Tuesday, January 29, 2013

I Quit

Every day as the clock passes 12:00, I develop a stomachache. It's not because I'm hungry. It's not because I've eaten too much. It's not because my lunch consisted of spoiled meat, moldy bread, sushi, or any other disgusting items. It's because I know I only have a few minutes until my fourth period class. And if I survive that, I'll have to endure my fifth period class as well.

I have some students who, despite the fact they have several Ds and Fs in their classes, don’t feel the need to do any work in my class. They ask if they can listen to music and I answer in the affirmative. I let my students listen to their iPods as long as they’re working and the music isn’t loud enough to bother anyone else. Many of my students have short attention spans and music helps to tune out other background noises that would otherwise distract them and get them off task. However, instead of listening to music while working, these guys listen to music while rapping loudly, talking to their classmates, and refusing to work until I revoke the privilege.

These kids wander around my room aimlessly because sitting still for 40 minutes is just too difficult. When I go over their missing assignments from other classes and instruct them to work on them, they respond with absolute incredulity. “What?! My teacher’s making me do all this? Man, she be trippin’! Ain’t nobody got no time for this!” It doesn’t matter that everyone else in the class did the same assignment and completed it on time. Nope, these guys think everyone’s out to get them because their teachers expect them to (gasp) work and (gasp) learn things at school. The nerve!

Today, one kid whipped a glob of slimy, goopy, putty up in the air. It stuck to the ceiling and proceeded to slowly ooze down, a hot pink string of snot dripping from the ceiling down to the floor. Now if one of my “good” kids had done this, I might have been inclined to laugh. Or smirk. Or at least not get too bent out of shape. But when the kids pull something like this after spending 30 minutes being disruptive and disrespectful, I have no tolerance.

I want to sit down, pop some Tylenol and chug them down with half a bottle of Pepto. I want to throw up my hands and say, “Suit yourselves! I already graduated from junior high! If you want to fail, knock yourselves out!” I want to inform them, “You keep heading down this road where you don’t care about education and you don’t have any desire to act like a responsible, respectful member of society, and guess what – the best you can hope for in life is to spend your days saying, ‘Want fries with that?’” I want to call the kids’ parents and shout, “Your child is a real &*%#$!” but I know it won’t make any difference because the child learned everything they know from those same parents. I want to quit so I can stay home, caring for my home, making sure my own kids don’t become hoodlums, and writing books.

So instead, I sigh heavily and glance at the clock, praying for a fire drill or an impromptu visit from the dean or an alien invasion. You know, anything to break up the class. And at the end of the day, I walk to the principal’s office and give her my weekly announcement. “I quit.” Then she gives me her standard response. “You can’t quit.”

This afternoon, as I was dragging myself out to the parking lot, one of my students was walking out to her car with her big brother. “Bye, Miss Meehan!” she called.

“Hey,” I called. “I was just talking to your math teacher about your chapter 10 test.”

Her brother asked, “How did she do on it?”

“She did horribly! She’s probably my worst student. Always making trouble, not listening . . .” I said, teasing her. I winked at her and admitted that she’d gotten an A on her test and that her math teacher and I were proud of her. I told her brother that she was a good kid who did her work and didn’t give me any problems.

Her brother said, “Good! I keep telling her how important it is to get good grades. You can’t get to college with bad grades. I’m in college now. I know it’s important to do well.”

I smiled as I continued out to my car. I guess this is why we do this. Still, I’m going to continue to hope for an alien invasion during 4th and 5th periods.

Sunday, January 27, 2013

My Warranty Expired When I Turned 40

When I moved into my house a year and a half ago, I got a new refrigerator. It was wonderful. It was big and roomy, it had all sorts of buttons and gadgets, it smelled fresh and clean and it didn't have any mysterious orange substance with flakes of onion peels stuck in it coating the bottom of the crisper drawer. One year after it was installed, it broke. It was a couple days after the warranty expired, as Murphy's Law would have it. That's the life expectancy of a modern appliance - one year. After that, you will spill thousands patching it back together as one after another, the parts fail. Appliances are not the only items with warranties either. I've come to the conclusion that humans have warranties as well and they expire at exactly 40 years of age.

I’m writing this as a public service announcement. I feel it’s my duty to impart my expansive wisdom and share my knowledge on this enigmatic subject with you. No one warned me ahead of time and I stumbled blindly into my 40s, accepting, nay, celebrating this significant milestone only to hit a brick wall and be knocked on my butt. I don’t want anyone else staggering into middle-agedom unarmed, so here, without further ado, is the information necessary to maintaining your sanity when you reach that certain landmark that includes a birthday cake with enough candles to heat a 10,000 square foot warehouse.


Tuesday, January 22, 2013

All I Really Need to Know I Learned from 80s Movies

Some of the students at my school recently read an essay entitled Everything I Really Need to Know I Learned in Kindergarten. The assignment got me thinking. The only thing I learned in kindergarten is that I hated school. I decided that all I really need to know I learned from John Hughes, the brat pack, and a host of 80s movies. The geek can get the girl, you can save the world with your ability to skateboard/play video games/harness the force, a great soundtrack can make a movie, and randomly breaking out in a dance number can fix anything. Here are my top lessons learned from 80s movies.


Wednesday, January 16, 2013

Here are MY Office Procedures!

I went to a podiatrist yesterday for the foot pain I've been having. That is, I went to the podiatrist after I finally got an appointment with my primary care physician because clearly, ordinary people like me could never know that foot pain requires a visit to a podiatrist unless they first lay down a hefty copay to their primary doctor so they can write "referred to a podiatrist" on paper. 

After paying another hefty copay at the podiatrist’s office, I was given a pack of papers to fill out. You know the papers I’m talking about. Every doctor’s office has the same ones: medical history, patient information, insurance information, HIPAA forms, etc. But do you know why we have to fill those out? No, really, do you know? Because I have no clue. Is it just an exercise in penmanship? Is there really a need for me to write out my address 6 different times? Why do I need to fill in all my insurance information when the receptionist has just taken my card and made a copy of it? After I filled out 5 sheets, the receptionist handed me one last page detailing the office procedures.

When I got to this part – “…charged a $20 fee for completion of a simple form and a $40 fee for completion of a complex form”, I shook my head. Then I headed back to the receptionist and informed her of my procedures.

“Hi. I just wanted to let you know that I also charge $20 for each simple form I complete and $40 for complex forms. By my calculations, you owe me $160 for these,” I said as I tossed the clipboard full of forms on the counter. “Oh and I’m sure you’re aware that my time is valuable. To that end, you will be charged a $20 fee for each 10 minutes I spend in the waiting room past my scheduled appointment time. Oh yes, I almost forgot! I also charge $10 for every minute I’m placed on hold when I call the office.” I slid a paper toward her.  ”I just need you to fill out your address here, here, here, here, and here,” I said indicating different spots on the paper. And then initial here, here and here, and sign and date it here. Thank you.”

She was less than amused.

Long story short – I have plantar fasciitis again. I got a shot in my heel which feels exactly how you would imagine it would. Only worse. And I got a sexy boot to wear while sleeping to keep my foot flexed. The good news is that I’m positive I’ll forget all about the foot pain tomorrow. The bad news is that the reason the foot pain will fade is because it will be replaced with pain from the surgery I’m having on my veins in the morning. Apparently it’s a bad thing when a vein that is supposed to measure 3-5 mm actually measures 17.8 mm in diameter. Wish me luck, say a prayer, or just have a cocktail in my honor.

Tuesday, January 15, 2013

Do you Want a Spanking? (and other ridiculous things parents say)

While cleaning out some old files on my computer, I found a Word doc with this blog post that I never published. I have no idea how old it is, but my guess is 3 years. I thought it was pretty funny so I'm sharing it with you now. I hope you enjoy!

While I was at the store, I overheard a dad tell his sobbing daughter, "Be quiet or I'll give you something to cry about!"

I snickered to myself at the absurdity of such a statement, and I remembered making a smart-aleck comment in response to my dad after he said that to me as a child. "So, do you want me to stop crying? Or do you want me to cry more? I'm confused." (In case you're wondering, he gave me something to cry about.)

My parents didn’t just spank me and my sister when we were bad. Nope, they’d tell us to go upstairs and wait. We knew what was coming and that waiting was the worst. One day, my sister and I came up with a great idea to save our aching butts. Books! It was fool proof! I grabbed my trusty copy of One Fish, Two Fish, Red Fish, Blue Fish and stuffed it down my pants. A spanking won’t hurt now! I’ve got protection! I thought triumphantly. Apparently I wasn’t a very bright kid because it never occurred to me that my mom would notice that my butt had taken on a rectangular shape, or a hard, cardboard-like quality. Yeah.

But that dad telling his daughter he’d give her something to cry about got me thinking. I don’t know about you, but my parents said a lot of stupid things when I was a kid. Sometimes they’d ask me, “Do you want a spanking?”

“Umm, is this a trick question?”

Or (here’s another good one!) “This is going to hurt me more than it does you.” Uh, no. It most definitely does not hurt the parent more. I’ve been in both positions and it does not hurt the spanker as much as the spankee. Just sayin’.

I was a picky eater as a kid. I would never touch the crust of my bread. My mom would tell me, “Eat the crust! It’ll put hair on your chest!” Yeah. You know, because that’s what every five-year-old girl wants — a hairy chest. “Hair on my chest??? Really? Awesome! Can I eat yours too, Mom?”

Here’s another one that picky eaters across America heard on a regular basis. “Finish that! Don’t you know there are starving kids in Africa?” I’m not sure how finishing my Brussels sprouts was going to help hungry kids on the other side of the world, but it seemed to make sense to parents everywhere.

A good one my dad said was, “Don’t make me turn this car around!” You know how many times he actually turned the car around? Never. It was an empty threat designed to make us quiet down and stop fighting. And it worked every time. For 90 seconds. Really though, in the history of mankind, has anyone ever actually turned the car around? Why would you do that? You’d still have to listen to the fighting on the way back home. And then, eventually, you’d have to go back out and complete your trip anyway.

My sister and I didn’t fight much as kids. We didn’t go around punching each other or anything like that. (We’re girls after all.) But we did make faces at each other. That was the ultimate insult. “Mom, Deb’s sticking her tongue out at me! Mom, Dawn’s making a face at me!” And you know what our mom said? Say it with me, everyone. “Your face is going to freeze like that.” And she’d say it all serious-like, as if she actually believed it herself. Have you ever seen a person with their face frozen with their eyelids pulled up, their fingers stuck in their nostrils, and their tongue hanging out? Yeah, I didn’t think so.

And finally, there was the famous, “If your friends jumped off a bridge, would you follow them?”

“Possibly. How long are you going to stay with this line of questioning? Kidding! Just kidding, Mom. I wouldn’t jump off a bridge to get away from you. I mean, I wouldn’t jump off a bridge just because my friends do. So, does that mean no, I can’t go to the concert that everyone else is going to?”

Yeah, in fact, I did get in trouble a lot. Why do you ask?

Tuesday, January 8, 2013

Kids Say the Darndest Things. Again and Again and Again.

Last night, I wrote about the paper Brooklyn wrote at school in which she shared just a little too much information. However, I no longer have to worry about what her teacher thinks of us anymore. Nope, now I can be concerned about what Clay's teacher thinks of us. I mean, I had no illusions of Brooklyn's paper being the last of its kind or anything. But I guess I wasn't expecting another the VERY NEXT DAY! Today, Clay brought home this gem . . .

The first thing I noticed is that I obviously forgot to give Clay his medicine the day he wrote this because his handwriting and spelling are horrible and that is a tell-tale sign that he is off his meds. (Well, that and the fact that he jumps all over the place with the attention span of a rock and the self-control of a monkey in heat.)

But then I actually read the sentences. Or one specific sentence anyway. The police had to inspect my house to look for something.

“Oh hi, Mrs. Reed. You want to have a parent/teacher conference? I swear my house has never been inspected by police. For anything. Honestly. I have no idea how he comes up with these ideas. One time we had to have firemen come to our house when Austin, as a toddler and he locked me outside while his infant sister sat in her car seat on the kitchen table. But that doesn’t make me a bad mom. It was an accident. It happens to everyone. I’m sure it happens to lots of people. I can’t possibly be the only one who this has happened to. But the police have never inspected my house. Ever. Ahem.”

Let’s see if my kids can go the day without writing anything crazy tomorrow.

Monday, January 7, 2013

Sometimes it's Just a Little too Much Information

Several years ago when I was teaching Sunday school, I remember a child telling me all about how she was late for church because everyone had to listen to her mom yelling at her dad because he left the seat up on the toilet and she wasn't paying attention and she fell in and got wet and had to change her clothes. Or there was the time one child regaled me with stories of how his poop changes colors. That in turn, launched a whole conversation about technicolor poo which really didn't have anything to do with Moses, plagues, Egypt, or anything we were studying. In fact, I think it's a safe bet to say it had nothing to do with well, pretty much anything at all in the Bible.

Little kids sometimes share just a little too much information. My kids included. There have been numerous times, over the years, that I have wondered what the kids’ teachers must think of us. Of course, since I was the only one to attend parent/teacher conferences, I generally just blamed it all on my ex. “Oh, he must have gotten that from his father,” I’d say, dismissing the bizarre things my kids said or wrote in class.

Today, Brooklyn came home with this one.

It starts off okay. She thinks she’s on Santa’s nice list because she’s helpful to her family and teacher. Then she has to go and throw a random, “My family tricks me a lot” in there. I read that and immediately formulated some plausible excuses explanations.

“You see, Mrs. Land, Brooklyn has five older siblings who like to play pranks and have over-inflated senses of sarcasm. Austin and Savannah are the Jim Halpert and Pam Beesly of our house, and poor little Brooklyn is Dwight. So maybe they tried to get her to eat Play-Dough while telling her it was dinner. Perhaps they threatened her that she’d have to sleep outside with the alligators if she didn’t stop crying. And just maybe they might possibly have set her on top of the refrigerator while telling her they were going to leave her there all day. But, to be fair, they’ve never put any of her toys in Jello, so it’s not that bad, right?”

But then Brooklyn continues with, “I am not crazy. I am not bad like my brothers.”

“Um yeah, Mrs. Land, her brothers are, um, yeah I got nothing here. Her brothers actually are crazy and they do come up with bad ideas.”

Then I thanked God that Brooklyn hadn’t written, “My mom yells like a raving lunatic when I don’t go to bed like I’m supposed to” or, “The vein bulges out of her neck when my brother brings lizards in the house.”

Sunday, January 6, 2013

Resolutions You Can Actually Keep

Every year I make a list of resolutions. And every year by May, I end up modifying those resolutions. By the time December rolls around, I've completely forgotten what my resolutions were and why I made them in the first place. It's tradition. For example, last year I resolved to lose 50 pounds by eating healthier foods and exercising. Shortly after, I modified my resolution to lose at least 2 pounds and occasionally eat some foods that weren't deep-fried in fat and/or smothered in chocolate. However, as I was inhaling Christmas cookies by the gross last week, it was pretty evident I'd forgotten the resolution altogether. So this year, I'm making reasonable resolutions I can easily keep. Feel free to use any of these resolutions in your own self-improvement plans.


1.   buy jeans that are 2 sizes bigger so it just looks like I lost weight.

2.  start putting Baileys in my coffee for a less stressful morning.

3.  lower my cholesterol level by raising my caffeine level.

4.  make a list of all my passwords which should save me approximately 238 hours a year trying to remember them.

5.  relax and let go of my overwhelming stress when sharing the road with people who can’t manage to get up to the speed limit. (Well, either that, or mount a missile launcher on the front of my car.)

6.  remember that life is short. Appreciate all the little moments and let insignificant things like laundry, paying bills, and cooking go.

7.  start listening to opera and singing along very loudly in an Italian-sounding, made-up language when driving my teens and their friends places in an effort to get out of always having to drive (since my ‘listen to 80s music’ plan backfired on me last year when the kids thought it was “retro” and “cool.”)

8.  stop texting my kids when they’re in another room to tell them dinner’s ready. From now on, I’ll make them cook and text me when dinner’s ready.

9.  tell the person at Starbuck’s a new name every time I stop for coffee, then count how many times they get it right this year. (Or maybe I’ll explain that “Dawn” and “Don” are not interchangeable.)

10.  stop Facetiming my daughter to give her puppy eyes while begging her to make brownies. Oh wait, scratch that one. That’s crazy talk! I have no intention of stopping that.

And there’s no reason why I should be the only person in my family to suffer work toward bettering myself. To that end, I’ve taken the time to create a list for my children as well. I’m sure they’ll be overjoyed and thankful for my well thought-out resolutions.

1.   My children will learn to rinse their globs of toothpaste down the sink before they solidify into little, hard, white stalagmites.

2.  My children will learn to put their dirty dishes in the dishwasher instead of leaving them on the table, the floor, buried under laundry in their rooms, or (my personal favorite) 2 inches away from the dishwasher on the counter.

3.  My children will understand that instead of using the excuse, “Well, I couldn’t put my plate in the dishwasher because the dishes are clean”, they are to EMPTY the dishwasher and put those dishes away first.

4.  My children will realize that even though I adore all the pictures, drawings, and paintings made especially for me, my refrigerator is only so big and now and then I might have to toss an old drawing so as not to have a fire hazard to make room for new ones. It does not mean I don’t love them.

5.  My children will realize that lying in bed all day, playing on their computers and/or texting friends, then asking me to let them use the car, give them money, or drive them someplace is NEVER a good idea.

6.  My children will learn to turn their socks around first instead of putting little, smelly, dirty inside-out balls in the laundry. And speaking of laundry, they will learn to clean out their pockets so I don’t wash any more DS game cartridges, lip gloss, rocks, bugs, coins, pencils, or cheese sticks.

7.  My children will understand that just because an item does not jump out and bite them on the butts, does not mean the item no longer exists; it simply means they need to use their brains and look for it. Perhaps their shoes are still where they took them off and left them. Maybe the cleaning supplies are in the same closet they’ve been in since the day we moved here. Just maybe.

8.   My children will discover that it is not acceptable to have enough food in their rooms to open a 7-11. When non-human creatures start inhabiting their rooms, it is time to clean them!

9.  My children will get that it’s not cool to text me the minute I pull out of the driveway unless it’s an emergency because I do not like pulling over to read texts that say things like, “Mom, when are you going to be home?” “Mom, Brooklyn’s singing an annoying baby shark song,” or “Mom, I have to go to the bathroom.”

10.  My children will learn that making fun of my age or making old age jokes will only fuel my need to embarrass them in front of their friends. They will understand that after making such jokes, I will be completely justified in wearing a Mrs. Roper mumu while calling out, “I love you little Snookie Wookie Sweetie Pie. Now remember to use the bathroom if you start feeling gassy again so you don’t ruin your underwear like last time” in front of all their friends at the bus stop.

11.  My children will understand that ignoring me when I tell them to go to bed does not mean they do not have to go to bed. It only means that I will turn into a raving lunatic who will soon need a bottle glass of wine.

12.  My children will grasp that when I turn into a raving lunatic who requires wine, they should probably not continue to stay awake, talking, laughing, and goofing off or there’s a good chance I will sell them to gypsies. Or carnies.

13.  My children will comprehend that the word “poop” does not really need to be a part of every conversation.

14.  My children will understand that plaid, polka dots, solids, pinks, purple, greens, oranges, blacks, wool stockings, flip flops, and a cowboy hat do not an outfit make.

15.  My children will grasp that they cannot eat candy for dinner unless, of course, they’ve badgered me 2 dozen times and broken me down until I will do anything to get them to shut their mouths.

I have a feeling this is going to be a good, good year.

My Year in Pictures

For the past couple weeks I've been looking back over the year, trying to remember all the things that happened. Unfortunately, I can't even remember what I had for lunch yesterday, let alone what happened months ago. Thankfully, I post pictures and updates on Facebook frequently so I was able to look back and recall some of the things that happened this year. Whatever would we do without Facebook, right? So instead of writing a boring year-end wrap-up, I'm going to share my year in pictures. Believe me, there are some, ah "interesting" pictures. I hope you enjoy!


We sailed with Vikings and did your basic pilaging and plundering.

We didn't travel to the moon, but I did finally learn how to use my camera to take pictures of the moon. It's almost the same thing.

We hung with celebrities like Mr. Potato Head. It's a glamorous life.

Apparently, we're still learning how to eat. It's a work in progress.

We invented a new game called Rubber Chicken Baseball. Give it a year or two and it'll be all the rage.

We found a new use for malted milk balls on Easter. Lipstick! What can I say, my kids are um, creative.

Austin donated blood for the first time. (I only make half a dozen vampire jokes.)

An apocalyptic plague of frogs invaded my bathroom. And, as usual, my kids had nothing to do with this.

I lost enough weight that my shorts got big. Of course, I gained it all back over the past few months . . .

We spent a LOT of time at the beach. (Anything to avoid work, right?)

We experimented with different kinds of facial jewelry. What, you've never seen anyone wear a lizard on their face?

We held the spare tire Olympics. The games consisted of throwing a tire like a discus,playing horseshoes with the tire, and rolling each other in the tire down the driveway into oncoming traffic. Surprisingly, no one went to the ER over this one.

Brooklyn graduated from kindergarten. And promptly began crying that she'd have to go the whole summer without doing any homework. I have no idea whose kid she is.

Clay and Jax had fun with poop at The Museum of Science and Industry. So basically it was like any other day in the lives of these guys.

We went out on The Ledge of the Sears Tower while visiting friends in Chicago. No one threw up. Well, my teens almost threw up, but they say it was because of my shirt since they're fans of "that other team."

We spent time in Chicagoland with our friends and family. We didn't want to leave. (Does anyone else hear the beginning of Married with Children when they see Buckingham Fountain?)

I had the honor of attending a brunch with my agent, my friend Kelli, and other amazing Books and Such authors. (This is the most action I've seen in years!)

We moved into cardboard boxes because - why not?

After developing numerous blood clots in my leg, and one in my lung, I justified going to the pool everyday by calling it "therapy."

I found this guy in my garage. I screamed. A lot. He's no longer among the living.

My daughter got her driver's license which comes in handy when I have a chocolate craving and don't feel like driving to the store.

There's no reason for this picture other than it's pretty. Before we all headed back to school, we took a walk by the lake and enjoyed the evening and beautiful sunset.

Savannah was inducted in the National Honor Society.

I went to Jackson's first jazz band concert. It was cool. They played jazz.

I was mistaken for a mental patient when I went to a doctor's appointment on my way to work while dressed like a crazy person for "Wacky Tacky Day."

I cheered Lexi and her team on at an allllll day cheer competition. (Lexi's the one defying gravity here.)

Austin finally abandoned his plan of being a hobo after graduation and is now opting to attend culinary school.

Savannah finished up her swim season at the district meet.

Instead of having a big family dinner for Thanksgiving, we took a little trip to see the manatees.

Savannah did a little volunteer service for S.T.A.R.S. before Christmas.

I got to listen to Lexi's first band concert. You know what a beginning band plays? Hot Cross Buns. And a dozen other songs that all sound eerily like Hot Cross Buns. Yep, that's all.

And we wound up the year together, mostly healthy, and happy. We're blessed with friends and family and deliciously amazing Florida winter weather. You can't ask for more than that. :)

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