Friday, April 29, 2011

The Beast: Part 13

I was sick for a couple of days, and obviously I don't remember if it was physical, but I can assure you I needed the mental break. What I DO remember, is coming back to school on Monday. I had a plethora of other things going on in my life at that time, and I was having NO LUCK finding any openings within driving distance. Being Monday, I came in sad and defeated as usual.

On top of that, my students were up to something. They were whispering, looking at me, and snickering. I realize I'm the adult, but I am still affected when I feel like people are talking about me. I ignored it most of the day, but by the end of the day it had escalated.

"What's going on?" I finally asked Monty, one of my students who would ALWAYS tell me, even when it made the others angry. He looked at a girl across the room and said, "Should we tell her?"

"It's up to you," she said.

"You're telling me. What." I demanded.

He pulled a piece of paper out of his notebook and handed it to me.

"What's this?" I asked, noticing student names all around the margins. He just smiled. I read it to myself:

Dear Hell R-IX Board Members,
This letter is referring to the recent resignation of Mrs. Lastname. We believe that she was pressured to resign and we want to make it known that we are very upset that she may not be teaching at our school next year.
We have been told by students that The Beast said to them, "Mrs. Lastname is a worthless teacher," and that they should not choose her for their English teacher. A large number of the student body find Mrs. Lastname to be the best English teacher they have ever had. Mrs. Lastname treats everyone in her classroom fairly. She upholds the classroom rules, and even some of us that are signing this letter have been given disciplinary action which we deserved. We have never heard a complaint, and ahve no complaints about how Mrs. Lastname handles her classroom. the students who wish to learn and put time forth have been taught exceptionally. The students that do not care, she has tried her hardest to get interested, but they've refused her help. Her class is sometimes the only thing we look forward to in a day.
We have also heard from many other freshman students who are not in her class that they would prefer to have Mrs. Lastname instead of Ms. Idiocy. All of the students have enjoyed having her as a teacher and will miss her dearly should she resign. This would be a devastating loss for Hell High School. If she is to resign, we request that this letter be put in her personal record, to give her help in acquiring a future job.
The following signatures on the bottom of this paper represent all of the studnts who agree and testify to this letter. We hope that something positive will come from this for Mrs. Lastname. Thank you for taking the time to consider this letter.

Concerned Students of HHS

Seventy students signed the petition. It never got to the junior class, so that meant that pretty much all my students, and some who were not my students, had signed the petition. Tears formed in my eyes.

"I can't believe you guys did this," I said.

"We're taking it to the board meeting," he told me. "I know you said resigning was your decision, but after some of the things we've heard It has said, we think It pressured you to resign." I was floored. Here I was, giving up, and these kids were banding together behind me, motivating me, pushing me forward, putting their own necks on the line (It WOULD punish them in Its own way were It given the opportunity), and were trying to save my job.

I talked excessively with the assistant superintendent. She told me that she'd like for me to ask for my resignation back. With the student presentation and the documentation I'd already submitted, she thought there was a strong chance they'd ignore Its recommendation not to rehire me.

I refused.

I wanted the last say, and I'd already gained so much relief from letting the situation go.

"There are sixty two people on the list to attend the closed-session," she told me.

"I support what the kids are doing," I told her, "but I would be punished for that if I did get to stay," I confided.

"Well, the board can also choose not to accept your letter, so maybe we will just see what happens," she told me with a wink. "I think if you can just stick it out ONE more year, things might change," she said. She wouldn't elaborate, but she had me believing The Beast would soon be out of power [it turned out she was right, but it was two years before The Beast dug Its own grave, and even then It never left the district].

I decided to let my letter stand, but I decided I would support the kids in their endeavor and attend the board meeting. Before I knew it, the whole school was talking about it. The students who wrote it were telling their story, and there were tons of people who had signed up to attend the special session, and others who planned to come to the general meeting. It was spreading like wildfire, and even into the community.

Parents of the concerned students had got on board. Before I knew it I had the support of my church members and the FCA group as well as the adult FCA. They were all behind me, none of them TRULY aware of what I had suffered, but all of them knowing in some way, The Beast was wrong and needed to be stopped. The upcoming board meeting was going to be the starting point for everyone. Some truly only cared about me, some had suffered by It before and wanted justice, some knew It needed to be stopped completely, but all were lined up and ready for battle AGAINST The Beast. For the first time all year I wasn't alone.

Is this your first time reading The Beast series? You better start from the beginning! Click HERE to catch up.

A Mini-Van, Bad Dates, and True Love

It's Friday again :) My baby girl "graduates" from pre-school today! Can you believe that???!!! I can't! I'm gonna be all "big mama" though and not bawl like a baby. I'm happy for her. She's learned so much and done so well this year! I'm proud of my baby girl, and I know she will do great in "big kid school" next year.

Anyway, to distract me from that, let's get on to Five Question Friday, mmk?

1. If you could buy any car, money not an option, what would it be?
I know this is going to make me totally "old" and "uncool," but I'd SO get a brand-new [wait foooooorrrrr iiiiiiiiiit....] mini-van. I know I only have one kid! I KNOW! But how nice it would be to sometimes strap that one kid in the BACK with a DVD and actually LISTEN to the radio :) Oh and have lots of room for trips and stuff, too. But I'd still keep my car, and not be completely confined to said mini-van.
2. What was your worst first date ever?
Well, probably my date with Wally as seen in "A Tale of Two Prom Dates," which is a must-read if you haven't read it. But sicne I've already elaborated in great detail about that horrific date, I will tell you about my runner-up.

It wasn't really a date in MY opinion. There was a lady from my church trying to set me up with this kid she knew, but it just wasn't happening. I didn't like him "like that," and thought that we were cool being "just friends" who hung out at church and stuff. Well this guy asked me if I wanted to go see Titanic with him. [I also have trouble telling people no]. I kinda wanted to see it, and figured it'd be something to do at least. So we planned to go on Saturday night.

Well Friday night I stayed with my BFF. We were out late that night, chasing boys and sipping Sonic slushies, and then in the middle of the night some boys showed up and broke snuck into her house. They were a bit intoxicated, and had no good judgment whatsoever. We tried desperately to get them out, and amidst the comotion, BFF's mama woke up and found said boys in her bedroom with FOUR of us girls. Not in "that" way, but still. Mama no likey. We were all up all night long.

I worked at the soda fountain all the next day, then was supposed to go to the movies that night. The time came, and my date friend picked me up. We went straight to the theater in a neighboring town, and on the way he said something about "our first date." GULP.

You've seen Titanic, right? The first thirty minutes is a little less than exciting. Combine that with being up all night, having worked all day, and being with someone I was less than excited about and that, my friends, equals unconsciousness. I slept through most of the movie, in fifteen minute intervals, waking when something loud was happening. I thought I had hid my snoozing well, but at the end of the movie he said, "You missed the best part!" I argued that I'd seen it, but he wasn't buying. Then after all that excruciating time, he insisted we go out to eat.

I listened while he talked. And talked. And talked. FINALLY we headed home, and I ducked out of his car as fast as I could, praying he'd never ask me to do anything again after the horrendous "first date." Spoiler: he kept trying.

3. How old were you when you fell in love for the first time?
"I was just seventeen, and you know what I mean...."

I was sure I was head-over-heels in love with "Doug," (who I wrote about on the 'first real date' question) I was crazy about him in that way where you can't think, can't eat, and just wanna be together all the time. We had a short-lived romance, though, and years later I realized I had been infatuated with him and in love with the idea of him more than in love with him as a person.

You might not wanna believe me, but I truly believe I never knew what being IN LOVE was like until I met my Mister. I loved the people I had relationships with. There was sometimes attraction, and sometimes deep caring love, but I was never really IN LOVE until I met him. I never had that crazy combination of loving someone more than anything, caring about their well-being and their future, as well as being insanely in love with them and having chemistry and attraction. I never believed people were "meant to be," until I met him and JUST KNEW it was him. So the mushy puke-in-your-mouth-a-little answer would be that I was 28. But we can stick with my first puppy love if you want :)
I wouldn't find that again until I met my Mister more than ten years later :) Aww. We're in love. <3

4. When was the last time you reconciled your checkbook?
It's not that hard to do when the bank statement says you have 52.00 and you look at your check book and you do, indeed, have 52.00. The only thing I use MY checkbook for is my car payment and insurance, so I keep track of it pretty well. When I was in charge of a family account, though, I reconciled it every month. I've always been in a situation where every penny counts, and we have to make sure we know exactly how much we have so we don't over-spend.

5. If you were going to fashion a "Wanted" Ad for a best friend, how would you word it?
30 year-old mommy with a 21 year-old mentality seeks BFF. Must be accepting, loving, and understanding. Must not expect telephone calls, but should be active texter and e-mailer. Must love good bad food and good movies. Must not diet or exercise. Spouse and/or children optional. Must be fun, loving, and willing to let me be myself; never mothering me even if she thinks I need it. BFF should support me in all endeavors, and never EVER say "I told you so," ever.

But why would I do that when I have one just like it?  :)

Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Weighing Love

Despite my stony facade or what others' perception (and unnecessary judgments) of my life, I struggle every day with the decisions I make. I'm constantly wondering how everything I say or do is going to affect my daughter. What's going to be that ONE thing she remembers word-for-word that I wish I hadn't said? What "mean" thing did I do that she will torment me over when she's twenty five?  I try to do the right things, and apologize when I know I did or said something to hurt her in any way. I weigh big decisions especially carefully, hoping the positive side always prevails.

So when I went through a separation nearly three years ago, and started the long, painful path to divorce, I struggled daily. I waved back and forth like a thin blade of grass in the wind, unsure which direction would not only benefit ME the most, but what would be good for Chloe as well. It was very hard, and anyone who thinks I did it flippantly or without caution doesn't know me at all.

I put a lot of pressure on myself at that time, and tried to think through all possible scenarios. Would it hurt her more for us to fight it out another five years and rip her apart when she was older? Would I be able to live with myself if I "played pretend" for the better years of my life? Could we live two separate lives but continue to play "happy family" for her sake? How long could she buy it if we did? And even then, would she blame me? Would she be more wounded than ever?

It was awful and difficult. In my heart I knew what was right FOR ME, but I had another person to consider.

Even though I am truly confident I found the person for me and know I am happy and will have a beautiful life with him, there are times I still worry about her. So when she sparks a conversation like this one, it really helps reassure me that even if all my decsions haven't been perfect, I'm doing something right.

"So I'm goin' ta my Dad's this weekend?" she asked from the back seat of the car.

"Yep. You haven't been in TWO WEEKS! I bet he misses ya." I said cheerfully. I try not to press my feelings onto her.

"Ya probably," she said. "I hope we do somethin' fun," she added. She was quiet for a few minutes, something I relish when we're in the car, because I rarely even hear the radio, much less listen to a whole song. Eventually she broke the silence again.

"Ya know, dads are good, but sometimes step-dads are even better!" she said with a twinkle in her eye.

"Oh yeah?" I asked, encouraging her to elaborate.

"Yeah, 'cuz, like my step-dad, he does a lot more stuff for me and does fun stuff, too," she said, bobbing her head as she used her explanatory voice.

I'm not sure what she'd been thinking about, it could've been anything, but it made me feel good. Then she went on.

"You know, even doh Mister hasn't been a dad before, he's a real good dad," she said. "I fink he is anyway. He doesn't even have any children, but he is a good dad," she confirmed.

My heart smiled. I'm glad that she is lucky enough to have a dad who didn't drop off the face of her Earth, and I'm even more glad that she has such a great guy to fill in all the spaces in between and be there for her, even when he doesn't realize that's what he's doing.

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

The Beast: Part 12

Whew. Do you need to breathe? Have you caught up on all my stories? It's really crucial at this point that you've read all eleven previous posts before you read on. You can't "get it" without doing that. OK? Ok. So here ya go: Read up.

1           7
3           9
4          10
5          11
Ms Idiocy
More Ms. Idiocy

For those of you who have done your homework, you can now read on.

I went home after the meeting and typed my resignation. As much as it killed me, I took great joy in typing it out. I wrote between the lines. I made allusions without direct name-calling. I showed off my writing skills. Most of all, I maintained my integrity, and was satisfied with the last piece of my documentation folder.

This is what it said:

To Whom it May Concern-

At this time I find myself in a place I never thought I would be.  Let me first say that I love the Hell R-IX School District.  As a whole, it is a great place to be.  This is a wonderful community.  It is my home, it is where my family has roots, and it is where I plan to spend the best years of my life.

However, at this time I am unable to continue working at Hell High School.  Teaching young people is truly my passion, but I have found myself in a situation this year that is unacceptable to me as a young teacher.  I feel it is best for me to find a place where I can grow and learn.

I have tried my best to work with the administration and collaborate with my colleagues.  I have put forth every effort to maintain a PLC attitude, but I find, at this time, there is no way I can work past the events that have shaped this year.  It has truly been a trying year.  There are many things I could say at this point, but I choose to maintain my integrity and character.

Please accept this as my formal resignation from employment at Hell High School effective at the close of my 2007/2008 contract.

Andrea Lastname

I was on a mission to make sure I was the first one. I didn't want teachers whispering about me behind my back. I didn't want students hearing I was "let go." I was in the mindset of needing to have proof of my actions, so I posted the resignation on my blog (at that time...not this to which students did not have access) with this note:

This is a copy of the letter I submitted today.  Just so you all know and understand it was MY choice, MY decision, not Its.  This is all directly related to Beastly Beast and the way It has treated me this year.  When my time is up at Hell I will elaborate more.

I was not mentally prepared to tell the students about my decsion, but I knew I had to do it. I had to be first. I made several copies of my resignation letter that morning before school. I turned in one to The Beast, and the rest I kept in my classroom.

All I remember about those conversations was that I tried to be very vague on my reasoning. Obviously the letter itself gave some suggestions, but the kids were confused. They wanted to know WHY. Was I taking another job? No. Was I moving? No. Then WHY?

I just told them it wasn't working out and that I felt I needed to move on. I promised I would elaborate more after the board accepted my resignation. That was on Tuesday.

On Thursday I left early, and I didn't return until the following Monday. I don't know now why. I may have actually been sick, or I may have just been using my days to ease my poor mental exhaustion. Or Chloe may have been sick. All I know is that I have absent reports for Thursday and Friday that state "Sick leave for self." I didn't go into any reasoning, because what were they going to do? Fire me? That was going to become my complete mindset for the remaining months.

That is an important factor, because what happened while I was gone those two days is really what changed the course of this story. If not for those two absent days, I would likely write one more post about the last days in Hell and be done. However, these days gave more to the story.

So much more, they lead to another post...which leads to another, and another. And those, my friends, are for another day.

Monday, April 25, 2011

The Beast: Part 11

I sat in the chair across from The Beast's desk for what seemed like hours. There was a knot in my throat so big I was sure it was going to choke me. I took a deep breath and swallowed it down, willing myself NOT to let my emotions take over. Promising I could cry when I left, but not a minute before.

I knew It was taking Its time, just to be an ass hole. I tried working on getting my thoughts together. I still didn't know what this was regarding, but I was pretty sure I was going to be punished for not meeting with them at the conference that morning. I was ready with my ammo for that. In the back of my mind I knew I was still fighting an uphill battle, but I was feeling a little better knowing I had some board members, the super intendent, and an MSTA rep in the know. At least I hadn't fought alone.

The only solace I had at that moment was that It went to get Mr. Assistant. He was an ally. He was a church friend. He had tried to work with me, and he saw the discrepencies in the stories. He was confused by them, but he got it. And he was a witness. One I was sure would tell the truth. So It couldn't twist this meeting in any way.

Finally they came in and took their seats. He already had a sympathetic look on his face, which I knew wasn't good. He looked like a spectator at a crucifixion. Like he knew it was coming, and was sorry even though I didn't know what for.

"Well. I just wanted to talk with you and see what you were thinking," It started. I sat staring at It. It was going to have to give me more than that. "What I mean, is are you planning on turning in your resignation before the board meeting this month?" It asked sweetly, as if It wasn't sabotaging me.

"No," I said with confusion in my voice. "I'm not planning on resigning," I told It bluntly.

"Well I know you're unhappy here-" It argued, but I cut It off.

"It's not that I'm unhappy HERE," I corrected, "I'm unhappy with the way I am treated here this year. I loved it here last year, so it's not the school. It's the situation," I said, making my point without directly blaming It.

"Well I know you've been looking at other jobs," It said with a snotty tone. I'm not sure HOW It knew I was looking to this day. It had to have been watching my every move online. The truth is I had been warned this might be coming, and I was seeing what was open.

"Just because I look to see what's available doesn't mean I plan on leaving," I told It. "I always keep my options open. Never know when there might be a better opportunity," I said. It couldn't "fire" me because I looked at other jobs. I hadn't even applied for anything. "I'm very frustrated with the way I have been singled-out this year, so naturally I'm going to look and see if there is a better situation out there for me," I started. I don't know where it all came from, but I figured it was now or never. "All year it's been the same thing. In our meeting just last week you apologized for "the way things had gone," then you turned right around and told Mr. English that you didn't want to renew my contract-behind my back," I confided. Up to that point I had protected Mr. English, not wanting to throw him under the bus, and not wanting It to know he was informing me of all the covert operations. "You tell him I'm not doing a good job, then when I ask you point-blank what I can work on you tell me you don't have concerns," I added. She shook her head in denial and plastered a look of confusion on her face. "I'm tired of you telling me I'm doing fine and don't have any issues, then going behind my back, even to the board meeting, and talking about everything I'm supposedly doing wrong!" I fired off.

"Well, there's a point in itself. No one should know WHAT is said at board meeting, so it concerns me that security has been breached," It expressed.

"YOU TOLD MR. ENGLISH and he told me!" I corrected. True, I had been warned by a board member, but after that Mr. English confirmed that, and got his information straight from The Beast.

"Oh. Well," It was becoming flustered. It hadn't expected me to bring up these points in front of Mr. Assistant, and It hated when someone challenged it or called out Its lie, because It wasn't a fast thinker. "There are plenty of issues we have talked about, Will among them," It argued.

"Another situation that was completely misconstrued," I fought back.

"Andrea I had to UNLOCK your door to find you two in the corner together!" It tried to keep Its voice down, but I could tell It was losing patience.

"That's not true. There were other kids in the room. I have signed statements from EVERYONE who was in there that day, who saw you come in, and were there when you left," I told It. It simply shook Its head in denial. It continued the conversation, though it was evident no one was open to hearing my side of the story, or my point of view. Mr. Assistant even interjected some comments in support of The Beast, even though he didn't know first-hand about ANY of the situations. I just looked at him like, "How could you?" Silence would have been better than anything.

Finally It dropped the bomb. "I'm not going to renew your contract," It said, as if pulling out the big guns.

"Fine. That's your perrogative. You go right ahead. But I'm not going to resign. I want to be here, I love this school, and this is my home. You won't bully me into resigning just because you don't like me," I said frankly. "If I'm not here next year it's going to be all YOUR doing, not mine," I said.

Mr. Assistant interjected. "I don't think you get what It's saying. You won't have a chance to "fight" for your job. It will be done in closed session. The board will ask about renewals, and It will not recommend your renewal. You'll never have the chance to say, 'Well she said,' or 'Well I did,' Really It is doing you a service by giving you the chance to resign," he concluded. I just shook my head at him. In the back of my mind I HOPED that the board members and super intendent might have concerns and stand up for me. After all, it was only Its recommendation. The board had the power to vote however they chose to.

"Well what a service," I said snidely. "You know, I'm not hard to work with. I always do everything I am asked. I have taught three years now, and worked in schools for years before this, and I have never ONCE had any problem with any administrator," I said.

She then began reading things off the eight million evaluations she'd done. Most of them were walk-throughs, so I didn't get to sign them or even see half of them.

"I know what they say," I said. "I just find it ironic I've never had negative evaluations until now. Mr. Boss didn't seem to have these concerns," I said.

"You think Bob Boss didn't have concerns?" she scoffed.

"Oh I know he had concerns, but I knew immediately what they were. He was in my room many times saying, 'you know I think you could do better with this, what can we do to work on it?' He always addressed his concerns with me, and I always worked to correct or strengthen anything he brought to my attention. He and I worked together to create a discipline plan for a difficult class, and we worked out a rough schedule I still use today to keep the kids busy and moving throughout the hour. He didn't tell me 'good job,' then go stab me in the back," I said, more to Mr. Assistant than to The Beast. Just to let him know he had no business having a position in this conversation because he had NO IDEA about any of it.

She began reading again from her evaluations.

"There's no need to read them!" I raised my voice. "I know what they say, and I disagree with a lot of it. I signed them not knowing I had the option NOT to. Some of them have blatant bold-faced lies in them, like the one where you said no student work displayed, when there was a bulletin board at the front of the room with student work on it."

"Are you calling me a LIAR!?!?" It roared. I wanted to just say, "Uh, yeah." but I didn't.

"I didn't call you a liar. But it's clear that your perception of what happened is VERY different from what I saw in most situations, and I have other people who can vouch for me," I told It.

"Well, it's very clear you don't support me as principal and you never will, therefore you really have no business here." It said so definitely.

"It's not my JOB to support you, it's your job to support ME as one of your teachers and work with me to help me be the best, not work against me because you have some personal vendetta," I said cooly. BAM. I felt like I had put It in Its place if nothing else.

Mr. Assistant looked shocked.

"I think what Its saying is that if you think It is 'out to get you' as you put it, that relationship is never going to be mended, and we need to look at what's best for everyone involved, especially the students," he chimed in. I wanted to punch him. I had the advantage of intelligence over It, and here he was helping It think. He turned to The Beast. "I thought things were better after the meeting a couple of weeks ago [sorry, that should be a post, but I have NO recollection of that meeting whatsoever. The best I can gather is we had a meeting in which The Beast apologized and wanted to start fresh, but told Mr. English immediately after that It would not renew me], but then when I brought it up to Andrea at church last week it seemed there were still underlying issues," he added. I gave him the death look. How dare he. I remember the moment all too well....

We had just had our meeting the week before, but on Friday Mr. English confided to me that The Beast told him immediately after the meeting It was not going to renew me. I was still dealing with all the issues from school, but found comfort in my Sundays at church. That particular Sunday I'd come in and sat down just before my mom came in. Chloe was with me, and we were getting situated in the pew when Mr. Assistant came over to greet us.

"Hey, how's it going?" he asked.

"Ok I guess," I said.

"Seems like things are going a lot better with The Beast since the meeting, huh?" he asked. I couldn't hold back the tears. Sundays were hard for me anyway, knowing I had a full week ahead of me, and here he was bringing up school, and reminding me of the back-stabber and Its plot to take me down. Tears filled my eyes and I walked away. He never apologized, never said another word. He simply went back to his seat, and I sat through church crying, wondering what I was going to do, where I was going to find a job if I lost this one, and wondering how I was going to make ends meet if I didn't find one.

"I don't think anything we discuss at church has any place in this room," I threatened. I was so angry I couldn't see straight. He had an "oops" look on his face.

The two of them continued arguing and pressing the "non-team player" issue, and twisting situations until I couldn't take it anymore.

"FINE!" I said, pushing my chair back hard. "I don't want to work another minute for you, anyway," I said. "You'll have my resignation TOMORROW!" I said, slamming the door behind me. Tears flooded my face, and I noticed the office staff staring. I didn't care. I had NOTHING to lose now, and I planned to tell my story. I knew I had to keep quiet for a few more weeks, because I needed to try to get another job, but after that the gloves were coming off.

I went to see my mom and left quickly. I went home and typed my resignation. I wanted to make sure it was clear The Beast didn't fire me, that I was quitting. I wanted to make sure It couldn't twist ONE. MORE. THING. in my life. After a year of turmoil and fighting with every fiber of my being to keep this job, I suddenly felt so free. Like a drowning person who finally stops fighting and lets go, peacefully crossing over from life to death.

I had no idea, though, that someone would jump in after me just at the last minute, or that "paramedics" would work on me for hours, trying to bring life to my situation once again.  But that's for another day :)

Sunday, April 24, 2011

Expectations are the Debbil!

I'm pretty guilty of having high expectations. For everything. Being a stay-at-home mama now, I get my excitement from the little things. I look forward to things for weeks days in advance, and I think about them often, hoping they will go just so.

Know what that's a good recipe for? Disappointment.

Take this weekend for example. My Mister Hubby reaped the benefits of being gone every morning this week when he shot a big fat turkey. He and "Uncle Dave" decided that if Dave would fillet it (do you fillet a turkey?), "we" (I figued this was code for "my wife") would cook it and have him over for dinner.

Saturday came and I was kind of looking forward to our little dinner party. I had visions of my kitchen being clean, frying up the golden pieces of bird, making a huge pan of fried potatoes and a warm batch of cornbread. I figued the boys would sit in here and racount the story of the kill while I fixed up a nice meal, started their plates, then called them in to finish up thier "fixins."

Cue the ol' "Womp womp waaaahhhhhhh" music here.

Rather, Dave showed up a little early. I was frantically finishing up dishes, and the bird wasn't even completely defrosted yet.

They assured me they "knew" what they were doing, and would cook it "their way."

And they didn't need ANYTHING but turkey.

So I sat on the couch and watched Toy Story 3 with Chloe.

When the living room became so smoky I could no longer tell if I had a cataract or if there was a sudden indoor fog, I decided to check things out.

"TRY THIS!" Hubby said, shoving a piece of meat in my face.

Rubbery comes to mind. Chewy. Needs gravy, or milk, or water....dry.

"Mm. Not bad," I said. "Little dry, though," I added, making my way to the stove.

There I saw the tarry goop that was once clean oil, and the smoke rising from the pan.

"You've got this a little hot," I said, trying not to take over, but kinda failing as I took the tongs from his hand and turned the burner down. "And it'll be less dry if you put a lid on it at first," I added, reaching for the lid. They stepped back. I finished the batch, though I'm not sure ANYONE would eat it if they saw the condition of the pan in which it was cooked. I've scraped day-old leftovers out of a pan that looked better than that oil.

They stood at the counter eating the pieces and talking boy language.

I went to McDonald's as soon as Dave left. And my hopes of a quaint little dinner party were left clamboring through the hot grease and turkey smoke in the house. I think they're still lingering between the dish towels and among the dirty socks, but I can't be sure.

Saturday, April 23, 2011

The Beast: Part 10

I came into school on a Monday morning in late February as I did every Monday. I had cried from the time my alarm went off until the moment before I had to leave the house and put my make-up on. I had wiped away the tears, but my eyes were still red, lids still puffy, and my spirit was crushed before the week had even started.

I opened an e-mail from The Beast that said: "End of Course conference is March 3rd. You WILL attend. It is at CMSU in Warrensburg at 8:00 AM. Ms. Fatbelly will also be going as you two give the EOCs."  Ms. Idiocy also gave the EOCs, but maybe by that point The Beast knew she was too stupid to be of any contribution. I don't know. I replied with an agreeable tone and got the information on the conference myself.

I went ahead and printed out directions that morning and got registered. I was a little worried, because I was without a vehicle at that time. I had been riding to work with my mom, and Chloe's dad was driving himself to work in his vehicle. I talked to him to see what we could do, and however it worked out, I made plans to drive his vehicle to the conference. I had to leave at 6:30 am to make it on time, so I wanted to be sure I was covered.

Later that day The Beast asked me to come sign my latest evaluation. It had been one of those "surprise" ones, and It came to my largest class in the middle of research papers. That's a time when the room is usually somewhat chaotic. Everyone is working on the same project but at different speeds, and everyone needs the teacher's attention. I had been sick when It entered the room, worried about what It would find out of place.

The students were very good. They were silent the whole time, and I only had to correct behavior once. I felt so good about the hour.

However, when I got to Its office and read my evaluation I was confused. I read through it, and It had listed the environment as chaotic, said that students were not engaged, and wrote that a student got up and walked out of the room without permission. I had always signed the evaluations quickly just to get away from It, but after talking with my MSTA person I knew I didn't HAVE to sign it if I didn't agree with what It wrote.

"I'm not signing that," I said quietly.

"WHY?" It roared.

"That isn't true," I argued.

It went on to explain that just because the class was quiet didn't mean it was under control. It heard two students whispering about baseball behind it, and heard one student ask another what Mrs. Lastname's problem was today. As if I can control what teenagers whisper to each other at the back of the room.

"Fine. If that's your perspective of that, I'll sign that, but George did NOT walk out of class without permission," I said with finality.

"I SAW HIM," It argued.

"Go get his planner," I challenged. "I give the kids three passes a quarter. They know when they are allowed to use them, and during independent practice is an acceptable time. He asked to use the bathroom and I signed his planner for a hall pass," I said.

"Oh," It became flustered. "Well. I can change that, then," It agreed. I was still PISSED about the rest of it, but I knew I would have to do what I always did. Write my own version of the situation and attach. It reprinted the evaluation with the comment about George erased, and I signed it begrudgingly.

The days passed, and it was time for the conference. I was up and around, got itty bitty Baby Chloe ready for her day, and headed to the University.

I arrived with about ten minutes to spare [as is typical of me], and decided to go on in to the room. I followed the herd, and found the room quickly. I signed the attendance sheet and noticed Ms. Fatbelly wasn't there. I was glad I didn't ride with her.  I collected the literature and looked for a place to sit.

I immediately saw a principal from a neighboring district who I went to church with, and he was seated with a principal from a district where I'd done a maternity leave a couple years earlier. I sat with them and took notes as the conference began.

At about 8:20 there was a ruckus at the door, which was at the back of the room. There was giggling and whispering as a group of women entered the room. The speaker stopped. Everyone turned around. I was appalled as I saw the group enter the room. The posse? Ms. Fatbelly, Ms. Business, Ms. Math, and Ms. Careerplanning...followed by....THE BEAST.

Mr. Principal leaned over, "Isn't that your group?" he asked with a grin.
"Yeah," I said, embarrassed that these were children adults from my school. I was kind of irritated that I hadn't known all these people were coming, and that they all rode together, something that would have made my home situation much easier had I known. On the other hand, I was glad I had been on time and didn't have to associate with their junior-high-esque behavior.

Ms. Business caught my eye about half-way through the conversation and waved at me. I smiled and waved back discreetly. I didn't want to be associated with their rude behavior.

The conference was short. The state hadn't got the test ready in time for this conference (IMAGINE!), so the lady answered some questions, and we were out of there before ten. I stayed in the conference room for about fifteen minutes and visited with the principals at my table, then talked to a counselor by the door. The ridiculous group from my school was in the corner whispering and giggling. I collected my things and headed home, glad to have some time to decompress.

I was about ten minutes from home (so combined with the 15 minutes I stayed after, and the five minutes in the drive-through, it was an hour and forty five minutes after the conference had ended) when I had a call on my cell. It was an odd number, so I answered. I didn't know who it was, but my gut seemed to know, beecause it was churning.

"Hi, this is The Beast," it greeted coldly.
"Hello," I responded.
"I didn't even know you were AT the conference today," It said. I wanted to tell It if It had been on time It might have known, but I kept my mouth shut. "We are all going to the Country Kitchen to discuss what we learned. Will you join us?" It asked. I also wanted to tell It they couldn't have learned much since they missed the first twenty minutes of a two hour conference and the test wasn't even ready yet, but I simply told the basic truth.
"I'm already to Lincoln," I said, "I can't turn around and come back now." There was NO WAY.

I was fuming. I couldn't beliebe It had the nerve to say It didn't know I was there. It MADE me go. I know It made sure I WAS there, because It would like nothing more than for me to have missed it so It could tattle on me.

I went to my friend's house and bawled my eyes out. I told her the whole situation this time, and she let me wallow on her couch. We started a movie and I had just about cried myself to sleep when my phone rang. It was the school. I hoped it was my mom.

"Hello?" I answered.
"Hey this is The Beast. I need you to come out to my office right away," It demanded.
"OK," I agreed. My gut was in knots. I knew it wasn't going to be good. I was sick to my stomach and just wanted to crawl into a hole and die. I was past the point of being able to handle the constant harassment and bullying. I was tired of doing the right thing all the time only to be punished for it. I was broken before I even got to the school.

I went into the office where the secretary greeted me.

"Whatcha need, Andrea?" She asked.
"The Beast wanted to see me?" I questioned. It was nowhere in sight. I sat outside the office for about ten minutes when It finally arrived.

"Go on in," It said with cold death in Its eyes. "I'm waiting on Mr. Assistant to join us," It said. It then went on acting like a pre-teen, bragging to one of Its spawn that It could wear Little Its clothes, and was sporting Little Its shoes, giggling like a school-girl.

Finally Mr. Assistant arrived, and what would transpire in that meeting would blind-side me and change my life forever...

Friday, April 22, 2011

Five [Easter] Question Friday

Happy [Good] Friday!! I'm very excited for this Friday. I have my first date with my new HUSBAND tonight :) There are talks of a little couple's turkey hunting in the morning, and many other festivities this weekend! We're going to fry the turkey the boys got yesterday and have dinner with Uncle Dave, color eggs, and spend time together. The big bunny should be by tomorrow night, and we're heading to church with my mama on Sunday. I'm excited :)

Anyway. All that said, the other great thing about Friday is 5QF!!

1. What is your favorite Easter tradition?
That's a tough one since Easter seems to be a little different every year. One thing that The Mister and I started last year, though, was having Easter dinner at home, just the three of us. We are so often bustling around trying to see family on holidays that we don't get time to JUST be a family. So last year my mama got her choice of Easter service with us or dinner, and she chose service. After doing it, we found we really loved it, and we are going to continue it. We will go to church with Nana, come home and have our little family dinner, then probably see Mister's mama in the evening. I like taking time to just be together.

2. Are you a "shower" or a "long, hot bath" kind of person?
Looooong hooooooooot baaaaaaaaaaaath. I take a shower if it's morning, or if I need to get ready to go somewhere, but if there's no hurry and my only purpose is to get clean before bed, you better believe it's a bath. Sometimes I run it full of hot water, then let the water warm up again and finish filling it to the TIPPY! TOP! Then I lock the door, put my earbuds in and be gonnnnnne! Ahh.

3. Can you parallel park and if so when is the last time you did it?
I can. I think. I was really good at it in driver's ed, and that would be the last time I did it! We had a ton of snow on the ground when I took my driving test, so all the parallel parking spots were full of plowed snow and I got an automatic score on that part. I've lived in small and smaller towns since then, and really never have a need to parallel park. When I do need to, there is usually a double-space open and I just slide right in. People NEVER stop for parallel parkers around here, either. Just a little random gripe ;)

4. What is your favorite Easter candy?
Reeses peanutbutter EGGS!!!!!!!!!!!! I start buying them the day after Valentine's and probably keep them in business throughout the Easter season. I mourn for a few weeks after Easter when my eggs are all gone and there are no more to be found. They are THE BEST!

I'm also with Mama on this one, I LOVE the SweetTart chicks and bunnies. Those were always my favorite in my Easter basket. I would eat them until my tongue was raw.

5. Easter: do you go all out with the Easter Bunny or focus on the religious part of the holiday?
I think it's a pretty even mix. The Easter Bunny visits, but I don't put a lot of emphasis on any of the holiday characters. I let her believe, and I help the ol' bunny out with his deliveries, but I don't hype it up. I'm still having problems with the whole idea of "lying" about such characters. So I prefer to keep a neutral stance on that, and when asked, I will tell her the truth. I think.

We go to church on Easter, even if that's the only Sunday we go all year. Yeah. We've become "those" people. We used to go every Sunday, but lately that just doesn't happen. But we talk about the true meaning of Easter and I feel we put as much emphasis on the religious part as we do the bunny stuff.

Thursday, April 21, 2011

The Beast: Part 9

Life was pretty much a mess. I was back at school, but hating it. The stress was taking a toll on my mind and body (although I have to say my butt was looking great). I had survived January for the most part, when I got a phone call from my mom.

"Hey," she said, "I talked to Mr. Boardmember at the game tonight," she said. I waited for her to continue. "He said to tell you you really need to be watching yourself. Watch your time-management. Watch your behavior," she concluded.

"What's that supposed to mean?" I asked, confused.

"He wouldn't say anything specific. I gathered that something must have been said at board meeting. He can't tell anything that goes on in closed session, but he wanted to let you know you're in trouble," she said.

I didn't know what more to do. I was already working the poor kids to death. I was dealing with whatever behavior issues I had in class, and was cracking down to the point that even the kids who liked me seemed to be getting irritated with me. It's like telling someone with brown hair she better dye it brown before she gets in trouble. What's she supposed to do?

I had contacted my MSTA representative and had been talking with her weekly at least. She basically left me on my own, saying without tenure, I could be non-renewed for any reason the principal chose, because they didn't have to have a reason. So if It didn't like my shoes or my haircut, It could recommend I not be renewed, give some bluff about performance, and never have to show any documentation proving Its point. The board would just take Its word for anything It said.

Unsure where to turn, I waited for a few weeks, then called a couple of the board members. If nothing else, I wanted them to have the truth before my name was slaughtered in front of them. That's when I took my huge documentation folder to Mr. Boardmember.

He thumbed through everything I had, and asked to keep a copy so he could read it extensively. He knew I was in danger, but until he read that file, he had no idea to what extent. He wanted to help me. I think he had some inclination that I was being targeted unfairly. I had to keep our meetings under wraps, because he didn't want anymore trouble than either of us could handle, but I felt like if nothing else SOMEONE knew my story.

This was when I found out that I supposedly "refused" to go to that W2L conference to which I rode the school van. He was baffled. He couldn't tell me very much, but I knew that he was seeing two VERY different sides to the stories he'd already heard. I imagine he only knew her version of the Will and Suzie story. To see it in front of him, with signed statements from all other parties probably threw him for a loop. He led me to believe my situation was much deeper than either of us had known before coming together.

Soon after that I phoned another board member and begged him to listen to my side of the story. He was also all ears, and was not surprised at what I had to tell him. He was one of very few who knew better than to buy into The Beast's manipulative, tangled web of lies.

Finally I reported to my MSTA rep what was going on. She wanted to meet with the suprintendent and me, and tried setting up that meeting. He refused. However, I was surprised when he called me at home. He had been alerted to the fact that I had massive documentation that raised some staunch questions in regard to The Beast's stories. He wanted what I had, but he was TOO AFRAID to have it at school. HE FEARED THE BEAST. He was The Beast's superior.

He arranged a time for me to deliver the folder. I was still skeptical. I feared he was working WITH The Beast and wanted to see my hand so-to-speak. But at that point, I had nothing more to lose. All that was in my folder was the truth, which The Beast already knew, even if It had made up Its own version.

"Call me from the library," the Superintendent told me, "on your free hour. I will unlock my vehicle from my office window, and you can take the documents out and place them in my front seat. I'll watch for you. When you're done, shut the door and walk back into the building. Don't look to my window. It needs to look like you're just putting a file in my vehicle," he told me.

I felt like we were orchestrating a drug deal or a bomb threat. Here I was, planning a covert operation with my highest powered boss, both cowering in fear over The Beast. It didn't make sense, but I knew by that time I was working in The Twilight Zone, and there was nothing else to do but take what came and deal with it, however weird it may be.

The hiring board meeting was coming up in a few weeks, and I wanted all my guns loaded. I wasn't going to lay down and let It mow me over. At the very least I wanted my side of the story out there, and I felt I'd done what I could to expose the truth. Now all I could do was wait.

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

A Walk to Remember: Wedding Tale 1

When we first started wedding plans I wasn't sure what my vision was. But I knew one thing: I wanted to have the song "You Got What I Need" at the wedding. My original plan? Have someone play it instrumental while the girls walked down the aisle ahead of me. Finally I asked our friend Wade to play the song. I wasn't sure he'd want to do it, but I figured it wouldn't hurt to ask.

He said he would do it, and by the time we talked again, I had decided I wanted vocals. But who? Who could sing? His sister could sing. My friend Brenna :) So I twisted her arm (didn't have to twist very hard) and she said she'd do it. So I envisioned Wade and Brenna being a part of the wedding in this way:

Vision accomplished! A bonus? Wade sang WITH her and they made one of my favorite songs a VERY special part of the wedding.

At rehearsal the night before only Wade was in attendance. I had him hang out so he could see when he was supposed to sing and we could decide where to put them, etc. We went through the whole thing a couple of times, and went our separate ways.

Driving home from rehearsal I began to feel nervous. I began thinking about the day ahead, and started to wonder if walking down the aisle alone was a good idea. It is what I wanted. I felt like an adult and I felt that walking with my dad who I rarely see just didn't fit our life, or our wedding. I started to panic, and even day-dreamed about making my brother, or even my new brother in law, walk me down at the last minute. They both had jobs, though, that I needed them for, and I figured I could suck it up and be brave.

When I arrived at home and opened my Facebook, though, that all changed.  I had an e-mail from Wade's girlfriend, who I had been talking with about wedding things all week. She was kind enough to help out with some of the little details I couldn't do myself at the last minute. Expecting something of that nature, I was floored when I read the message.

I won't post the whole thing, but this was the part that made me tear up:
...Wade asked me to email you. Didn't want to sound intrusive or anything by any means, or somehow come across offensive...but Wade would like to know if you'd like him to walk you down the aisle...

I wasn't sure why, but suddenly I DID. I did want him to walk me down the aisle. It melllllllted my heart that he would even offer. Here I was worried about putting him out by asking him to play in the wedding, and he was offering to walk me down the aisle.

I called my Mister immediately and asked him if he thought it was weird (didn't want to spring it on him!). He didn't think so, but thought he'd ask his BM what he thought. His response? "Who gives a SHIT what anyone thinks? If that is what she wants, and you're fine with it, do it!" :) I let my brother in on the situation as well, so he wouldn't be offended. After all, we'd just practiced and no one knew about this major change yet! He understood, and knew I needed him to be back there to get Chloe in line, open the doors for me, fluff my dress, and get back to film. We were set.

I explained to Wade my reasons for having decided to go alone, then my little post-rehearsal freak-out, and told him I would LOVE for him to walk me down the aisle. He's a special guy, and even though I'm sure many people didn't "get it," it made sense to me.

Before the ceremony I heard he was trying to convince the preacher he was my dad, and he was explaining to my Mister how he felt during the rehearsal and how it bothered him to see me walk alone. He finally came to get me a few minutes before things started, and that's when I realized I DID need someone to be there, even though I hadn't known it.

You can't see it in these pictures, but I had a hold of his arm for dear life. I wasn't nervous about commiting my life to my Mister. I did that a long time ago. But the wedding and the people had me freaked out. I had a small episode before we went up, my heart pounding, and my mind SO thankful I had an arm there to hold onto. Someone who has been a little part of our lives separately AND together. Someone who gets us and accepts us. Someone so sweet to be worried about me walking alone. Someone who felt compelled to step into that special spot.

We were both nervous, him mostly about stepping on my dress, me about the whole ordeal, but he got me there in one piece. He made my day even more special. And now he'll forever be my "Dad" :)

A Very Late 5QF

I realize it is Wednesday, and a new 5QF will be up soon, but I liked the questions on this one and decided to go ahead with it, even though it's super late. I was in the middle of Wedding Week '11 so you can just excuse my lateness, right? I thought so ;)

1. What is your favorite sign of spring?

GREEN. We can have warm days out the wazoo, but it doesn't *feel* like spring until I start seeing some green. I get so tired of the literal dead of winter, and when the grass and trees pop, I feel all springy and happy :)

2. What was your best birthday ever?
I would say the year I turned 28. My life was in the dumps at that point, and I was at pretty much one of my lowest points. However, my friend Robin and her girls had a birthday night for me, and it was so much fun. We played Taboo, we drank dog-shampoo (hehehehe), we watched Katt Williams. I'm positive Robin made me brownies (hers are the best) and I had a whole night away from the chaos that was my life at that time. It was memorable at least.

Behind that? As far as all-time birthdays? I guess my 16th birthday was my favorite. We [girl scouts] were at Tan-Tar-A at a retreat for my birthday. The girls put together a little surprise party and cake for me, and we had a great weekend. And of course after that I could drive BY! MY! SELF! which was an amazing new freedom for me, and for my BFF Lindsey :)

3. What is your favorite dessert?
What ISN'T my favorite dessert? I love sweets. I'm seasonal. In the fall and winter, pumpkin pie, hands down. In the spring and summer? Strawberry pie. I'm also a sucker for those Reese's bars. When I'm out? Olive Garden's lemon cake is at the top of my list.

4. What is the best excuse you've ever used to get out of a ticket?
I've only been issued a ticket once, and it was NOT my fault. It was later thrown out.

I've been pulled over a few times, but my submissive nature and sweet demeanor have always come through for me and got me off with a warning. I usually don't speed by enough to GET a ticket. The only time I do is on 83 when I sometimes go faaaaaaaaaaaaaast if I'm by myself. And I already have my plea ready for that one ;) You know, how I've NEVER had a ticket. I NEVER speed. And just this ONCE I wanted to see what it felt like to go FAST in my car. The car I've had for almost three years that's never been over 80 (er ah, almost never). Think it'll work??  ;)

5. Do you wake up before your alarm, with your alarm, or after hitting snooze several times?
Oh the alarm clock. Such a thing of the past. I wake up when I feel like it :) But back in the day when I USED an alarm clock? I always hit snooze twice. I can NOT just wake up. I need time to stir. If my alarm is set for later than 8:00 though, I can usually wake up before it goes off.  Usually!


This is an original poem I wrote. Please don't be simple-minded enough to think it signifies the way I feel at this moment in time. When I write I use all past experiences and feelings [my own and those of others]. I'm blessed beyond measure to have found the person who makes this about feelings of the past :) That said, here it is.


Everyone throws me away.
They use up my love,
Then take theirs away.
Everyone throws me away.

Nobody wants to keep me.
I’m too hard to handle,
Heart tossed by the sea.
Nobody wants to keep me.

Everyone throws me away.
Get tired of me
Being me every day.
Everyone throws me away.

Nobody wants to keep me.
They like me for now,
But can’t let me be
Nobody wants to keep me.

Everyone throws me away.
I’m broken and bruised,
And it shows on bad days.
Everyone throws me away.

Nobody wants to keep me.
I’m selfish and sad;
At first they don’t see.
Nobody wants to keep me.

Everyone throws me away
I’m fun for a while,
But no one will stay.
Everyone throws me away.

‘Cause nobody wants to keep me.

Monday, April 18, 2011

You're Not Average.

I was talking to a co-worker once who said to me, "You say that out in the world you're just an average person, but I don't think the world sees you that way." It was one of those things I'll never forget hearing. It made me realize that my perception of how others view me is just that: MY perception.

I'm not the type of person who hears, "You're SO beautiful" a lot, or "Gosh I wish I had your body," but there seems to be something I emit, even though my looks, in my opinion, are barely average, and my body is far from even that. There's something that makes other people see me as more than average.

So why can't I see it myself? I'm sure not alone.

I got a text from a friend of mine who told me that she felt she couldn't compete with any of these "skinny" girls. "Why do I have to be SO average?" she questioned.

I almost laughed out loud.

There was a time when I thought to myself, "She's so beautiful, so social, so fun. I could never compete with someone like her."

Isn't it tragic how we can't see in ourselves what others see in us? I think so.

So next time I feel like I just don't measure up, I hope I can remember this:

Someone looks at me and sees beauty.
Someone thinks I am prettier than her, or skinnier than her.
Someone wishes she had something I have.
Someone loves me for me.
Someone thinks I'm MORE than average.

Hope you can do the same :)

Sunday, April 17, 2011

My Mr. has a Mrs. :)

The wedding went perfectly. I will be writing about it in a series of posts starting as soon as I get my house cleaned, wedding decor stored away, and my energy back :) Lots of pictures to come. But for now, here's a picture of us at the reception. <3 LOVE.

Saturday, April 16, 2011

A Note of Love

It's no secret that I'm crazy in love. This guy, my Mister as you know him, came along about two years ago and changed my whole life. I was in the midst of a nasty divorce, and was at the least opportune time in my life to take on a new relationship, but when he came into my life, it was an unstoppable force.

I thought at first that we'd just "talk" and save the dating and the falling in love for later when I was more stable, more secure, less crazy, but sometimes life doesn't let you decide how it's gonna happen. We started talking and we immediately bonded. We were best friends. We could talk about anything, and we did. Every time I was happy or sad, he was the one I needed.

Before our first kiss, he knew more about me than most of my friends. In my mind I didn't see how we meshed. He's younger than I am. He's never been married or had kids. He's a farmer. If you've read my blog The Plan you can easily see how our lives were once very different, and the changes I made to my material life in order to make a life with him.

But I've found that all that exterior stuff doesn't matter. Age doesn't matter. Footwear doesn't matter ;) All that matters is that we work.

I'm an emotional person. I'm driven by my feelings and my reactions to the things of life. I've had a LOT of life experience in a short amount of time. I'm jaded and cynical. I have BAD days. "Headache" days where I can't seem to do much more than make it through the day. I'm insecure, I'm moody, and I'm inconstant. I'm a lot to handle sometimes, and I know it. At that time I was coming out of a very troubled two years, and was no less than a big ol' mess.

But this guy? He's strong. He is in touch with his emotions, but emotionally in control. He's rational. He's steady and constant. And you know what I'd say is the ONE thing that he does that has always kept us close? He refuses to let me run.

When things get to be too complicated, or I start to feel too much, I sometimes back away emotionally. Like a little turtle, I retreat to my shell (SHELL TIME!) and close it up tight. I like that feeling of protection and security. But he's taught me that I can still have that in the outside world. He's proven to me that he's NOT going to leave. He's NOT going to change his feelings about me based on my past, or my baggage, or my bad days.

He's seen me at my worst and loves me anyway. He doesn't "tolerate" my bad days. He works to make them better. He's the only one who truly gets me. He knows when I'm retreating, and he knows how to pull me back in. He talks to me about everything, and he cares about how I feel. He says he's sorry when he's wrong, and sometimes he says it when he isn't ;)

On top of all that, he provides for us. He takes care of my baby girl as if she were his very own. He likes to spend time with us, and most days we're joined at the hip.

I'm not saying we're perfect. We have our little fusses. I get my feelings hurt. Sometimes he's a TOTAL GUY and irritates me to no end. Sometimes he messes with me one too many times and I declare him "SUCH an a-hole!" then storm off rolling my eyes and sighing. He leaves his clothes on the living room floor. Every. Day. But at the end of the day, when the house is quiet and the lights are out, we always find that crazy love again. We know how to let go of the worries of the day, how to talk out our problems and our issues, and how to get back to that place where we are the only thing each other can see.

He's my best friend, and the love of my life. He's everything I'm not, and I love that about him. He makes me want to be a better person, and he's the only person who knows how to help me BE the best me. And today, after all this time and all the things he's seen me through, he's going to marry me. He's going to pledge his life to me, and to my little girl.

 And for the first time, I believe in someone.

When we say our vows today, I know he means it. It's not just words. It's a promise. A promise we'll both keep. Today I become his wife, and there is nothing in this world that would make me happier. Today we become husband and wife, making our bond even stronger and our hearts even closer. So here's to true love.

As a final note, I told Chloe last night, "Chlo, tomorrow it will be official. We will be a REAL family!" She looked at me with a smile and said, "Whaddaya mean we'll be a real family? We already ARE a real family, silly!" And she's right. This just makes us stronger.

Thursday, April 14, 2011

A quick WWL update

I am a busy little bee but I had to update this!

I lost a total of 5lbs, but I have gained a lot of muscle mass, so my weight is a little inaccurate. I tried on my dress today sans spanx just to see how it looked, and my belly pudge from try on day is gone! It is not tight anywhere, and is even loose around my booty! The true test? I was able to bend over comfortably in it! So even though the scale didn't show success, my dress did! I look better and feel better! I declare Operation WWL a huge success!

Thanks for all the love and warm wishes. Pictures soon!

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

Ohhhh Emmmmmm Geeeeee

I know, I'm on hiatus.

But I have a minute here. Wedding excitement is like SPEED and I got a high does (of the excitement, not any drugs!) earlier this evening, so I am going going going going.......

And I just had to take a minute.

Because I'm PUMPED.

Because CHIBIJEEBS is following me :) Blog I love. Blogger I relate to and have looked up to as a bloggy womany friendy for over a year now. The only thing that would excite me more is if Ashton Kutcher were following me....and it wouldn't be all that much more :)

So yay. Happy wedding present from The Internet!

Am I making sense? I'm delerious. I told someone today if she saw me in my front yard in my wedding gown not to worry that I was just getting my tan lines right, not going crazy.

That wouldn't be possible because it seems I already have.

My brain is over-run by wedding-speed. So sorry.

OK. Still have to work out and have some cereal before I head to bed. I miss you bloggy friends! Talk to you soon.

Monday, April 11, 2011

Excuses, excuses!

Before I give you the big announcement/excuse, I wanted to do one *LAST* WWL update.

I am back down my 4lbs.  BUT.

Three weeks ago I started cutting carbs and fat, eating mostly whole grain and white meat chicken (grilled of course)...all the while still cooking for my Mister and frying him pork cutlets, making fried potatoes and smothered gold potatoes. I was a raging Hulk making those fried yummy dinners for one wasn't jealous one bit. I started walking (THANK YOU LORD for sunny days!) and lifting weights daily. So while I have not lost a lot in the pounds department, in the inches area I'm doing a lot better! I'm becoming toned and tanned FINALLY, and though my numbers aren't a lot different, my physique is changing. I have a few more sessions to complete, and over all I am happy with my end result. I look better, I feel better, and several of my little fat pouches have turned to brown skin pulled tight over firm muscle. YAY!

That beign said, I have kept my wedding date and information quite elusive on here, but now it's time to tell you.

I'M GETTING MARRIED SATURDAY!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Ahhh there. Now I feel better.

I tell you that, to say this:

I don't have plans of posting at all this week. Should I find an extra minute or hour, I would love to continue The Beast saga and do a 5QF, but I honestly don't see that happening.

In fact, I'm cutting into my cleaning time right now just TELLING you this :)

So please excuse me while I prepare myself and ride into the sunset on my prince's white horse.....

er, ah, in his white truck....this is a farm, not a castle ;)

I'll miss you, bloggy friends, but I'll be back soon with wedding pictures and tales of becoming my Mister's Misses.

Until then......

Friday, April 8, 2011

Five Questions on an April Friday

It's FRIDAY. My weekend has kind of been hijacked due to the fact that my daughter's dad is unreliable. Therefore I am somewhat grouchy, but I shall press on. It's not the end of the world, and I always love having my Chloshmo at home with us, but when we KNOW she is going to be gone, we plan to do all the things we wouldn't normally do with her.

We had planned one last night out together tonight before the wedding. A quiet dinner. Some last-minute wedding shopping, things like that. Now it's going to be a table for three (probably at Steak n Shake) and shopping with a preschooler, which isn't bad, but it's different.

Tomorrow night we have our nights out with "the guys" or "the girls," and I was quite the pouty Patty last night when I thought I was going to be home playing Mommy while my Mister was out footloose and fancy free with his stooges posse. I was able to work it out, though, and have a girls night of my own planned now, and a baby-sitter. So it's all going to work out.

Anyway, being Friday, I have five questions for you ;)

1. If you could change one thing about yourself what would it be?
Ughhh geez. That's a pretty loaded question.

If I could ONLY change one thing about my physical self, it would be my sticky-outy ears =\  I've grown to accept them, I guess, but that's what I was tormented over as a kid. It's been the reason you won't see me out without my hair washed, dried, chiiiiiied, and sprayed. It's the reason my wedding hairstyles are limited, I don't own pony-tail holders, and I keep it cut short. Some days I'd do anything to just have it hanging long and luxuriously past my shoulders, then put it in a pony tail, or wear a hat. Oh and second in line would be my post-baby belly. I wish I had appreciated it more before baby. Oh to wear a bikini and a pony tail....

If we're talking about self-improvement that is non-physical, I'd like to change my worrysome ways. When something is on my mind it plagues me. Keeps me from sleeping. Forces my mind to places it doesn't wanna go. Imagines the worst. I'd like to be able to let go of certain things a little more.

2. Write about a time when you got lost.
The one that stands out the most is from when I was a young teen. Our youth group had gone on a day trip to Worlds of Fun in Kansas City, and my mom had driven separately. On the way home she followed the van, which was driven by our youth guy at that time. We stopped to eat somewhere, and when it came to getting back on the right road, Mister Youth Man was long gone before my mom could figure out where he was headed (why are all Baptist ministers such crazy drivers??). My mom was driving, and my brother and I were in the back. An older girl rode with us, one who used to babysit us from time-to-time.

Long story short we ended up in downtown Raytown at about 9:00 at night. It was dark, and it was scary. My mom stopped at a really sketchy gas station (you know, bars on the windows and doors, and probably a gun behind the counter) and asked for directions. We finally got home, but in the back of my mind I was sure a bunch of thugs were going to shoot us and steal my mom's Nova :)

After that I have alwas sat up front and been the navigator.

3. Camping or 5 star hotel?
It can be a 2 star hotel for all I care, I HATE CAMPING! I hate it! I need hot water and my chi to function. I hate the dirt, the bugs, and the toilets (or lack thereof). Oh and the packing and un-packing. NO THANK YOU!

Maybe if we had a super fancy camper or motor home or something, and we were going to stay in the mountains or near the beach or somewhere really great for a while, and could drive to town occassionally, and someone would pack everything we needed for us...then I MIGHT consider it.

Otherwise, no thank you.

These crazy people who pitch a tent at Pomme de Terre for a week and live on baked beans and fish, and don't fix their hair or take real baths are crazy in my book.

4. Have you donated blood?
I've only willingly given blood once. All the other times it was taken against my will for tests or things of that nature. I hate needles. It's not all that bad when you do it, but the anticipation is what kills me. I was supposed to donate another time but I chickened out.

5. Do you have a budget or do you 'fly by' most months?
We don't have a budget at all. We pay the bills every month, and whatever is left-over (which isn't much, usually) we buy groceries with, put in savings and/or spend for fun money. Our bills are basically our budget. It's hard to budget what you don't have in the first place ;)

Thursday, April 7, 2011

Why I love him...

I have a million of my own reasons for loving my mister, but these are three of the best... snuggling when [they think] I'm not looking...

...or taking a day off work to take her to the circus...

...or spending his Sunday fishing --- with her...

I. Am. Blessed.  =]

Tuesday, April 5, 2011

The Beast: Part 8

After the meeting about Suzie and Will, I knew I had to be alert and on my toes. I had to be watching every move I made, I had to think outside myself, and find every possible way to thwart conflict before it happened, and even then I knew I was fighting a losing battle.

I muddled through, counting the days until Christmas break. It seemed I had a new conflict almost daily. Things were heating up with Ms. Idiocy, and I was already pulling my own weight and hers. Every time Mr. English came to my door, I knew he had some kind of report from "the other side."

"Hey," he said, his face red.

"What's up?" I asked.

"Did The Beast e-mail you about English III?"

"Hmm I don't know, I'll check," I told him. I opened my e-mail to find a new message from The Beast. It said: "I am aware that English III students are watching High Noon. How does that tie into the GLEs [grade-level expectations] and what exactly are they learning?" I read it aloud. I was confused. Our lesson plans were checked weekly (or they were supposed to be) so why was this an issue now that the unit was basically over?

"Yeah, I got it too," he said, "and I've got plenty to show It."

I don't want to get into the specifics, because it's too much history/English, but we had just read The Crucible, and were learning about the witch trials and the parallelism with the Black Listing and MacCarthyism (at which time The Crucible was written). High Noon is another important piece in relationship to the black listing and other things going on at the time, and the students were comparing the characters from the play and the movie. The details don't matter, I just wanted to point out that we were doing this as a learning tool. I mean, High Noon isn't exactly what the kids are raving for as far as movies go, anyway.

Mr. English sent all the GLE information and literature, with an in-depth explanation of how this ties into what the students were learning. I'm 99.9999999% sure it was WAY over The Beast's head (It's not much in the English department), and it surrendered.

It then told Mr. English that was directed more toward me, because I'm "not the best teacher," and It wanted to make sure there was a reason behind it. I rolled my eyes and kept at it, unsure what exactly I could be doing differently since I hadn't even made those lesson plans.

Just before Thanksgiving Mr. Assistant came to visit with me. He wanted to know how I was doing, and he voiced some concerns he had. Then he dropped his bomb: "I'm just worried about you. The Beast says you're really struggling as a teacher," he confessed.

"I don't know what It expects from me," I confided. "My test scores are good, my kids are grasping the concepts, I've had few behavioral problems, and I'm keeping them busy. What more should I be doing?" I asked. If The Beast were that tough on everyone, I would have understood, but there was a clear double-standard. I heard all kinds of stories about other teachers, about free-days (something those kids NEVER enjoyed in my class that year), and movies so far from instruction it was ridiculous.

"I don't know, are you doing everything It asks, and taking suggestions?" He asked. I assured him that I was, and that I had even asked The Beast just a few days before how my performance was (since I'd heard such awful things about myself).

"It said I was doing fine, and that if It had any concerns It would let me know, but that nothing was out of place," I paraphrased. It had been in my room numerous times, but I'd not had any written feedback.

"Hmm," he said, seeming perplexed. "That's odd. It sure doesn't give that impression to me. Maybe I could talk to It, and you and I could work together. Since we get along so well and communicate, maybe I could be the one to evaluate you and give feedback." I felt a wave of relief.

About a week later he approached me again.

"It's a no-go on what we talked about," he said, defeated. And he offered little explanation except that The Beast was HIGHLY against it. I wanted to scream and fall to the floor crying. Every time there was one single shard of hope, it was ripped from me, and I didn't know what more to do.

I just kept going. I didn't think. I planned more than I could teach. I pushed those kids to do more, move faster, try harder. I worked them from bell to bell. And I didn't hug them. Not a one. Everything I loved about teaching was lost, but I was determined to "do better."

A few days before Christmas, The Beast held a meeting. "Finals will be over on Tuesday," It told us, "and the kids are going to be a mess, but I think it is VERY important that we maintain structure those last two days." It then went on to explain what It had in store for the teachers on the last day.

We were going to do a "gift grab." Instead of buying all the staff an equally important NICE gift (as had been done in years past), The Beast decided to buy ONE! AMAZING! GIFT! (I think it was a laptop, though I don't really remember now), a few decent gifts (twenty dollar gift cards), and a crap-ton of crappy gifts. The Beast would give everyone a gift that morning, and throughout the day you were to go to other teachers' rooms and force them to trade with you. There were also clues given throughout the day via intercom as to where the ONE! AMAZING! GIFT! was located.

I was feeling anything but festive, so I wasn't too worried about it. I already had a movie day planned for my classes. They hadn't had the luxury of a movie all year (save the English III and High Noon), so I thought they deserved it.

I had one class in particular that all got a C or better on the final, which was AMAZING! and they had come a long way behavior-wise. I thought it might be a nice reward for them to be allowed drinks and food during that last class period.

LORD forbid I do ANYTHING without written approval, though.

So I e-mailed The Beast:

My 5th hour class all got a C or better on the final, and have come leaps and bounds as far as behavior is concerned. I was hoping I could allow them to have soda and snacks during their movie day on Thursday. Would that be ok?

I got the following reply, which was addressed to ALL staff:
I know it becomes difficult to find things for students to do after they have had their final in your class. However, I want all of you to realize this is an important week and we need to have as much structure as possible. After all, we have missed far too many minutes of instructional time this year. This would be a great time to give enrichment activities and perhaps even just take some time to get to know your students. Please keep your students in class all week. I dont' mind if you show movies that are PG or PG-13 rated. I would like you to shy away from food and drink in the classroom. Thank you for your cooperation!

I shouldn't have been surprised, but I was, when I found out Ms. Fatbelly was having food parties all day in her classes, and so was Ms. Idiocy among others. I, however, followed the rules and did as I had been told, so not to get any more marks of misbehavior, and ended up looking like the lying bitch when my kids wanted to know why the other classes got to have a party and they couldn't. I told the truth, that we'd been instructed not to, and lost the respect of some of my students because it looked like a cop-out to them.

As they sat quietly watching their movie, the chaos grew more and more with each passing hour. The Beast, with its Beastly voice was shouting out clues about every thirty minutes. If we'd tried to have class that day it would have been to no avail. Suddenly students were being sent out to scope out the packages on behalf of teachers who couldn't leave their rooms, but wanted the loot. Special "private" clues were being given to the Cronies.

My little package sat quietly outside my door free for the taking with a note attached: Please do not disturb.

I wanted no part of the craziness.

When my seventh hour class came in they were wound up.

"Come on, Mrs. Lastname! Quit being such a SCROOGE!" they taunted. It was all I could do not to burst into tears and tell them it was no use. That I wanted them to have a party, and I wanted a nice gift from my employer, but that I knew I was worthless to the district, that I was a rotten teacher without hope of improvement, and that I would never fit in no matter what hoops I jumped through.

Instead I quietly shook my head, forcing a smile, and told them I just didn't get into such antics.

At the adult gathering after school, I opened my gift, which was a storage container. It wasn't the worst gift by far, and I know Christmas isn't the season of "receiving," but it was difficult to see one of the Cronies get a brand-new laptop as I sat there staring into the clear nothingness of my container, knowing the money for the faculty gifts was spent solely on one person.

However, my mood lifted as I left the building and I realized I was on break. CHRISTMAS BREAK! A full two weeks without persecution or retaliation of any kind. I was FREE!

For the week of Christmas I did really well. I immersed myself in all things Christmas, and did my best to be there for Chloe. She was sick, though, and I was having other family troubles as well, so it was a very difficult year.

When she was finally feeling better a few days before school was to start again, I took her to her baby-sitter so I could get out of the house.

"Have you lost weight?" she asked me when I came in her door.

"Oh Lord, no. If anything I've gained over break," I said with a laugh, thinking about how I'd eaten nothing but carbs and pumpkin pie for two weeks.

"Well you look really good," she told me. I was convinced it was the lack of stress. The only time Ms. Babysitter saw me was before and after work. For her to see me in my jeans and without worry or defeat probably made me look a lot better.

I had a nice day out, I'm sure, though I recall nothing of it now. I enjoyed my last weekend of freedom, and then Sunday came.

I became overwhelmed and felt suffocated. I couldn't bear the thought of having to go back. I lay awake, letting hot tears drip quietly from my eyes until there were none left.

When Monday morning came, I found more tears, and I wept until the moment I had to wake Chloe. I dressed her, put on my make-up, and dropped her with Ms. Babysitter. I headed back to job I'd come to hate, hoping to do nothing more than muddle through.

Toward the end of the day when I had English II one of the boys raised his hand (did I mention this class of 27 had 22 boys, while Ms. Idiocy had a class of 12?).

"Yes," I called.

"Uh. Have you lost weight?" he asked sincerely.

I chuckled. "No, but you're my new favorite student," I cooed at him.

"Yes you have," Arizona blurted, but in an almost whisper.

"What?" I asked her.

"Yes. You have. Lost weight," she argued.

I looked down at my shoes and noticed the cuffs of my dress pants gatherd around them, the legs hanging off me like a clown. The shirt, a button-up that I had put away when I was nursing because, was loose around my chest, my arms, and my stomach. I looked like a hobo, and I hadn't even seen it.

I remembered Ms. Babysitter's words, and realized I HAD lost weight. A lot of weight. And the worst was still yet to come.