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Showing posts from May, 2011

"The object of teaching a child... to enable the child to get along without the teacher."

This quote is on a poster hung on the wall of the room I share with Ms. Janice at the preschool where I teach. I've worked with Janice for five years now, with only an ill-fated one-year hiatus during which I taught older threes. For the past two years I've gradually assumed more and more responsibility in the classroom. I write the newsletters, keep a blog, lead circle time. I've shouldered the burden of preparing our classroom portfolio for our school's upcoming NAEYC accreditation. All of this I did because I thought I was doing my job. I thought I was taking care of Janice.

This summer I'm working afternoons while Janice works mornings. In the fall, I won't be working with her at all because I've accepted a different job at a different school.

Today we set up our classrooms for the summertime camp program. I busied myself hanging paper on bulletin boards, stocking the classroom library, ga…

5 minute freewrite: pip

Gladys Knight and the... he's a real... pipsqueak. Aren't pips the little seeds in certain fruits? It's a funny little word, fairly evocative, reminds me of some of the little turds in my care at the preschool. Or when something really uncomfortable goes down, like "I went to the dentist for a cleaning and it was a real pip." Wasn't one of the hobbits in Frodo's company called Pippen? Not Pip. Scotty. Scotty Pippin. Pippen. Pippity Pop. Just read on fb that Miss Tiggy Winkle's Toys will be closing, and that's a real pip, too. Where do peoplee by toys? Target and walmart I guess. It's a sad time. I hope Yikes stays open. And Mildred and Dildred. But that's perhaps part of the reason Miss Tiggywinkle's hasn't done so well. Where does that leave the International Children's Film Festival, sponsored for its first inaugural years (x2) by Miss Tiggy Winkle's and The Loft? Perhaps The Loft has enough steam on its own to keep it go…


Why do I tend to repeat myself in conversation? I'm aware that I do it, but seem powerless to stop it. Example:

"Did you go to the talent show at Jack's school?"


"Well, you know Avril? She was in charge. She says it's getting so weird there."

"Oh, yeah?"

"Well, you know that transvestite who volunteers there?"

"Yeah! Every time I go to St. Vinnie's on Dollar Clothing Saturday, she's there shopping with her girlfriend."

"I guess she always looks fabulous. Is she really obvious?"

"Oh, yeah. Obviously a man in women's clothes. I see her every time I go to St. Vinnie's on Dollar Clothing Saturday."

"Well, Avril's backstage getting the numbers ready for the talent show. She's got the Dance Force One girl going on next. That little fourth grader was dressed like a pole dancer! Then the transvestite's getting ready to go on, and he... she... well, the transvestite is doin…

clean up day

The school year is over.

All the manipulatives are disinfected.

Summer, hold off for three days, will ya?

48 Days to the Work You Love: Chapter 1 Questions

Chapter 1: What Is Work?

1. Who gave you your first job? What kind of job was it? How much money did you make? I started babysitting for children of my parent's friends as soon as I could be left alone with children. I especially liked the night time jobs with families who expected their children to go to bed early. There was this one family---I can't remember the kids' names, but they had a German shepherd called Shaka---whose kids went to bed at 8:00. After I put the kids to bed, Shaka and I would crash on the living room floor and watch The Sound of Music on VHS. This was back in the day when few of us had a VCR, cable was in its infancy, and you waited a whole year for one of the networks to air The Sound of Music (and The Wizard of Oz, and that trippy animated The Hobbit). I loved having my own money to spend on Duran Duran tapes, Bop magazine, and white lace fingerless gloves.
The summer between freshmen and sophomore years my parents moved us to Illinois, from Tucson …

the right thing

I left Jack at home tonight, alone after dark for the first time. He's quite responsible for a 9-year-old boy. Still, it worried me to do it.

Today was the last day of school. Jack's report card showed maintenance or improvement across the rubric. His coveted LEGO Pirates of the Caribbean for Wii came from in the mail today. He conducted himself with confidence at this afternoon's piano recital, even when I lost my place in the duet we played and missed the page turn.

I couldn't make him sit through a high school graduation. I just couldn't.

But I couldn't miss it, either. I've known Michelle's daughter since she was Jack's age. When I met Carolyn she was a third grader attending the same school as Jack. They even had the same third grade teacher.

And my Michelle... she's been there for me. She understands my current travails. Four years ago she and her husband divorced under different circumstances. Of all the family members, Carolyn i…


Tomorrow is the last day of school. Jack brought home every scrap of paper in his desk. His writing folder entertained me for at least half an hour. Here are the two pieces that made my heart pitter-pat.

My first family member is my mom. She is important to me in many ways. She is there when I need help on my homework. My next family member is my dad. He is also important in many ways like my mom. He is there when I am scared. My last family member is my dog. She is important to me because she protects the house. She is there when I want to play with someone.

I think my mom is very wise because she was born before me. She is a teacher at St. Alban's preschool, teaching young 3s. I think she is wise becase she is wise becase she has lived at 6 differnt places at my age! I also think she is wise becase she has a wise mom and dad like me. She thinks of good ideas too. I thinck she is becase her dad is in the air force. That is all the things I can think of.

Mama (or my friend Nikki) told me there'd be days like this

Days that Jack would know how to poke and prod at my most sensitive spots. Today was one of them.

"I have more fun at Daddy's."

"I wish I was at Daddy's right now."

"Could there be one night a week when you and me and Daddy could all sleep in the same house? Maybe once a month? I would like that so much."

I know this is hard on him, and I know I'm doing the best I can. But sometimes the two don't reconcile. I know he's having a good time with his daddy lately because DH plays with him, and I don't. I'm not much of a player, not even at the preschool. That's just not how I relate to kids. If he wanted to read together, or draw, or craft, or cook, I'd be all over it. Maybe I need to make more of an effort to relate in his preferred modality, or is that just trying to be something I'm not?

I'm the enforcer, because Jack's with me every afternoon after school. Homework and piano practice are my duties. Read for 15 m…

email received

Last night I received this email from the room moms for Jack's class.
Hello All,

The end of the school year is upon us! We would like to thank all of you for your support and involvement over the last year. We couldn't have done it without all of you. Just a few last minute things for the end of the school year:

This Wednesday, the room parents will be providing lunch for all the students in the class (pizza, Eegee's and water), so no need for your student to bring a lunch that day. There is no need to send your child with money, as this will be covered by our class fund. After lunch, the children will then go out for lunch break on the playground. After break, Ms. G has several fun activities planned for the children for the remainder of the day. There will be no wet play or field trip, so no need for special attire. (Unless your child is feeling festive ). Ms. G would like to spend this last day with just her students, so please plan on staying home during the party.


thrilled by thrift

When I started this blog around 5 years ago (really?) I intended only to document my thrifty finds, hence the url thrilledbythrift. Not long after I started it, I shifted the focus to encompass most everything, hence the title chock-a-blog. Today I return to my thrifty roots (though I never left them).

This morning I went to St. Vinnie's for $1 clothing day. I bought two t-shirts to refashion but the real steals weren't clothes. Check it.

I can't wait to show you what I have planned for these. Two of them priced at $2.00, one priced at $1.50. Well worth $5.50.

I've been looking for a new handbag for a while. The one I've been carrying was purchased (full price) for me by my mother-in-law, and carrying it has become burdensome. I love the colors, shape, and material of this one. It's made of the same kind of stuff wet suits are made of. It fits my things perfectly. I gave $3.25 for it.

And this is the best part.


Married couples in conflict don't always provide what's best for their children. Further, according to Philip Cowan, Ph.D., professor of psychology at the University of California at Berkeley, the way husbands and wives treat each other has as much impact on their children's academic confidence, social adjustment, and behavior problems in school as the way the parents treat the children. A high-conflict marriage or a marriage that isn't working can negatively affect children in a way that might never happen in a single-mom family.
---Peggy Drexler, Ph.D., Raising Boys without Men

DH and I were rarely in open conflict. But we didn't treat each other well. We didn't cherish each other as we promised in our wedding vows. I can't say, exactly, why that is. I know I tried over the course of our 16 year marriage. I tried to reach DH, I tried to show him how his decisions affected me. I loved him the best way I knew how until his unresponsiveness caused me to shut d…

gone off the deep end

Looking back over my posts it seems I've jumped with Jesus off the end of the spiritual dock. I don't mean to get all Jesus-freaky. Usually I practice my faith quietly. But if it's helping see me through this tough time of my life I guess it's OK to proclaim.

I finished reading The Shack by William P. Young. Though it didn't profoundly change my perception of the Holy Trinity, it helped illuminate the truth that I was created to be wholly and unconditionally loved. That I am wholly and unconditionally loved. In light of my failed marriage and society's expectation that I remarry (because single people are somehow incomplete), that's a real comfort.

as if it weren't enough

As if foreclosure, bankruptcy, and divorce weren't enough, I'm considering a new job. I've had a few promising interviews (OK, two interviews total, but both were promising). The interviews have shown me that I do have something to offer to a potential employer, and that any employer would benefit from hiring me (or keeping me).

I've again turned to the library for help. I chose a book called 48 Days to the Work You Love by Dan Miller. When I picked it up I didn't know I was choosing a book with a decidedly spiritual bent. Reading it in conjunction with The Shack by William P. Young is really rocking my devotional world. The Introduction ends with this little contract:
Believing that God created me for His purposes and scheduled every day of my life, I commit the next 48 days to a new clarity and a plan of action for moving into God's calling for me.
Miller's observations on success provide a useful way to compare and contrast my experiences with DH's:

Infant of Prague

The week before the foreclosure we culled our belongings. Jack was meticulous in this endeavor. He considered each item carefully and thoughtfully. I, on the other hand, was willing to discard most anything without a second thought.

We were clearing the type trays hanging in the hallway. "Mommy, do you want this?" Jack asked about each miniscule item. To each query I invariably replied, "No, thanks." After five or so minutes of this, Jack questioned my dismissal of a particular item. "Are you sure, Mommy? You don't want this?"

"No, I don't want it."

"But it says, 'Oh Jesus, who said, ask and you shall receive, seek and you shall find, knock and it shall be opened.'"

"Yes," I amended my previous reply. "Yes, Jack. I want it."

He plunked the heavy little coin in my hand and I turned it over to see an image of The Infant of Prague. I put it in my pocket and I've carried it in my pocket ever since.

The …

It's easy to be bitter

This month I lost my home to foreclosure. This month Chas celebrated his 20th birthday, and his family (I'm assuming) has seen fit to wish him well on several billboards around town.

Rudimentary research reveals that billboard advertising costs run anywhere from $700 to $3000 a month.

Even at the lower end of the billboard advertising cost spectrum, the price of three billboards would cover my rent, utilities, and gasoline for three months.

It doesn't seem fair.

Today I took Jack to an end-of-the-year swim party at the home of a classmate. Newly remodeled, that home could have engulfed my apartment 5 times over. Everything looked high-end and the parents were the type of overachievers that scare me. I was talking with one of the dads, a guy I've had a few really interesting conversations with, who knows my situation. We were sort of gazing around, taking it all in, and I said, "It's easy to be bitter." Rob was quiet for a moment. Then he said, "You can'…

Tanque Verde Guest Ranch

Way back in February my bestie Ana bought a Groupon for a one-night stay at Tanque Verde Guest Ranch. When the night of our reservation finally rolled around, I was reluctant to go because so mentally zapped by the previous two weeks. But I packed my little bag, picked up my little friend, and made the little drive out to the Ranch.

We checked into our delightful little room around 5:30. Just before we left for the dining room I saw a couple who looked familiar to me pass by our window. Sure enough, it was my friend Charlie and her husband Al. They'd bought the same Groupon. It was nice to see her. Reminded me that we need to catch up, but this weekend wasn't the time. She was there to enjoy some private time with her husband, and I was there to enjoy a respite with my Ana.

Dinner in the dining room was a soup and salad bar affair with choice of entree. I ate pork medallions with sage rubbed apples and citrus black beans; Ana ate herbed seared halibut with mashed purple sweet po…

my brain is mush

what I've done over the course of the past 10 days, in no particular order:

saw the doctor twice, once for allergies and horrible hives, and once for my annual exam
discovered that DH was unsuccessful in negotiating with the bank, and we had one week to remove our possessions from the house before foreclosure
interviewed for two jobs
dined with Mom at Tavolino
shared a sushi boat with Mom and Mandy at Ichiban
enjoyed sandwiches and sides at Buffalo Bistro, again with Mandy and Mom
ate surf and turf at Canyon's Crown with Mom and Jack
set up, coordinated and celebrated, and tore down Mother's Day Tea at the preschool
participated in the Schumaker Elementary School Spring Craft and Rummage Sale
went to handbell rehearsal
rung handbells with the choir at the church service on Sunday
hosted a playdate with one of Jack's friends
took 3 days off work
took Jack to piano lessons twice
took Jack to choir practice
weathered a conflict with my boss
cleared the house of possessions (some of which …

reduced to tears

Lisa Latte walked into my cafe. When I clicked on her to serve her coffee, her little word bubble popped up. She said, "I wish I could be like you and do what I love for a living."

I wanted to cry.

four scenes

I've been watching movies this weekend and everything seems to remind me of losing my home to foreclosure Monday, May 9, 2011. The Kraken is attacking The Pearl, and Captain Jack Sparrow orders his crew to abandon ship, because, after all, "She's only a ship, mate." Aunt May is packing up her belongings because the bank is foreclosing her house, too, when Peter comes over and tries clumsily to make up after he confessed his hand in Uncle Ben's death.

Spiderman 2 boasts one of my favorite scenes in a movie. Spidey meets Doc Ock at the clocktower but their battle descends to an elevated train below. Doc Ock forces a choice on Spidey: save the disabled train and all its riders from plummeting off the unfinished tracks, or save MJ from I don't remember what. Of course Spidey chooses to stop the train, the effort of which causes him to faint dead away. Just before he slumps off the front of the train, sans mask mind you, the good people whom he's just saved ge…

last week's craft fair

Booth at the Tucson Folk Festival, Presidio Park, Saturday April 30 and Sunday May 1. Sold over 50 magnets and assorted pendants and earrings.

I thought I worked hard that weekend, but it was a breeze compared to what today will bring.

world news

More often than not, any significant event in my life is accompanied by a world crisis. Three days after the birth of my son, Al Qaeda hijacked four jets and forced them into the Twin Towers, the Pentagon, and a field in Pennsylvania. I have a child's grasp of what happened on 9/11, simply because I was only three days post-partum.

Many, many years later, I was struggling to extricate myself from my relationship with my son's father when earthquakes devastated Haiti. All kinds of natural disasters ensued in 2010, but I was so wrapped up in my own problems that I barely noticed them.

The day I signed a lease to move out of the house we've occupied for 12 years, my classmate Gabby Giffords was shot in the head at a Meet and Greet across town. My own grief laid me raw. Her tragedy barely even registered.

Recently Osama Bin Laden was killed in Pakistan. I don't even know how to feel about that because I'm clearing this house of anything I wish to keep pending a trustee sa…