updates on various topics

+ I’ve been subbing like crazy this school year.

Generally, I cap my subbing at 2nd grade, but the 3rd and 4th grade teacher caught me in a moment of weakness and I couldn’t say no. My “moment of weakness” on this particular day was we were meeting for the first time. I wanted to make a good impression and stay on her good side for the year, so I said yes then regretted it for the next three weeks. I like the little kids who ask questions like ”Do elephants eat bugs?” and read Chicka Chicka Boom Boom. I don’t like to dabble in the bigger kid world where I never know what kind of questions I’ll be asked. As I suspected, I should have asked what I’d be teaching before agreeing. When she texted me the information, she casually slipped in that I’d be teaching about the Trinity. There are entire church conferences and debates among great religious leaders about the workings of the Trinity and I, OF ALL PEOPLE, get tasked with teaching it. I suspect Karen purposely made her appointment three hours away on Trinity teaching day to avoid teaching it herself. I showed Christopher the chart I needed to fill out with the kids and said, “I have literally never seen this diagram before in my entire life.” He pulled up his sleeve and said, “I have a tattoo of it.” He does indeed and it’s in Latin to boot. I asked that he sub for the sub at Bible time but he didn’t take me up on it.

I’ve also subbed for 2nd and 1st grades several times. Three years ago when I subbed for the first time I brought a list of jokes to lighten the mood. There hasn’t been a time I’ve subbed since when I haven’t brought jokes. I’m on my third year teaching some of the kids and they’ll tell the new children what to expect when Miss Sarah with her pencil earrings comes rolling in. My reputation precedes me. One mom stopped me in the hallway and said, “Sadie was so excited you were teaching because she loves to come home with jokes to tell all week long.” I don’t know that I’ve ever been more proud of my legacy. Honestly, it’s almost gotten out of hand. They want to hear jokes all day and not do any of the work. Yesterday the teacher had joke time in the schedule. I might include this picture in my Christmas card.


+ Annabelle and Christopher went to a church retreat for 3rd-6th graders last month. I was not included as she wasn’t interested in both her parents attending as chaperones. Rude. I buy all her meals, take her to every single event and what do I get? Told that she doesn’t want me to snuggle on the bunk with her in front of her church friends. It was the first time in almost 10 years that I’d been home alone for the weekend. I seesawed between certainty that the bus would have a firey crash or she’d drown in the ocean, and wishing they’d be gone longer so I could get more done. I finished painting the living room without having to worry about anyone stepping in my paint bucket. I ordered Chinese food and watched Virgin River without Christopher’s commentary. The living room was a truly peaceful oasis to relax in with my dumplings after a long day of hard work.
The guard cats kept a close eye on the place at night. No shenanigans were going down on their watch. They were ready to take names and kick butts all weekend.

+ I helped with a medieval feast in Annabelle’s class last week. Gus’ mom said all the food she was bringing would be themed and I knew had to keep up with her. I had never met her, but I had to keep up with her! I almost bought tiny castle-shaped bundt pans and made 16 castle cakes surrounded by a chocolate mousse moat. I wasn’t signed up for a cheese dish, but I was going to use my crown cookie cutter to make cheese crowns. I was spiraling fast and needed to reel it in. I settled for the chocolate mousse and no castle cakes. Our feast book said lords and ladies ate pudding. They may not have eaten pudding made with Hershey’s cocoa and half and half, but I was in the general vicinity of authenticity. I did bring gold champagne flutes that really added to the ambiance. Gus’ mom made a fire-breathing dragon out of vegetables and beef jerky, as well as a medieval boat from a loaf of bread and thin pretzel sticks for oars. That’s the kind of party dedication I admire.

forward to fourth

I do not like the night before school starts. It’s as depressing to me as the night before a birthday. WHY DOES EVERYONE HAVE TO GROW UP. But here we are, already in fourth grade. Tomorrow she’ll be graduating college and Christopher will be moving us girls into our shared dorm.I always get teary at school drop off and I always will. Thankfully she’s still home with me three days a week so I can hug attack her whenever I want. She doesn’t love a good hug attack but oh well. Such is life under my roof!The requested first day of school snack.Have my Ms. Frizzle pencil earrings and I already subbed so I could wave at AB during the day? Quite possibly. Who’s to say.

Through with Third

Another school year has come and gone with lightening speed. Personally, I hate the August-May schedule. Give me September-June any day of the week! I know it all equals out to the same amount of school days, but it feels so weird to my internal clock that school wraps up in the spring and she’ll start again at the beginning of August when the summer is still going strong. We should be living our best summer lives all through August instead of doing math and latin by August 15th.

Sesame loves the two days a week she goes to school. With the hybrid program, she gets things like World Day and the science fair she doesn’t get if she was doing only homeschool. Like her mother, she’s someone to whom everyone confides their worries and biggest life issues so she found out about things I would have shielded her from a little longer, but she got to practice empathy. She got the Most Caring award for “having such a kind heart and for always making others for cared about.” Part of me wonders if she got it because one time a boy got very frustrated and said he was going to punch someone so she offered herself as tribute. “If he punched me, he wouldn’t hurt any of my friends.” That’s when we had a talk about kindness and boundaries.
The three days of homeschool were mostly fun too. One day we watched a very inaccurate but entertaining musical about Lewis and Clark while playing with perler beads. I wouldn’t have picked everything in the curriculum that the school picked, but it’s easy to adjust and add in my own materials as we went. I added in more grammar, art, reading, extra math practice as needed (not as fun) and presidential studies. I need to circle back to presidents. Earlier this week she told us that she doesn’t like to eat sesame seeds because Sesame is her nickname and she doesn’t want to ”eat herself up.” Her friend Reese doesn’t like to eat Reese’s cups for the same reason. She wondered if President Obama doesn’t eat broccoli because that’s his first name. Broccoli Obama.

Last year, Annabelle got the A/B honor roll. She did well with grades this year except for three tests so I really didn’t think she’d get it this year. The teacher giving the awards said the names of all the A/B recipients and didn’t mention her so I thought that was that. Then she said Annabelle’s name for A honor roll. You could have knocked me over with an eyelash. I added my name to the award because I also worked hard for those grades.

school’s out

Somehow the school year is already over. We were just at the open house and on Tuesday we had the end of the year luau party. As the unofficial room mom who cannot say no, I was asked to bring a salty snack and a healthy snack. I was going to construct a palm tree out of pretzel sticks and fruit but Christopher talked me out of it. “I can spray blueberries with edible paint to look like coconuts” may have clued him into the fact that I was able to stay up all night to make something none of the kids would appreciate. I went with goldfish in Hawaiian cups and fruit kabobs instead.There were 10 children in her class at the beginning of the year but only 8 at the end and they all became good friends. It was really sweet how excited they all were to see which awards the teacher gave out. They were almost more excited for the others than for themselves. I wasn’t a fan of their teacher at the beginning of the year. She was nice enough as a person, but she didn’t have the personality to teach first and second grade. She sang no songs, played no games, and barely decorated the classroom. She was not a party bus. About two months into the year there was a switch and we scored the jackpot with the new teacher. She was Annabelle’s dance teacher a few years ago which helped Annabelle with the transition. She is everything the other teacher wasn’t. They danced to the timeline song to help with memorization. They had an animal parade day where they could bring their favorite stuffed animal. I know all those things aren’t necessary to learn but they make it so much more enjoyable. AB struggles in some areas and she was so patient with her and never made her feel less than the children who didn’t struggle. She never complained about all the texts I sent her during the week about the at home school work.

We made it to the ninth month of the school year before Sesame forgot her lunch. I congratulated myself too early because I thought we would make it the whole year but pride cometh before bringing a lunchbox to school at 10:30. We were never tardy. I obsessively checked my alarms for Tuesday and Thursday mornings to ensure they’d go off in 15 minutes increments and I wouldn’t accidentally sleep in. We rolled in at 7:59 once or twice but the gate was still open and she never had to get a late slip from Katie in the office. I was quite proud of myself of our time management skills. It all went out the window on the very last day. She never had to be at school on Wednesdays, but this week we did for the awards ceremony and classical showcase. My entire rhythm was off so I hadn’t checked my alarm enough times the night before and didn’t wake up until 7:11 which was when AB should have been finishing breakfast and brushing her teeth. Somehow we threw ourselves together enough to be presentable and made it on time because I WOULD NOT let our perfect record be tarnished.

Sesame’s mosaic tree was on display. It didn’t have her name on it which is shameful given the number of hours I spent volunteering in art asking students, “Did you write your name on the back? Did you write your name? Your name, not Jason’s name. Why would you write his name on your art?”

On the morning of the awards ceremony Annabelle brought up how some students would get the perfect attendance award and some would get A/B or A grade awards. I didn’t think she’d get either grade award given her struggles with spelling, but I knew for sure she wouldn’t get the perfect attendance award. She missed one day when I had the ‘rona and I suspected she had it too. Imagine our surprise when her name was the first called for the perfect attendance award. Her teacher was presenting the awards and I was 110% sure she’d get up there and tell her she shouldn’t have the award, but she accepted it without arguing. Either the office didn’t get the memo that she was out or they didn’t count it since it was coronavirus related and she turned in all her work. We were both in attendance for all the homeschool days so I will accept the perfect attendance award for both of us. She also got the A Honor Roll award. 

I didn’t get an award for orchestrating Third Thursday Lunch, keeping London from cutting the tassels off her shoes or gluing four boxes of noodles to a cardboard pyramid but there’s always next year. I’m sure the office will keep better track of parent participation in the 22-23 school year.

Easter Eggs & Teacher Lunches

We are a Baptist family currently attending a Methodist church. We visited all the baptist churches in town and have, for now, veered off the familiar path to worship with the Methodists. If there’s anything the Methodists love, it’s a special service for everything. We haven’t experienced many of these services at baptist churches so we don’t have a good grasp on what several of them are for. The day before Good Friday, Christopher and Annabelle attended the Maundy Thursday service. Sesame asked me what it would be about but I wasn’t sure. When I got home from the baby shower I was at that night, she was bursting to give me a report. “MOM! You won’t believe it. Jesus is about to be crucified and I have no idea what’s going to happen next in the Easter story. It’s a real cliffhanger!”

I’m so glad all our years of reading her the Bible and sending her to Sunday school are paying off. She’s really hiding those lessons in her heart. Everything she knows about Easter flew out her head once the choir started singing.

Opa came to celebrate Easter with us. We seldom have family for holidays so we didn’t take it for granted that he was there. AB was thrilled to have someone new to talk to and we all enjoy some quality visiting.

New topic that is in no way related to Easter or our risen Lord.

The PTO at AB’s school is in the midst of a reorganization. The two ladies in charge have all sorts of ideas for how to revive the organizations, bring i funds and make every single parent thrilled to volunteer all their free time. They threw around several ideas and asked for volunteers to fill the various positions. I ended up with the role of planning a teacher lunch every month. Everyone else looked at their drinks or off into the corners of the room and avoided eye contact with the director when she asked who wanted to head that up. I felt bad no one was speaking up so I said I’d do it. That’s how I end up in 92% of my volunteer positions. The feel bad portion of my brain takes over the ‘do I want/do I have time to do this” part of my brain and the next thing I know my mouth is offering to drive a homemade four-course meal to a stranger five states away in the midst of a tornado. Just last month my therapist was moving to a new office and said she had so much packing to do. Without any thought, I offered up my Saturday to help her pack, move and decorate the new place.

The lunch takes place on the third Thursday of each month and is called Third Thursday Lunch. It goes without saying that I didn’t give it such an uncreative name. I would have chosen a name with more pizzazz. I do pick a theme for each month because no partay of mine is without a theme. The lady who offered to help me showed up for our planning meeting and her face fell when she saw me. “You’re not who I was expecting. I thought I was doing this with someone else. I thought someone else was Sarah.” She said it several times over the course of the hour which did not start off our working relationship on a friendly foot. We did not gel that first meeting. She insisted we need to plan for 40 people. I said the secretary told me that it was closer to 30 teachers and faculty. She said the email announcement said 40. I wrote the email announcement so I know it said 30. We have very different ideas of how to plan and vastly different levels of confidence in parents’ common sense and their ability to donate food. She insisted we plan the menu down to the exact number of cheese and deli meat slices. She didn’t think I should put “jar of mustard” on the signup list. I needed to put “jar of mustard larger than 6oz but less than 24oz” and “loaf of bread with more than 8 slices.” Let’s give people a little credit. If we ask for a loaf of bread I think we can safely assume we will be given a whole loaf. There’s no need to specify that we aren’t given the bag from the pantry with two and a half slices left. That day I had a double ear infection, my stomach was hurting from the surgery, I had barely slept the night before and I had no patience for such nonsense. As we parted ways, I thank her for her help (“help”) and said, “Please don’t feel pressured to feel like you have to help next month.” As president of the Third Thursday Lunch committee, I thought it best to speak in a diplomatic fashion.

We pulled it together enough to host a successful first lunch in March and a second last week. It takes me weeks of planning and an entire school day to set up/decor and clean up for two half-hour lunches, but the teachers appreciate it. Some parents have gone off script and brought unsanctioned packages of desserts that were not on the signup sheet. You can guess how well that went over with my associate. Hint: like a lead balloon. She and I still have different methods but we’ve learned to work together and things run more smoothly than at our first meeting. Last week I had several parents sit with the younger classes so the teachers could eat in peace in another room. The principal was delighted with this new development. ‘It’s so great to see the parents in here!” It was nice of him to say that about my experiment and overlook the chaos and children clearly taking advantage of adults who didn’t know the lunchtime rules. We hit several bumps in the road the month but the teachers were fed and no parent volunteers lost students so I’m considering it a win. I haven’t seen any signs of the other new PTA initiatives so I think it’s safe to say that my run as TTL presidency has been the most successful. Perhaps I’ll promote myself from Third Thursday Lunch President to TTL Monarch.

Suess Days and World Days

We’ve had a busy few weeks at school. We had Dr. Suess week, Read Across America and World Day within days of each other. I’d like to schedule a meeting with the principle and/or all parties responsible for scheduling them all at the same time. There may have been a small planning hiccup on our end because we forgot to read 17 of the 50 books until after 9pm on the night before the Read Across America paper was due but we got it done.

I made the class snack on silly hat day.Red fish, blue fish we wanted to have,
But the blue fish are missing, they’re still out at sea.
The red fish are here, they’re as great as can be!

I was proud of that little rhyme and considered filling out the paperwork to change my name to Sarah Suess. As it turns out, first and second-grade boys do not care to read witty poems about why there were no blue fish in the red fish, blue fish Hop on Popcorn. “Why are they missing? Did your mom lose them?” Walmart didn’t have any blue candy, ok? Don’t ask so many questions. Appreciate the beauty of language and the fact that I woke up early to make you popcorn.

There’s a very true statement about 10% of the people in an organization doing 90% of the work. I am in that 10% group. That’s how I found myself gluing pasta to a cardboard pyramid on a Thursday afternoon. Annabelle’s class studied Egypt for world day and no one else volunteered to help with the class project. I genuinely do like helping, but sometimes I feel a little like it’s assumed I’ll be the one to sign up for everything because I only have one child while all the other moms have multiple children.
Genuine Egyptian pyramid covered with authentic gold paint flecks harvested from aisle 8 at Joann Fabric.
Back in December when we did the science fair Annabelle wasn’t very interested in my suggestions about how to design her bird board. She glued on a couple of construction paper eggs, 10 index cards with facts and called it a day. We came a long way with her board on the holidays and tourism of Egypt. We could have added more pizzazz and pictures but it was such an improvement on the bird board I have no complaints. The background looks like the Egyptain flag with US/Egyptian holiday comparisons on the left and tourism facts on the right. In the middle she choose four tourist destinations she’d recommend to someone visiting Egypt. I did all the typing and provided stylistic ideas but it was all (mostly) her work. I REALLY TRIED to keep my input to an appropriate level.

Some parents did their children’s entire project for them and it showed. AB and her friend Sammy got in the car at pick up the day all the projects were turned in and AB said, “That building is really cool but I think their parents built it for them.” Sammy said, “That’s what they said but I don’t think they were supposed to tell us that.” It’s ok, Sammy. It’s obvious three 7 year olds didn’t make a mosque with lights and bells by themselves.Remember when she learned to roll over just last week? Next week she’ll be in college. TIME IS CRUEL.