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.

December recap, vol. 2

I haven’t talked to you since last year! I used to get such mileage out of saying that as a kid.

When I left off I was overwhelmed and in tears on the floor preparing for our family Christmas, delivering all manner of teacher/friend gifts, sending cards, prepping for AB’s science fair and school party, gathering supplies for Aaron’s wedding, packing for our trip to Massachusetts, making sure we were ready for Christmas in Massachusetts, lining up cat care for while we were gone and popping pain pills. Not much at all! Easy peasy lemon squeezy!

We got our real Christmas tree from the Hallmark perfect tree farm of Home Depot. I pretended Sesame was wearing snow boots and mittens instead of a short sleeve shirt. She asked for the fifth year in a row why I tap the tree trunk against the ground before spinning and sniffing it and I told her for the fifth year in a row to TRUST THE PROCESS. You can’t waltz in there and grab the first tree you see.
Our theme tree this year was small kitchen items. HobLob really pulled through with small kitchen items being 70% off when we needed them. If anyone needs tiny hohoho or noel rolling pins let me know. Using the colander at the top instead of a star was Christopher’s idea.

I order all the babies memorial ornaments from a shop on etsy and it sent me into a fit of tears when I saw that the owner had closed her shop. I was so upset that one of the babies would have a different ornament than the other three. I spent hours on etsy looking for an ornament that looked similar enough but couldn’t find one. Christopher suggested sending her a message but she said she closed her shop for “a mental health break” and I didn’t want to bother her. Eventually, I sent her a message and two weeks later I had a matching ornament. I could have kissed her feet. It meant so much to me that she took the time to make one for me.

We made stovetop potpourri jars for our teachers and friends and I gave AB the job of writing the names of the lids. Instead of writing her tutor’s real name, she wrote her job. Tootr. Hence why she has a tutor.

No one tell my child that the elf is supposed to be involved in shenanigans. Our elf hides in the microwave, writes notes on the dry erase board and waits with Ian Major Clark on the backpack. Jingle in a very low-key elf.
The day we left for MA, Annabelle had her first science fair. She learned 10 facts about bluebirds which she presented to the class then set up in the gym for the entire school to see. She was so very proud of her board. Her board looked NOTHING like I suggested. NOTHING AT ALL. I suggested she make a tree and put facts on the leaves. Let’s put the eggs in a nest made of dry grass we gather in the backyard. At the very least let’s put some construction paper behind the index cards. “No thanks, Mom. I’ll do it with my own ideas.”
Actual footage of me watching and trying to be supportive but still wanting her to do it my way. Some children clearly had too much parental input (aka takeover). I didn’t want to run the whole show (or did I?). All I wanted to do was add a small amount of pizzazz.

Immediately before our flight out we went to the class Christmas party. As much as my input was not wanted on the science board, it was welcome given on the gingerbread house. That’s how we ended up with a candy cane heart on the roof.

December recap, vol. 1

I know we’re two days from New Years but I have a personal tradition of recapping December events lo, many days after which they happen so why stop that tradition now.

Welcome to the peaceful oasis that was my backyard a few weeks ago.Can I offer you a cocktail on my deck?Our new roof was being installed (? put on? put up?) and it wreaked havoc on my yard, my deck, and my cat’s nerves. Linus, who has never been described as a chill cat, had never been so high-strung in his entire life. He was squeezing himself into the smallest spots under bookshelves and beds. He got so scared he threw up. I wanted to slip valium in his cat food. Lucille was not bothered by the noise or her brother’s anxiety. The pictures falling off the walls from the constant banging don’t rock her boat at all.

It was at this most HGTV perfect home time that Joanna came to visit. Without fail, she’s been the most consistent friend when it comes to visiting us. She has seen all but two of our eight homes. I like to think I’m a generally good time but a different version of me comes out when I go home or my friends from home come to visit. We call it Massachusetts Sarah. Massachusetts Sarah does things like get a running start on one side of the kitchen in order to slide across the counter like a penguin. I try to be a low-level party bus at all times, but I am more reserved when I’m in mom/wife mode. Joanna came to town and immediately out came a lower energy/post-surgery, Massachusetts Sarah. We laughed until we cried. I’ve known Joanna from the day she was born so she’s only ever known me that way. To be honest, there were several years was a very brief period when I deemed her too young to play with because I am two years her senior, but I came to my senses. I did look on her fondly when she was a baby baby. Look how happy two-year-old Sarah was to be holding little Joanna. I was thrilled! She was less than happy about the arrangement. She insists she was unhappy about the bonnet but I’m sure it was how hard I was squeezing.

There isn’t much to do in our bustling metropolis which is how we ended up at Walmart within 12 hours of her arrival. I took her to the coffee shop and the one non-chain restaurant that’s clean and that about wrapped up our tour of the town. She helped me address Christmas cards and pack for Aaron’s wedding. I like to give my guests a good time when they come to visit, but I’m still recovering from the surgery and my overwhelmed level is about 12/10. She showed up willing to help and I reluctantly accepted.

Sesame had many events that all fell on the weekend Joanna was here. She had her first basketball game and I mean this in all love, but sports are not her thing. She has great sportsmanship and is very good at complimenting her teammates, but is not good at the sports part of sports. She doesn’t like loud noises so playing in an echoing gym with people yelling and shouting isn’t up her alley. She also doesn’t understand how to play the game of basketball which I knew going into the game but I don’t think she realized until she got there. But she gave it her best effort. When she played Tball with the Y in the summer, the coaches often showed up 15 minutes before the end of practice. Things are very different in this league. There’s a man assigned to keeping score and “halftime entertainment” when the little cheerleaders in big bows come out. I’m surprised there isn’t a concession stand and someone selling foam hands.

The next event of the day was a school concert held at the local mall. Nothing like singing of our Saviors birth between Auntie Anne’s and Star Jewelers.

Look at the way she’s staring at Christopher. All that love and adoration towards the person who takes her out for pancakes every Saturday and not one bit for the woman who literally fought tooth and nail, blood, sweat and tears to bring her into this world. The next morning at church, Annabelle sang a song with the children’s choir and our family did the Advent reading and lighting on the candles. I did not do the reading because have you met me? I do not open my mouth in public. I would consider performing a concert in front of six thousand strangers (NO ONE I know would be allowed to attend) after I spent all afternoon with wardrobe, hair, and makeup, but no way in heck do I want to read a passage from the Bible in front of our very nice church congregation. Christopher and AB read while I lit the candles. There was almost a catastrophe when I lost my balance while holding the flame but the building is still standing and Christopher’s hair wasn’t singed after all.

Joanna came to work with me one night. She made a teacher gift I didn’t have time to make and one small sign for herself to take home. I wanted to pick Joanna up and recreate the picture from when we were little in front of the paint but it didn’t seem like the right time. I’m sure my boss wouldn’t have minded, but Jojo wasn’t wearing her bonnet.


she is as literal as her mother

I have big news, people.


You’re not ready for this. You might want to sit down.
I finally picked out a new shower curtain.

I KNOW. You can’t make this kind of stuff up. It only took me buying six before I settled on this one and I am overly excited about it. I stop to look at it every time I walk by. Annabelle is going through an annoying phase where she wants to stay in the bathroom with her while she showers which is very inconvenient but it helps that I have a pretty shower curtain. Sadly the florals have not stopped her from getting two gallons worth of water on the floor each time she bathes.

That about wraps it up for exciting life news around here.


In addition to the curriculum the school sends home for Monday/Wednesday/Friday, AB and I have been learning about national parks. This week we learned about park rangers and made a mixed media picture featuring a self-portrait of AB as a park ranger.

As she painted, we listened to random tunes on youtube. “Bridge Over Troubled Water” came on and to no one’s surprise, I sang along with great gusto. Sesame asked what the song was about so I launched into a lengthy teaching moment about how we can be there to support each other when life gets tough and too hard to handle alone. I will be the wind beneath her wings. I’ll be there for her when things get hard and, to borrow the phrase in question, be like a bridge that gets her from the hard things to the better side. She can count on me! “Hmm,” she said. “That sounds like you’ll get wet if you’re a bridge.”

What a tender mother-daughter moment.

I’m winging it as a mother

Last year I did all the right things during Annabelle’s public school career. I sent in supplies whenever the teacher asked. I never cut anyone off in carline. We didn’t lose paperwork. We were never tardy without good reason (being at the doctor). AB never visited the principles office (her good behavior reflects well on me). I planned the one and only field trip of the year. Given all that success, I started this year off with my head held high in pride and sure I would roll into the new school as pro mom.

I did not.

On the first day of school, I forgot to put Annabelle’s picture on her about me page. I didn’t send her in with a sweater. We got to the classroom and found out I had forgotten to pack her Latin book. When I picked her up, she said I hadn’t packed her composition book. In my defense, it wasn’t on the ”bring to school” list I was given, but every other child had it. Annabelle has reminded me several times of what I forgot.

On Thursday, the front office called to say AB had a bloody nose. I thought she was calling simply because it’s the protocol to inform parents of injuries, but after a pause, the lady said, “So, how do you want us to treat it?” Um. Pinch it? Hold tissues over it? Look on WebMD? Why are you calling me for medical advice? I’m just the mom. Then I remembered they don’t have a school nurse so evidently, they call the parents who are supposed to be the experts on their children’s health. The lady said they had allergy medicine and asked if I wanted her to give Annabelle a dose. I said sure, why not. I didn’t think allergy medicine helped with bloody noses but what do I know? I can’t remember to put a school book in a backpack. Who made me the mom around here?????

Our Annabelle’s first big project was due on Thursday. They’ve been learning about John James Audubon and bird banding so we had to make a bird out of a paper towel roll. After assembling it, she was to label as many parts as she could remember. I have a large supply of feathers, pompoms, yarn, popsicle sticks, and all manner of craft supplies for such a time as this. I was fully prepared and ready to rock. I would redeem all the mistakes I made in the first weeks of school. It would be the best paper towel roll bird in the state. Sadly my help was not wanted or needed beyond operating the hot glue gun. I showed an impressive amount of self-control and didn’t hoover while Sesame made the bird. I assumed she’d use the tube as the bird’s entire body but she insisted that she wanted the tube to be the bird’s head. This meant the wings AND THE FEET were attached to the head.

He did end up being very cute and it does look like he has an entire body, but to AB still says it’s only a head.

Sesame Starts Second

Somehow the school year has started again. School starts stupidly early here. You’d think I’d be used to school starting in August by now but I’m not. AB finished first grade three weeks late (thanks, ‘rona) so between that and all our travels, the summer really was shorter than ever this year.

This year we’re doing a hybrid program at a local Christian school. Sesame goes to the school for two full days a week and is homeschooled using their curriculum the other three days. This schedule gives us time to miss each other, she gets time with other kids and I get much needed alone time. Win, win, win. We had a rocky end to our last year homeschooling but this year we made it all the way to the second day before there were tears! I’ve added a little to the curriculum but it’s 90% what they send home. She’s learning Latin and how it connects with science which is significantly more than she learned last year. The drive to school two mornings a week has given me a chance to reserect my School Drive Repetoire and I’m not mad about it. I wrote what I thought was a completely original composition last year, but I’ve been told I stole the tune from Daniel Tiger. My apologies to Daniel Tiger. Hit me up if you ever want to add incorporate my song into an episode.

She is tickled to be wearing a uniform. Why does she have to be such a big kid? Time is so rude.“Hey, Mom! Take a picture of me from my bad angle!” I can count the number of times I’ve said that on exactly zero fingers.

“Mama, you can’t take my picture ALL THE TIME while I’m doing school.”

Sorry, kid. I’m the principle around here and I want pictures.