Thursday, June 26, 2014


Just a little virtual fist pump here. I finally got the two fillings done today. After the Novocaine finally kicked in (my poor dentist started drilling and my hand shot up so fast to stop him, he flew backwards), it was pretty quick. he asked for the camera to take some pictures and I was waiting to be told/shown that I needed to do more. After it was all over, he showed me the pictures and explained that these cavities were not my fault. My teeth have deep grooves and are almost impossible to clean. He praised my flossing (yes!!!!) and told me my gums were in great shape. The crappy part is eventually the tooth will need to be pulled because it will cause bone damage. Luckily that probably won't happen until I am a very old lady.

Finding Our Way

Yesterday was the first step in my oldest daughter's journey of spreading her wings and flying away from home. She left for a two week trip to Great Britain. We are so very excited for her. I know this will be the trip of a life time for her. I also know my girl, and at some point being in close quarters with the many people will get on her nerves. The awesome thing about maturity is she can push past that and have a wonderful time. I am almost more worried about her missing her boyfriend than us. He is such a sweet boy. He came with us to see her off. Lily spent yesterday hiding in the basement. I suspect that she is going to really miss her big sister.

After the drop off, I went out for dinner and drinks with some of the other mothers. I have yet to figure out what makes it so difficult for me to navigate conversations with other mothers. I do think my hearing has a lot to deal with it. I always end up at the end of the table in crowded restaurants. I spend a lot of time smiling, nodding analyzing the bits that I heard, and putting the conversation together in my head. By the time I've done all of that, the conversation has moved on. One of the mothers is a special education teacher and she and I had read and reposted the same article about the DOE's new testing plans for children with special needs. We talked a lot about that. I think that explains my other block. I am just a bit obsessed with teaching.

At one point they all pulled out their phones to check final grades which had just been posted. I didn't. You could insert a joke about helicopter parents here, but you could also just as easily have painted me as a distracted/uninvolved parent. I don't think either fits. I knew Caroline's grades because she is just a bit obsessed with her GPA (as she should be), and I didn't need the frustration of trying to get to the Internet on my phone. I can text and play Burds (easily the most addictive game ever), but browsing on my phone? Not so much.

I guess the biggest thing is conversation topics. When other parents request educational advice, I am all in. I love to talk about education. I would really love to talk about movies, TV, and music. It is just hard finding adults with the same interests as me. Really, most of my tastes run along the same lines as a sophisticated teenager. The one thing that I tend to not talk about would be my kids. I keep it all very general. It is the same philosophy as the blog: their stories are not my stories. Once you put something out there, it cannot be taken back. It would be so easy for people to get the wrong idea about my girls based on my stories. Lily would seem like a brat, Caroline would seem angelic. They are so much more complicated than that. Anything I would say would be pale and two-dimensional. There really is no way to put into words the awesomeness that is my girls (or any kids). Besides, once you say something or put it in print it never goes away. I am not just my girls mother, I am their PR rep. It is up to me to represent them in the best possible light.

But, more than that, I am Melissa, a person in her own right. Very soon (so much sooner than I am ready for) I will be moving into the next stage in my life. I will always be a mother, but it will not always be my chief responsibility. The same goes for teaching. I need to find a way to continue to be at peace with myself and follow the things that I am passionate about.

Monday, June 23, 2014

This Summer I Will Chill (even if it kills me)

This blog used to be funny. My life used to be funny. I guess it still is, but now it is in that wincing way. You know how you inhale sharply before laughing when you see someone get hit in the privates on a video clip show? Yeah, like that.

It was the first day of summer break here. Well actually Friday was, but we were at Great Wolf Lodge with Lily's scout troop. Lily had fun. Me? Well places like that are hard. I swear I lose more hearing every year. I kept finding myself bending down trying to hear one child or another in the wave pool while trying not to fall out of my bathing suit. I tried one water slide. Of course it made me so dizzy, I fell over on Lily's co leader and staggered off of the ride like a drunken sailor. It was worth it to see Lily have fun.

Anyway, today. We went back over to the school to finish cleaning out my room. Of course I will need to go back tomorrow because I forgot to bring the keys that I need to turn in. I have a reputation for forgetting one thing or another and dragging out the entire check out process. And Caroline wondered why people looked so surprised when she told everyone that we would be packed up and out of my room by 4:00 last Thursday. I did clear out 20 years worth of files. After that we drove through Taco Bell.

I spent the rest of my day organizing the things that I need to organize for school into crates so the organization process will be easier (did you follow that?). After that I tackled the bathrooms, and laundry, and picked up the den. I went through all of the end of school papers (at least I thought so then I found one more stupid backpack hiding under the bench).

I also watched the turtle demonstrate his new flying demo. Seriously. He climbs onto the plastic cover that is designed to keep him in the tank and sits there with his legs, arms, and head stretched out. He looks like Superman. Maybe it wasn't such a good idea to name him after a Wonder Pet. Buffy had fun playing her favorite game, "Roll In the Clean Laundry and Play Dumb While Mom Yells." I did get to watch a TV show while I folded laundry.

I also managed to get Lily to read one chapter of My Father's Dragon. She retold the chapter perfectly, although in a British accent and with voices for each character.

I finished the day by making hot dogs that no one wanted to eat. So I threw caution to the wind and let them have watermelon for dinner.

When Rob got home, he asked what I did with my day off. After I told him he replied "So your summer vacation starts tomorrow?" Sure, honey, right after I make the latest round of doctors appointments and empty the dishwasher and start the next load of laundry....

Sunday, June 22, 2014

In Search of Impossible Answers

When you are a very curious worry wart, the sort whose mind constantly tumbles with one "what if?" after another, the Internet can be a very dangerous place. It is the modern day rabbit hole and here I am Alice in mother form trying to find the answers. Thanks to modern technology, Facebook never lets me forget which questions I have searched. I am still getting ads for the best natural delousing products (this from my quest this winter), modest clothes for preteens (this one done on behalf of a friend), and fun retro dresses (this left over from home coming). My bookmarked pages look like those of a most unbalanced (and highly curious) individual. There are dozens of medical sites (ADHD, diabetes, skin care, hair care, the dangers of food additives, natural anxiety treatments, and of course cancer treatments), directions for the keeping of ants, turtles, Beta fish, rabbits, dogs, teen aged children, and not so teen aged children, dozens of recipes that I may never get to, shopping sites for practical shoes, comfortable and funky clothes, book reviews, blogs by other awesome mothers, movie reviews, TV show reviews, home repair sites that I can't possibly follow, and multiple weather sites.

The older I get, the more frustrated my family becomes by these lists, worries, questions. And I wonder why Lily is so curious, perhaps she is my child after all. Knowing the answers helps. The answers are a compass in the storm, they give me a direction. When you are a person who is easily lost, directions are very important. The Internet is a GPS for my brain. My brain might frustrate those nearest to me, but the older I get the more I relish and celebrate it. This brain keeps a family running AND teaches a first grade class AND runs a team of first grade teachers AND, well you get the picture. I don't have ADD, but I can so relate to those who do. We are both multi-taskers. Maybe not always in an efficient manner, but we are.

I am so glad that my brain and I are reaching some kind of an understanding. We are finally becoming a team. I know myself, so I can't be tripped up by myself (or if I am I can reach peace with it more quickly). I hope this makes sense. Sometimes, I think that it is impossible to understand my ramblings unless you too have a rambling mind. All of this leads to Lily. My amazing, beautiful, impossible Lily. 

Third grade was so very rough for her. She was sick, she was overwhelmed, and yet she pushed on. She came out having learned so much. None of which can be measured by state achievement tests (six tests on four years worth of learning, really?!). She has learned how to find us when she is overwhelmed in public (by taking a walk, a break, a joke, or even a private snide remark). The next step is to teach her to take a break while staying in the room. She has learned to handle teasing from children who feel they are brighter than her (and yet seemed to miss learning manners and compassion). That one is probably the one I am proudest of. She doesn't shut down or get angry. She fixes them with a steely stare and proceeds on her way. No one does aloof better than my daughters and I. I explained that she will have to deal with this all of her life. People seem to want to "fix" my child. I stopped sharing her struggles and simply proceed forth. Who defines normal? My child is being herself, and that is her normal. I have lived with misconceptions myself. Someone told me a couple of weeks ago "You are really sweet and adorable, but I don't understand you." Of course this was after she watched me rescue a stranded butterfly. But I am who I am. I have no one to impress, but myself.

So my job this summer is to teach Lily to impress herself. I will continue to push her to tackle the things that scare her and push through the things that bore her. We promised her that if she reads 25 books and practices math everyday, she can get her ears pierced. Lily never makes thing easy or does things the way I would do them, but she will get them done. She is going to need to find her own rabbit hole and navigate her Wonderland. I have no doubt that she will do just fine.

Saturday, June 14, 2014

The Last Good Day

I went with a "mommy friend" to see The Fault in Our Stars tonight. My family was waiting when I got home to see if I'd cried. Well of course I did, it was a sad movie. I never try to hide or avoid crying at sad books/movies/TV shows/news stories/commercials. Sad is a relevant and important emotion. When you are sad you cry, enough said. I have had many reasons to be sad this school year (I always keep track of years by school and not calendar). I have been reading some beautiful and sad books that deal with death and aging (check out Carrie Brown, she is such a beautiful "speaks to your heart without being trite" writer).

Caroline and I had finished The Fault in Our Stars right before Mom was diagnosed. In some ways the book helped us deal with it. Mom's cancer journey was different than most you see in movies/TV/books because there really wasn't closure. She fought hard and was going to be angry if we said anything about saying goodbye. When she was in the hospital the last time, the nurses kept telling me to tell her it was ok to let go. There was no way I was going to do that. Do you know how pissed off she would have been?

The movie reminded me of the idea of "the last good day." It is the last clear day in a dying person's life. That brief moment when they are completely themselves again. For me, the last good day was probably Mother's Day. That was the last time we all sat around the table laughing and eating frozen yogurt. It was before the cancer came back with a vengeance, stealing everything my mother had left (dignity, security, hope, clarity) bit by bit. It was the last time she looked at me and said "The doctor doesn't know how strong I am. I can beat this." It was also our last picture. After that, Mom was too tired, sick, and weak to want her picture taken.

I know from experience that the bitterness of sadness eventually mingles with the sweetness of  memories, until you have bittersweet, and until remembering doesn't hurt quite so much. On so many levels, I have lived in such a bitter sweet life, but how lucky I am to have had the sweet.