Tuesday, April 19, 2016

Happy Birthday Beanie, Baby

She's six.  SIX!

There's so very much to say about that. And, per the norm, I simply don't have the time to sit and do a post about it justice.

I want to.  I NEED to. Just not tonight.  My final project calls...:sigh:

I'll leave you with photos of the big six year old.  Or, the not-so-big six year old since she's still a teeny Beanie. ;o)

Sunday, April 17, 2016

"Things Like This Don't Happen Here"

This is the reason I had to have this conversation with my children today.

"If you hear shooting and you're in a store, run for an exit.  Run to the back of the store.  Run out.  Don't wait for me.  Someone will find you and take care of you until I can get to you. If the shooting is in the front of the store run to the back.  If the shooting is at the back of the store, run to the front.  Don't hide, RUN."

Why? Why is this a conversation I should be having with my six (in two days!) and 10 year old??

We were turning onto the little side street that leads to our church driveway and I noticed a bazillion emergency vehicles and police cars (local and state) at the shopping center across the street from our driveway. I noticed police tape around EVERYTHING.  A police officer with an automatic assault rifle was directing everyone to turn into the church drive.

Just as I arrived in the parking lot, my friend Robyn sent me a text informing me of the situation.  Holy Hell.

Lil's still freaked out about it.  This is a grocery we frequent after Mass.  You go in and are doing your shopping, minding your own business and then you're shot and killed.



I still can't believe it.  It's the same way I felt April 16, 2007, when Blacksburg was the scene of even worse violence.  Folks always say, "Things like this don't happen HERE."  And, they don't.  So when they do, it feels even scarier.

Working in a downtown inner-city school, I almost grew to anticipate the violence.  Somehow it lost its ability to shock me.  The day I heard gunshots outside my classroom (in the middle of a reading lesson, mind you), and calmly closed my windows and shades and put my babies in lockdown mode was the day I realized I had been downtown too long.  In what world is that even remotely normal??

Which brings me back to today and my scared girlies.  This sucks, y'all.  It just does.

Sunday, April 10, 2016


Hi, everyone! I'm alive, I promise!  I've been busy with my literacy interventionist job (isn't that a fancy way to say "tutor"?) and school work.  I need to post a bunch of updated photos and write about our adventures but now's not a great time.

You see, we're starting a new regime around these parts.  It involves getting to bed at a reasonable hour and getting up early and getting out and getting fit. It involves taking time away from blue lights and getting good quality sleep.  It's about being good to me. I deserve it!

At this moment, I'm quickly closing in on time to do my bedtime routine.  The goal is to have time to get ready for bed and then five minutes to just sit and meditate and pray.  And then, finally, hop into bed and maybe read for a few minutes.  I need to remember my phone and the folks on it (such wonderful folks who I truly do love and adore) will still be there in the morning, and that they love me and want what's best for me too.

So, I'm off for this evening.  If I don't pick up a sub job tomorrow morning, I can hopefully sit and type and catch up and reflect.  :fingers crossed:

For now, know that all is well.  Spring Break was a beautiful thing and we had time as a family.  What more could I ask for?

Monday, March 07, 2016


The day began innocently enough.  I took a half-day morning sub job for my friend, Stacy.  I ran upstairs to get my cart and prepare to tutor my second graders and K group.

When I was in the middle of my second group of the afternoon, I saw Ellie's teaching assistant and Ellie standing right close by and the assistant waved me over.  

"Ellie has lice.  The nurse found nits and I saw the black bugs moving on the top of her head.  She has to go home."

ARGH!!!!! I've been doing everything in my power to combat the lice situation.  We use tea tree shampoo and conditioner.  I spray their hair with a prophylactic spray. I check for nits nearly every night.  If they scratch, I check it. 

How could she have lice??! I had just checked her Friday evening!! 

I cut my last two groups of the day, grabbed Bitty, and headed for the nurse. There I collected Beanie, dropped my cart off in the dungeon and headed off to the nearest Rite Aid.  

When we got home, I immediately went to Bean's head for a check.  I searched from bottom to top to bottom back up to the top.  I saw nothing.  Not a thing.  She has some short pieces of hair that look sort of nit-like.  She has some shiny spots on her hair shafts that initially looked like nits.  There was a bit of dandruff/dry skin that came right off.  Not nits.

I looked and looked for bugs.  Nary a louse in sight.  Nothing.  There were some black flakes of dirt, but no bugs.  

I then checked Lil just to be certain. 


I'm fairly confident I know what to look for with regards to lice.  I've had them, Hannah had them in Kindergarten, and Lil had them in Kindergarten.  I spent hours combing over their heads removing nits.  There were lice in the tub once we had applied the pesticide.  There were critters to be removed with the comb.  

I treated the girls--just to be on the safe side.  What if I missed something?

There was no evidence of lice anywhere.  

I blew hair dry (heat to kill any potential lingering lice and the nits (I didn't see)) and checked once more.


I'm either blind, or the nurse saw something that simply wasn't there in Beanie's hair.

I'm hoping it was a mistake on nurse's part and not on mine, as it would be so much easier to NOT have to deal with the delousing of my house.  

I'm hoping our regular nurse returns tomorrow so I can have her check the girls to make sure I'm not missing something.


****EDITED 3/8/16****

I was right, I missed NOTHING.  The girls were free and clear of any sort of buggy infestation.  Our regular nurse was back today.  I went in first thing this morning and had her check my babies to be sure I didn't miss something.  I missed nothing.  She confirmed what I already knew.  

Thank goodness!


1.  I do believe spring is on its way!
2.  Morning sub work is a happy thing.
3.  I'm learning quite a bit in my class.
4.  Red wine.  Need I say more?
5.  Brien has been doing so much of the cooking and cleaning lately and I'm SO thankful!  

Wednesday, February 24, 2016


My time with my fifth-grade class is over. My last day was Friday.  

Last Tuesday, the principal approached me and asked if I might be interested in a Title I reading tutor position that had opened up.  It would be every afternoon and run until the end of the year.  "That'll keep you in the building, at least."

Indeed, it will!  I've been missing my fifth graders like crazy.  I had them for four months, every day.  We're ALL happy I'm no longer needed (my teacher is completely cancer-free!  Hallelujah!!), but at the same time, we're all sad, too.  

But, I'm in the building, and that's key.  I'm hoping to pick up morning sub jobs and then move on to tutoring in the afternoon.

I began yesterday, and I'm thoroughly enjoying myself!  I'm working with seven second graders and three Kindergartners across four groups.  It's been fun up until today.



Today was, without a doubt, the scariest moment I've had since Hannah died.  I was working with my last group of kiddos and my phone made that awful "tornado warning" noise.  Then I heard it coming from all the phones in all the classrooms in the pod.

The alert read, "Tornado Warning in this area til 3:00 PM EST. Take shelter now." 

My heart started pounding and I waited for them to call a Tornado Drill.  I waited and waited, for what felt like forever.  I kept trying to act normal for my K kiddos but adrenaline was pouring through my body.  

Then they called it.  

Our school was built into a hillside, meaning from the front it appears to be a single-story building.  In actuality, we're two-story school, which you can see from the back of the school.  All the babies were lined up against that inside wall, in "tornado drill" position--knees tucked up under them, heinies in the air, hands over their heads.

I quickly searched my weather app and saw a tornado had made landfall in Waverly (which is across the James River from us) and that it was seen heading in our direction.

The truth is, in that moment, I was more scared than I had been since the day I couldn't find Hannah.  I couldn't stop shaking and wanting to cry.  I kept looking at all those tiny little bodies (three rows deep against the wall)--somebody's precious baby--and wondering how many I could throw myself on top of if necessary.

They held that postition for close to thirty minutes.  

We practice this drill every October, and the kiddos are always cramping and sore within minutes, feeling like the three to five minutes the drill takes is interminable.  Today was so much longer.

And, those babies?  Troupers, every one of them.  I couldn't have been any more proud.  They were scared.  They could feel the tension rolling off the adults in waves.  We all tried to be calm, but they knew.

I was bending down and rubbing backs.  I whispered words of encouragement. I told them they were incredible and so strong to stay in that cramped position for so long.

 Some cried.  I got that.  Lily cried.  I got that too.  They called me down the hall and told me she needed me.  I crouched over her in a hug and rubbed her back and told her to pray.  She never spoke.  I just kept rubbing her back and hugging her and telling her we were in the safest place we could possibly be.  

Beanie?  The child who can't stay still to save her life apparently CAN.  She got tucked into her tight little ball and didn't move.  For thirty minutes.  I've never seen anything like it.  

I emailed B and Lissie, telling them the situation and that I loved them.

We all just waited.

Lord, it was terrifying.

We waited some more and it became stuffier and stuffier.  We were scared so we started to sweat.  There were some nervous titters.  Some talking.  Many complaints (have you seen https://www.google.com/search?q=tornado+drill+position&espv=2&biw=1280&bih=678&tbm=isch&tbo=u&source=univ&sa=X&ved=0ahUKEwjf_LLz35HLAhVN4WMKHd_rC0wQsAQIGw">the position they have to be in??), and yet, they persevered.

I'm telling you, they were an amazing group of little people.  

When the "all clear" finally came through, there were groans as blood rushed to cramped body parts and little bodies could move once more.  I grabbed Beanie and gave her a quick squeeze, found Lil and hugged her to pieces and we were off about our business once more.  

But oh!  

I was in the school with my girls.  I had a visual on both of them.  I couldn't imagine being a parent with a baby at a school and not having them with me.  I knew we were safer in that school than we would be in our house. In fact, I'd go out on a limb and say the majority of the kiddos in our school were safer there than in their homes--so few of us have basements in this area.  And yet, the school was crowded with parents who had raced to get their babies--and I understood why.  

It's been a hell of a day.  I'm tired.  I'm emotionally drained and physically exhausted.  All I want to do is sit and cry--because I have to get the emotions out somehow.  Instead, I'll sit and do school work (I have Reading Records to analyze and word cards to cut out) and homework. 

Then, I'll sit and process. 

Wednesday, February 10, 2016

Still Alive

Brien's been in Florida for a week.  I've been in class for a week.  I'm handling it all juuuuuust fine.  I just miss sleep...:o(  I'm up until close to midnight most evenings as I can finally get into a state of flow after the girls have gone to bed and the kitchen is cleaned--around 8:30 or 9:00.  Assuming I work until 11:00 on school work, by the time I get all the dogs crated, the cats taken care of, and my bedtime routine stuff done, it's late

I forgot what it's like to be without sleep.  I miss it.  I hope to find it again soon...

The class is interesting so far.  It's using Google Apps in the classroom.  Last week was researching all the different bookmarking tools available.  This week, we're learning Gmail and Calendar.  I'm chuckling about Calendar because I'm putting everything from the GBBOE into electronic form.  The irony is, I switched from electronic to paper because it was just easier (and there was nothing to freak out about if technology failed me). 

As I worried about with an online class, there's just a lot of material to cover in fairly short period of time so I'm trying to find time to pack it all in. 

As for my employment, my teacher (the one I'm subbing for/with) is doing amazingly well!  She'll have surgery Monday and I'll sub for her until Friday.  That's it.  After that, I'll be in there when she needs me in a hit-or-miss fashion (waiting to see what happens with the radiation), so I'm at sixes and sevens right now.  What am I going to do???  I've been with them since October!  I'm going to miss my babies.  And, well, I need a job.  I'm going to try to just keep subbing in the building, but it's not going to be the same.  :o(  Change is hard. 

But, on the flipped side, I'm SO thrilled my teacher is better!  I knew this day would come, but back in October, February seemed so far away!

Now? I'm off to cook some dinner. Brien was supposed to stay through Friday, but is coming home early this evening.  He was going to surprise me, but decided I needed to know in case the plane crashed.  Lovely.  :oP I am keeping it a surprise from the girls. 

To that end, I'd love to have hot fish tacos awaiting him.  :o)


1.  Lil's playing recorder and El's singing along.  Not so bad...:oS 
2.  I ran into Edie at the grocery this evening!  Lordy I've missed her!
3.  Fish tacos--nice, easy dinner.
4.  Brien's coming home NOW!!!

Monday, February 01, 2016

What Have I Gotten Myself Into??

When I quit teaching to stay home with Beanie, I knew, without a doubt, that I was finished.  Done.  I had NO desire to go back into any classroom and there was no way in hell you'd ever see me step foot inside an elementary school unless it had to do with my children's education.

I was so so finished. 

I was burnt out and with that knowledge (and the fact I had a practically newborn baby), I did not pursue the renewal of my teaching license.  Oh, I had all my 180 recert points.  All I lacked was a college class, but, since there was no way I was going back to teaching I didn't care.

There was, however, a flaw in my plan.  You see, just as I knew (knew!) I was meant to be a mother, I'm also meant to be a teacher. 

I can run from it.  I can gripe about the state of education (across the board, public, private, it doesn't matter), I can get up on my soapbox and preach it, I can try to hide from it, but it finds me. 

Let's think for just a minute, what did I do in the intervening years?  Hm.

1. I taught (and continue to do so) Religious Ed to a bunch of Kindergartners nearly every Sunday during the school year.

2.  I taught swimming lessons.

3.  I taught home preschool.


See a theme there?

And now, what am I doing?  I'm teaching.  Dammit.

I've stopped running.  I've stopped hiding.  I'm listening to God and accepting what I've known since I was a second grader setting up my own "classroom" of stuffed animals and an unwilling little sister.  I'm meant to be a teacher. 


Remember that paragraph up there about a lapsed teaching license?  Yeah.  That's come to bite me in the butt.  I can't be considered "highly qualified" if I don't have that piece of paper, so I have to take two college classes to apply for recertification. 



Okay, now that that's out of my system... My first class begins tomorrow.  I'm taking an online course through UVA-WISE (I don't want to hear it, Hokies, I KNOW!!) and I'm a nervous wreck.  The last time I took a class was 2005 and it was in person.  I'm not certain about this online class thing. 

I just got B through his master's.  All online.  He worked incessantly.  All the time.  No breaks.  All homework all the time.  WAAAAAHHHHH!!

To make things even more exciting, he's TDY for the next two weeks.  Wheeee!!

But, I'm me and I can do hard things.  I've done them before and I'll do them in the future.  I have Lissie's blood beating in my veins.  If she could work full time as a fourth grade teacher, single parent two toddlers and go to school for her master's and graduate with a 4.0, I sure as hell can do one piddly little online class.

I think...


So, if I'm really MIA, you know what's going on. 


1.  So, those herbal supplements... I ran out.  I can tell you, without a doubt, they work for me.  B agrees.  (I ordered a "refill", they were delivered Jan. 22, but not to MY mailbox...argh!)

2.  The ability to take online classes which allows flexibility when your spouse is TDY and your children are not quite old enough to stay home by themselves for three hours.  

3.  Inexpensive college courses.

4.  New vacuums.  Our old Dyson is almost 14 years old.  It still works, but not like it once did and we've been gimping it along quite a bit.  The new one?  OMStars!

5.  The woman I'm subbing for's cancer is GONE!!  She still will have surgery and radiation, but no signs of the cancer on her MRI.  Hallelujah!!!

6.  Lil's plantation project is finished and turned in!

No milestones.