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.ūüėä

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!


Gettin’ Our Halloween On…

imageNot surprisingly, the most popular topic in the lunchroom this week has been Halloween costumes. It’s always fun to hear the students describe what they’re ¬†going to be and all the treats they plan on collecting. They’ve been thinking and planning for months and I just know there are a bunch of frantic parents out there rushing around trying to find a “Ladybug Princess” ¬†or ¬†“Zombie Hunter” costume in the right size.

Thanks to pop-up costume super stores and online web sites, Halloween has become a big, expensive deal. I’ve been there too. Most years my kids wanted store bought costumes but I’ve also made a few by hand. I can’t sew to save my life but give me some felt and a hot glue gun and watch out!! And you know what? Even though they were a lot more work, those costumes were my favorite.

Growing up, we almost always made our costumes by hand..and when I say “we” I mean my mom. She was queen of the last minute Halloween costume. There were no weeks of planning ahead and most times final touches were being added as you were heading out the door! We had a huge cardboard box in the attic filled with Halloween type odds and ends, old hats or neckties, pieces of former costumes, masks, wigs, you name it. A day or two before Halloween we would drag down the box and start sorting through. The big difference between us and the kids today is we didn’t have any plan about what we wanted to be ahead of time. Mom just pulled stuff out of that magic box and then tried to figure out what costume could be made with it.

Being the baby of the family by quite a few years, I missed out on a lot of my moms earliest costume triumphs and my oldest sister, Linda hated dressing up She stopped trick-or-treating when she was about 12. But my sister Pat and brother Jim (the middle children) were very adventurous and were willing to wear any outfit they thought would win them first prize at the local Halloween party and score them the most candy when they went door to door.

I’ve heard many stories about some of mom’s most clever creations.

There was that year that she took an old house dress, cut it in half and sewed it to half of one of dad’s old dress shirts and a half pair of pants. Then she took a mans hat, decorated half of it with ribbons and flowers and glued part of a long blond wig to that side. Then she put makeup on half of Jim’s face, drew a beard and mustache on the other half, put him in the sewed together clothes and ta-da! Half-man/half-woman.

Or there was the year that she cut up an old sheet and made Pat into a mummy. She wrapped and wrapped till all but the eyes and nose were covered. After adding some blood colored ¬†paint to make it more scary she sent her out to trick-or-treat. The only flaw was that she came undone periodically and the neighbor’s had to keep re-wrapping ¬†her!

My favorite was the year she found an old worn summer blanket with a southwestern print hiding at the bottom of the box. She borrowed three long sticks my dad had in the shed, probably left over from some project, and tied top ends together. Then she attached the blanket over the sticks. The result was a four foot Native American teepee! After adding a slit for a door and another for looking through, Jim climbed inside and just carried it around. When he got tired he sat down inside! He won first prize at the party that year!

By the time I was old enough to partake in the Halloween festivities my brother and sisters were well into their teenage years and mostly through with that stuff. The costume box still lived in the attic and mom made me one or two thing but she said I always wanted to be “something pretty, like a princess or and angel” so she usually ended up buying me one of those kids costumes that came in boxes with a cellophane window on top. ¬†Anybody remember them? They were one piece polyester suits with ties in the back and they came with a plastic mask held on by an ¬†elastic band that usually broke before you reached the third house!

I’m feeling pretty nostalgic about all this Halloween stuff. Too bad there is no one in this house trick-or-treating this year. Maybe I can dress up the cats?

This post has been added to the Leisure Link at Perspectives On. Stop over and check out the other leisure posts!

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. Se√Īora 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!

J is for Jokes

So I spend my day surrounded by kids and kids love to tell jokes. I don’t always get the jokes and sometimes that’s because they don’t really make sense. But I laugh anyway.

Here is a selection of some that do make sense. I warn you, though, most of them were told to me by third graders so there is a pretty big groan factor. Enjoy!

How do you make a tissue dance?  /   You put a little boogey in it!

Why do fish live in salt water?   /    Because pepper makes them sneeze!

What do you get when you cross a fish with an elephant?   /  Swimming trunks!

Why can’t you hear a pterodactyl go to the bathroom? ¬† / ¬† Because the “p” is silent!

Why was 6 afraid of 7? ¬†/ ¬† Because 7…8….9!

What do you call cheese that doesn’t belong to you? ¬†/ ¬†Nacho cheese!

What do you call a sea gull who flies over the bay?  /  A bagel!

Okay, now run out and find an 8 year old to tell them to. I guarantee you’ll get a laugh!

My Classroom is Under Water

Okay, it’s not really under water. It’s just very, very, very damp. The water has since receded. It always does eventually. This is what happens when you work on the lower level (read “basement”) of a school built in 1923. I’ve worked in this classroom for nine years with a very gifted, and very patient special education teacher. This is the fourth time in those nine years that the classroom has flooded. Each time matience attempts to fix the problem, dries out the carpet and we move back in. Each time this wonderful teacher loses more of her materials to water damage, most of which she has purchased with her own money.

This, most recent flood was the worst yet and the principal has put her foot down. We will not be moving back in until a professional is brought in to fix the problem for good. If you Understand how slowly things move in the public school system, then you know that we will not be moving back in during this school year.

In the meantime, we have been shuffled sideways into a smaller windowsless classroom that was occupied by our reading specialist, (she is now working in the conference room off the main office). The contents of our classroom are piled in boxes along one wall and down the hallway. The 8 second and third graders that come and go during the day usually sit on the floor for lessons because there aren’t enought desks or chairs for all of them.

Sound like fun? Our new mantra has become “It is what it is”. We have to sit on the floor with clip boards? Let’s pretend we’re camping! We need to search through the boxes for a book? Let’s call it a treasure hunt! We need to go out in the hall to have room to play a game? It’s a field trip!!! Each day has become an adventure all its own! But there is still learning going on and that’s the important thing, right? Not only are these children keeping up with their math and reading but they are also learning the science of adaptability! The art of making do! ¬†The language of simplification! ¬†That’s actually a pretty cool thing!

Grade School the Second Time Around (part 3)

Hear is what I learned this week….

  • Cumulus clouds (the big fluffy kind) are made up of water molecules while cirrus clouds (the wispy kind) which are higher in the atmosphere, are made of ice molecules.
  • All meat eating dinosaurs walked on two legs.
  • Venus is the only planet in our solar system that spins clockwise. Earth and all the others spin counterclockwise.

I don’t know about you guys but I’m feeling smarter everyday! ūüėä


Welcome baseball season!  I have a husband and a son who are obsessed with the game so my daughter and I get caught in the fall out.  To be honest, I really do enjoy little league, sitting in the sun, cheering on the kids (getting eaten alive by mosquitos) and eating all those great hot dogs.  We eat a lot of dinners at the games once the season starts.

This year will be the first since my son was on a team that my husband won’t be coaching him.  Now that he’s in 9th grade, he’ll play for the high school team where as my husband has foolishly volunteered to coach the 9 and 10 year old squad for our township league.  I work with 9 and 10 year olds all day, I know what he’s in for!  So my daughter and I will be driving between games to route on the men in our lives.  I will do it excitedly, she will do it grudgingly.  Not being a sports type person herself, she has sometimes resented being dragged to her brother’s games (hockey, baseball, basketball…).  We made him go to a few Girl Scout events just to even things out.

The first practices have begun and the games will be right around the corner.  I’m excited for the Philadelphia Phillies, our local major league team, to play too and we’ll try to make a few of their games as well but I’m really looking forward to the little guys putting their all into the game just for the love of it.  That’s my kick.