Monthly Archives: January 2018

Wildcard Wednesday: cleaning my children’s rooms

My kids hate to clean their rooms. I get it. I hated to clean my room when I was their age too. I actually worry just a bit about any kid who really loves to clean their room. Or anything really. Being a kid is all about being messy, right?

I’m the first to admit I am not exactly an amazing house keeper. I work 50-60 hours each week, commute 1.5-2 hours to and from work each day, and have a family to take care of. Oh, and I still don’t really like to clean. My house isn’t really dirty, it’s just cluttered and on most days needs a good dusting. It’s in no way dangerous or hazardous though. It’s well-loved and well-lived in.

In light of my failings in the cleaning up department, I try to be forgiving of my kids’ rooms. But a few times a year we reach a tipping point that I just cannot leave alone. Last weekend my daughter’s room hit that very dangerous precipice.

I gave her a chance to clean it up. I knew it was a mess. I knew she’d been “cleaning” by shoving toys under her bed and in her closet. She’s 7, so to her I don’t doubt that these quick and easy fixes probably even seemed like cleaning up. But I told her I was on to her and that I knew what she’d done. I spelled out very clearly what she needed to do in order to clean her room.

She went into her room and came back out about 8 minutes later. I knew there was no way her room was clean. I told her this, but she insisted it was. I told her to go back in and actually clean. She stomped her little seven year old foot, clearly very angry with me, said “fine!” and headed back to her room. Five minutes later she emerged and assured me it was really clean this time.

“Oh sweetie,” I thought. “Please do not think I am such a fool.”

I gave her one more chance, this time telling her that either she cleaned it the right way or I’d clean it my way. She was clearly over the massive effort she’d already put forth and told me to go ahead and clean it up.

So I grabbed a garbage bag and a rather large shipping box and headed back to her room. I started with the closet. About a year ago my husband and I bought both of our kids really great shelving units and plastic bins to help organize their rooms. When used properly, they are miraculous. However, one look at her closet and I knew they hadn’t been used even remotely properly for a long, long time. So I sat on the floor and started sorting. My version of sorting meant tossing an awful lot in either the trash bag or the donation box.

About 15 minutes into my effort, my daughter came in, saw what I was doing and started to cry about me “getting rid of her toys.” I reminded her that I’d given her the chance to do it the right way, but now I was doing it mine. She tried to back track and offer to clean, but I told her it was too late and that she better march herself right back out of her room and not come back in until I was finished.

An hour later I emerged from her room with both my garbage bag and shipping box full. I’d only managed to organize her closet, dresser and book shelf, but I was pretty darn happy with my progress. I called her into her room, showed her what I’d cleaned and told her that it better stay clean for a very long time. I also told her that next weekend I’d be finishing off her room, once again without her help.

I spent a little over an hour in her room today as well and am proud to say that after another garbage bag (only about half full this time) and a much smaller donation box later, her room is beautiful.

After I finished, I came out, looked right into my son’s eyes and told him that his room was my project for next weekend. He swallowed hard and looked more than a little dismayed. Can’t wait to see what I can get rid of in that room!

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Filed under love, motherhood, my daughter, my son, ramblings, what makes me me

Teaching Tuesday: Teaching with a concussion

Although I do have quite a few sick days built up, I try hard not to take them. Considering the time it takes to prep sub plans, answer questions students email and then grade work they did while I was gone (not to mention trying to sort out the sub notes), it’s often easier to just suck it up and go to school.

Turns out that is so much easier to do with a cold or sinus infection or something relatively small than it is with a concussion.

I got my concussion on a Sunday. Thankfully the next day we were off for MLK Day. On Tuesday we had a two hour delay due to weather, so I was able to go to the doctor and still make it to school on time. In hindsight though, that was not a good idea. Tuesday was a pretty miserable day for me. Even with the break from teaching I got by coming in two hours late, by the time I got to my lunch/prep period, I was completely wiped out and my head was throbbing. I ended up napping for about 25 minutes on the floor of my classroom behind my desk.

I took Wednesday off of work for an actual break. And I felt a bit better on Thursday when I returned. Once again, by the time my prep/lunch rolled around, I was on the floor behind my desk taking another nap. Friday was a repeat.

While I got a lot more rest on Saturday and Sunday, it was still not enough. I went to school on Monday and before I even thought about getting lunch, I turned my lights off and slept for 45 minutes. I had to set a timer to wake me because I knew if I didn’t I’d sleep so long kids would be banging on my door.

Tuesday I did not get my nap. Not because I didn’t need it, but because I decided to take Wednesday off of work to rest up, so I spent my prep getting all of my plans in order. I was so tried by the time I got home from school that I was in bed a little after 9.

Wednesday did NOT turn out to be a break for me. Due to some pretty nasty weather, we had an e-Learning day, so I had to revamp my sub plans so that kids could do everything at home. I also had to supervise my own children so they could do their work (and my 7 year old needs a lot of direction). Plus, I had to answer questions from my own students all day. I finally couldn’t do it any longer and took an hour and a half nap. Since my children were done with their school work, they were darlings and played quietly so I could rest.

Not only have my own kids been pretty helpful with my injury, so have my students. They’ve been kind and supportive and not at all demanding, which is great. They think it’s hysterical that I’ve been napping under my desk and have offered me blankets and Advil. I haven’t taken them up on either. When they see my yoga mat behind my desk after lunch, they ask how my nap was. “Not long enough,” is my standard reply.

Teaching takes a lot of mental acuity and there is no moment when your brain can just sort of shut down and wander. I can honestly say I understand some of my students in a whole new way now. One of my AP kids just came in to talk to me because she too has a concussion. She apologized for not getting some work done and I told her not to sweat it. We’d figure it out as we went along. We commiserated over our pain.

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Chocolate Monday: Godiva Cups of Love

Godiva cups of loveMy last few Godiva experiences have not been stellar. However, years of dedicated love to them, and some damn fine chocolates along the way, are keeping me loyal. So, when I stopped in recently and saw their new Cups of Love chocolates, I knew I’d be giving them a try.

Since they are named for love, it’s no surprise that they are part of this year’s Valentine collection. They are cute to look at and since there are only four flavors, I bought one of each to try.

I’m a best for last kinda gal, so I decided to try the one that appealed the least to me first. Since dark chocolate is often my nemesis, I grabbed the Chocolate Cup of Love first. This one is a bit deceptive as it has a milk chocolate shell. I didn’t really read the description in the store, so it wasn’t until I got home and looked at the website that I realized it was going to be dark chocolate in the center. Considering Godiva’s (and the world’s) love for dark chocolate I knew at least one of them had to be pure darkness. Despite its very thin milk chocolate shell, this one is definitely a dark chocolate piece. It’s not overly bitter though, so I didn’t really mind it. The tiny, crispy cocoa bits on top give it a fun texture. While I wouldn’t want to eat more than this bite sized cup, I found it perfectly good and actually kind of enjoyed it.

My second piece was the Caramel-Cafe Cup of Love. Caramel is always one of my top sweet treats, but I detest coffee, so I was hoping the caramel would be enough to save this piece. The dark chocolate shell didn’t inspire confidence. It has a distinctly caramel coffee taste. On the rare occasions I am dying for caffeine and actually buy coffee drinks, they have to contain lots of sweet additives like chocolate, caramel and whipped cream. This piece reminded me quite a bit of the coffee drink I get once or twice a year at my favorite cafe. I actually rather liked it, which thrilled me.

I have not had a great run with Godiva’s pistachio flavored treats lately, but since it had no threat of coffee or dark chocolate in it, my next one was the Pistachio Chocolate Cup of Love. The white chocolate shell, even though it is thin, is initially pretty overwhelmingly sweet. The older I get, the more I don’t care much for the super sugary sweetness of white chocolate. The pistachio flavor was more reserved…a bit more of a hint than anything. The bite where I got the piece of the actual nut on top was the only one that rang true to the spirit of pistachio. This piece had a strange, slightly gritty texture to it that did not seem nutty. Gritty isn’t even the right word exactly. It felt like it was coating my mouth. The flavor was ok, but the after coating freaked me out a bit. In hindsight, I should have switched this one for the coffee caramel one.

My final piece was the Strawberry Cup of Love. I really had to swish my mouth out with water to get rid of the sweet coating before I could try it. I’m glad I saved this strawberry piece for last. To me it was the best piece. I like the more liquidy strawberry center. It was sweet without being too sweet. Honestly, my only real complaint is that I wish it had a bit more strawberry flavor and maybe a slightly tart hint. I love when strawberries are just a bit tart. I also love the combination of tart fruit and chocolate. This one was just mild and sweet.

The strawberry piece was the best of the bunch, but even it wasn’t anything to rave about. I definitely did not fall in love in love with this collection. It wasn’t as disappointing as some of the more recent collections, but I am starting to think I need to keep my love for the classics and forgo the newer chocolates.


Taste: 6/10
Appearance: 8/10
Value: 6/10

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Free Reading Fridays: The Good Braider

The good braiderNovels in verse have become one of my latest joys. Before this year I’d only read a few of them and although I’d enjoyed them, I hadn’t thought too much about them.

However, in the last six months, I have read four of them and have thoroughly enjoyed each one. While my favorite of them was probably One by Sarah Crossan, they have all been beautiful and heartbreaking in their own rights.

My latest find, Farish’s The Good Braider, is definitely both lovely and heartbreaking. It amazes me the depth of character and plot Farish is able to accomplish when she strips away the extraneous adjectives and sentences and tells the story of Viola in poignant and striking verse. In many ways, the verse, which is stripped of the usual finery of a novel, is able to tell the story in an even more striking way. The harsh brutalities of Viola’s life in Southern Sudan as well as her flight to America are even more haunting and powerful because they make Viola seem stripped down and more vulnerable. The lack of flowery prose, makes the story seem more stark and naked, just as Viola is, both physically and emotionally throughout the story.

Farish weaves an excellent story through her lines of verse. Nothing is lost by the loss of sentences and paragraphs. If anything, Viola’s story is more powerful in verse.

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Throwback Thursday: The concussion blues

This post will have to be brief as I have to severely limit my screen time. It seems last week’s car accident left me not only with a smashed car, but also with a minor concussion.

Before I went into the doctor, I thought my headache and neck/shoulder pain might just be whiplash. I looked at some symptoms online and they seemed to line up with what was going on. Concussion didn’t even cross my mind as I didn’t hit my head on anything. Turns out that you don’t have to hit your head to get a concussion. You just have to rattle your brain enough. And when I got rear ended, my brain got rattled around.

Although I’ve never had a concussion before, I’ve had to navigate the world of concussions both with my students and two years ago with my own son. His former school had a completely amazing playground surrounded by a pretty big wooded area. The kids were building a fort, something that was part of the school’s tradition. My son was inside the fort when another kid who was adding on to it accidentally dropped a log on his head. Yes, you read that right, a log.

My poor third grader got one heck of a concussion.

He missed a few days of school, but even when he could go to school, he spent hours in the nurse’s office just resting. The school nurse and I were in frequent contact and each day she’d let me know how many times he came in and for how long. In the early stages of his recovery, he was there four times a day for at least 30 minutes. Having no prior experience with concussions, if I hadn’t known how much my kid actually loved school, I might have suspected he was faking his symptoms. But he hated missing class and fun with his friends.

As the days stretched on, he spent more time in class and had fewer brain breaks. It took him about a month until he was back to normal and it was an exhausting, upsetting month for everyone. He had to go to the doctor fairly frequently because there is really no normal concussion process for very young kids who get them. There is little research done on kids under the age of 12 who get concussions, so their reactions aren’t as predictable.

When my doc told me I too had a concussion, I had a basic idea of what I was in for. What I was not ready for though, was how tired everything makes me. On Saturday I went out to lunch with my family and then we ran a few errands–Target and the library. I was so exhausted when we were done (and we spent less than 30 minutes in Target), that I napped for an hour and a half. And I am not a napper. When all is right with my head, I nap maybe three or four times a year. It’s just not something I’ve ever been good at.

However, since getting this concussion, I have napped every single day. Sometimes multiple times each day.

While the headaches aren’t as extreme now, they are still ever present, a dull ache in the back of my skull. And the fog is still there. People have to repeat info to me. And I yawn every few minutes. Just folding a load of laundry makes me exhausted.

My doc said it may take a month to feel normal again.

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Filed under bad days, bad drivers, motherhood, my son, ramblings, what makes me me

Wildcard Wednesday: Pinterest recipes

I am that person who not only pins recipes on Pinterest, but actually makes them as well. In fact, at this very moment I have two different Pinterest dishes in my oven, hopefully baking to delicious perfection.

Sure, I have a lot more recipes pinned than I’ve managed to try at this point, but I’d say I’ve tried at least 20% of all my pins, and based on all of my friends boards and results, I’d say that’s above average! In fact, one of my friends will pin desserts she wants me to make for her, which I find hysterical. She won’t make them, but she knows there is at least a chance I will.

I don’t go for anything too complicated. Earlier today I glanced through a group of recipes that were housed under one pin because they promised to be delicious meatless main courses. Since my daughter has decided to go vegetarian, I am always looking for good veggie meals the whole family will enjoy (rather than just modifying her dinner). When I went through them I realized not that they were too complicated to make, but that my 7 year old, who was a bit of a picky eater before she gave up meat, would never touch most of the dishes, so I trashed that pin. I end up trashing about 10% of my initial pins because they’ll be too complex or on a full glance I know my family won’t eat them.

I also had to trash a few phenomenal looking recipes I’d pinned because when I went back to them (granted, it might have been a few years later), the pages no longer existed. That definitely made me sad. Luckily for every recipe I have to trash due to a bad link, there are 50 more that look equally good with working links. At least for now.

I’ll admit that I definitely like to look at the recipes more than I like to cook them. But I love all the variety available on Pinterest and how easy it is to flag and tag recipes my family really loves. As much as I loved pouring over cooking magazines (I used to subscribe to three different ones), I really love not having to try to remember which magazine I’d found a particular recipe in. It’s so much easier to just jump on Pinterest and scroll through my saved dishes.

True, I don’t get all the chef’s tips, histories and detailed cooking instructions on Pinterest. I also don’t get the joy of getting mail I actually want and then flipping through a magazine to see everything available. But, I still get glossy pictures and good recipes, so I’d say it’s a good trade off.

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Teaching Tuesday: Snow days part 2

Thanks to the glory that is an e-Learning day (electronic learning), even when we have snow/ice days, my students still have access to all of their work and instead of losing a day and having to make it up on MLK Day or Presidents’ Day or Spring break, we get to count it as a school day and we don’t fall behind.

I LOVE the concept of e-Learning days. They are not always the most effective instructional days, but we can get some extra skills practice in and I don’t feel like we’ve lost much time.

My only complaint is that since snow/ice days mean power can go out or services can have interruption, students aren’t required to have all of their work completed until they return to school the next day. Now, if we miss a Monday and are back on Tuesday, that’s not much of an issue for me. However, we missed a Friday. And not just any Friday, the Friday before MLK Day, which meant my students got a 4 day weekend.

Now, I have no problem with my students getting a 4 day weekend. I got one too and was pretty happy about it. The only problem I have is that technically their material, which they should have had no difficulty finishing on Friday (since there were no power outages in the area) wasn’t due until Tuesday when we went back to school.

About half of my kids did the work on Friday. I was able to then grade it and feel pretty excited about having all of my grading done. However, as the weekend stretched on, only three additional kids did their work. The rest were waiting until the last possible moment on Monday (or even early Tuesday morning) to finish their work. So, instead of being able to use that extra time off to truly get caught up on grading, I had to wait and once again get behind on my grading.

Because if we had had a regular school day on Friday, all of their work would have been turned in to me and I could have graded it over the weekend, then come to school with a completely blank slate.

Instead, I got to start the week off behind (again). This is particularly frustrating to me because my own children got all of their work done on Friday.

If my 10 and 7 year old can do it, why can’t all of my 17 and 18 year olds?

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