Thursday, March 29, 2012


I started this on Monday night, but alas, it is Thursday, and I'm only just now finalizing it ...

This post is illustrated by ... El Libro de Organismos por Juan B.

And so while he whips out this kind of stuff at school, he suffers miserably through all sorts of take-home projects with his BOTH-OF-US-ARE-TEACHERS-SO-WE-KNOW-EVERYTHING parents and his NEED-TO-DESTROY-TOUCH-EVERYTHING  brother. 

Even though we had known about it for weeks, we waited until the last minute and thus spent a good amount of time this past weekend working on John's Women's History Project, for which he chose for Mama to research Marie Curie.  The project consisted of selecting an important woman in history, and then doing a written, oral, & visual representation of the subject.  There were several Mama Meltdowns Animated Discussions about this important woman who discovered radium and then used her discovery to create the X-ray machine.  Marie Curie was the first female to receive the Nobel Prize in Science, which is not at all equivalent to helping your kid do a project on said topic, but surely at times feels like it.

We completed the report and then worked on the visual.  This consisted of locating a leftover yellow poster board under the couch that has been there since 2007 when we moved in, adding some fancy lettering by Mama, and adhering a 1998, dug-out-of-a-drawer X-ray of The Dad's One Strangely Malformed Tooth.

John then traced over my lettering:   MARIE CURIE INVENTED THE X-RAY MACHINE. 

Mama He was so proud of this project. 

But by some strange twist of fate, the day that the project was due was also his Star Student Day. Hence, I went to the school to dutifully read the Star Student's favorite stories to the class, and while I was there discovered that, despite the fact that both parents are esteemed educators, we are sorely lacking in the visual display category

Y'all:  There were tri-fold boards of Eleanor Roosevelt, dioramas about the death of Princess Diana, theatrical scripts regarding Frida Kahlo, Legoed depictions of Amelia Earhart, and watercolored Bronte sisters murals.  All trying to compete with our not-from-this-neighborhood display of mediocrity.  And to make it worse, about 50% of the 1st grade had chosen  -- wait for it -- Marie Curie.

So, despite my throat full of swallowed pride (we had an entire MONTH to prepare this; why did we wait until two days before it was due?!?!?!?), I walked into John's classroom with an armload of potential read-aloud books.  I was planning to read El Cucuy: Un Bogeyman Cuento en Espanol y Ingles, but when I got there, John insisted that I read Felix & The Worrier and The Berenstein Bears & Too Much TV.  I was disappointed, after having practiced all sorts of pronunciation scenarios with my ONE Spanish-speaking student, but I honored his wishes & avoided the Mexican boogy-man tale about a big, red-eared oaf who kidnaps badly-behaved Mexican children and keeps them in a cave until a a young shepherd rescues them.

Felix was a hit, but the Berenstein Bears -- I fear -- are a dying breed.  The humor about how the bears ended up in the predicament of the TV addiction, which Mama Bear attributes either to the acquisition of the "color set" or Papa Bear's installation of the "TV antenna," was all but lost on these first graders.  Nevertheless, they had numerous examples to share about THINGS THEY WORRY ABOUT (like Felix) IN THE NIGHT.

One of my favorites was, "I worry that my mom might turn into a robot."

After storytime, the Star Student is allowed to show and tell about something and answer cinco preguntas (five questions) about the object.  John chose to show and tell about his newest Lego creations: a tractor with trailer and a helicopter, both of which he had carefully transported to school in a tupperware container with an interlocking clasp.  This presentation predictably divided the class along gender lines.  Boys = fascinated & willing to ask mucho mas que cinco preguntas; girls = daydreaming about dismissal.

All in all, I'd say it went relatively well, given my fear of large groups of children.

Now, this next part is probably something that I should not share on the big www, but I figure if you're still reading then you are more than likely either a grandmother or some really close friend to which I might tell this anyway, so that is how I have talked myself into writing this.

After the Star Student Day, all were tired.  We came home and ate something awful like Tofu Veggie Dogs and raw broccoli.  (Quit judging --> Brian is coaching soccer, so I'm basically single-momming it.)

At bedtime, I walked into John's room as he was lying in bed preparing for the 8 p.m. light-turning-off ritual.  I found him laid up in his next-day school uniform, gracefully biting his toenails.

I said, off the cuff: "Well, that is so gross that I should threaten to tell your girlfriend, but I guess I can't, since you don't have one." (He has only confided in Brian about the relationship.)

He totally took the bait and yelled out, "I DO! I do have a girlfriend!" and then proceeded to spill his guts about it all.

Somehow amidst all of my basking in parental revelation, I was able to learn the following about why he chose this particular girl:

  1. she has the absolute best behavior in the class;
  2. she gets "Es" -- for Excellent -- on EV.ER.EE.THING on her report card;
  3. she is the "most prettiest" girl in the class.

I have to say that I couldn't have chosen three more well organized and correctly prioritized reasons.  I even confirmed reason #1 with Mrs. Torbert, who said "I can't even catch her doing anything wrong."

But the best part of this story is that a couple weeks ago, when I first created the donate button for the Merrell Family, a friend of a friend forwarded it to her friends, and one of them was The Girlfriend's Mother.  The next day I got an email saying that they really appreciated the work I was doing for this family and that they wanted to donate the remainder of the amount that I needed to reach my $1,000 goal.

Cha-Ching!  I don't know about y'all, but I am seeing DOLLAR SIGNS all. over. this.

Beyond the generosity, however, I was impressed by the note that came with the check, which said, "This is how the world should work.  Someone sees a need, tells others, and all work together to meet it."

Good people, they must be.

You see, when I was young(er) and dating, I almost never went out with anybody from my hometown.  So, whenever I would date someone that my daddy didn't know, he would always say something like, "What kind of people does he have?"  or "We just don't know about this, Kimberly.  We don't know his people."  And I probably rolled my eyes.

But now I get it.  I mean, sort of.  On some small, seven-year-old level, I get it.  And I'm so proud that my son, Juan B., clearly has excellent taste in "people."


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Wednesday, March 28, 2012

When he's 100 years old ...

... I will tell jokes, I will read storys, I will have a beered.  I will have white hair.  I will be really old.
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"Look dat bug John!"

Who is worth ore to you than gold?

My little brother is worth more than gold because he loves me.  He shares, he plays with me, and he is even gentle with my stuff.

Thursday, March 15, 2012

Does one of your children read to the other one?

 No?  Well.  That's a pity.

Tonight's choice: How do Dinosaurs Eat Their Food?
My favorite line:  "They try a bite -- even a tiny bite -- of everything." 

For the listener here, this is good subliminal messaging.  Currently he is surviving on chocolate Cheerios & cheese. 

At least he's going to be an English major.

(Anybody who is already eating up (pun intended) alliteration is destined for that kind of stupid thing.)

I need to go to bed.

OU&S --
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Let's hope he doesn't find one.

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Monday, March 12, 2012

Celebrating 50 Years of Pacefulness

He's not throwing gang signs.
The boys and I traveled South this past weekend.  It was a little late, but we wanted to help Macy & Grandaddy celebrate the monumental accomplishment of hanging out together for 50 years with only minor fallouts, avoiding spousal (and child) abuse, and continuing to smile and have good humor about everything most things.   

Side note to Brian: These pictures are clear and thorough evidence of how much I need an iphone if only just for the camera.  Grandaddy is positively GLOWING and the dadblame pine trees are BLURRY.  We just can't abide that sort of second-rate photography in this family. 

Love this one (pic) and these four (people)!
So, I had these really grand intentions of writing a long, rambling heartfelt letter (not that I ever actually do that, it was just a wild hair) to my parents thanking them for all the hard work put into raising me over these last 35 years, complimenting them on the sacrifices necessary to maintain a 50-year marital committment, and explaining all the things I have learned from them along the way. 

This just ain't right.  Do y'all see what I'm up against?
And honestly, if it weren't for these two needy runts, I would have.  And I may still though it might be a little late next year.  But just so you know, Mama & Daddy, I have already written my thesis statement, which is this:  The appreciation of parental love is overlooked until one is faced with his/her own parenthood, at which time there is no time/energy to say thank you in an appropriate way.

Hanging on (and out) since February 22, 1962

For better or worse, I have always tried to make y'all proud, to honor my roots, and yet to be my own person (as you taught me).  Brian and I both feel very lucky to have not one but TWO sets of parents who are wonderful examples of long-term committment, love, patience, and -- most importantly -- undying support for each other and us.

Happy belated anniversary Macy & Grandaddy!

Thursday, March 08, 2012


Today I met a 55-year-old woman named Patsy who is raising 12 of her grandchildren.  Both of Patsy's  daughters have died -- one was murdered, one of natural causes -- and  all of their combined 12 children are living with Patsy (who is disabled due to a bone disorder and diabetes) and her sister, who is a nurse's assistant.  They have a decent house with a relative amount of room (who besides the Von Trapps could comfortably sleep 12 children?), but they are surviving on Patsy's sister's income and enough food stamps to feed five (5) people.  They have a few beds, but most of them are sleeping on the floor, no pillows.  If you want to hear more details of this story, please email me.  Suffice it to say that this woman has her hands full.

I do not personally know these twelve children.  I know one of them pretty well because Brian sometimes brings him to our house for dinner.  His name is Dave; he's precious.  I cannot vouch for each child's ability to behave appropriately or succeed in school or life.  I also cannot vouch for any of their fathers, who certainly are may not be taking responsibility for their children.  But I know this:  These kids do not deserve to go to bed hungry every night.  Nobody does, but especially not in this country where people are dying everyday due to complications of us being OVERfed.

One night, when Dave came over for dinner, we were joking about how Brian goes to bed at 8:30 p.m., just after our children.  Dave chimed in that they often go to bed at that time too.  Because when you're asleep, you're not hungry.

Patsy told me today that they're fine until the end of the month.  At that point, she has no way to purchase "bologna & wonder bread" and the children eat all.the.time.

My TWO eat us out of house and home.  I cannot fathom TWELVE.

So, this post is just to say that if you want to really feel the spirit of Lenten sacrifice, please consider donating to this cause.  My church group, my book club, and numerous other friends/family are contributing in an effort to ensure that every child in this family has a bed and at least one new outfit and pair of shoes by Easter (April 8th).  So far, we have gathered twin bunk beds, two mattresses, some blankets/sheets, a bike, some clothes, and about $100 for food.  Some of these expenses are one-time deals.  Others are ongoing.  I know it's a lot to take on, but I just can't sleep at night knowing that about 5 miles down the road there are children lying on the floor hungry.  It just doesn't set well with my soul.

Tomorrow is a teacher work day, so the kids don't have to be in school ... which means they won't get their free breakfast and lunch.  Those days are inordinately hard for families like this (let's not pretend this is isolated).  I'm going out of town in the morning, but Brian is going to do some shopping for the family with the money we have raised so far.  Please consider helping us (them) further.

With gratitude,

Tuesday, March 06, 2012

Monday, March 05, 2012

Lice 0, Girlfriend 1

At approximately 7:45 p.m., I had given up for the day and gone to bed to read Swamplandia! when Brian suddenly came into the bedroom and said, "I have to cut John's hair."
My first thought was that we had finally succumbed to lice (it's been running rampant in his school for the entire year). One day you'll see a kid with all these beautiful curls, and then the next week ... sheered like a spring sheep.
This information wasn't all that concerning to me until I considered the fact that it might lead to ME getting lice, at which point I closed the book.

"Why?" I asked.

"Because his girlfriend wants him to cut his hair."

We sat there for a minute staring at each other, then the grins broke, and finally the details, which were gleaned during a man-to-man talk whilst The Incredibles was on pause:

John has had a girlfriend since February 8th.  He's not supposed to tell anybody; it's a secret.  But he's already told Kavi and Walker and Gavin.  Kavi about passed out when he found out.  She's one of the two best-looking girls in class.  He doesn't really know what it means to have a girlfriend, but he thinks it's cool that she sits right across from him in class.  He knows it's important to respect her. 

I have to admit.  A girlfriend is WAY better than lice. 
I'm just surprised HE thinks so.
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