Monthly Archives: April 2011

Things My Husband Hates

While most people that know him well would consider him to be “particular,” it never ceases to amaze me how certain, seemingly mundane things can really get under his skin. Here are just a few:

1. Easter grass: My parents made both of us great Easter baskets this past weekend, as they have every year since I was born. They were filled with a delicious assortment of chocolates and candies, along with green and wispy Easter grass. Now, I wouldn’t consider this particular item one that should incite disgust and anger, but Mr. Wilson apparently thinks differently. As we were taking apart our baskets and putting the candy away, I heard him say on multiple occasions, “Oh my Lord, this sh*t keeps getting everywhere! What is this stuff called again? Easter grass? Well, I think it should be called bullsh*t!” And, of course, this comment made me laugh even harder, because it’s such a silly little thing, and while it can be annoying to find little pieces strewn about your house, it’s not really something to get that worked up over.

2. People who allow their dogs to go “nose-to-nose” with yours: I am 100% in agreement with him about this issue, and I think that most fellow dog owners would be as well. There have been so many times when we have been walking our dogs, and some lady on a cell phone with an extendable 20-foot leash allows her dog to run up to our dogs, without warning. Granted, we do have very sweet dogs, but they are also very protective, and I would not fault either one of them for giving another dog a little warning snap if it got too close. Each time it happens, I can hear him muttering something to the unsuspecting dog-walker as she passes and growling under his breath. Funny, but true.

3. Carpenter bees: Ever since the warmer temperatures debuted a few weeks ago, my husband has been battling his spring/summer nemeses— carpenter bees. He can be outside watering the lawn, edging, or grilling, when all of a sudden, he stops what he’s doing to go after a bee. Towel in hand, he swats and smacks at it until the bee has met its unfortunate demise. He is not content in just scaring it off temporarily, rather he wants to make sure that the bee never comes back again. Upon opening our patio door the other day, I noticed a rather large dead bee on the bricks. When I pointed it out, he said, “Yeah, I killed him today, and I left his body there to send a message to his friends.” I guess we have reverted back to biblical times, where they often used people to “make an example.” This time though, they are insects, and instead of swords or clubs, the weapon of choice is a gray towel.

4. My baggage: I know what you’re probably thinking; I must have some emotional baggage that makes my husband very uncomfortable. Wrong. What I do have, however, are lots of re-usable shopping bags. In my effort to be a little “greener” a few years ago, I stocked up on a dozen or so of these aforementioned bags. Not that he had a problem with me having them, or even the amount, rather the problem rested in the fact that I tended to use them for other things and leave them in various places. There was usually one in my car, serving as a receptacle for “school stuff,” one that I brought to and from school for my lunch, and I usually had another one in the garage filled with kids’ artwork (I can’t keep all of it, plus, they’re not even my actual children). I guess it had been eating at him for a while, because one day he just snapped and said, “Oh my God, you’re like a bag lady!” Of course, I immediately started laughing, because I had no idea that something this small (and unnoticed by me) would be such a big deal. As they say, you live and learn, so I have taken another step toward improving our marriage by only having ONE bag around (well, that one, plus the other one that’s hiding in the back of my car…).

Une Grande Surprise!

Today, I was surprised by a former student of mine, who is now in middle school. He came to the US from Haiti in November of 2009, and when he came, he didn’t speak a word of English. I was the only person he could communicate with at school, so he and I formed a strong bond very quickly. Though he spent 7 1/2 hours each day in classrooms, listening to thousands of words that he didn’t understand, he was still so motivated to work with me every day after school to learn English. This kind of drive is not often seen in adults, so to see it in an 11 year-old boy was quite remarkable. He was so excited to come to my room each day to practice basic English phrases, ask me what a “new” word meant, or finally have a chance to talk to someone who understood what he was saying. There were very few times when I ever saw him discouraged or frustrated; rather, he focused his energy on trying to learn as much as he could each day.

He made phenomenal progress in learning English right from the start. Whenever he encountered a word or phrase he liked the sound of, he would repeat it for days. One of his favorites was, “I am sick!,” and I think I heard him say this phrase about 200 times during the first week that he learned it. Slowly, but surely, we moved from conversing in French to using more and more English. Each day, I was so impressed with what I saw and heard, and I think he was really surprising himself as well. As soon as he learned to express himself in his new language, his personality really came out.  I had known it was there all the while, since he could communicate with me, but his teachers and peers took him for a shy, quiet boy because he did not yet feel comfortable enough to speak to them in English. By the end of the school year, he had learned so much that his self-confidence really started to come out: he was seen by everyone as a funny, smart and likable boy. Everyone that he came into contact with absolutely loved the time they spent with him because he was such a great kid.

Seeing him today was such a wonderful moment for me. He was such an inspiration to me from the very first day I started working with him. He still has that same drive and motivation, and now an even bigger personality. He is excelling in every area of his life, and I couldn’t be prouder of him. The way he has taken on obstacles and challenges is something to be admired, because I don’t know many adults that could do it with such humor and grace. I really can’t wait to see what he does with his life, because whatever it is, it will be great.

Always and Forever (unless you get it lasered)

As I was changing to work out this afternoon, I saw something that I hadn’t seen in a while: my dime-sized heart tattoo. I guess I have just been so used to seeing it for the past 12 years that I haven’t paid much attention to it for quite some time. At the time I got this, I thought that I was so cool/rebellious/grown-up/awesome. While it doesn’t bother me, as an adult, it does make me laugh. I have absolutely nothing against tattoos; in fact, it’s quite the opposite. I think that they can be so beautiful and creative, but while mine is very cute, I don’t think it falls into the category of “creative.”

I remember the night that I got it: It was December 1998, just a few days after my 18th birthday. Three friends (yes, you’re getting called out!), Lexi, Lindsay, and Chelsea, came with me to Psycho Tattoo in Atlanta. Being students at a Catholic high school, many of the people we saw there were a bit different from those that we were used to. Just the same, we wanted to show how “down”  and cool we were. Apparently, the best way to prove that was by getting a tiny red heart tattooed on my hip. While it may sound silly, I felt so untouchable after I did it. Maybe it was the fact that I was being so sneaky (my parents had no idea), or that it was something so “out of the norm” for me, but whatever it was, I was so happy with my new piece of  ink.

Fast forward 12 years, and here we are today. While I still do think it’s cute, I think I could have done without this little thing. It’s not that it bothers me, it’s just that I know that, in time, it won’t look like quite the same cute little heart that it originally did. I have a friend who had a lizard tattooed around her bellybutton in college, and after having a baby, that thing looked like a T-rex. Granted, a heart is probably a little bit more forgiving as you gain weight, but still, my goal wasn’t to have a heart with one lobe grossly bigger than the other. Ah, what a difference a few (ok, more than a few) years makes! 

 

Those Crazy Kids

So, after a few weeks of being back with my 2nd graders after Spring Break, I am still plagued by certain questions about some of their behaviors. Granted, I have lots of good stories by way of these kids, but I’m usually left asking myself, “Did that really just happen?” at the end of each day. Here’s just a small glimpse of the situations I have witnessed or questions I have gotten in the two weeks that we have been back in school:

1. Whenever I send a group of boys to use the restroom, someone inevitably comes back to “tattle” about something that one of the other boys did while they were in there. Usually, the complaints range from peeing in the drain to peeking over the stalls, but this week, it was very different. Apparently, one of my boys saw a really neat pencil in the toilet and PICKED IT UP. No, not near the toilet, or on the toilet, but IN the toilet. Obviously, I found that disturbing/revolting/unbelievable, but I still wanted to hear the little boy out. When he came back, I asked him about it, and he initially denied it, but eventually came around after the other boys “busted” him again. After finally admitting it, I asked him why he would do that, because that was so disturbing/revolting/unbelievable, and do you know what his response was? “It was a cool pencil.” What??? I don’t care if there were a $100 bill in the toilet, under no circumstances would I stick my hand in there to pick it up. Obviously, he didn’t agree with me, because he insisted in putting that pencil right into his bookbag, in order to insure that it was “safe.” Trust me, sweetie, no one is going to try to take that pencil from you. No one.

2. As you well know, my husband and I have two dogs. And, if you know anything about children and their teachers’ lives, they are always immensely interested in their family members and day-to-day lives. Each day, several of my students ask me about my husband, my dogs, my neighbors, etc. Now, there is certainly nothing unusual about that, nor the fact that most of them ask me to “tell them hi” when I get home. But yesterday, after one boy asked me, “Can you tell Josie and Gracie hello for me?,” another one asked, “Can you tell Josie and Gracie that I farted?” WHAT??? Who even says that? Of course, my answer was no, but I’m still a little perplexed as to why he would even ask that question.

3. Today, my class went on a field trip to the Fire Safety Village. Against my better judgement, I let all of my students go, including one who is “a bit challenging.” The children rotated through several “classes,” which were led by police officers, firefighters and EMTs. Well, as was expected, my little friend decided to act out/show off during the session with the police officer (bad choice in his part), and the policeman called him out (a little impromptu “scared straight”?). After he reprimanded him, one of my students who is very vocal (and missing a filter) said, “Whew, thank goodness. You probably should have put handcuffs on him. He is bad news.” Truer words have never been spoken, and I’m so glad that I didn’t have to be the one to say them!

Though there are days when I absolutely want to pull my hair out, one thing always holds true: there’s never a day I go home without laughing at something they have said or done. Sometimes, a little comic relief can really save you!

Mr. Wilson’s New Love/Hate Relationship

Well, my husband got his wish, and we “gutted” our front yard last week. And by “we,” I mean his friend Marc’s landscaping company. You see, as much as he loves to “do the yard,” this project would have been a little much. All of the plants that had previously occupied our yard are now a distant memory, and each day when we drive up, we like to look at the new masterpiece that is now unfolding, due to the consistently warm temperatures and seemingly unending rain. To say that we are very pleased is an understatement; everything looks wonderful, and we are so happy with the decision to re-do our yard. But, even with all of the new “goodies,” some problems have arisen. Now, they are not really my problems, but I have a feeling that they soon may be, due to the fact that they directly affect my husband. We have been getting lots of compliments and questions about our new landscaping, which is nice, but along with those come the possibility of “copycats.” Yes, copycats.

When we went to the nursery to pick out plants, my husband made certain to pick out things that no one else in our neighborhood had, in order to make our yard look different (and yes, I’ll say it, a little better). Well, now we fear that, by making that decision, we may have shot ourselves in the collective foot. In talking with several neighbors, comments such as, “Maybe I’ll look into some of those trees for my yard.,” or “I think those trees would look great flanking my entryway” have led my husband to believe that other neighbors might decide to replicate what we did in our yard. Each time that I heard someone mention something along these lines, my eyes would immediately go to Mr. Wilson to see the look on his face. And let me guarantee you, each time, it was priceless. In an attempt to be friendly (which he is), he would smile and say thank you, but I knew that inside, he was wanting scream /punch this person in the face/put up a 20-foot wall around our house. As of yet, no one has “made the move,” but I know that when it does happen, our new, beautiful yard will probably become a NEWER, beautiful yard. Just like women don’t like to be caught in the same outfit as someone else, I guess the same thing applies to men and their landscaping. Well, at least mine!

Wonderfully Trashy Television

As my vacation from work now seems like a distant memory, I am left longing for one of my favorite guilty pleasures: trashy reality tv shows. One of my favorites, and I think I would have a lot of supporters in this, is “Real Housewives.” Bravo does such a wonderful job of finding drama-filled, mindless television, and I absolutely love it. I don’t know if it’s just the allure of having a “window” into someone else’s life, or if it’s that I really don’t have to think when I watch it. Don’t get me wrong: I watch my fair share of “brainy” television too (lots of documentaries), and I love that, but sometimes it’s just fun to watch someone like Teresa (from RHofNJ) flip a table because she doesn’t like someone. Now, in “real life” (and by “real life” I mean one that doesn’t include a film crew), you or I would not be able to do that, and I think that’s part of the draw too: these crazy ladies do things that we have THOUGHT about doing or WISHED we could do but haven’t, because of the threat of embarrassment/divorce/fines/jail time.

And, while I love shows like this, they are the bain of my husband’s existence. Whenever he comes home from work and either sees it on the TV, or even hears Camille Grammar’s voice, he lets out an audible groan. He says that he doesn’t understand why a smart person (I’m assuming me?) would want to fill their head (and time) with shows such as these. Apparently, he is not entertained by Kelly’s analogies or Alexis’ cheeseball of a husband. I, for one, still am entertained by silly this like this, so I will continue to wait patiently for my next vacation, when I can catch back up with my favorite crazy ladies.

Life Lessons From a Not-So-Obvious Source

I think we’ve all heard the saying, “Everything I need to know in life, I learned in Kindergarten.” Well, I really don’t agree with that, because I have learned quite a few things since Kindergarten that have been invaluable. Granted, most of us learn the “basics” at a very early age, mostly thanks to our parents, but there are just some things that need reiterating, time and time again. And this is not to say that I never actually learned these important lessons, but maybe I just need a gentle reminder from time to time. Oddly enough, a lot of these lessons have been brought to light with our two rescue dogs. No, I am not “one of those people” who thinks that my dogs are human, but I do think they are pretty amazing. Here are a few things I have learned by watching them:

1. Forgive and forget: Both of our dogs have been through A LOT in their lives, yet they start each day anew. Though they both had been mistreated by people previous to being rescued, they have managed to get past that in order to trust us. Seeing them at home, you would have no idea that they had ever had anything but a great life. They don’t hold grudges, and they greet each new day with joy and a wagging tail.

2. Be brave: Regardless of their prior experiences, both of “my girls” show how brave they are (or are learning to be) each day. Whether that means something as simple as going on a walk on an unfamiliar place, or leaving them with “strangers” (my parents), they continue to trust us and just “go with the flow.” There really is nothing like the heart of a rescue dog, because they press on and continue to try new (and possibly scary) things, as long as they know that they have love (and someone they trust) behind them.

3. Greet each day with a smile: Every morning, I wake up at 5am. I am usually a little bit slow-moving, and oftentimes, less than chipper. On the contrary, as soon as my dogs hear my feet hit the ground, they jump up from their beds and rush to greet me, with wagging tails and wet kisses. Gracie, our 2nd dog, usually has a few “words” to say as well! Though it’s very early, and they could probably stay in their beds for another hour or so, they always get up with me and are ready to start a new and wonderful day. They begin each day the same way: with a happy, open heart and a big, warm “smile.”

4. Be thankful: Anyone who has had a loyal pet knows how grateful they are to be with you, regardless of what you are doing. As soon as you walk in the door, they are always so happy to see you, no matter if it had been 5 minutes or 5 hours. They show their gratitude in many ways, with kisses, wags, barks and jumps, but one fact remains the same: they are happiest when they are with the people they love.

Though it may seem funny that I think that I have learned something from my dogs, I don’t really find it so. Sometimes we end up learning the most from the people (or things) we least expect to.