Memembery Book

When Chica wants to memember something these days, she puts it in her Memembery Book.  She explained to Jay one day that it sits on a shelf in her brain, and she writes things down in it that she doesn’t want to forget.  Periodically she refers to the mememberies there and wants to know if we memember too.  My memembery book often loses pages spontaneously, so I decided it was time to jot down a few memorable moments from this week in a more dependable place.  Here we are, in no particular order….

  1.  It’s been a rough week.  The kind of week where you lose track of the last time you bathed your children and you buy school lunch three days in a row because you just can’t motivate yourself to do one more thing in the morning.  Oh wait.  That’s lots of weeks.  This one was that plus more.  But I’m on the other side of it now.  Thank you God.
  2. Last night was Pirate Night at our school.  I went planning to help as a teacher, and I instead got to just be Mom.  What an incredible gift that was to my tired soul.  As we traipsed around the Old City Cemetery looking for treasure, I breathed a whole lot deeper.  I think an eye patch and a couple dozen good pirate ARRRRRs can fix a lot of the world’s problems.

  3. One day this week I posted this status:

This morning I asked Chica if she wanted me to give her pigtails for school. She said that she wanted small braids and beads like her school friends. I explained that we don’t have those kinds of beads….and I don’t really know how to do this. I then said, “Well, you could at least brush your hair.” Her answer was, “Mom…that’s not stylish hair!” Oh man.

I shared this story with one of her previous teachers at preschool who went on to tell me exactly how to add the beads.  Since I had the know-how and the supplies after all, I decided to try it.  Two out of the three braids have made it all week, much to my surprise.  (I’m sure the lack of baths only helped this…ha!)

4. The threat, “Do you want me to count?” seems to have run its course, and it has been replaced by the Nice Voice.  A while back Chica started to become really sensitive about the volume and tone of voice we used when correcting her.  After one particularly harsh correction and the meltdown to follow, we decided to come up with a solution together of how we would avoid the Mean Voice.  The first time I ask her to do something I use my regular voice.  If she does not follow directions, I ask her again using the Nice Voice.  If she still hasn’t done it, THEN I get to use my mean voice.  Surprisingly, it is working, but this is how it really goes:

Me:  Chica, go put your shoes on.

Chica:  (No answer.  Distracted by her beads or refrigerator magnets or…well…anything really.)

Me:  Chica, this is me using my Really Nice Voice to ask you to go put your shoes on…please.  (This is delivered in my sickingly sweet voice, dripping with undetected sarcasm, eyelashes batting.)

Chica:  Oh….ok….sure Mom. (Equally sweet, minus the sarcasm.)

5.  I’m hoping we get at least as much play out of this strategy as the counting! 5. I think I could find at least one Cheerio in every room in my house.  Bubba really loves me for making snacking so convenient for him.

6.  I’ve been contemplating some kind of post about the imminent end of nursing for Bubba and me.  Instead all I have is a mishmash of feelings…relief, worry, guilt, and pride to name a few.  Maybe there will be more on this later.

Looking forward to making more mememberies tomorrow while watching the Ten Miler together.  Good luck to all of our friends running!

Finally Friday

Friday Night, oh how I’ve missed you.  I’m not sure you could be much more perfect if you tried.

It was a crazy day at work….one of those days where you don’t realize until 4:30 that your head is pounding and you are snapping at your family because you were too busy to finish your lunch.  So when Jay asked about evening plans, there was no hesitation on my part.  Yellow Sub.  And fast.

The Yellow Sub is that place, for our family at least, where everybody knows your name….and your drink order, and just how you like your sandwich.  (All the way, except hold the mayo, hot…in case you were wondering.)  Bubba devoured an entire grilled cheese.  He is quickly passing his sister in his ability to pack away some food.  We topped off the evening with some Spoon Me.  Chica was glued to the cartoon playing on the flat screen, Bubba snoozed in his car seat, and Jay and I just sat in an exhausted silence enjoying our fro-yo.  (Hmm…I’m probably not cool enough to use that word.  What evs.)  It was lovely.

When we checked Chica’s backpack this afternoon, she had some sort of light up disco ball necklace thing.  We couldn’t decipher just where or how she got it exactly, but it nonetheless created endless fascination for the entire evening.  “Mom!  Party in the bathroom!  Wanna come?”  For the first time I can remember in months…shoot…maybe years…there was no begging to watch a movie when we got home.  Instead we read one chapter of some ridiculously outdated book about Indians that Chica has been obsessed with lately.  And we read it by the light of the disco ball of course.

Bubba was super quick to get to sleep, Jay went off to watch a hockey game, and I got to soak up the two things I miss all week:  stillness and quiet.

And so here on our saggy loveseat I have sat for nearly two hours recharging.  The dishes aren’t washed, the kids haven’t had baths since Tuesday, there are papers to grade and lessons to write, and my house is growing cobwebs at an alarming rate.  But it will all wait.  Because it’s Friday, and I’ve earned it.

(Re)charge on.

Baby Steps

So do you have that one friend that lives a million miles away but still does life with you at the same time?  That friend who you can go one month or six months without talking to and then not even skip a beat?  And when you do finally catch her on the phone, neither of you can barely take a breath in order to say everything you need to say before one of your collective four children has a meltdown.

Yeah.  I have that friend.  We had a glorious nine or so minute conversation while I was driving sans Chica today.  Nine times out of ten, she doesn’t answer her phone.  Today I’m not even sure it rang once before her loud and peppy, “Hey!” came through the other side. She admitted she answered because it gave her permission to put off the cleaning a little longer.  A girl after my own heart.

We rushed to talk about all of the important things like doing the dishes, and East Coast visits, and listening to God, and spending time with our kids.  While she was pouring her heart out about wanting to make big changes in her life and being in that waiting place where the change isn’t fully happening, I interrupted her and said, “Sorry…gotta go….I’m here, except I don’t really know where here is… I better pay attention.”  She’s that kind of friend that’s just fine with nine hurried minutes and no more.

So tonight when after the crazies were in bed (and I, myself, was needing to do a bit of my own stalling), I wrote her a quick e-mail of what I would have said if I had had two more minutes.  Maybe you could use the same reminder today.  Maybe I just need to hear it one more time….

Dear Friend,

I so enjoyed our conversation today. Sorry I had to end it so abruptly! I found my friend’s house, and her baby was just perfect. So fun.
I had one thing I wanted to say when I talked to you….just slipped my mind while I was listening. I’ve been thinking about how I have an all or nothing personality. I don’t know if you call this perfectionist or not, but I see this kind of thing in myself all the time. I am tempted to think that if I don’t have enough time to clean the whole house, why even bother? There’s no way I can get all of my papers graded tonight, so I’ll just go to bed instead. If I don’t have time to write a perfect blog post (or perfect e-mail!), I just won’t even get started.
I’ve realized all of this about myself, and I’ve been trying really hard to work against it. Like just grading for one hour and then quitting. Or cleaning one room instead of trying to get them all. When I force myself to do this, however much I hate getting started, I always feel better afterwards….no matter how much got accomplished.
So here’s my point. I’m right there with you…..I want to spend more time with my kids, I want to keep a cleaner house, and I want to be more obedient when I hear the instructions meant just for me. But since I can’t make all of that happen right at once, I’m going to take tiny baby steps. I just wanted to remind you that big giant leaps don’t often happen like we want them to. Start little.
Missing you more than usual!

Dreams Come True

Chica’s nana has one of those jobs where she has to make conversation with her clients all day to fill the silent space.  I would be miserable at this type of job, but she’s pretty excellent at it.  People are her thing.

I’ve come to learn that there is a bit of strategy involve in the art of making small talk with lots of people every week.  She collects a few good stories and then just tells them over and over until the next good one comes along.  Chica regularly provides excellent story telling material for Nana, and I think this snapshot yesterday is no exception…

Nana called at the very last minute last night and invited Chica to spend the night with her.  When Chica came out of choir last night, we told her the good news.

“Oh, my dream has come true!” she exclaimed in her most glorious, dramatic way.  You have to picture it complete with eyes squinted, fists pumping, and lots of twirling.  “I can’t believe it!  My dream has come true!  Yes!”

Well, Daddy of course had to join in the action.  “My dream has come true too…I don’t have to pack your lunch!”  He avoided the twirling, I think, but looked just like her in all other ways.

The excitement was infectious, and I couldn’t hold back.  “My dream has come true too!!  I’ll have a few moments of quiet in the morning at school.   Yes!”

Doesn’t take much in the Proffitt house to get us excited.  I hope a dream or two of yours came true today too.

Operation Get Back The Weekend

So apparently I’m not the only one who regularly ends up spending weekends in a way other than they were intended.  Operation Get Back the Weekend won the most votes in my poll, so here we are.

Chica has a slight obsession with the days of the weeks.  She always asks what day it is and then proceeds to tell you the special event that occurs on that day.  Today is Wednesday, so she happily exclaimed this morning, “It’s choir day!”  Many months back we started referring to Saturday as Family Day, trying to explain to her the reason that we didn’t go to school.  The interesting thing is that Saturday has seemed to morph into Sit And Watch Movies All Day Day because Mommy has so much school work to do.

I’m over that.  Really over it.

So I decided for about the 59th time in my career as a teacher that I was going to try to tackle my grading a little at a time each night instead of saving it all for the weekend.  I realized this weekend that my new assignment as a math and science teacher makes this much more doable than my gig last year as a reading and social studies teacher.  The grading is considerably faster, and there are less project-ish types of assignments that take all week to complete.  Also, it’s super helpful to find on Monday that a kid is having a problem with a specific math skill instead of waiting until Saturday or Sunday to discover they’ve practiced it wrong all week.

So I’m three nights in.

Monday:  No problem.  There was no homework to check through, so I think I was done in 30 minutes or so.  I plopped down on the couch after I was all finished just oh-so-proud of myself.  I think I probably bragged to Jay three or four times in the ten minutes before I fell asleep, “Oh man….I’m so excited.  I got all my papers graded.   Oh man.  This was such a great idea.”  He’s a good sport.

Tuesday:  I did it, but it wasn’t pretty.  There was an assignment that we had been taking an eternity to finish. I decided that I would grade it as-is and then give it back to them to finish and correct….and I told them that.  So, I had to follow through with grading those plus the regular stuff.  I decided at about 10:30 when I was falling asleep with the checking pen in hand that it was time to call it a night.  I did finish them today in a few spare moments at school.  Two days in a row with all papers graded.  That is totally some kind of record.  I’m not even kidding.

Wednesday:  I haven’t started.  But I so want this to work, and I so want to spend my weekend with my family instead of my grade book, so I’m headed to the dining room table next, pep talking myself the whole way there.

This self discipline thing is funny.  I was thinking today that if I was a researcher, I would try to prove that there is an inverse relationship between the amount of creativity and the amount of self discipline that people have.  I just think that creativity gets in the way of self discipline AND self discipline can get in the way of creativity.  (Woah…that was deep for 10:02…and I hadn’t even planned that one ahead of time.)

I am really good at coming up with ideas of how to make something work better in my life.  And more times than not, that better solution involves me doing work regularly instead of all at once when it’s way too late.   But I almost never stick to my fantastic plan, and I end up right back where I started, plus just a little more frustrated with myself.  Here’s to hoping that papers every night….or even most nights….might become part of my routine and not just a wish.  I keep coming back to dishes and bath time.  I’m only slightly embarrassed to admit it, but a year ago dishes and a bath for Chica were not part of our nightly routine.  They happened when they happened….which usually was every two or three nights.  When Bubba came along, though, Jay and I decided together that this “whenever” plan wasn’t really going to work.  We did it.  We came up with a new plan, and we actually stuck to it.  Now the dishwasher runs every school night.  Every. Single. Night.  I realize that’s truly no big deal for most families.  Fine.  But that was big stuff for us.   And it gives me hope that my newest plan could actually go somewhere.

So I promised in my last post a few tips on how to appreciate your child’s teacher.  It’s related.  Stick with me.

Last weekend when I was actually managing to enjoy a little family time before the grading marathon began, I ran into one of my students and his family.  His mom, who works at another school in the city, thanked me for the effort that I put into giving feedback on their papers.  Be still my heart.  (Sheesh…am I actually tearing up recalling this moment?)  Sometimes I feel guilty for spending so much time on school work away from my family, and at the same time I manage to feel guilty for not doing enough as a teacher.  Ridiculous.  Her comment pushed all those feelings aside.  Instead I felt relief and appreciated.

So if your kid has a teacher that is doing something right…anything…will you tell her?  If you don’t get a chance to see her, maybe you could jot it in a note.  This week I got a, “I have to leave early to go to the dentist” note from a dad that started with a super eloquent sentence of thanks.  Just awesome.  If you don’t have time for that, how about one just okay sentence on the back of an old receipt?  Anything…anything…I tell you is worth it to a teacher.

Ok…I’m off my soap box now.  On to the papers.

There’s a Blog in That

So I already feel like a dork writing this post, but it’s what I am, so I’m just going to embrace it.  It’s time to leave for school, so don’t expect anything eloquent or edited.

Sometimes I don’t write because I don’t have anything to say.  Life is mundane to the max.  Other times I have plenty to say, but life is too busy to reflect on it in writing.  This week, though, my problem has been too much to write about.  So here’s where you come in.  I’m going to pitch you my current ideas, and if you have an opinion, share it!  Leave me a comment, and I’ll do my best to write about your (collective) choice this evening….unless of course Chica says something else hilariously funny in the next 15 or so hours.  Then that will win.

The Anatomy of a Drop In Visit–A west coast college friend came to visit me last night on a spontaneous swing through Lynchburg.  Her visit was delightful, all twenty minutes of it.  It got me thinking about how the drop in has changed since the days of phone booths and the Yellow Pages.

This Age is the Best Age–I’ve noticed small changes in Bubba that are much welcomed by me. This reminded me of a conversation I had with my friend Ruth when Chica was Bubba’s age.  Maybe Ruth (and her daughter Carrington) will let me write about them for this post.

Music for Un-Musical People–I’m trying some new things in my classroom with music.  So far it’s a success.  Curious?

I Love Love Love Love Love….One of my fourth graders has inspired me with her love for reading.  I’ll tell you about something that I love, love, love, love, love.  This post would include pictures from our recent weekend adventures.

Fall–Sorry, no catchy title yet.  I’ve been thinking about how I welcome the change from summer to fall and winter to spring.  I’m not ever as excited for the signs of summer or winter.  Ok, I lied.  I love summer….just not the weather that goes with it.

Operation Get Back The Weekend–I’ll tell you about my latest attempt to introduce a little self discipline into my life.  Included in this post at no extra charge….how to show your child’s teacher you appreciate them.

Ok…off to school.  Looking forward to my writing assignment from you this afternoon!


I Used To Want To Be Like You

Most days I am just delighted that Chica gets to go to the same school as me.  I enjoy the funny conversations she carries on early in the morning with my friends who make over her each day.  I look forward to lunch and extra recess time because I might catch her eye and give her an “Air Fist Bump Explosion”, our not-so-secret long distance hand shake we decided on at the beginning of the year.  I’m thankful too for little glimpses into her budding friendships with a rainbow of classmates.  But every once in a while it’s hard.

This afternoon I was feeling a little more pressure than normal because I knew my 8:15 meeting tomorrow morning would cut into my usual prep time.  Chica was flitting around my room sharpening pencils, laying on our exercise balls, and snacking on two leftover bags of Cheerios at the same time.  Some days when she hangs out in my room after school she is completely focused on something, and I hear nothing from her.  Last week I got at least three solid days of peace from a bag of dried beans and a few imitation Beanie Babies.  Today was a different story.

I’m definitely not proud of this moment, but here’s how it went down…

Chica finds a number balance on the counter and the floodgates open, pouring out the questions in full force.  Picture me at my computer organizing a pile of checks and receipts for our field trip, giving Chica only about 1/32 of my attention.

Chica:  What’s this?
Me:  It’s a balance.
Chica:  What’s a balance?
Me:  It’s a math thing.
Chica:  What’s it do?
Me:  Math.
Chica:  What’s this arrow for?
Me:  I don’t know.
Chica:  What’s this red part for?
Me:  I don’t know.
Chica:  Is the 10 a secret?
Me:  What?  I don’t know what you are talking about.
Chica:  The 10’s a secret, right?
Me:  I don’t know.
Chica:  What’s this thing called again?
Me:  A balance.
Chica:  Why do you have it?
Me:  (Thinking…maybe if I ignore her, she’ll stop.)
Chica:  How do you work it?
Chica:  What’s this white part for?
Chica:  Why does it have this?
Me:  I don’t know.  I don’t know.  I. DON’T. KNOW.  You are making me CRAZY.  You are really making me really really crazy.  I have work to do and you are asking me a million questions and I can’t concentrate and you are making me crazy so can you please just stop the questions so I can work?  Find something quiet to do that doesn’t involve asking so many questions.  PLEASE!

Yeah.  So, I really did say that.  Ouch.

Apparently she gets the picture, and the questions stop, but next I hear from behind me the clickety-clack of her fingers on the keyboard.

Chica:  (Composing an e-mail aloud as she types…)  Dear Mrs. Proffitt,  I used to want to be like you, but now I don’t want to be like you.

Yep.  She really did say that.  Double ouch.

At some other point today Chica and I talked about forgiveness.  She wanted to know if I would always always forgive her, not matter what “bad stuff” she did.  I told her I would, and I hoped sincerely that I will keep my promise to her on that one.  I forgave her today for asking a million questions, and she forgave me for yelling.  Phew.

I’m thankful tonight that I can count on always always being forgiven by the only perfect parent that exists….no matter what “bad stuff” I do.

Dear Boy With the Green Shorts

Dear Boy With the Green Shorts,

I saw you today jogging shirtless down Rivermont Avenue.  I had just dropped Bubba off at his school, so that means it was about 7:40.  There you were huffing it down the sidewalk looking just like a 25 year old training for the Ten Miler, except you looked about seven, and it was a school morning.

I’ve thought about you off and on all day.  I’ve replayed that look on your face as you passed me, but I just can’t place it.  Fear?  Shame?   Worry?  Freedom?   I still don’t know.  By the time my brain put together enough pieces of the puzzle to realize something wasn’t quite right with the picture, all I could see of you was your back buzzing by me with your shoulder blades sticking out at right angles.

You saw the guy walking toward us at about the same time I did.  I didn’t recognize him, but I could tell by the way you slowed that you did.  He also realized the peculiarity of your early morning jaunt, but his facial expression suggested your explanation didn’t make much sense.   When he began to escort you across the street and probably toward home, I felt mostly relieved.  Now I didn’t have to spend my morning or my day feeling guilty for not finding out why you weren’t home getting dressed for school.  Something about being a mom and a teacher makes me just feel obligated, you know?

So tell me, did you miss your bus?  Were you late, or did you end up just staying home all day?  In case you don’t have your note ready for your teacher tomorrow, I went ahead and wrote one for you.   Don’t forget it…they’re getting serious about the notes these days, okay?

Dear Green Shorts Boy’s Teacher,

Please excuse Green Shorts Boy for his absence on 9/5/12.  I know you rolled your eyes and clucked your teeth over a non-health related absence on the third week of school, but I can vouch it wasn’t his fault.  Please love him and forgive him and remind him that school is a safe and mostly calm place…no need to be on the run here.  Remember that learning those site words is plenty important, but that needs like clothes and supervision and safety trump your objectives for the day.  If you have any questions, please don’t hesitate to call.

A Concerned Mom & Teacher

I hope tomorrow starts off on a much better foot for you, Bud.  If not, you’ll find me right about 7:40 in the same place again tomorrow, ready to ask you where you are running from and to.

Chica & Bubba’s Mom

Record and Replay

So I randomly have these ideas for impossibly fantastic inventions that I know could make me rich if only I could figure out how to create them.  Like the Front Seat to Back Seat Nursing Funnel.  Or the Fully Automatic Paper Grader/Commenter/Recorder/Sorter.  Tonight it’s the TiVo For Life.

I so wish I could TiVo days like today and play them back when life is a little less joy-full.  I’m not talking about just seeing pictures from this day or video even.  TiVo For Life would let you completely relive a day…feelings, smells, tastes and all.

Here are the parts I would fast forward to from today…and then live back in slow motion…

  • 6:45  That moment right after Bubba has had his fill but isn’t quite his wiggly, awake self yet.  For about 4.5 seconds he’s relaxed in my arms, and I am relaxed in the moment.  Don’t expect that relaxed feeling again, though, for another 15 or so hours.
  • 9:35  Not enough time to start a new lesson, but too much time to just waste.  I pull out a math trade book that has the potential to cause the “I’m too cool” reaction in some of my fourth graders.  Instead they all seem to be loving it, laughing right along with me.
  • 11:45  I’m carrying on a conversation about running over lunch with one of my students.  We share similar stories about winning an age group category in a race due not to great skill but to lack of great competition.  It’s fun to remember they are people too.
  • 12:30  I walk out of my classroom filled with the quiet buzz that comes from 23 bodies really working.  I’ve left my room in completely capable hands so that I can take Bubba to his nine month checkup.  Some kid from another class brought me a homemade cookie that I munch on as I walk out to my car.
  • 3:30  The doctor is late, as always, but we make the best of it.  Bubba laughs his belly laugh over and over at that other kid in the mirror.  I whisper prayers for a friend who is looking forward to meeting her own baby boy any time now.
  • 5:00  We stop at Mema and Wilson’s house for a quick visit with the great-grandparents.  Bubba can’t take his eyes off of Wilson, but seems to ignore Mema at all costs.  Figures.
  • 6:30  Dinner is cleaned up, and Jay suggests we take a family walk.  After fetching the stroller from the attic and pumping up the tires, the tiniest sputter of rain begins.  We decide against the walk and instead just watch the rain from the front porch.  Bubba sticks his pointer finger out over and over to feel it.  Chica walks down the sidewalk and waits for me to say, “Ready, set, go,” as her cue to run back up it.  Then she gets creative and makes me say things like, “One, zero point ninety, on your mark, get set, go.”  Chica’s hair is dripping, and my pants legs are soaked, and I think I’ll play back this moment an extra time or two.  Especially that moment where the sun is shining and the rain is still falling…so cool.
  • 8:15  Both kids are in bed.  My friend’s baby boy has arrived, and her Facebook is hopping with messages.  I try to tell myself that four hours after the baby is born is just too soon to visit someone that’s not family, but I just can’t seem to think of anything other than just going to peek at his brand new face.  I scrounge up a few hospital survival items so that I have something that I can drop and run, and I just go.  He is sleeping and snuggly and creamy and perfect and surrounded by a whole room of people that already love him.  On the way home I try to craft some insightful words for her I wish I had heard nine and a half months ago.  I have none worth more than just love him.
  • 10:00  Jay wisely suggested I plan for tomorrow before writing this post.  I begrudgingly agreed and got busy on odd & even numbers and the planets.  He was a willing guinea pig and helped me try out a new card game for tomorrow.  He even said it was fun.  I sure like that guy.

So I’ll let you know once I have all the particulars of my TiVo contraption figured out.  Until then, I guess rereading this will just have to do.