Monday, February 29, 2016

Heart And Mind Monday: The Maiden Voyage

My friend Ivy at Uncharted has birthed a new blog called Carrot, which is about motivation (or lack thereof) in daily living. In conjunction with Carrot, she is launching a new blog hop called Heart and Mind Monday (clever girl that she is, she started the hop on Leap Day). 

"What nurtures your soul?" she asks her readers, "Is it the written word, illustrations, painting, music, your kids' creativity, mentoring others, or maybe you like to doodle in work meetings, or color?"  

I've been thinking about what I wanted to share today for several days, and when I went to work this morning, it was still in the back of my mind.

Then this happened, and I knew what to write about:

My pre-k students attend class for half a day, three mornings a week. This morning, this sweet boy kept complaining that he was cold (it was not cold in our room). As we were lining up to go to music, he was nearly in tears because he was so cold, so I helped him into his jacket. He melted down shortly after that, saying he didn't feel good, and we called his parents to come and get him.

On the chance that he might be on the verge of throwing up, I took him into a women's restroom that had a chaise lounge in it (and I'm happy to report that he did NOT throw up) and had him lie down while we waited for someone to fetch him. Still complaining that he was cold, I got a blanket from the church nursery and tucked him in, rubbing his back until he fell asleep. And then I sat there with him and listened to him snoring softly.

This is what nurtures my soul. I love these children as if they were my own. They frustrate me and then make me laugh, all within minutes. I watch them as they make mistakes and learn new skills and grow physically and emotionally and spiritually. I see their faces light up when they master a task, watch them test rules and make friends and be silly and be serious. They give me hugs and glares and pictures they made and their colds.

And just as I am with my own kids, I'm forever grateful when they don't throw up on my watch.

Sunday, February 28, 2016

Daffodils! Already! And More Thankfuls

I hate wind. It can be really hot or really cold or really rainy and I can deal with it, but when you throw in really windy, then I'm done. Wind messes with my sinuses and gives me an ear ache. 

Today has been windy, as in blow-the-car-door-shut-while-you're-standing-between-it-and-the-car windy. As in Dyanne-stays-in-the-house-and-enjoys-the-sunshine-from-the-comfort-of-her-chair windy. And she also writes her Ten Things of Thankful:

1. Spring in February. It ain't fittin'. It jes' ain't fittin'. (Prize to the first person who knows what movie that's from and who said it.) But it's still so very nice not to have had a horribly cold winter, because I really hate the cold.

2. The daffodils are up! The daffodils are up!

One bloom, many buds.

3. I'm getting excited about the A to Z Challenge! I didn't do a big theme-reveal, but if you didn't already know it, my theme this year, once again, will be Pinterest challenges. If you would like to submit Pinterest pins for me to try, please send them to me, especially if you can come up with one for "X". And "V". And "I". "K". "L"....

4. My new athletic shoes arrived, so no excuses for not going to the gym anymore. Is that really a thankful?

5. I finally caved to the fact that just because you spent a lot of money on shampoo that you (meaning your daughter) thought would be the BEST for your hair because it was sulfate-free, it is okay to give it away (or throw it away if no one else wants it) when you discover it never seems to completely wash out and leaves your hair feeling rather gummy, especially the part just above the nape of your neck, where your hair is the thickest (or mine is, anyway). 

6. I am thankful for sulfates in shampoo, whatever they are. 

7. I went out to dinner and to a movie with two friends on Friday night. We laughed. We talked. We ate. It was good for my soul.

8. I sat on bleachers for over eight hours yesterday afternoon and evening at a show choir competition and was able to get up and walk afterwards with minimal lurching.

One of her friends took this last night.

9. I only hurt myself once this week, and that was when I was holding a sad four year old on my lap at school and thought I could reach up and get the flag for the Pledge of Allegience without getting out of my chair, resulting in a muscle spasm in my lower back. It was preventable, I suppose, by I still stand by my decision of cuddling that little girl when she needed it.

10. Daffodils. Seriously. 

Less than 24 hours later, BOOM!

It's never too late to be thankful. Link up your thankfuls with us!

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Thursday, February 25, 2016

Cleave: A Six Sentence Story

Customers at the counter only knew him as the seemingly simple-minded man who swept the floors and took out the trash, but Rocco, Vittorio and the others in the shop knew Louie was much more than that.

Louie's methods were unorthodox, but effective, and when they were needed, as they were today, Rocco was always notified first; he would then open a door and raise his eyebrows at Vittorio, who was in the back room punching numbers into the adding machine.

Vittorio rose from his desk and walked casually toward the sound of Louie's broom brushing across the old floorboards; it would never do to startle Louie when he was focused on any task. The sweeping motions slowed to a stop, and Louie raised his face to Vittorio's, looking hopefully at him, and when Vittorio nodded slightly, it brought a spark to Louie's usually dull eyes as they slipped quietly into the back of the shop and got to work.

The cleaver was kept clean and sharp and locked away, and when Vittorio handed it to Louie, saying, "We need a Louie Special," Louie's big hands closed around the handle, and his eyes gleamed as he brought the blade down, neatly severing the head before continuing to strike with the sharp instrument.

It was all over in a matter of a few minutes, and by the time Mrs. Moretti reached the counter of the shop, Rocco already had the Louie Special neatly packaged and ready to place in her hands, greeting her with a cheerful, "Two pints of cole slaw for you, Mrs. Moretti, and never fresher!"

Linking up with Ivy at Uncharted for Six Sentence Stories with the prompt "cleave."

Saturday, February 20, 2016

No ER Visits And Even More To Be Thankful For

I started out this week ready to take on the world, because I had a new can of shaving cream and a new razor. Your legs never feel any better than when you shave them using a can of shaving cream at the peak of its aerosolidity (I made that word up, but it's going to catch on, wait and see) and a shiny, new razor blade. 

I shaved my left leg (I always start with my left leg), then my right leg, and I was almost done, taking one final stroke down the back of my calf, when the razor slipped a little and I removed a divot of flesh from my ankle, right at the heel, and then proceeded to bleed out what seemed to be a couple of pints of blood. When I dried myself off, my towel looked as though I had tried to clean up after a hatchet murder, and I soaked through two band-aids. All from a teeny, tiny cut on the back of my ankle. 

That afternoon, I had a little incident while making a pie where I collided with a cabinet door. I'll wait while you read the story.... Feeling my pain? I had trouble doing anything all week that involved touching my head, including washing my hair, drying my hair, styling my hair, running my fingers through my hair (I didn't realize how often I do that to my bangs until it felt like an electrical shock to do so). I've also been a little flinchy all week around open cabinet doors.

I sidestepped any further mishaps until this morning. There was no school today, so I was still in my jammies and house shoes, doing my usual too many things at one time and none of them very well. I'm not sure exactly how this happened, but I walked out of my slippers a little bit as I was approaching the two steps that go from the family room up to the dining room, and next thing I knew, I was falling in slow motion, feeling and hearing each body part individually as it hit the hardwood floor. My daughter was sitting on the couch in the living room and reported that it was just one big thud to her. She asked if I were okay, and when I said I wasn't sure, she got up and came over to the doorway, saw me sitting up by this point, and decided I'd live, although I'm going to have a pretty good bruise on my hip, I have a feeling. Time will tell.

It's all about finding the thankfuls, though, and here are mine for the week:

I didn't have to visit an Emergency Room this week.

Four day work week!

Spring-like weather today, as in 75 degrees and sunshine.

My throat has been a little scratchy and my nose a little notty, but I have not developed a full-blown cold.

We did a science experiment in Pre-K this week that WORKED! Not giving it away now; you'll have to wait until the A to Z Challenge to find out the particulars.

My tulips are pushing up! It won't be long!

More new filters on Snapchat.

I participated in Ivy's Six Sentence Story link up this week. It felt good to be back.

No Emergency Room visit. Bears repeating.

I got to see a dear friend today when she was passing through town. This is the strongest woman I know, no lie. Love you more, Cindi! 

And that's that! Link up your thankfuls, below!

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Thursday, February 18, 2016

Fray: A Six Sentence Story

As his feet clattered down the stairs that morning, she put the finishing touches on her already-clean kitchen, running the bleach-soaked dishcloth across the counter one last time, making sure each tiny bit of cloth was collected, while the miniscule hole carefully pierced into the mop bucket trickled water into a growing pool on the linoleum.

"I poured your coffee when I heard you coming," she said, offering her cheek to him for a quick kiss and gesturing to his place at the breakfast bar, already neatly set with breakfast dishes and a steaming cup of coffee, the morning paper next to his napkin. A bowl of marmalade shimmered in a patch of sunlight that streamed through the kitchen window, and the toaster sat nearby at the ready, two slices of bread already in the slots.

Before he had a chance to sit down, she called over to him from the stove, "Darling, would you push the toast down while I finish your egg?" 

"Well, would you look at this," he said as he reached across the counter to push the lever down. "It looks like a mouse has gnawed on this cord and caused it to fray," and with the mop water now quietly covering the soles of his wingtip shoes, he reached for the cord; the sound of the electricity coursing through his body startled her for just a moment, and then she smiled sweetly to herself as she slid her sunny-side up egg onto a plate and prepared to enjoy it with a slice of bread and some marmalade.

Linking up with Ivy at Uncharted for Six Sentence Stories with the prompt "fray."

Monday, February 15, 2016

(Nearly) Dying For Pie

I taught myself to make pie a little over a year ago when I signed up to bring them to an event at my daughter's school without reallllly knowing how to make one. Oh, I could make pumpkin pies, but I always used my mom's secret crust recipe (which is to use Pillsbury All-Ready Pie Crusts and roll them out a little thinner before using and you're welcome). I practiced and practiced (my family HATED that part of the exercise - not!) and, using America's Test Kitchen's recipe, I learned to make a darn fine crust. Then I perfected coconut cream pie (with meringue) and French silk pie, and we ate pie and ate pie and then I quit making pies before we could no longer fit through doorways.

The College Boy was home this weekend and lamented that I NEVER made pie anymore. I ignored him at first, and then I got an attack of the guilts and figured I might as well make the little whiner that sweet boy a pie.

Without thinking about it (which is how I do most of my cooking and pretty much anything else in life), I made enough crust for TWO pies. I baked both pie shells (by the way, if you don't keep your pie crust-rolling chops up, you lose them, so they weren't the PRETTIEST crusts I've ever made, but they were certainly still tasty) and spent hours and hours making a French silk pie, half of which was gobbled up in mere minutes. 

For reasons only known to the school district, we had classes as usual today, which is President's Day, but the College Boy did not and was still home. My husband didn't have to go to work, either, so they spent the day watching movies and asking me what I was going to do with the unused pie crust that was still on the dining room table. 

Fine, I'll make another pie.

This time, I wanted to replicate a pie we love from a favorite restaurant in town, a chocolate cream pie with a layer of cherry pie filling inside. Since this was another FOR REAL pie, that meant no cheating with a box of chocolate pudding, and (this is important) the recipe called for sugar, egg yolks, milk and cornstarch. I keep the cornstarch, which I don't use very often, in a high cabinet above my pantry shelves, shoved way in the back. Thinking I would be putting it right back inside after I mixed the ingredients, I left the cabinet doors open, which is not something I ordinarily do. I cooked the pudding, added the chopped bittersweet chocolate and butter, and now was ready to pour it into the pie shell (the already-baked one sitting on the dining room table that had been SCREAMING to my husband and son and BEGGING to be made into a pie). With great purpose, I strode towards the dining room when CRACK, I ran into the corner of the open cabinet door with my head and dropped like a rock to my knees.

The scene of the crime.

The sound was enough to make my husband pause the movie he and the College Boy were watching and come into the kitchen, where I was bent over, holding my head and crying.

"Let me see," he said, pulling my hands away from my head, and when I looked down, there was blood on my hand. GAHHHHH!!!! No, wait, not blood; just chocolate. And a growing goose egg on my head.

Once my husband determined I was not going to bleed onto the pie was all right (ish), he went back to the movie (College Boy, I must note, did not get up to see if I was dead or alive). Trouper that I am, I finished making the pie, washed the dishes, and cleaned off the counter before I went upstairs with Boo Boo Bunny and iced my goose egg with the help of not one, but two concerned cats.

Icing my owie with boo boo bunny.
Don't I look pitiful with my mascara
all over my face?

The nursing staff.

I still have a headache. And a very tender lump on my forehead, right at my hairline.

And pie. I have pie. 

I TOLD you the crust wasn't pretty.


Saturday, February 13, 2016

A Wicked List of Thankfuls

I have a cat sprawled across my arms as I try to write this week's Ten Things of Thankful, so I shall make them brief, as I can't reach anything beyond the actual alphabet portion of my keyboard:

1. I'm pretty sure my A to Z Challenge shall be a Pinterest Challenge once again. Please send me your ideas, especially if you've got any good ones for some of those more troublesome letters.

2. My daughter and I went to Springfield to see Wicked with my daughter's friend and her mother. I knew very little about the play, other than it was about the witches from Wizard of Oz. Wow! Those girls had some pipes, and I loved the way they tied the play to the Wizard of Oz. If you're a fan of musicals, go see it, if you ever have a chance. 

Silly girls.

3. I might, MIGHT, have forgotten to put my contacts in Sunday morning before we went to see Wicked. I didn't realize it until I was halfway across town to pick up our friends (my eyes have improved, a product of old age, but I'm still restricted on my driver's license - oops!). I didn't want to make us late to the play, as we had to drive over an hour to get to Springfield, so I decided to forge on and make the best of it. Our theater seats were in the rafters, so I don't think it would have made a huge difference as far as seeing the stage, but the drive home in the dark would have been a little less intense if I'd had them in. Bottom line: we made it! I would be lying if I didn't admit that I was weaving around quite a bit as I drove, but that had nothing to do with the fact that I couldn't see and everything to do with the 30 mph winds that were hammering us the entire way home.

It was a looooong way down to the stage.

4. That one's worth two. Fight me if you disagree.

5. We had Valentine parties at preschool this week. Both days went without a hitch, other than there were (a) parties with (b) too many adults in the room and (c) an overwhelming assortment of snacks.

6. Each child makes and brings a Valentine box to school for valentine delivery. I made a pig box the first year I taught, and fifteen years later, I'm still using it. This year, though, my pig inspired not one, but TWO of my boys to make pig boxes, too. How cute is that?!

The three little pigs.

7. Three cats in the same room with no hissing!

The boys on the couch in peaceful harmony
while Ruby keeps a respectful distance.

8. My daughter and I were in Springfield again today, and we filled our bellies with pho. Oh, my stars, it was good!

Eating pho is a different experience when you
aren't eating it outside in 90+ degree weather.

9. We also splurged on Hurt's Donuts. 

10. And the reason we celebrated with pho and donuts? WE FINALLY GOT A PROM DRESS! After nearly two and a half hours of trying on dresses, she found The One. It will have to be altered a little bit, as she is (sit back and let this wash over you) a size 00, and the dress was a GIGANTIC size 2. And a shout out to Alyssa at Norman's Bridal for the one-on-one attention and her infinite patience. 

Did you have the equivalent of FINALLY finding the right prom dress this week? Link up your thankfuls with us, this week and every week!

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Saturday, February 6, 2016

It Was One Of THOSE Weeks

This has been One Of Those weeks. 

Monday, I tried to replicate a recipe using spaghetti squash instead of spaghetti. I baked the spaghetti squash too long, however, and instead of the flesh shredding into long, spaghetti-like strands, it came out mushy. And when you (over)roast a vegetable like spaghetti squash that has a high sugar content, it turns very sweet, which did not lend itself to the recipe AT ALL. Imagine really sweet but a little grainy mashed potatoes with garlic, onion, mushrooms, and parmesan cheese, and you might see why, although we worked at it like little soldiers, neither my husband nor I could finish the dish.

I'm thankful I learned that roasting a spaghetti squash too long removes any resemblance to "spaghetti" and magnifies the "squash" part of it. And that I can say REALLY POSITIVE THINGS like "well, it's different, but it's not too bad" and it's not going to change a recipe gone really, really wrong. 

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In my Primary class (3 year olds turning 4) on Tuesday, we were making a very, very, VERY messy valentine project with feet painted red and pressed onto paper in a heart shape. It's cute but labor-intensive, as it requires my assistant teacher and me to paint the bottom of each child's foot, press it onto paper, then wash their feet in a dishpan of warm, sudsy water, dry them off, and help get shoes and socks back on. 

As we were washing one little guy's feet, he said he liked warm, soapy water, so I asked him if he wanted to just get in the dishpan and take a bath.

"I can't do that! I wouldn't fit! And I'd have to be naked!"

Then he leaned over to me, cupping his hand by his mouth and stage whispering to me, "And everyone would be able to see my BALLS!"

While the foot printing and washing was going on, one of the girls, holding a baby doll, announced to me that girls sometimes have babies in their tummies. 

"Yes, they do, but not until they are alllll grown up and married," I said to her.

"And have graduated from college and have a good job," my assistant teacher added.

The little girl just gave us a look and went on with playing, and as we were elbow-deep in warm, sudsy water, we went back to the business at hand of washing red paint off of feet, but when I looked up to spot check how the kids were doing while playing in their centers, I saw the little girl stuff the baby doll under her shirt.

"Miss Dyanne! I have a baby in my tummy!" she announced.

"You're married, right?" I asked her.

"Nope!" she said, yanking the baby out (rough birth).

I'm thankful I can laugh silently when need be. 

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In Pre-K on Wednesday, my class had a page to color at table time right after arrival. It was a drawing of three snowmen, and the kids were to trace part of each snowman (I believe it was the hat and head) before coloring the picture. Tracing and coloring is something we do often (working on those fine motor skills, you know). One of my boys was either yanking my chain or just in need of a little attention, because not long after he arrived and was SUPPOSED to be tracing and coloring, this is what went down:

4 year old boy: Miss Dyanne? Do I trace the hat?
Me: Yes, you trace the hat.
(short pause)
4 year old boy: Miss Dyanne? Do I trace all the hats?
Me: Yes, trace all the hats.
(short pause)
4 year old boy: Miss Dyanne? Do I trace the eyes?
Me (teeth slightly gritted): Yes, trace the eyes.
(short pause)
4 year old boy: Miss Dyanne? Do I color the tie?
Me (taking a deep breath first): YES, color the tie.
(short pause)
4 year old boy: Miss Dyanne? Do I color THIS part of the snowman?
Me (closing eyes and counting to ten): Yesss. Color EVERY part of the snowman.
(short pause)
4 year old boy: Miss Dyanne? What about THIS part? Do I color it?
4 year old boy: Oh, okay.

I'm really thankful he's very cute....

Oh, we also did a painting project in Pre-K, only this time I painted hands to make a valentine picture. The only problem with the project was, well, you can see what happened when we tried to wash it off:

Painting a hand pink. 

After washing the hand, it is now stained red....

But wasn't the end result worth it? See the heart?

I'm thankful that it really WAS washable paint, and none of my kids came to school on Friday with red-stained hands.

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On Wednesdays, our students can bring a lunch and stay until 2:00 for an additional fee, and it was my week to stay as well. I'm going to spare you a whole lot of detail here (and this is a thankful for YOU), but let me just say that even our Toddlers (who do not have to be potty trained, and this is key to the story) are eligible to stay. While the kids were finishing up their lunch, one toddler boy got up from his chair, and when he did, he left something in the chair that was not pretty. And let's just say that for some reason I ended up being the one who got clean up detail, and it took half a container of baby wipes to get him cleaned up (and I am not exaggerating).

I am thankful for disposable gloves. And Mentholatum for dabbing under the nose before attempting to clean up a disaster of this nature. And for Mr. Doug, our building custodian, who stood outside the bathroom door and handed me wipe after wipe from the baby wipe container ("You need MORE?!" he would exclaim each time I stretched my arm out towards him. I'm telling you, this was a mess of monumental proportions.) And for Miss Debbie and MIss Ruth, who held down the fort while I was cleaning up the toddler (and let me say right now that if this were your child and you were at home, you would strip him and put him in the shower to hose him off; if you were NOT home, you would look for the nearest dumpster and throw away the clothes he was wearing) and then brought me gifts the next morning of cocktail peanuts (because I needed a cocktail after THAT incident, but I don't drink) and Little Debbie Swiss Rolls (because I love them). Oh, and a bunch of Baby Ruths in my in-box. Ha ha ha ha....

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Thursday morning in Primary class I had one marathon pouter, one cry because she wanted her mom (this after a scuffle over a toy), one wet her pants not once, but twice, and one burst into shrieking sobs at the snack table because, "She made mean eyes at meeeeee!!!" (pointing to another child across the table). 

Some mornings, only three hours with my preschoolers isn't enough time. Other mornings, I'm thankful it's ONLY three hours.

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My daughter turned 17 on Thursday. Wow. If you haven't already, you can read her birth story here. I promise there is nothing gross or disgusting. I'm thankful that I'm still here to celebrate her birthdays, because that wasn't a given on the day of her birth.

Opening gifts with a little help from Ruby.

Emma with her birthday flowers

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Friday, we celebrated our 50th Day of preschool in Pre-K with a 50s themed party. Party days are my least favorite days at preschool, so I'm thankful that one's over. 

If I can find thankfuls in a week of poop, wet pants, bad cooking and more, then you can, too. Link up with us, this week and every week, at Ten Things of Thankful.

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