Saturday, April 30, 2011

Teacher Appreciation Week

As Teacher Appreciation week approaches I thought I would share some funny stories about my husband. When I first met him, though he was very proficient in English, there were still a few times that we had communication issue.  I hope you enjoy.  And I not only want to hear stories from all my teacher friends, but I would like to say Thank you for all you do to shape minds and mentor young people - especially those struggling with English!

When my husband and I started dating I never took into consideration that English was his second language because he was very fluent.  There just weren't too many times that he would ask me to explain or ask what something meant.  He did say some really funny things, for example; instead of "Fine-see if I care!" he would say - "Fine- Look if I care!", and instead of "This is the best lasagna I've ever had!" he would say- "This is the best lasagna I never have!".  He still shuffles the snow from the driveway and shovels a deck of playing cards.  He uses expressions like, "You in the right truck" (you're on the right track) and "It's taking a long time for you to get off the pot" (poop or get off the pot).  He preheats the aven (oven), eats pitches (peaches), and loves Lance Am'strong (Armstrong).

Right after we graduated from college, he got a job teaching at The Little Gym and brought home a binder filled with songs he had to "learn".  Well I took one look and started to laugh, these were songs any one of us would have heard or sang a thousand times in childhood, however it never dawned on me that they don't sing Pop goes the Weasel in Greece. So we spent the better part of a night singing and when we got to the ABC's he said, "Why you sing it?" I don't know, but I still sing it when I need to put things in alphabetical order.  "You mean I suppose to say the alphabet in order?"  They taught him English without ever teaching him the alphabet!

I must not have done a good job of teaching him the songs because in the first parents class he taught he asked everyone to help him sing the Itchy Bitchy Spider.  He started singing and everyone just stared at him, he just kept singing, thinking maybe no one knew it.  When he got all done one of the mother's kindly went over to ask him what he was singing- to which he replied, "the itchy bitchy spider?"  She explained that the song was the Itsy Bitsy Spider.  He's never gotten that one wrong again!

Once while helping him prepare for a job interview I was asking him questions about salary. (Which by the way he pronounces - celery, and the vegetable, you guessed it - salary)  After practising a few times we ran through a mock interview and half way through I asked the question, "What kind of a salary are you looking for?" to which he passionately replied, "I just want to be constipated for what I do!"

But the very best story was the night we were sitting in my apartment, we had dinner, watched a romantic movie,and we were just sitting quietly when he looked over at me and said, "You are unforgivable."
I think he figured out pretty quickly that he had the wrong word as I stood up, burst into tears, and started shrieking, "What did I ever do to you?!" To which he stood up and shrieked, "What did I say? What did I say?"  We went at each other like this for about 20 minutes.

Those of you that know us well can not only picture this, but you are probably changing underwear right now as you have peed your pants laughing.  We acquired the nicknames, Lucy and Ricky, and we earned every bit of it....

I finally realized he was asking me what he had just said because he truly didn't know.  Just like calm after the storm, I suddenly got very still and said, do you mean unforgettable? Is that good-he said.  Yes, I replied. "YES! That is what I mean you unforgettable!!"

Thank you my dear friends: Julie, Linda, Betsy, Sue, Katie, Carolyn, Angela, Cathy, Mary, Vicky, Molly, Terri, Jodie, Beth, Cindy, Marie, Toni, and many many more ;-)

Monday, April 25, 2011

A message about "The Trip"

Most people I know think of traveling abroad in the most romantic sense.  Air travel, taxi's, hotels, beaches, ancient ruins, museums, and fabulous dinners at cozy restaurants with lots of ambiance.  When I tell people that we are going to Greece this summer they swoon imagining Mamma Mia or Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants.

Wouldn't that be amazing?! Where do I sign up?
My trip - think My Big Fat Greek Wedding - on Vacation.

My husband is not from America and ALL of his family is overseas.  Some of you will visit Pittsburgh, or Boston, Cleveland, or Atlanta this summer to see relatives.  Flying, driving, packing, planning, and sleeping on an air mattress are all involved at some point.

Now, I am no mathematical expert, but I think there is a definitely an equation that looks something like...
# of kids + hours of travel = ^stress level

So imagine if you will, being on one airplane with your children, for 9 hours then deplaning to board yet another aircraft for 4 more hours.  Are we there yet??

I will not complain, OK that's a lie, because I don't like to fly so I complain a lot.  To certain people.  And while I don't want you to think that everywhere in Greece looks like the pictures of Santorini, if only! Or that I am not dog tired after the plane ride and jet lagged for 6 days after we return.  That not being fluent in the language isn't annoying, frustrating, and sometimes scary.  Or that it's always easy to fly so far away from my box......

# of kids + hours of travel = ^stress level

So when you see me and say, "I heard your going to Greece this summer!" and I just nod and smile like the Joker from Batman, it's not because I am not excited to see my relatives and spend time being fed, and pinched, complimented, and showered with unconditional love.  Reading a book, or five.  Sitting on a white sandy beach for a day or three looking at water so blue it can't possibly be real.  Eating souvlaka at midnight on the roof overlooking the city with the mountain's behind me.  Praying in churches older than the country I was born in.

I am only human.  I am frightened.  I am stressed.  I am preparing, and planning, and postulating the trip, so that I may truly enjoy the journey.

It is something I think everyone should do - at least once.  So pick a place you've always wanted to go, maybe it is Santorini  (I hear it's beautiful!)  save your quarters if you have to (airfare is outrageous) and GO! 

What will become of us?

There was a time before we decided to have children that we just couldn't fathom bring children into this mess.  What's becoming of America? More and more everyday I wonder if we are just the world's largest trailer park.  "Tonight's top story Teen Mom beat down - caught on tape."

I have since decided that when you are not ready for children, you rationalize not having them with the creativity of a two-year-old that wants ice cream...greenhouse gases, world water shortage, war, hunger, pestilence..........the list goes on and on.

After you have them you start rationalizing on a whole new level.  World water shortage, well I turn the water off when I brush my teeth.  Greenhouse gases, I use cloth shopping bags.  Carbon footprint, I'll start turning out the outside lights when we go to bed.

Maybe it's the melancholy mood that I have been in lately, or the fact that the boys have been fighting like two roosters in a hen house but I've just been wondering, What's this world coming to?  I know every generation says that, I remember discussing with my Grandmother how much had changed in her lifetime.  But I feel the same way.  My first jobs out of college - I used electric typewriters, dot matrix printers, and green screens.  I didn't own a cell phone or a computer.

I look at my friends 18 year-old who is leaving for college with an iphone, laptop, and enough computer skills to take over the world.  He is very smart, savvy, and even getting scholarships will still walk away form a state school with $30,000 in student loans.  He's going to be amazing at whatever he does but having watched his mom struggle to raise three children on a teacher's salary he is majoring in International Law and Spanish.

What will become of us?  We've depleted the ozone, bankrupted wall street, and created more plastic then could ever be recycled. then asked the next generation to do better.  With what?

Sunday, April 24, 2011

Insights from the Freshman Mom

Growing up I heard that the only certain things in life were death and taxes.  Then I grew up and that's when I found out that there are plenty of other certains in life, but you have to be in the club first.  And once you join the club, you will be inducted into the rank and file only in due time.  Seeing as I have a second grader and a preschooler- I am only a Freshman.  Sophomores have the teenagers, Juniors have the college students, and Seniors of course - have grandbabies. This is what I know so far........

In childhood roommates are stinky relatives, in college roommates are eclectic and avaunt garde, after marriage - back to stinky relatives.

Halloween costumes go from cute witch, to sexy witch, to just a witch.

Before college it takes forever for summer to get here.  After college, summer is over before you realize it was here.

When you are single it is perfectly acceptable to eat a bag of popcorn for dinner.  When you are married a "meal" must contain something from all the food groups.

When you are dating Applebee's and TGIF's are perfectly acceptable dining establishments.  After marriage you must graduate to PF Chang's.  Once you have children you are downgraded to any restaurant with a drive-thru and a play land.

When you are looking for a date there are "no good men left".  When you stop looking for a man and start searching for the best chocolate cake in town - you'll find your husband.

Single = not guaranteed sex.  Dating = guaranteed sex.  Marriage = guaranteed NO sex.

Before you have children you have brain "farts" after you give birth you have no brain left what-so-ever.

Once you have children you can no longer go to the bathroom, take a shower, answer an email, or talk on the phone without everyone in the house wanting your attention - RIGHT NOW!

After you have children you will never finish an entire meal while it's hot nor will you eat an entire piece of cake by yourself. (Not even the closet, I've tried! They find you)

When dinner is ready, nobody else is.  When dinner is not ready, they will eat things that will make you want to vomit i.e. apples with ranch dip, rice with ketchup, cold spaghetti, or crackers with mayo.

Just when you think you have everyone tucked away nicely for the night and you turn on "that" episode of Sex in the City, your husband will be horny, your oldest will need water, and the baby will wet the bed.

I have a few more years before I make Sophomore status, so stay tuned!

Saturday, April 16, 2011

Best decision in weeks!

Even though my eight-year-old has been coughing like an old man with 30 years of smoking behind him and falling apart each night when it's time to go to bed.  I let him go to a birthday party last night - from 7:30 to 9:30 at a Roller rink.  You heard me right.

I offered to take the neighbor to the party, not thinking that maybe he should just stay home and cough.  Also - he's never roller skated before. What was I thinking? So I take these two to the roller rink last night and as I am helping with skates I whispered to my son, "Are you a little nervous?"
"Let's talk about this.  This is the break, you want to push your feet out to the sides a little bit, easy - glide."

Although I went to the roller rink every weekend as a grade schooler, I have not done it in years and I have never taught anyone how to roller skate.   But my son is determined, athletic, smart - basically not me.  So I am going on the assumption that he is going to be just fine.

We got the roller skates on and he stood up and immediately started to do the splits.  He looked at me like a deer in the headlights saying, "What the ?"  He started out slowly like Bambi on those shaky legs holding on to the wall and slipping every two steps.  When he got to the end of the wall he turned around and looked at me horrified - "WHAT NOW?!"

I went out into the rink and took his arm and started to guide him around the edge of the rink.  Whispering in his ear: you are doing great, you can do this, it's not about being cool, get your feet under you, change your center of balance, glide.  I don't know that I was any damn help at all, but as a mom you have to do something right? By the time we get half way around the rink he is sooooo mad at me and fighting tears saying, "I can't do this it's too hard, I don't like it!"

We got back to the carpeted area when one his schoolmate suggested we practise in the carpet until we get the hang of it. DUH! Why didn't I think of that??  He went back and forth on the carpet while I walked next to him, then I sat down and he went back and forth in front of me.  His friends came over a couple of times and he told them he was just learning and wanted to stay on the carpet.  Soon there was a group of kids hanging out with him going back and forth on the carpet.

I tried to keep my distance, cause I don't figure that an eight year-old boy wants to hang with his mom at a birthday party when there are friends.  Besides I kinda felt like a fifth wheel, he was working hard and was surrounded by a gaggle of girls.  After watching from the sidelines for another 10 minutes I went over and said there would be a break soon for cake and ice cream and I was going to go. "Are you OK?" YEP! was the quick and confident response.  So I left and stopped for wine and a girly movie.

As I left the store every siren you can imagine goes screaming past me in the direction I just came.  That's when the panic starts to creep in...why did I leave?? He's never done this before, I spent Friday night in a roller rink.  Holy Crap! Creepy adults, horny teenagers, show-off bullies, and broken elbows. What was I thinking.

I didn't crack open the bottle of wine too afraid that I would have to meet the ambulance at Children's hospital where they were reassembling his body parts.  I started the movie as a distraction but can't tell you what it was about.  Finally at 10:00 p.m. they neighbor rolls up and out pops my son in perfect condition.  He bounds to the door and the first thing he says is "I can't believe he's never skated before!"

Before he could go to bed he had to tell me all about how he figured out how to stop by putting his feet in a T (oh yeah, I remember that now) and he watched some other kids and got the hang of it and went back out in the rink and watched the big kids break dance and did the hokey pokey and the chicken dance....

Once in a while, I do it right.  I am so proud of him.

Thursday, April 14, 2011

He's watching....everything!

My now five-year-old has "homework" from pre-school every week.  My older son had this also and it is very cute.  They work on one letter a week and must draw, cut out, or find pictures that start with that letter and paste in in the booklet.  My older son liked to mix it up but not my little man.  He comes up with the items, I must draw them (always a challenge) and then he adds the details if he's feeling like it.

This weeks letter is B.  Thank goodness because last week's Y had me completely stumped.  What the the hell starts with Y except Yellow? He came up with Yak but I hard pressed to draw that one.  But B not that's a letter I can draw with!  Banana, boot, basketball, brother, bottle.

I complimented him on all the things he came up with, especially bottle. 
"That's a good one buddy." I said as I started to draw my best rendition of a soda bottle.
"We talked about it at school." He said looking over my shoulder eyeing the bottle I was drawing.  "You know like a bottle of wine - like you drink."

Yes honey, and if I weren't responsible for getting you to and from the pre-school, Mommy might have one in her hand right now.  What must those teachers think?

When I get older....

....losing my hair, many years from now.  Will you still be sending me a Valentine? Birthday greeting? bottle of wine.

Tonight while I was screaming the boys to bed, because it's the method that works most effectively, I had to ask the eight -year-old to put his clean clothes aways instead of stepping over them, to hang up the wet bath towel, and put the dirty clothes down the shoot.  After we both heaved a big sigh and rolled our eyes at one another I said to him.

"I can't wait until I am old and senile and living with you.  I'm going to pee on the bathroom floor, leave wet towels lying about, use my undies for toilet paper, and never pick up a single spec of clothing."

To which my son replied with that face that says "You are sooooo stupid" and shut the bedroom door in my face.

Oh the joys of motherhood.  Will I live long enough to seek my revenge for unflushed toilets, mud stained WHITE shirts (couldn't wear the dark one, A?) wet towels, and that "DUH" look?? 

Monday, April 4, 2011

Then he kissed me

Funny how a song, smell, even a picture can take you back to a particular time and place.  Yesterday at church a young girl played "Cannon in D Major" by Pachebel.  We played this at our wedding as I walked down the aisle.  I always tear up when I hear the song, but yesterday as I closed my eyes and took myself back to that moment I was surprised by my reaction.  Panic.

Panic is not new to me, or any special occasion in my life.  But to be sitting in a safe place in the world, in my life and go right straight back to the panic I felt on my wedding day was crazy.  The fear was not about getting married, or being married, but simply having to be on the alter in church.  (To me there is such a thing as being to close to God.) And there I sat, with my eyes closed, no chance of having to walk to the front of church - heart racing, palms sweating, stomach flipping.

Panic is not new to me.  I've learned to go with it, let it flow a little, see where it's going, then work through it.  So as I took myself back to my wedding day I walked through all of it. The song and the panic began to flow outward and away as I got closer to my husband.  My dad took my arm and told me to breath.  I looked up and saw a friends three year-old peeking from the pew.  My husband getting closer.  A beloved neighbor.  My husband getting closer.  Friends from college.  My husband getting closer.  My cousins, uncles, aunts, and family.  Then he was there.  Then he kissed me.

Panic is not new to me.  I remember this moment on our wedding day because I was horrified that we had done something wrong and would get yelled at by the priest or worse struck down with lighting right there in church.  Then our officiant and friend Deacon Tom smiled his tender smile and said, "You look beautiful".  to which I replied, "I'm scared shitless".

And I was worried about the kiss!

Mommy Jail

How was Spring Break you ask?
Wednesday morning at 7:00 am I can hear the boys talking in their room.  Since it was spring break there was no reason for me to jump up and get the day rolling, and because they were talking quietly I just laid there for a moment.  OK, I fell back to sleep, DON'T JUDGE.  Anyway, at 7:30 I hear screaming and the five-year-old comes tearing into my room holding his face screaming at the top of his lungs "he punched me".

Needless to say, I did not jump up because I was not fully awake yet and beside all I could think is, Seriously?!

They both ended up downstairs 4 minutes later watching TV together.  How do I know - I timed them.  So I laid there trying to decide what to do.  OK, I fell back asleep again, STOP JUDGING! But I came up with this fabulous idea.  Lock down.  Yep, that's right.  I decided that if they want to act like hooligans they can live like a hooligan and where do hooligans live?? Jail.

So I calmly went downstairs, got a bowl of cereal, started two separate lists and told them both the plan for the day.  They needed to complete all of the chores on their list and then they would need to go to their room until they were called for lunch.  They knew they were in trouble so there wasn't much argument for the first 1/2 hour.  Unfortunately, the chores took two hours so at 10:30 they were marched upstairs and I shut the door.  That went well again for about 1/2 hour then the five-year-old began opening the door every 5 minutes to ask if it was lunch time yet.

At lunch time, when dad came home for lunch and asked how things were going they both started telling the story, then arguing about the story, then screaming and fighting all over again.  I asked them to finish lunch, put the dished away, and marched them back upstairs.  All while my husband buried his head in his arm pretending to cough, but actually laughing his butt off.  Which made it very difficult to keep a straight face when I told them they were not to come out until I opened the door.

My husband and I went over calendar's, questions, work issues, was really quite nice, then we both promptly fell asleep. OK, JUDGE! I don't care anymore.  Two hours after I had marched them upstairs and my husband and I had gotten in a power nap, he went up to talk to the prisoners.  He told the boys he backs me up 100% and they needed to shape up.  Then he gave them a list of exercises told them to change clothes and get water bottles because they were going to the gym.

As I was loading them up in the car the five-year-old year old started to get snippy with me and I asked if he would like two days in a row.  He looked at me and said, "This is not real jail! This is mommy jail and I don't like it."  Darn, thought I had a good thing going here.  Is it too soon to think I nipped this thing in the bud??