The Candy Stash

There are a million other things I should be doing.  I should be unloading the dishwasher that Jay loaded last night or putting away the laundry he folded.  I should be cutting the grass I started almost a week ago or updating the website I promised someone I would work on 6 months ago.  But thanks to some unexpected efficiency, I’m done with homework approximately 5 hours early, the kids are entertained with their neighborhood buddy, and I want to do anything except what I should be doing.  So here I am.

One of my favorite things lately has been the “On This Day” Facebook button.  Nearly every time I click it, I find at least one blog post from a summer gone by, and I have the treat of remembering something that has long escaped my memory.  Yesterday I reread the story of Chica putting Bubba to sleep.  That girl continues to love on her brother who is sometimes so hard to love.  Late at night I often discover them snuggled up in bed, and she’s now the one patiently teaching him about bossy R and silent E.  She also answers his grumpy-cat “What if…” questions until he talks himself right out of being mad.  She’s a special kind of patient.

Everyday those posts from 4 years ago or 5 years ago remind me that I must keep writing, if only for my own memory.  So, today, I bring you (er….me….4 years later) the Candy Stash.

First, a few important things you should know:

I love Hot Tamales.  I also love school.  Combine the two, and I have superpowers.

I have been in school for two full years, finished one and a half extra degrees, and I’m starting on a third.  That plus working full time and being a mom and a wife….it’s ridiculous, I know.

Sometimes I get tired.  When 11pm or 12am comes, and I have 3 journal articles to read and yet another discussion question to answer, all I want to do is sleep.  But I must press into this crazy path I chose for myself.  Unfortunately I don’t like coffee.  Sorry Sarah…..I know it’s hard to believe, but I still don’t.  So it’s the Hot Tamales, and sometimes gummy worms, that get me through.  (That and 10 minute power naps with my head down on my books in front of me.  I’ve mastered it.)

Well at some point last semester our candy stash ran out.  When there aren’t Hot Tamales, I’m usually desperate enough that I’ll eat just about anything sweet that I can find.   There’s old Christmas candy, then Valentine’s candy, then I might go back to the Halloween candy that no one wanted, right before the Easter candy arrives.  But somewhere around late May our bucket ran completely dry.  In one particularly low moment of late-night writing, I ate something…ok…several somethings that Chica had been saving on her dresser.

And then she noticed.

There’s nothing quite like having to admit to your nine year old that your self control is so lacking that you stole candy that she had been saving.

“It’s ok, Mom,” eyes just this side of teary.

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I don’t exactly remember how I found out, but it was genius:

She now has her own Candy Stash.

She’s hidden her special candies in a new spot in her room, and she has clearly let me know that she’s not planning to tell me where it is so that I won’t eat it all up.  Bubba’s in on the secret too.  The especially funny thing to me is that they aren’t hiding it so that they can eat it in secret.  They still ask me each time they get some.  They’re just hiding it so I won’t eat it.  Ha!

Well, I was 9 once, and I’ve cleaned her room top to bottom multiple times, so I pretty much know all of the hiding spots.  So while getting ready to write this post, I went looking to see if I could find it.  Score.

But since it’s not 11pm, AND my homework is all done, I didn’t take any.  I just left this note:

 

I’ll let you know when she finds it.

 

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I Hate You

There are lots of good things about four.

Four means he can buckle and unbuckle himself from the backseat, and it doesn’t take an eternity.  Four means I can trust him, sometimes, to go into the men’s bathroom and come out with his hands actually washed with soap.  At four he can reach the faucet to get his own cup of water and unlock the front door when my hands are full.

But four also brings heavy new words.

I hate you.

……………

At two or three, there was screaming.  High pitched, ear-piercing, scream-bloody-murder-until-you-pull-the-car-over-and-make-me-stop screaming.

Most of the time with the screaming I kept my cool, trying to remember Jay’s words: It’s only a phase, it’s only a phase.  But on desperate days I screamed right back at him, threatened the wrath of Daddy, or just tried to whip it out of him.  That was not pretty.

But the screaming taught me something.  While it feels oh-so-good in the instant to throw my own ugly mommy tantrum right back at them, it’s never good afterwards.  Minutes or even seconds later, there’s that sick to my stomach feeling that serves as a reminder that I just demonstrated the exact kind of behavior I am trying to get rid of in my kids.  So I would stew a little longer, finally resolve to let go of my pride, apologize, and then try to have the conversation I should have had the first go round.

So now I try hard to skip my own tantrum and go straight to the calm convo.  For my teacher friends, I’m all about the reteaching part of PBIS.  Hear me – I still screw up plenty.  Last night at bedtime, for example, Ugly Mommy put the kids to bed via shouts from the basement.  Ugh.  Still not pretty.  But I’m trying to do things differently.

I think today in the doorway of my classroom he was expecting, hoping perhaps, that he’d push me to that ugly point with those three tiny words.  Eight letters.  Ihateyou.

But I took a deep breath and reminded myself that he doesn’t actually hate me.  Instead of the swift smack to that chubby spot on the back of his leg that I wanted to give him, he got an earful instead.  It went something like…

I love you, Bubba.  I know you don’t hate me.  I know those are words that you say because you are angry.  You are angry because we have to leave right now which means you have to stop playing the iPad.  Next time when this happens, you can say, “I don’t like it when I have to stop.  I wish I could play longer.”  But you don’t need to say those ugly words.  Those words hurt my feelings, and you don’t really mean what you are saying.

I hope he heard the most important part:  I love you, Bubba.

Maybe he even heard: I love you, Bubba, even when you’re begin a jerk.  I love you enough to keep reteaching you, to keep reminding you to not sin in your anger.  Say what you mean, but leave out the extra.  I know there will be even bigger screw ups than Ihateyou in the doorway, and I will keep loving you.

Iloveyou.  Eight letters.

…………..

Yesterday I heard a teacher friend say something that I just have to add.  She explained that whenever there’s a problem in her classroom, she looks at herself first.  Instead of, what’s that kid’s problem, it’s, what can I change?  

This.

While I certainly can’t bear the total responsibility of my four year old’s words, I have to admit that I contributed to it.  I dragged them to school for yet another day of hanging out while Mommy works on projects.  I worked right up until the time we needed to go, so we had to hurry.  I probably hadn’t given enough of a warning that go-time was coming.

Yes, the four year old has room to grow, but so does this (almost) thirty-four year old.

Spring Mememberies

Chica doesn’t talk about her Memembery Book anymore, but I still think that I need one.  Here’s the spring 2015 edition…

1.  In March, I ran the Shamrock Half Marathon in Virginia Beach.  My time was right under  two hours, and I couldn’t have been more pleased.  Two of my favorite mememberies from that weekend include biking to the start in the dark with Jay and seeing my sweet family on the course twice.  While I was there, I mapped out my racing and training plan for the next six months or so.  I’ve got 4 races on the calendar:  XTERRA Richmond in June, Percival’s Island Five Miler in July, Virginia 10 Miler in September, and the Richmond Marathon in November.  I am SO enjoying the training right now.
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2.  Each year our fourth graders go on an overnight field trip to an outdoor education camp.  This year we tried out a new location, W.E. Skelton 4-H Educational Conference Center, and we loved it!  We went canoeing, fishing, tried out archery, held snakes, made s’mores by the campfire, practiced using a compass, and learned how to start a fire without matches.  I have three favorite mememberies from our time there….an early morning run with two mommas, playing adults vs. kids soccer, and a hilarious dinner conversation about the birds and the bees chickens and puppies.  Ask me sometime about the unfortunate consequences of having an OB-GYN doc for a mom.  🙂

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3.  Thanks to a too-good-to-pass-up Groupon deal, our family of four took a quick Spring Break trip to DC.  We stayed in Tyson’s Corner and took the Metro into the city two different days.  On our first day there we went to the new air & space museum and visited a friend’s church for his Saturday evening service.  On Sunday we toured the zoo, ate at Hard Rock Cafe, and checked out the Building Museum.  Monday was monument day, and we made quite the trek:  Washington Monument, Jefferson Memorial, Martin Luther King Jr. Memorial, and Lincoln Memorial.  We ate a very tired lunch at McDonald’s across from the White House then headed home.  A few of my favorite mememberies were watching Chica learn how to read the Metro map, a paper airplane contest in the air & space museum, and the gift from Jay of a free hour to sip sangria and read in the hotel restaurant.

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4.  For her birthday, grandma gifted Chica with a weekend at Mom & Me at Eagle Eyrie.  We met my friend Stephanie and her daughter Gracie there.  Chica had a fabulous time, and I had fun watching her have fun.  I’m not sure what she would offer as her favorite part, but I enjoyed packing shoeboxes, eating ice cream, visiting with Stephanie, and just having a chance to focus on one kid.

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5.  We spent Mother’s Day in Richmond with my mom.  It was delightful.  Saturday morning I got to go on a long trail run on the Buttermilk Trail.  After my run I took several laps around the South of the James Farmer’s Market in Forest Hill Park.  The rest of the time we mostly rested and cooked.  I used this weekend as an excuse to try out two new recipes:  stuffed shells and spinach salad.  They were keepers, and I have repeated both once since that weekend.  A few more mememberies from that weekend include an early morning walk with my mom, fishing with the kids and Grandma on the dock, and a brief photo shoot with Jay. He wanted me to try to capture a new head shot he could use for work and school:

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6.  The other major event for that weekend was applying for college.  What the what!?!  I know….as if two kids, a job, a husband, a house, and marathon training were not enough, I’ve decided to start working on my masters.  Woohoo!  I’m going to working on a M.A. in Mathematics Education (K-6) from Western Governors University.  If all goes well with my admissions interview this week, I start July 1.  I can’t wait, actually.  Here’s my excited-but-whattheheckhaveigotteninto face:
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7.  The very next weekend brought a long awaited visit from my college friend, Sarah-Anne.  She arrived the day of my final SOL, so I was able to take off the next day to spend with her and three other college friends in Richmond.  Perhaps my favorite part of her visit is that life just continued to happen ’round here, and she got to be a part of it.  Doing dishes, packing lunches, going for weekend long runs, hanging out with my momma….it was fun to do all of those things together.  I felt blessed to be able to do Friday kid-free so that I could soak in the sweetness of my friends’ kids instead of worrying about mine.   Also, Saturday morning SAL and I returned to the same farmer’s market from the weekend before.  My mom gave us each $20 to spend, and we eeked every cent out of it…goat cheese, quinoa bowl, ripe strawberries, fresh juice, crepe, homemade granola bar, and snap peas.  Yum.

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8.  We were double blessed with cross country guests that weekend.  Uncle Justin and Aunt Rachel came in from California, and we were able to celebrate the upcoming birth of the latest baby Proffitt.  At some point during the weekend Bubba caught wind of the fact that there was a baby growing in Rachel’s belly and asked, “Can I pet it?”  I think that story is going to get a lot of miles!  Chica and I thoroughly enjoyed the baby shower together.  We so can’t wait to meet Baby Proffitt!

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9.  My kids really rocked their SOL tests.  I am so proud of them.  As promised, they were rewarded with extra recess, popsicles, and the privilege of pieing me.  Here’s the video of me getting pied for your viewing pleasure….

 

10.  And finally, this past week Jay and I treated four fun fourth graders to an afternoon of Science & S’mores.  This was a silent auction idea that we dreamed up for our spring carnival.  We microwaved ivory soap, made everyone’s favorite non-Newtonian fluid, played with snap circuits, attempted a popsicle stick chain reaction, and…best of all…played with dry ice to our hearts’ content.

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Since we never really got the popsicle thing to work at school, we of course had to try it again at home:

 

11.  I was going to stop at 10 mememberies, but I found this picture in my phone as I was looking at others.  It was too good to pass up.  Bubba insisted on wearing his bowtie to school twice this week.  He would have worn it a third day, but he ran out of clean polo shirts.  He’s convinced that button down shirts need neckties, not bowties.  I’m certain he won’t stop asking about it until he gets one.  Funny guy.

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How about you, friends?  What’s your favorite spring memembery?  I hope you’ll leave me a comment and share!

 

 

What I Should Have Said to My Friend Who Doesn’t Want Kids

The threat of the coming snow on Wednesday meant a welcomed lunchtime early dismissal for teachers this week. While I was busy planning out a location in which I could woof down my leftovers and keep working in the few hours before daycare closed, my coworkers were making plans to enjoy lunch out together like normal adults. It took some major convincing on their part to get me to agree to go. My mind was stuck on the fact that I hadn’t accomplished one-fourth of the things I had hoped to get done during the work day AND I was about to get stuck in my house with my crazy little people for at least five days. In a row. “I HAVE TO GET MY WORK DONE!!!!!” my task-oriented brain was screaming.

But they were offering to go to my favorite new restaurant, and they did say we were going to talk about work stuff we need to get done anyway. AND the pork stew in my lunchbox was only so appetizing for the third straight day in a row. Oh, and that still, small voice that often tries to remind me that it’s completely possible that relationships can be more important than work. Oh, yeah, that. So I went.

I’m glad I did.

We talked about work, the drinks were free, the food was good, and the company was even better. As our conversation wrapped up, I attempted to make my exit and eek out a few more minutes of work time before the 3 p.m. daycare closing. Again I said, “I have to go get some work done BEFORE I’M TRAPPED IN MY HOUSE WITH MY KIDS FOR FIVE WHOLE DAYS. AHHHH!”

As everyone laughed a polite laugh, my honest, child-less friend observed, “Wow. Everybody makes having kids sound so bad. I’m just dying to have kids,” she said sarcastically.

Boom.

I don’t really know what I said at that point. Nothing, I guess. But I’ve been thinking about her….and me, and them….often as I’ve been stuck here in our snowy fort: Is it really that bad? And if having kids isn’t that bad, then why do I always talk about the bad parts?

I think sometimes we talk about those hard parts because if we don’t attempt to find the humor in it, then the only other choice is anger. Like the pencil drawings on the wall, the blue paint stains on the floor, and the orange permanent marker to the carpet. I’ve just chosen to find it amusing now that my two year old can find the most destructive item in any given room, in spite of my best efforts to hide all of those things out of reach. He has special ninja powers that help him seek out, find, and acquire the contraband, all while being so silent, you’d never suspect him. It’s either laugh or stay mad. I’m choosing laughter….and those stories are fun to tell.

Maybe we talk about the bad parts because we need to know we’re not alone. I’m not the only one in the world (or likely even my circle of friends) who has been woken up on a snow day by grubby fingers exploring every interesting hole on my face. I’m not the only one who has to check for peanut butter and snot stains on my shirt before leaving for work. I’m not the only one who loathes bath time and pushes the limit each week on the acceptable amount of days between torture sessions. Do you know just how much relief and freedom I felt when I shared this with a friend who then proceeded to tell me she has been known to go two weeks between baths before?? (Don’t worry friend, I won’t blow your cover.) We need to know we’re normal. Our kids are normal. Talking about the crazy parts usually leads to confirmation that everyone else is just as crazy.

I’ve been wondering, though, if we don’t talk about the good stuff because we’re afraid we’ll sound like we’re bragging. Or maybe because we don’t want to give an unrealistic view of what this parenting thing is all about. Even more likely, for me, I just don’t stop dwelling on the icky, mundane, tough, exhausting, painful, confusing, whatthehellhaveigottenmyselfinto moments long enough to recognize and be thankful for the good parts.

So that’s where I am today on snow day number 2.5. I’m busy counting up the good things, trying to articulate what I should have said to my friend who us grouchy mommies have scared kid-less.

This:
You’re right. It’s hard, and I make it sound no fun, but there are so many good parts. Go get another glass of green tea and bag of pita chips, and I’ll tell you about those parts that make it fun too…

Watching your big kid happily play outside in the snow by herself from your warm, sunny window, singing made-up words to a tune from Frozen at the top of her lungs.

Figuring out that the same big kid is now big enough to help with housework. Don’t underestimate the gift of one more person in your family who can unload the dishwasher or push the vacuum.

Seeing your little kid napping snugly on Daddy’s warm lap, both snoring like it’s going out of style.

Hearing either one of them say, “Thank you,” without having to be reminded, reassuring yourself that you are doing at least one thing right.

Being comforted by a little person when you’re the one with the tears and the pain.

Witnessing your kid learning to read. It’s magical.

Catching them playing and sharing with each other without any help from you.

That amazed, fantastic look when they accomplish something they didn’t know they could do. It doesn’t matter if it’s reading a whole book on their own or just stepping off of the porch into the snow unassisted….when they squeal, “I DID IT!” you’re still amazed right along with them.

Overhearing your kid say funny things like, “That’s my fravrite!” when he gets ketchup (with a side of pickles and grilled cheese) for dinner. Right now that same funny kid is saying, “Really? Really??” to the vacuum like it’s telling him a story he doesn’t believe. Last night, as we all watched a movie together, he said, “What the…?” and “Oh my word!” at all the right times. They make you laugh all. the. time.

Your kid (finally) successfully getting a haircut without a need for excessive tears or force.

Oh, and snow days stuck in the house to slow down and remember why you really do like them after all.

But here’s the real thing, friend….aren’t all the things that are really worth doing both really hard and really good at the same time? Wouldn’t you say that about marriage? And teaching? Having a house? Being a friend? Knowing Jesus? Aren’t each of those things messy and frustrating and time consuming and tiring and overwhelming right along with rewarding and stretching and amazing and life-giving?

So it’s worth it friend, and it isn’t all bad. Thanks for reminding me of that. Thanks for reminding me to see and talk about the good parts too.

Ok….off to bathe that kid who just had a haircut. Don’t ask me how long it’s been.

Hey, mommy friends:  Leave me a comment.  Remind me (and those friends we’ve scared kid-less) of the good parts I didn’t mention. 

77 Things

52 e-mails to answer.

20 parent-teacher conferences for which to prepare.

5 stations to plan.

2 kids not to forget.

 

Tonight as I hoisted Bubba out of the tub, we had the exact same routine as we always do at the end of bath.  I shake him off over the tub, plop him on the fuzzy blue carpet, and rush to wrap him up before he tries to hug me to get warm.  Then he says, “Jump? Jump!” begging me to hold out my hands so he can jump higher and faster.  I don’t know what it is about the towel and the carpet, but together they make the most perfect condition for jumping in his little mind.

And then it struck me.  He won’t always be almost two and needing a hand to jump after bath time.  I won’t always wrap him up and call him “Taco” as I throw him on the bed and shower him with kisses.  Before I blink he’ll be five, getting himself out of the tub, and waiting for me snug under the covers.  And when he’s five or nine or twenty-five, will I remember the jumping and the taco?  No.  I most certainly won’t.  Not unless I write it down.

So though I have 77 things to do, I decided this must happen too.  First.  I must remember to remember.

*Remember that Bubba says that he and Daddy visit Beepo Home.  You know?  Home Depot, of course.

*Remember that nine times out of ten, if Jay picks Chica up from school instead of having her ride the bus, they go get ice cream.

*Remember that Bubba will always prefer anything on my plate over anything on his.

*Remember that Chica couldn’t quite grasp the idea of the school fundraiser.  All week she’s been talking about creating things to sell so that she could meet her 3 item goal.  No matter how many times I try to explain that we are to sell the stuff in the catalog, she just doesn’t get it.  I’m just rolling with it at this point.

*Remember that Bubba’s internal alarm clock sends him into our room nearly every day at 4:55.  We mindlessly lift him up and into the warm spot between us.  We press snooze, and usually get at least 15 more minutes of sleep for all of us.  Then it

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*Remember that since Bubba’s internal alarm clock wakes us all up at 4:55 and again at 5:10, that we are tired.  So tired that when I try to write a blog post, I fall asleep mid-sentence.   And in the morning I have no idea what I was going to write next.

*Remember that falling asleep mid-sentence means that not even one of the 77 things got started.  But I’ve decided that being well rested is probably worth more than accomplishing 77 things and being grouchy.  Oh….and I got 5 of those things done in the shower this morning. Only 72 to go.

 

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…..so 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!
TJP

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!