Sunday, October 28, 2012

It Started with a Rug

I've become obsessed with decorating and it all started with an area rug. I saw this rug at Home Depot and decided it would look nice in my house. I liked the burgandy in this rug and arrived at the conclusion that I must put touches of burgandy throughout my house. The burgandy curtains in my kitchen were not nearly enough, so I got some wine-colored paint.


008 300x200 It Started with a Rug

And oooo, if I have wine-colored paint on the walls, then I should probably have a wine theme in my kitchen! How about this lovely picture?

001 200x300 It Started with a Rug

But that’s not enough, oh no! I need some dark green to set of that red wine color. Oooo, and maybe a neutral tan too! I could paint some of the walls tan and put some ivy up here by the wine bottles!  Ooo, ooo, ooo, and lights!  Yes! Little Christmas lights will make this look so cool!

012 300x77 It Started with a Rug

Oh, but I should probably carry over this wine color into my family room too. That will tie it all together.  And it will look nice with my tan curtains against the burgandy wall. Yes!

I’m on a mission and I can’t seem to stop. What started as a nice area rug to add a little color in my house has turned into a never-ending redecorating project! Home Depot has this great article on their website on how to choose flooring for your home. It’s really helpful! Now they just need to add an article on how to stop redecorating. Seriously though, the area rug adds a really nice splash of color in my family room. I was able to inexpensively transform my family room and kitchen (that connects) with an area rug, a gallon of paint, a couple pictures, and a strand of ivy. I love the way these rooms look now! And it all started with a rug.

A big thanks to The Home Depot for sponsoring this campaign. Click here to see more of the discussion.


Wednesday, October 24, 2012

The One in Which I'm Mistaken for a Homeless Mental Patient

This week kicked off the start of Red Ribbon week at my school. Red Ribbon week is the time of year when we celebrate being drug-free. Each day there's a different theme. For example, there's Red Ribbon Day when students, staff and faculty wear red. There's Friends Don't Let Friends Do Drugs Day when students, staff and faculty dress like twins with another friend. And then there's Drugs and I Don't Mix Day when we wear mismatched clothes that don't mix (aka Wacky Tacky Day). Today was Wacky Tacky Day. Being a fun staffulty member, I of course, participated. The only problem? I forgot I had a doctor's appointment before school.

I got ready for work, headed to my car, then had a Marge Simpson moment as my hair smacked into the roof of my van.  (I got my hair that tall by placing a small Gatorade bottle on my head, then wrapping my hair around it, and rubber banding it at the top.) I had to drive to the office with my head tilted back a bit. Still, every time I moved, my hair scraped against the top of my van, jamming the bottle into my scalp. I stopped at a red light and without thinking, glanced over at the car next to me. The guy in the car looked at me, then turned away, only to whip his back around in a classic double-take. I debated whether I should laugh, pull out my camera to capture his expression, or open my window to explain my appearance to him. I opted to turn away and pretend to be invisible. I’m pretty sure the whole ‘willing myself to be invisible’ thing would’ve worked, but the light changed to green and I floored it gently accelerated toward the doctor’s office.

Could my appointment be located in a small office off the beaten path? Oh heck no. Nope, this doctor’s office is located inside the hospital. Through the lobby. Down the hall. Up the elevator. On the fourth floor. I found a parking space, took a deep breath, and started walking. ‘Maybe people won’t notice me’, I foolishly optimistically thought to myself.

A mom and her daughter were walking down the aisle toward me. I quickly put my phone to my ear and pretended to have a conversation. I have no idea why I did that. I guess I thought it would make me look more normal if I was talking on the phone. You know, like I had actual friends to talk to. I suppose it doesn’t make you more normal if you’re only pretend-talking to imaginary people on the phone though. I didn’t hear what the little girl said, but I heard the mom clearly. She leaned toward her daughter and explained, “I don’t know, honey. Some people just don’t know how to dress.” 

I considered turning around, chasing them down, and explaining Wacky Tacky Day to them, but if someone who looked like I did today ran after me while having fake conversations on a phone, I’d probably get out the pepper spray. I entered the hospital lobby.

I get my blood drawn at this hospital every two weeks. The lobby is usually fairly empty. There are a couple volunteers at a desk, a person at registration, a person at the Starbucks counter, and less than half a dozen people sitting in chairs on any given day. Except today. Tables were set up in every spare inch of the lobby. Upon them were jewelry, bags, and other craft show type items. Apparently they were having a shopping/fundraising kind of event and everyone in Florida, Georgia, and Alabama was there.

Have you ever seen a movie wherein a character enters a room and everyone stops and stares? The music comes to a screeching halt, people drop things, jaws fall open. Crickets can be heard chirping in the background. Incredulous looks on speechless faces surrounded me. I imagined calling out to everyone within earshot, “Ladies and gentlemen, I’m from the Central Florida Theater and I’m inviting you all to our production of (Oh crap, think fast! What plays are popular? Jersey Boys? Chicago? Wicked?) um, The Lion King! (Stupid! You don’t look like a lion or a wilderbeest!) I mean, Hair! Come see our new production of Hair! Tickets go on sale today!” (I wonder if there really is a Central Florida Theater. They’re going to wonder what’s going on when people start calling, asking them for Lion King tickets.)

Thankfully, I quickly headed toward the information desk before those thoughts in my head could translate to words that would spill out of my mouth and make me look even more deranged than I already did.

I got in the elevator and pushed the button for the fourth floor, but before the door closed, two other people got on. The one man politely turned away. The woman with the walker, however, openly stared. I explained, “It’s Wacky Tacky Day at my school.” She continued staring. “We’re supposed to dress all tacky.” She looked at me blankly. “I work at a school and this is just a fun day for the kids to dress silly,” I further explained. Blank stare. I took a breath. “I’m a clown and I’m going to visit a sick child.”

“Ohhhhh,” the woman nodded in understanding.

When I got to the office, I loudly explained to the receptionist so that everyone in the southeast United States waiting room could hear. “It’s Wacky Tacky Day at my school. I don’t always dress this way.” The nurse complimented me on my eyeshadow. “It’s a very pretty color on you,” she said.

“Are you blind?! I look like Mimi from Drew Carey!” I screamed. “Thank you,” I mumbled.

After seeing the doctor (which is a whole other blog post because he’s a serious wackadoo), I headed toward the elevator again. There were two people in there already. To their credit, they didn’t run out. Or direct me to the mental health unit. The one asked, “Is it Dress Weird at Work Day?” 

“Yes!” I replied, relieved. “It’s Wacky Tacky Day at the school where I work!” The other woman admitted, “I didn’t want to ask because I wasn’t sure. I thought maybe that’s just the way you dress.” Fabulous. I look like the sort of person who dresses like a mentally unstable hobo on purpose. I hastily made my way out of the hospital and to my car, staring down at my shoes, refusing to make eye contact with anyone the whole time.

The kids at school thought it was great though and by the time school was over and I had to pick up my own kiddos from day care, I was feeling like I belonged on a Paris runway and not in a special room with padded walls. I walked into my kids’ school, head held high, and smiled at everyone.

“Oh cute! Was it Wacky Tacky Day at your school today?” another parent asked.

I looked at her blankly. “No,” I said innocently. “People have been asking me that all day though. I have no idea why.” Her eyes got as big as saucers and she struggled to find the right words as she tried to ascertain if I was being sarcastic or not. I smiled and winked. Then I grabbed my kids and headed home, not caring who saw me or what they thought.

I highly recommend you dress up in your own wackiest, tackiest outfit and go out in public. It’s a great lesson in self-esteem! If you feel good about who you are (who you really are inside and not just how you look on the outside), it shouldn’t matter what anyone else thinks. You know who you are and even if you look like a homeless, color-blind, mental patient, you can go about your day with a smile on your face!

Monday, October 22, 2012

Mid-Year Resolutions aka: Making Peace with my Inadequacy

Okay, so I guess it’s not technically “mid-year”, but “a-little-more-than-three-quarters-of-a-year resolutions” just doesn’t have the same ring. And maybe it’s against the rules to make resolutions at any time other than January 1st. But since I’m a rule breaker anyway, I figure you can make resolutions in October and call them “mid-year resolutions.” So here are my sorta, but not quite, mid-year resolutions.

I resolve to:

1. stop sending Brooklyn to school looking like a character out of Annie or Oliver Twist. I vow to check her outfits and fix her hair each morning before the school staff organizes a fund-raiser for us to buy her some matching clothes and a comb.

2. stay awake long enough to wash off my makeup before going to bed so I don’t scare myself when I look in the mirror each morning and see mascara-smeared raccoon eyes.

3. never feed my kids frozen chicken nuggets, feed my kids frozen chicken nuggets no more than once a month, feed my kids frozen chicken nuggets no more than three times a week.

4. call my kids by their actual names. No longer will I call out, “AuSavaJacksWhoeverYouAre”!

5. get caught up on laundry.

6. start waking up at 4:00am so I can work out, start waking up at 5:00am so I can work out, start waking up by 6:30 so I can get my kids to school on time.

7. forget about resolution #5.

8. remember to sign all my kids’ homework planners every single day (or at least once a week).

9. stop consuming Little Debbie Cosmic Brownies and coffee as my only sources of nourishment.

10. get my kids to cheer and football practice, and pick my daughter up from swim and water polo on time at least once this year.

11. deal with paperwork before it covers every surface of my desk and becomes a serious fire hazard.

12. figure out a way to be in multiple places at once so I never miss a football practice, a cheer practice, a swim meet, a ceremony, a band concert, or even a pet gerbil funeral.

13.  stop making my kids get their own breakfasts (which sometimes consist of M&Ms, Doritos, and/or the occasional Little Debbie Cosmic Brownie that I haven’t hidden well enough) so that I can “get 5 more minutes” of sleep.

14. read through the nearly 1000 emails in my box.

15. not get mad and yell when I come home and find fruit snacks stuck to the couch, laundry that hasn’t been put away, enough dishes strewn about the house to accommodate a banquet for a gathering of 50 guests, and an empty box of Little Debbie Cosmic Brownies in the pantry.

16. seek a twelve-step program for my brownie addiction.

17. send in signed permission slips to school within two days of their due dates.

18. find the mysterious force field that rips holes in the bottoms of all Jackson’s socks the first time he wears them.

19. cross off more items than I add to my to-do list because at this rate, I won’t finish my tasks until I’m 248 years old.

20. cut myself some slack. So I drop the ball every day. So what. I resolve to take pride in the fact that I pick that ball back up every day and start all over again. I resolve to remember what is important and let all the other stuff slide. I resolve to remind myself that I love my kids and I show them all the time even if they don’t always see it. I resolve to not take it personally when my son thinks I’m evil because I wouldn’t let him ditch school when everyone else was doing it, or when my daughter is in a snit and bites my head off for no reason other than she’s a teenager (which is another word for insane). I resolve to remember that I’m trying to juggle this parenting thing by myself 24/7 and it’s okay if I can’t always do it all. I resolve to convince myself that my kids will be happy, well-adjusted, and successful if I’m a good parent at least 51% of the time. And most importantly, I resolve to stop making resolutions that I can never keep.

Tuesday, October 16, 2012

Fun with Spam

I love getting comments on my blog. It means that people have taken the time to read it, and that something I wrote struck a chord with them in some way. That’s pretty cool. But among all the insightful, funny, interesting, and/or supportive comments I receive, there is also a fair amount of spam. At least I hope it’s spam. Because if these are genuine comments from actual people who have read my posts, then I’m scared for the future of humanity. Very scared. Let me share some examples with you . . .

Thanks for the auspicious writeup. It in fact used to be a amusement account it. Look advanced to far added agreeable from you! By the way, how can we communicate?
I don’t think we actually can communicate because I have no idea what language you’re speaking.

I can not participate now in discussion – it is very occupied. But I will return – I will necessarily write that I think.
Oh goodie! I’m on pins and needles awaiting your return so I can necessarily read what you think!

It appears like good put up, on the other hand it just a single side of the medal. Awesome reading anyhow, I usually appreciated superior bra
Hey, I appreciate superior bras too! Wow, we have so much in common!

Thanks for the information, can, I too can help you something?
No, no I’m pretty sure you can’t help me. I’m not even sure you can help yourself, quite frankly.

In the event you should purchase your own personal Louis Vuitton designer carrier, someone be seeking loaded, people can discover you numerous whenever you gently put your existing handbag along prior to.
Oooo, I want people to discover me! I’m definitely running out to buy a Louis Vuitton designer carrier!

Cannot concur more that building a list is important. I wish I might have started out making a list many years ago. A single difficulty is email is becoming more and more difficult with spam issues.
Gee, ya think?!

The important answer
Well, don’t leave me hanging! What is it?

I am think, what is it is — a lie.
I am think it is not English.

I consiedr, that you commit an error. I can prove it. Write to me in PM.
Oh, I will write to you in PM. And in AM. I just can’t wait to hear your proof about the error I committed!

It is possible to speak infinitely on this question.
Well, I didn’t ask a question. You left this comment on a picture of a clock. Is it possible to speak infinitely about clocks?

Between us to speaking, you should to try look in
Thanks for the advice. And I’ll return the favor – you should try to look at Google Translate.

Bravo, brilliant phrase and is duly
Is duly what? Why do people leave me hanging like this?

Bravo, this remarkable phrase is necessary just by the way
This comment was left on a picture of carpet. Yeah.

The happiness to me has changed!
My level of happiness changed after reading all these.

Yeah, that’s a word. If you’re Joey Tribbiani!

You relize, you what have writen?
Does anyone else see the irony here?

I congradulate, this brilant idea is necasary just by teh way
No, let me congratulate you! I think this sentence just may contain the worst spelling, grammar, and punctuation ever! Way to go!

To me, a good idea it seems. Completely with you I will agree.
Thank you, Yoda.

hi!,I like your writing so much! proportion we communicate extra approximately your article on AOL? I require a specialist in this house to unravel my problem. May be that’s you! Having a look forward to look you.
Someone shoot me.

In it something is. I will know, many thanks for an explanation.
Stab me.

All of us select the food style, for example breakfast regarding meal. What exactly about that one: research show which between 20% to be able to 30% regarding breast enhancement patients have got complications using their implants within the very actual kinds involving information saved within the particular personal as well as business telephone along together with personal choices on video games, songs, video clips
Make it stop!

After about 200 of these, I started banging my head on my desk until I passed out. All I can say is: Be careful what you wish for. Comments are not always what they’re cracked up to be.

Sunday, October 14, 2012

Clay's Limeades for Learning Project

It's time to vote! I talked about Sonic's Limeades for Learning HERE. (Teachers, it's not too late to register a project!)

Want to vote for a project to be funded? Just go to Limeades for Learning to vote. You can vote once a day, every day from September 24 through October 29! And if you purchase anything from Sonic, you'll receive two extra votes. Not only that, but for every 10 votes you place, you'll be emailed a code for yet another two bonus votes.

This is a very easy way to help some hard-working teachers give their students a terrific learning environment! It only takes a minute of your time to vote and there are so many schools, teachers, and most importantly, students that could really benefit from the funds! Please take a minute and vote everyday!

I spoke with Clayton's teacher about the Limeades for Learning program and asked her to help her class brainstorm some ideas on how to use the money. This is what the class came up with . . . (Man, I love second graders!)  

*  Legos to build ideas which support our themes in reading, science, math, and social studies
*  IPads or laptops
*  A visit from a very famous person
*  A tablet
*  Game systems
*  Give money to charity
*  Puppy for our classroom
*  IPod 5th generation
*  6 kittens because my cat died
*  A ship trip
*  18 Apple Fives
*  A trip to Washington D.C.
*  Go to an Orlando Magic Game
*  Whoopy cushions for the whole class
*  Silly putty(the farting kind)
*  Headphones
*  A never ending bottle of cold water

BWAAAA HAAAA HAAAA!!! That's great! Whoopy cushions for all my friends!

The class decided on computers since there are several students who don't have computers at home and there are only two working computers in the classroom.

A big thanks to Sonic for funding Clay's classroom project and a big thanks to all the money they have donated to classrooms across the country!

Friday, October 12, 2012

What's a Card Catalog? And Other Technology Our Children Will Only See in Museums

Yesterday, I told a student to use the computer in my classroom to Google the answer to one of his questions. His response was to flop over on his desk and dramatically whine, "But I'm too tired and the computer is all the way over there!" He indicated the computer which was located approximately three feet from his desk. Being the nice, supportive person that I am, I compassionately responded, "Are you kidding me?! You know what I did when I was a kid and had to answer a question? I waited for my parents to drive me to the library where I used a card catalog to find a book and then I searched for an answer by actually reading it!"

Then I channeled the epitome of grandpas everywhere. “You kids today have it so easy what with your iPhones and your MTV and your saggy britches! Why, in my day we had to actually answer the phone to find out who was calling, Mister!” I stopped myself before I launched into a diatribe of how I had to walk uphill to school in the snow.  But it got me thinking of some of the technology of my day, that my kids will never see, let alone use, and how, in some ways, life has gotten easier.


Monday, October 8, 2012

Is Football Season Over Yet?

I sat on the bleachers, watching the eighth football game of the season. Glancing at the scoreboard, I sighed. The score was 21 - 0 at halftime. The other parents and I cheered as the boys took the field. "Come on, boys! Let's go! You can do it!" Then we turned to each other and said, "Oh please, let them at least score. One touchdown, just one touchdown! A fieldgoal! A safety! Anything!"

After eight games in which our boys hadn’t scored a single point, we had given up hope for a win and were simply praying the kids could at least put some points on the board. It’s funny; several weeks ago we cheered for the boys and watched the games, believing they could pull off a win. Over time, however, our cheers changed a little bit.

WEEK ONE:  Woo Hoo! Football season is here! Let’s go, Wildcats! I miss football! This is so fun and exciting! Woohoo! Yipee!

WEEK TWO:  Yay! It’s football day! Look, I painted my nails orange and blue to show team spirit! Let’s go, Wildcats! Forget about last week! You can do it!

WEEK THREE:  Okay, game three! It’s time to get serious! No more Mr. Nice Guy! Time for a WIN! Let’s go, guys! At least put up a fight this week.

WEEK FOUR:  Come on, guys. Let’s try to score this week. One touchdown. Just one touchdown! How many more games do we have?

WEEK FIVE: We’re pretty much out of the running for the play-offs, right? Oh well. Come on, guys. Let’s try to get a first down! Just one first down. You can probably do it!

WEEK SIX:  Well, at least no one was taken off the field on a stretcher this time. How many more games are there?

WEEK SEVEN: Well, at least we didn’t lose more than 100 yards this game. Maybe the next game they won’t sack their own quarterback.

WEEK EIGHT: Make it end. Make the pain end! Oh, thank God the season is almost over. I’m so tired of football taking up every Saturday. One more game. Just one more game . . .

So, what do you do when your kid is on a losing team? Encourage him to have fun! Focus on the joy of playing the sport. Remind him of the skills he’s learning while practicing. Cheer him on and stay upbeat and positive.  And, of course, bring sippy cups of rum to the games, make friends with other parents in the stands so you have people with whom you can commiserate, and start making plans to sign your child up for piano lessons next season.

Friday, October 5, 2012

ADHD: To Medicate or Not to Medicate? How You Can Decide

“Bring me your progress reports,” I called to my kids as they walked in the door. I’d been checking their grades online for the past five weeks so I knew they were all getting As and Bs. Still, I wanted to make sure the progress reports accurately reflected the grades I’d seen online. And, of course, I wanted to see if the teachers had made any comments about my kids’ behavior or performance in class.

When I got to my 8-year-old Clayton’s report, I looked over his grades then paused at the comments section. This is what I read:

Clayton excels in everything he attempts. You can always depend on him to follow my exact instructions and use the specific strategies he was taught to incorporate in his work. I use him as an example to the other pupils in class. He is a very insightful reader, writer, and thinker. He makes wonderful contributions to our class.

A tear came to my eye. It wasn’t because my son was doing well in school and I was proud (although those things are certainly true) but because not long ago, I was receiving very different comments about his behavior and academic performance in school.

I remember picking Clayton up from kindergarten one day. He’d been getting in trouble for his lack of self-control on a very regular basis. As Clay hopped into my car, I asked him, “Did you have a good day today? Did you get in trouble for anything?”

He responded, “Nope, I was good today.”

Before I could pull away from the car rider loop, I eyed Clay’s teacher walking out to my car. “Uh, Clay? If you had a good day then why is your teacher walking out to the car?”

Clay ducked down in the back seat and implored, “I don’t know, drive, drive, DRIVE!”

Now, my kids and I look back on that memory and laugh. At the time, however, I was frustrated. I didn’t know how to deal with the situation. I mean, I’d raised my 8-year-old the same way I’d raised all my other kids. I continued to teach him right from wrong. He wasn’t a “bad” kid. So, why was he always getting in trouble? Why was he so impulsive? He seemed to lack the mechanism in his brain that makes one stop and think before acting. He would run out into the street to chase a ball without looking for cars. He knew better than to do that, but in the heat of the moment, he seemed to forget everything he’d ever learned and he simply acted on impulse.

He got in trouble for poking other kids while standing in line. He got in trouble for flinging food across the table at his friends. He got in trouble for hanging from the partitions separating the stalls in the bathroom. He got in trouble for speaking out of turn in class. When another kid would instigate, instead of walking away and telling the teacher, Clay would deck the kid. And get in trouble.

Always present in the back of my mind was the question of whether or not I should look into ADHD meds for him. I knew he was a naturally bright kid and I absolutely believed he could do very well in school. But his impulsivity was holding him back. Still, I didn’t want to put him on medication unless I felt the benefits would truly outweigh the risks and side effects.

I remember exactly when I made the decision to use medication to help my son. One day, toward the end of first grade, Clay came home in tears and said, “No one likes me. I’m a bad kid.” That was it. Decision made.

Now, a couple years later and my son is getting all As. As you can see from the comments above, he’s not only not a behavior problem in class, but he’s a role model.

It’s especially tough for parents to decide because there’s still such a stigma attached to using medication to treat ADD/ADHD.  Unlike other conditions, like diabetes for example, the symptoms of ADD/ADHD are behavior related. No parent would hesitate to give insulin to their child with diabetes and no one would question that mother’s or father’s ability to parent. But because, as we all know, our children’s behavior is a direct reflection on our worth as a parent (tongue in cheek) conditions like ADHD are a little trickier. Although a child’s brain with ADHD is wired a little differently and medication could help him to function better, so many parents hesitate to use medication because then they feel like a failure for not being able to “control” their child’s behavior. I’m not saying you should use medication or your shouldn’t use it. I’m just saying that you should be free to choose based on your child’s and your family’s needs, and you shouldn’t be made to feel ashamed or inadequate whatever your choice.

I’m not going to get into a whole lecture about ADD/ADHD, but I would like to give you my two cents’ worth of advice for parents considering medication for their child. How do you know if you should use medication to your help your child with ADHD? Consider these 10 things:

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Whether you opt to medicate your child or not is a personal decision that should be based on research, information about your child, and a knowledgeable doctor’s recommendations. There is no one-size-fits-all answer. We all make the best decisions we can for our children based on our knowledge and abilities, then we hope and pray for a progress report that states our child is a role model (or at least that he’s not the kid who flings corn across the table at his peers!)


Monday, October 1, 2012

Duct Tape Holds my World (or at least my van) Together

When I wrote about Mom MacGyvers, I had a few people ask me about my duct-taped car. Yes, yes, my car really is held together by duct-tape. I think of it as more of a fashion statement than a redneck quick-fix. They make duct tape in all sorts of cool colors and patterns now! Really, I’m not holding the van together; I’m accessorizing! And it’s awesome for those times (all 2 of them) when I’ve walked into a parking lot and have seen an identical giant, maroon, church van. No longer do I have to peer in the windows to see if the van is mine by the number of fries, empty Gatorade bottles, shoes, beach towels, and miscellaneous garbage on the floor. The creative placement of pink duct tape makes it so much easier to ascertain which van is mine!

When I first bought my big ole “church van”, I needed a vehicle that seated 8. My choices were limited to a Suburban or a big ole van. I opted for the van. Now that we’re a family of seven, a whole new world of vehicles would work for us (you know, if I won the lottery or something, or if some guy knocks on my door one day and gives me a new car of my choice just because I’m cute hilarious nice the 15th caller). As you might imagine, this one goes through gas about as fast as I can go through a box of Little Debbie snack cakes. It costs me $100 in gas every week. It’s not exactly fuel efficient, but it gets us from point A to point B and I’m thankful for that.

Would you like a little tour of my van? Sure you would! Trust me, it’ll make you feel better about the condition of your own vehicle!


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