Friday, August 30, 2013

New (School) Year Resolutions

Ah... the end of the first week back and I am... tired.  Normally we have a partial week with a much needed weekend after days of prepping to be back.  Not so this year as NC traditional schools that cannot start earlier than Aug 25th. I hit the ground rolling on Monday with a 5:20 wake up call. Luckily I've been up at 6 or 5:30 for the last 2 weeks getting back into the grind.

It has been a good week.  Ben has consistently gotten up by 6:15 with his alarm and made the 6:40 bus each day.  I'm sure part of this is the excitement of back to school, a new class, and being back with friends. We've done well with the dinner/bed rush.  In part due to trying to keep some guidelines as we head back to school.  Just like many of us make resolutions in January, I make a different set to help us back into the routine of school.

1.  Get up on time to be on time to work.  Be downstairs by 6 am to take care of the dog, finish up any last minute prep to help get kids out the door.

2.  Leave work at a reasonable time.  On time was a 5 pm alarm on my watch last year.  This year it is 4:00. Unless I have a meeting, pack it up and get out. This week I managed to STILL make it out even with multiple after school meetings and traveling to another classroom last period of the day.  Even with an extra classroom to prep each day, I made getting out a priority.

The thing about teaching is you are really never done.  There is always grading, planning, parent contacts, logging parent contacts and following up, meetings upon meeting.  This year I have a student teacher and am mentoring a 1st year teacher, serving on School Improvement Team, and oh yes, teaching just over a 100 students each semester.  All classes are filled to brim as without caps on class sizes the result is my classroom resembles more of a refugee camp with students everywhere that my room will hold.  Granted they are a well-dressed lot with electronics nicer than mine!

3. Get exercise back in to my schedule with 2-3 times at the Y, a weekend class, and walking the dog a mile daily. I have no excuse after 10 personal training sessions with a variety of intense 30 minute workouts to choose.

4. Have both boys picked up by 5:45 and dinner ready by 6:30. I've worked hard over the summer to restock my freezer.  *Note the almost 50 meals ready to go including 4 Butternut Squash and Basil lasagnas. Yum.

5. Have the boys ready for bath and bedtime starting at 7:30 and lights out by 8:30. At 8 pm I turn into the Mommy Monster.

6. Go to bed myself by 10:30.  My almost 40 self just can't do it much longer on less sleep.  I hit this target once this week, but was in bed asleep by 11 all other nights.

7. Continue to choose reading once I finish up school work.  I moved my Goodreads yearly challenge from 30-50 books by year end after finishing nearly 20 books this summer.  Granted this week I've been reviewing my 26 IEP files and prepping classes, but next week I hope to be back to some nightly reading.  I may be the only person on the Earth that didn't see Miley Cyrus strut her stuff this week on the VMAs. Guess what, I don't care being out of the loop.

8. Stay on top of errands and housework during the week so the weekend is not a giant to-do list.  Use the 4-5 pm time effeciently with a daily punch list that is reasonable to finish in one hour.

9.  Remember that working harder is not working smarter.  Use shortcuts, lower standards for perfection, ask for help, refuse to just do it all alone because it is easier than a fight.

10. Focus on the good stuff. My boys and creating a stable, loving environment for our family.  The sage advice that, "no one ever wishes they had worked harder and saw their family less on their deathbed" is true. Consider this for a tattoo.

Happy new school year.

Tuesday, August 27, 2013

1st Day Fun

Sunday night, we read Oh the Places You Will Go before starting a new school year.  Yes, cliche but so appropriate that we talk about hopes and dreams for a new school year.  I love that Bill caught this picture, especially Ian smiling as we read.

Ben is getting up at 6:15 with his alarm and trying to make the 6:40 am bus.  So far he is two for two being up and helping fix his own breakfast.  As a seven year old 2nd grader it is amazing at how grown up he feels, even just since the end of the last school year. I am trying on multiple levels to give him more responsibility and hold him to expectations beyond just behavior.  We "practiced" am wake up all last week with a reward for doing well.

Ian also is starting a new preschool class at daycare and has slept since he returned last week.  The trade off was at 10:00 pm last night when he was still up and coming out of his room.  He too looks so much older than just a few months ago.

Like everyone, we took obligatory1st day of school pictures including new backpacks or "pack-packs" according to Ian.

*Note in the best picture of them BOTH looking at the camera, our neighbor has just walked out to play and Ben has noticed.

Last night we played outside with our friends, rode bikes/trikes, shot off silly string and welcomed a new year.  Ben's smile at 6:40 am was as happy as the same one at 5 pm when he greeted me with a monster hug and reports of a great first day.

Everyone has hopes and dreams for a new start every school year.
Happy 2nd grade and 3 year old, my sweet boys.

Friday, August 23, 2013

You Can Go Home Again

I had all plans not to attend my 20th high school reunion earlier this month.  Social media has completely changed how we connect and stay in touch.  Plus, I was driving home from being in Florida with the boys and didn't really want to go solo.  I had just seen my high school girlfriends over the summer at our annual summer meet up in Charlotte.

Enter in my friend Jamie who the week before the reunion texted me to say her husband had a last minute trip for work and was planning on going it alone.  We convinced our other good friend, Melissa, who was planning on coming down as well, but with her spouse to ditch him and go stag with us. .

We had, SO.MUCH.FUN!

I offered to be the designated driver and picked up everyone for a pre-reunion dinner out.  It was like old times, talking to my friends parents and catching up before heading out.  Instead of talk of high school it was about kids and families and where life had taken us in twenty years.

The event itself was at a small venue in downtown Greenville, SC.  Most anyone I really wanted to see had come and before the night was over I had gotten the scoop on the lives and happenings for those that had stayed local, and those that had ventured far beyond the class of 1993 at Easley High School.

This was the best aspect of the night, spending time laughing with friends over the stupid, mundane, and  petty.

The stuff that good high school memories are made.

Wednesday, August 21, 2013

More than one way to loose all your money on Vegas

I recently mentioned to a friend that going to Disney World was like standing over a toilet and emptying your wallet.  Similar is the current financial situation with our dog.

The backstory:

Eleven years ago we adopted Vegas from our local SPCA, pre-kids as a 9 month old puppy.  Her history was she had been returned to the SPCA after the adoptive parent, "couldn't deal with the hyperactivity of a beagle/jack Russell mix." Uh... hello.  Were you around this dog for .912 secs to not notice her activity level at the shelter?  Over the last 11 years she has brought us much joy and I secretly don't see walking her each day as a chore, especially if it gets me out of doing baths.

Vegas is a good dog and is never aggressive.  The boys love her, attempt to ride her like a horse.  If they are outside playing, she is as well.  Over time she has moved from 100% active all the time to about 10% active some of the time. She sleeps most of her days away or stares out the window from her perch checking out the scenery on the multitude of animals just out of her reach.  I have though, in the last year, seen her personally kill a squirrel and a baby rabbit.  Sadly, the boys were with me both times on a walk so it played out like an Animal Planet special gone very, very wrong.

About three years ago she started having seizures and after a very expensive summer of tests and some overnight calls to the emergency after hours vet, she was put on phenobarbital twice a day.

Let's come back to Summer 2013.

Cost 1- The week I was gone to DC in June, Bill forgot to give her any of her medication. She became very sick and started having seizures.  The morning after I got home, I took her to the Vet where they hospitalized her, ran a bunch of tests, and finally determined that she would be ok, but we would have to repeat the blood work to make sure her blood levels stabilized.  Total- around $400 initial with additional $85.00 specialized blood tests to be completed multiple times for the next 6 months. What fun for something so completely preventable.

Cost 2 - About a month later I thought she had eaten a couple of raisins while I was cleaning up the kitchen.  She seemed fine and I began to think that maybe she hadn't actually eaten them anyway when she didn't show any stomach issues.  Around midnight, when I took her out one last time, she seemed completely normal.

Just before 6 am I was awoken to quite possible the nastiest smell ever, waffling up the stairs into my bedroom.  I find her collapsed in a giant pool of her own bloody vomit and diarrhea.  The "pitch the rug as there is not amount of carpet cleaner out there to help", kind of  mess.  I called the emergency Vet who recommended that we immediately take her to our normal Vet that was opening within the hour.  I take her, where they again admit her to the dog hospital for 2 days of observation and multiple tests for multi-organ failure.  At one point I said to the Vet, "we love this dog, but please tell me if we are fighting a loosing battle".  Luckily after two days of hospitalization, lots of medicines and even more tests she came home and has been fine.  Cost: $ 600.00

*Note- If you didn't know raisins and grapes are toxic to dogs, you have been schooled.

Cost 3-  We subscribe to our Vet's wellness plan that allows us to pay a monthly charge and get multiple services at a discount.  If ever it was a good call to enroll, ahem... this was the year.  As part of the plan she get a dental cleaning each year.  Seeing that her favorite thing to eat on a walk around the lake is goose poop, yeah.. let's take full advantage of the plan.   Except it really wasn't free when I went to pay on Monday.  I was contacted during the cleaning that she had a cracked tooth that extended into the gum line and that the humane thing to do was to extract the tooth.  What kind of person says, "hey my dog needs to be in pain every time it eats so I'm going to do nothing."  So I consented and another $244.00 later I am $244.00 poorer.

Plus I get to take her back for several visits to make sure the area that included three separate root extractions are infection free along with more blood tests!  I even played the "hey, I'm a teacher who has gone without a paycheck, since the end of May. I love my dog, but also making sure I can feed my kids is important."  Luckily the Vet consented that she would do the necessary follow up but not order anything else unless it was dire to use as a diagnostic tool and would contact me first.

So the moral of the story is, yes I love this animal, and  for the boys sake alone, will continue to provide her the best care we can, I can't help but wonder if the dog is a parallel to Disney. You get all hyped up on emotion to ride Space Mountain until you are puking and wishing that someone had talked some sense into you.

On a side note, I let the boys pick out a treat for Vegas during the hour we spent waiting to pick her up. This is what they selected.  Somehow the phrasing "needs a soft chew" went right over their heads.

*Note- mom went for something else

Sunday, August 18, 2013

If I ever find a home video of Oprah crying into a Lean Cuisine, I know who to call

What better way to head back to school today than to have spent the weekend with this group of lovely ladies.

Seriously.  I never in a million, gazillion years imagined when I commented to a non-judgemental Laura with our 6 week old babies, "hey, you didn't see me shove that paci back in Ben's mouth directly off the floor," that 7 years later I would have such a great circle of ladies to call friends.

Thank you Kim for offering up your mountain home for a weekend of relaxation.

Thank you Jen for taking the bitch seat the entire drive.

Thank you Katie for the zero calorie desserts you provided.

Thank you Laura for the Games Against Humanity card game. So inappropriately wrong and raunchy and so, so, perfect.

Thanks ladies for a memorable trip as well as your friendship over the last 7 years.
Everyone should be so lucky to call you part of their tribe.

Monday, August 12, 2013

Camp Mommy Week! Instructions for campers

Kicking off a week of Camp Mommy fun at the Spray park yesterday.

Camp Mommy Logistics

Number of Camp Days- 5

Hours of Camp- 9-5 pm.  Wait, who am I kidding? Camp Mommy begins when the first kid is awake and ends when they collapse into bed.

Please make sure campers wear Camp Mommy 2013 t-dyed tshirts, apply sunscreen and bug spray if appropriate at least 30 minutes before arrival. Please send campers in hard soled shoes, as we expect to play hard this week.  A change of clothes is recommended for all parties, especially if water play is added last minute.

Campers will carry their own backpacks daily.  Backpacks can contain no more than 5 HotWheels cars and 2 library books. Binoculars optional and will be forfeited if fighting ensues over said binoculars by campers.

Campers will be expected to pack their own lunches.  Assistance available for the 3 and under crowd. Choices include PBJ, chips, daily fruit selection, 2 snacks, and refillable water bottle.

Camp Mommy will provide all tickets, transportation, potty patrol, band aids for injuries, as well as a healthy dose of patience, common sense, and the ability to keep her s*it together when said campers are driving the director crazy.


Monday- Defy Gravity and the RDU airport park

Tuesday- Durham Science and Life and ice cream at the Parlour in Durham. Cooking with Katie for dinner.

Wednesday- Cary Creative Center and the "Giant Dragon" Park

Thursday- Playdate (mom has 1/2 day training at NC State with her student teacher) Afternoon at Pullen Park train, boats, and playground.  Locopops!!!!

Friday- Camp DADDY day!!!! Mom is heading to the mountains for a girls weekend.  Dad is taking Ben, Ian and our neighbor to the NC Zoo.

Camp Mommy will actually conclude Labor Day weekend with a super-secret treasure hunt weekend filled with NC Train Museum, 3 Bears Acres, and a surprise overnight guest.

Friday, August 9, 2013

Falling into one of two camps

Thank you dear friends for your kind thoughts, messages, and comments yesterday.  I laid low most of the day, spending it with the boys after camp pick up playing outside, doing housework, a library run for new books, and working on a paid contract writing standardized test items.  It was a average day and I was thankful for the normalcy.

I did get together with my friend Eileen to celebrate her birthday yesterday morning.  To be honest there are few people that can make me laugh harder than Eileen.  I didn't mention it was two years out with my mom, as I wanted it be what I intended, a time to catch up and celebrate her birthday.

We headed to Southern Season in Chapel Hill for lunch and quick shopping trip through their market.  Some where along the shelves of gourmet food, we came across fish balls.

Insert lewd joke here ____________.

At check out I whipped out my Disney to pay for lunch and Eileen commented, "of all people, YOU have a Disney Visa."

I replied, "yeah, because when you think ideal Disney customer, you think of me."

Eileen: "only if they issued cards with images of people giving Mickey the bird"

Me: "or junk punching Mickey in front of the Magic Kingdom"

It got me thinking that my friends from both now and those who have know me all my life fall into two camps:

1. Those who comment on how cute my Disney Visa is and where they can get one for themselves
2. Those that laugh and comment I am the last person Disney wants as a walking advertisement

Let's face it, the only reason I have the card is the Disney rewards it earns. Last trip we had close to $800 in essentially "free" money to spend in the Park.

I am so very appreciative for friends who get me, who know that what I needed more than anything yesterday was a space to laugh, talk, and remember that one day does not define me.

Thursday, August 8, 2013

The disconnect between head and heart

Yesterday I was making a triple batch of my aunt Betty Jean's cornbread dressing to freeze ahead.  I couldn't remember how much marjoram to put in and for the briefest of moments thought I should call my mom.

But I can't.

On this 2nd anniversary of her death I morn the smallest of things. It is the artwork from the boys that will not be sent. It is getting crazy notes in the mail, likely written while at dialysis detailing the mundane that I will never find among the bills and junk mail.  I even miss that rushed, weekly Sunday night obligation call. I now regret I didn't take more time and effort to just hear her.

I was perpetually busy and while no excuse, the regret that speaks most loudly is that I marginalized her.

While at Brian's last weekend I came across a picture I hadn't seen before.  I love it.  It is undated, but my guess is she is in college or newly married.  She is young, healthy, with her whole life ahead of her.

If I had only know that I had limited time left, what would I have done?

With several months, I would have loved to have to have planned a beach trip filled with shrimp, ice cream, and watching her face enjoying the boys playing in the pool or in the sand.

With a handful of days I would taken her back to Furman University, to where my dad proposed and the site of many a family picnics near the Bell tower.

With only hours left I would have sat likely at her kitchen table and really listened without silent judgement. I would have hugged her not in the "I'll be back next month" way I always did as I hurriedly tried to pack up and get home to my own family, but really hugged her knowing it was the end.

But I can't. No amount of flowers I can arrange and leave for her will bring a minute more with her.

I can only hug my own boys for her today.  I will because that is what she would have wanted.  I know in my head that she is in a better place, one free from the shell of pain and suffering that was her existence at the end.

But still, my heart hurts.

I loved you.

I still love you.


Wednesday, August 7, 2013

Four pictures for 1,400 miles

After nine days, over 1,400 miles logged as a party of three, we were finally home on Sunday night.  Without a long post, this trip was much like the six of prior years filled with time at the beach, time in the pool, a grill out with extended family, a water park trip, a morning child-free to visit one of my happiest places on Earth.

I kept thinking why it is so important to me to make this trip year after year, even if it is a haul to make the drive alone.  So why do I keep going back?

To visit with Ben and Ian's sole living grandparent for the longest amount of time we will see her all year

To regret the phrase, "yeah, go ahead an pick out a snack in addition to a triple insulin buster bubble gum, cherry, and blue raspberry slushy that is likely to be spilled in the back seat."  .

To remember that even though all the moments of the trip were not sunshine and roses, that a final night sunset walk on the beach in search of treasures was one to cherish.

To take silly pictures in front of the giant tree in our front yard with my brother Brian before heading home. We walked through our neighborhood showing the boys our secret childhood hideouts and grinned at inside jokes shared between us.

Until next summer and another 1,400 miles,

xoxoxo- V-Boys and Mom

Tuesday, August 6, 2013

Gettin' Busy in the Burger King Bathroom

No, we were not doing the Humpty Dance. Not close.  But much like the 90s classic by Digital Underground, there was limited clothing involved.

Cue to last night, a rare non-humid, actually nice summer night.  Perfect, one would think, to watch America's pastime.  Pastime if you count a field of six and seven year olds playing t-ball including kicking the dirt and scratching themselves constantly.  Hey, at least ONE is a real characteristic of baseball, not just the average actions of my seven year old at every game.

This summer, Ben's team has been assigned to a ball field that includes a playground within steps of the field. This sweet goodness, as I always have Ian with me at practice and games, is proximity.  The field is close enough to the bleachers that I can actually sit and watch both the game and keep an eye on Evel Knievel.

The bathroom is also within steps of the bleachers and playground.  When asked if he could go wash his hands showing me filthy, dirt-caked palms, I of course said, "yes, but come right back."  I'll admit the lazy parent, the same one that can count on one finger, on one hand, the number of naps said three year old has taken the entire summer, was tired.  The mantra this summer is, "how can you possibly still have energy given you haven't slept all day,  plus you were up at 6 am."

I digress.

I notice that Ben is yelling, "mom" at the top of his lungs and pointing in the direction of the bathrooms as Ian has not "washed his hands," but rather has taken off all his clothes, minus his sandals and his shirt is hanging like a noose around his neck. Ian is running towards Ben's team dugout. Seeing this, as well as hearing behind me lots of laughter from the crowd of parents, run interference and grab Ian and head back to the bathroom.

Of course he gave me his three year old logic for why he decided to take off his clothes.  It defied logic. It defied reason.  It was, simply put, gettin' busy in the Burger King baseball bathroom.