Thursday, September 29, 2011

When Zombies Attack

Austin’s English teacher had the kids write letters to their parents, inviting them to the school’s open house next week. The students were told to bring the letters home, get them signed by a parent, and return them to school. Austin thought that I’d be the only one reading the letter. He figured the teacher would glance at it to make sure it had been signed, and then he’d get the credit for it. He didn’t realize the teacher was going to read the letter before he got to take it home and give it to me. Yeah. This is what he wrote.

Dear Mom,

My teacher would like for me to write a letter to you saying you should go to the PTSA Open House on Tuesday, October 4th, 2011 at 6:00 at XXXXXXX High School. Note, you can’t come in 2004. We had to say it was 2011 to clear up any confusion. Also, remember this is 6:00p.m., not a.m., just in case you were wondering.

She says it’s a “good chance” for you to meet all of my teachers, and become familiar with this “school” and see what or who I have to deal with every, single day. It’s not a conference, but I don’t know if I believe that. They could be zombies trying to lure you into a trap. I don’t trust them. She says “some” teachers “might” give extra credit, but again, they might be zombies. She insists on you RSVPing by emailing her at so she knows how many people to invite for brain feasting.

Austin Meehan

That’s my son. I’m not sure how to respond to this. I keep thinking of responses, but I don’t know which I should use.

A. I’ll be attending. Dawn Meehan

B. I’ll be there, but I’m wearing my helmet. You know, just in case. Dawn Meehan

C. Dear Ms. Teacher, I’m sorry you have to deal with Austin in your class this year. I’m just so sorry. So so sorry, Dawn Meehan

Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Leave the Lipstick at the Door

I read an article on MSNBC today about how a school in England has banned the use of makeup for their 13 – 16 year old students.  Not only have they made it against school rules for girls to wear makeup, but they’ve also removed the mirrors in the bathrooms to prevent vanity.  Maybe they think that if they remove the mirrors, the girls won’t realize how they look without makeup.  According to the article, John McNally, head teacher, says, “The mirror ban is to break a cycle where social groups started to emerge in the bathroom.”  Oh my gosh, no, not social groups!  At a school?!  The horror! 

Apparently, some girls were spending so much time in front of the bathroom mirrors that they were eating lunch in there, so the school decided the mirrors must be removed.  Call me crazy, but wouldn’t it be more logical to simply keep the kids in the lunch room while they’re eating?

The article says that the school wants students to focus on more important things like learning.  Tell me, ladies, if you were banned from wearing makeup to school or work, would you be able to concentrate on learning or working more?  I personally would spend every minute of the day obsessing over how scary I look without makeup.  I guess school officials are checking each girls’ face every day for traces of makeup, and offering offenders makeup removal products.  That seems like a good use of time and resources.  If I had to check all my students for evidence of makeup, and then monitor them until they washed if off, I know I’d have plenty more time for those important things like learning.  NOT! 

I personally feel like kids should be able to express themselves.  They will have their whole lives in which to conform and try to fit in for the sake of their jobs and group affiliations.  Who cares if a teen has pink hair, a mohawk, black eyeliner, or a pierced lip?  Those things don’t distract from education as much as teachers having to take time out from their lesson plans to play dress code police.

So what do you think?  Should schools ban makeup?  “Extreme” hairstyles?  Should they insist on school uniforms?  How do you feel and why?

Monday, September 26, 2011

Easy Money

I was sick last week and, as much as I wanted to blog, I just couldn’t manage to stay awake long enough to compose a single sentence.  Every day, after getting home, helping my kids with their homework, making dinner, and getting my little ones to bed, I lay down, coughed up a lung, and passed out asleep.  I really needed the sleep.  I needed to take care of myself, but, at the same time, I stressed over the fact that I wasn’t writing.  No writing = no income.  But I’m happy to announce that I’ve now solved all my money problems!  My spam filter catches a couple dozen emails a day.  I generally just delete the whole bunch without a second glance, but today, for kicks, I decided to open one and read it.  This is what it said.
GREETINGS TO YOU, (whoever you are, you random person)
IT IS A PLEASURE TO INTRODUCE TO YOU A BUSINESS THAT WILL MAKE THE BEGINNING OF NEVER-ENDING FAMILY RELATIONSHIP AND I HOPE THIS PROPOSAL WILL NOT BE AN INCONVENIENCE OR EMBARRASSMENT TO YOU.  (It’s probably not the wisest idea to introduce a proposal with the disclaimer ‘I hope this won’t be an embarrassment to you.’  Oh, and while we’re at it, let me introduce you to the great art of punctuation.)
I AM ELIZABETH DAJU MORGAN I AM 20YEARS AND THE ONLY CHILD OF LATE DR DAJU ALFY MORGAN   WHO WAS A FAMOUS COCOA MERCHANT. (Does one need a doctorate to be a cocoa merchant?  And once again, you might want to consider using a period or a comma now and then.  Example:  Let’s eat grandma.  Let’s eat, grandma.  Punctuation:  it saves lives.)
IT WAS IN THE HOSPITAL THAT HE SECRETLY DISCLOSED TO ME THE CAUSE OF THE SICKNESS AND ALSO THAT HE DEPOSITED THE SUM OF 16.8M DOLLARS (SIXTEEN MILLION EIGHT HUNDRED THOUSAND DOLLARS). (Oh good.  Thank you for spelling that out.  I wasn’t sure what 16.8M dollars.  And let me get this straight, he told you he’d been poisoned?  If he knew his buddies were poisoning him, why did he take the poison?  He’s not a very smart guy for a doctor.)
HE THEREFORE ADVISED ME TO LOOK FOR A RELIABLE, TRUST WORTHY AND GOD-FEARING PERSON WHO WILL ASSIST ME TO TRANSFER THIS FUNDS ABROAD STRICTLY FOR INVESTMENT PURPOSES.  (And you immediately thought, ‘Hey, I’ll email some random stranger about this!’  Whenever I need someone trustworthy to help me with a multi-million dollar deal, I generally just do eenie meanie minie mo in the phone book, but the next time I’ll try random email addresses.) 
THIS IS BECAUSE HE DIDN’T WANT HIS ASSOCIATES TO RAISE AN EYEBROW ON HIS FUND. HE ALSO ADVISED US TO AVOID HIS ASSOCIATES WHO WILL BE RUNNING AFTER MY DEAR LIFE; HE FINALLY DIED IN THE HOSPITAL AFTER TWO DAYS OF ADMISSION.  (Good attempt at using a semi-colon, but maybe you should start off with something a little easier.  I really feel compelled to help you now that you mentioned his associates will be running after your dear life.)
I AM SOLICITING FOR YOUR ASSISTANCE TO TRANSFER THE $16.8M INTO YOUR ACCOUNT FOR AN INVESTMENT PURPOSES OVER THERE IN YOUR COUNTRY. I HOPE TO TRAVEL WITH YOU TO YOUR COUNTRY AFTER A SUCCESSFUL TRANSFER OF THIS FUND.  (You want to travel with me to my {insert name of country here}?  How are we going to travel together to my country when I’m already in my country?  Oh I know!  I’ll fly to Africa and then we can meet up and fly back to the U.S. together!  It’s a date!)
THE CONTACT OF THE BANK WILL BE GIVEN TO YOU AS SOON AS YOU SHOW YOUR INTEREST AND WILLINGNESS TO ME.  (I’m interested!  I’m willing!  I mean, it’s a win/win situation, right?  Free money for me!)
MAY I STRONGLY RE-EMPHASIZE THAT THIS TRANSACTION IS HIGHLY CONFIDENTIAL, HITCH FREE AND THIS WILL BE SUCCESSFULLY CONCLUDED WITHIN 10 DAYS ACCORDING TO YOUR EFFORTS.  (Oh yeah, hitch-free!  I’m confident this isn’t a scam.  In ten days, I’ll be the proud recipient of 1,680,000!  Then I won’t have to stress out when I’m too tired or sick to blog.  Hallelujah!) 
(Is this where I write my name, address, social security number, and bank information?)

Sunday, September 25, 2011

Sunday Sound Out

From Orlando, where it's still a thousand degrees in the shade, it's your host, the woman whose son brought a snake in the house to show her, and who lived to tell the tale, Dawn Damalas Meehan!

This past week kicked my butt. I was so tired every night, I just didn't have it in me to blog. Not to mention the fact that there's not much to blog about when the only thing you do is go to work, then come home, clean up, and go to bed. Although I suppose I could've blogged about the morning I dumped a whole cup of coffee in my shoe. I didn't really care about the squishiness of my shoe, but I really, really wanted that cup of coffee. I was ashamedly tempted to slurp it out of my clog. Instead, I just slipped my foot in there and hoped I'd get a little caffeine through osmosis.

Anyway, here are the answers to this week's questions.

Dawn, Do you realize that counting up A’s, B’s, C’s etc. is a “mathy” thing? So, you do do “math!” You added the positive and subtracted the negative.
Ugh, don't remind me. I've done more math in the last month than I ever did in my entire school career! The students in my class need help with math way more than any other subject. And my eyes still bleed every time I see a new type of problem.

So Dawn, After a day helping kids with homework, what does that job feel like at home? Have you learned any tricks to get the job done there too? Keep up the good work!
Oh my gosh, it's a piece of cake! I have a whole new perspective on helping my kids with their homework. Even if they struggle with something, they're still eager to try. Too many of my students don't try and don't seem to care at all which is frustrating.

That is so LoL funny!!!! Did you laugh when you read it? [Clay's note about pooping] I can’t wait to show my kids this post- I know my 8 yr old son will especially find this hilarious!!!
I laugh at most everything Clayton says and does. That kid cracks me up regularly. It's hard being strict with him when half the time, I'm trying to choke back a laugh.

I call it “doing research” when I creep on facebook pages!! :-)
Research... that's good. My kids know that I regularly creep on, er, um, research their pages. The deal is that they have to friend me if they want to have an account. Besides, creeping on my kids pages is a good way to keep up with the latest slang and teen stuff.

Ahahaha! You still take your kids shopping? Do they still try to sneak Pokemon cards into the cart?

I try to avoid it at all costs, but yeah, they're often with me. Sometimes they try to sneak chocolate or cookies into my cart, but really, why on earth would I remove those items?

So this is what I havein store?! My 4 year old told me that if I ever have a vampire up my butt (?!?!), I need to go poop him out.
Oh yes, that's classic advice, to be sure. I told Clay what your four-year-old said, expecting him to laugh, but instead, he looked thoughtful and after a beat, said, "I would just reach in and grab the vampire out. Then I'd let him bite me so I could be a poop vampire." Yeah. This is what I live with.

Just one question, if Austin and Savannah have to take the bus at the ungodly hour of 6:15 — how early do you all guys have to get up, even if you skip showering, brushing your teeth, combing your hair, coffee…?
I'm not sure what time Savannah gets up, but she generally wakes Austin up 5 minutes before they leave for the bus. I set my alarm for 6:00, but generally play Snoozopoly until 6:30 at which point I wake up the little kids and make some coffee. I bring my cup of wake-up juice in the shower with me because I'm an amazing multi-tasker like that. I always shave my legs because I have an unnatural obsession with it. Oh, except for the other day when I only shaved one leg because apparently I can't be trusted with such complex tasks so early in the morning. Then, after we're dressed and fed, we all hit the road around 7:30. I drop off my littles and head on in to work.

Do you know that in some pictures Savannah is such a look-alike to the crown princess of Sweden? (completely not-interesting comment, I know…)
Oh yes, they're the spitting image of each other.

Victoria, princess of Sweden with a crown on her head. (Image: AFP)

Savannah, ordinary girl in Orlando with a monkey on her head.

So have you gotten used to Savannah driving yet?
Does it count if I still put my foot through the floor and clutch the dashboard? If not, then yes, yes, I'm used to her driving.

Did you buy the [BFF] bracelets? and will Austin wear it?
Sure, he wears it right next to his "I love my mom" bracelet. All the kids at school are jealous of that one.

I can’t believe how much you and Savannah look alike in that picture. So cute!
So technically, this means I look like a princess too! ;)

The Best Way to Camp

Over the years, my family has done a lot of camping. We used to load up our camper and join our best friends for a weekend of roughing it several times each summer. I loved time spent with family and friends. There's something to be said for unplugging and just hanging out without any work, school, sports, activities, or deadlines getting in the way. However, as much as I loved the uninterrupted time with my family, I really hated the "roughing it" part. Who wants to sleep out in the wilderness with no air conditioning? Who wants to get mosquito bites on top of mosquito bites? Who wants to cook like a pioneer? Crazy people, that's who!

So, my family now does this kind of camping. I still get to relax in the air conditioning, microwave a snack, and watch TV, while my kids get to sleep in a tent. It's all good.

On the new Subway site, Fresh Takes on Family Time, there's a good article on the benefits of camping in your backyard. Check it out! And while you're there, click the "tell your story" tab on top to submit your own story of fresh takes on family time! You'll be entered to win a $50 gift card from Subway, PLUS, every month, one family will have their story made into a video which will be featured on the site! Fun!

Monday, September 19, 2011

Subway Fresh Takes

Now that I'm working full-time, dinnertime with my kids, which has always been important to me, has become even more so. So, when Subway asked me if I'd be interested in partnering with them to talk about their new website featuring fresh takes on family traditions centering around the dinner table, I was really excited! Dinner is a time I look forward to every day. It's not because I love cooking (believe me!), but because I love hanging out with my kids and hearing all about their days. Especially now that I'm working and am no longer home to greet my kids when they get off the bus, I love sitting down to a meal where we can all relax, talk about our days, and inevitably be umm, entertained by Clay's songs about poop. (What can I say? He's a seven-year-old boy.)

Anyway, Subway's new Fresh Takes on Family Time site is full of cute stories, videos, tips, and ideas for enjoying that precious time with your own family. Subway even encourages you to share your own stories with other families who might benefit from your ideas. In fact, here's
a cute idea for saying goodbye to summer. From what I understand, summer is over. I wouldn't know it, living in Orlando where every day is still in the 90s. But from what I hear, some parts of the country have already fired up their furnaces and bid a fond farewell to the lazy days of summer. Go check out the site, look around and let me know what you think. In the coming months, there will be more seasonal videos and stories to make sure you never run out of fun ideas for spending time with your family. Enjoy!

Sunday, September 18, 2011

Separated by a Common Language

I love learning about other cultures.  I’m so fortunate to have readers from all over the world and they’ve generously shared post cards, letters, pictures, souvenirs, and other great items and information about their homelands over the years.  I think it’s so cool how people in other areas of the world have such different traditions, clothing, housing, ideas, food, etc..  When I was at Target the other day, I took many pictures of some interesting English foods.  I think it’s especially strange how a country that speaks the same language, can have such differences.  For example, apparently “pudding” does not mean the same thing in the U.K. as it does in the U.S.

So, here are a few of the pictures I took.  Maybe I should take a trip to England (at Epcot) and try to figure out what all this is.  Or, better yet, maybe my English readers can explain these products to me.  Please?  Leave me a comment and tell me about these or any other English foods are.  What’s good?  What isn’t?  What are your favorite foods?  What American foods do you not understand? But please, for the love of God, do not offer to send me any samples of Marmite.  Thank you so very much, but no thank you.  Oh yeah, and if you happen to know the guy who posed for the porage oats package, send him my way!

Yorkshire Puddings
This is Yorkshire Pudding?!? I know what pudding is (thanks to Bill Cosby) and this is not it. This is a biscuit! I thought Yorkshire Pudding was a dessert, not something served with meat and potatoes!

What makes this product different from a cookie? Easy! It tastes great with yogurt!

Porage Oats
Hmmm, wait a minute! No fair! We have a picture of an old Quaker guy on our oatmeal! I want a picture of a muscly Scottish dude! I mean, really, what else says "breakfast cereal" better than a guy in a skirt with a shot put?

In this country, "flapjacks" is just another word for "pancakes". This stuff looks like pumpernickel bread! Maybe because it has ingredients I've never heard of?

Jammie Dodgers
Oooo, oooo, I've heard of these! Oh wait, no, no, it was just the name of the mouse's boat on Flushed Away. (Note to self: stop watching so much kid tv!)

Custard Powder
Ahh yes, custard. An ingredient in a traditional English trifle. It's Joey's favorite. "Custard good, jam good, meat goooood!"

This looks very much like the Australian treat - Vegemite. For those of you who don't know, Vegemite tastes like evil in a jar.

Steamed Puddings
So, basically "pudding" means anything but "pudding".

Kipper Fillets
Mmmm, how can you go wrong with disgusting little fish in a can? And, just so you know, Kipper is also the name of a cartoon dog with an English accent.

Cadbury Digestive
Now why would the English take something as wonderful as a cookie and name it "digestive"? It makes one think that these are Pepto Bismal flavored. Ew.

Traditional Onions
Well, I suppose these could come in handy in a martini. A very large martini. A martini served in a fish bowl.

Turkish Delight
I thought this was a fictitious treat from the Chronicles of Narnia. (This is the third mention of a child's show. Reread your note to self, Dawn!)

Wine Gums
I like wine. And gum. And it's good to know these are proper sweets. You know, as opposed to the improper kind.

The package doesn't really say what these are, so I can only assume it's penguin meat. Penguin: the other OTHER white meat (and the perfect tea time treat!)

This appears to be some sort of ground-up veggie paste. I think it's just fun to say. Piccalilli, piccalilli, piccalilli . . .

Fiery Ginger Beer
I'm thinking root beer, gingerale, and hot sauce. Refreshing. (Don't forget the tums.)

Devon Custard
Custard in a can? Do you think this is really custard? Or do you think it's like pudding that isn't really pudding? Or penguin?

Campbell's Winner!

Thank you to everyone who commented on the Campbell's V8 VFusion giveaway! The randomly chosen winner is -

MAW said...
I want to try this bread, but budget is tight, so I haven't been able to justify the extra expense. Would be awesome to win it though!

Congratulations! Email me at with your shipping details so we can get your lunch kit sent out to you right away!

Thursday, September 15, 2011

A Few Moments Earlier

I limped down the hallway toward my classroom, my arms laden with bags, the keys around my neck jangling and reverberating off the walls with every painful step. I opened the door to my room, dropped my bags on the floor, and collapsed into the chair behind my desk.

A few moments earlier, I pulled into the parking lot and quickly realized it was full. I drove past my regular spot and kept driving and driving until I found a free space. Ordinarily, I wouldn’t have thought twice about the walk from the farthest reaches of the parking lot to the front door. But today? Well, I looked at the clock in my car and sighed. I was so late which explained the full parking lot. And the full parking lot? Well, that was going to make me even later. I grimaced as I hopped down from my van and pain shot through my foot and up my leg.
A few moments earlier, I said goodbye to Austin and Lexi and paused by the front door, debating if I’d be a horrible mother if I left, or if I’d be horrible employee if I didn’t. Even though I’d told them a dozen times, I reminded them once more, “Call or text me if you need anything. I’ll leave work right away.” Then, for the thirtieth time, “Are you sure you guys feel okay?” After being reassured one last time, I reluctantly closed the door, made my way out to my car, and began my commute to work.
A few moments earlier, I pulled up in front of the high school as Austin came walking out to my car. “Are you okay?” I asked as soon as he opened the door.
“Yeah, I feel fine now. I know why it happened,” he explained. “We were watching a movie in anatomy and they were doing surgery and pulling this guy’s nerves out and attaching them to wires.”
“So, basically, a future in medicine is out of the question,” I joked.  “Are you sure you’re okay? You haven’t eaten anything today, have you?”
“You look all right now,” I assured him.
A few moments earlier, I woke up Lexi who was asleep in my bed, a washcloth draped across her forehead. “How are you feeling now? Is your headache gone?”
“My head is a little better,” she murmured, “but my stomach still hurts. I don’t feel good.”
“I need to go pick up Austin from school, honey. Are you okay just lying here for a few minutes while I get him?”
Lexi said she was fine as she closed her eyes and rolled over in my bed.
A few moments earlier, the phone rang. “Hello?” I answered.
“Hi, Ms. Meehan? This is the high school. Your son, Austin, passed out in class, fell out of his desk, and hit his head on the floor.”
“Oh my gosh, is he okay?” I asked. The person on the other end of the line informed me that I really needed to pick him up because “he looks okay now, but students don’t usually pass out in school.”
How lucky that I was still home. If today had been a normal day, I’d have been at work a long time ago.
A few moments earlier, I heard someone run to the bathroom upstairs. I hobbled up the stairs and found Lexi hunched over the toilet, throwing up yet again. “Poor baby. Your head still hurts,” I sympathetically stated the obvious. “Go lie back down and try to get some sleep,” I encouraged.
A few moments earlier, I realized Brooklyn had left her picture order envelope sitting on the table. Today was school picture day so I grabbed the envelope and headed to the grade school to drop it off. When I got there, there was one parking space left. I had to parallel park between two other cars. After ten minutes of trying to wedge my giant van into the space, I gave up, parked like a drunken money, and limped my way into the school.
A few moments earlier, I stood, stooped over, clutching the kitchen sink for support as pain shot through my foot, up my leg, and radiated through my entire body. Why is the pain so bad when you hurt your toe? I looked at the jar of spaghetti sauce that had come to rest next to the island. I rejoiced that my toe had broken its fall and kept it from shattering all over the kitchen. Then I wondered what was wrong with me for being happy that I’d broken my toe. Surely, it would be preferable to clean spaghetti sauce out of every nook and cranny for the next five years.
A few moments earlier, I resigned myself to missing first period at least. I figured I might as well get dinner going since I couldn’t leave for work yet. I pulled out the package of chicken that had been thawing in my fridge. It left a puddle of chicken goo in its wake. The refrigerator shelf was covered in grossness. I started pulling out the shelf so I could thoroughly wash it. Almost in slow motion, I saw a jar of spaghetti sauce roll off the shelf and out the door.
A few moments earlier, I heard Lexi throwing up. Again. I briefly comforted her, got her back to bed, and drove Clay and Brooklyn to school. I rushed home, knowing Lexi wasn’t going to wake up and be fine in a few minutes. We were too late getting her medicine and I knew she was going to vomit and have headache pain for several more hours.
A few moments earlier, as I slapped some makeup on my face, Lexi ran past me to my bathroom and threw up. Ugh, I thought.  This isn’t a good sign.  I grabbed my phone and texted the secretary at school, letting her know there was a possibility I’d miss my first period class.
A few moments earlier, I was awoken from a sound sleep by the sound of sobbing.  I shook my head to clear the fog and realized that Lexi was standing next to my bed, crying that her head hurt. I turned toward my nightstand and tried to make my eyes focus.  I made out the numbers on my clock – 5:15.  Oh no, I thought.  Not another headache!  I hopped out of bed and reached for the Motrin.  After giving Lexi a dose, I urged her to lie back down and get some more sleep.  I stumbled back to bed myself, but couldn’t fall asleep because my stomach was in a knot, afraid that I’d have to go into work late.  Again.
Which brings us up to speed.  My toe has turned a variety of fun colors and walking is really difficult.  Austin is doing just fine; he just can’t watch surgery videos on an empty stomach.  Lexi’s headache finally went away after another bout of vomiting and another dose of medicine.  And I haven’t been fired. Yet.

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

Sometimes You Need a Little Flip

I’m generally a “glass is half-full” kind of person.  I see the bright side of any situation without too much effort; it comes naturally.  I like other ”glass is half-full” kind of people.  I tend to gravitate toward them because, well, who doesn’t like hanging around upbeat, positive people?  Then there are those “glass is half-empty” folks.  People who focus on the negative bum me out.  I avoid them if possible.  And finally, there are those people whose attitude is more like, the glass is half-empty.  No, actually, it’s more like 2/3 empty.  I don’t think you could call it half-empty.  That’s not right.  It’s more than half empty.  And this glass is dirty.  There are water marks all over it.  A glass like this should really be washed by hand.  And, come to think of it, this glass is outdated.  It doesn’t really go with my plates.  Great, now I have to find new glasses that go with my plates.  Or I need to find new plates.  And you know how long that will take me!  It took me over an year to find these glasses!  Fabulous!  Now my day is ruined!  RUINED, I tell ya!  Not that I know of anyone personally who fits this description, ahem.

Anyway, as I said, I’m definitely a glass is half-full kind of person (not that I don’t have moments now and then where I feel hopeless.  I am human, after all.) and that’s generally how I view life.  With this new job, however, I’ve been feeling like I’m fighting a losing battle.  For every piece of homework I get these kids to do, it seems like three more past-due assignments pile up.  It’s frustrating, to say the least.  I do have some students who are a little slow to grasp concepts, but they want to learn and they want to do well.  I really like helping them.  I love when something clicks in their heads and they suddenly “get it”.  You can see their faces light up.  It’s pretty cool.

Then there are those kids who are disinterested at best, and more often downright mad that they have to be at school.  They don’t seem to care about homework, grades, or much of anything.  Those are the ones who frustrate me to no end.  So, yesterday, I realized that about half of my students have at least one F.  I left school, feeling like a failure.  I mean, wasn’t I there to prevent the kids from failing?  If half the kids have an F, then the only failure there is me, right?  That’s how I felt yesterday.

Today, however, I realized my attitude sucked.  That’s not me.  I don’t get down in situations like this; I get tough.  I don’t curl up in a ball and say that I’m a failure; I work harder and I flip that attitude until I see things in a more positive light.  Determined to change my attitude today, I added up all my students’ grades.  They have 64 As, 50 Bs, and 35 Cs.  Yeah, there are 19 Fs, but look at all those fabulous grades!  Talk about a paradigm shift!  I have to believe that it’s partly due to my help.  I do think there would be fewer As and more Fs if I wasn’t keeping on some of these kids to do their work. 

It wasn’t just the grades that made me flip my attitude and see things in a more positive light.  I have one period of 8th grade boys.  These guys can be disrespectful, beligerent, and obnoxious.  They talk tough and get up in each other’s faces every day.  For the most part, it seems like they don’t care much about school at all.  This morning, a couple of them came up and thanked me for being their “homework helper person who makes them do stuff for their own good”.  After the shock wore off and I came to, I smiled.  THAT was pretty cool.

Sunday, September 11, 2011

Check Yes or No

I thought about writing a post commemorating 9/11, but it just made me sad, and I don’t do sad.  And really, every venue has thoroughly covered the topic this weekend, so I didn’t think anyone needed to read one more from me.  So, instead, I’m writing about communicating with your kids.  I’ve written about the importance of communicating with your kids many times over the years.  It’s important to make the time to talk with your kids, starting when they’re babies.  Talk to them, listen to them, and keep those lines open, ensuring them that they can come to you with any problem, at any time.

Earlier this week, I wrote about how my teenage son and I kept in touch via texting HERE.  Today, my seven-year-old son, Clay, found a creative way to get my attention so he could ask me a question; a question of the utmost importance.  It was so important, in fact, that he simply couldn’t go to sleep until I’d answered him.

As I sat on the couch, laptop in hand, working on something crucial like creeping on my kids’ Facebook pages, I heard Clay (who was supposed to be in bed) lurking around the stairway. Being a considerate, loving mother, I called out to Clay, “Get your butt back in bed before I have to kill you.” (It’s important to always say what you mean, mean what you say, and avoid making idle threats.) Before I’d finished my sentence, a paper plane whizzed past my head.

I grabbed the plane, ready to chase Clay around the house until he got back in bed when I noticed writing on the plane. I carefully unfolded the paper and read.

DSC 00491 685x1024 Check Yes or No

Ahhhh, so this was why he couldn’t sleep. I mean, who could possibly fall asleep with such a burning question on their mind? To poop or not to poop? He needed to know whether his mom liked pooping before he could settle himself down to sleep. He was so eager for an answer that he actually included a pencil taped inside the paper plane so I could answer by circling yes or no immediately and send the plane on its outbound flight back to Clay’s room.

It doesn’t matter if you and your kids all pile on your bed and talk about the things you all miss about Chicago, or if you sit around the dinner table, laughing about the funny things that happened at school, or if you send your teen a monkey text, or if you fly a paper airplane note to your poop-obsessed son.  It’s all communicating.  It all counts.  It all lays the foundation for more serious talks, like What did your poop look like today?

Quaker Chewy Winner!

Thank you to everyone who participated in the Quaker Chewy Superstar Search! I can't wait to find out who the winner is!

But the random winner of the giveaway is - Sasha! Congratulations! Contact me at with your shipping details so we can get your prize sent to you right away.

Saturday, September 10, 2011

Campbell's Lunch Kit Giveaway!

I've done several giveaways for Campbell's over the years because I love their products. Here are some more cool offerings from Campbell's!

V8 VFusion is my family's absolute favorite juice! There's nothing artificial in V8 VFusion. It's made from fruit and vegetables, but tastes just like delicious fruit juice. It's a great way ensure your kids get enough fruit and vegetables every day. Now, there's a new VFusion flavor, Concord Grape Raspberry, and it comes in 8 oz. slim cans, perfect for your child's lunchbox.

And I love the new Pepperidge Farm Goldfish bread! It's too cute! Your kids will flip when they open their lunch bag and see their favorite sandwich made on adorable, goldfish shaped bread! It comes in 100% whole wheat, honey whole wheat, and white bread for the lunch that smiles back. :)

I have a great back-to-school lunch kit for one lucky reader. The kit includes:

* A six-pack of V8 V-Fusion Concord Grape Raspberry 8 ounce cans
* A green lunch tote
* Reusable Velcro bags, the perfect item for keeping sandwiches and snacks fresh
* Branded cards for moms to include notes for their children to read at lunch
* Branded grocery list notepads so moms can remember to pick up Concord Grape Raspberry slim cans on their next trip to the supermarket
* $25 Wal-Mart gift card
* A coupon for one free V8 V-Fusion, V8 V-Fusion Light or V8 V-Fusion + Tea beverage (46 ounce or 8 ounce 6 pack)
* A pack of NEW Goldfish sandwich bread from Pepperidge Farm, the perfect item to turn a boring sandwich into an exciting lunch item

To enter for a chance to win this fabulous lunch kit, leave me a comment here (include contact information). For another chance to win, tweet about this contest, linking here, then come back and leave me another comment, linking to your tweet. For yet another chance to win, share a link to this contest on your Facebook wall, then come back here and leave me another comment, linking to your Facebook post. Contest open to U.S. residents. I'll choose a random winner on Wednesday, September 14. Good luck!

I received a lunch kit from Campbell's to sample the new products before writing about them.

Wednesday, September 7, 2011

Just Ten More Minutes

I hit the snooze button four times this morning. Do you know what that means?! Let me put it this way – the first few days of school, I sprang out of bed when my alarm went off at 6:00, excited to go to school and make a difference in the lives of young, impressionable tweens and teens. By the end of the first week, I began to hit the snooze button. Just once, mind you. I wasn’t trying to escape the responsibility of work; just prolong the getting-out-of-bed part for a couple minutes. At the start of the second week, I was up to two hits of the snooze button. Who could blame me? I mean, it was still dark outside, for crying out loud! What kind of crazy people are up and about at that hour? Vampires racing home to their coffins, that’s who. Normal people are still in bed. But by the end of the second week, I was up to three hits of the ole snooze button. Still, I told myself it was no big deal. I wasn’t addicted to the snooze button or anything. I could stop at any time if I wanted to.
Now today, after hitting the snooze four times, then sort of flopping myself over the side of my bed like a half-dead fish, and crawling to the bathroom, I’m a little concerned. What’s next? Maybe tomorrow I’ll decide I can forgo my shower in order to have that fifth hit. Then what? Six hits and not enough time to brush my hair? Maybe seven or eight hits, then driving to work in my pajamas with the grand plan of convincing the principal to institute Really Casual Tuesdays?
I can just see it now. Next week, after hitting my snooze twenty-three times, stumbling to my car, unshowered, undressed, unbrushed, uncoiffed, and uncaffeinated, and driving to school in a daze, I’ll make it to my classroom forty minutes late where my students will be engaged in some sort of WWE smackdown sitting quietly and studying. Or maybe I’ll be surrounded by fellow teachers who approach me in an eerily calm way, saying, “Dawn, you know we love you and want what’s best for you. Your snooze habit is getting out of control. It’s affecting your work, your family, your um, sniff sniff, hygeine.
I think I had this vision of being an awesome, supportive person who would make a difference in some kids’ lives. Maybe all new educators go into it, naively thinking they can change the world. Some teachers, I’m sure, continue to believe they can make a difference (and those are the ones who undoubtedly do) while others get jaded and cynical over time, wondering why they even bother. In the matter of two and a half weeks, I already had doubts creeping in, thinking it was futile and I’d never be able to help even a single kid. That, coupled with my abhorence of mornings, has been making me hit the snooze.
And then today, a teacher sent out an email with a link to this article in the Opinion section of the Times by Charles Blow who recounts how one teacher made a huge difference in his life. It’s an inspiring article that’s well worth the read, especially for educators. And it reframed my thinking. We’re all here for a reason. I’m in Florida now and working at a school for a reason. We all have talents and abilities and it’s our responsibility and privilege to share them with the world. We all have the ability to make a difference in someone’s life every day, teacher or not.
So, tomorrow I plan on springing out of bed and humming cheerily on my way to work. Oh, who am I kidding? I’ll probably still hit the snooze, but this time it will simply be because of my aversion to all things morning-related, and not dread for the day ahead of me.
How are you going to make a difference today?

Monday, September 5, 2011

This is How Monkeys Text

The kids and I watched the movie Rio a couple nights ago.  At one point in the movie, a monkey received a text from another monkey.  It read Ooo ooo aah aah :(|) For some reason, this struck me as hilarious.  (What can I say, I don’t get out much.  My kids have warped my mind.  I was tired.)  I, being the completely mature, responsible adult that I am, immediately texted Austin Ooo ooo aah aah :(|)
On the couch next to me, Austin heard his phone buzz, looked at it, then turned to me.  “Really Mom?  Really?” was his not-so-amused response.  Seeing his deadpan face made me laugh even more.  I nearly fell off the couch laughing like some sort of maniac.  (Yes, I’m aware that normal parents don’t snort and pee their pants after sending a monkey text to their kid. I’m just special that way.)
Then I believe Austin said something along these lines.  ”Turn off your phone, Mom.  Just turn it off.”
So, naturally, every time Savannah and I ran out to the store this weekend, I felt the need to text Austin repeatedly, updating him on our every move while we were out. Wasn’t that thoughtful of me?  I thought so too!  See my running commentary for yourself . . .

Hey Austin, we’re on our way to the hardware store! Look! There’s a truck next to us. It has big tires.

Hey Austin! We’re at Lowes now.

This is a giant battery. I don’t think it works though. Want me to try it?

We just saw some chick smoking a pink cigarette. There’s a guy in a hat in this car. He looked at us like we were weird when we snapped his picture.

Savannah’s driving today. We’re listening to Michael Jackson hee hee hee. (You have to sing the “hee hee hee” part while grabbing your crotch to get the full effect.)

Guess what! Jackson’s a pirate!

Mmmmm, chocolate!

This guy looks like Uncle Sam’s dad, doesn’t he? He also has a little captain in him.

There are 3 busloads of Japanese students at Target. Teach me how to say, “Hello there, fine, young Japanese students. Welcome to the lovely state of Florida. The cheese is on sale in aisle 2.”

Look at Savannah’s parking job. Could she have gotten any closer to the line?

Savannah told me to get this to wear to school. What do you think? I think she looks like a dancing queen. See that girl, watch that scene, diggin' the dancing queen! Come on Austin, let's do the hustle!

I’m getting us these bracelets, okay? Then we can be BFFs. That means Best Friends Forever! See you soon, BEST FRIEND! :)

Then Austin finally texted me back. "I would tell you to turn off your phone because your texts are annoying, but when I open them to read them, I see your caller ID pic which makes me LOL. Remember when we were sitting in your room, hanging out and talking the other night? I took a picture while you were yawning. It looks like you’re rage-texting though. Ha!"

That was my last text to him. At least until I can confiscate his phone and replace that picture! ;)

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