Thursday, May 31, 2012

Summer 2012: Week 1

In the past several years, I've attempted to do a 'days of summer' count type of thing here on the blog. But it always ends up getting frustrating if I miss a day here & there and lose count. So this year, I'm switching it up & will just count the weeks. My attempt to count the days was always in response to this song, the theme song to one of my kids' favorite shows. (And I must admit, I love it, too!)

One week ago today, the kids attended their last days of school. I had to return on Friday and again on Tuesday to finish up my inservice days, but I, too, am done now.

On Sunday evening (5/27), we delivered the girls to my parents' house. They spent the night & then embarked on a week long trip, headed west. They are having a ball! They've been to Colorado to see Royal Gorge and Focus on the Family (and other things, but I think those two were my girls' favorite stops!). Tonight they're somewhere in Kansas heading toward home.

Samuel, being an only child all week, has been really soaking up the Mama time! Although he's had to stay home alone a few times while I worked, he's done great with that & has shown some real responsibility and maturity. I'm proud of him! We've been feeding a friend's dog, turtle and aquarium full of fish all week and he's really enjoyed getting to do that, knowing that the majority of what we earn doing so will be his! (It's week while he's gone to camp, the girls & I are taking care of someone else's pet & they will get the bulk of that money!) Today after work, I took him to run some errands and we ended up at a local business that sells truck lift kits, some sporting goods items and just, well...all sorts of BOY stuff. I laughed walking through the store because I had no idea what most of their items were. He loved it, though, so we looked at everything and picked up an Army recruiter's brochure (he swears that's what he's doing after High School) before we left. In their parking lot they had an old Jeep, a tractor built in the 1800's, some boats that people had parked there to sell and an assortment of other "boy" things. He relished this time, with no girls in tow (but mom!), to climb into boats & tractors and look at deer blinds and hunting gear and grills that he will never buy to put on a some imaginary truck. Gotta love living in the mind of a 12 year old boy.

And on that note, I found this when I got home today. Sometimes, as the mom of a boy, it's better for me not to ask questions....but I laughed when I found this.

As I have done for the past several summers, today I re-joined the teachers at the preschool where I spent several years teaching. It was a great first day back! I had five kids (one was absent) who will all be 3 years old in the Fall or early in the Spring of 2013. They are a tad younger than the kids I used to teach when I worked there, but I loved it! I just love being there. The environment, the staff, the other teachers, the's just really sweet to feel "at home" in a workplace. I know (that I know that I know) God has moved me for this season of life to my other "regular" job (the one I hold for the school year) for a purpose. I am enjoying it and love what I do. But I sure do miss teaching preschool full time. One day, if God is willing, I will be back. Until then, I will relish the memories I am making at my regular job and enjoy these days here and there where I can get a "fix" of little ones.

Tomorrow we start the 2nd week of summer. How quickly the first week has flown by! I am anxious to see what all is in store for these hot, humid days of this Texas summer.

Friday, May 25, 2012

And we wonder why.......

I was standing in line at the check out tonight in Walmart and noticed something that really made me sad.

The first thing I saw was this.

Really? We, as a nation, call this ok? In what other place would it be OK to publicly point out all the flaws on another person's body? And worse, why do we think it's alright to point out flaws on a body that is perfectly fine? Since when is a size 4 butt TOO BIG? Good Lord. Is it any wonder that young women think they're fat when they weigh 98 lbs?

And the ironic and sad thing is that magazine was sitting no more than 2 feet from this.

Is it any wonder that we have a nation of people with eating disorders, drug problems (self-medicating their depression due to a poor self image) and obesity?

Sigh. My heart breaks seeing stuff like this!

Thursday, May 24, 2012

A very fond farewell

Today I wrote this letter to the teachers, staff, principals, music teachers & all the others I could think of who have been a part of my 3 kids' lives for the past umpteen years as they all went through the elementary schools in our little town. There are a few who have moved away, retired or are otherwise unreachable now, so I'm posting it here in hope that they will find it & read it some day. More about today after the letter. (slightly edited for posting here to protect our safety!)

Today is my youngest daughter's last day of Elementary School. I can hardly believe how quickly all three of our kids have passed through the ___ elementary system. Seems like only yesterday our oldest (who will be a Junior in the Fall) was starting Kindergarten and I was crying my way back to the car, astounded that she was big enough for this huge milestone.

Today my youngest moves on from "little girl" to "young lady". Today she ends one chapter of her life & begins a new one, full of new adventures that are going to rock her world.

Today is my last day to be a part of the ____ elementary family. We've been at (names of several campuses) over the years, but the last several have been at (name of last campus). I've served in many different capacities with the PTO and have loved that time so much! I've become close friends with many of my childrens' teachers and have remained close all these years later. (Thank goodness for Facebook & email!)

As our family embarks on the first year with only older kids, I am reminded of just how QUICKLY it all goes by. I know you do this year after year and you will be able to walk out of the building this afternoon to enjoy your freedom & quiet time that summer brings. But please know that you have each made a huge difference in the life of my children and for that, I am forever grateful. When we drive out of the parking lot today, we will look forward to the relaxation & sweetness of summer too, but we'll look over our shoulders as we drive away one last time & wave goodbye to the elementary years with great memories & lots of love.

Thank you for loving my children through these years. You may not hear it often enough, but please know that the R family appreciates you!!
Larry & Liz R, parents of Savannah, Samuel & Sarah

Today was truly bittersweet. Leaving behind this season of life (the season of having children young enough for elementary) is a big milestone. I thought I would handle it all pretty well, but the campus where Sarah attends has this sweet tradition that I got to witness today for the first time. It was probably especially poignant for me today because this was a 'last'.

Our elementary campuses hold Pre-K through 5th grade. On the last day of school, the 5th graders all line up in the hallway outside their classrooms and the rest of the school ---students, teachers, office staff, everyone(!) lines the halls to wave goodbye. They play sweet (read: tear-jerking, sad!) music over the speakers while the kids take a farewell walk through the school. They are able to hug their past teachers, wave goodbye to younger friends and just basically see all of the school for one last time. When the kids lined up this morning, all of the moms ran ahead & got the cameras ready to snap pictures & take video (and cry).

I knew it was going to be a tear-jerker, but wow.... the tears poured down my cheeks as the very first song began. It was "You've Got a Friend in Me" from Toy Story. As it ended, "I Hope You Dance" came on. The "big kids" walked down the halls, getting high fives from the littler ones, waving to everyone as they walked--their own special sort of parade. The P.E. teachers were ready with cans of silly string & quickly emptied them on all these kids who they have loved since they were tiny.

A couple of the other moms and I made a quick run to the other side of the campus to see them make their final lap before returning to their classrooms and that's when I really got weepy. This last circle of the building was where all the Pre-K kids were lined up to wave goodbye to the kids. The Pre-K kids were tiny compared to the 5th graders! They were SO excited to get to high five the "big kids" as they came past. Oh my soul....weren't our big 5th graders JUST 4 years old? It was yet another reminder about blinking and missing things. How quickly it goes by!

Enjoy these pictures of the 5th grade farewell walk. Just sing the Toy Story song in your head as you look through these. You may need a Kleenex before you get to the end!

(You can see Sarah in this one---brown shorts & long hair)
My heart is full tonight. My sweet kids went from looking like this on the first day of school this year...... this on the last day of school. My, how they've grown.

Wednesday, May 23, 2012


Last May, Sarah was in the 4th grade spelling bee. She got 2nd place. Since that day, she has said that she wanted to win the 5th grade spelling bee! Within the first couple weeks of school this year, she told her teachers that she'd been in the 4th grade bee & wanted to be in it this year. They just laughed because that was MONTHS away & she was already hopeful to be in it. As recently as 3 weeks ago, her teacher told me that Sarah asked every day who would be in the spelling bee but they had not picked anyone yet. She thought it was funny that Sarah was SOOO pumped about it even before it was on the school calendar. So needless to say, there has been this huge build up 'til today in her little mind.

About 2 weeks ago, she came home and announced that she'd been chosen from her class to be in the spelling bee. There were 3 kids per class (5 classes represented) so she was in the top 15 spellers for the entire grade, which is already a cool honor. We have practiced all the words nightly in preparation for this day, but for the last couple of days her nerves have threatened to get the best of her, always messing up on simple words that I know she knows. This morning when she stepped onto the stage, she fidgeted & rocked & twisted her hair throughout the whole program. I was SO worried that she'd miss a word and fall apart on stage in front of the whole 5th grade class & all their parents.

In the end, it came down to her & 1 other little girl. The other little girl froze on a word & blurted out the wrong 1st letter. In their bee, you can re-start if you freeze mid-way through the word, but you must repeat the same letters you've already said--you can't change them to make a correction, you can only start over. So right away, this little girl knew that there was no way to recover on the word she messed up on. She just mumbled some letters & stepped out of the way & it became Sarah's word.

Now here's the cool part. On the way to school this morning, we were talking about the spelling bee. Sam & Savannah were arguing over the correct spelling of raccoon. One of them thought it was 1 C, the other thought it was 2 Cs, so Sarah pulled out her spelling list to show them! And wouldn't you know it? RACCOON is the word the little girl messed up on! I think it's soooo cool for God to have worked out that little detail because she stepped up to the microphone & nailed it!

WooHoo!!!!!!!!!!!!! First place, baby!!!! She is one proud little girl today!!

After the spelling bee, the 5th grade teachers handed out awards. Sarah got Perfect Attendance, Library award (no idea what this is---maybe she was best behaved while in the libary?), Best Math grade in her class, Citizenship for her class & A Honor Roll. But you better believe it's this little bobble head bee trophy that she's most proud of.

Saturday, May 19, 2012

Oh Rats!

I grew up in the country. Our 6 acres was cut out of the middle of a million wooded acres, so it’s no surprise that we were always dealing with some sort of wild animal or pest. There were raccoons & opossums, snakes & scorpions, an occasional wild cat or dog or wolf. It was mostly a very peaceful life, though. Maybe because my parents dealt with all the wild creatures that roamed onto our land & I was able to remain blissfully ignorant to some degree?

I’m sure that once in a while my parents must have encountered a mouse or a rat, but I really don’t remember seeing them. I definitely remember scorpions and snakes and all the animals that my dad shot & carried off the carcass. But, no mice or rats. I recall that mom once told me about going out on the back porch to put some scraps from dinner in the dog’s bowl and she found a mouse eating the dog food. She said she whacked him on the head with the spoon she was holding at the time & then picked it up by the tail & tossed the dead mouse into the woods at the back of our yard. I must’ve not thought much of it, or wasn’t too creeped out by it, but that may be because I didn’t have to see it or deal with it myself. Of all the things I did see, I simply don’t remember mice or rats ever being an issue at our house.

So when I encountered my first mouse in the house early on in my grown up life of marriage & parenthood, I was completely terrified. We began to see ’evidence’ of a mouse in our bathroom closet. My husband showed me how to set a mouse trap without snapping my fingers & we waited. One day while my husband was working a 24 hour shift, I heard it pop. Knowing that I couldn’t leave it until the next day (I imagine it would be really gross & stinky by then), I realized I’d have to deal with the trap and the dead mouse. I didn’t want to be anywhere near it, dead or alive, and the idea of touching a dead mouse grossed me out to no end! So I gathered my supplies --- 2 Walmart sacks, one inside the other, a long handled spatula and a pair of oven mitts. You better believe that when I scooped up the trap & threw it into the sacks, spatula & all, I ran as fast as my chubby legs could carry me to the trash can outside, tying the top of the bag along the way. Fortunately that’s the only mouse we ever dealt with at that house.

A few years later, we lived in a tiny little rent house. That is, a tiny rent house that was overrun with mice & rats! Gag!! The rats only showed up in the garage, thank goodness, but the garage was home to our washer & dryer so I had to go out there ALL THE TIME. I had never seen a rat in person (outside of a cage!) until I saw the ones living there. I swear they were the size of small cats. I remember spotting one for the first time in between the washer & dryer, munching away on a chunk of lint. I went screaming back into the house & didn’t do laundry for days!!! When I finally did, I made my husband come into the garage with me because I was too terrified to be out there alone with them. When we started seeing mice in the house, I pulled out the old reliable traps & set them like a pro, even learning a trick about sewing a piece of raisin to the trap so the sneaky mice couldn't grab the bait & run off with it! (Trust me, it works like a charm!!) But when we caught one, I’d put a big mixing bowl over it so I wouldn’t have to look at it and waited for my husband to get home from work. He’s just laugh when he saw the bowls set out that way, knowing exactly what it meant. He loved to taunt me with the dead little bodies. While I much prefer a dead mouse or rat to a live one, I really don’t want to see either!

And so, it’s no surprise that when Samuel came into the house last week and told me that there were some rats in the backyard, I flipped out. He had seen them run out from under our dog’s house when he went out to play in the yard. Just the idea of these little creatures living anywhere near us creeped me out. Upon investigating, we realized that these rats were living in the neighbor’s backyard & coming over for a little snack bar event at the dog’s food bowl. Apparently there is a healthy sized population of them in the neighbor's yard (a rent house that is a little overgrown & not always the most well-kept). When I stood in my bathroom that afternoon, watching one after another of these gross little animals walking up to the dog's bowl, climbing up to take a piece of food & then wander back to their home yard, I knew we had to take action of some kind. But what could I do from inside the house---you know, FAR away from those gross things?!

I did what every internet-savvy girl would do. I posted on Facebook! Ha ha! And true to form, my FB friends gave me all sorts of suggestions. The smartest one was to move the dog’s food indoors for the time being and then deal with the rats. The idea was that if we took away their food source, they would go away. It made sense, so we’ve given it a shot. (Well, that & we set out poison in places where Daisy can’t get to it. The neighbor put poison in his yard as well.) We know that setting out poison for the rats, even if our dog can’t get to it, is a risk. If one of the rats dies in our yard & Daisy tries to eat it (ewwwwwww), she could potentially get sick or die from the poison as well. I hate to even have to take that risk, but the truth is, there’s no way to run off, catch, or scare away that many rats without just killing them. And poison is the only way to do that. So we’re just crossing our fingers and praying that Daisy’s tummy is plenty full & she has no need to go snacking on a dead rat!

Fortunately, we’re on day 4 now of having Daisy as a breakfast guest indoors and we’re not seeing the rats anymore. In fact, by day 2 we quit seeing the gross little neighborhood guests in the backyard. I find it hard to believe that all of the rats had already eaten the poison & died that quickly, but I suppose it's possible that they're truly gone by now. I would like to return Daisy’s food to the great outdoors as some point, but until we’re positive about the rats, I’m holding off. We’ve been searching every day to see if we can locate any dead little bodies in the yard, but so far have not found any. I’m just hoping they’re all over in the neighbor’s yard or their shed. (Sorry neighbors!)

Do you have any pests that particularly gross you out?

Note: Please do not email me with 10 reasons why I should get humane traps or how poisoning them was cruel or mean. To be completely honest, I really don't care about being humane to rodents. I just wanted them dead &!!

Thursday, May 17, 2012

Anyone else having trouble??

A couple of days ago I tried to create a new post, but when I clicked on the "write new post" button, the page opened, but never loaded. So I just had a blank white screen. I thought maybe it was just a site glitch & it would be fixed the next day (sometimes websites seem to work like that...) but 48 hours later, I was still having the exact same problem.

I searched the blogger help page, but I couldn't find any posts about anything similar to the problem I was having that were newer than 2009, and never located a place where I could contact the folks who run blogger to ask.

I asked on Facebook, but no one knew. Their only suggestion was to try a different browser. I usually use Firefox, so I tried Internet Explorer and Google Chrome. It was the same thing every time. So frustrating.

Today I came back to try again & got the same results, but found a place in the settings that said "Return to old blogger interface". On a whim, I clicked it & boom----here I am!

I have no idea what happened or why the new version of Blogger quit working right for me, but hey, whatever! I'm here! Yay! At the moment I need to go get ready for work, but I will be back. I've got a doozy of a pest control problem to tell you guys about!

Tuesday, May 1, 2012

Winding Down the School Year

Tonight, I went to the high school for a band booster club meeting.  The parking lot was silent and only held a few cars. The hallway was completely empty when I walked into the building.  It was a strange feeling to walk into the building this late in the school year & see NO ONE.  While it was 7:00pm there seems to always be a volleyball game, a theater practice, some sort of meeting, a janitor walking down the hall, a teacher who stayed late to grade papers or put up a new bulletin board....something!  Maybe things changed 5 minutes later, but for those few moments that I was standing there tonight, it was empty and silent.

I stood there for a minute, taking in the smells of the empty school.  I know it's not the same for everyone, but smells carry such strong memories for me & can stir emotions.  Then again, I'm a very sensory-focused person, so maybe I'm the only crazy person who can get misty at the scent of Deep Woods scented OFF bug repellant (because it reminds me of church camp when I was a kid.)  I stood there, breathing deeply all those first days of school when I was a kid.  I could almost feel the pink rubber erasers between my fingers, the weight of the bag of school supplies under my arm, the tightness of the new shoes saved just for the first day.  I took just a brief moment to stand there & take it all in.  The meeting was set to start soon and I knew someone would walk in and I'd look like a loon standing in the middle of the hallway, sniffing the open space with my eyes shut.  I could explain that I was enjoying some fond memories, but I don't think they would understand. I'm afraid they'd expect me to burst into song & start spinning with my arms outstretched, so I went into the meeting.

The truth is, I never stepped foot inside this particular school when I was a kid.  It wasn't built until 10 or 12 years after I graduated high school.  I've only been to this school with Savannah.  But somehow, it holds all the same smells as every school I ever went to.  Maybe it's the janitorial supplies that I get that nostalgic high from.  Maybe it's some sort of school-grade floor wax that no one else uses.  Perhaps there is a secret air freshener spray that is fogged into the air vents at night so that the schools all maintain the same smell.  I don't know what it is, but there was a distinct mixture of cafeteria food, school supplies and something else I can't quite place.  Excitement, maybe?  Could that have a scent that is especially pungent at this point in the year when the kids are aching to run out the school doors & frolic in the sunshine for 3 months?

As I sat through the meeting tonight, it struck me that we are "this close" to winding down this year.  I've had a countdown of days til summer going on my computer for weeks now.  I know that today is May 1st.  But hearing the new officers for next year being voted in, teasing the outgoing president about circling around her & holding hands to sing Kum-bah-ya (or however you spell that), discussing majorette tryouts and incoming elementary & junior high kids, finalizing plans for the band's end of the year made it a little more real.

In a few weeks, I will have a junior, a junior higher and a middle schooler.  How quickly they've slipped from toddlers to tweens to teenagers.  Oh sweet Jesus, slow down this's happening too fast.  I'm not ready to walk down the aisle & welcome grandkids, but I suspect it will happen faster than I can blink an eye!

I'm such a sap for 'firsts' & 'lasts'.  This time of year certainly brings that out in me.  Maybe that's why I seem to have a nose that can sniff out the first day of Kindergarten in the middle of a high school hallway in May.

Enjoy these last few weeks of school, friends.  Take the time to stop & smell the roses.  (or at least the janitorial supplies)