What is that on the baby?

Some of you have asked what was all over the baby -- finger paint. Yes, finger paint.

Friday, December 25, 2009

And It's a Wrap!

Christmas is over, and everyone is happy!

We were worried because last night my 2 year old turned into the scrooge. First, we spent the early evening trying to get her to help decorate the tree: "no, no Christma tree. No." Before bed, we asked if she wanted to put out cookies and milk for santa: "No, no cookies for Santa." Then, while tucking her in, daddy explained how Santa would come and leave presents: "No. No Santa comes. No presents. No Christmas. No." We were confused.

My daughter woke later than everyone else this morning (6:00 AM), which was a good sign that she was sleeping off sickness. When I went to get her, I reminded her about Santa: "No. No Santa in the pink house. Pink house is Daddy's, NOT SANTA'S!" Apparently in her mind, a visit from Santa is like a home invasion. Luckily, the wonderfully decorated tree and assembled baby carriage took the sting out of Santa's violation of our home. My perfect husband and I stayed up very late preparing for their special morning, and I might have lost it if she couldn't be just a little appreciative.  But no worries! She was my charmingly brilliant redheaded wonder all day.

Potty training, while being of secondary concern, surprisingly stayed on track for the day. Peanut had one accident, but otherwise used the potty all day. And the accident happened during the present opening frenzy, which is understandable. She loved her presents and could often be seen just gazing wide-eyed at the tree. It was amazing. Then my dear brother and his adorably round wife arrived and our little family opened gifts, told stories, and just loved each other. Things couldn't have been better.

My darling son only tried to kill himself 6 ways: choking (his MO), scaling down the sofa face first (a frequent stunt), pulling the tree down (festively dare-devilish) , eating mysterious inedibles (related to choking, but unique), provoking the dog (my personal fav), and wedging himself under the rocking recliner (awesomely scary). Well, 7 if you count deep-throating a drumstick, which is somewhere between eating inedibles and choking. Funny now, but then? Not so much...

He also bonded with my brother, his uncle and namesake. This was an important moment because my brother has trouble with babies -- he thinks they all hate him. In fairness, may do. This is because he's tall, loud and authoritative (think cop). However, he's expecting his first baby in February, and he's nervous. Not in a cold sweats, nightmare kind of way -- but more in a clumsy, my own baby won't like me until (s)he's older kind of way. I hope this morning was a confidence booster because he is going to be a wonderful father.

I just want to say out loud (figuratively) how much I need my family. I've always prided myself on not needing anyone, and now I do. I need all of you -- my perfect husband, my redheaded wonder, my beautiful daredevil, my dear brother, my adorable sister-in-law, the angel in waiting, and the "Aunties." I'm thankful that you've shown me what family is and that you are mine. I love you. You are my Christmas miracle, now and forever.

Monday, December 21, 2009

Welcome, Christmas...

So Thanksgiving is over, Chanukkah is over, The Pumpkin Man's birthday is over, it's finally time for Christmas. I'm not ready -- literally and figuratively.

Thanksgiving sucked. I had the swine and was awake for about 5 hours total, not consecutively. I was in bed more often than not over the long weekend, and sick for a week afterward. This set me back unimaginably for the holiday season. I was counting on that time to find the decorations for the upcoming festivities. Didn't happen. In fact, two weeks later it still hadn't happened.

Chanukkah was a bust. When I finally went to the basement to find the decorations, of course the missing box was the one with the menorah in it. So we had to go out and buy one on the night before. We ended up with two ugly-ass ceramic menorahs, and I still haven't found our pretty brass one. On top of that, we couldn't find candles anywhere. We went to six stores with huge holiday displays and no Chanukkah candles, NONE. Seriously? It isn't exactly an obscure holiday. Whatever. We ended up with 3 different kinds of birthday candles instead. Nice, huh?

The Pumpkin Man's birthday went off okay. My brother wasn't there because I'm sick again and his wife is eight months pregnant. His absence made for a weird black hole feeling in me, but no one else seemed terribly phased. My boy had his first cake, which he seemed to enjoy squishing more than eating (however, he eat it heartily today). He got lots of toys and some nice clothes. Everyone had the same idea of bringing Peanut a gift so she'd feel included, so she had a mini-birthday. Oh and my grandmother-in-law criticized my baby for thumb sucking and squeezed her breasts at him saying, "my kids had these and they were happy..." Hello, Nutjob.

Today we went for the tree. It smells great in my house. I love the smell of Christmas, but I still wish I had a fire -- maybe someday I'll have a house with a fireplace. That's one of the few things I wish my children could have that I had, roaring fire with my grandmother's homemade stockings hanging on the mantle. I only have mine left, green red and white crochet squares with jingle bells.

What is it about Christmas that makes us nostalgic? I'm sitting here thinking about things I haven't thought about in years. Last year at this time it was also snowing, but I was in the hospital having just given birth less than 24 hours before. I vacillated between crying in sadness because it was the first time I'd been separated overnight from my little girl since she's been born, and crying with joy over my perfect, perfect little boy. Either way, there were a lot of hormones and tears. This year my baby is becoming a toddler and my toddler is becoming a little girl. And here I am crying again. Is it weird that these thoughts make me melancholy? I don't think I'm ready...

Friday, December 18, 2009

Cheaters Never Win? Don't Be So Sure...

Most anyone reading this knows I teach English in a district high school in a major city. What you may or may not know is that I teach mostly sophomores because I  have a good history of standardized test scores and I actually enjoy 10th grade. Most people don't, so I had some leverage to get a treat class. As a concession to my sacrifice, I've also been given a 12th grade creative writing elective. It's wonderful, but I do tend to spoil that class. There are occasional days of sitting around, chatting about school, becoming adults, working, and whatnot. This NEVER happens in my sophomore classes.

Anyway, during one of these chat sessions, it came out that their honors/AP class group is the craziest group of cheaters ever to walk the halls of our high school. This clutch of cheaters includes some of the top 10 kids in the school, including the would be valedictorian and salutatorian. They started telling me that they cheated here, and they cheated there. Nothing unusual at first, but it just kept getting worse. I'll give you some examples. Mind you, all of these have been successful  to some degree.

Here are a few of their more innovative schemes:

1. They dig through the recycling bins and mailboxes looking for discarded copies of their teachers tests, and hang around the copy room in hopes that teachers will forget the master copy in the machine.

2. They google questions from their AP exams on their phones. They also record themselves slowly reading chapters of textbooks into their phones, download them to their IPODs and play them during their tests while pretending to listen to music.

3. They have elaborate hand signals (a virtual sign language) for cheating.

4. They use their phones as calculators because our school doesn't have enough for every class -- but they text each other the answers. Those classes with calculators store info in them directly.

5. They write cheat sheets in places that teachers can't ask to check or would never think to check -- high up on a thigh under a skirt, and on each other's backs.

6. They do the traditional note passing, but also engage in more elaborate plans with cheat sheets in odd places and a Q & A session on the bathroom wall.

7. Of course they plagiarize from the internet, which is fairly easy to catch. But they also write each others papers and take each others tests.

8. They steal tests and trade or sell them to other classes or absent students.

9. They try to hack into their teachers' email, and know that their math teacher puts his test in his mailbox the night before to xerox it in the morning.

10. They managed to cheat on a real standardized test and were working on a system for the SAT.

Anyway 2 days after my students boasted, they got busted when a kid in their math class ratted them out. She said she earned her F in calculus and would be damned if other kids were getting A's by cheating and bragging about it. Now, the class has to take tests in the cafeteria, monitored by the administration. They actually had the balls to bitch -- "they're treating us all like we're guilty." I find this hysterical.

Damn straight we're treating you all like you're guilty. First, most of you are. Secondly, if you aren't the circumstances of your test shouldn't matter. Thirdly, you sound even more guilty when you complain that the school is doing something to stop the cheating. And lastly, stop whining -- as you would text:"U R BUS-TED." BWHAHAHAHAHAHA!

These Kids Are Crazy!

Sunday, December 13, 2009

Sunday, Bloody Sunday...

As most of you know, I live in the land of role reversal -- except on Sundays. Sunday is my day to stay at home with the kids while HM goes to make the ice. Today started out great. The kids were in good moods, both slept a little later than usual (6:00 instead of 5:30), and breakfast of really good bagels and cream cheese are always a crowd pleaser. The Peanut ate a little more than a 1/2 of a bagel, while her younger brother ate a whole one and a banana. We all watched a little Dora than played on the floor for a while. The peanut went pee-pee in the potty (Yay!). The Pumpkin Man tried a sippy cup. We sang Christmas carols (We wish you a merry very Christmas) and danced, Then Pumpkin Man went down for nap rather easily, and Peanut and I began our "project."

Every weekend I try to do something artsy with the peanut. Daddy is a little intimidated by art projects, so he does crayons and some paint, but he usually leaves the crazy stuff to me (like the Thanksgiving turkey hats ). Today's project was a multistep job. We're making our own Christmas ornaments. Cooking the dough was scary because Peanut wanted to stir the pot. I let her, but open flame and 2 1/2 year olds? Scary. The dough dried out more quickly than it should have. The baby woke up in the middle of it all and had to join us at the table. He wouldn't believe that the dough was disgusting, so he kept trying it and yelling about how yucky it tasted. All in all, it went fine. We'll have to see how the ornaments dry, but the process (while terribly messy) was fun for everybody. Cleanup went smoothly thanks to the handvac that scares everyone and makes them cry (including our 70 lb. Boxer).

Then all hell broke loose. The Pumpkin Man's bottle leaked all over me. The Peanut flipped out because I wasn't getting her a snack fast enough and the DVR started her show almost at the end. HM called to tell me he killed the Zamboni. The cat threw up on the floor and the dog knocked over the ornaments in a mad dash for the cat vomit. Seriously, this all happened in about 5 minutes. I yelled at everyone -- and hung up on HM. I fixed everything, and called HM back. Then while talking to him, my darling son, the Pumpkin Man attacked me because I wouldn't give him the same snack his sister had. Peanut was enjoying a Nutty Buddy , which has peanut butter -- a no-no until the Pumpkin Man is older. So, he pinched my arm, threw himself into my lap and bit me in the thigh. I kid you not.

Lunch did not go very well. Let's just say we all needed a change of clothes and sponge bath, and I doubt the Pumpkin Man has a peanut allergy. But right now, everything is peaceful. The Pumpkin Man is crawling around with an animal cracker hanging out of his mouth, and the Peanut is trying to poop in the potty, while explaining that "you have to push, push. Oh yes!" to her little brother. Only 2 hours to go!

UPDATE: Shortly after blogging, my sweet little girl had an attack of constipation that resulted in hugs, tears and poopy smears down the front of my pants. She ended up in an emergency bath to calm the cramps and her brother just HAD to join her. After the bath, I had nothing (because it was an emergency, remember). So I played goalie with the Pumpkin Man -- who was determined to scale down the staircase wet, naked and face first -- while searching for a third set of clothes for both babies in the 'clean clothes basket" in the hallway. Meanwhile, the Peanut huddled beside the radiator for warmth: "Uhm, Mommy? I have boogies." "You have boogies?" "No, no. The towel has my boogies." I turn to see bright red blood smeared all over her face. Damn my husband and his freaking sinuses.

P.S. While I'm feeling pulled in a million directions, I should mention it is one week until my baby, the Pumpkin Man, turns one -- Chanukkah, a birthday, and Christmas. Oh My! I guess I'd better see the wizard...

Wednesday, December 9, 2009

Honestly, Sometimes Girls are Just Bitches for No Good Reason

So, most of you know I work in a high school. I teach English in a large urban school to poor, inner-city kids of color who are -- hmmm, how to phrase this -- largely disenfranchised with the educational system.  And this year I agreed to give up my juniors and seniors to take on the sophomores and prepare them for MCAS. Before you ask, yes I am that crazy. Honestly, I really enjoy teenagers, especially sophomores. Everything is so dramatic and all of the imagined insults and minor tragedies are wonderfully overblown. Sure tears are plentiful, but so are laughs, and my days are never boring. I love my job. Next to my family, it is the only other thing in my life that makes me feel whole and fulfilled. But sometimes...

Sometimes. I have this class of complete maladjusts. Seriously, they have no idea what a real student looks like. Daily, I have to ask them not to get up and wander aimlessly around the room just because the story we are reading "is boring," or drift out of the room "to get something" from some vague presence in the halls. They repeatedly have to be reminded not to drum on the tables, slap each other in the head, throw wadded up paper across the room, and/or fart on each other. Oh, and the swearing. They curse like profanity was the "Blue Light Special" at KMART and they're all stocked up for the season.

Anyway, I have one student, let's call her Angie, who has serious issues. She is a sophomore for the third time this year, but this is her first time with me. When we tested all the kids at the beginning of the year, she scored at a 2nd grade reading level, so I knew my regular Ed college prep class was going to be tough for her. I was warned by several of my colleagues that this kid is a monster. Still, up until today she had never been a problem. It had gotten to the point where Angie was often the best behaved kid in the class. My friends would shake their heads and say, "Damn, you know it's a bad class when Angie is a star." Still, I couldn't fathom who they were talking about; my Angie was a darling.

Then it happened -- Angie lost her shit. It began when she walked in and before she even sat down, loudly announced the she hated my "fucking class." I walked over and quietly reminded her that she may hate class because she'd been absent and was feeling frustrated, but that she did not hate me and she owed me the respect of not speaking that way in my room or my presence. She agreed, smiled and earnestly apologized. Everything was fine.

As class went on, she took out her cell phone and started texting. My student teacher asked her (very nicely) to put her phone away and join the class. She ignored him. He repeated himself, and she told him that she didn't understand the lesson and his questions were "fucking stupid" anyway. At this point, they were in a pissing contest and I had to step in. I told her to give me her phone. She refused. I told her she had to give me the phone or leave the room. She said she'd leave. I told her that if she chose to leave, she'd better go directly to the principal. And then she completely blew: "No! No! I'm not giving you my Fucking phone, and I'm not going to Mrs. Fucking _____. I'M FUCKING OUT. FUCK THIS." Then she proceeded to slam open the door and storm out of the room with all the grace and class of an elephant stampede. Nice.

Just to be a bitch, I snidely called out behind her -- "Okay Angie, you have a nice day" and shut the door on her shrill, indignant whine that I would dare to mock her. I know, I know. I'm the adult. Whatever. If you say you wouldn't have taken a shot at her, you're a liar. And really, compared to what I'd like to have done, a little sarcasm was kind.

Sunday, December 6, 2009

Sunday, Poopy Sunday

As some of you know, my husband drives a Zamboni for grocery money. So, today is my day to watch the kids alone. Usually, I really enjoy this opportunity for quality time with the babies for most of the morning, but around hour 6 or 7 I start to watch the clock as the kids' charms wear quite thin. Truth be told, the kids are ready for a nap and I am ready for a valium. Sadly, neither ever happens.

Anyway, my other half leaves at 6:00 AM, and usually the kids and I are already up. However we went to a Christmas party last night and everybody was up pretty late, so we got up at about 7:00. It was pretty nice to sleep in. Normally our days start at 5:30, weekend or weekday. Once w were up, the Pumpkin Man had a diaper change and a feeding, and I called daddy to say good morning. By the time I was done on the phone, Peanut was awake and joined us for a breakfast of Trader Joe's yogurt and bananas.

Then we watched Max and Ruby and Dora, until I noticed my daughter picking up something with a piece of tissue. I thought she was mimicking Dora's star catching, but no. When I asked her, she informed me that she was "cleaning up the poop." Now, I was nervous. We are working on potty training and she had been sans diaper for about an hour. I asked her if she pooped on the floor. She told me, "No, no. It's Ruby's poop. Poop that Ruby threw up." At this point I have no idea if she means Max and Ruby or our dog Ruby, But the image of anyone vomiting poop is more than I can bear on a belly full of yogurt and banana. All I know is I'm not going to look for it, so, I let the matter drop. Hopefully, if the dog is vomiting poop, Daddy will find it before the Pumpkin Man.

Friday, December 4, 2009

Max and Ruby

I know everybody posts about Max and Ruby and their mysterious missing parents. I know this because I became deeply concerned about those two little anthropomorphized bunnies, so I tried to find out about their parents. Near as I can tell, they are raising themselves. Apparently, other than one picture of parents on the wall above the sofa, no one has seen their parents. Most people hypothesize that the parents have passed on. Although some people guess that something more sinister is at work, and one blogger even ventured that grandma is a very old mother.

The author says that she doesn't include parents because she wants kids to learn to solve their own problems without running to their parents. Apparently, she wants all the kids out there to be able to solve the commonplace childhood problems of food shopping, preparing holiday meals, baking elaborate desserts, and  throwing Halloween parties without needing adult help. Yeah, okay -- whatever. This author seems a little squirrelly to me.

Regardless of where people fall in the great parent debate, most people agree on one point. They all hate Ruby. Most people talk about how bossy she is, and how she controls everything Max does. They talk about her being uptight and OCD, and say she is mean to Max who is more of a free spirit. My own husband worries that Ruby, who is my daughter's current idol, is a bad influence on the Peanut mainly because the Peanut doesn't need any encouragement in the bossy department.

I personally feel really bad for Ruby. She tries really hard to raise Max right. I figure her irresponsible parents are off getting wasted while Ruby is left to hold down the fort.  It isn't easy to be a seven year old mom. Max is sweet, but he's a little devious. If you look at his facial expressions, you'll realize that he knows exactly how to push his poor sister's buttons. She cooks, she cleans, she bathes and dresses Max, she shops, she plays with her brother, she obvioulsy loves him; she is a good girl.

I'm just saying, people should cut poor Ruby a break.

Tuesday, December 1, 2009


So I officially have the swine. Yup. Sucks to be me. I've been out of work for 2 days and I'll be out again tomorrow. I can't go back until 24 hours after the fever is broken without Tylenol. So far, that hasn't happened. I thought I was in the clear from 12ish this afternoon until about 7:00 tonight. But, now it's back. Still, other than the cough, I feel a good bit better. Maybe I be back to work by Thursday or Friday.

I called the woman who teaches next to me. She told me that my second period was nuts. I'm not surprised. They are nuts when I'm there. It takes every ounce of my teacherly being to keep them under control and productive in small spurts. Everyone knows this class is demented. The science teacher in my cluster calls them the worst class ever. The math teacher just shakes his head and calls them crazy. I've called home 50 times in that class, and 1st term just ended. So, it seems par for the course that they'd be psycho when I was out. Why no one thought they'd need some special attention is beyond me, but whatever. At this point, they are not my problem.

This painful, barking, hacking, seal-cough is my problem.  I think I hear the codeine calling...
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