Thursday, May 28, 2009

Can You Spell S-c-r-i-p-p-s?

May 28, 2009

Several years ago, Doug and I got hooked on the Annual National Spelling Bee. This year's edition takes place today--both pre-lims and the finals are being aired. I'm sure many of you are thinking that sounds about as fascinating as watching paint dry. I assure you, however, that is some absolutely RIVETING programming. The drama! The nerves! The hours (years!) of studying! The triumph! The crushing defeat! The amazing sheer knowledge these kids bring!

The kids vary in age from nine to fourteen. They are elementary kids and junior high kids. Many of them are homeschooled. These are not what we would think of as your typical pre-teens. What they are, however, is a group of funny, quirky, interesting kids whose particular penchant for words and origins, and definitions, and, yes, spelling, is celebrated and honored in a world which so often forgets to pay homage to these skills, drowned out as they are by the cheering of football crowds, and the screams of hockey fanatics, and the joyous chanting voices raised in baseball solidarity.

It's the ultimate underdog story in a lot of ways. I can't wait to catch old favorites (many of the kids return again as many years as they can until they age out) and to meet the new up-and-coming talent. And I'll be cheering for them (and admiring them) every step of the way.

Tuesday, May 26, 2009

Diane Mayes Memorial Scholarship

May 26, 2009

Each May, my brothers and sisters and I offer a scholarship to an outstanding senior at Clovis High School in tribute to my mother, who taught there for 17 years. My mother was a dedicated teacher who was devoted to putting out the best possible yearbook to highlight all of the amazing achievements of the student body each year. When she passed away in January 1999 after a tough battle with kidney cancer, we instituted this scholarship to preserve her memory at the school where she and most of her children had made a second home
After reviewing all of the applications, the most outstanding student and scholarhship recipient this year is Nathan Miller. Nathan has been on the yearbook staff for all four years, and is currently a senior editor. His class rank is 15, and his weighted GPA is 4.13. His community service includes a a service project called Migrant Ministry Project through Crosspoint Church. His future goal is to become a structural engineer. Letters of recommendation come from a former principal and C. Thomas Craig, yearbook advisor.

I had the privilege of having dinner with Nathan and his parents at the annual Scholarship Awards Banquet. This is a lovely dinner hosted by the school for all of those students who are receiving some kind of memorial scholarship. It is an opportunity for the families of the donors and the students they are honoring to meet on a personal level. I found Nathan to be quite personable and eager to move on to his college career and future goals. I am sure that he will be quite successful as he moves out to tackle the challenges that lie ahead for him. He is respectful and hard-working, and a person I was proud to have chosen as our honoree.

Nathan's name will be added to the plaque that lists all of our Diane Mayes Scholarship recipients. This is housed in the yearbook room at Clovis High, an on-going tribute to the contributions to young students that my mother made. The scholarship ensures that her support of these kids continues even after her death.

Friday, May 22, 2009

Lisa's 40th Birthday Party--Totally 80s!

May 22, 2009

My sister turned 40 last Friday. She's not normally one for big celebrations, but she decided she'd like to make a little bit of a bigger deal out of this one, so we decided a party was in order. And since we went to high school in the 80's, I thought a little flashback to the days of legwarmers, neon, and big hair would be a perfect party atmosphere. Once I started kicking that idea around in my head, I got really excited about the big event. (I am a self-proclaimed 80s chick!)

Since Lisa has lived down in Southern California for many years now, she's made all kinds of friends through the years that I've never met. Mind you, I do know some of her friends, but I wouldn't begin to be able to put together a whole list of all the people she knows. She emailed me a list of names and email addresses, as well as a list of people I could contact via Facebook. Thank goodness for Facebook and evite, because within a relatively short time, I was able to get in contact with all kinds of people who know and love Lisa (but had no idea who I was!) who were thrilled to be able to help her celebrate her big day.

I spent some time on the website for Oriental Trading Company searching out trinkets and decorations reminiscent of our youth. (Okay, so the 80s were cheesy, but they were our years, and I was loving the time-warp.) First up, neon cat-eye classes. Sweet! (You know you had some like this back when you fit in those parachute pants.) I put those in my cart, and OTC suggested that I might like something called 'Streamline Hairband Glasses.' DEVO glasses! Perfect! Then, of course, there were jelly bracelets in bright neon colors--lots of them.
Then I got an even better idea. In addition to the traditional spread of party food, I decided to put out an array of candy from the 80s. Into my cart went the Fun Dip, the Pop Rocks, the Pixie Sticks. Into my cart went Candy Straws and Nik-L-Nips. Oh, I was on a virtual, vicarious sugar high, impulse nostalgia shopping. In the back of my head, while I was piling my imaginary on-line cart high with memories, I was wondering how I was going to keep my kids from digging into the goodies before we got down to Aunt Lisa's. I was also wondering how I was going to keep ME from jumping onto the 80s sugar train rush. I DO love Fun Dip! You remember those, right? The candy sticks that you dip into powdered goodness? Yup, it takes me right back to my band days in high school. That's the kind of 'nutritious snack' Mom used to pack for us on our over-night band reviews.

My next big idea was decorations. I started haunting thrift stores for old record albums from the eighties that I could use to transport us back in time. I wasn't actually planning on playing them; I have quite the 80s playlist on my iPod. I just wanted to display them around Lisa's house to set the mood. On one of my many trips to the local thrift stores, I was flipping through the collection of albums, pausing occasionally to determine the suitability of a particular record. My youngest, Danielle, said, "But Mommy, how do you KNOW if they're 80s or not?" Oh, Darlin', I just do. I was there. It's in my blood.

I found several--Thompson Twins, Linda Ronstadt, Sting, among them. I also found the ultimate--an album of the sound track to Flashdance, with Jennifer Beals in her ripped sweatshirt and all her pouty glory wistfully gazing out on the cover. Score! (Mind you, I have this album, and lots of other 80s vinyl--probably too many to mention without being too embarrassed. But I was going to damage these in the name of decoration, and well, I wasn't ready to sacrifice my own albums for the greater good.) On a side note, I was ecstatic to find, while scouring the record racks, a copy of an old album that very few people have ever heard of, but one that would have special meaning to my sister and me. Once, when she was maybe ten, she called into a radio station and won the new Starbuck album. None of us had ever heard of them before, but we were stoked that she won the contest. After Mom picked up her album, Lisa and I spent hours in her room, playing that record over and over again. No one else has any idea who they are, but Lisa and I can, to this day, sing all the songs on that album. I picked it up along with all the other records, one of my birthday gifts to her. (It was mystifying to everyone else, but she LOVED it!)

Next on the agenda was to put the albums to use. I scanned old pictures from Lisa's high school years, then printed and cut them out. I also tried to find old pictures of her with some of her friends who were going to be at the party, so they could remember themselves in all their 80s glory as well. Then I glued each photo to one side of a record to put around the house as decorations. I used the album art as another part of the decorations. I just loved how they all turned out!

Finally the weekend arrived, and I piled the kids into the car Friday night to head down south. Doug and our buddy Jim didn't come with us, but made the drive the next day. Saturday night, the party was on. We had 80s music videos playing on the TVs (on silent--think Robert Palmer's "Simply Irresistible" and Dexy's Midnight Runners' "Come On, Eileen") while the iPod was blaring. We had a pool full of kids and a house full of singing, dancing 30-40 year olds. Lisa had friends there from high school, college, and a variety of work places through the years. She also had family, of course, and moms she met through Girl Scouts, and neighbors. Some people already knew each other, but many did not. No matter, though, because nothing brings together a group of 40ish people together like food, beer, and 80s music!

I loved how some of the festive party guests totally got into the spirit by dressing the part--there were leg warmers and bangles and leggings and pegged pants and popped collars and lace socks with pumps. We did a party quiz called "How well do you know the 80s?" and one called "How well do you know Lisa?" Prizes for our winners, Michelle and Laura? A DVD of "Staying Alive" (gotta love Travolta!) for one, and a DVD of "Working Girl" for the other.

Every single one of Lisa's friends that I met that night was totally awesome and radical. Everyone had a great time, and as a matter of fact, lots of us crashed out there all night after staying up quite late. I, for one, am pretty sure Lisa had a great time, and I am thrilled that I was able to give her a rockin' 40th. Forty, my friends, is a fabulous age, and certainly a milestone to celebrate. You've lived long enough to develop fantastic bonds with a wonderful group of people, and yet you can see some pretty cool road stretched out in a long path in front of you as well. Happy birthday, Lisa, and here's to many, many more to come!

Thursday, May 21, 2009

Driving Lesson

May 21, 2009

My fifteen-year-old had her first driving lesson yesterday. Sort of. Actually, her dad took her out driving in a parking lot twice, but the first time she was so nervous, she wouldn't even step on the gas. She just put the car in drive, and crept along as slowly as the car would go without any outside impetus moving it along. At about five miles an hour, she practiced turning the wheel, and (if I'm not mistaken) getting a feel for the brakes. The second outing with her dad was slightly more successful, by all accounts.

So, yesterday, she got her first professional lesson. An instructor from the driving school met us at the high school. He did his best to put her at ease, and when she nervously asked him, "You have insurance, don't you, just in case I crash?" he assured her that most of the students he worked with had very little experience, and he was totally at ease putting his life in her hands. She, of course, glanced at me, the look in her eyes saying, "You'll still love me if I accidentally kill this guy, right?"

After I, too assured her that she'd be just fine, I asked the guy what time I needed to return to pick her up. He looked at me quizzically and said, "You want her to come back here? She can just drive home if you want, and then I can take the car from there." Wait--what?? I don't have to pick her up? Oh man, I am gonna love having another driver in the house! I started daydreaming about all of the extra time I'll have when I give up my second job as a taxi driver.... I was brought back to reality by Bree, who was reluctantly saying, "Okay, Mom. I'm leaving. I love you....," the last line uttered as though by one who highly suspected she'd never see me again. I walked away, crossing my fingers and praying that all would go well.

It did, luckily. Bree's a quick learner, and her instructor was a fun and funny guy. He tried not to make her feel nervous, or lame because she didn't know how to drive. I actually think she'll look forward to her next lesson. Tonight she actually starts driving with me (her permit wasn't valid until she had her first lesson), but I did tell her I wouldn't make her negotiate the high school parking lot after school. I have a hard enough time driving through all those crazy drivers--you know, the seniors who are so eager to get away from the school grounds at 2:45 that meandering pedestrians and novice drivers are in very real peril. No, she'll drive with me later on tonight, when we are headed to her sister's end-of-season softball party. Wish us luck, because if she and I are both in a vehicle that crashes, that will leave all of the taxi duties to my husband, and I'm pretty sure he won't be thrilled about that.

I remember my own first driver's training class. I took driver's training when it was still offered as part of the school curriculum--it was part of our P.E. class, oddly enough. (It's a good thing, too, that it was offered at school, because that made it free. I'm pretty sure if my mom had been told that she'd have to come up with $400 to put me through driving school, I would have gotten my license much later in life.) We got divided up into groups of three. Inexplicably, there were only three of us whose parents never got the memo that it might have been a good idea to give us a little 'behind the wheel' time before we turned fifteen. I mean, there were student drivers who could drive circles around the instructors. They were so comfortable behind the wheel that they could have taught the course.

I was not one of those. Nor was my friend Jim, nor was the foreign exchange student who happened to be in our group. I'm not sure if it was mere coincidence, but the three of us ended up doing our driver's training together. I was hard on brakes, giving my passengers whiplash. Jim had a bad habit of punching the gas when he took off, compounding our whiplash problems. But we were nothing compared to our foreign exchange student, who careened down the neighborhood streets, nearly sideswiping parked cars every time she got behind the wheel. She was so nervous about staying away from on-coming cars that she would have driven on the sidewalk if she could. We made quite the impression on our driving instructor, whose face and voice remained surprisingly placid, though if you looked carefully, you could see the white knuckles gripping the sides of his seat. Suffice it to say, he still vividly remembers all of us to this day.
I am quite sure that it is because of the fact that there were no calm, experienced drivers in my car that I was in no hurry to get my license. I completed my course, but it was almost another two full years before I decided to get my license. I am hoping it does not take Brianna that long to go out and get hers once her training time is done. I am ready to hand over the keys to the taxi.

Tuesday, May 19, 2009

Family of the Heart

May 19, 2009

I love my family. I'm really a family-is-for-life kind of a gal. We are tied together through mutual relations, shared childhoods, collective memories, mutual experiences. But just as important in our lives are the 'family members' we adopt--those with whom we share no DNA, but with whom we chose to invite in to share our lives and our souls. These are the brothers and sisters of our hearts, the extra parents of our choosing, and the added nieces and nephews and cousins of our world.

Last week we got to spend some time with some of these wonderful 'extra' family members. Mom and Dad Krepp have been in our lives since Doug and I were both in high school. David, their son, was (and is) like a brother to us, and his parents have always treated us like family. David's wife, Carrie, is one of the most lovely human beings I have ever met, and since the moment I met her I knew she was a sister of my heart. As a matter of fact, as many of you may know, Carrie was the one who married Doug and me two years ago, in one of the most beautiful ceremonies I have ever seen.

David and Carrie were expecting their precious little Freya when Carrie married us. So really, Freya has been a very special part of our lives as our chosen niece since even before she was born. When Freya celebrated her two year birthday last weekend, we were honored to be a part of the celebration, along with the rest of the extended Krepp family and one of our other brothers of the heart, Jim. It's hard to describe how at home we feel with all of these people, especially since my blood family, those who are left, are too far scattered to be able to enjoy frequent family gatherings. I absolutely love that we have been taken in and fully embraced by our extra chosen family, and am thrilled to know that we will be a part of Freya's life (as well as her cousin Morgan's) as they are growing up in this world.

Monday, May 18, 2009

Spring Time Pictures

We got our picture back from Mornings with Moms, and I really like how it turned out! We also got spring pictures from the elementary school, as well as Danielle's softball pictures. I kind of think she's rockin' a Peter Pan look with her pose: ) (I feel a little bit bad that there are no pictures of Bree here. Only the elementary kids get to do Mornings with Moms, and they don't do Spring Pictures at the high school.)

Thursday, May 14, 2009

Signs of the Times

We all make mistakes now and then; nobody's perfect. But when a business puts its mistakes in bold print on a window or on a flyer, doesn't it make you think twice about the quality of the product or service that business provides? I mean, everyone has different skill sets, but I think if I were a business owner, and I knew that I struggled with grammar or spelling, I might make an effort to let a few other people get involved in the advertising process. I would also think, by the way, that the printers or window designers might have caught these errors.

The first one is the window of a local dry cleaning place, and the second is the back of an advertisement for a nail salon.

Showin' Some Love

Thanks so much to all of you who stopped by and offered words of wisdom or encouragement after my last post. Those days are, luckily, few and far between, but they tend to loom large over the rest of life when they do happen. I am happy to report that the next day (and the next, and by all accounts, this one as well) went much better. I'd even go so far as to say they were downright pleasant! Monday was Monday, but I'm back to enjoying my job (and my students) again. Kids have much shorter memories than we do, it seems.

On another note, I was thrilled to find that some of my new-found friends have awarded me some love in the blog world. (I'm still pretty new here, and these are my firsts. Very exciting, especially since I really love reading the blogs of these particular people!)

The first one is the One Lovely Blog Award. My friends Mrs. C from Next to Heaven and Adrienne over at The Story Board sent this one my way.

The Rules: 1) Accept the award, post it on your blog together with the name of the person who has granted the award, and his or her blog link.2) Pass the award to 15 other blogs that you’ve newly discovered. Remember to contact the bloggers to let them know they have been chosen for this award.

(Oh gosh--I'm not sure I can tag 15! I think I'll combine these two, and take a happy medium. If you're on my reading list and I don't happen to tag you this time around, feel free to tag yourself! All the blogs on my list (see sidebar) are fabulous. That's why they're on my list!)

I was also pretty excited to see the 7 Degrees of AWE-SUMMMM Blog Award sent to me by the equally awesome Mrs. C over at Next to Heaven and KeKeLynn at A Look Behind My Eyes. When you get a chance, head on over to all of these blogs for some fun, funny, and insightful reading.

The rules for this one? List seven things that make me awe-summm and then pass the award on to seven other people who I think are fabulously awe-summm.

1. I am married to my high school sweetheart, who fills me with joy and makes me laugh every single day. Actually, we dated in high school, went our separate ways, and then met up again, many years later. In the interim, I had married, had three children, and gotten divorced after sixteen years. Life is funny.

2. I am an incredibly loyal friend. If you need me to back you up, I'm there. My friends are my friends for life.

3. I've been teaching at my current school for 19 years--since we opened our doors. (Of course, I started when I was seven years old.)

4. I might not win the Amazing Mom of the Year award, but I am raising three incredible, creative, bright, big-hearted, beautiful children who I adore with every ounce of my being.
5. I'm a picture-takin' fool. I'm a big believer in living in the moment, but I'm also a big believer in recording those moments. I want my kids to be able to share those visual memories with their own kids someday.

6. I really, truly try to look for the best in people. Sometimes you have to do a little more digging, but it's there in everyone. I want to be thought of as the one who brings out the positive in others.
7. I made a committment to myself to write more this year, and begin putting down on paper (so to speak) the stories of our life. This venue, and the people who have taken the time to stop by and share in those stories, have been a big encouragement to me in that regard, and I'm glad to say I have, in fact, kept this promise to myself and will continue to do so.
Tag, you're it:
These blogs are fabulously awesome for humor, wit, family-ness, and wisdom. Sometimes all at the same time! Please stop by and say hello. Tell 'em Donna sent you.
Sassy Cass at Sassy and the Boys
ReRe at Re-Ramblings
Kate at sauciewee
Yaya at Yaya Stuff
Mama-face at Blog-Ignoramus
Reinvent Dad at Reinventing Dad
That's it for now. Happy Thursday!

Monday, May 11, 2009

I Love My Job? Yeah, Most of the Time

May 11, 2009

I don't know why I still take it so personally when a student says something mean to me in the guise of humor. I mean, they're teenagers. There are an awful lot of them who confuse 'mean' with 'funny.' (Come to think of it, there are an awful lot of adults who confuse 'mean' with 'funny.') But still. I work hard everyday, trying to do my job. I'm pretty sure they don't have any idea how much time after school and at home that I spend in grading and planning. So when I hear a flippant comment about what I do in class, it can get to me. It kind of makes it hard to be enthusiastic, and I hate it when I'm not enthusiastic about my kids and my job. Clearly, it's Monday, and I'm ready to go home. Here's hoping for a better tomorrow.

It was a Happy Momma's Day for Me

It was a Happy Momma's Day for Me
May 11, 2009

The kids are usually at their dad's on Sundays, but since it was Mother's Day, they got to spend the afternoon with me. (This is a great improvement over the first Mother's Day after our split, when he was surprised that I asked to have them on that afternoon. "But it's Mother's Day!" he said. "We're planning to have dinner for my mom, so I thought the kids would want to be here." Ummm....yeah. "But it's Mother's Day, so I thought they would spend their day WITH THEIR MOTHER." "Oh," he said. I didn't even think about that." Right. And that's why you live in one house and I live in another now.) But I digress....

He's a good guy, my ex, and when I remind him of things like that, he's pretty flexible. So the kids came over, and they came bearing gifts. Mostly, they were of the hand-made variety, which I love. God bless the elementary teachers who love to craft things with their kids to send home for the various ocassions during the school year. I keep ALL of that stuff. They also brought me a beautiful ring that has a stone to represent each one of them. My hubby took us all out to lunch at our favorite restaurant (DiCicco's), and then we strolled around downtown Clovis for awhile, window shopping and leisurely chatting. It was a beautiful day for it, too--not too hot, not too windy. Sometimes I just wish I could freeze those pieces of time and hold onto them. I am amazed sometimes at what a lucky mama I really am.

Friday, May 8, 2009

Muffins with Moms

May 8, 2009

Happy Friday! This morning, the kids' elementary school celebrated 'Mornings with Moms' in honor of the upcoming Mother's Day. It used to be called 'Muffins with Moms,' up until last year, but a guess a few of the moms decided they couldn't participate because the muffins they served weren't healthy or diet-friendly or whatever, so now they offer a bigger variety, so those who are trying to maintain their size 2 shapes can still find something to eat.

You might have guessed, I am not one of the size 2 moms. (Honestly, I wasn't a size 2 before I was a mom, let alone after three kids.) Bring on the muffins! They also have grapes, bagels, apples, yogurt, bananas--you know....good stuff. Healthy stuff. But I'll stick with the muffins, thank you. I don't eat breakfast usually, so when there's an ocassion to have it, I might as well live it up. I only feel a tiny twinge of guilt when I see all those others mothers picking at their three grapes, but then I get over it.

Mornings with Moms (aka Muffins with Moms) is not about the breakfast anyway. Even if they served pancakes with syrup and soft-boiled eggs (two of my absolute least favorite foods in the world), I'd still show up. And I wouldn't complain to the great folks at the PTC (Parent-Teacher Club) who provided us with the breakfast, either. I'd just show up with my kids, enjoy the extra Friday morning time with them, have a leisurely chat with them (which, I assure you, does not happen on a regular basis when we are trying to rush out the door on time in the mornings), and enjoy the pleasant start to my day. That's what it's all about; hanging out with my kids. I got all my sustenence from the extra hugs and kisses I got this morning, not from the muffin. Though I must admit, the muffin was good.

Thursday, May 7, 2009

The Road to Independence...and More

May 7, 2009

I'm a little slow in getting to this latest blog, because there's just so much going on. We did survive the kitchen flood with not too much damage, but it was quite inconvenient. As we head into the home stretch of school, we are both winding down and winding up. There are so many end of the year activities for me and each of the kids that May is the storm before the calm. Yeah, we do things a little backwards around here.

First of all, my AP students have their test today. Hallelujiah! All of the prep work for the whole year leads up to this morning, bright and early at 7:30. (Of course most of them have other AP tests next week, too, but they'll essentially be done with my class as soon as they turn in their tests later this morning.) I greeted them at their testing site this morning with a sugar-high snack for their break between the multiple choice part and the essay section--a box of Nerds and a giant Smarties candy roll for each of them. Get it? They're my AP kids, my own little loveable 'smarties' and 'nerds.'

Also, those of you who read my previous post know that I attended our school's prom on Saturday, and all of my darlins made it back safe and sound to class on Monday. I'm not kidding when I say it always makes me a little nervous to read the Sunday paper the day after the prom. I'm always worried there will be some big accident after prom that makes Sunday headlines. Thank goodness, no tragedies to report. The prom was beautiful, and not only did I get to see many of my students, but I got to hang out and chat with one of my good friends all evening, because our duty station was together (and not anywhere near the dance floor, to my relief!)

The kids also have lots going on in their worlds as they gear up for state testing and all of their end-of-the-year activities. I got to go see Danielle accept her award for Principal's Honor roll for the third straight quarter (she's gotten all As this whole year!). I am so proud of her, and I have just seen her self-confidence sky-rocket this year. She is also just loving softball, and has now gotten the taste of crossing home plate more than a few times. The whole team has really improved, and I can see them becoming more comfortable in working together to accomplish their goal. Danielle is our athlete AND scholar.

Nicholas has been a reading MACHINE, which is fabulous, because there was a time when he wouldn't pick up a book. (Much to the chagrin of his English teacher mom). If I'd let him, he'd stay up all hours of the night delving into his books (Star Wars novelizations are some of the biggest hits right now, but he'll read other stuff, too.) Come to think of it, I seem to remember my mom having to come in several times a night to turn my light off AGAIN or take away my flashlight because I was reading past bedtime. Anyway, what we are working on now with Nicholas is balance. He's getting so into whatever book he's reading that classwork is becoming a nuisance. Go figure. His grades this quarter weren't what he (or we) wanted, because he was spending so much time in his books that he wasn't finishing all of his classwork. I think he figured out that the cost of those grades (no video games--gasp!) wasn't worth the additional time reading in class, so it looks like we're back on track. Balance, my friend. It's a tough trick to learn.

Finally, Brianna had a spectacular week. She and a small group of her friends, mostly sophomores, decided they wanted to try out for the choir's Spring Show. Miss Organization got together her group, made the song selection, and planned the rehearsals. She had auditions last week, but then found out the list of those who made it wouldn't come out until this week. She was all nerves for a week, until yesterday morning, when the list finally went up. They are so excited and proud of themselves (as am I), and are now in the process of costume design. The concert is in a week and a half, and I can't wait! To make it an even more exciting week, Bree took (and passed!) her driver's permit test. She is officially on the road to independence! We went down to DMV on Monday afternoon, and as soon as we found out she passed, we took a little celebratory shopping trip and had a mommy-daughter dinner, just the two of us. (I was going to take her shopping and out to dinner either way--either celebrate or console. I'm so happy it was the first!) By the way, more about DMV in another post....

Two additional side notes:

It looks like Doug's work at the construction site is wrapping up. This could mean big changes for us, as it might mean he'll have to switch to the Bakersfield site, which is two hours away. If that's the case, he'll probably just work down there all week, and only come home on the weekends, which would be a huge bummer. But it would definitely beat him not working at all, which is a situation a lot of people are having to deal with right now, so I'm grateful that it looks like even if the Fresno gig is over, the work is probably not.

Also, my ex's mother is quite sick, and in the hospital right now recovering from surgery. I'm really hoping she gets better soon, because otherwise, Mother's Day will be a tough one for him. Sending good wishes her way....

Tuesday, May 5, 2009

The Lovely Sound of Running Water

May 5, 2009

Last night, just before bed, Doug headed into the kitchen to begin making his lunch for the next day. I heard him yell, and something in the urgency of his voice made me jump up and run in there. What did I see? Water running from under the sink, out onto the floor, and soaking into the nearby carpet. Inexplicably, and without warning, some piece of the hoses or brackets or pipes gave up its last gasp and exploded. It was like something out of a cartoon: both of us just stood there for a few minutes, a little bit in shock, staring at the pipes and trying to figure out the origin of the leak, as Niagra falls continued to pour out onto my kitchen floor. (If it wasn't so comical-looking, it might have made me cry. I hate it when stuff like that happens!) Once we shook ourselves back to reality, I started yanking all the junk we have under the cupboards out onto the dry part of the kitchen floor, and Doug fiddled with the under-the-sink faucets until we were able to cut off the water supply.

Being now just a little after midnight, we did what anyone would. (By anyone, I mean probably just us.) We were both exhausted, so we decided we'd bury out heads in the sand, since the immediate problem had been solved. We went to bed. So today, after my after school parent meeting (with a senior student who has decided it's a good idea to stop turning in ANYTHING) and before the PTC Board Meeting tonight (Board election meeting tonight--mandatory attendance), I'll have to pick up the water-logged towels and wash them, Doug and I will have to figure out what part needs to be replaced, and I'll have to restock the cupboards with all the wet cleaning products I yanked out onto the kitchen floor. Jeez, you'd think today was Monday!

Saturday, May 2, 2009

The Prom Speech

Today is the Prom at our high school, and I teach seniors. Every year I give a big 'prom speech' to all of my seniors in class on the day before the big event (and a similar, but modified one before Winter Formal and graduation). There are a few variations year to year, but the main message is always the same. Here's what I tell them:

I'm going to give you my prom speech, because I'm a mama, and you'll just have to humor me. I have my own kids, but you're my kids, too, so you'll just have to deal with me being a mama for a moment. There are three things I'd like to talk to you about.

The first one is, that I'll be chaperoning the dance. (This is almost always the case.) I specifically sign up for prom duty, because I like to see you all dressed up. I love to see all the beautiful dresses, and I love to see the guys all dressed up in their tuxes. You all look so grown up, such ladies and gentlemen! It's one of my favorite things to see. Please come by, find me! I can't wait to see you, meet your date, and take a few pictures. However, that being said, one of my least favorite things is seeing the dancing that goes on out on the dance floor. Having fun, or being close and romantic is one thing, but the 'freaking' on the dance floor? I don't need to see it! I don't need that image in my head. Simulated sex on the dance floor is not dancing! And it totally undoes the elegant sophisticated look you took all day cultivating as you were getting dressed up like young ladies and gentlemen. I know some of you are going to do it anyway, because you think that's the way you're supposed to dance, or you don't know any other way. If that's the case, and I have the unfortunate luck to have my duty on the dance floor, please do me the courtesy of coming by, introducing me to your date, and then moving to the OPPOSITE SIDE OF THE DANCE FLOOR to dance.

The second part of the speech deals with a much more serious thing, which is the whole issue of drinking. There are a lot of you who think that because you're feeling all grown up and dressed up, and it's a festive time, that it's okay to drink. First of all, let me remind you that IT'S NOT LEGAL. But you know that, and some of you will choose to ignore that. So if you choose to make the first bad decision and drink on prom night, don't make a second bad decision to get behind the wheel of a car. When you are driving home from the prom, I will be, too, and I want to make it home alive. I have babies at home that want me to make it home alive. I want all of you to make it home alive and to be back here on Monday, safe and sound. I want you to make it to your graduation, which you have all worked so hard for.

This is not just about you drinking. If you are with someone who has been drinking, don't let them get behind the wheel. They might be mad at you, but that's okay. They'll get over it. Don't be the one who watches someone drive away, and then later finds out he spun out of control on the way home because he shouldn't have been driving. Decisions like that--one stupid decision--can irrevocably alter people's lives. Forever. Don't be that person. Don't let your friend be that person. Make good decisions. And if you make the first bad decision to drink, make a second good decision, and stay where you are, or have a designated driver. Call mom or dad to pick you up. Call ME to pick you up. I don't care if you call me a three o'clock in the morning. I would jump in the car and come get you to take you home, rather than have you driving out on the road, drunk. I am absolutely sincere about that.

The last word about drinking is please don't show up to the prom already drunk. I've had students who have been ejected within 15 minutes of their arrival because they had so obviously been drinking. This is supposed to be a fun night, and getting kicked out of the prom is not fun. Even really good kids sometimes have a lapse of judgment, but you don't want that kind of lapse in judgment to put to waste all the money and time you spent getting ready for this event. And what if you are the girlfriend whose date got caught, drunk? You are either stuck there to finish out the prom alone, or you have to go home. Even worse, students who get caught drunk at the prom will get expelled under Zero Tolerance. After all those years of hard work, after all that time invested, don't make a decision that could lead to you not walking graduation with all of your classmates when you are so close to the light at the end of the tunnel.

And finally, speaking of graduation, let's do the math, shall we? We are about five weeks away from the big night, the culmination of all your years of academic work. Prom night is a big night for a lot of kids. You're feeling grown-up, you're feeling you are on the verge becoming a fully independent young adult. And a lot of students feel that this is the perfect time to experiment with other 'grown-up' behaviors. All I'm going to say is, that five weeks down the line, right about graduation time, you don't want to discover that you've accidentally come away from the Prom with an extra souvenir, ladies--one that will be with you forever. Be careful. Make good choices.

And have a great time!

Donna Lutjens