If you wanna feel better about your family, just read about ours...

Starring: a dad, a mom, a son & daughter-in-law, a daughter & son-in-law, a teen, a tween, 1 grandson, 3 granddaughters, 3 dogs, and a whole lot of love.






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Sunday, November 4, 2018

Ryde Along

The first pet I remember as my favorite from my childhood was a blond German Shepherd mix named Bo. He was a "rescue dog" back when rescue dog meant that a stray roamed into your yard and you started feeding him and gave him a name. I can't remember if that's exactly how we got him, but it was something along those lines. 

However it happened, he was meant to be ours. There was one time, he disappeared for days and we thought he was gone forever. Turns out, he'd wandered off, got his leg caught in a muskrat trap, spent who knows how long digging it up, and dragged it home. Another time, he got hit by a car on the highway beside our house, someone saw him laying injured in the ditch, picked him up, and took him to the vet. Then through a series of odd connections, a phone call between my mom who mentioned our missing dog, and my great Aunt Marilyn who'd recently heard about an injured dog that'd been found, and voila. We all ended up in the newspaper. 

So when I was scrolling through Facebook last year and saw a shared post about a dog that Pawsitive Warriors had rescued, I'm sure you understand why I had to have her. Yeah. This dog. Hello, Bo. We meet again.

They called her "Princess Aurora" and she was described as 'A blond German Shepherd mix, calm, friendly with other dogs, gentle with children, good on a leash, and knew some commands.' 
We picked her up the following day.

I don't know how it works with dogs after they die, but it was like we didn't miss a beat. She knew me and I knew her. But one thing was for certain, she wasn't having the name "Bo." And "Princess Aurora" doesn't exactly roll off the tongue and who names a dog Princess Aurora? Not me. 

With our grandchildren's love of all things Paw Patrol in mind, Kearstin and Caymen started through the list of dog characters and she wasn't responding to any of them. And then Kearstin said, "Ryder" and that was the end of it. Of course she chose the character who isn't a dog because she doesn't think she's a dog. Aaaaand we're pretty sure whoever it was in her past that taught her how to sit and shake hands, probably used to ask her if she wanted to "go for a ride" so she might've actually been responding to that, but it doesn't matter. She chose Ryder and Ryder she is. Ryder Bo, to be exact. We debated on making her official name Bo Ryder, but Bo Ryder, the rapper, Flo Rida...too confusing. 

The introduction with our other dogs, Quincy & Bamberly James, was uneventful.  They simply accepted her in with no question and barely any butt sniffing.  

We took her to our grandson's 3rd birthday party at a church that evening, as you do, and she joined in with the family with no problems or any accidents. She was everything they described in her adoption ad.

But they didn't exactly list everything. Maybe because they didn't have her long enough to get to know her or they felt it could possibly deter potential adopters, but here are some things we've learned about Ryder this year. The hard way.

Someone somewhere loved her enough to get her fixed. 
(That would've been nice to know before they cut her open again when we took her in to get her fixed.) 

She'll feel so comfortable with you the first night, she'll pee through your pillow top mattress. That's a compliment. She feels safe. 
(Oh, goody.)

When she loves you, she nips your face. Don't worry, it's gentle. 
(That makes it no less terrifying when a German shepherd comes at your face with her teeth. FYI; there's a fine line between her 'love nippins' and what she tries to do to the UPS guy. That isn't love.)

She has separation anxiety. 
(That's ok, so do I.)

That endearing (psychotic?) quality will require you to take her on vacation with you, book her into a nearby K-9 resort, pick her up every morning as soon as they open, understand that she'll refuse to relieve herself at the aforementioned resort, thus requiring you to speed her back to your beach so she'll poop in the sand, and then you'll spend your days teaching her how to swim in your "No Pets Allowed" vacation home pool. Renting a Dune Buggy for the day? 
Yeah, she'll need to go, too.

This deathly afraid of water dog will instinctively know when you plan to go out on the boat and climb in the van demanding to go. Then she'll try to claim the driver's seat before anyone else can sit down.

She can open and close doors.
(That's not as convenient as it sounds.)

After following you to the bathroom every single time, she'll eventually begin mimicking your habits.
(She stands on this scale every morning. I kid you not.)

She'll train the other dogs to lay on the stairs in hopes of eventually maiming or killing you. 
(What other reason could there possibly be?)



She'll take ownership of your heart before you ever realize it's happening, and you'll end up having her registered as an official "Comfort Dog" to allow you to legally take her everywhere you go. You'll tell everyone you're doing it for her, but they won't believe it.
Nor should they. 
Because whether or not this dog is Bo or Ryder, this rescue dog was actually waiting to rescue me.

Is there a rescue dog out there waiting for you?
Go find it.
You need each other. 

Wednesday, August 22, 2018

E.T. Drone Home

Drones.
Are they an evil invasion of privacy?
Are they a toy?
Or are they an evil toy?
Yes.


Up until last week, the only firsthand knowledge I had of a drone was the one my son-in-law got my husband for Christmas. We took it with us to a cabin this past spring, and within 30 seconds of taking it out of the package and inserting the batteries, he had it stuck high up in a tree over a set of railroad tracks. The next hour was spent kicking and throwing footballs at it until it finally fell to the ground. Miraculously, it survived. And then he crashed it into the side of the cabin. Still kickin'. Ironically, the final nail in the coffin of his drone came when he tried to put it someplace safe. On a top bunk. And then he dropped it. From the top bunk.

RIP, drone. It was a fun 2 hours.

So my life was officially drone-free. That is, until recently. Caymen and I were outside. She was swimming and I was watering my flowers in my pajamas. Before you judge me for being outside by the pool in my pajamas, you should know that more often than not, I'm inside the pool, naked. And before you judge me for that, I'd ask you a question. Would you come home from a workout and go inside your house all hot and sweaty or would you do the responsible thing and strip down to nothing and dive into the pool first?
You don't have to answer that. I know.

Thanks to a privacy fence and cornfields, with exception of the farmer who gets a surprise if he shows up on his tractor every now and then, I've basically got nobody to worry about.

I used to have to watch for a man on his flying go-cart, but he crashed into the river a couple of years ago. These are things I couldn't make up if I tried, people.

So back to it. Caymen was swimming. I was watering flowers. She said, "Something weird flew over our pool." Honestly, I didn't care. She's 11. She could be talking about an airplane...a bird...a falling star...who knows, we live out in the middle of nowhere. So I did that mom thing. "Oh really? Huh." Because I don't know about you and your plant watering goals, but the least amount of trips back to the hose to fill up my can is key, so I'm not just gonna look up in the sky willy nilly and spill a bunch of water on the ground...unless someone built another flying go-cart, then of course, let's take a little look see.

But when she said, "Here it comes again" I looked up. And there, smoothly gliding over our backyard was something that was too low to be an airplane, but too high to be a go-cart. It was small with a red light on the side and the first word that came to my mind was DRONE.

I don't even know why drone was my first thought, since this thing was flying smoothly in a straight line and not nosediving toward our trees or recklessly bouncing through the air and careening toward our pool, which was why I never let my husband try to fly his drone above our yard. But a drone was all it could be.

So I did what any calm and rational mother of a young child would do in that situation.
I yelled, "DRONE!" made her get out of the pool, wrapped her in a towel, ducked into the garage, ran into the house, and closed all the curtains. Then I reluctantly texted our neighbor and tried to sound like a normal person, because not texting your neighbor and asking if they've noticed a drone spying on your backyard should be a life goal.

She initially answered no to the drone sighting, because she's normal and I'm crazy. But then later, she texted back and told me that when her boyfriend got home, he took binoculars outside, and he said I'm not crazy. He found the drone!

We should talk about the part where he said I'm not crazy, because that's pretty cool for someone who doesn't hear that very often, AND from the guy I almost called one night because Kearstin and I saw a running car sitting in our driveway, but then she realized she'd accidentally pushed her auto starter and that was her car running in our driveway. But no calls were made, and although guns were drawn, no tires were shot, so we're just gonna leave things with I'm not crazy, k?

Back to the drone.
We discussed the possible options:
Government owned drone doing a drug search?
A pervert?
Or a government pervert?
Yes.

One thing was clear. Whoever was driving that thing wasn't an amateur who'd just pulled it out of the package and popped the batteries in, which begged the questions, how long have they been spying on us and how much of that time was I naked? Questions you've asked yourself a million times, I'm sure.

I called my husband at work and asked him what I should do.
He said, "You could call and report an unidentified flying object."

No. Sir. I will not.

Then he said, "I think it's illegal to shoot it out of the sky."

Ooookay. Not what I asked, but good to know. Now, what should I do???
Then he said, "Shoot the damn thing out of the sky."

So this is gonna end poorly, is what I'm hearing.

The following evening, Caymen and I went back outside. I was wearing normal clothes, because I know you're wondering. She was the one in pajamas, armed with binoculars and a laser pointer, because who doesn't have a laser pointer laying around their house? And I was prepared with my protection of choice. For the sake of not offending anyone, let's just call it our AR-Plastic Straw.

So this is what our life has become in Farmland, USA.

As we stood watch, our neighbor texted me. Her boyfriend found out that our county was currently using drones for land surveys. (He also suggested I "put my nips away before they end up in the newspaper," but since they've already been featured on my blog, I feel like I beat the paparazzi to the punch.)

Anyhoo. I told Caymen the news.
Stand down. It's just the county doing a survey.
Without taking her eyes away from the binoculars, she asked, "Should we still laser it?"

Let's let em slide...unless my measurements end up posted on a registry somewhere, and then next time, we won't be so generous.

Just for fun, here's a little clip of what we look like trying to get a drone out of a tree with footballs.
Fear not, our aim is much more accurate with straws. *wink*






Tuesday, June 26, 2018

Thanks, but NO TANKS

If you read my previous entry, you know that my husband bought me a gift certificate for a deep
tissue massage followed by an hour float in a sensory deprivation tank for my birthday.

In case you don't know, any and all crazy ideas around here originate with our son, Zac, and he'd recently gone to that place and loved it. Also, if you don't know, a sensory deprivation tank is a lightless, soundproof tank filled with 10 inches of salt water at exactly skin temperature. It can also be referred to as an Isolation Tank...or Torture Tank, if we're being accurate with the naming. The third piece of key information that you might not know, is that I'm severely claustrophobic.

Legend has it, that one hour sleeping in a sensory deprivation tank is the equivalent to four.
Legend also has it that they used to connect a string inside a coffin to a bell above ground in case they accidentally buried someone alive.
What's the connection? I don't know. I'm rambling.

Let's start at the beginning. Ron scheduled my appointment requesting the deepest massage therapist they have. That would be Angela. And Angela didn't disappoint. If during a massage you ever wonder if the table might give way and collapse under the pressure of a massage, you've got a good one. Now stop your crying and let her do her job, dammit.

I lay there enjoying every painful minute, trying not to think about what was coming after the massage. "But when do I get to get closed into a dark silent tank of water?" asked no claustrophobic ever.

After my massage, they gave me the fluffiest most comfortable robe ever, led me and my basket of personal possessions into the tank room, and went over the instructions.

"Shower before and after."

"Earplugs are optional."

"Avoid causing waves." (Not the first time I've heard that, won't be the last.)

"There's a floaty ring pillow for your head, but you don't need it. There's no way you'll sink." (Not sure if she was referencing the amount of salt in the water or the level of implant in my boobs, but I'm pretty sure they said the same thing about the Titanic, so there's that.)

"Close the tank door or the water will lose it's temperature."

"Try not to get salt water in your eyes."

"If you get salt water in your eyes, it will hurt like a mother." (Okay, I added that one, but is it true?)

"A chime will ring when your session is done. If you don't wake up, we'll knock on the door. If you still don't wake up, we'll come in and bang on the tank." (At that point, they might as well call 911, because if they can't wake me up in a tank full of water, I've obviously drowned.)

Then she left me alone with the open door of the dark tank waiting to swallow me alive never to be heard from again.
Happy birthday. Love, Ron.

I showered, put in my earplugs, and climbed into the tank. Not sure if that slippery bottom was mine or the tank, but I immediately slid onto my back, causing a giant ripple of waves, sending a splash of salt water straight into my eyes, and bolted upright gagging and grabbing for the towel. Great. I'd already broken 2 rules.
Three minutes down, fifty-seven to go.

Start over.

I carefully propped the towel in the tank door so that I'd have a sliver of light, but the water would hopefully stay warm. Which brought me to another observation. The water wasn't warm. It also wasn't cool. It was my perfect body temperature. It was basically wet nothing. I slowly slid myself onto my back in the wet nothingness, put the floaty ring under my head, and then I lay there treading water. She didn't tell me to tread water, and I didn't need to tread water, but good luck convincing my survival instincts of that. Seven minutes down, fifty-three to go.

I was tired of treading water, so I gradually stopped moving one body part at a time, until I convinced myself that maybe I really wasn't going to suffer the fate of the Titanic. That's when my mind started shifting to other points of observation. Other than the salt crystals drying to my chest, I felt nothing. Nothing. Other than the tiny wedge of light from the propped door, I saw nothing. And with my ears plugged and emerged under the water, you might guess I heard nothing, but I learned something about myself that day. I rely on my senses to distract me from the voices. (Don't even act like you don't have the voices.) So deprive me of my senses, and things in my head get very loud.

Regrets, hopes, dreams, worries, fears, my weight, if Dylan the car salesman hates me everyone might hate me, what I'd order for lunch if I made it out of the tank alive...you name it, I thought it. There was a whole party going on in there.

I can't live like that. So I sat up to make sure the door would really swing open in case of emergency, and then I started the whole process over again. Eighteen minutes down, forty-two to go.

And there I lay in a sensory deprivation tank. My limbs floating freely. Seeing nothing, and feeling nothing but the steady pressure of water squeezing against both sides of my head, and I began to sympathize with unborn babies everywhere. Cue the voices.
Babies, kids, grandchildren, hopes, dreams, worries, fears, my weight, self-loathing, what I wanted for lunch...Thirty-five minutes down, twenty-five to go.

Enough.
I decided to spend the rest of my hour taking a long leisurely shower and allow the sound of pelting water against my head to silence the havoc between my ears. If that wasn't enough, the blow dryer would surely finish the job.

So I sat up, swung open the door, and couldn't find the floaty ring pillow anywhere. I squinted toward the dark end of the tank, but no way I was going down there. Surely I'm not the first person who's lost their floaty ring pillow to the dark side, so certainly they have someone willing to float-crawl down there and get it.

I wrapped myself in a towel, walked back to the shower, and passed the mirror.

Good news: I found the floaty ring pillow.
Bad news: Apparently I still can't feel anything.


Thursday, June 21, 2018

Massage Scare-apy

Ask any Massage Therapist what their biggest problem is and they'll probably answer, "Finding a good Massage Therapist." Sure, we have friends in the field who swap sometimes, but coordinating schedules becomes it's own hassle and sometimes we just want to go pay for a great massage. And by great massage, I mean no-pain-no-gain deep tissue. And that part where they say "Let me know if it's too much pressure?" No. Sir. I will not. And maybe let's just don't talk at all while we're at it. Which is why I very rarely tell them that I'm an LMT, because as soon as my face hits the padded ring, it's like they can't help themselves and ask, "So where'd you go to massage school?" And believe it or not, I'm too polite to say, "I went to SHUTTY-Ville."
Maybe I need to work on my boldness.

One thing about Massage Therapy is there's a wide range of personalities drawn to the field. You might show up and find them wearing scrubs, dressy clothes, jeans, shorts, hipster garb, or heavily tattooed in a mumu and head wrap. I have a home office, so I'm more of a shorts & t-shirt girl, unless you schedule an early morning session, then it's jammie pants for me. Massage Therapists get away with basically anything.

Anyway, Ron knows that a good massage is the go-to gift for me, and he's always on the hunt for the perfect one. Of course he has no way of knowing who will be the right match for me, so I've had a variety of interesting experiences.

But once you find your person, you hang on to them to the point of stalker-like tendencies. I found a guy named Peter in Hilton Head and went to him every time we went down there, but then Peter freakin' moved and ruined my vacations forever, but whatever, Peter. Do what you need to do, Peter.

Ever since then, my Hilton Head massages have been a total crap shoot. I saw one lady who met me at the door and opened with "prepare for me to love on you for an hour," gave me frequent hugs, liked my "energy" and kept whispering that I was a "good receiver." As an Introvert, this entire scene was the stuff of nightmares. But at one point, I think I almost drooled, and when she grabbed my foot, one of us groaned. I don't think it was me, but then again, I might've almost drooled so who the hell knows. Toward the end, she rolled me over, put bean bags over my eyes and then one of the bean bags fell over my nostril and I thought, this is it. This is how it's gonna end. Suffocated by a bean bag blindfold under the spell of a voodoo energy trance. Protect me Jesus.

The whole thing was weird. Like, serial killer weird.
I threw away her business card.

So last year, Ron got picky. He called several different people on the island until he found the one. He was sure of it. "Shar, this chick massages Sylvester Stallone when he visits here." Well, then. What could go wrong? So he booked me a 90 minute session and I began slightly regretting my request for deep tissue from a lady who massages Rocky and probably crushes grapefruit with her bare hands for fun.

I was a little surprised to arrive and find a much older lady dressed in a long white skirt and crazy socks with no shoes. The only way to describe her massage technique would be sporadic. Absolutely no rhyme or rhythm to it. Neck, leg, hand, foot, back, foot, arm...If her intention was to confuse the crap out of me, she was succeeding, all the while coming in and out of the room to "get stuff." Whatever that "stuff" was, I didn't ask, partly because she wouldn't stop talking. Non-stop with the talking. Let's just say, I now know more about Sylvester Stallone and Jennifer Flavin than I should ever legally know. And according to her, I have a "high positive healing intention." That's a new one. Also, she claims she's psychic. Relevance? Unclear.

When she excused herself to go to the bathroom, I lay there seething, wondering if she's so psychic, why didn't she know she'd have to pee beforehand and plan accordingly? Has she ever interrupted Sylvester Stallone's time and told him she had to pee? I'm gonna guess no. Clearly this lady is crazy.

And when she returned from the potty, she sealed my suspicion with one question.
"Has anyone ever told you what good energy you have?"

Ok, nut job, that's it. If you're not picking up on my pissed off energy vibes at this point, one of us is way off, and I'm gonna go with you on this one. I'm also pretty sure my days of Hilton Head massages are o-vah.

But several months later, Ron bought me a gift certificate for my birthday and redeemed himself. Sort of. I mean, the hour of silence while Angela used her weight to try to push my body through the table was glorious...it was that follow-up hour in the sensory deprivation tank that has me wondering if my husband maybe wants me dead.

Stay tuned for Thanks, But No Tanks, coming soon to a blog near you.

Thursday, March 29, 2018

School Mom, The Conclusion (I'm as relieved as you are.)

Welcome to the school choir.
Where Disney songs come to die.

7th PERIOD- CHOIR

The kids warned me all day long..."You're gonna hate this."
So then basically nothing has changed since the 80's. Interesting.

I walked into the room 7th period and realized at least one thing is different. Theirs has a smooth ceiling. Back in my day, ours was some sort of toxic asbestos, and when the teacher's back was turned, kids would throw pencils up there and they'd stick. Then we'd excitedly anticipate how long it would take them to fall, and when they did, which surface area would Mrs. T*** pound the crap out of in a rage...the piano, the wall, or her music stand? You know what I'm talkin' about, Shawnee peeps. Stealth mode.

I'd prepared myself all day to experience whatever Pitch Perfect choir horror that might await me. I sat on pins and needles while attendance was taken. We didn't have to sing our names or drink the blood of the classes who came before us, so that was a plus. And then it happened. An ear-piercing whistle began echoing through the room. I jumped and yelled, because this dolphin speak thing was a whole new level of choir torture, even for me. The kids just looked at me and began quietly filing out of the room, and the other new girl...a real new girl. Like, an actual 13 year old new-to-the-class-that-day girl, calmly explained, "It's just a fire drill." Aca-scuse me? Helloooo...other new girl...you should be screaming and heart palpatating with me right now.

Fifteen minutes later, we were standing in front of our seats singing warm-ups. That's right. Standing.
(Sit back. If you enjoy "I hate my life" activities, this is your jam.):

do, re, mi, fa, so, la, ti, do. Repeat.Repeat.Repeat.Repeat.
Excuse me. Quick question from the country folk. What the h*ll happened to the doe, the dear, the female dear?

Next warmup:
*mono-tone* doo doo- doo doo- doo doo- doo doo...
I looked around the class. People, we're literally singing "doo doo" right now and nobody's laughing. If there was ever a place for side-eye and snickering, it's right here. I'm legitimately disappointed.

Also, this happened:
doo bee doo bee doo bee doo- *change pitch* doo bee doo bee doo bee doo...
Relevance? Unclear.

Next:
ba, bababa ba- bababa ba- bababa ba...
If somebody could pull that fire alarm again, that'd be great.

We moved onto "singing in a round."
Ohhhhhh snap. Just ask my grandson who rocks Row Row Row Your Boat better than Sassy? NO ONE.
Then we didn't sing Row Row Row Your Boat. We sang Swing Low and O When The Saints and I Wanna Sing Sing Sing, section by section, and we sang them in a round. If you're sitting there thinking those 3 songs shouldn't be sung in a round together, you're mistaken, because in choir, "It would be a catastrophic mess" is a reason for it, not against it.
Yes, Jesus. Come on for to carry me home. Now please.

FINALLY, we got to the good stuff. We were gonna learn a new song. A Disney song, no less. From the movie, Aladdin! And to make it even more appealing, some lucky person was gonna score a solo for the spring concert. I don't wanna get cocky, but if that song was Prince Ali, I was about to land myself a solo.

Little-known fact: I can belt out Prince Ali, complete with voices from the movie. It's like my thing.

The music sheets were slowly being passed down the rows and I was rocking back and forth to the beat of drumming sounds in my head and quietly chanting...'Make wayyyyy for Prince Aliiiii, Make wayyyyy for Prince Aliiii!' Before I could start belly dancing, I received my music and looked down to see...Arabian Nights.

Arabian Nights? ARABIAN NIGHTSSSSS??? The one song in the movie that should never be sung by real people because it's lows are too low and it's highs are too high and it always and forever sounds off-key?!?! The kids were right. This is psychopath behavior.

Granted, I can also belt out a strong Arabian Nights chorus, but I'd lost my enthusiasm, and I don't have time to star in the junior high spring concert anyway. To my utter shock, I looked around and no one was forming the mutiny this injustice called for. These students have either been trained into submission or they really believed Arabian Nights was a solid choice. Either way, I weep for their future. 

8th PERIOD- SOCIAL STUDIES
I'm exhausted and thanks to Arabian Nights, my Asian Chicken has taken a turn.
Social Studies has always been one of my least favorite subjects, (besides Science, Math, Art, and Choir), but this teacher was always one of our kids' favorites, and I wasn't disappointed. His teaching method was awesome! Instead of the entire class reading the whole chapter, he broke the chapter into 6 sections and split the class into 6 groups. Each group read a section and then summarized it into 3-4 main points for the class to take their notes from. As an added bonus, the groups could teach their chapter to the rest of the class anyway they wanted. He offered up the possibilities of each person reading a point and writing them on the board. It sounded like most groups were leaning in that direction. It was the last period and this day was drawing to a close, so I bravely spoke up and suggested that maybe our group would like to do something outside of the box and act ours out. That was met with the awkward sound of crickets...and then a kid in my group finally replied, "Our section is on religious persecution. I don't think we should act that out."

Okay, for one, I forgot what our section was about, so lose the tone. For two, maybe I was totally testing your judgment and you passed. *slow clap for the kid squinting at me disapprovingly right now* So we'll follow the crowd and write on the board. Let's go ahead and sing Arabian Nights while we're at it.

The bell rang. The day was over and I only made a fool of myself for like 90% of it. 7th grade is once again behind me, and for the 2nd time in my life, it's confirmed that the junior high scene ain't for me.

As for the actual 13 year olds that I spent the day with, they seem used to it...I mean, the days are immense and the heat is intense, it's barbaric, but hey, it's home. (If you don't get the reference, you're officially not invited to any party I ever have.)




Tuesday, March 27, 2018

School Mom, Part 3

To this point, I've prepared myself to return to middle school, I've reentered the scene as a 7th grader, and I met my first friend when I reminded her I teach Zumba classes in her barn at night. (And her parents know about it. I thought that was self-explanatory. Pull yourself together.) I also avoided being labeled a cougar in Science, I'm practically qualified to be an Engineer after a single Math class, and I shaded a killer pair of balls in Art, because ball references follow our family everywhere through no fault of our own.

I've been pleasantly surprised by many aspects of this experience so far. For instance, when the bell rings, the kids walk in an orderly fashion to their next class, as opposed to what I've seen on the movie Lean On Me, where the hallways become a festival of terrible choices while Welcome To The Jungle blares from the speakers, and Morgan Freeman screams through a megaphone. This was way better than that.

5th PERIOD- LANGUAGE ARTS
I'm a writer. Words are my thing. But I've learned that means absolutely nothing in the world of formal education, because anytime I've helped Kearstin write a college paper, my part always gets marked off. You don't appreciate hilarity, college proffs? Screw you.

The first thing the teacher did was write a topic on the board and gave the students the first 10 minutes of class to write in their journal. Whaaaaaat just happened here? Did I morph back to my 7th grade class with Miss Carlson?? Does this teacher know the foundation she's building for these kids??? Do these kids even realize that this very exercise could catapult them into a career of writing Snark???? Everybody be cool. It's just a normal day. Suddenly I felt like I should be called to "the podium of courage" and address the class, but I knew if I raised my hand right now, I'd look like Horshack on Welcome Back Kotter, and the podium of courage could forever be tainted with unnecessary anxiety by my unbridled enthusiasm for the topic of Snark...or worse, risk turning them off of Snark completely. I don't know about you, but I can't live with that.

After they journaled, the remainder of the class was spent watching a video teaching them the methods of persuasion. Free writing and street smarts. What else will they ever need? Clearly, this teacher is my spirit animal, and I feel like we're gonna be friends in real life. She just doesn't know it yet.

6th PERIOD- LUNCH
Me and my new friends!
(Those aren't their real faces.)
This was the period I'd been dreading most. I mean, in a classroom, the teacher is gonna pick your seat, and if she's even a halfway decent person, she's not gonna stick you off by yourself, and make a spectacle out of you. But the cafeteria...that's the stuff adolescent nightmares are made of. I stopped by the principal's office to grab my salt and pepper shakers from my backpack. Technically, that might've been "against the rules", but what's the worst that could happen? A lunch lady sees me season my food and says, "Stop right there. No. Go think about what you've done." Cuz I can live with that.
Risk and reward, kids. Live large. Take chances.

As I got in line, I realized another "mom student" was a couple people ahead of me. Rejoice. A comrade. I won't eat alone. So I put on my best social game face, struck up a friendly conversation with her, and then all super casual-like, slipped in the idea of maybe possibly we could even sort of sit together? And then I almost peed myself when she said she was planning on sitting with the girls from her class. Hold up. If I just got rejected by someone in my own age bracket, I'm basically screwed. But then, out of nowhere, one of my Math partners came running over and said, "Shari! Do you wanna sit with us?" Maybe it was my dot plot skills, or maybe it was my salt and pepper, but it didn't matter. I was asked if I wanted to be part of a "with us" lunch table.
DO.I.EVERRRRR! And I left that mother in the dust.
Glad I didn't actually pee myself back there, huh?

PLANK TIME- It's true. You don't actually plank.
It's basically another study hall. All my friends at lunch (that's right...all my friends at lunch), filled me in. There are 2 different rooms for Plank Time. One is for the kids who don't have any work they need to get done, so they get to hang out and play cards. The other room is for mandatory homework time, better known as "jail" amongst the students. I was assigned to jail, but I was totally fine with that, because jail was run by my Language Arts Teacher/future new good friend. When I arrived at plank time, she welcomed me to "the room of tranquility." I said, "You know the kids don't call it that, right?" When I saw her smile fade, I knew I'd just stepped in it. She asked, "What do they call it?"

Sh*t.
"Um...jail?"

It's not like we'd become facebook friends or exchanged phone numbers yet, so whatever. I already have like 4 or 5 real life friends and that's a lot, ya know?

Six periods down, two to go. Tune in for the School Mom Conclusion on Thursday, when we doo doo in Choir and learn that acting out persecution in Social Studies is frowned upon...





Thursday, March 22, 2018

School Mom, The Sequel

I feel like this needs to start with an explanation. The real purpose of this exercise was for the school administrators to gain insight through several outside perspectives and then we met with them Monday evening to give them our feedback. Let me be perfectly clear. I loved our school before Monday. No school is perfect, but in my opinion, our school is exceptional. We may not be "acing the state's report card" but who cares? I certainly don't. Our school is operated under a leadership in such a way that we have no school fees, no sports fees, and free preschool. We have full time Resource Officers, who not only offer our students a high level of protection, but also became their friends. We've managed to avoid the political correct crap, and our school has maintained a small town family feel, and our community is better for it. The very fact that they invited us in to participate in this exercise shows a genuine transparency and desire to serve our students to the best of their ability. But after spending an entire school day on the inside, I can now tell you firsthand how much those teachers care about their students, going above and beyond the educational side of things, and doing their best to make sure their physical, social, and emotional needs are covered as well.

So that's where I stand on that, but I'm sure you're well aware that my objective in participating was two-fold...to go beyond my surroundings, go deeper into my personal experiences in those surroundings, and then write about it. You won't see any teachers' or kids' names, partly to respect their privacy, but mainly because this part isn't really about them. These blog entries are strictly pointing out my observations of me in that environment, and then hopefully give us all something to laugh about, and just maybe, you'll come away feeling really smart in comparison.

When we left off, I was walking out the door to 7th grade, with a backpack lovingly packed by Kearstin, with loose leaf paper and several extra firm mechanical pencils, because apparently people don't use regular pencils anymore, and I tend to squeeze a pencil tight, push down harder than necessary, and break a lot of lead. For some reason, I'm not that shocked by this, are you? Then she threw in a couple of big pink erasers "in case you have Math."

I arrived at the office, received my schedule, and the principal was kind enough to keep my back pack in her office so that I wouldn't have to mess with a locker. One less risk of having to kick something is never a bad thing. Then she walked me to my 1st period class and told me it was "Play dough lab." Are you freakin' kidding me? I'll totally rock play dough lab. Then I was seated at a table facing the wall, with zero signs of play dough in sight, and I could feel the stares of kids around the room boring into my back. Cue the flop sweats. Holy crap, I'm 46 years old, and way too cool to be fighting back tears right now because I'm literally living the 7th grade nightmare. The announcements came on and everyone knew to jump up and face the flag for The Pledge Of Allegiance...except me. I was about 4 beats behind. So now they probably think I'm the old lady weirdo and an unpatriotic one at that. I've never felt so judged by 13 year olds in my entire life. Then we all went back to facing the wall. I looked down at my schedule to see that "Play Dough Lab" is spelled "Plato Lab." That cleared up nothing, but it took away all hope of anything good happening in this room. Fifteen minutes into class, I finally leaned over to the girl beside me and whispered, "What is this class?" She whispered back, "Study hall." Study hall? First periodWho does that? So then I sat there staring at the profile of the girl who answered my question while she pretended not to notice. Wait a minute. Is she...??? Could it be...??? Is that my Zumba bestie's daughter??? So I leaned over and whispered again and it was!! SCORE. I made my first 7th grade friend. *Fist bump*
Okay, they don't fist bump here. Cool. Now I know.

2nd PERIOD- SCIENCE
I was late to class. I had to pee and somebody thought it'd be a great idea to put the bathrooms all the way on the other side of the building from the 7th grade wing and 3 minutes goes fast and I'm done explaining myself to you, okay? But the teacher didn't write my name on the board or anything, so that's good, right? I shared a Science table with my new super good friend from Plato and 2 of her super good friends, which means by 8:42am, I had 3 super good friends. They were studying the food chain and we played an interactive game. We each had to draw a piece of paper from a cup to see what energy source we'd be. There were sunflowers, mice, snakes, raccoons, and one cougar. Dear God, I'm a 46 year old woman in a classroom of 13 year olds, please don't let me draw the cougar. I drew a mouse and breathed a sigh of relief. Then we had to walk around the room until it was time to "feed." (Insert images of the Twilight series running through my head here.) If I "ate" somebody, I got 2 energy points. If I got "eaten", I lost 4. Science and Math. That's....um...awesome. *dry heave* In summary, I was a mouse, so I got eaten all the damn time, I found myself armpit deep in negative numbers, had eraser crumbs all over my paper, screwed up my entire chart, and when the teacher looked at me and asked if there was a mouse who'd like to write her numbers on the board, she quickly moved on when I started violently shaking my head back and forth. Bless her.

3rd PERIOD- MATH
Here we go. Don't throw up.
She sat me beside a boy who looked at me like I might've drawn the cougar in Science. The boy in front of me turned and slowly looked back and forth between me and the boy next to me, like maybe it was 'bring your mom to school day' and he missed the memo. I broke the awkward silence and said, "I'm not with him. He probably wants you to know that," and then he silently turned back around, thus making it even more awkward. I have that effect on people. Then they got to choose partners one at a time and guess who was last pick? *Flashback to 1983 kickball in gym class* And because levels of awkward can always get higher, I was paired up with the boy in front of me. But back to Math. I don't wanna toot my own horn or anything, and it should be made clear that all credit goes to the teacher, but after only 50 minutes, I can do a dot plot like a boss. No, seriously. I can differentiate the shape, find the median, and compare the spread of 2 different dot plots, and I can tell you what the outliers are, too, but only if you want. Are you impressed? If not, I feel like you might not be comprehending the magnitude of the situation. "Let's make a dot plot!" said no one in real life, ever. But I told my husband the engineer that I'm gonna find a way to use it. He replied, "I use dot plots all the time at work."
Oh. Em. Gee. I could totally do my husband's job now.

4th PERIOD- ART
If you know how much I suck at Math, you should see me draw things. I single handedly debunk that whole right brain or left brain theory. So Monday we learned how to shade balls. (How was I the only 7th grader in that room snickering?) Technically, it was an orange because the teacher didn't have any balls. (I couldn't make this stuff up if I tried.) He worked hard with me. He traced my balls. (Stop. This is serious.) He labeled one and showed me some various shade techniques. Through no fault of his, mine came out looking like a scribbled boob. I blame the mechanical pencil. (So basically, Kearstin.)
  And that concludes the first half of my day. I had no idea this experience would turn into a trilogy. Stay tuned for the second half of my day when I join the choir 7th period and sneak seasonings into the cafeteria at lunch, because I got a little heads up that the school's Asian Chicken "lacked a little something." I'm trusting that "the little something" isn't anything that salt and pepper can't fix...and maybe President Trump if he gets around to undoing that fiasco.