Growing Pains…Part Two


Yesterday, my baby girl turned 18. How did that happen? How did she go from being that little baby in the white bonnet discovering the beach for the first time, to a college bound young woman with a job and a drivers license?

I guess I must have blinked.

She did come into this world in a hurry, just 45 minutes from the beginning of labor to delivery. We like to joke that if we’d hit a few more red lights, she might have been born in the front seat of a Honda Civic! And as a toddler, she was the kind of kid you had to hold on to while you locked the front door or else she would be down the block and around the corner before you turned the key.

But then she slowed down. She became thoughtful. When she became old enough to realize that other people had feeling, she worried about hurting them or about them being sad. I remember when we played “Chutes and Ladders” or “Candyland” she would make me take extra turns so we finished at the same time. “There, mommy,” she’d say, “You win too.”

This empathy carried through  as she got older. For many years she avoided playing sports, choosing instead to cheer her brother through baseball and basketball games.  She couldn’t bring herself to be competitive enough. No matter who won, someone else had to lose.  In high school, however, when a friend convinced her to join the tennis team, she agreed because she said it was a very polite sport. At the end of each match, you shook hands with your opponent and said “Good game.” No anger, no hard feelings (on the surface at least!).

She loved playing, loved being part of the team and bonding with the other girls but she worried about letting them down when she didn’t play her best. Her coach told her that the only skill she lacked was confidence. She lacked that drive to win. I must say though, that she still had a pretty good record and she enjoyed playing which was the point.

As a mom, I worry about this need of her’s to make everyone happy. I worry she will be taken advantage of. I walk the line between wanting her to stand up for what she wants, and not wanting her to compromise this kind and giving side of herself. Luckily, she has surrounded herself with friends who have her back and force her to choose herself sometimes. Smart kid.

She has an amazing eye for detail, arranging her room or a table setting to look just so.  She notices everything and can capture a moment perfectly, whether in a photograph or a poem, and even though she has chosen to study business management, I hope she keeps up with these more creative pursuits as well. I think they help her express things she is sometimes too shy to say. Being quiet allows you to observe unnoticed but I also want her to stand up and be noticed for all the wonderful things she is.


Of course she has her quirks that sometimes make us nuts. There are those “teenage mood swings” that surface from time to time, and don’t ask her to make a choice if you’re in a hurry. She could be all day making up her mind, waiting till the absolute deadline to decide on which college to attend, but even choosing what dessert to have or what outfit to wear takes her a while. This is probably something we should warn her future husband about.

So I blinked and my baby grew. She struggled and she flourished. She cried and she laughed. She lived and she learned and I’m so very proud of the person she has become. I’m glad I was able to watch it all happen, regardless of how fast it went. For now I will keep watching. I think the future is going to be pretty amazing too….

I better be careful not to blink.




The Weekly Smile – A Silent Parade


The elementary school where I work offers a half day preschool for 3 and 4 year olds. The classroom is in the main building along with the rooms for the older children and is taught by Miss Jessica, a pleasant young woman, not long out of college with lots of energy and clever ideas.

Case in point…

As I was coming back from lunch today, Miss Jessica and her parade of tots were heading outside so I stopped and held the door for them. I couldn’t help but smile when I noticed as they walked past that each little boy and girl had their cheeks puffed out like a chipmunk storing acorns!

I recieved a few waves from the preschoolers as they passed but not one word was spoken. I raised my eyebrows in question to their teacher who was at the end of the line. As she passed she leaned in and whispered,

“When we go in the hallway, we all pretend we have a mouthful of marshmallows. It helps them remember not to talk while the students in the classrooms are working.

Hmm? I wonder if that would work on the older students in the lunchroom?

It’s a thought. 😊


The Weekly Smile is brought to you courtesy of Trent’s World. Be sure to stop by and gather a few more smiles or maybe share one of your own!

The Weekly Smile #7- Hang up the banana, and eat your lunch.


I’ve been doing lunchroom duty for about nine years now. It is by far the craziest, most chaotic hour of my day but I’ve learned that maintaining a sense of humor about it keeps me from becoming totally stressed out. My co-worker Kathy and I, who share this duty each day, both use this technique. Occasionally our need for nonsense results in random bets or games based on life in the lunchroom. We look forward to one such event that always occurs on “banana day.”

By “banana day” I simply mean any day that a banana is served as part of the hot lunch that some of the students purchase. Why only bananas, you might ask? Why not pick on apples or oranges?  I assure you, I believe in total fruit equality but those other fruits don’t have the same effect on children that bananas do. Let me explain.

There is a weird phenomenon that surrounds this long yellow fruit and it occurs each and every time they are served in the lunchroom. You see, it doesn’t matter how tech savvy 7 year olds are today or how well they have mastered the use of their parents smart phones, if you put a banana in front of them, sooner or later, they are going to pick it up, put it to their ear and pretend to talk on it like an old fashioned telephone. It never fails. They simply can’t resist.

Kathy and I take bets on how long it will take for the first kid to pick up the banana phone and start calling their friends. The record is eight minutes. I kid you not.

Soon they’re all talking into their fruit and the kids that brought bag lunches are starting to get jealous. Eventually we’re forced to utter the inevitable request..

“Please hang up the banana and eat your lunch.”

Now that’s a line not too many people get to say.😊

imageThis post is part of The Weekly Smile brought to you courtesy of Trent’s World! Stop by and collect some more smiles or leave one of your own!

If We Were Having Coffee…11/1/15


If we were having coffee…we could talk about how November has crept in when we weren’t looking. Our area is in the throws of an Indian Summer so it doesn’t feel like November but the calendar says it is. One good thing is that tonight we turn the clocks back. Not being a morning person, I dislike getting up before the sun.

If we were having coffee...I would ask if you and your family celebrated Halloween yesterday? I would tell you a little about our day. Since our neighborhood is always very lively with trick-or-treaters, Hubby and I have gotten into the habit of sitting on the porch handing out candy rather than getting up every few minutes to answer the door. The evening was very mild unlike some years when we have been bundled up against the cold. Not that cold weather ever slows down the candy seekers!  The excitement and adrenaline keeps them warm!

I really don’t miss the days of chasing after Mr D and Miss Dee as they rushed from house to house. Given the choice, I usually volunteered to stay home and hand out candy while Hubby did the walking (he’s in much better shape). It’s also nice that they are now in charge of figuring out a costume for themselves if they decide to dress up. For the past week I’ve been asking Mr D what he was going to be for Halloween. His answer…

“An overworked college student.”

Then, last night, at 7pm I found myself digging around in the attic looking for a pair of goggles because he and his friend decided to go to a party at the college, and they wanted to be Doc Brown and Marty McFly from “Back to the Future”. He must get his last minute Halloween costume genes from my mother!

If we were having coffee…I would tell you that I’ve been feeling a bit scientifically challenged. Part of my job as an instructional aide is offering in-class support for students during their science lessons. For the past four years I’ve helped out in the third grade. I can tell you anything you want to know about dinosaurs or the life cycle of the meal worm or even about what penguins eat. That stuff I’ve got down, however….this year I’ve been bumped up to fifth grade science and I can tell you for sure I am not “Smarter Than a Fifth Grader”!

Last week the classroom teacher was out sick and the substitute and I found ourselves blindly leading the students through a work sheet on types of matter and chemical reactions! Luckily they knew what they were doing for the most part. I understand “matter” you know “solid, liquid, gas”. I get how the molecules are closer together in a solid and further apart in a gas but when we started getting into how substances combine to create chemical reactions and how chemical and physical reactions differ in the way the molecules combine or don’t combine…my brain started to hurt.

I was an art major for crying out loud!! I didn’t really like this stuff the first time I learned it. Thank goodness for YouTube. Tomorrow I will be searching out videos and giving myself a crash course in fifth grade science! Wish me luck.

If we were having coffee… I would thank you for stopping by and wish you a pleasant, relaxing Sunday. We will be doing some yard work around here. If you’re not busy, you are welcome to grab a rake!

This post is part of the Weekend Coffee Share courtesy of Diana at Part Time Monster. Stop by and check out the other fun blogs!

If we were having coffee…8/23/15

I can’t take credit for this post idea! The Weekend Coffee Chat come curtasey of  Part Time Monster
imageHappy Sunday morning everyone! I’ve noticed that some of the Weekend Coffee Chats are posted on Saturdays but my Saturdays are way too crazy! This is my day to sit with my coffee on the back porch and be lazy. I’m so glad you stopped by! I hope your week was both exciting and fulfilling.

If we were having coffee, I would start off by telling you that this Saturday began at 6:30am as I dragged myself out of bed to help Miss Dee’s tennis team set up for a yard sale. In a moment of weakness, I volunteered to have it here. This is an annual event for the team and helps raise money for uniforms and such. Our garage was packed with donations to put out and the customers showed up before we were even officially opened! It continued nonstop till we closed at noon. Lots of work but well worth it. The team raised over $700.00!!

I would tell you that, after a post-yard sale nap, we popped open the sun roof on Miss Dee’s new Beetle and cruised over to my Father-in-law’s house for a picnic. He and his wife have a lovely house with a large wooded lot, perfect for picnics. Hubby’s dad is a world class grill master so the food was also excellent, especially the salmon. His lovely wife made a yummy peach pie with, of course, Jersey peaches! It was nice to catch up with Hubby’s step brother Kris, who came down from Long Island to visit. He drove the 4.5 hours with his two children (ages 4 and 1) and two dogs, one of which is a 93lb boxer in a small sedan! I told him he was the bravest man I knew! Kris said the high points were stopping at the rest stop because the 4 year old needed the bathroom, leaving the dogs, who tend to chew up stuff if they get upset, alone in the car and when the same child threw up a half hour before they made it to the house! He had intended to spend the night and drive back today but was thinking it might be easier to leave late last night so the kids and the dogs would sleep the whole way. Like I said, a very brave man!

If we were having coffee  I would tell you that our poor kitty Jack has developed a limp. We noticed that he was spending more time downstairs under my desk, which is where he goes when he feels guilty or needs to feel safe.  When he finally did ventured out for dinner (because Jack never misses a meal) he was favoring his right front paw. Watching him limp was heartbreaking😞. He didn’t cry when I felt his leg or paw so I didn’t think anything was broken. A trip to the vet confirmed this. He called it a “soft tissue injury” which is doc-speak for a sprain. We figured out that what might have happened is that Jack jumped up on the kitchen stool to steal some of his sisters food. Something he always tries to do, which is why it is kept up on the stool!! Since Jack is a “big boy” (doc-speak for 15lbs of cat), when he jumped down he may have landed wrong and hurt his foot. So now Jack is taking some anti-inflammatory medication, which by the way, he chomps right down without protest. We are hoping he feels better in a few days.

 Thanks so much for stopping by and sharing some coffee with me!  So how was your week?😊

Let the Summer Begin!

Another school year is finished. This is always a bitter sweet time for me.

For the next two months I won’t have to say things like “Focus! Sound it out.” or “If there’s more on the floor, trade next door!” (it’s a math thing). Most importantly, I will not have to say “Keep you hands on your own lunch!” and “Chew with your mouth closed.” I won’t miss that at all!

I will, however, miss the smiles and the hugs. I’ll also miss the stories and the conversations, because you just never know what a child will say! Those things are some of the best parts of my day!

I really won’t miss getting up at 6am. I am not a morning person. Never have been and I hate having to make myself go to bed at a respectable time just so I can function the next day.

I will, however miss the time that goes with having an early morning. In the summer, I end up sleeping till 9:00 or 10:00 and the day is half over before I even get in the shower!

I won’t miss repeating  a concept over and over because sometimes that’s what it takes to truly understand. I could do without having to go back to the beginning when I was hoping we were ready to move on.

I will miss seeing that little spark of excitement when a student realizes he finally  understands something he was beginning to think he never would.  Also, there is that look of pride a child gets when they are able to read an entire book or finish a math page without asking for help even once.  That I will miss.

I won’t miss ironing clothes for work or making lunches or trying to fit all my errands and cleaning into two days. But I’ll miss my coworkers and the routine and the challenges, big and small.

I will enjoy my time off for sure. I know it’s a gift that most people don’t get and I truly appreciate the break but by the time September comes I’ll be ready to go back to work.  I know my enthusiasm meter will be back up to full tilt by then and I’ll be ready for anything…even lunch duty. 😊


U is for The Unexpected Cake

This is the story of a cake that was never meant to be.

It all started with an eleventh grade Spanish class project. Each student was assigned a Spanish speaking country to research. Girl Child got Peru. She worked hard gathering interesting facts and writing her report. As extra credit, the students were encouraged to bring in something representing their country to share with the class. They could share music, books, a craft or food. Being her father’s daughter she chose to bring cookies.

The Peruvian cookies were called Alfajores. This is what they look like:

These are shortbread type cookies with caramel filling. Yum, right? So she started gathering ingredients with Hubby acting as her sous chef. They creamed the sugar, butter and eggs and added the dry ingredients. It all looked okay until  they poured in the milk and orange juice that  the recipe called for.

“Hmmm,” Hubby said, “this doesn’t look right.” Instead of being stiff like cookie dough, it looked more like pancake batter. For the next step, they were suppose to drop rounded spoonfuls onto the cookie sheet. If they had tried to do that it would have just become a puddle.

By this time Girl Child was pacing around the kitchen, visions of her extra credit going down the drain with the watery cookie dough, but Hubby, who is the baker in the family, had an idea.

“Since it’s actually the consistency of cake batter, how about if we pour it in a couple of cake pans and see what happens?” So they greased and floured a couple of pans and put them in to bake. It came out looking like…well…cake.

Next, they made the caramel filling, put it between the two layers and sprinkled powdered sugar on top. Hubby cut the cake into neat little triangles and packaged them up. This is what it looked like:

Not quite the same.  It tasted like a very light butter cake and it was actually a big hit. Señora still gave Girl Child her extra credit just for putting in all the effort and several students asked for a second helping.

So I guess what they say is true- When life hands you lemons, make lemonade, or in this case Peruvian Butter Cake!

Grade School the Second Time Around (Part 4)

It’s that time again! Here are a few interesting little tidbits I learned (or relearned) this week:

  • All meat eating dinosaurs had three front facing toes on their feet with a shorter fourth toe in the rear, just like birds.
  • Uranus is the only planet that spins on its side. Scientist believe that it may have been hit by a meteor the size of Earth causing it to tip onto its side.
  • Pluto (the former planet) was named by an 11 year old English girl named Venetia Burney. She suggested the name Pluto to her grandfather, in honor of the Roman god of the underworld. Her grandfather forwarded the name to the observatory where Pluto was discovered in 1930.

I guess I either slept through this stuff the first time around or my brain just pushed it out in order to make room for other stuff like recipes and song lyrics? No matter. I got it this time!

L is for (yay) Lunchroom Duty

You can tell by the title how this post is going to go.

I love my job. I really do and it is that fact alone that gets me through my least favorite hour of the day-11:30 to 12:30.  Lunchroom duty (oh joy).  My two comrades and I join forces to guide a room full of elementary school children successfully through a meal. It can get a little crazy. Let me break it down for you…

11:30-11:40-Grades 1, 2 and half of fifth enter the lunchroom (approximately 90 students). Main Focus: getting those student buying lunch safely to table without spilling said lunch on themselves or others; insuring that first graders don’t try to squeeze 8 students on to a bench meant for 4 (“Everybody scooch down! Joey’s elbow is in Eric’s Mac and cheese!”)

11:40-11:45- Open various packs of ketchup, mustard, salad dressing, etc. Clean up spills. (“Sit back down. Don’t touch his food. Please don’t play with your food!”) Open milk cartons, spread cream cheese, peel hard boiled get the idea. And on a side note, if I ever get a hold of the guys who invented yogurt in a tube and juice in a bag, we are going to have some words!

11:45- Hold up the quiet sign to get students attention. Flash lights to get students attention. Say “BOYS AND GIRLS” really loud to finally get students attention. Allow those purchasing ice cream that day to form an orderly line. Quickly move. Clean up more spills. Open more packages. (“Finish up your food before you eat your ice cream. No blowing bubbles in your milk! Sit down.”)

11:55-12:00-Hold up the quiet sign again (see above). Call students by tables to throw away trash and line up. (“No running! Face front! Pay attention!”)  Accept hugs from happy first graders as they head for the playground. Check each others’ backsides for sticky hand prints.

12:00-12:05– Bask in the peace and quiet while our saint of a janitor cleans up the rest of the spills and empties the trash.

12:05-12:30- Do the whole thing all over with the 3rd, 4th and the other half of the fifth grade. Basically the same routine but with less spills and more drama.

Lucky for me, the next hour of the day is my own lunchtime. I go home to my nice quite house with my nice quiet cats and read a book….quietly. After that I can face the afternoon. I really can’t complain though. On top of all those hugs, I get to hear some pretty cute stories and now and then someone offers to share their cookies. How can you not love a job like that?!

K is for Keys,


Today, I am contemplating keys. Not piano keys or maps keys. Just regular old (where the #%$! did I put my) keys. Remember getting your first key to something? Suddenly you are a grown-up. You can unlock the world…or the door, whatever.

Giving my children their first house key was a milestone for both of us. To their credit, they have always been  very responsible. The first car key was much harder! The freedom and responsibility that comes with that one little piece of metal is enormous! It is cool, though, that they can display their personality through their key ring or lanyard. The first thing my son did when he started college was purchase a lanyard with the university emblem on it. My daughter has an Eiffel Tower on her key ring.

Hubby and I both have lots of keys. He has keys to both his parents houses and keys to the file cabinets in his office. I have a key (actually a fob) to the school where I work and keys to all the cars we own. There is also a large assortment of keys cluttering up our junk drawer. I’m no longer sure what any of these keys go to but I can’t seem to bring myself to throw them away.

I do realize that keys are becoming quite archaic. I’ve seen the new “keyless entry” cars with their push button ignition and houses with coded door entries. They’ve even developed smart phone technology that can lock and unlock your whole house with the push of a button! Me, I still like having an actual key. I also prefer books made of paper and butter made with cream. I’m just like that, but I do think we need to be careful about how much we rely on technology.

Case in point: A coworker told me the other day how she had come across this young girl in the mall parking lot who was very distraught. Being a mom, my coworker went over to see if she could help. The girl told her through her tears that she was locked out of her car.

“I think the batteries in the fob are dead, see.” she said and proceeded to point at the car pushing the button on the remote entry. My friend gently took the keys from her and used the actual car key to unlock the door.

Happy ending.

Aside from the fact that they are obviously handy items, every key is like a tiny little time capsules. Each one of them has a story, a piece of someone’s history. Maybe that’s why I’m so reluctant to throw away all those keys in my junk drawer. Imagine the stories that those beautiful old keys that you see in antique stores could tell. Think about how many hands have held them and all the purses and pockets they have visited! Pretty amazing.