At Least I Have More Teeth

Today is my birthday.

Today I also stayed home from work so as to take Cody into the hospital for his outpatient Botox procedure (I am too tired (and not sure I could adequately explain it anyway) to go into detail about it but I am sure you could Google Botox and Cerebral Palsy to learn more).

Long story short, Cody stayed home from school today.  Since I moved into Arizona from out of state, I am required to take a Professional Knowledge test (as if getting a Master’s in Education was not enough) to prove I am competent to teach in this state.  And so while Cody rested, I studied.  I studied with my lovely progressive lensed glasses on.  I had to get them last year with all the reading I was required to do in the Master’s program.

My eyes were tired at the end of the day and so I continued to wear my glasses – not something I typically do.  Cody and I went to pick up Carter from the after school program.  As Carter was gathering his back pack, a boy who is in Carter’s class and also attends the after school program came running up to me.  For some reason he is always excited to see me, gives me a big hug and calls me “Hi Carter’s Mom!”  It is cute.

Today he runs up but stops short of the hug.  He looks up at me and says, “You look like my Grandma.”

I am a little taken back, never referred to before as Grandma material, and say to him that it must be my glasses.  It is my birthday, but really?  I take them off.

He looks at me hard and says, “No, it is not your glasses.  You still look like my Grandma.  You have the same hair.”

He picks up a dodge ball that has drifted his way and turns to reenter the game that is in progress but stops and turns back after a couple steps.

“My Grandma has lesser teeth than you have so that is a difference.  Bye, Carter’s Mom!”

Fewer teeth” I call after him, “Fewer”, in a desperate attempt to correct his grammar.

Today I turn 41.  I may look like a Grandma to some (or at least one) but I win when it comes to the question of number of teeth.

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Simple Sunday – What Would you do if…

This is not your typical Easter Sunday blog post.  In fact, it is very loosely based upon the topic of Easter, and even saying that is quite a stretch.

Over the years, I have found it necessary to give guidance to Cody and Carter about what they should do if they come across one type of wild animal or another.  There was the post about what to do if you come across a cougar (complete with my Google Image search of cougar – providing me with an additional conversation to have with the boys – if you don’t know what I am talking about Google it.)  Then there was the “What do you do if you meet up with a bear in the woods” conversation after this happened in our backyard.

The bear

So this Friday, which happened to be Good Friday (there it is, the loose tie into Easter), the boys and I had school off.  Cody filled up his Camelbak, Carter loaded up his backpack with water bottles, snacks, Band-Aids, emergency tweezers, and a magnifying glass for those times when you want to more closely examine rocks on the trail, I got a water bowl and poo bags for Haley and we headed out on a desert hike.

As we drove along the final stretch of road, I felt it necessary to review desert hiking 101 rules such as: don’t stick your hand (or other body parts) into holes in the ground, don’t run on the trails, drink lots of water, watch out for errant cactus that sneakily encroach onto the trail.

Then I remembered the last hike we took and the large snake Carter came across that was minding its own business sunning itself while draped across the trail.

me: Boys, I want to remind you to be be aware and alert for rattlesnakes.  What should you do if you see a rattlesnake?

carter: Gleefully, he pipes up from the backseat, I know!  You stop, drop, and roll!!

me:  Oh, dear…

Come to find out, or at least according to Carter, it was only a joke.  We reviewed the appropriate action to take if one sees a snake and then we went hiking.


We saw no snakes.

And nobody stopped, dropped, and rolled.

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Tuesday’s writing assignment in my second grade classroom was to write about someone the students considered to be a hero in their lives – someone who has been important to them, has inspired them.  We brainstormed ideas of who this person could be, did a “turn and talk to your partner” conversation.  Then we shared out our thoughts so those who were struggling to come up with a person to write about would have some guidance.

I consider modeling to be an important part of teaching as well and as such I had written a brief piece highlighting my dad as a hero in my life.  I pointed out my topic sentence and the supporting details.  I gave a couple examples and then wrapped up my short piece with a nice closing statement.

A student raised his hand.  I called on him.

student:  Mrs. M, why did you write ‘was’.  My writing regarding my dad was in the past tense as his has been dead for three years.

me:  I wrote that my dad was funny, smart, kind and supportive because he is gone now, he died several years ago.  I was surprised that I could talk about it without tearing up, although my voice did waver.

The students got their Writer’s Workshop offices (these consist of two of those manila folders stapled together so they could stand up forming a tri fold, upon which I attached various writing related items and then laminated the whole thing.  They put up their offices to minimize distractions and provide them with their own space for quite writing), I turned on the nature sounds CD we listen to while writing, and they wrote.

After about twenty minutes, where they write and I conference with students about their writing goals, I was about to call them back whole group for a few Writer’s Workshop shares, when a student raised her hand.  She is a rather quiet girl with a shy smile that she instinctually hides behind her hands.  She wanted to read to me her writing.

Her hero was also her dad, but her words were not mine.  She wrote about how her dad could tell great jokes and played games with her.  She continued, telling how her dad made her laugh and how nice and kind he was.  I knew from conversations throughout the year that her dad was not in her life but I did not know any more than that.  And so I gently asked – maybe I should not have.  But she began to speak.

Her dad is in Mexico.  She does not get to see him.  She does not get to visit him.  She does not get to talk to him on the phone.  And she misses him something fierce.  She stopped talking.

She bend her head down onto her desk and tucked it into her arms.  Her  little eight year old body shook as she cried quietly.  I stood there feeling completely inadequate and out of my depth.  I placed my hand on her back and thanked her for sharing her beautiful writing.  I told her to take as much time as she needed and that when she felt able, she could join the rest of the class.


It was a big and more complicated topic that I had anticipated.  But it is important and it will be a topic that I will use again next year.  But I hope by then that I will be better equip to handle the largeness and emotion of it.

Posted in Being a Teacher, Blogging/Writing | Tagged , , , , , , , | 9 Comments

Simple Sunday – Questions for our Realtor

Today we looked at some houses with our realtor.  There is one house in particular that we are interested in and Husband and I spent a lot of time talking about it after we came back to our apartment.

Time passed.  Husband went off to take care of his dad’s lawn and the boys and I went out grocery shopping.  On impulse we bought some Oreo chunk ice cream (it is very good and I recommend it).  As we three sat around the table eating ice cream before dinner, we started discussing the houses we looked at today.  The house that is at the top of our list came up in conversation.  There were some concerns on the part of the boys’.  You see, the house has two fireplaces (a strange thing indeed in the center of Phoenix, AZ).  How would Santa know which one to come down?  Cody thought a note stuck to the side of the correct chimney would suffice.  Carter figured we could just hang stockings at both locations, just to be safe.

Our realtor told us we should email her with any questions we may have.  I am tempted to email her this question just to see what she says…

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Simple Sunday – Stairs and Matchbox Cars

Fun with matchbox cars

Slinky’s got nothing on this.

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Skating Backwards

Last weekend we attended a birthday party for a girl in Cody’s third grade class.  Cody has spoken of this girl, who I shall refer to as Bea, for quite some time.  They play together at recess and spend time sitting on a bench in the school’s butterfly garden just chatting.  Cody has also told me that Bea and him like to play Tinkerbell – she plays the part of the pirate and Cody gets to be Tinkerbell.  It makes me smile to visualize that.

When we arrived at the party, Bea’s younger sister promptly informed me that Cody and her sister were boyfriend and girlfriend.  She then skipped merrily off singing, “Cody and Bea, sitting in a tree…” – you know the rest.

There was roller skating, hotdogs and cake, presents, party bags, and balloons.

Most of the adults were rather good at roller skating, especially some of the men who glided across the polished wooden floor as if it were ice.  It had been at least two decades since I had been on roller skates.  I found that I could skate forward and even turn and stop when I wanted (for the most part).  I could not, however, get the hang of skating backward.  I would stick my left leg out and back, try to turn my hips and push off the ground.  Then I would try with my other leg.  The floor would not move under me.  I am sure I looked rather comical floundering around in one place getting nowhere.

As I was getting an impromptu lesson on skating backwards from one of the beautifully gliding men, a woman motioned me over to the wooden railing.  She introduced herself as Bea’s Aunt.  Then she said how glad she was that our family came – something about us crossing over the color line.  It took me by surprise.  I was not sure how to respond other than to politely and honestly say that we were glad for the invite and we were all having a great time.

I always feel a bit awkward at kids birthday parties, walking into a roomful of strangers, trying to make chit-chat.  And yeah, to be honest, it crossed my mind that I might feel a bit more out of place at this particular birthday party than others I have attended but only because I do not have much practice with being in the minority.

But I did not.  In fact, I think I was so focused on roller skating, on skating backwards, that any feelings of awkwardness I felt were of the physical kind and had nothing to do with meeting strangers, whatever race they or I might be.

Roller Skating Party

Cody and “Bea” (with Carter in the background).


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Simple Sunday – If you Give them Suction Cup Toothbrushes…

Suction Cup Toothbrush Collage

expect some shenanigans during tooth brushing time.

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My Sick Day Rule(s)

The scans came back normal.  So did the X-rays.  After talk of keeping him overnight, he was released and Husband came home with Cody a bit before 11 last night.  This means Cody’s shunt is fine and we are not facing surgery.  It also means that we do not really understand what happened and are left with unanswered questions.

Cody is feeling fine.  He is happy and full of his typical child-without-a-care-in-the-world energy.

I, however, feel beat down tired – physically and emotionally.

Husband felt that Cody was fine to go back to school today.  And after being home with him all morning and afternoon, I agree.  But that really does not matter for I stand by my decision to keep him home.

But not for him.  For me.

I have this unspoken (and previously unwritten) rule regarding sick days and their relation to hospital visits.  That is why I ended up sitting in my car at 6:20 this morning waiting for the before school program lady to show up so I could dash into my classroom and prep for the sub who had not picked up the job I put out there last night, but who I was hoping would (and would show up and be kind and wonderful to my students).

These are some of my rules:

If we end up at the hospital emergency room on a school night, the next day should be a sick day.

If we end up having an unexpected meal at a hospital cafeteria, the next day should be a sick day.

If we spend hours waiting in a fishbowl-like room right near the main hub in the emergency department where we have to repeat our story at least four or five times while trying to keep the fear and panic out of our voices, the next day should be a sick day.

I am sure there are more, but these are the ones that come to mind.

We are home.  Cody is well.  I appear well on the surface.  I can not go so far as to say I am well.  I struggle with the black cloud in Cody’s head.  I struggle with how to manage my emotions towards it.  My relationship with it is unhealthy.  I don’t know what to do about it.  So I continue to appear well on the outside, at least as best as I can.

And because the teacher in me could not allow him to languish around the house all day not learning anything, I encouraged him to set up a store and we “worked” with money.

Codys Store Collage

I think I need to teach him that the cent symbol come after the number, not before.

Thank you for your kind words and your support.  It helps to write about it.  And it helps to know others are there listening.

Posted in Sniffles & Seizures | Tagged , , , , , , , | 12 Comments

What is Important

Today Husband and I both took the day off work to attend a Celebration of Life for my Husband’s uncle, Reynold.  He passed away last Monday and is greatly missed by many people.  There was a small family-only celebration/service over which a pastor presided.  Prayers were said and memories of Reynold were exchanged.

I am not a religious person, but I bowed my head politely, looking at the cobblestone upon which we all stood.  Those moments, they struck something within me.  There I stood, part of a small circle composed of three generations, taking pause to simply think of and reflect upon a loved one.  Within that circle Reynold was many things to many people – a husband, brother, a father, a grandfather, an uncle, a friend.  My eyes flitted to the faces around me and I felt a wave of sadness brought on by the fact that these moments, these pauses in life, are so few and far between.  It took a death for us to gather.


I paused in the writing of this so Husband and I could embrace the two hours we had before the kids needed to be picked up.  We went out for a drink and snacks – time to be together and enjoy one another’s company.  A phone call from the school jarred us out of our moment.  Cody had been complaining of a serious headache, crying about it.  Not like him at all.  Then he started throwing up.  We flagged down our waiter,threw money at him, and left.

As I write this Husband is still at the hospital with Cody.  There was an MRI done and the full shunt series of X-rays too.  Carter and I took a cab home.  I gave him a bath, read him a story, and tucked him in bed.

And now I wait, we wait.

What is important? (to get back to my original thought) – the people in our lives.  My brain is too tired to say more, to write more so I shall stop and simply wait.

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Simple Sunday – Car Conversations

Car driving conversation are the best.  Out of the blue, Carter had this to say:

carter: When I grow up I might be a librarian. 

me: Ah.  That would be a good choice.

carter: I like to read.  Reading is number one.  Ice cream is number two.  And math is number three.

me:  Surprised that reading beat out ice cream in his list of favorite things, Wow, those are all great things!

carter: Maybe I will have a library that serves ice cream in the summer.  And it would have a little school in it too.  People would have to read and use books to do math and then eat ice cream.

Now that sounds like a fun library!

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