My mom was never one for holiday decorations. We had a tree, stockings, and outside two wreaths and a string of lights. I always wanted more. I wanted it to look like Christmas exploded. I wanted it to look like every holiday exploded. Didn’t happen. I vowed I would be different and that, for the most part, didn’t happen. It turns out holiday decorations are expensive and you have to store them when they aren’t is use! Just another one of the crushing truths you learn once you grow up.
When I put up decorations in the library, I wasn’t expecting the older kids to pay much attention, but they did. They immediately asked if there would be Christmas decorations and, most surprising of all, it was the 7th grade boys who were the most excited about the decorations. They wanted to put on the star, hang the ornaments, set up this and that. I was shocked. It changed my view on holiday decorations, at least a little.
I finally bought the Christmas Village I have always wanted, and I even spread out fake snow. No, even more embarrassing than that, I bought two kinds of fake snow (glittered and plain) and mixed them together because the glittered was too glittery and the plain didn’t have enough pizzazz. (!!) When I showed my little snow village to the family they just sort of looked at each other and blinked, smiled, and–were Mikey and Nico tall enough–probably would have pat my head. The Mister looked at me and said, “You bought dust?”
“It’s not dust; it’s fake snow.”
“But in a few weeks you have to dust the fake snow and throw it away.”
“No, I have it all planned out–”
“This I have to hear.”
“I’m going to sweep it into a container I marked Fake Snow. I’ll reuse it every year! You’ll see.”
It was $2, so I’ll probably just throw it away, but I refuse to admit defeat until it hits the trashcan.
In the spirit of things I never thought I would do, I’m making garlands! My friend’s family owns Patio World, and every holiday season they turn into Christmas World. Their prices really are better than large chain stores for a much better product, and you’re shopping local. But, if you’re making a garland for a K-8 library and want something super, super inexpensive, then you ask your friend Kelly to give you a garland making lesson in the parking of her store using only items from The Dollar Store. It was like wizardry. I had trouble tracking her hands because there was cheap garland and tinsel the width of dental floss flying. We’ll see how I do. I have this image of me looking like the Magician’s apprentice, covered in soot and holding a garland burnt to cinders. Then I sneeze and the garland crumbles to dust at my feet. An ornament rolls away, exit stage left.
Do you remember Dinosaur Mountain? They are alive and well! They come out every year, without fail. Dino Mountain–as it’s now called–has moved to the mantel since our three little trees gasped their final breath last year. I’m tempted, oh so very tempted, to add more dinosaurs to the mix.
Last week was supposed to be vacation? Mikey did a book report the entire week, and as much as I hate to dampen his creativity and expansive ideas, next time the kid’s drawing a picture and calling it a day. For five of those days, we had my father in-law staying with us. No problem, except I don’t think a person flies across the country to watch someone do homework. And when my sister in-law arrived at the end of the week: major, major migraine. I missed most of her time here…and my birthday.
Despite this, Thanksgiving was great. I had a breakfast with my mom and brother. I made a quiche and cinnamon rolls, both of which were delicious. (Maybe not the cinnamon rolls, but I’m not a fan of cinnamon rolls. They were for the Mister, a Super Fan.) There was absolutely no drama. It was calm and relaxing and fun. The boys played football with their uncle. My mom cleaned the kitchen. The Mister and I put up Christmas decorations. Thanksgiving brunch may become a new tradition around here.
Whoa! The weather changed. On Monday I was out walking in a pair of short sweats and a t-shirt. On Tuesday I put on my long pants. On Wednesday I wore my pants and long sleeves. On Thursday I walked in the pouring rain. The rain just never let up. I went out mid-day so I would at least have some light. On Friday I took stock of the damage from Thursday’s storm. That fallen tree branch gave me pause. I knew it was bad, but I didn’t think it was that bad. Saturday and Sunday were great. Sweatshirt weather, but not terribly cold. I probably could have done without the sweatshirt, but I can toss my iphone in the pocket. Convenient!
Some comments from Instagram:
That 2nd picture is of a plastic Santa’s belly. Ho, Ho, Ho! Christmas is almost here.
I really like those pink hedge flowers in the 3rd picture. I’ve never seen anything like them before and don’t know what they’re called.
As for the loan black shoe in the 6th picture, am I the only one who sees one shoe in the road and immediately thinks serial killer or kidnapping?
Song of the Week
Restless Heart – Matt Hires
The 5th graders like to tease and joke around. All the older grades do, which is probably why I have so much fun with them because I’m a natural teaser and joker, too. They learned early on that I find the Ylvis song What Does the Fox Say exceptionally annoying. It’s so annoying (and catchy, darn it) that I remember the first time I heard it. I was on a walk listening to Pandora, and when I heard the hook my immediate response was Oh hell, no.
Just in case you’ve never heard the song or watched the video, behold:
When I tell them to stop, they start singing Pink Fluffy Unicorns Dancing on Rainbows.
It’s all in good fun. They know when to stop, and that’s when I slowly raise one eyebrow and cross my arms. I’m so glad I spent an embarrassing number of weeks teaching myself how to do that in middle school.
Late one Tuesday night, while shopping in Target for something completely different, I decided to tease them back.
I wasn’t sure how they were going to take it, and the Mister was pretty sure I was going to look like Supreme Dork of All the Land. The 3rd graders saw it first and, wow, I heard that song all class long. Nonstop. Then they asked how I knew that song because grownups don’t know that song.
Um, yes, they do. Grownups are the ones driving the car and adjusting the dial on the radio. Grownups know the song, they just don’t like the song.
At least not to any extent that can be proven in a court of law.
Then came the 5th graders, and how sad am I that I admit to being nervous? I think they did see me as Supreme Dork of All the Land, but in a good way. They didn’t say it was dumb. In fact, we took pictures with our new “class mascot,” I heard that stupid song 400 more times, and everyone asked me where I bought Mr. Fox. (Target.)
I was feeling pretty pleased with myself until one boy said, “If you think that’s annoying, wait until you see the badger video.”
I pulled up the video on my phone.
Now, whenever they see me on campus, they smoosh together in a group and bounce up and down while singing badger, badger, badger, badger, badger, mushroom! mushroom!
I don’t think I made it to the end of the video before my eyes melted and my ears started bleeding, but they were still full of commentary.
“Oh! You need to buy a badger! Don’t worry about the mushroom; I’ll take care of it,” said a girl.
“Can’t forget the snake,” said a boy.
“And a pink fluffy unicorn,” said another girl.
A fox, a badger, a unicorn, a snake, and a mushroom. Best library ever! Or, Burning Man.
The library is closed until early December to accommodate a school fundraiser, cleanup, and then the Thanksgiving holiday. I approached a few of the teachers and offered my “read aloud” services during what would normally be the class library hour. On Monday I read to the 4th grade and the 1st grade. Later in the week I’ll read to the 3rd grade and the 5th grade. Aside from those hours with the kids, I don’t know what to do with myself! Catch up on everything I’ve neglected is a good start, I suppose.
I read aloud to all my classes except 3rd grade, and that’s because the teacher has them learning how to use the dictionary. People think I’m weird reading to the upper grades, but some reading advocates say it increases vocabulary, builds background knowledge, and improves literacy. Plus, they like it and it’s fun and it keeps them quiet!
I’m reading The One and Only Ivan to the 4th grade (will start reading it this week to the 3rd grade) and Wonder to the 5th, 6th, and 7th grades. I have two classes per grade, so by the time I’m done I will have read The One and Only Ivan 5 times (I read it once before) and Wonder 6 times. O_o
The second grade teacher has me reading The Indian in the Cupboard. It’s okay–not my favorite–but the kids seem to love it.
p.s. Do you like my literal setup of Fall books on a lawn strewn with Fall leaves? Don’t be too impressed. It’s because the dining room table was covered with the remnants of Nico’s latest creation (he’s in an art phase) and I was far too lazy to clean it up.
The first grade teacher asked me to bring in a Thanksgiving book, so of course I took that to mean one Thanksgiving book and two other books just for fun.
Thanksgiving Graces by Mark Moulton is about a little boy who watches the Thanksgiving dinner table grow and grow and grow as people come over to join in the festivities. As the room reaches maximum capacity, he begins to worry they will never have enough food to feed all these people. His grandmother takes him aside and reminds him of the story of the loaves and the fishes to explain how love multiplies.
It’s your typical feel-good holiday book. The little ones were chattering the entire time about Thanksgiving dinner until I finally asked everyone to share their favorites.
“I have FOUR favorites! Cheeekin, mashed potatoes, and…and…um. I forgot!”
“I like fish!” [gasps from the class]
“I like turkey, and I like corn, and I like cranberries, and I like pie, and I like this Mexican coffee, but it’s coffee that little kids can drink! So I like that coffee. Because I can drink it.”
“My aunt always brings this fancy dessert, and it’s pretzels, but they are sticks, and there are strawberries, and white stuff, and chocolate.”
Asking everyone to share their favorites may not have been my all-time smartest move in the playbook. It took up so much time that I didn’t get to read The Snatchabook, the one book I was really looking forward to reading. Next week!
Instead, I read Fall Ball, a book about a group of kids who come home from school excited to play football. The fall leaves are blowing everywhere, and there is a frisky dog named Sparky that plays on the team and…
crashes into a HUGE pile of leaves. Pratfalls: that’s why I brought this book. I knew all I had to do was yell CRASH! and shake the book around and the kids would think it was the funniest thing ever. I was right. And I heard Nico’s laugh above all the squeals and cackles.
The books are all okay (The Snatchabook is my favorite) by I wouldn’t run out and add them to your permanent collection. You can find something just as entertaining at the library. I’m reading this to the boys right now when they get home from school. I’ll let you know how it goes. So far, Mikey loves it and Nico is meh.