Everything else pales in comparison

Since finishing college, I’ve taken great pride in filling out the ‘occupation’ section on forms.

Even though there are incredibly crazy, stressful days, I truly enjoy being a social worker.  I like that my job entails talking to people, a skill I apparently excel at since my grandfather has nicknamed me ratchet jaw.  Despite their cranky attitudes and explosive displays, I enjoy working with my students.  Under all that gruff exterior that they show the world, hides a group of great kids waiting to make their appearance, and I get to help them find their way out.  Plus, nights, weekends, holidays, and summers off help.  🙂  (Sidebar ~ I’m being forced to return to work tomorrow.  Only 190 workdays until next summer break….not that I’m counting or anything!)

As I’m sure you know, unless you live under a rock, which you don’t because you’re on the internet right now, there is another new heir to the royal throne.  (Not that it really matters because that ol’ lady refuses to give it up, greedy much!)  I’m not a royal watcher.  I didn’t get up for the wedding.  I don’t run out and buy the latest Kate dress knock-off.  I didn’t join a baby naming pool.  But sometimes curiosity gets the best of you.

The other day, Twitter notified my that they royal baby’s birth certificate had been officially filed.  This I had to see.

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Seriously!?!?!

Occupation – Prince/Princess of the United Kingdom.  Nothing, NOTHING, you could write down, no other occupation measures up.  ‘Oh, you’re a brain surgeon.  That’s cute.  I’m a princess.’

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Thank a teacher

In honor of Teacher Appreciation Week, I would like to let you all know how much I love teachers.  I appreciate all the time, energy, and creativity they expend, and am so thankful for the things they give not only my own children, but all children in all schools, everyday.

Great teachers inspire a love of learning.  They teach kids without the kids feeling like it’s work.  They present things in fun and interesting ways, wrapping the students in and creating an unmeasurable excitement for the material.  Great teachers not only make school fun, but create memories that will last a lifetime while motivating and shaping our future.

“So what did you learn in school today?”

The standard question that we all ask our children everyday after school.  Well, today I got an interesting response.

“Look Mom!  Look!”

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Can you guess what that is?  Well, I’ll let Trystan tell you…

“It’s a cow’s eye.  We dissected it today!  I found the optic nerve.  Then I pulled it off!  Then I flipped the lens inside out.  I dissected it all by myself!  Did you know the bluish-green part feels like rubber?  I touched it with my bare hands!  Can I have a baggie?  I have to clean out the jar and return it to school.”

As I was making dinner, this got plopped next to me.

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Needless to say, I had a light dinner tonight.

All of this love, joy and excitement was created by the incredible Mrs. Mixan.

picture courtesy of google images

picture courtesy of google images

What, you say, that’s Paul McCartney!  Well, as much as I would LOVE to show you an actual picture of Mrs. Mixan, she does not allow you to take her picture.  Since she’s a life long Beatles fan and once tried to call Mr. McCartney long distance from her best friends kitchen, I think she’ll let me substitute this picture for one of her, just this one time…

Thank you teachers for all that you do you for my children and my family.  I hope you know how much we appreciate you.  And remember, summer is just a few short days away, not that we’re counting or anything….

 

At least I know I’m loved

My kids go to Catholic School.  Every year they have a volunteer mass where they honor all the parents, neighbors, parishioner, and others who have volunteered during the school year.  Since I’m always at work during their weekly masses, I usually try to make it the volunteer mass each year.  A few weeks ago, I put in my sheet for the time off to attend today’s event.

As it just so happens, today is also my mom’s birthday.  Today she’s (29×2) + 3.  (My mom insists on staying 29, so the rest of us comply with her wishes….sort of.)

As we were all running around this morning getting ready, Paige called my mom to wish her a happy birthday, then we jetted off to school.  Just as mass was starting, my phone began vibrating.  I looked at it and noticed it was work.  Someone must have seen my office was empty, but didn’t talk to the main office to see that I was coming in late.  Oh well, I’ll return the call after mass.

Then a few minutes later, it goes off again.

Then another call.  This time from a different co-worker.

I know I turned in my paperwork, I hope there’s not an emergency at work.

Then IP‘s phone starts ringing.

A few more minutes later, I get a call from my mom.

Then another on my phone from work.

Then one from my mom’s cell phone.

Oh crap, there’s an emergency all right, but it’s not at work, its me.

Our father, hallelujah, stand up, sit down, fight, fight, fight!   Please say Mass has ended, so I can go in peace to love and serve the Lord and calm the nerves of my loved ones.

When I step outside to start returning calls, luckily, I’m greeted with endless laughter as I find out the extent to which the Finding Kerry saga reached.

When I didn’t arrive at work, they were worried.  I’m always on time, heck usually early, but no panic yet.  When I wasn’t there after 30 minutes, the calls started.  After not reaching me on my cell or at home, then not reaching IP, they called my mom.

“We don’t want to alarm you, but Kerry didn’t arrive at work today.  She didn’t call.  It’s not like her.”

“Well, I talked to Paige this morning and heard Kerry in the background.  Let me make a few calls.”

Mom decided her best first move was to call the kid’s school.  If they had been dropped off, she could start her search between there and my work.  If they weren’t at school, then she would make a B-line to my house.  Quick to action and ready to roll.  I think mom may have missed her calling by not becoming a detective.

She called the school.  “Um, this is going to sound like a weird question, but, I’m Paige and Trystan‘s grandma.  We can’t find their mom.  Were the kids dropped off at school?”

“Yep, they’re here.  Let me get the Principal for you.”

The Principal, in her infinite wisdom, scanned the pews at Mass before coming to the phone.

“Hi.  She’ in church.”

Praise the Lord!  I had been found.

Aw shucks….I might have looked good on a milk carton.

Meanwhile, back at the bat cave, um, I mean my work, they were feverishly digging through the paperwork, hoping to find proof that I wasn’t supposed to be there.  Eureka!  I’ve found it!  Kerry, 4/25, out 8-10 am at kid’s Mass.  Then my director asked the key question….”Did I sign the sheet?”  “Yes, yes you did.”

When mom called my work back to give them the good news, they relayed to her the mix-up with the paperwork and apologized for the near heart-attack they offered her as a birthday present.

I arrived at work to cheers, applause, and hugs.  The prodigal co-worker that was once lost, had been found.

Some times you walk through life not knowing if others around you really care, if you’re actually seen, if you’d really be missed.  Today I learned how kind, loving, and caring my friends at work truly are.  I’m proud to say that you have given me my Sally Field moment…

You like me, you really like me!

And I love you all!

 

 

 

 

There is no second place

Kicking back on the couch, wrapped in a blanket, eating take-out Chinese, watching the latest Red Box release.  This is a typical Saturday evening in many a household.  Well not in the Soby household!

Our evening was spent at the St Joan of Arc 2nd Annual Dodgeball Tournament.  What, you’re kid’s school doesn’t hold an annual tournament where all the kids sit ideally by in the stands while their parents team up, trash talk, whip balls at each other?  Maybe you need a new school.

Last year, our team had a dismal showing.  Despite the mental prepping and enough bulletin board material released from my husband’s mouth to fill an NFL locker room, we lost both our matches and were quickly out of the tourney.  We came back bitter and hungry this year.

Now, the first step to a successful dodgeball showing, is the costume, um uniform.  A quick trip to Target, and we were ready to make our grand appearance. What do you think?

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I think the game faces really top it of!

Don’t let all the outfits and scowls fool you, I’m really not that strong of a player.  But the game is called dodgeball, so that is what I do.  With a three-minute match where the team with the most players at the buzzer wins the point, running around the court, dodging the balls to keep your team up in numbers is an effective strategy, one that Kara and I have mastered!

Johanna, Kara, and Me

Johanna, Kara, and Me

Time to get this party started!

Brian, Kara, Paulie, Eric, Johanna, and the infamous Peter

Brian, Kara, Paulie, Eric, Johanna, and the infamous Peter

We started out strong, winning our first match in the best of 5, double elimination contest, thanks in part to a round ending dodgeball catch by Johanna to win a crucial point.  That chic has mad skills, she’s my idol!  Match two pitted us against the defending champions from last year.  We lost a heart breaking round 2-3 and were relegated to the loser’s bracket.  Next up was a match against a scrappy crew who, despite their quick hands and good aim, were growing winded and two of their heavy hitters were hobbled.  Johanna to the rescue again.  At the beginning of round three, she announced, “I’ve got sweatpants!” and quickly took out their leader.  Winning that match placed up back against the defending champs in the Championship match.  Since they hadn’t lost yet (those #*&$@^ #*&$^#@!), we had to beat them twice if we wanted them dethroned.  Game on!

Back off ladies....He's all mine!

Back off ladies….He’s all mine!

Totally Sweet!…. And totally deadly with a dodgeball.  He won a one-on-one sudden death match point against our greatest foe in round one of the finals.  Then a little girl in the stands pointed to him and shouted, “Hey, I have that same shirt!”  I hope her parents have enough money to pay for her therapy…..and go home and burn her shirt.

A 3-1 win for us gave them their first loss, and set the stage for the final match.  We took a quick 2-0 lead heading into game three.  Game three began and, before I could blink, my worst fear came true, my whole team was out, sans me, and I was staring at 5 opponents on the opposite side, all holding balls, all pissed they were on the brink of defeat.  Despite my best efforts, and taking out their heavy hitter with one of my pathetic throws, (Sorry, Kevin, but taking you out made my evening complete!) we lost that point.  Point 4 went to them as well, setting up a 2-2 final match for all the marbles.

Twelve adults, 6 balls and 3 minutes to glory.  It was a grueling back and forth.  Great shots, heartbreaking hits, hard falls, and unbelievable catches.  As the final buzzer sounded, three, winded, sweaty, and bruised teammates of mine stood staring at their lowly two.  VICTORY WAS OURS!

Johanna, Brian, Paulie, Kara, Peter, Me, Eric, and Ann

Johanna, Brian, Paulie, Kara, Peter, Me, Eric, and Ann

From first out last year to holding the crown this year!!!  We did it!!!!  We won!!!!

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Now where’s the Tylenol?

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Best Day EVER!!!

Today was one of the days those of us who work in the world of education live for.  It was a SNOW DAY!!!

Snow Day.  Those are two of the best words in the English language.  Now some of you may think that I am over emphasizing the beauty of these glorious days.  You couldn’t be more wrong.

First of all, you have to have a perfect storm of conditions in order to get those school districts to start canceling classes.

First of all, you have to have the snow fall on a weekday.  Last year was a real downer.  The only really measurable snow fall we had occur happened on a Saturday.  What a waste.  I mean, it was pretty, but schools aren’t open on Saturdays!

Secondly, you have to have it snow enough inches to make it start to pile up.  Usually 6 inches or more.  (There’s an inappropriate joke in there, but I’ll leave it alone for now.)  But in addition to the necessary inches, you also need to have the snow spread out over a period of time, say 8 to 10 hours.  It needs to be stretched out so that the snow plows will have to keep going over the main roads, making it impossible to get to those neighborhoods.

Next, and this is the real kicker to the whole equation, you have to have the snow fall during the correct time of day.  Eight hours of snow from 9 am to 5 pm might look pretty, but it won’t keep you home in your jammies.  Ideally, you need the snow to start in earnest around 6 pm and keep going into the wee hours.

Now all of these items combined will most likely get you a ticket to a turned off alarm clock.  For an extra insurance policy, throw in some high winds to keeps those snow accumulations blowing back onto the roads!

In Kerry‘s world, the conditions all came into perfect alignment last night.  It started with rain that turned to freezing rain in the afternoon.  By 5 pm, the snow flakes were big and heavy.  Around 8 pm, the winds were picking up and snow was piling up.  Our present came early with the cancellation notifications coming out before bedtime.  Woot!  Woot!

Now this type of snow day might be the best of all.  I’m sure that you are all in crunch mode, trying to get all your Christmas preparations done.  The same is true in my house.  After I received the call that I would be granted a day at home today, I got online and created my Christmas cards, sending them to print at the store done the street from my house.  I might not be going in to work in the morning, but I knew my wonderful husband would dig us out and could get the 4 wheel drive sleigh down the hill to pick them up. Then I turned off my alarm and crashed!

After sleeping in and getting my run on, the well rested Soby crew ate an unrushed breakfast while watching our first Christmas movie of the day.  The boys set out to dig us out while the girls made some dipped pretzels….and vegged a little on the couch!

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Thanks boys!

Once the vehicles were freed, we set out to see the fat man himself…SANTA!  Yes, that’s right, we went out on the snowy, icy roads to see Santa.  Why you ask?  Well the Santa will like to see is usually packed with a long line.  (He’s good, but he’s free and you get a free picture, so the line is always horribly long.)  You know what happens when you get 10 inches of snow?  No waiting to see Santa, that’s what!

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Score!

After that Santa visit was done, we swung by the store to pick up the Christmas cards. Back at home, I hunkered with my pen and stamps.  While I wrote, I started what I always have wanted to do.  I had a Santa Clause movie marathon.  I addressed envelopes during #1, stuffed, licked, and stamped envelopes during #2, and made a fresh batch of cookies during #3!  Pull out that Christmas To-Do list and put a bunch of checks all over it!

On top of all of that, the kids got to get some snow play time and sledding in.

It’s days like this that make all the stressful days at school worth it….kind of!

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Coming in for a landing

Hello, my name is Kerry and I have broken one of my own golden rules of parenting.  I have been secretly boarding my helicopter and flying circles around by kiddos homework.

I have always prided myself on not being a helicopter parent.  I don’t hover over them when play outside or chase them around a playground.  I let them solve their own friendship quarrels and ignore their tattle tales.  I’m always here for them for advice and support, but I’d rather let them trip up and teach them how to fix their mistakes than solve all their problems for them and give them the wrong sense of how the world works.

And then came homework.

How did school go from this place kids go to learn to this ultra-competative, stress-factory where every grade determines your child’s future success in life, and is therefore a reflection of good of a parent you are.  I blame those damn bumper stickers.  “My kid’s on honor roll” is somehow a guarantee you won’t have a 28-year-old living in your basement playing an online shooter games, screaming up at you to refill his chips.

I so wanted to be that parent who just let the kids do their homework, turn it in and let the grades fall where they may.  I know, in my heart, that the only way for them to truly have ownership over their grades is for them to receive what they earned through their own accomplishments.  But somehow, letting them take a hit academically was so much harder for me to let happen.  In my own defense, I am one of those people who always obsessed about getting a good grade, actually beating myself up if I missed one problem on a test.

It started innocently enough.  They would do their work, and I would look it over.  “Hey, number 2 and 4 are wrong.”  “You’re missing part of the information on number 7.”  My kids work was usually ok, but there were things here and there that could be tweaked to make the assignments better, the answers a little more in-depth.  My good ol’ perfectionist tendencies kicked in, and I went a little crazy.  I found myself saying things like, “What do we have for homework tonight,” and nagging about effort and grades.  On top of that, I began dreading coming home to the homework, the battles, and the ensuing lectures.

That’s when the epiphany happened.  I realized that the more time and energy I spent ‘helping’ my kids with their homework, the worse their attempts at the homework got.  It’s like they knew that mom was going to strap on her cape after school and fix everything for them, so they stopped making a good first effort.

My attempt to ‘rescue’ them from failing, taught them stop giving it their all.

Message received loud and clear.  Today I turned in my helicopter keys and exited aircraft.  I love my children and I know that they are capable of doing their own work.  I know that my value and ability as a parent is not tied to a math assignment and the best thing I can do for them is to let them succeed or fail on their own merit, standing beside them to support them along the way.

 

I got nothing

You know those times when you talking with someone and they make a statement that just dumbfounds you, so much so, you’ve got nothing left to say in reply?  Yup, that was my day….

As a reminder, I work with behaviorally disordered kids.  Craziness, stress, and chaos are like air, lights, and water at my work.

These are two of my conversations from today.

Student 1 – “I’m going to drop kick you from here to New York!”  (Yes, I was threatened with physical harm today at work.  Repeatedly.  It’s normal.  It happens all the time.)

Me – “What direction is New York from here?” (We are in Nebraska)

Notice my sly distraction to get off the topic of assaulting me?  I’m tricky like that!

Student 1 – “East.”

Me – “Correct!”

Student 2 – “Oh yeah!  What direction is Florida from here?”

Me – “I know.  Do you?”

Student 2 – “Yes.  North!”

Me – (Shaking my head)

Then, within minutes…

Student 1 – “Can I go to the bathroom?”

Me – “You just went 15 minutes ago!?!”

Student 1 – “Yeah, but I only went Number 1”

Me – “Great…”  (A few minutes later)  “Ready to go Number 2

Student 1 – “I don’t have to go Number 2!”

Me – “But you said you already went Number 1, so there’s only Number 2 left.”

Student 1 – “Umm, NO!  There are numbers 3, 4, and 5!”

Me – “What are Numbers 3, 4, and 5?  Nevermind…I don’t want to know.”

You think I would have figured out by now to stop asking them questions….