot minivan. Why is he looking at me? I should've put on make-up. Maybe I haven't entirely given up yet. Maybe I just don't remember what it's like to interact with other humans, and therefore don't remember that it's nice to look presentable for said humans.

I fill my tank, go to hang up the pump, and the nozzle falls off. The nozzle separates from the hose and falls right off. IT. FALLS. OFF. Gasoline splashes from the hose and covers my flip-flop clad feet in the smelly liquid. The cute guy looks on in astonishment, and says, "Wow. Didn't know your own strength there, huh?"

I stand there in a puddle of gas for a second while my brain catches up to what just happened. I should tell someone. I need to tell the gas station people, I think. I grab my purse from my car and head toward the store. A few feet before I reach the door I remember my mask. I turn on my gassy foot and retreat to my car. The cute guy continues to look, mesmerized, no doubt, by my weird awkwardness, Hagrid hair, and the fact I can't even pump gas without looking like a monkey. I grab my mask and head back to the store.

"Hi, um yeah, I broke your pump. Or well, I didn't break it per se. But it's broken. The nozzle totally fell off. It's lying on the ground. You might want to um, I don't know, get it, or tape off that pump or something. I'm sorry. I don't know how that happened. It just fell off."

I felt like a toddler explaining to my parent, "I didn't break the vase. I don't know how it happened. It just fell off the table." The employee looked at me, eyebrow raised, like - Yeah, sure it did.

So, how's your week going?

Sunday, July 19, 2020

Stretch Clayton

A couple weeks ago, a shirtless Clay walked by, and I noticed a couple red lines on his lower back.

"What did you do to your back?"

"I dunno. What are you talking about?" he asked.

"There are some red scratches on it. Are they just lines from sitting up against something?"

Clay looked confused. "I don't know."

I snapped a picture with my phone and showed him.

"It's weird. They look like dents in your back," I said, puzzled.

"Hmm, I have no idea," he responded. He walked to his room to look at the chair in which he'd been sitting. There was nothing on the back of the chair that could've caused those lines.

"So I guess it doesn't hurt?" I asked.


Fast forward a couple weeks.

The littles and I went to the beach a couple days ago. Don't worry, it wasn't a 'Daytona Spring Break' kinda party scene. The beach was empty, and we were able to socially distance a good 20+ yards from any other people, including the tourists who, for unknown reasons, like to feed the seagulls. (But that's another story.)


As I helped Clay put sunscreen on his back, I noticed those marks were still there. In fact, they looked even worse. I inspected his lower back more closely and decided they looked like stretch marks. But who gets stretch marks on their lower back? And Clay's a skinny kid so stretch marks just didn't make sense to me.

I did a little searching online and asked my friend, Dr. Mike (who, the-way, has started a YouTube channel with medical topics explained in plain English that you can check out HERE.) Dr. Mike confirmed that, "Yes, it's possible with growth or a lot of weight gain."

I found articles online that claimed it's not uncommon for teens to develop stretch marks as they go through growth spurts.

The light dawned on me, and I recalled commenting several times over the past months, while giving Clay a hug, "You're so tall!" I measured him and sure enough, he's sprouted up another couple inches in this past year, putting him solidly at 5'11" now.

Have you noticed this with your teens? Have any of them developed stretch marks from rapid growth? None of my other kids ever got these. I've got them. But for entirely different reasons, namely Austin, Savannah, Jackson, Lexington, Clayton, Brooklyn, and Ben & Jerry's New York Super Fudge Chunk.

According to Dr. Mike, you obviously can't prevent stretch marks that are due to growth in height, but following a healthy diet and exercising to maintain a healthy weight can prevent some stretch marks. Unfortunately, as every mom knows, you can't just erase them, and I have yet to discover a miracle cream, so it can be tough for a teen who is self-conscious about stretch marks. My advice is to simply talk to your teen and commiserate with them. Let them know that the stretch marks spanning your abdomen are a symbol that you carried a baby, and that's a really good thing. And their stretch marks are a symbol that they're growing up and can reach things on the top shelf for you, and that is also a good thing!

Friday, July 10, 2020

The Wildlife Is Out To Get Me

A couple weeks ago, I was sitting on my couch, binging on Netflix productively working on my book when I heard a thud against the patio door behind me.

SIDE NOTE - The present participle of the word BINGE is binging. This bothers me. It looks like it would rhyme with ringing. Although some sources claim that BINGEING is acceptable also, that looks even more demented than BINGING. Stuff like this keeps me up at night.

Anyway, I was sitting on my couch when I heard a thud behind me. I had a mini heart attack and jumped up expecting to see one of my kids outside banging on the glass door. Because that's the kind of thing we do in my family. Scare the crap out of each other for fun.

Instead of one of my kids, I saw this:

That's right. A big ole hawk flew into my window. What the heck is it with these birds??? There was the mockingbird that kept me awake for months READ HERE. And there was the committee of vultures that congregated outside my classroom. Did you know a group of resting vultures is called a committee? Now you do. A flying pack of vultures is called a kettle, and a feeding group of vultures is called a wake. 

NOTE TO SELF: Stop giving random vocabulary lessons in the middle of your posts.

In short, birds creep me out!

Then, a couple days ago, when Clay opened the front door, he inadvertently let in a lizard. He let a lizard IN the house. I'm okay with lizards. They don't generally freak me out which is a good thing because there are approximately 3 anoles per square foot in this state. But when they come INSIDE . . . well, that's another matter.

Then today as I sat here once again, working hard on my book and not at all playing Words With Friends and procrastinating, I heard another thunk against the patio door. I jumped up, my heart palpitating and looked over the back of the couch expecting to see that stupid hawk again. Nope. No hawk. Instead, I saw this:

It made me remember the glitter frog that infiltrated my apartment. READ HERE.

I tell ya, it's like living in Jurassic Park down here! The wildlife is out to get me!

Wednesday, July 8, 2020

Preparing To Vacuum

I saw this on Facebook recently.

I glanced across the room to where my vacuum sat immobile. 
I had actually gotten my vacuum cleaner out a couple days prior, but it was still sitting there untouched in my family room, an avant garde decoration adorning my living space. When I first grabbed the vacuum, my kids were sleeping because, as I mentioned before, they're now nocturnal animals. I parked the vacuum intending to wait until the kids woke up before doing my chore. That was almost a week ago. Ahem.

So today I finally turned on the vacuum cleaner. I pushed it across the carpet a couple times, but it didn't seem to be picking up anything. I turned it off and set it down so I could see the roller.

Well, that would be why it isn't picking up anything. I shed more than a Siberian Husky. I truly don't know how I'm not bald. So every couple months I need to cut out all the hair that gets wrapped around this roller.

THIS is what it's SUPPOSED to look like.

This is the small wig I pulled from the roller.

And THIS is what happens when you want to start blogging again, but half your kids are grown and out of the house and the couple that are left, sleep all day so they don't provide you with nearly the amount of fodder they used to. And there's a pandemic so you don't go anywhere or do anything. And so you blog about hairy vacuums. That's where we're at. Thank you, Corona.

Tuesday, July 7, 2020

Might As Well Be Walking On The Sun

The little gym and the pool at my apartment complex have been closed since the beginning of March. When I walked up toward the office to get my mail yesterday I noticed there was a different sign on the pool. I walked over to see that it's now open with a limited capacity of 10 people at a time. Yay, I thought! I have a reason to get my lazy kids out of bed! If the pool's empty, we'll go swimming tomorrow, I planned.

So around 11:30, I opened Clay's door. "Come on! Get up, Bud! Let's go swimming!"

I was met with a grunt.

"Come on! Let's see the sun! It'll be fun! Fun in the sun!

He cracked one eye open to glare at me.

"Come on! This sleeping all day is ridiculous! Get up! Let's do SOMETHING!"

"No thanks," he dismissed me.

I weighed my options.
1.  Try to wrestle him out of bed. (He's stronger than me.)
2.  Dump a cup of water over his head to encourage him to get up. (Probably not wise to poke the bear.)
3.  Admit that he's now nocturnal, walk away, and try my hand with Brooklyn. (Check!)

I opened Brooklyn's door. "Hey baby! Let's go swimming! Come on, get up!"

Apparently I freaked her out as she jumped, her eyes flying open at the sound of my voice.

"Let's go swimming! The pool is open now. Let's get out in the sun. I'm going to put on my bathing suit and then we'll go."

She grunted, but got out of bed.

We put on our suits, grabbed some bottles of water, and walked over to the pool only to see a sign saying, "Pool closed." Wait, what? A maintenance guy walked by and I asked him, "Is the pool just closed today for cleaning or something?"

"Nope. It's closed indefinitely."

"What? I swear it was open yesterday!"

"Yeah, we just closed it again today because of the virus."

Dejected, we starting walking home. "Can I go rollerblading instead?" Brooklyn asked.

"It's like 100 degrees outside!"

"I don't care," Brooklyn insisted.

"Okay. I can walk while you skate."

So we drove over to a trail that runs near us. I told Brooklyn that she didn't need to keep pace with me; that she could go ahead and we'd meet up when we were ready to head home.

Actual footage of her skating off:


So I trudged along because
1. The most strenuous thing I've done in months is walk to the kitchen to look for chocolate.
And 2. It's roughly the temperature of the surface of the sun outside.

Basically, I leisurely strolled along while stopping periodically to take pictures because I thought I might have a heart attack if I didn't stop I LOVE photography!

I walked about a mile and a half then texted Brooklyn to let her know that I was going to turn around and head back soon.

"Do you want me to turn around and head back too?"

"Nah, if you want to skate a little farther, that's okay. If I get back to the car before you, I'll just pass out wait in the AC until you get back.

A minute after I started walking back, Brooklyn called me.

"Mom, can you pick me up? I just threw up."

"I was just going to call you and ask YOU to pick ME up. I may be dying."

"Mooom. I can't drive."

"Oh who will know? You can figure it out."


"Oh fine! Are you okay? Where are you?"

"Yeah. I'm by the post office."

"Okay, well sit down in the shade and take little sips of your water. I'll come pick you up, but it's going to take me a while to get back to the car."

I lumbered toward my car as little bugs swarmed around my face. As I futilely swatted at them, I envisioned hordes of flies teeming around animal carcasses, and briefly wondered if these bugs knew something I didn't. I did feel a little near death . . . I swished my hand around my head, attempting to shoo the bugs away, but they were now glued to my face with sweat. Lovely.

I finally made it back to my car and picked up Brooklyn.

"How are you feeling?" I asked.

"I feel better after throwing up a couple times."

"Oh yeah, puking always makes me feel better too," I returned, my voice dripping with sarcasm.

She spent the drive home arguing with me that it wasn't too hot to exercise outside, and throwing up while skating is normal. Because she's 14 and knows everything. I spent the drive home making a note to myself - don't go out skating/walking with Brooklyn again. At least not until November.

Here are the pictures I took along the trail while I was making up excuses to stop walking.


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