Monthly Archives: March 2013

Trying to Explain Holy Week to My Child

My family and I are regular church attendees. Granted, I get paid to go to church, but even if I didn’t we’d probably be there all the time anyway.

When it comes to explaining Christianity to my daughter, the Christmas Story is easy. So are the stories of Moses, and Noah, and Jonah. They are kid-friendly (if you lightly breeze over the multitudinous death in the first two). They have chases and near-death experiences and bad guys. They make for good Veggietales material.3-crosses

The Crucifixion and resurrection are a little harder. As a result of my efforts, the following, less-than-successful conversations have occurred this week between me and my 6yo:

Last evening before heading to Maundy Thursday service:

6yo: Why do I have to sit through church on a Thursday?

Me: Because it’s Holy week, and Jesus died for our sins.

6yo: But it’s going to be so BORING!

Me: (snapping at her) if Jesus hung on a cross, you can handle sitting through 45 minutes of church!


Concerning the Last Supper and Communion:

Me: At the Last Supper, Jesus told his disciples he was going to die. Then, he gave them bread and wine to eat.

6yo: Why?

Me: Well, he broke the bread and said it was like how his body will be broken for us.

6yo: Who broke him?

Me: The Romans who crucified him.

6yo: What was the wine for?

Me: It represents the blood that spilled when he died?

6yo: (excitedly) You mean, when they put nails in his hands and blood spurted everywhere?

Me: Um, yes. Exactly.


Concerning Christ’s Suffering:

Me: On Good Friday, we remember how Christ died a painful death for our sins.

6yo: What do you mean, painful?

Me: Well, after being beaten, he hung on the Cross for eight or nine hours.

6yo: Nine Hours! That’s not long at all!

Me: What?! That’s terribly painful.

6yo: I don’t think it’s very long.

Me: Whatever….You know how you don’t like it when Daddy holds you upside down for even a couple seconds? How it makes you uncomfortable? Imagine getting beaten up, having nails hammered into your hands and feet and then hanging on a cross for several hours.

6yo: You mean they hung Jesus upside down?

Me: (exasperated) No, they didn’t….I just mean he was very uncomfortable, like when Daddy holds you upside down and you scream and cry, except much, much worse.

6yo: I still don’t think 8 hours is very long.

Me: (sigh)





I Shouldn’t Have to Watch You Chew

People chewing with their mouths open are like nails on a chalkboard to me.

I’ve been with grown, professional, educated people who can’t eat without making a gross spectacle of themselves.

So, I guess it shouldn’t be surprising that I just don’t understand gum chewing.  I know some people use it as stress relief or to satiate a desire to chew while they are trying to cut down on their eating.  Otherwise, chewing for the sake of chewing seems a strange habit to me. photo (13)

I don’t allow gum chewing in my classroom – not because it’s against the rules (and it is) – but because I lead fifty students or more in singing at once and I don’t know the Heimlich maneuver.  Outside of rehearsals, I tend to ignore the subtle, closed-mouth gum chewers.  As a teacher, I’ve more important fish to fry.  But, so help me, if a student sits there doing an impression of a cow chewing her cud while I’m trying to teach……It’s so distracting that I must do something about it.

I’ve reached the point in my career that I can be carrying on a class activity, spot a student smacking away, walk over to the garbage can, carry the can over to the student who is chomping  obliviously, hold it out to catch the gum as they spit it out and put the can back in its place without taking so little as a pause in the lesson.  Today, however, something happened that completely stopped me in my tracks.

It was near the end of class when I heard a really loud POP!  I looked in the direction of the sound and saw a red-faced girl covering her mouth.  It was the loudest gum pop I’ve heard in a long time and, while I was impressed, I still told her to spit it out.  She made no objections, but the girl next to her whined, “aaawww….that’s not fair!  She’s been working on that piece the whole weekend!”


People outside of Roald Dahl books actually do that?

“Where on earth do you keep it?” I asked with shock.

“I just put it back in the container.” She said, nonchalantly.

The remaining few minutes of class were spent discussing bacteria growth and the dangers of chewing used bubble gum.

Surprisingly, a 5-minute Google search did not reveal a study backing up my disgust.  I did, however, find an ad on Ebay selling Brittany Spears’s used chewing gum.

Good Grief.

Facing Facts


This evening, the kids and I were having dinner at my parents’, when I started doing some math in my head.

“You know,” I said. “By the time the baby graduates from high school, I’ll be 51 years old.”

“Wow!” my dad joked to my 6yo daughter.  “You’re mommy will be OLD!”

“Yeah!” she said, laughing.  “…and Nana will be DEAD!”


I scolded her softly for saying such a thing, but my mom chimed in that “she’s probably right, and I’m just glad to be able to see her now when she’s six!”

I guess I take for granted the fact that both of my grandmothers are still alive.  They’ve watched me graduate (three times), get married, become a teacher, and have babies.  I try not to think about my parents dying.  Despite the fact that it hasn’t been that long that my mom has been in remission from ovarian cancer, I mentally avoid the subject altogether.  Perhaps, for me, thinking about how thankful I should be that she’s still around means I have to think about when she won’t be.  It’s easier to just imagine that she’s not going anywhere — that she’ll be there for my kids’ graduations, weddings, and babies.

It surprised me that my daughter, who normally is devastated by such thinking, was so flippant about the subject.  It did not, however, surprise me that my mom was very gracious about it.  It’s easy for me to pretend she’ll always be fine, but she is a realist and a very loving grandmother who appreciates the time she gets to spend with her kids.



Morning Mommy Blunder

This morning, my natural inclination to be a control freak overruled my desire for my daughter to learn to make her own decisions.DSC_0017

Here’s how it went down:

6yo: (carrying her chosen outfit into the room where I was dressing the baby) this is what I picked out for today. (Holds up a shirt and pants with stripes that absolutely don’t match).

Me: Oh, honey, I think probably you should wear one of those, but not both of them together.

6yo: Why not? They both have stripes! Look, they both have red stripes and green stripes and pink stripes.

Me: Yes, but they’re not the same shade.  It’s just too much.

6yo: But I REALLY want to wear them together.

Me: (Sighing)….well, why don’t you put them on and we’ll see how they look.

6yo puts them on and the combination of stripes kind of makes my brain hurt.

Me: Oh, honey…. (losing the ability to hold my tongue)…..that looks ridiculous!

6yo begins to tear up.

Me: (feeling bad now) Ok. Why don’t you go look in the mirror and if you like it and really want to wear it that’s fine with me.

6yo looks into the mirror and the tears start to silently fall. 

Me: (knowing I should’ve just let it go) If it’s really important to you that you wear them, I’m fine with that.  You wear whatever you want. Really.

6yo shakes her head. She knows it looks ridiculous, but is crushed that I ruined for her what she thought was a nice outfit.  I’m crushed that I’ve broken a small piece of her spirit this morning, yet relieved that she won’t be leaving the house looking like a circus clown.  Also, I feel purely evil.

I’m not sure who I was protecting more – her or me (probably me) from the thoughts in her teachers’ heads (that I would never hear anyway) saying “why would her mother let her wear that?” In fact, if I had just let her go, they might even have thought “Oh, I’ll bet she picked that outfit out herself – good for her!”  I can’t even say why it matters to me what other people think.  My child is clean and well-fed and a good, responsible student.  Who cares if her outfit may cause seizures?  Well, maybe people who have stripe-induced seizures, but I don’t think she goes to school with anyone like that.

I really do try to avoid being a helicopter parent.  Often, like today, I fail.  Logically, I know it’s good for our kids to fail and learn to deal with failure.  Like most Moms, though, I just want to protect my kids.  Still, I don’t think protecting them from clashing stripes is a noble endeavor.  In the future, I’ll try to just let stuff like that go.





There’s a Snake in My Boot!

Ok, well, not a snake.  A rock.  You know that feeling when you’ve gotten a pebble stuck into the tread of your shoe, so it makes you feel like your legs are two different lengths and you have to stop and pull it out because it’s like the princess and the pea, except for with shoes?

This was not like that.  This rock was the size of a medium brownie:photo (12)

Apparently, when I got out of the car at the bus stop to pick up my girl, this monstrosity got wedged in between the heel and toe of my boot (pictured here, sans rock):photo (11)

I managed to drive home, unload groceries, put them away, hug the little man, and use the bathroom without even noticing the rock.  It wasn’t until I sat down to unzip my boot that I noticed an extra part of my boot I didn’t recognize.  For a moment, I had no idea what it was.  Once I realized it was a rock the size of Rhode Island, I immediately decided to leave it there to show Jim, at which point it promptly unlocked itself (of course).

It’s a good thing I saved it and documented it with photos, because Jim never believes the minor details of any of my stories.  Apparently, I am an exaggerator and it runs in my family.  He says whenever I give a number to describe something that happens he mentally cuts it in half to get a better idea of the actual measurement. If I say I waited two hours, he knows it was only one.  If I say a speeding car was going 90, he cuts it back to at least 50. On the other hand, if I say I ate two slices of pizza, he automatically bumps it up to 3.  If my brother is telling the story, he cuts the total measurement down to about 30%.

His exaggeration conversion formula was absolutely unnecessary in this instance however, because I saved the rock to show him.  He was duly impressed.

I’m So Not Crafty, and It’s OK

I am not a crafty mom.

It’s not because I can’t be crafty, it’s because I just don’t like doing crafts.  Yeah right, you’re probably thinking, she’s probably lousy at them.  Just to prove I’m not, here’s a picture of a dress I made out of duct tape for a contest I entered with my girl (we won a hula-hoop!):280544_243742302310187_3199284_o

Here’s another picture of bumble bee cupcakes I made for her birthday at school (I was on maternity leave at the time):DSC_0458

See? Craft skills abound.

Every once in a while I get inspired, but not often.  I click through blogs of moms who make all sorts of crafts with their kids, from unique artwork to homemade holiday cards.  Everything cute and homey and photographed like it’s being featured in a parent’s magazine. Um….yeah, I don’t do that.

I buy my kids’ Halloween Costumes online.  I pick up holiday decorations at the grocery store as I walk by them.  I purchase picture frames at the dollar store and (gasp!) I don’t decoupage them.  Really.  I just put the pictures in and set them on the shelf.  Just like that.  I know… I’m an awful, lazy mom.

And yet, my daughter loves to make crafts on her own.  I used to worry, if I didn’t foster my kids’ imaginations, they wouldn’t develop them.  Turns out, I’m not the sole determining factor in whether or not my kids turn out ok.  Apparently, they have imaginations that didn’t have to come from hours of finger painting and homemade hand-puppet shows.  What a relief.  It’s enough work making sure they get bathed more than once a week.

I love looking at other people’s blogs.  I’m also not knocking crafty moms – I admire the dedication it takes to organize crafts regularly. It’s hard, though, to not compare yourself to other women and say “Why don’t I do that with my kids? What’s wrong with me?”

Well, there are lots of things wrong with me, but not being a crafty mom isn’t one of them.

My New Favorite Blog

Whenever I’m feeling blah or sad, if I head over to, I can count on laughing out loud.  Recently, I found a blog that does the same thing for me.

Currently, I don’t think there is a blog I like more than The Bloggess.  The Bloggess is written by Jenny Lawson, whose first book Let’s Pretend This Never Happened has become a bestseller.  She’s witty, funny, and completely original, which is why I love her blog.  Her book is the first one I’ve read in a long time that makes me laugh hard enough that it bothers my husband while he’s trying to sleep.

I don’t know her, and I’ve never met her, but I imagine I’d really like her. I absolutely recommend you check out her blog.  If you’re sensitive to foul language and talk about bodily functions, be warned.  I think it’s totally worth it.

How the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles Make Me Feel Old


The other day, I was talking to some friends of mine.  They are both male and both are teachers, although they haven’t been teaching long.   I’m guessing they are in their mid-20s.  At one point in the conversation, I realized they are probably at least 10 years younger than me, which is fine – I don’t have hang-ups about my age.  What we figured out next, within the context of our conversation, however, was utterly shocking to me.  These two, professional grown men were not alive when the first television run of Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles first aired.  I had never imagined a day when grown adults would be younger then Leonardo, Raphael, Michelangelo and Donatello.  It’s absurd.  Can the TMNT really be that old?  Can I?

I remember being nine-years-old and watching every day of the 5-episode mini-series that was the first airing of TMNT.  After that, I didn’t really care too much about them, but that first week was something special.  There was suspense, drama, action, and an evil brain (named “The Brain”) that lived in the belly of an animated, giant, bald man-type thing.  My brother and I spent the weekend playing out various plot-lines in our grandparents’ back yard.  It was everything a bad children’s Saturday morning cartoon should be, except it aired every day for a week.

Like He-Man, Rainbow Brite, and Alf, the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles bring me instant nostalgia.  I can accept the fact that my students don’t know who the Smurfs are.  But to think that grown men couldn’t have experienced the birth of the TMNT in the sewers that winter, simply because they weren’t alive, is unfathomable.    If I go the hospital any time soon and the doctor there doesn’t get a Doogie Howser joke, I may have to walk next door to rent a room at the nursing home.


How (I Think) We’ll Survive Daylight Savings Time


I love Daylight savings time when it’s in the fall.  It used to fall on the weekend of my birthday, which was extra awesome.  Now, it falls a week later and (despite it probably being on someone else’s birthday) it’s less awesome, but still wonderful.   I cannot count the times I’ve said “I could really used another hour or two in a day” and once a year the calendar gods smile down upon me and say “here you go.”  Of course, I usually waste it watching TV or playing games on my phone, but still – it’s an extra hour!

Alas, there must always be balance in the universe so, four months later, that extra hour gets yanked away from me.  Right in the middle of what is likely the most depressing time of the year in Pennsylvania, when everything is gray and bleak and you still need your winter coat, the calendar gods say “Ha! You thought you finally got your kids onto a great sleeping schedule.  Well, try this on for size.”  The following five to seven days then become the longest week of rough mornings in the entire year.  Imagine 6-year-olds who normally have to wake up by 6am on most days suddenly having to wake up at 5am instead, while their bodies are set to go to sleep at 9pm instead of 8.  The tears and gnashing of teeth, along with the brutal wars about why tights can’t be worn as pants and why, just because a pair of pants and a shirt are both blue, it doesn’t mean they match at all are tales that should one day be included in epic poetry.

The key to avoiding all this (I think, at least, because it’s still Sunday) is to wear your kids out so badly that they can’t even stay awake long enough to argue that it’s still light out at 7pm.  Thankfully, today was simply gorgeous outside (unlike the usually PA Saturday in March).  After getting up on time (but really an hour early) for church, we took the kids out to lunch and grocery shopping, followed by several hours playing outside.  We ended the evening with a picnic outdoors (although by then there were some winter coats involved).  Our little guy was so tired that he passed out while nursing by 6:30!  We’re still working on the other kid, but I imagine she won’t be far behind.

Of course, it’s not tomorrow morning yet.  Maybe we’ll pick out outfits and make lunches before bedtime.  That way, I can dress her in her sleep and carry her to the car.  She should wake up just in time for the Pledge of Allegiance.  I better send a toothbrush with her, I guess.

And That’s News Because…..?


About a week ago, our local paper (which I refuse to pay for because it’s trash, but read for free in the school library) featured a story on the front page about Disney World.  Now, this is a local paper, but tries to be hard-hitting with their news stories.  It’s not one of those cutsie small-town papers that features columns listing that Mr. And Mrs. Albert Brown went out for dinner at the Golden Egg with Elsie Ticklemeyer after church last Sunday (yes, there are papers like that).  Our paper loves to cover the front page with local school board scandals, meth house busts, and pictures of accused criminals flipping the bird to the camera as they walk into the county courthouse for their hearings.

This story was none of those things.  Instead, it was an account of a trip to Disney World from a dad/reporter that 1) had never been there before and 2) didn’t want to go there in the first place.  In the end, he decided it wasn’t that bad. No, he didn’t win the trip.  No, none of his children had leukemia and had been given a trip by the Children’s miracle network.  Nope, instead some guy went on vacation with his kids and didn’t hate it.  That’s some front-page worthy news for you.

Perhaps a better, more useful and less insipid article could have been written by a dad whose family travels to Disney all the time and knows how to do it on a budget; or perhaps a mom who knows all the secrets of where the best hidden Disney World treasures can be found.   It’s no secret to anyone who knows me that I love Disney World and I have been there several times throughout my life.  Maybe this skewed my perspective.

If I actually paid for the paper, I’d be more annoyed.   Maybe the next time I go to the beach, I can write an article for the paper about how there is sand there and sometimes I buy water ice, even though it’s overpriced.  Or maybe I’ll just write about it here and save everyone the trouble of actually reading it.