10 Things That Happened This Weekend

1 – E had his seventh birthday party. Skating with 6 and 7 year olds…many of whom aren’t sure they want to skate…actually worked out to be a fun party!
2 – I had a bit of a sore throat on Friday night, which turned into a pounding mucus-induced headache by Sunday morning.

3 – I am worried about running out of Kleenex. See number 2.

4 – We had a baseball-themed trunk (heavy one Harry Potter…which totally fits the theme, right?) at our church’s Trunk or Treat. I spent quite a bit of time inside the church, searching for Kleenex. See number 2.

5 – We went to Cheddar’s for E’s birthday. In trying to come up with the name of the restaurant, D called it “Cheez It’s.” This is the cuteness that has saved him more than once.

6 – I finished my lesson plans, but can’t remember where I put the spelling tests from Friday. I think my brain is filled with mucus. See number 2.

7 – We watched a LOT of Cardinals baseball. I may or may not have fallen asleep (I swear I just planned to close my eyes and “listen” to the game!) before all of this happened.

8 – I ran more loads of wash than I care to think about, for reasons I don’t care to think about.

9 – I had high hopes of winning World Series tickets. To understand why I am clearly so deserving (insert sarcasm), you need to know that the Cardinals won the World Series the year my dad was born, the year I was born and we watched the big win in 2006 the night we brought E home from the hospital. We’re lucky charms! They WANT us there, I’m just sure of it. 🙂

10 – I can’t think of a number 10. Once again, I blame the mucus. See number 2.


Just D

After our soccer games today, I had a few errands to run. D was less than thrilled.

From the backseat, I heard (after the whining stopped), “Umm, I know you’re probably going to say no, but…can I run the bases?”

I did start to say no. But then I realized for all of the times as a parent when I have to say no (such as when my four-year-old wanted to quit pre-k and join 6th grade, or when they wanted to hike with Ranger Lucy in Muir Woods today), there are a lot of times where – sadly – I say no because I don’t want to or it’s inconvenient.

So I said yes. (It did help that the field was right by a bathroom and E had just told me he needed to go.)

And saying “yes” paid off. I classic D style, he ran those bases. Every step of the way he was calling imaginary plays. But, what really made it worth the stop?

He was running the bases, in full soccer gear (including shin guards and soccer socks), carrying a football under one arm.

My only regret? I didn’t get a picture so you could enjoy the full sight too.


Hostess…but not the Cupcakes

People coming into my house kind of sets off my OCD tendencies and exposes all of my insecurities. I’m sure it’s not clean enough or smells funny or they will open a cabinet and see the disorganization that lives inside.

As a result, just last year I explained to a coworker why I have NO interest in hosting an exchange student (our local college has Japanese students needing hosts nearly every year). She tried to persuade me what a great experience it would be, but it sounded like a nightmare. Cleaning, trying to entertain and generally living up to any and all possible expectations…no thanks.

So, it might seem surprising that we’re having a long-term house guest this winter.

That’s right, for about a month at Christmastime, we are hosting an orphan from Eastern Europe. And…it was my idea. In fact, I sort of had to talk The Dad into it.

See, I am completely moved by the plight of orphans in Eastern Europe. Obviously our foster care system has flaws and it isn’t ideal. But these kiddos? Well, it’s hard to imagine the conditions they live in.

They own nothing. All of their clothes are shared – meaning they often don’t fit and kids may have one outfit for a week. “Caregiving” is something very different. Kids in a “good orphanage” get held occasionally and taken outside. But, if a child has any sort of disability or is in a less quality orphanage? Some will spend their lives in a crib. 😦 For something as relatively minor as Down Syndrome or Fetal Alcohol Syndrome, kids may be sent to an adult mental institution at the age of 5.

Read that again. Five years old.

Sadly, those in the most dire circumstances often don’t live to be a teenager. But even for those who have a caregiver who actually does care and have an opportunity to go to school (still nothing like opportunities for education here), the future isn’t exactly bright. At about age 16 (it depends on the country) they receive a few hundred dollars and set off into the world.

I honestly cannot imagine how I would have tried to cope with no family, no real ties to anyone, few or no job skills and a few hundred dollars…at the age of sixteen.

It really isn’t a surprise then that about 70% of girls turn to prostitution and boys are likely to deal drugs (over 60% becoming hardened criminals before adulthood). Horrifying, but not all that surprising given their life conditions.

So, what can I do? I’d adopt if it were just up to me and there were no other complications or roadblocks. Right now, that isn’t reality though. But, The Dad and I agreed we can host. We can show one little guy (who happens to be exactly the age of E and have a love for firefighting and cars, just like D!) the love of a family and the meaning of Christmas.

So, “K” is coming (God-willing). He turns 7 this month and loves dogs and cats. E can’t wait to share his room and D can’t wait to teach him about baseball. And I, well, I just want to show him love – regardless of any challenges that may come. The Dad’s planning to show him the fire station and truck and get him some stickers and pencils to take to his friends.

Maybe you can do this too? Believe me, I’m not anything special. I’m nervous and exciting and honestly don’t quite know what we’re getting ourself into. And I’d love to share the experience with some other first time hosters!

Are you in?


What I Look Like When I’m Sleeping

Poor E managed to mangle his face with poison ivy. As a result, we’ve spent a lot of time in the bathroom putting cream on it.

The other night, I out the cream on and quickly noticed he was tightly scrunching up an eye. Obviously, I panicked a tiny bit because I was about half convinced he was going blind from hydrocortisone cream in the eye. Darn me for trying to get it as close as possible without being in the eye! Why didn’t I head the package warnings better? (Nevermind that I really didn’t think I got it close to his eye…mom “panic guilt” mode was enacted.)

“Oh, sweetie, is it in your eye?!” (said while trying to figure out how best to flush the eye)


“Um…then what are you doing there buddy?”

“Trying to see what I look like when I sleep.”


“Heeeeey! Look! I winked! I winked!” (as he literally dances out of the room with excitement)

Thanks for the laugh, E. I needed that today this month.


Celebrity Dog

I am jealous. Of a dog.

Not only did she just fly to NYC. Not only was she only the Today show. Not only did she pose with Jesse Spencer and Taylor Kinney. But she could have a cameo on “Chicago Fire!”

She’s a pretty special dog though. Back in 2009, when she was just about 6 weeks old, she was in a fire. The captain (who is an animal lover) found her and brought her out. The puppy was lifeless. Some loving police officers started trying to revive her with CPR. Who wants to tell kids their puppy just died?

It didn’t look good.

But, here’s where it gets awesome. About 2 weeks before, the fire department had received animal resuscitation masks. The previous week there had been training on use of the masks.

They put a mask on the puppy and, amazingly, she was up and wagging her tail after about 15 minutes! Yet, it doesn’t end there.

The puppy wasn’t doing well, so the family contacted one of the rescuing police officers. Having lost their home, they just couldn’t care for this puppy who was so sick from smoke inhalation. So the officer took her.

Obviously, the puppy needed veterinarian care. Amazingly, one of the firefighters form the rescuing crew is the son of a local vet. Between the officer, the vet and the fire department, the puppy was nursed back to health.


Well, now she’s one of them. The puppy was named Smokey and she lives 24/7 at the fire house. She has her own bed at the station and has learned to open (and close!) doors to let herself out.

She’s also returning a favor to her rescuers. To help kids remember what to do if they catch on fire, Smokey can show them to stop, drop and roll!

So, today I’m asking, can you do one more thing for amazing Smokey? Can you vote for her to be the nation’s top fire dog? The other dogs in the running are awesome, but there’s only one Smokey…and she spends about a much time with my husband as I do!


E and D say, “Please vote for Station 2’s dog, and our friend, Smokey!”


Tackling and Evasive Maneuvers

Disclaimer 1: I am not a big football fan.  The football metaphor just seemed apropos. 

Disclaimer 2: Just by typing this title and the disclaimer, I spelled two words that I rarely (if ever) have to write out.  And I checked them with dictionary.com.  And I celebrated just a little when I realized I had spelled them correctly.

So, tackling.  Lately, it seems like balancing teaching, all of the responsibilities that go with it (right now, you’re either laughing at me or nodding – and your response probably depends largely on your degree of separation from a teacher), parenting and being a wife (wifing?) has been quite the job.  Basically, my left over time is devoted to sleeping (because it seems its a biological necessity, annoyingly enough). 

Tonight, after school, a meeting, an open house, dinner, homework, soccer practice and a chapter of Harry Potter (did I mention today is The Dad’s shift day?) I was feeling exhausted by the time the boys got in bed.  Honestly, I wanted to go straight to evasive maneuvers.  Namely, I wanted to take a bath, read and then go to bed.  The papers will be there to grade tomorrow, right?  I can work out more of the scheduling issues, adjust math plans based on how my students are doing, write a note back to D’s teacher and pack my lunch tomorrow, right?  Surely I’ll wake up early, rejuvenated and ready to tackle the day! 

Or not.

Based on years of evasive maneuvers, stressed out mornings and watching responsibilities pile up to anxiety level, I knew I needed to make the tackle.  So, I forced myself to write that note, grade the papers, adjust the plans and toy with the schedule for just a bit.  (Lunch still hasn’t been made and, as I type, I realize I owe my non-profit a fall newsletter and still have to finish writing a Friday reading assessment…)  Despite the fact that a bath and a book still sounds like it would have been great, I feel better.  A lot better than I would have if I had evaded everything and left it sitting on my shoulders for another day.

I’m finally seeing that so often the evasive maneuvers just add to the stress.   Sooner or later, I have to tackle it and take control of the ball.  And, even though there are still players all around, trying to tackle me, I know I can’t hide. 

On to tackle some more. 

And maybe evade just a thing or two.  You can’t hit ’em all on the same day.  Right?


Like Cats and Dogs

We have two sons.

We have a dog.  Specifically a Golden Retriever.

We have two cats.  Specifically, umm, cats?  Of rather unknown origin?

I have decided that all of the above have many things in common.  Let me first make it perfectly understood that I love my cats as much as I love my dog.  Obviously, I also love E as much as I love D.  However, it is rather clear that E is a dog (probably a Golden Retriever) and D is a cat.

See, our dog is a pleaser.  She wants to do what you want her to.  Making you happy makes her happy.  When she’s done wrong (and, oh, has she done wrong…enter chewing up cash and cell phones!), she is so legitimately sorry that she hangs her head in shame when you see her.  In general, she lives life with unbridled joy.  And, E is so much the same.  It crushes him to feel that he has disappointed you with his actions.  In fact, I used to sing him the second verse of “You are My Sunshine,” but stopped because the line, “I hung my head and I cried” made him cry.  E simply exudes happiness and he genuinely loves life.  He is so caring and so compassionate.  And a pleaser. 

Our cats are, well, cats.  They are super snugglers and I really love getting them to purr (some scratching behind the ears does it).  At the same time, their attitudes vary from not being able to get enough attention to downright stubborn.  If it seems it is your idea to have one of them on your lap, it is a very bad idea.  Not acceptable.  Unless of course a few minutes later they decide it is their deepest desire to sit on your lap.  Then?  Excellent plan.  And this is our D.  He’s one of the most stubborn kiddos I’ve ever met (and I’ve met many, many kids!).  His goal seems to be to have the world follow his plan for the day, week, lifetime.  When it doesn’t he is. not. pleased.  At the same time, this is the one who would love to sleep beside me every night and snuggle.  Who gives hugs and kisses and wants to be held (and, by the way, weighs 52 pounds!).  He’s a love-bug…as long as it is his choice!

And, truly, I love that they are different.  I love having cats and dogs and I absolutely love my dog-like E and my cat-itude D.