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.

No one gave me a teacher’s apple but I did get a package of Reese’s cups

Several weeks ago Annabelle’s Tuesday/Thursday teacher started telling me I needed to fill out the substitute teacher paperwork so I could fill in when she couldn’t be there. She was joking at first, then half-joking the second time, then not at all joking the third time. The substitute she was supposed to have that morning so she could go to her appointment called in sick. I sort of laughed my way out of it because I had no desire to be a sub. It’s not that I don’t want to help at school. I go in once a week to help with the art class that always involves moderating a fight between MJ and Jason. I set up the Valentine’s party and that very day got asked to help with the open house. Anytime there’s a sign up sheets for anything my name is on it. I’m going in this week to help make a pyramid out of noodles for World Day. I am very happy to help. I went to school for early childhood education so I can’t use the excuse of not liking kids. It’s just that I have two times a week when I have alone time and can get things done without talking about what’s happening on AB’s podcast or how deep her dirt hole is getting. I didn’t really want to spend one of the two days I have without her, with her and nine of her classmates. Besides, I don’t have a Bachelors Degrees which is a requirement to teach at the school. It was the perfect out. Well, her teacher texted me a few days later saying lo and behold she was mistaken about subs needing a Bachelors degree so could she give me the paperwork that Thursday? Her son was in the state basketball tournament the next week and the other sub wasn’t available. I could not say no. Not when she took away my one excuse. I couldn’t stand between her watching her son at state! I said I’d be happy to.

I’ve done countless fingerprint and background tests, but going to the lab for a drug test isn’t something I’ve had to do before. AB and I arrived when they were closed for lunch so we hung out in the waiting room for 20 minutes. The lady finally called me up to the desk and took all my information then suddenly saw Annabelle. “Oh no. She can’t be here. No kids are allowed in the building. There’s a virus going on.” Who did she think was skipping around and playing hopscotch in the waiting room all this time? Me? We had to leave and I went back the next morning. I had to empty my pockets and put my purse in a locker. There was a whole protocol I was not familiar with as I don’t often hang out with druglords. After I peed in the cup, the nurses stared at a sticker on the side, murmuring and nodding their heads. Instantly I started to panic and wonder what kind of drugs I had been doing. The answer is NONE. I don’t do drugs. It took less than a quarter of a second for my brain to go from zero to I had been doing drugs, forgotten I had been doing them, and assume that my career in substitute teaching (that I suddenly very much valued) was going up in flames. I’d have to move out of town because I couldn’t face my friends now that I was a druggie. My overactive imagination had that workout for nothing as I tested negative for all drugs, real or imagined.

Since I help the kids in art I already know the class which helped, but it also meant a few kids felt comfortable enough correcting me when I dared do something out of order and volunteered a lot of statements about how “Mrs. So and So always does it this way, not the way you’re doing it.” At art one day I had made a comment about being a party bus so I knew I had to really bring the fun when I showed up in the classroom. I came prepared with pages of printed jokes. I told them throughout the day and we rated them by one, three, and five stars. I used tally marks to keep track of the ratings so it had a small educational aspect to it. The kids all loved it except for Caroline. She was a hard nut to crack. She never voted higher than one star for any joke and there were some good ones. I was feeling pretty good about my performance so I asked if the children wanted to share any jokes with the class. It quickly became apparent that wasn’t my finest idea. Sammy took his socks off to get comfy for the show. Just took them off and put them on his desk. I know Sammy well so I wasn’t surprised, but why was that necessary? The girls told ok jokes, but the boys told what they thought were zingers but I would have rated negative five stars. “Why did the duck cross the road? Because he wanted to get runned over and squashed and die.” Open mic was shut down after that.                                                                                     I never felt more professional.

I corrected some math sheets for the teacher while the children did some independent work. After six sheets I realized I read the question wrong and had to go back and correct my own correction. Either I shouldn’t be a full-time teacher or I did have a little somethin’ somethin’ in my system after all. (I’M JUST KIDDING, MOM.)
Annabelle told me I did ”a pretty good job with most of the teaching” so I’ll take that moderate praise. I got home at the end of the day and immediately took a nap. I can’t rest for too long though because I’ve been assigned the job of organizing three teacher lunches before the end of the year. I hope my parent volunteer of the year award comes with an all-expenses paid vacation to Italy.


On Valentine’s morning, I sent Christopher the following text, “I have diagnosed the dishwasher as potentially having a motor issue. I cleaned the filter and various other things youtube recommended. If that doesn’t work we might need to call Jason to fix it.”

Don’t tell me romance is dead!

Last year I bemoaned the fact that I couldn’t help in AB’s class. No one but teachers and students was allowed to set foot beyond the office. I would have been a great addition but alas, I was not wanted. Her hybrid school this year welcomes any and all parental involvement which is how I came to be the parent in charge of the Valentines party. The party lasted barely an hour but I spent nearly five times that cutting paper and preparing activities. I carefully crafted layered paper nametags that were clipped to bags with coordinating colored clothespins. Some children had the audacity to drop their gorgeous tags on the floor or stuff them inside the bag. Kids these days don’t appreciate quality craftsmanship!
For the game, they used tweezers to stack as many candy hearts as they could in 60 seconds.
For our valentines bag craft we made lovebug bags.

Later that night Annabelle asked me, “Why did we only make one lovebug when in real life two lovebugs are always attached together?” I was only signed up to provide a fun party, not teach a reproductive biology class!