Mother of the Year: Locking My Kid in the Car

A typical Monday night for me involves dropping Miles off at dance and then finding somewhere to entertain Emerson for an hour while we wait. On this particular Monday night, I was excited to take him to the local coffee shop to share a bit of time together. I opened the passenger door, threw my keys into the driver’s seat, unlocked all the doors, opened the back door, put Emerson in his carseat, unlocked all the doors again, and then closed the doors. Except I hadn’t unlocked the doors the second time. I locked them. With my kid AND MY KEYS inside! I had won my Mother of the Year award.

Mother of the Year: The Time I Locked My Kid in the Car

“Not cool, Mom! Not cool at all!” ~Emerson

To my credit, I did not panic. I didn’t cry. I didn’t scream or freak out. I just called my husband to ask what I should do. He works late on Monday nights teaching a class, so I figured he’d tell me to call the insurance company for a locksmith. Instead (after some choice words), he said he had just enough time to drive to town to unlock the doors for me. His work to the ballet studio is about a twenty minute drive, so it was time for me to get creative.

I began playing peek-a-boo with Emerson to keep him entertained. He thought it was hilarious…for about three minutes. When he started to freak out, I thought I’d try to teach him to undo his carseat so he could unlock the doors himself. In hindsight, teaching a two-year-old how to unbuckle himself was probably a terrible idea. Can you imagine driving down the highway when he decides to pop himself out and wander around the van? Stupid idea. Thankfully, he couldn’t figure out how to unbuckle his seat. However, he was still pissed.

I was jumping and making faces to entertain him so he would stop screaming when a lady walking her dog wandered over. I’m sure she thought I was an absolute crazy person, so I explained to her what I was doing. She tried to help out by showing Emerson her dog and trying to pry the back window open. She was very nice. I never caught her name, but thank you anonymous lady who didn’t completely judge me for being Mother of the Year (at least not outwardly).

Finally, I had a genius idea. I opened Netflix on my phone, turned on Emerson’s favorite show, and turned the volume up all the way. Then, I held my phone directly against the window. He immediately stopped screamed. Tears dried up. He was a happy camper. My husband showed up not long after (he must have sped almost the entire way home, because it only took him fifteen minutes to get to us.) Later that night I texted my best friend: “Sorry friend. I won mother of the year tonight. You’re out of the running. Maybe next year.” Sorry to all the mothers out there. I’ve clinched the title. The trophy is in the mail.

*Just a note: I am very grateful I wasn’t so stupid midwinter or midsummer. It was a nice 55 degree day. No danger of my kiddo overheating or freezing.

Where to Find Me

I’m heading out this evening for a three day, three night yoga retreat. Electronics will be limited, so I won’t be able to check in much. However, I wanted you all to know where you can find me around the interwebz.

Where to Find Me on the Internet

Where can I find you? Share your links in the comments!

My Number One Organization Tip

It’s the second Monday of the month, and I’m linking up to All Kinds of Things with this post about organization. A disclaimer: I am not the most organized person. I would love to be much more organized. I have an entire Pinterest board dedicated to organizing my house and my work and my life, but I still have a difficult time keeping up. I have one organization tip, though, that has especially helped me at work. My Number One Tip for Organization I cannot take full credit for this tip. I learned it in one of my School Library Media Specialist courses. I’ve started using it at work, though, and absolutely find it to be the most helpful task I can complete each day to get me organized and prepared. And, it only takes about five minutes to complete. So, what is the tip?

Before you leave work, clean up your desk. Then, write a to-do list for the next day. Leave the list right on your desk so that it’s the first thing you see in the morning. Why is this helpful? First, your desk is already organized and ready to go. You’re not starting your day throwing away old paperwork or filing it where it belongs. Second, your to-do list is front and center. You know exactly what needs to be done as soon as you walk into work. Throughout the day, you can cross out or highlight the tasks you complete, which gives you a huge sense of accomplishment. At the end of the day, you can either start a new to-do list or add to the one you didn’t finish. I’ve always been a list maker, but the practice of actually having it sitting on my desk waiting for me the next morning has been a huge help. I’m not scrambling in the morning trying to figure out what needs to get done. It’s the perfect way to start the day organized and ready.

What do you think? Do you write to-do lists? What’s your number one organization tip? Share it in the comments and check out the other blogs sharing organization tips this week.

All Kinds of Things

Ten Significant Books

A fun activity has been making the rounds on Facebook that asks people to share 10 books that made a significant impact on their life. I adore books, so this is a trend I can get behind. I’m sharing my list here along with a brief explanation on why I chose each book.

Ten Books that Made a Significant Impact on my Life

  1. Jane Eyre by Charlotte Bronte: I read Jane Eyre straight out of high school and before I began college. I hadn’t enjoyed reading for pleasure since my Babysitter’s Club days, and Jane Eyre was the book that made me love reading books that were not required of me. I reread this book every other year, and I still love it as much as I did the first time.
  2. To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee: Unlike most of America, I didn’t read this book until years out of high school. I picked it up as an obligation really. How could I be an English teacher having never read To Kill a Mockingbird? I loved it, of course. It’s also one of my favorite books to teach. Students love the trial of Tom Robinson, and we get into some amazing conversations about racism. Powerful book.
  3. Anthem by Ayn Rand: I read this book my freshmen year in high school in honors English. It’s short and simple to read, but has some powerful messages. Anthem was my first introduction to dystopian societies which remain one of my favorite types of stories to read. I also enjoy teaching this book and introducing students to dystopia.
  4. The God of Small Things by Arundhati Roy: I read this book for my Contemporary Fiction class for my undergrad degree. The words in this book are pure poetry and the language is savored like a fine meal. The juxtaposition of the beautiful language to the melancholy subject provides a powerful punch. The story behind the censorship the author had to endure in her home country makes the book all the more important.
  5. Atonement by Ewan McEwan: Another book I read in Contemporary Fiction. We learned about metafiction through this book which completely blew my mind. The idea of an unreliable narrator was also fascinating to me. This book really makes you think about storytelling and truth in a way you wouldn’t expect.
  6. Ariel by Sylvia Plath: I love poetry, and something about Sylvia Plath just shoots straight to my soul. Her words linger long after I’ve put the book away. I wrote an essay on the poem “Ariel” for my American Literature class in college, so there’s a special place in my heart after long hours of interpretation and research.
  7. Persepolis: The Story of a Childhood by Marjane Satrapi: I’ve read both of these books which opened my eyes to the value of graphic novels. This book also sparked my interest in the status of women in Middle Eastern culture. I’m fascinated by this topic mostly because it makes me appreciate how much women have come in my own culture (even if we still have a ways to go).
  8. The Kite Runner by Khaled Hosseini: Another fascinating look at Middle Eastern culture, this book broke my heart and put it back together. The relationships in this book revealed connections and hurt and pride that I could never imagine.
  9. East of Eden by John Steinbeck: I love John Steinbeck. After weeping while finishing Of Mice and Men and soaking my tissues through The Grapes of Wrath, I decided to dive into East of Eden. The battle between good and evil that plays out in this novel makes you really think about the world and humanity and forgiveness. I’d like to reread it some day soon.
  10. Harry Potter Series by J.K. Rowling: In college, I took a class on Children’s Literature. We read the first book of the series as our example of children’s novels, and I was instantly hooked. The books, the movies, the apparel, the toys. I’ve had it all. And, I love that I can share Harry Potter with my sons. I read the entire series to Sinjin and can’t wait until my other boys are old enough as well.

Your turn! What are ten books that have made a significant impact on your life? I’d love for you to share them in the comments.

Lisa of Balancing Bedlam is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to amazon.com

Currently

Currently Writing, Anticipating, Missing, Wearing, and Craving

Today, I’m linking up with Anne over at In Residence and Jenna at Dearest Love to share what I’m currently writing, anticipating, missing, wearing, and craving. Come play with us and share your “currently” list.

Writing: Technical Writing presentations, handouts, and assignments. I’ve never taught this class before, and the books are so outdated, they’re virtually useless. I’m trying the best I can to make this class as relevant as possible for my high school kids while not boring them to death. I’m pulling from multiple sources. I’ve never had to prep this much for teaching, because I’ve always been able to rely on my knowledge and love of literature and academic writing.
Anticipating: My three day, three night lady’s yoga retreat! I cannot wait for the quiet, the friendship, the crafts, the hiking, the yoga, the wine, and the fun! I’ve never done anything like this before, so I’m excited for this new adventure.
Missing: The lazy summer days with my boys. Back-to-School means being away from my boys most of the day. I miss having them with me all the time and enjoying the warm weather with them.
Wearing: My fitbit flex. I’m counting steps and notice that I’m walking so much more now that I’m back at work. Those trips to the office, the copier, student’s desks, the white board, the supply closet, the window, the fan, and everywhere else add up quickly! My goal is 7000 steps a day, and I’m almost always making that on a weekday.
Craving: Steak! My husband can’t eat red meat, so we usually avoid having it in the house at all. It’s so much easier making one meal with ground turkey or pork chops than dealing with making him something separate. I’ve been dreaming about a nicely cooked steak lately. Medium Rare. Perfection.

September

September is a month of change. Getting back into routine, finding the time to keep up on things, dealing with new weather patterns. Time to get out the thick jackets, purchase new hats and gloves, and plan on hearty, hot meals. September has never been my favorite month, but I think we can all agree it can be peaceful. There are no huge holidays to prepare for. The air becomes crisper, but also a bit more silent and tranquil. We’re settling in and preparing for the winter months.

I love this poem by Amy Lowell reflecting on September during a difficult time in history. What’s your favorite part about this month? Or are you just waiting for it to pass so that October gets here?

September, 1918

BY AMY LOWELL
This afternoon was the colour of water falling through sunlight;
The trees glittered with the tumbling of leaves;
The sidewalks shone like alleys of dropped maple leaves,
And the houses ran along them laughing out of square, open windows.
Under a tree in the park,
Two little boys, lying flat on their faces,
Were carefully gathering red berries
To put in a pasteboard box.
Some day there will be no war,
Then I shall take out this afternoon
And turn it in my fingers,
And remark the sweet taste of it upon my palate,
And note the crisp variety of its flights of leaves.
To-day I can only gather it
And put it into my lunch-box,
For I have time for nothing
But the endeavour to balance myself
Upon a broken world.

I’m Blank Because…

I’m weird because…

  • I hate water in my face.
  • I can’t watch scary movies.
  • I’d choose sleeping over any other late night activity.
  • I can only sleep lying down in a bed with darkness and near silence.

I’m normal because…

  • I would rather stay home than work.
  • I often get down on myself for being lazy.
  • I can’t wait for bedtime every night.
  • Coffee is my (not so) secret lover.

I’m sad because…

  • Even a three day weekend isn’t long enough.
  • I am behind on planning/grading/working already.
  • I need to do everyone’s laundry this weekend.
  • My refrigerator doesn’t automatically resupply itself with food.

Too Much Work
I’m happy because…

  • I got to spend my entire Saturday with the family at the fair.
  • Someone told me calories don’t count at the fair.

Fair Food is Calorie Free

  • My big kindergartner had a great first week of school.

First Day of Kindergarten

  • I just remembered I have this week’s Project Runway to watch.

I’m excited for…

  • My upcoming three day yoga retreat.
  • My Donors Choose Project to fund new dictionaries for my students.
  • Finishing my current book and starting a new one.
  • Fall TV shows starting soon (Scandal, anyone?!?!).

What about you all? Why are you weird or normal? What’s making you happy or sad? What are you looking forward to? Share with me!

Trending Topics (What People are Searching for on Google Right Now)

Did you guys know you can see Google’s top searching trends on a specific page? What is this craziness? And why are people searching for this crap? Here are the top five trends on Google at this very moment: National Dog Day and Google's Trending Topics

  1. National Dog Day – So sweet. I knew about this from the various posts on Facebook of people’s dogs. I love dogs. I don’t own a dog, but I do have three sons which is pretty much the same thing as owning an entire dog sledding team. Since I don’t actually have a dog, here’s a picture of my youngest son with my grandma’s adorable chiweenie. I tried to steal her, but my grandma threatened to disown me.
  2. Knee Defender – I had no idea what this is about. Apparently, it’s a device you can purchase that prevents the person in the airline seat in front of you from reclining their chair. People are outraged. I have a device similar to this called “my child will kick your seat the entire flight if you recline.” Works just as well I assume.
  3. Josh Shaw – A football player? I don’t watch football. I actually loathe football. Sorry if that offends you. You can love football all you want. Go team!
  4. Tim Wright – Another football player? It must be football season again. I wouldn’t know. Go other team!
  5. Pretty Little Liars – I’ve heard my girl students mention this show. And I’m pretty sure it’s based off a book series. Scandal! Drama! Romance! That sums up every book and show aimed at young adults. Now you don’t have to read or watch it. You’re welcome.

Go to Google Trends right now. Has the list changed? What is the Internet looking at to avoid being productive now? Besides my blog of course. Reading my blog is totally productive.

Eight Essentials for Surviving the First Week of Teaching

I survived my first full week back in the classroom. Sure, only three days of them involved students. But, I’m so exhausted, I can barely stand. My eyes are heavy, my body hurts, and I can’t really remember anything that happened. I’ve had some help surviving though. Some things helped me throughout the week, and I’m sure I’ll be using them frequently this school year. I present to you the eight essentials for surviving the first week of teaching.

Eight Essentials for the First Week of Teaching

  1. Epsom Salt Bath Soak – After sitting on my couch most of the summer, running around the building and classroom did a number on my legs and feet. I was sore every single night. An epsom salt bath was helpful, and I’ll be dipping in to one later tonight. My favorite is Dr. Teal’s Epsom Salt Soaking Solution.
  2. Brainless Entertainment – After having to consider test scores and common core standards and failure rates and curriculum guides, I don’t want to think about anything. Zoning out from my own reality into one completely different than my own helps me check out for awhile. I’m currently working my way through The Sopranos.
  3. Ice Cream – Lunch is at 10:30 in the morning at the high school where I teach. I’m starving by the time I get home and could probably eat a complete meal at 2. The perfect way to drown my exhaustion is with a bucket of sweet ice cream. I prefer anything with peanut butter and chocolate.
  4. A Good Book – Some nights, I’m too tired to get through an entire episode of a TV show, but I need to settle my brain before trying to fall asleep. Whether it’s a few pages or an entire chapter, a good book helps me forget about some of the stuff I still have waiting for me at work. I’m currently reading Girl Reading by Katie Ward which I’m thoroughly enjoying.
  5. Face Wash - I spent a summer without a stitch of makeup on my face. Honestly, I hate wearing makeup, but without it at work, I would look like a tired high school student. Getting the foundation off of my face every night is an absolute must. I use Clearasil Ultra Acne + Marks Wash and Mask to keep my face from breaking out and blending in with my teenage students.
  6. Snapchat – When your BFF lives over 3500 miles away, you have to stay in touch somehow. And what better way than to send the ugliest, most inappropriate photos of yourself to her? We both teach, so we relieve stress by taking the ugliest selfies possible and snapchatting them to each other so no one has hard evidence.
  7. Pinterest – Ain’t nobody got time for long, elaborate recipes after working all day. I use Pinterest to find “cheap, easy dinner recipes” so I can feed my family as quickly and cheaply as possible. Mama’s tired. And, in my district, our last paycheck was in June and our next one isn’t until September. We’ve got to make those dollars stretch. Tonight, we ate this Kid Friendly Dirty Rice, and it was DELICIOUS! You can follow my Pinterest boards to follow along with all the recipes I find.
  8. Sweatpants – Dealing with work pants that are either too tight or two big or too droopy or too stretchy (seriously, none of my clothes fit me right at the moment), I jump into something comfortable immediately after walking in the door. I’m still sporting my high school senior sweats from fourteen years ago. There may be holes in every single seam, but I rock those sexy bad boys like nobody’s business.

And there you have it folks. My essential items for surviving the first week of teaching…and probably the rest of the school year. What’s on your essentials list this week?

Lisa of Balancing Bedlam is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to amazon.com

Meditating on Responsibility

I recently downloaded a great app for my phone called Spirit Junkie. Every day, the app provides a daily affirmation that can also be set up as an alarm clock so it’s the first thing you read every morning. You can then meditate on the message or use it as your daily intention. Most mornings, I try to read it before my shower, so I can mull over the affirmation as I clean up for the day. One such affirmation particularly struck me as important to consider and remember:

I am responsible for the life I live.

Meditating on Responsibility

I find so often that I want to find a reason or an excuse behind any troubles. This affirmation particularly hit home, because it’s so very true. I am responsible for my decisions, my actions, and my choices in life which means I’m also responsible for the consequences. If something isn’t going great in my life, I can trace it back to a decision I made. I can own what went wrong and change it if need be.

The power of this statement, though, lies in the positive actions and results. I am responsible for making positive decisions, creating positive relationships, and carrying out positive actions. In turn, the positive in my life is directly linked to my own efforts. I’m always telling my kids and students to take responsibility for their actions. I find it powerful that we own our life – the bad and the good.

What do you think of the affirmation? Is it something you’ve considered? Also, check out my previous post in this series about life lessons and impactful quotes: Meditating on Contentment.