Something Stirred in Me

Gia’s first day of preschool, or as she says, “pretty school’ was yesterday. I wish I could say that I got a bunch of really cute pictures and that it went off exactly as I imagined it would: Gia in a cute dress, excited about school, smiling as she waved good-bye to me, heading off to play with other kids her age. Instead, it was too cold for her to wear the dress she picked out the night before. Strike one. I had to wake her up and she wasn’t really ready. Strike two. She cried when I left and had to be pulled off of me. Strike three. Here she was before:


Today, she went to her school from last year. We called it school and she learned so much that it was, but the official title is Parents Day Out or as I like to call it, “The Gift of Sanity”. It went better than yesterday. She woke up early, insisted on wearing the dress from before (since it was going to be warmer, I agreed), and ran into the classroom. Score, score, score! The best part? She is playing with kids her own age and I get back to the blogging world!!!! I’ve missed you guys! Here she was today:



Tuesday was not a full day of preschool. It was only an hour and while Gia became acquainted with her classroom and the way things work, the parents had their own orientation. We listened to the director discuss what the kids would be doing and all the policies and something stirred in me. I was at the edge of my seat being on the parent side. I really, really wanted to be on the other side telling how I run my classroom. I miss it. I didn’t even realize how much until I was sitting there in that room. I want to look at curriculum and themes and come up with activities. I want to read stories to a group of kids and then do an art project with them. I want to be their first teacher building a foundation of a love of learning. I want to have fun conversations during snack time. I want to watch them play on the playground and make their first friends. I want to teach them their ABC’s and 123’s. I cannot believe how much I want it. I was listening but all I could think of is how could I make it work next year? If Gia is in a four year old class, is there a way for me to teach in one classroom while she is in another? Do I really have to wait three more years? Will I be able to?

My former identity rose to the surface and was bubbling over. I am not just a mom. I am a teacher. I now consider myself a writer and things are finally happening in that area. I don’t want to give that up. Do I see a level of chaos I didn’t think was possible in my future? Possibly. But it feels good. It feels hopeful.

It’s funny. I went to all three older kids’ curriculum nights and I didn’t feel the same way. I couldn’t teach high school. I am not certified anyway but that level of teaching doesn’t really appeal to me. The only class I heard that I would have any desire to teach is health because I believe in what they are teaching but it’s all so technological these days that it sounded confusing.  I could teach middle school Language Arts or Social Studies but even as I was listening to the teachers, I felt the pressure of all they have to squeeze in. I  don’t have anyone in elementary school so who knows what I would have felt but sitting there listening to what the preschoolers were going to do, I wanted to raise my hand and say, “I can do this! I used to do this! Let me do this!”

It’s been a long time since I have felt the teacher in me stir. She never really went away but she’s been asleep for a very long time. There are times in this motherhood gig that I feel like I am getting it right but they are far and few between. I miss feeling good at something. The desire for that felt like a tornado stirring inside me.


What about you? Do you ever feel the stir of your former identity? Have you done anything about it?



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Learning and Hoping

Sophomore Year

Sophomore Year


I am proud of Nico because he continues to show me that he has a good soul. He might save all the complaining for me but I am told he is a hard worker. When I think of my kids teaching me lessons, Nico teaches me that I can’t always be in control and more often than not, I am not in control at all. He teaches me that it is more important to listen than to talk. My hope for him this school year is that something stands out to him as what he would like to do when he grows up. He doesn’t need to decide this year but it would be great if a plan started forming of what he would like to do in the future. I hope that he continues to work hard to get good grades and it might sound silly but since he is a little girl. crazy, I’d like him to find a nice girl to date.

6th Grade

6th Grade


I am proud of Tommy because he is a self-starter. When there is a job at hand, he buckles down and gets it done. This makes him a pretty easy kid for the most part. He is an old soul that doesn’t have a mean bone in his body. Tommy teaches me that it is okay to make fun of yourself or not take yourself so seriously. He teaches me to stop and wonder how things are done or made and not skip over the little things in life. My hope for him this year in school is that the teachers see what a special kid he is and that he grows a thicker skin when kids aren’t very nice whether they are joking or not. He is so good at standing up for others that I want him to be okay with standing up for himself.


*Sidebar-Second day of school and one kid called him the “wheezy kid” that can’t run a lap (I guess that is from a movie but I don’t find it funny). He thinks the kid knows he has asthma but doesn’t know he has CF and doesn’t want him to. This breaks my heart a little bit.  The same kid that told Tommy he must be poor since he always wears hand-me-down shoes saw him in the hall and said, “Here comes the kid with the shitty shoes.” When he looked down and saw Tommy’s new shoes, he shut up but not before Tommy was embarrassed. It’s wrong that I wanted to tell Tommy he could tell the kid to “Go to Hell,” isn’t it? I know–kill him with kindness, turn the other cheek, take the high road. I know. But some things warrant a “Go to Hell.”


6th Grade

6th Grade


I’ve already talked about how proud I am of Belle. Belle teaches me that patience and kindness go a long way. She teaches me that sometimes all you need to do is be present in a conversation to make a difference in someone’s life, that being heard is a step in growing confidence. She teaches me all the time about loyalty and how it is more important to do the right thing than do the popular thing. My hope for her is that she makes friends that she’ll have all through middle school and high school. My hope is that when confronted with something hard, she pushes through it instead of giving up. I hope that little light in her continues to shine.


Doesn't start school until after Labor Day and will probably get her own post.

Doesn’t start school until after Labor Day and will probably get her own post.


I think Gia knows she is going to be going to school soon. She is up my butt and under my feet 24 hours a day, every single day extra needy, teary and emotional. Her new thing is crying and telling me, “You hurt my feelings,” when I say no to her. I’ve been hurting her feelings a lot lately because she wants candy for breakfast, cookies for lunch and Pringles for dinner. She still has me wrapped when she cuddles up next to me before bed, rubs my cheek and then lets out a sigh of contentment and then immediately falls asleep.


What about you? What have you learned from your kids? What are your hopes for them this year in school?





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Ten Reasons I am Losing My Mind

Friends, I need school to start. I mean, I really, really do. Pardon my language, but this summer has kicked my ass. There is a padded room with my name on it and these are the reasons why:

1. Late nights. For everyone. Nico comes home between 10 and 11 depending on the day and he doesn’t come home quietly. I can’t go to sleep until I know he is home so all hope of going to bed early ever are gone. Not that it matters since everyone is up anyway. Gia has no routine because there are days when I can get her to bed around 8 and days where I can’t until after 9 or 9:30. The twins are a free-for-all sometimes going to bed at 10 or going to bed midnight. I miss my down-time. Leo and I have gotten zero time alone since we went to Indian Lakes for his Mother’s Day gift to me. I need Gia to be in bed asleep by 8. I need the twins to be in bed by 9, asleep by 10. I need Nico to be in bed by 10, asleep by 11. I need to relax from 11-12 and have a conversation with Leo or at the very least, watch TV with him.

2. Money, Money, Money. I am so tired of shelling out money to the three older kids. I am looking forward to getting back into the groove of the kids working for the money I am shelling out. And they are going to learn the fine art of managing their money once they earn some.

3. Fast Food. I actually dry heave when I pass a McDonald’s and when I am asked to pull forward for a simple order, I show great restraint with not throwing something at the young kid on the other side of the window. I HATE pulling forward. We have eaten more fast food this summer than ever before. Part of it is why should I cook a big meal when it is only Gia and me eating? It was a complete mom-fail not enforcing the “we all meet for dinner” and then you can go back out. I am actually looking forward to cooking and having people home to eat it.

4. Irregular Bathing. My kids smell. Not all the time but more times this summer than any other. I think I said, “When is the last time you took a shower” to my kids more times than I care to admit. I really thought that after age 10, you would know when to bathe yourself. I was wrong. Even Nico pretty much only showered when he went out. You can imagine what my house smelled like after two camps or two games. I’m looking forward to the smell of soap instead of the “lazy, over-use of Axe and Secret deodorant”.

5. Sassy Mouths. I am really sick of hearing all the things I do that ruins my kids’ lives: No sleepovers, not being able to stay out until midnight, not letting them hang out with friends every day, all day. Believe me, I’ll hear that during the school year but at least I’ll get a reprieve the hours they are in school or at practice.

6. No Silence. I have said I don’t like uncomfortable silence but OMG, I cannot wait until there is a little silence over here. All summer it has been one long scream-fest. I absolutely love being a mom. I couldn’t wait to hear my children utter the word, “Mama”. But while wishing for those words to be uttered, it was never followed with, “MOOOOOOOOOOM, Tommy is bugging me!” “Moooooom, can I have $10?” “Mommy, can you build the 432,000th Lego tower?” “Mom, can I get a phone? Mom, can I get a phone? Mom, can I get a phone?” A little silence is going to be a good thing.

7. Astronomical Grocery Bills. Part of the problem is that the kids are with me when I am grocery shopping and I end up with Teriyaki Beef Jerky and Taki’s and Honey Mustard Pretzels, stuff that if I am alone, I wouldn’t get. Another reason is because my house is always filled with kids. I really don’t mind. I love having the kids here sitting around my table but keeping 6 teenage boys fed and four or five tweens happy snacking can get to be expensive.

8. Not seeing my friends. I feel like the whole summer has gone by and I’ve barely seen any of my friends. I am looking forward to meeting for breakfast or lunch and catching up. There is a reason we have girlfriends. They keep us sane.

9. Having a house in constant disarray. My house is what I like to refer to as “lived-in” but this summer, I cannot keep up. I put things away and right behind me are children messing things up again. I have been fielding fights over whose turn it is to do what and in the end nothing gets done. It will be nice to have a chunk of time and then have it stay clean for at least 10 minutes.

10. Guilt for writing. All summer, I had to sneak writing. Gia hated when I had to “work on the ‘puter” and constantly begged me to play. The twins would ask me to “come look at this” and I felt guilty each time I’d answer with, “Just a minute.” When the kids are in school, Gia included, I’ll be able to write without feeling like I should be doing something else.

How many more days? Oh, and I am sure come November or December, I am going to wish for the non-structure of summer. Just remind me to look at this post.

What about you? Looking forward to school or wishing summer could last a month longer?

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Recycled Post: ISAT Annoyances

In honor of ISATs next week and because I wrote this before I made the switch to WordPress, I am linking up with my friend, Adrienne at The Mommy Mess to recycle this post. I wish I could say my opinion changed but it has not. Even the conversation was the same.

I won’t go on and on about how much I absolutely hate ISATs because I could. I didn’t mind them for the first few years that I taught because I taught second grade and we didn’t do them. We had some standardized testing which I didn’t mind because it was nice to just write testing in my plan book and not have to plan anything. Other than that, I think the whole testing of an elementary kid is stupid (I know…very intellectual word to use). I had kids that were so bright and so smart and the minute you put that test in front of them, they froze. I had other kids who didn’t get it at all and just put anything. My favorite was when a child turned in his test, there was a nice pattern of colored dots that formed his initial (I swear that is a true story). He would have gotten a terrible score but how creative was that? This is my own opinion but one stanardized test is not going to show you the best of the kid taking it. The only kids that do well are kids that are trained well in taking them. I remember right before I left teaching, every institute day was tailored to the ISATs. There was no time for creative writing anymore. The writing had to be narrative, expository or persuasive. Nico had to write his speech for the CF event one year and he was stuck. I told him to just write from your heart and he said he couldn’t. He needed a topic sentence with three reasons for why he hated living with CF. I have news for the ISAT people…there are a lot more than three reasons for hating CF.

Anyway, as a parent, I hate ISAT week. Everyone is so tense. The kids (or at least mine) are nervous that they won’t do well. Nico is afraid of what they mean for his classes next year or in high school. Isabella is a nervous wreck that she won’t finish the “extended response” and I don’t even know what to say to ease her nerves other than, “Just do your best” to which she replies, “Moooommm, you don’t get it!” She is right. I don’t and I don’t care. I don’t care how they do on them because if they don’t do that great and it places them in a lower class with less homework and less frustration, then GREAT! Will this mean they won’t get into Harvard? Probably. Was there a chance in Hell that they were going to Harvard before they took the ISATs? Nope! So we are good.

I don’t appreciate the note that comes home the Friday before they start either. “Please make sure your child gets a good night sleep and a healthy breakfast.” Oooh…so there goes the all night party and Snickers for breakfast that we usually do on Sunday nights. I resent that just because of ISATs, they want to tell us to make sure of that. Someone tell me why pretzels are a healthy snack normally but during ISAT week, they are not? Good thing I had grapes in the house, huh? I also really resent having to cancel Nico’s orthodontist appointment. He was supposed to get his braces on and getting an appointment there is like trying to get into the White House but God forbid you take your kid out of school during ISATs! So now he is getting half on next week and the other half after Spring Break. I feel bad for him and really don’t get why the freaking orthodontist can’t just put them all on in one sitting like all the other orthos in the area (but that is for another post)? If you ask me, what is going to serve him better in life? Straight teeth or his ISAT score. I think straight teeth.

I want to care and think I should because I am an educator and was a good student but I just don’t think they accurately show who a student is and what they are capable of.

This was written when Nico was in seventh grade and the twins were in third. Nico continues to do well in school but horrible on tests where a lot is riding on them…classic test anxiety. Tommy and Belle still panic and worry the night before these and I still hate them. So, it is a perfect recycled post since not much has changed.

What about you? How do you feel about stadardized tests? How do your kids do? Are they laid back about them or do they panic like mine?

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Back to School 2012

It finally arrived. I had waited weeks for it to come…always feeling torn…wanting our lives to have more structure but knowing I’d miss the help and the laziness of sometimes staying in our pajamas all day (or at least until practice). First I had to get Nico out the door. It didn’t help that Gia woke up at 4 am raring to go. I was not raring to go. I wanted sleep. My mind was racing with worry for the kids’ first day. Nico starting high school, the twins back together in class. All day with Gia. Five minutes before Nico was getting picked up, he asked me to help him look at the map and make a route of how he was going to go. Five minutes isn’t enough time to do that. He ended up saying, “Forget it. I’ll figure it out.” He forgot his notebook but remembered his enzymes so in a sense…we made progress there.

Nico, thrilled to be getting his picture taken.

Next were Tommy and Belle. Tommy’s clothes were put out the night before. Belle was still undecided. Belle wanted her hair straightened (I really do not like doing that. There are always tears and eye rolling). Gia went downstairs with Tommy while he did his treatment. I helped Belle figure out her outfit. Now let me tell you, this was immensely frustrating because of this:Belle ( holding up two skirts): Which skirt should I wear?

Me: The bright one with the peace shirt is cute.

Belle: Really? I like the black skirt with the peace shirt.

Me: That’s a little plain.

Belle: I really like the black skirt.

Me: Fine. Wear that one.

Belle: It doesn’t have shorts under. Should I wear some?

Me: If you think you need some, yes.

She was gone for ten minutes and then came back while I was making lunches.

Belle: These shorts are too small. They hurt me.

Me: Then don’t wear them.

Belle: Well, should I not wear the black skirt?

Me: The bright one is a skort. Wear that one.

Belle: I don’t want to. I want to wear this one.

Me: Why do you ask me my opinion if you already know which one you are going to wear? (Because she is a girl.)

Tommy with his second outfit on his way to “rule the school” in 5th grade.


Belle, really excited to be a 5th grader this year.









Someone had to get in on the action.


She decided to wear the black skirt without shorts under them (taking a big risk). Meanwhile, Tommy came up the stairs upset because Gia had pooped and was sitting on his lap so now his shirt smelled like her poop. A change of clothes for him and an argument on what matches and what doesn’t ensued. Leo surprised the kids by going to the back to school party we go to every year. Thanks to KJ for watching Gia so I could get the twins to school with a lot less drama. All three kids came home happy. Nico survived his first day of high school and said he didn’t get lost so thank God for answered prayers. Tommy and Belle survived class together and even helped each other with their work. Gia…well…Gia and I began what I know is going to be the ultimate in bonding experiences. I know it goes fast so I plan to treasure each moment (plus, she is signed up for a 45 minute dance class and I think I am going to do a “Mom’s Day Out” once a week).


Already them being in the same class is making life easier!



The days’ activities proved to be too much for her. She didn’t even make it out of the driveway. Maybe it was the 4am wake-up call.


 How was your back to school day? Were you sad or did you do a little jig?


P.S. When we got to the party, Belle looked at me in horror and said, “I forgot I need the shorts for gym! Should have listened to me and worn the bright colored skort. :)


Linking up with Adrienne at Mommy Mess for the #BTSBash:


The Mommy Mess

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