Tuesday, April 19, 2016

The Last Straw

My poor husband was reminded again last night that I am emotional.  I've had a busy couple weeks at work, and I have some deadlines coming up as well.  My laundry mountain is nearing an all-time high.  After a full day at school and an afternoon of typing up plans for a substitute while I'd be in a day-long meeting, I arrived home worn out.

I couldn't rest yet.  I needed to cut out some sorting cards for my class the next day.  This year, I've also been blessed with a helpful first block.  Normally, they'd cut pieces for me, number them, and place them in ziploc bags for the rest of the day.  Since I'd have a sub, though, I was going to do this step myself.

At that moment, G entered the house and declared he needed help with homework.  G had to finish spelling.  Spelling assignments are the same every week.  He can definitely do this homework by himself, but he was having a needy moment.  I just wanted to turn my brain off.  I wanted to knit while watching my list of Bar Rescues.

Suddenly, I realized that my six piles of cut definitions and titles had gotten mixed up.  Tears streamed down my face.  I was barely hangin on.

Josh walked in and saw me crying.  He asked what was wrong.  I waved at the cards strewn on the table and sniffled, "They're all messed up!"

Josh is a good husband, and he really wanted to help me out.  What came out of his mouth, though, was "How did they get messed up?"

That word choice was the last straw.  The dining room table confetti was a metaphor for my life.  Everything was messed up.  I know that's irrational, but this emotional lady was losing it.

"I..sniff, sniff...don't...sniff...gasp...know!  I sniff, sniff, can't answer those inhale, inhale, inhale, sob...questions!  How does everything get messed up?  Sob, sob."

Then Josh moved G to the dining room table to help him write sentences for five of his spelling words.

If we're honest, we've all had meltdowns like that, right?  Once I sorted the cards, mixed each pile up, numbered them, and placed them in baggies, I realized how irrational Josh's wife was.  However, the cry was good.  I released the stress.  Josh had a talk with the boys about "leaving Mama to herself" for the night.  That's a lesson they'll need for life, too, right?  I guess my point is that we all have the occasional meltdown.  If we're lucky, we have great people to help us through them, and we a sense of humor about our meltdowns--come on--"I can't answer that question?"  Ha, ha!

Saturday, April 2, 2016

New Spring Line

About a year ago, Molar #19 got her crown.  She wasn’t really bothering me, but the dentist was concerned at the quantity and age of the filling.  After receiving the bill, I dubbed the tooth Her Majesty. 

Apparently, Her Majesty was ready for a remodeled crown.  On Saturday, the unceasing pain in #19 began.  It was on Josh’s and my date night, and we were at Sushi King.  The next morning, the pain was still there.  I made a dentist appointment on Monday morning; I would be seen on Wednesday at 1:30. 

That evening, I was leaving a message for the dentist and heading to Patient First.  The pressure in the tooth was still present after four ibuprofen.  Tuesday morning, I was making appointments for a root canal.  The earliest appointment was APRIL 14.  How, for the love of sanity, was I going to teach for two weeks perpetual pain in my tooth? 

Luckily, one of my BFF’s texted me to keep calling around.  I was getting a root canal on Wednesday at 1:30.  Josh had driven me up to the appointment, 53 minutes away.  He’d had to pull over once to let me vomit since the pain medication prescribed did not agree with my stomach. 
The endodontist had to drill through the crown and clear out the nerves.  During the clear-out, he discovered that the tooth had a abscess.  I was directed to get antibiotics that day. 

I learned a few things from the experience.  First, Her Majesty is a lot like me: she needs people to work with her when something is on her last nerve.  Also, Her Highness#19 is as indecisive as the rest of us.  The bone under one tooth stem was decalcifying, trying to let the tooth out.  The bone under the other tooth stem was re-calcifying, trying to wall off the tooth. 

 I also learned that it is possible to look forward to a root canal.  The endodontist warned me that, like a splintered hand, there would still be pain after removal.  I assured him that soreness was better than unending pressure. 

Finally, I learned that even Her Majesty likes new things.  She feels great with her her updated tiara.  Now she'd better reign for a long time.  If she evacuates, I'm going to be hopping mad.    

Thursday, January 28, 2016

Snow Break Parenting

We got four days off of school for the most recent snowstorm.  During the time off, I crocheted, read, watched a bunch of HGTV, and napped.  Also during the storm and its aftereffects, I parented.  Here are some of the areas in which I guided my sons.

Hide & Seek Etiquette: When G burst through the back door, announcing that he was cold and "done playing hide and seek", I asked if he'd informed the brother that he was no longer seeking.  "Oh...uh....no...should I tell him I'm going in?"  If you are playing hide and seek, YES.  Yes, you should.

Fashion Sense, 6 Year Old Version: G wore his play shoes outside during the snow.  He also wore a hat, pajama pants under his day pants, a coat, and socks for mittens.  On the last day of snowcation, when we went out for lunch. G insisted on wearing his holey corduroys and play shoes.  I explained that he should wear his good clothing and shoes when we went out in public.  He must have developed a longterm relationship with the old gear because he refused.  I realized I didn't care quite enough, and had him don the new knight helmet hat I crocheted for him, which effectively distracted most people from the rest of his ragamuffin style.

Fashion Sense, 10 Year Old Version: B ran out of pajama pants and resorted to stuffing himself into two pairs of jeans.  I was unsure that would even be possible, but he made it happen.  Then, on the way to lunch, I realized he was wearing his father's sneakers without socks.  Now, wearing Dad's shoes out in the snow was a great idea when wearing footie pajamas and socks.  However, wearing them in public...well, I obviously need to reinforce "at home" wear and "out of the house" wear with both of my boys.

I look forward to more weather and more parenting challenges.

Thursday, December 10, 2015

A Way with Words

This afternoon we stopped by the Dollar General for a project board for B's math project and white icing for G's class project next week.  As soon as I walked through the door, I saw someone I knew and stopped to chat.  The boys, as is their habit, stood quietly...for about one minute.  Then they entertained themselves by nudging each other, stepping on each other's toes, and finally, sword fighting with candy cane decorations about the height of G.

After my short (fifteen minute) conversation, I directed the boys toward the food aisles.  They asked if we could get the candy canes.  

In true King Solomon wisdom, I asked, "Well, what would we use them for?"

G instantly replied, "Oh, you know, to get things that are really high up and we can't reach them."

G now owns that candy cane.  

Friday, December 4, 2015

Countdown to Christmas

Someone recommended the Lego Advent Calendar set.  I knew my boys would love it.  I remembered an advent calendar from Christmases when I was growing up.  The version my mom bought housed chocolate.  My brother, sister, and I would gather around the cardboard calendar, hunt for the number of the date, then peel back the door to extract the chocolate inside.  We had one calendar to share, so Mom made us take turns, youngest to oldest.

On Thanksgiving Day, Mom brought an advent calendar for each of our families.  This coincidental gift meant that each of my sons would get a small gift each day: Legos or chocolate.  G was so excited about daily prizes, that he tried to sneak the calendars out early.  We had to hide them.  Then when we took them out the night before, he let loose a list of reasons we needed to start that day.  To doors of Lego calendar were opened during his monologue.  I finally had to tell him that if he couldn't wait until it was time, that if one more door opened, we'd have to give the set to someone who could be patient.  Ah, character building.  

So December 1, before I'd gotten out of the shower, Lego RC cars were built and a piece of chocolate was in B's tummy.  G could not possibly wait until the evening, as we did when I was a child.  This week, a pretzel-toting photographer in a fur lined hooded jacket and a pie/skate stand have joined the RC cars.  My only complaint is that the poor photographer's lets don't bend.  He will be so tired by Christmas.  

Today I made it to the calendar opening, and my sons' tradition is so much different than ours was.  My boys punch the doors open.  Punch them.  "Bam! Bam! Bam!" they chant.  Apparently, the manufacturers have compensated for this behavior, since the boxes hold up against the beating.  I sat at the table, shocked.  What is it with boys?  How can they turn such a sweet tradition into something violent? 

"What?" G asked, genuinely surprised, "I gotta get it open so I can give you my chocolate today!"

Sunday, October 4, 2015

Great Dino Hunt

About a month ago, Cassie and I took K and G with us on a grocery run.  When we stopped at Sams, the Littles fell in love with these incredible stuffed animals.  The last thing we need at our house is another stuffed animal, so I told G to save his money.  I promised him that as soon as he had thirty dollars, I'd bring him back for Tri-Sarry. 

I was hoping he'd forget, but he hasn't.  The more I've thought about it, though, the more I've realized that the dino could be a type of beanbag chair for G.  He could use it for a gaming chair.  Tri-Sarry kind of matches our living room furniture, and could be his television watching furniture, freeing the couch for more comfortable lounging for me or B. 

G had saved fifteen dollars--ten from his great grandmother for his birthday and five for performing "Insane in the Membrane" for my recording cell phone.  His birthday party yielded enough gift money for Tri-Sarry plus cash for some Legos and other toys.  Grammy and I took him to Sam's Club this afternoon. 

The wait for membership sign-up was excruciating for G.  He kept looking toward the place where the Jumbo Animals were displayed the month before.  They'd been moved.  Our next stop was the restrooms.  Finally we perused the toy section.  There were two jumbo boxes of Jumbo Animals.  As Grammy and I hefted unicorns and giraffes, G bounced around, waiting for Tri-Sarry. 

There was not one single triceratops in either box. Upon closer inspection of the signs, only one box was supposed to hold the Jumbo Animals; the other housed Eye-normous Animals, which were a bit smaller with bug eyes. 

My lesson in delayed gratification was turning in to a lesson of disappointment.  G licked his lips several times, a sign that he might tear not be able to hold back tears much longer.  As we walked toward the cell phone cases hand in hand, Grammy noticed a shrink wrapped box of Jumbo Animals high up above the atomic clocks. 

She waited there while G and I approached the customer service desk. I explained that G had been saving money for a special Jumbo Animal that we couldn't find and asked if we could get the box down to check for a dino.  It helped that G was wearing his knitted dino sweater. 

A lift had to be driven out to bring the pallet down with the box on top of it.  The employee and I dug through a half box of gigantor animals.  Every last one was a unicorn or a giraffe.  We checked customer service see if more were being ordered.  They weren't.  

At lunch, I checked samsclub.com.  I can't find this version of Dino! I've Amazoned, Googled, and Toysrused for Goff International Jumbo Animal or dinosaur.  Then resorted to a Facebook post in hopes that some Sams club somewhere near friends and family might have one that can be shipped to us.  Guess what my after-lunch fortune cookie said?


Saturday, June 13, 2015

Live Well

For the past two school years, I give my students a 100 on my final assignment, then pass out the paper.  They keep the 100 if they don't ask for or give any answers.  In other words, as long as you put some answer down, you win.  I just want to know what they honestly think. 

The first question and some of their answers:

Now, some people get tattoos because they look cool, and that's cool.  The one on my left wrist, though, holds special significance.  My left wrist got inked on June, 14, 2013.  That would have been my cousin Eva's thirty-fourth birthday.  She'd been in heaven for six months. 

Eva was my first best friend.  Her mother watched me while my mother worked.  Eva and I walked to school together--down a road, around the corner, across Main street with the help of a crossing guard, and straight to Van DerVeer Elementary in Somerville, New Jersey.  She lived around the corner from us.  When we moved to Virginia, she spent summers with us.  During college, I spent half a year's weekends at her house, where we sautéed mushrooms, ate Cappucino Chocolate Chunk ice cream, and left for lengthy Target runs.  Eva and I curled each other's hair for our weddings and laughed through early motherhood. 

Eva had the same time attitude when she was a passenger as I learned to drive.  "We're all gonna die!" she'd scream from the back seat.  I attribute that behavior to my ability to ignore fighting boys while I drive now. 

I think it was September 2012 when I received the call from my mother that Eva had lymphoma.  I was at my in-laws house.  Josh and has parents watched as I dropped my head in my hands and cried.  Eva had two small girls and a July-born baby boy.  I cried for what she'd have to go through.  I cried when I realized how difficult treatment would be with a baby who didn't sleep through the night , a job, and two girls in preschool and gymnastics. 

One thing, I knew for sure, though, was that she would be fine.  Eva was ridiculously healthy.  She had competed in gymnastics growing up, then taken up pole vaulting in college.  She ran marathons.  As a professor, she'd stop by her track coach husband's practices and beat young men in pull-up contests.  She'd coached gymnastics as a camp leader, then as a twenty-something young lady before she began teaching at ECU.  Eva had learned to unicycle within days of receiving one for Christmas.  She'd driven with her leg out the driver side window after she'd had knee surgery. 

I was floored when she passed on New Year's Day 2013.  I'd gone down to say good-bye after an unexpected and quick turn for the worse in December.  I missed saying good-bye to her listening ears by twenty minutes.  She was still warm when I said good-bye, but if she heard me, it was from eternal paradise. 

That June, Cassie, our mom, Eva's mom, and our Oma got inked on Eva's birthday.  They were Hildie and Oma's first tattoos.  Hildie, a nurse, had warned Eva against tattoos for years--even before she'd learned of the permanent lizard between Eva's shoulder blades.  This was our way of honoring Eva and displaying her memory as well. 

Framed picture of our tattoos

My tattoo says "Live Well" in my mother's handwriting.  As an English teacher, I meant "well" two ways.  First, use your life well.  Eva did.  She leaped over obstacles with a joke and a smile.  Yet she'd admit to the difficulty involved.  Second, live a healthy life.  Eva did. She was sick the last four months, but the more-than-thirty-three years prior had included exercise, healthy food choices, prayer, and a good attitude. 

I fail at both meanings.  I fail particularly with the second meaning.  I need a constant reminder of the first.  Still, my left wrist reminds me to keep trying, so that others will remember a life well-lived and so that the lives I touch each day might be made better for having seen me.