The Younger Siblings Baby Book

The best way for me to describe my relationship with my sisters while growing up is this story. In pre-school we were talking about heroes or bravery or something. Anyway, I told my teacher about how brave my sister Jill was, that she stuck her fork into the toaster in order to rescue my breakfast from the malfunctioning button that was holding my bread hostage and burning it. My teacher, (being a responsible professional) told me that this was very dangerous and no one should ever shove a metal fork into a plugged-in toaster, especially one that was turned on. In my four-year-old brain this teacher was a complete idiot. She missed the whole point of how extraordinarily brave my older sister was, and did not understand that my sister was clearly invincible. I never saw her in the same light, she was a moron for the rest of the year.

There are unique situations that only apply, if you are the little sibling. The Rooster has a whole list of firsts the Peanut never had.

The first time you and your sister meet.

The first time your sister and you wear matching outfits and everyone thinks you are ao cute.

The first time your sister hits you.

The first time she scratches you.

The first time your sister leaves a mark.

The first time your sister hits/kicks/scratches/ you because she is really just mad at your mother and she knows this will make her mad.

The first time your eyes light up and you kick your little feet because you see your sister.

The first time your sister lies about you. (Ouch, Rilla pushin’ me out of the back seat of the car when both of you are strapped firmly into your respective car seats.)

The first time you pull her hair.

The first time she shares her food with you.

The first time you get to have a present strictly as your own, rather than sharing it with your sister becuase she wants it (sorry about your christmas presents this year, you can have them back when you are mobile enough to go get them).

The first time you sneak into her space and play with or wear the things she told you not to, just because you can (this will likely happen when she is at school and you are not).

The first time you miss each other.

The first night you share a room.

The first time you refuse to wear matching outfits with your sister (note this has still not happened with me and your Aunts. We still would wear matching outfits.)

The first time you are in cahoots with your sister behind your mom’s back.

I hope you two like having sisters as much as I do!

So commenters, this list is not complete! What did I miss?

Thoughts While Zumba-ing

I have been to Zumba twice this week. I seem to think a lot during it. Here they are those thoughts

This is what I like to think I look like doing Zumba.

This is probably more accurate.

– This song keeps saying “I found love in a hopeless place.” That right there is an accidental devotional if I’ve ever heard one. I did find love in a hopeless place. This has to be talking about the cross…right? Even if it wasn’t, it is now.

-I cannot figure out what this instructor wants me to do. Yelling “rhythm” at me certainly isn’t helping anything. I wonder what I yell at my students that is not helping.

– She said she needed to see more booty, but this is the East Lake Family Y. I see plenty of booty in this classroom.

-Oh, that is what she means. White booty don’t shake like that.

-Why do I have a repeating track in my head that says “you can’t dance, you can’t dance.” Who put that there? That is stupid.

-The Peanut definitely thinks she can dance, and the Rooster already spends her time bopping around. I wonder if I can do something to protect them from that sound track. It sure is stupid.

– See, look at her. I am not the most awkward person in the room. I need to get over myself. No one is in here thinking about me.

– Here comes the nursery worker, I hope that is for me. I am dying. Nope, not me…guess I have to finish the workout.

I still need to grow up

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This pretty much sums up my maturity level by seventh period....

We were teaching limmericks. And there was a kid who kept suggesting names that would get me into trouble. Like “there once was a young boy named chuck, how about itch Ms. Norman,” then he would start cracking up so I would start cracking up.

And my 6th period class came up with this as a class that I wrote on the board:

There once was a doctor named Bill
Who wrote a prescription for Jill
She only missed one
And she now has a son
She now always remembers that pill.

One of my students misspelled the word tests. I laughed until I cried when he asked me to proofread his poem “Girls are like school, you have to study before they put you to the testes.” I didn’t recover for the rest of the day.

I love Freshmen. Probably because I am one.

Teaching Fresmen is like Potty Training

I’ve found a metaphor that has helped me relate to my freshman. It has also helped me understand why I feel like I am good at teaching fresmen. So without further ado..

Teaching freshmen is like potty-training because they really are big enough to know how to do some things. But no one has taught them. So there they are, in your class with their training pants on, making a mess of themselves. You think they should know better, but they don’t.

Teaching freshmen is like potty training because they need to be reminded to do things that older students do automatically. “Josy, remember to bring your book to class.” “Carlos, we need something to write with every single day. Bring a pencil to class.” “Do you need to do homework? Are you sure? How about now? Don’t you just wan’t to try.”

Teaching fresmen is like potty training because they need to be praised for things that they are supposed to be doing. “Hey! You remembered all your supplies!” “Wow! We got through a whole discussion without anyone saying anything grossly off task.” “You guys are awesome! Every single person turned in a project. Go you!” M&M’s and stickers go a long way in the motivation department

Teaching freshmen is like potty training because they really thrive on that praise. They try hard to please you and value the praise you recieve. They want you to be proud of them again. They care about stuff like that.

Teaching freshmen is like potty training because at some point you have to take the training pants off, and you know that there will be some accidents. So you have to be prepared to clean the mess up and keep it moving. Even though there are moments when you just want to scream “Seriously! Right now! We do not have time for this right now!” The yelling probably won’t help, the experts say to avoid it. But it can be very frustrating those messes when you thought they knew better.

Teaching freshmen is like potty training because there are a million small victories followed by some set backs and it is really important to celebrate every single victory or the set backs will seem overwhelming.

Teaching freshmen is like potty training because when the students get just a little bit older they look back at the freshmen, and they insist that they would never do that ewwww.

Teaching freshman is like potty training because sometimes you think that you are in the clear, and then you have a bad day and have to start all over again.

But mostly teaching freshman is like potty training because it feels like this big thing, and perhaps it isn’t even worth it. But you do it, and it is, and by the time the whole thing is over you can’t even believe how big the kids got. And you are very proud of them.

I need to grow up

I’ve come to the conclusion that God made me a high school English teacher because I can relate to the kids. Because I think my maturity maxed out at 16. Good thing I don’t teach Seniors. For example

*When teaching about rebuttals I giggled every single time I said “rebut”

*Our new principal’s name is Dr. Sauce and I could not get over it. Like, one of my students actually said to me “it isn’t really that cool, you can stop talking about it.”

*I got an email that had some news that I knew my friend would want. So I told my other teacher in the room I had to go to the bathroom. I snuck my phone into the bathroom to text her.

*I almost said the s word today because I was coming up with an alliterative poem off the top of my head and needed a verb that started with the “sh” sound. I then said “I almost said a curse! and erupted into uncontrollable giggles. Then my team teacher replaced it with “sharted” and I really lost it.

*A kid farted today during a weird silence and I started snickering.

Some days (usually the same days the kids look at me like I have lost my mind) I really like my job.

Secrets aren’t any fun

I am teaching ninth grade this year for the first time. I really enjoy the kid’s willingness to try just about any crazy activity I can come up with, and the fact that most of them don’t have pre-conceived notions about any of the literature, means I have the chance to convince them that it is in fact interesting and applicable to their lives. I like that. It suits me.

I especially like when the ninth graders suddenly realize that Shakespeare is not as wholesome as they once assumed. Among other hilarious commentary that has been blurted out in my classroom:

– Somebody told me that when they were talking about swords they meant something else, is that true?

– Romeo’s talking about doing it!

– Did the Friar just ask Romeo if he hit it? (To which one of my students replied: What does hit it mean?)

– She doesn’t want to die a virgin!

It is amazing to me that every year a few parents complain about the adult material we are reading in class and yet no one ever complains about Romeo and Juliet which is easily the baudiest thing I have ever taught.

I hadn’t read Romeo and Juliet since I was in the ninth grade, and this time around I am struck by the secrecy of the whole story, and how Shakespeare uses that as a vehicle for the drama and urgency. The whole play takes place in four days.

I think secrecy does make everything more dramatic, feel more urgent. When I look back at the terrible decisions I made, the dumbest stuff I did was done, at least initially, in secret. (The reason we didn’t tell anyone about the timeshare we no longer own is because we knew everyone would tell us it was stupid. Because it was stupid.) I am 28 and this is still true: If I can’t tell my mom about it, I shouldn’t be doing it.

But I think the Bible covers that too, that things in the darkness are brought in to the light. I used to think that was a warning to the wicked and I would cling to it and yell it when I was sure there were dirty dealing going on. But lately I have been seeing it as a gentle reminder to me, that it will be better if I am just honest about it. Whatever that it may be.


Welcome to Franceland

WARNING: The following story happens within the metaphysical space my sisters have dubbed “Franceland.” Franceland is the space where we who are married to or are descendants of John S France screw up in a very specific sort of way. The classic example of Franceland is leaving the car for someone to use, but taking all sets of keys (including their set) with you. This happens more than we would like to admit, and more times than you would believe. This story is far more ridiculous than that. Feel free to be completely amused at my expense.

Last night I got all ready for bed and wandered upstairs. For the first time in a long time. I remembered both my Kindle and my phone so I did not have to trudge up and down the stairs multiple times when I just wanted to go to sleep.

At four the Rooster woke me up to feed her and on my way back into the bed I noticed that my phone was nowhere to be found. So I woke Christian up to set his Ipod as a back up (which he did without even grumbling). I was sure I took the phone upstairs and it would go off but just in case….

Fastforward to the Peanut waking up and Christian checking the time and “I’m really sorry Abby, but it is 7:04.” Turns out I took Christian’s phone upstairs, not mine. I am supposed to leave my house at 7.  I jump out of bed and rush around the house as quickly as possible and have to leave the Peanut in a fit on the floor because I am leaving. Never did I think I would be glad I leave every morning before the Peanut gets up, but it turns out I am.

And I need gas, like really need it. So I get gas and text someone that I will be late but am coming, and rush to work as fast as possible and make it to my classroom with about 6 minutes before the bell rings.

Right as that bell rings my most jocky of jock students points to the floor and says, “Ummmm, Ms. Norman I think you dropped something….” Right in front of his desk is a breast pad, which he thinks is a maxi-pad, that I did not put in because I was trying to save time and I figured  would put them in between classes.

Then I explained to a room full of tenth graders that I am still breastfeeding and sometimes my boobs leak, as I blushed uncontrollably and probably should have stopped talking but babbled on. I do that when I am uncomfortable. Even when the little man in my head is screaming JUST STOP TALKING. Because while I am a huge advocate of a woman’s right to breastfeed anywhere anyhow, it is still awkward to talk about when you are talking to adolescent boys about your boobs specifically. I am blushing just typing that.

So I was having trouble gaining traction anyway as I stumbled through the discussion about Antigone when my phone rings. My phone never rings during class, I leave the front of the room to discover Christian has called. Something is wrong.

Yup, something sure is wrong. Specifically, I took the car seat and the double stroller with me to work. And the Rooster has a doctor’s appointment. When Christian asked me what we were going to do, I answered “we are going to call Tiffany to come rescue us.” So he called Tiffany, who ditched her plans for the day, and by God’s mercy had an extra car seat. She got herself and her two-month-old in the car and delivered the car seat to Christian so he could take both girls to the doctor sans the double stroller (I have no idea how he got them both into the doctor’s office). Meanwhile I was frantically calling the Doctor’s office to see if they could delay our appointment.

They could reschedule the appointment (yeah!) for one thirty which is too close to Christian’s class today (boo!). So I had to teach my class amidst all of this. It was a disaster to put it mildly. Out of my mouth came, “This is why I am a teacher and not a surgeon, in this profession I can just say, well botched that one, we will try again tomorrow.”

Mostly, it was this. I have three jobs, mom, wife, teacher, and in that moment I was failing at all three. All of them. I was trying to laugh it off, but my kids could tell I wanted to cry.

Tiffany did in fact come to the rescue. Christian got the Rooster to her appointment (18th percentile weight, 72nd height, 75th head size) and the Dr. gave us the okay to turn the Peanut’s car seat around.

All is well that ends well I suppose. I am so grateful for the community of people I have in my life that would abandon their plans because I botched mine. I am trying hard to simply chalk this up to Franceland antics and laugh it off, and I am sure I will. But right now it stings a little. I suppose that is my pride again. I am certainly glad that Jesus’ mercy is new every morning. I could use a re-do tomorrow.

Don’t take it! It is MINE!

I was talking with a dear friend a couple weeks ago. She was struggling to give something to God, wanting desperately to hang on to it. She knew that God had give it to her. She believed that this thing would continue to grow in a way that would glorify God. But she was afraid to give it back to Him…..what if He kept it? We’ve all been there. Oh Lord, how I have been there!

It reminds me of the stage that the Peanut is in right now. (And can I tell you how humbling it is to see my relationship with God mirrored in my relationship with my 18 month old…and God shows me that I am acting like my toddler….seriously humbling.) Peanut knows what she wants, whether it is to carry her toothbrush around the house, or more of the cherry-limeade that I got from Sonic for us to share. That she has already had more than half of. But sometimes she doesn’t know the best way to get it.

Take for instance the much sought after cherry Sonic goodness. If we are down to the bottom of the cup, then the straw has to be inserted at exactly the right angle. And you can’t tip the cup up. And the straw needs to be pushed all the way in. Those of us who have been using a straw for twenty-eight years or more understand these concepts so well we no longer think about them. But an 18 month old is still learning the ways of the fast-food world. All she knows, when I take the cup away so that she can access the carbonated corn syrup better, is that she was holding the cup and had the straw headed towards her mouth……and now she doesn’t. NO! DON’T TAKE MY SUGAR FROM ME! I WAS DRINKING THAT! YOU GAVE IT TO ME! HOW COULD YOU TAKE IT BACK! A serious fit ensues.She doesn’t understand that I am not taking it away, but in fact making it so she can drink better. I am improving, fixing, giving her more of the goodness….

How often in my life am I hanging on to something so stinking tight it takes forever for God to wrestle my hands off of it….Then I yell and cry that it isn’t fair….only for Him to give it back to me in a way that makes the whole thing….better. And here I was in the middle of my fit. Pardon me as I pick my embarrassed self up off the floor and attempt to walk away with dignity.

Here comes SUMMER!

Summer school ends Tuesday. We are reviewing for our tests and taking finals and then I am DONE (Imagine the sing-song voice my mom always uses when she is excited that I used to think was nerdy. Yeah. I do that.) I am so very grateful that God provided a pretty easy way to store up for maternity leave, yes I sure am. It hasn’t been that bad and I still get all of July off. Plus, I am only going back to school for about a month and a half and then am off until January, so I should have enough time off to not go into the mental ward.

But boy am I chomping at the bit for this all to be over!!!! I have been downloading free chick lit onto my Kindle, coming up with to do lists of how to re-arrange my house. Scheming ways to get to the ocean beach one more time this summer. (Man I really want to take the Peanut….) I am ready to sleep whenever the Peanut sleeps all day if I want to, go to the farmers market and buy whatever I want to eat for that day, make dessert, Christmas shop ( I know it is weird but I like to do it when I have time….not jam it all into December.), wander around IKEA. I want to not tell a teenager to stop talking for a whole month. And I can Tuesday at noon. IT IS SO CLOSE!