Wednesday, December 28, 2011

Christmas 2011

I'm happy to report that no one got sick this Christmas.  There were no visits to the emergency room either.
The Harar Christmas was not completely uneventful, however.  The most interesting (embarrassing) event happened at Christmas Eve mass. 

Mike wanted to watch the rest of the Skins game, and I wanted to sit down during mass, so my mom, dad, aunt and I left at 4:20 to go to church and save seats for Mike and the kids.  Mike assured me that he would arrive at church by 4:50 so saving the seats wouldn't get uncomfortable. 

At about 4:45, my cell phone rang.  Mike informed me that I have the keys to the van in my purse.  My purse was, of course, sitting right next to me.  My aunt's car was blocking my mom's car, so he couldn't take hers either.  He was, quite simply, stuck at my parent's house.

So, with 11 minutes before mass is to begin, my dad offered to go get him.  He hurried out to the parking lot. 
A minute later, I realized that I'd also forgotten to give my dad the car keys. 

With lightening speed, in my heeled knee-high black boots, I fell over the people in the pew and raced towards his car.  I saw my dad pulling out of the parking space, and actually rationalized that if I could run fast enough, I might be able to cut him off before he leaves the lot.  As fast as I could, waving the keys wildly in the air, I raced across the parking lot, yelling my dad's name as if he could hear me.

He couldn't.  And I missed him.  He just kept on driving.

Finally aware of all the people staring at me, I slunk back into church to send a text message to my husband letting him know that while he had a ride here, we didn't have a ride home. 

At this point, it was getting ugly in church.  People were asking for the open spaces in our pew.  We had the entire pew, and there were only three of us in it.  Whenever I told people that they were saved, I refused to make eye contact, for fear of their un-Christmas-like looks. 

Finally, Mike walked in, dropped off the kids, and went back to my parent's house with my dad to get the car.  This time I remembered to give him the keys.  And with the kids there, the pew looked fuller, and the nasty looks subsided.

I should take this opportunity to tell you that some of my students were sitting right in front of me, just to the right, and a bit to the left as well.  A girl I knew in high school was sitting behind me.

Also, my ex-boyfriend was  three rows back. 

Hell, if I'm going to embarrass myself, I might as well do it in front of people who will not hesitate to gossip about me.

Beth - 0
Mike - 0
Parents - 0
Car Keys - 1

Thursday, December 22, 2011

Clapping

I have a deep dislike of clapping. 

Not all clapping, by the way.  Just the dreaded "clap along".


See how their hands aren't in sync?  That's
what bugs the crap out of me.  Why?  Why
can't they all clap at the same time???

You know what I mean.  I'm talking about the type of "clap along" where people find a beat during a concert and clap their hands along to the song.  Its bad enough when the musicians initiate the clapping, but when the audience decides to clap of their own accord, I'm REALLY cringing.

Everything starts OK, if you like unnecessary noise that detracts from the music you've come to hear.  People seem to pick up on the beat fairly quickly, and for a while everything sounds fine (again, if you like the sound of clapping over music).  But inevitably, things go downhill very quickly.





This is what I should hear:

CLAP    CLAP    CLAP    CLAP    CLAP    CLAP    CLAP   

This is what I hear instead:

CLAP CLAP   CLAPCLAP            CLAPCLAPCLAP      CLAPPY            CLAPPY

Just as some people have no business singing in public, there are people who have no business clapping along with music.  With each mis-clap, my body cringes and my mind silently screams at them to stop.  I can't explain why this bothers me so much, and I recognize that my dislike of clapping is highly unnatural. 

Everyone has their quirks, right?  Aren't I allowed to have mine?  

I can't help that I want to tackle the adorable old man next to me who is clapping his hands in a non-sensical rhythm.  Nor is it my fault that every time his hands come together, the sound is like a giant clap (pardon the pun) of thunder against my heart and my patience becomes the width of rice paper.   

In the spirit of Christmas, I'll go ahead and say that I'm glad the clap-along I so hate brings most people pleasure.  From what I've observed, those who participate truly enjoy themselves, for their smiles say it all.  It's nice to know that something that drives me crazy makes others sublimely happy. 

Beth - 0
Clapping-Along - 1

Sunday, December 18, 2011

Daddy's Birthday

I think I should start with a little bit of background information before I begin today.  If you know my family, you know that giving my dad any kind of gift is a big gamble.  You'll either get the nod of approval, or the toss on the table with an: "I don't like it."  There really is no in-between.  If he rejects your gifts, you are expected to keep a smile on your face and hand him the gift receipt while your heart breaks into a million pieces and your sense of self worth as a gift giver crumbles into dust.

Yesterday was my dad's birthday.  Unbelievably, he liked all the gifts he received.  However, my husband and I gave him a golf towel, and my sister gave him Sirius XM Radio.  What followed was a series of comments based upon the "value" of the two gifts.
 
To help me recap that conversation, I have a guest blogger with me today.  Mike, my husband, is here to help me give the top ten reasons why the gift of a golf towel is better than the gift of Sirius XM Radio.

Me:  Welcome Mike!
Mike:  You're about to be blogger-fied!
Me:  OK then.  Let's get started.

Drum Roll Please . . .

TOP TEN REASONS THE GIFT OF A GOLF TOWEL IS BETTER THAN THE GIFT OF SIRIUS XM RADIO:

10. A golf towel can be used to clean your golf balls
9,   A golf towel is colorful.  Sirius XM Radio is a boring black.
8.   No one breaks into your car to steal a golf towel. 
7.   You don't have to sit through a boring episode of Howard Stern with a golf towel.
6.   A golf towel works in all kinds of weather.  Rain, shine, sleet or snow, a golf towel is the way to go.
5.   You still have only five reliable pre-set radio stations when you own a golf towel.
4.   Can Sirius XM radio wipe the sweat of a hard golf day from your brow?  No, it cannot.
3.   You can't playfully smack your buddy in the ass in the locker room showers with a Sirius XM Radio.  2.   Good luck drying yourself off in a pinch after an unexpected rain-storm with Sirius XM radio. 
1.   A golf towel is the gift that keeps on giving, not the gift that keeps on asking an extra $75 a month for its services.

To be fair, however, I think his favorite gift of all was . . . .

The Republican Crocs!!!

Beth - 1
Mike - 1  (Thanks for the input!)

Tuesday, December 6, 2011

Middleburg Christmas Parade

I love the town of Middleburg. So much, in fact, that I occasionally have mini-fantasies of what life would be like if I lived there.

As our new tradition, we got together with the Shea family (love you guys!) and took our kids to the Middleburg Christmas Parade.  Also in keeping with tradition, we were late to the restaurant because we left late and crawled down the one lane road in ridiculous traffic. 

After lunch, my son had to hurt himself, because we really can't go anywhere without him doing so.  Observe the red mark on his forehead as evidence that he fell and whacked his head on a brick.  The hot cocoa stand guy made sure we weren't going to sue him, and never even offered us a free hot chocolate.  Not very "Middleburg" of him, was it?


The parade, however, was fun!


Awwwww.  We're happy.

The two in the blue coats are mine.  A Shea child is in the light purple.  I don't know that other girl trying to bogart my kids candy.
Of particular interest this year was the horse dung left in the road after the horses pranced by.  Every time a car ran over the rather smelly mass, a loud "Ooh!" could be heard throughout the crowd.  The kids screamed in delight whenever someone hit the dung.  Exciting stuff, horse dung.


Yup.  That brown stuff came from the horse.

We made friends with the lady next to us who had an extraordinary sense of humor.  Together we made sarcastic comments about the various floats and our fellow parade-goers.  I kind of wish I had asked for her number, as odd as that may sound.

This is our nameless friend.  I took her picture covertly so she wouldn't think I was weird.

Two incidents reminded me, however, that we were not in Northern Virginia.

1.  People in Middleburg REALLY love their dogs.
Yes.  She gave the dog her expensive faux-fur coat.
2.  And, on the opposite spectrum, is the complete and utter disrespect for animals:
You are not mistaken.  That is a dead deer in the tray-thingy.


Overall, however, the fun sights and exciting activities got to the kids on the way back to the Shea's house.  It only took five minutes before they looked like this:


It was a good day.

Beth - 1
Middleburg - 1
Warm Dog - 1
Dead Deer - 0

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Alone Time and More Ratings

Mike and I discovered something amazing today. 

We told the children we were going upstairs to talk, and they actually LEFT US ALONE. 

I'm not kidding.  For five whole minutes they left us alone.  Then, when we came downstairs, they didn't react.  The reality was that we could have stayed upstairs longer. 

Who knows how long?  At this point, the possibilities seem endless. 

Also, since I'm on the bragging subject, I just thought you should know that I recieved a second rating on Rate My Teacher.  It says:

Mrs, Harar is one of the most amazing teachers I ever had!! She is so helpful, patient, caring, and really funny! She will always help you with a problem, school related or non school related! I have learned so much from her.

And no, I did not write that, thank you very much.

Beth - 1
Mike - 1
Kids - 0

Saturday, November 26, 2011

Rate My Teacher Has Won Again!!

So, because I'm a bit of a narcissist, I decided to return to Rate My Teacher.com and check out my profile again.  If someone doesn't like me, I need to know.

I still only have one rating.


This is what I bet I look like to students:  Smart,
professional and totally together.  Minus, of course,
the nonsense scribbling known as math on the board.

I'm not sure if I should be happy, or insulted.  This either means I'm doing well and no one feels the need to complain about me, or they just don't care either way and I'm not rateable. 

So, I decided to rate myself.

I gave myself  excellent marks, but took off some points in easiness and strictness so as not to appear a pushover.  I even wrote some remarks, which read:

Mrs. Harar is the best English teacher I've ever had.  She is fair, kind and very easy to understand.  She is also extremely smart.  I learned so much from her, and her homework was always appropriate.  If I had to give her a grade, she would get an A+.

I clicked SUBMIT, glowing that I would have such a wonderful rating.  I'd found a loop-hole!  Rate My Teacher was not the end-all, be-all of teacher worthiness.  The students no longer had total control! 

Except my comments wouldn't go through.

I tried again, and again.  No luck.  No matter what I did, it would not accept my rating.  Therefore, I've decided that the makers of Rate My Teacher are very smart.  The must look at the grammar and KNOW that an adult is doing the rating.  I bet they even have levels, and my level was "perfect grammar = teacher." 

Damn you, Rate My Teacher.  You've won this time.

Beth - 0
Rate My Teacher.com - 1

Christmas Decorations!

Just thought I would share my Christmas decorations with you while they still looked good.  The kids will probably destroy all my hard work by the end of the day.

Positives of Christmas decorating this year:
  •  The first tree we found was perfect.
  •  The JMU game was on TV while we decorated.
  •  The weather outside is beautiful!
  •  Mike and I did not argue about the lights at all.  Also, I did not feel an extreme compulsion to take the lights off when I was finished and re-do them (which I did the past two years).

Negatives of Christmas decorating this year:
  •  Jillian had a break-down because Joey was putting all of the ornaments on the same branch.
  •  I got a rash on my arm from putting lights on the bush outside.  It appears I have an allergy to that  bush.
  •  For some inexplicable reason, only half the lights of every set I've tried will work on the allergy bush.
Pictures of my house:
This is our Christmas tree.  As you can see, it is perfect. 

Dining room table.  Why yes, those are fresh branches you see.


My nativity set on the piano, conveniently out of reach from little hands.


My "showcase" table.  The snowmen are new.  I'm aware that the one on the right no longer has a nose.  I've searched everywhere but cannot find it.  Boo.


Grammy's Christmas Village.  My favorite decoration, may I add.


I'll spare you a picture of my arm rash and bathroom decorations.

Beth - 1
Rash Bush - 1
My Decorated House - 1
.

Thursday, November 24, 2011

My Harar Thanksgiving

In keeping with Harar tradition, my Thanksgiving holiday was not calm and quiet.

If you haven't been reading my other posts, let me help you catch-up:  Mike (hubby) broke his pinkie toe, my dog has been sick with vomiting and bowl problems for six days, and I hit a car on Tuesday.

However, no Harar holiday is complete without someone getting sick.  Joey stepped up to the plate this time.  He appears to have a raging case of laryngitis.

I'll use visuals to walk you through the rest of the day.

This is an example of Wednesday afternoon.  I'd missed two days because of family issues.  My Homies missed me.

 

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This is how Thursday morning started.  I cleaned up dog shart from my floor at 6:00 in the morning.
 Jillian decided to take a picture.



After cleaning and cooking, we came up with a pretty nice spread.  It was SUPER yummy.


After dinner we went to see Christmas lights.  The owner told us the "falling" lights were purchased in
 Belgium.  He must be super rich, since mine usually come from Walmart.


This house does a food drive every year, and puts on a wonderful lights display.  Despite the conversation,
 I do not recommend creamed corn.


After everyone left, Mike and I settled in with some champagne. 


His gimpy foot rested too.


HAPPY THANKSGIVING TO MY FRIENDS, FAMILY AND FOLLOWERS!!








Monday, November 21, 2011

I'm going to sum up the last two days in less than ten bullets.

1.  Woke up Sunday  to dog puke and dog shart on every level (3) of the house.  Cleaned up all of the doggie mess.
2.  Had a birthday party for 11 kids at my house.
3.  Had dinner for in-laws and friends that same evening.  (Did have fun here)
This is my dog.  He is pooping on my
floor for the millionth time.  I am silently
(OK, not silently) cursing him.
4.  Woke up hungover on Monday morning to dog puke and dog shart on two levels of the house.  Cleaned up all of the doggie mess.
5.  Went to work.
6.  Came home to doggie puke and dog shart all over the kitchen, which the dog subsequently walked through and tracked throughout the kitchen.  Cleaned up all of the doggie mess.
7.  Gave up and took the dog to the vet.
8.  Spent over $300 on the dog for x-rays and shots.  *Bonus*  Boomer pissed all over the techs while they took his x-rays.  He also sharted in his crate.
9.  Almost sat down to watch "The Walking Dead", but Mike broke his pinkie toe on the door and I had to finish giving the kids a bath while he writhed in pain on the bed.
10.  Listened to the dog whine and cry because we aren't allowed to feed him tonight.  This is still going on, by the way.

Sorry for the rather boring list.  But, I feel better now that I've complained.

Beth - 0
Boomer, Mike, Vet - 1

Saturday, November 12, 2011

Vegetables

About a week ago, I remembered (for the first time in three months) that Joey needed to bring in an item for show and tell on Friday.  I reminded Mike the night before to choose a vegetable, and went to work the next morning very proud that I had not forgotten.

FYI - The tomato and squash may seem happy,
 but are actually upset because the are so often
categorized as vegetables.
Around 8:45, Mike called.  "I forgot to get a vegetable for Joey," he said. 

Understandably, my reaction was a bit negative.  I would no longer allow my status as "forgetful parent" to run rampant through his preschool.  Therefore, I instructed Mike to go home and get a vegetable for Joey's show and tell.

Mike is smart.  He obliged immediately.

I remained on the phone with him as he scoured our fridge for a respectable vegetable.  He became excited when he found an acorn squash; however, I reminded him that squash was not a vegetable because it had seeds.  His mistake was common, but I wanted to make sure that my son had a REAL vegetable, not a fruit commonly mistaken as a vegetable. 

We argued on the point for several minutes. I asked him if he thought we would be having a conversation like this ten years ago while we were making out on his college apartment couch.  He gave up the argument soon after.

Luckily, he found some salvageable brussell sprouts and a potato.  At that point, we got off the phone.

About ten minutes later, I received a text message from my husband.  "I just saw a mom bringing a butternut squash into the preschool," it read.  "What a dummy."

We really are awesome parents.


Beth - 1 (My fruit/veggie skills are legit)
Mike - 1 (Good comeback)
Mom with the squash - 0

Monday, October 31, 2011

Halloween With The Harar Family

In keeping with Harar tradition, where no holiday can be complete unless something unusual happens, this Halloween began with a pumpkin smashing on Jillian's birthday.  It was her pumpkin, of course, and she cried in the street.  I actually brought one student to tears with this tale, and another bought her a brand new pumpkin.

But let's focus on the funny moments.

Joey insisted on being Yoshi, from Super Mario Brothers, but the only Yoshi costume I could find was a size 8-10.  I bought it for him anyway, rolling up the pants and sleeves.  He looked super cute, actually.  The only problem was that the "hat" was made for a 8-10 year old.  It kept falling in front of his eyes, causing him to run straight into a pole on the day of his preschool Halloween party.  He is sporting a rather attractive purple lip right now.

Jillian found a picture of a costume in a book at the fabric store, and begged my mother to make it, which she did, of course.  The only problem is that I'm still not entirely sure what she "is".  No one is entirely certain, however, though my mom did a great job sewing the costume and Jillian looked fantastic.  We finally settled on pop star, but you can decide for yourself.

While trick-or-treating, Joey used his hand and made a munching noise after he thanked each person for the candy.  What is amusing is that almost every adult made the munching sound right back to him.

One house gave him a small container of Playdoh and he asked if it was Playdoh he could eat.

Jillian was, of course, unfailingly polite, thanking everyone and wishing them a Happy Halloween.  Her stamina was greatly improved this year, and she filled her pumpkin to the brim with candy.  She still says Halloween is the best holiday ever, beating out Christmas, even. 

Overall, it was a great Halloween!

Beth - 1
Kids - 1

Halloween - 1

Friday, October 21, 2011

Rate My Teacher.Com

This is how clear I am.  Can you get any clearer than this??
I decided to take the plunge and check myself out on Rate My Teacher.Com.

Although I have several comments from when I taught at Annandale three years ago (all of them excellent, if I do say so myself) I only have one comment in three years from Centreville. 

On a scale of 1 to 5, with one being the worst, my scores were:

Rated 5 for easiness

Rated 5 for helpfulness

Rated 4 for clarity.


Comment: Ms. Harar is really nice and makes learning fun. I like how she incorporates humor into the classroom. she also doesn't give out too much homework.

WHAT?!?!  I only got a four for clarity???  I'm so clear.  I'm so clear you can see right through me.  I'm a freaking window!

Just kidding.  I have my unclear moments.  Overall I was pretty pleased that someone thought of me, because I have been working there for three years, after all.  It was about time I made the hated Rate My Teacher website.  It is too bad that the commenter forgot to capitalize the S in she, however.

But the poster was right on about me being funny.  :)

Beth - 1
Student - 1

The Cycle of Life

The Student's Motto
I had an interesting conversation the other day that I thought I'd share with you.  It went something like this:

Me: How could we use the cycle of life (birth, youth, adulthood, middle age, old age, death) and compare it to the seasons? Which period of life do you associate with each season?


Student: Well, I was born in December, so I guess I'd have to say winter reminds me of my birth.

Me: Why don't you try thinking outside the box?   Apply the question to the world.  Don't make this about you.

Student: Why?


Enough said.
 
Beth - 1
Self-Centered Teenager - 0

Saturday, October 15, 2011

A Scientific Observation About Blonds

As I enjoyed the homecoming parade yesterday with my husband, children and teacher friends, I had the chance to do an impromptu scientific study.

While the students passed by in their floats, or twirling their flags, or chanting unintelligible chants, many of them stopped to say hello to our group.  I'd also like to take this opportunity to thank them for the extra candy.

What was odd, however, is that all of the students both my friend Ashely and I have taught noticed my friend Ashley first.  

ALL of them.

If I examine this scientifically, it could be for one of several reasons.  Either she is a much better teacher than I am (and she probably is), she is much funnier than I am (also probably true) or she is easier to recognize than I am.

To save my pride, I am going with answer #3.  The explanation?  Ashley has beautiful, platinum blond hair.  My hair is a typical boring brown.

Please keep in mind that I'm not complaining.  I long ago embraced my brown hair, and am content with the way I look, but I found it interesting that students that generally who seem to like me, and come by to visit without provocation, all noticed Ashley first.  A few even talked with her for a few minutes before recognizing that I was standing right next to them. 

I've heard the phrase "blonds have more fun" many times in my life, and now I think I understand why.  We still like pretty colors, even as adults.  If I take this knowledge further, I would guess that blonds have more opportunities in life than brunettes.

Again, no real purpose to this post other than to make an observation.  So what if I'm a tad bit jealous? 

Beth with brown hair - 0 (barely noticed)
Beth with blond hair - 1 (I'm guessing)

Monday, October 10, 2011

My First Commercial

I made my very first commercial!  I'm going to ask my students to create one too, so I figured I should have an example ready.  Overall, I'm very pleased!


Check it out and let me know what you think.  I'm trying to get teenagers to get excited about reading the newspaper.

Beth - 1
Newspaper - 1
Commercial - 1

Long Weekends, Urgent Care Visits and Me - Also, Boomer Gets a Purple Sock

My family seems pre-programmed to get sick on long weekends and holidays.  This is bad because it costs double what it normally would since we must go to urgent care instead of a regular doctor.

This has been proven over a long period of time.  A few that come to mind:

Jillian:  Sick on Fourth of July
Jillian:  Sick on Halloween
Mike:  Sick in Ocean City three years ago
Mike:  Sick in Ocean City two years ago
Mike:  Sick in Ocean City one year ago
Me:     Strep Throat on New Years
Joey:   Sick on Christmas Day
Me:     Sick on visit with In-Laws over three day weekend.  **Bonus Ambulance Ride
Boomer:  Pretty much gets sick any time we have to pay double for weekend visits.
He got a cool purple "sock" on his foot.  We
get to pay extra to re-bandage on Wednesday.

The list goes on and on, for the aforementioned are only a preview of our visits to the ER, Urgent Care and 24 hour clinics over the past ten years. 

To add to the list, I spent two hours in Urgent Care with Joey on Sunday afternoon.  He had strep throat.  I would also like to take this opportunity to make a formal apology to Emily Eidem and David's wife for possibly sending strep home with their husbands who came to visit over the weekend.

We foolishly thought our long weekend doctor visits were over, but Boomer surprised us with a bleeding paw on Monday afternoon when we got home from the pumpkin patch. 

Turns out I got to spend another hour in the emergency veterinary clinic with him while they removed a torn nail and bandaged him up.  He also got a pain injection and is feeling awesome right now.
 
**Bonus for Boomer - Purple Sock Bandage.  And all it cost me was $154.

Looking forward to Thanksgiving!  My money is on Mike.

Beth - 0
Sickness on holidays - 1
Boomer - 1 (He loves pain drugs)

Friday, October 7, 2011

Super Powers

Watching X-Men First Class got me thinking;  I would really like to have a super power. 

However, my husband and his friend Ted think that it isn't enough to have a simple super power.  It must be a very specific superpower - one that makes you the best superhero of all.

I disagree.  There are many superpowers that I would like to have, and none of them would make me the ultimate superhero. 
Here are my choices, in order of least favorite to most favorite:

#5.  Wings
Let's face it.  Wings are cool, and I could fly.  The only problem here is my fear of heights, which I think might be null and void if I actually had wings, making my fear irrelevant.

#4.  Reading Minds
This would be amazing, for I hate liars.  Then again, I also hate liars.  So, finding out what everyone is thinking might be a huge letdown.  I'm still torn on this choice.


Trust me.  I see what is on
the end of his wolverine
talons, AND  I understand
its significance to my life.

#3.  Moving Metal
Moving metal would be an amazing talent, especially given how many metal objects are in the world.  However, I think that my choices might be limited given my job, because I don't daily encounter guns, helmets, knives, barbed-wire, fences or cutlery.  Therefore, this talent would not be of much use to me.

#2.  Spontaneous Teleportation
I had a tough time making this my second choice.  I would love to move anywhere I wanted at anytime, because the possibilities would be endless.  I'd much rather be in Tuscany than in Centreville right now.  However, it seemed a rather selfish mutation, so it lost a few points.      

#1.  Influencing Minds
There is no way this option could be any less than number one.  I can't imagine a situation where I would lose a confrontation if I could make someone think anything I wanted.  Imagine the possibilities!!  Freshman would run home to complete their homework on time.  Students, children and husbands would never argue with me!  Life would be perfect! 

A woman can dream, right?

Beth - 0
Superpowers - 1

Thursday, October 6, 2011

Baking Fail

I'm just going to come on out and say it:  I can't bake. 

AT ALL.  I can't bake at all.  I burn everything I try to bake. 

I don't know why I lack this basic skill that so many women not only possess, but excel in.  So, I'm going to make a damn good attempt at blaming it on genetics by comparing myself to my family, because I want to, and because it will make me feel better.

Top 5 Reasons Why My Lack of Baking Skills Are Not My Fault, Proven Through Other Genetic Abnormalities

Evidence #1:  The "Tongue-Rolling" Gene
Everyone in my family can roll their tongue except for me.  This includes my parents, sister and children.  Somehow, this gene magically skipped over me, leaving me out of the tongue-rolling parties.

Evidence #2:  The "Everything in its Place" Gene
Everyone in my family has the "neat" gene.  Not me, however.  I seem incapable of keeping a pristine living environment, no matter how much it bothers me.  I try very hard to keep things clean, but always fail miserably.  This is noticed by everyone in my family and is the main reason I live in constant fear of "drop-in" visitors.

Evidence  #3:  The "Working-Out-Is-Fun" Gene
It isn't.  Not really.  I like Latin Fusion, but that is much more like dancing and very little like a regular workout.  I just don't like to run on a treadmill, lift weights or do push-ups.  BORING.  However, my mom, dad and sister think it is great and do it almost every day.

Evidence #4:  The "Amazing Comeback" Gene
My sister, mom and dad (and husband, though he is thankfully of no blood relation) have the ability to think of amazing comebacks on the fly.  I do not possess this gene at all.  I stammer, turn red and usually back away, floundering for something - anything - to say.  I'll eventually think of the perfect comeback . . . 20 minutes later.

Let's face it. 
We all know I got this gene.
Evidence #5:  The "Good Dream" Gene
I believe this one is pretty self-explanatory.  I don't have good dreams.  Ever.  However, everyone else in my family seems to.  Joey had a great one about visiting with Spongebob the other night, while I wandered around in the past dodging monsters as I tried to find my pants.

It may seem as if I've strayed off-topic, but there is a point to my madness.  Given the evidence above, I think it is obvious that I am seriously lacking in the gene pool, which explains why I've burned every batch of cookies I've ever made.

At least it isn't my fault.  Doesn't it feel good when you can blame your own shortcomings on your parents?  (Sorry Mom.  Don't show this to Dad)

Beth - 0
Baking Gene - 1

Sunday, October 2, 2011

Real Parents

My husband and I had a particularly rough day with the children.  For the record, we are establishing some new rules, but we've also decided that people without kids (and some with) are under the assumption that parents know exactly what to do. 

This is representative of our crazy household
Mike and I disagree.  We fully admit that we have no clue what we are doing.

Therefore, we've come up with a list of things real parents do.

1.  Real parents let their daughter wear a tutu or their son wear his Batman costume to the grocery store to avoid a fight.
2.  Real parents yell at their kids in front of company.
3.  Real parents let their kids watch Spongebob.
4.  Real parents let their kids fight . . . to a certain extent.
5.  Real parents hold late-night conversations where they question their abilities.
6.  Real parents let their sons pee on the side of the road without question, and support their son's assertions that his "thingy" has grown because he is drinking milk.
7.  Real parents sometimes let their kids sleep in the bed with them, especially when they are too tired to get up.
8.  Real parents offer to coach soccer teams when they hate soccer.
9.  Real parents don't want to get up before 7:00 to cook breakfast for their children.
10.  Real parents don't get up before 8:00 on weekends to cook breakfast for their children.
11.  Real parents forget to return library books and end up owing $40 fines.
12.  Real parents will order a $14 mini-slider maker to ensure their child receives the next prize up in their fundraiser.  Estimated value of said prize:  $3.
13.  Real parents are too tired to move their child back to their bed at 2:00 a.m.
14.  Real parents are too tired to move their child back to their bed at 4:00 a.m.
15.  "                                                                                            " at 6:00 a.m.
16.  Real parents reward themselves with a shot of Jim Beam Red Stag for successfully putting their children to bed before 8:30 p.m.
17.  Real parents hug each other and laugh (cry) when they realize they have no clue what they are doing.

There are many more, but it is late and I need to go to sleep because either the children or the dog will have me up by 5:30. 

Mike and Beth - 1
Parenting - 0 (with a possible +1 in the future)

Thursday, September 29, 2011

Stages of Teaching

Over the years, I've come to realize that the school year consists of several stages for a teacher.  I believe they go in this basic order:

June:  Euphoria.  All the problems from the previous year are gone, and we will never think of them again.

July-Early AugustDementia.  We use these months to forget that we ever taught in the first place.

As if you needed a visual to wonder
why I'm a little crazy.
Late AugustGnawing Apprehensiveness.  We know we should be doing something (planning) but are conveniently putting it out of our minds.  Instead we go to the pool, shop our hearts out and act like people who don't work for a living.  We pretend everything is normal, even though it isn't.

SeptemberAcceptance Mixed With Excitement.  Despite the fact that we are inundated with boring meetings, and the stress that accompanies the first days of school, we have the sense that the year will be fantastic, simply because we want it to be.  Our classes will be perfect.  We will never forget to go to a meeting.  Each lesson will be unique, engaging and will fill their young minds with interesting information.  We have accepted that we are back, and are making the best of it.   We may attend a happy hour at the end of the first week, but could skip it if we wanted to.

Mid-SeptemberAmnesia.  We have this uncanny feeling that we've been here before, and it frightens us.  We start to long for the Friday happy hour.

Late SeptemberRealization.  We HAVE been here before.  Only two months ago, in fact, and it is just as we remembered.  This is also when the panic sets in that we still have eight months left to go before the Euphoria stage will return.  Friday happy hour becomes mandatory.

Early OctoberLonging.  We actually start wishing we had last year's kids, a feeling we never thought we would experience.  Ever.  Our minds, which are ill-prepared to accept this reality, start to go mad at this point, which is why so many children think their teachers are a little crazy.  We begin to consider the mid-week happy hour as well. 

I'm between the Late-September Realization stage and the Early October Longing stage.  If I start to sound insane in my blogs in the coming weeks, don't be surprised.

Beth - 1  (One more week till crazy-town!)
Students - 1  (They are driving me there)

Monday, September 26, 2011

Mother of the Year

Last week Jillian missed three days of school because she was sick.  So, you can imagine my surprise when her school called me this morning to say that she had come down to the nurse because she wasn't feeling well.

I asked to speak to her. 

"Mommy," said a sweet pixie voice.  "I don't feel good."

I felt really conflicted.  I didn't want her to feel sick at school, but the nurse said she didn't have a fever and she had already missed three days last week.

"What feels sick, baby?" I asked. 

"My head and nose," she said.  Then she coughed for good measure.

"Jillian," I said.  "You missed so much school last week.  Do you think you could wait an hour and see how you feel?  Today is only a half day and I'd hate for you to have to miss more work."

After a short pause, she sighed and said, "Ok, Mommy."

"Ok Baby," I said.  "I'm really proud of you for being so tough.  If you still feel really sick in an hour, have the nurse call me back."

"Ok," she said.  I told her I loved her, and she handed the phone back to the nurse.  After a brief exchange, I hung up the phone.

Not one minute later, the phone rang again, and my heart sank.  I was going to have to pick her up.  (I'll be honest.  I probably would have called my mom and begged her to watch Jillian again, and she would have said yes because she is so awesome and I am so lovable).

"Hello?" I said.

The nurse to whom I'd just spoken was on the other line.  "Mrs. Harar?" she said.  "I'm really sorry, but it turns out Jillian isn't sick at all.  I got your daughter confused with another little girl."

"Oh!" I said, relieved.  "But wait.  Are you saying that the little girl I talked to wasn't my daughter?" 

"Yes," the nurse said sheepishly.  "Sorry."

This is me.  Confused mother.
I had an entire conversation with a child that was not my daughter and couldn't even tell the difference.  Apparently, neither could she, which makes me feel a little bit better.  She also might be confused about her name, because she let me call her Jillian multiple times.  At least she called me Mommy.

I probably won't be nominated for Mother-of-the Year this time around.

Beth - 0
Nurse - 0
Child - 1 (I'm guessing her mother was nicer than me and let her go home)

Saturday, September 24, 2011

My Cold, The Book Festival, and Smelly People

Since Thursday afternoon, I've had a rather nasty cold, probably passed to me by my beautiful, contagious daughter.  Or, by the multitude of ninth graders who don't wash their hands. 

This smelly person in no way
represents the people I encountered.
There are few things to enjoy about a cold.  Mostly, headaches, sinus pain, sneezing, itchy eyes and copious amounts of mucus accompany a cold, making me miserable.  In fact, there are very few up-sides to a cold, save for one:

When one has a cold, it is usually very hard to smell distasteful odors.  The cold that currently inhabits my body, however, is unique.  It has brought upon all of the usual awful cold symptoms, except that I am still able to smell very bad things.

This is unfortunate, because I encountered two distinctly smelly people today while at the National Book Festival in downtown Washington D.C.

The first was on the metro.  My mother and I were having a very interesting conversation about books (we were gossiping) when a young man, wearing a Dolce and Gabana jacket, sat in the seat in front of us.  In no time at all, a rather pungent smell accosted our nostrils, causing us initially to wrinkle our noses.  Within minutes, we had our hands to our noses, desperately trying to block out his horrible "I haven't bathed in weeks" odor.

We became desperate.  The smell was so bad that my mom finally leaned over and said that at the next stop, we'd switch seats.  We gathered our belongings and prepared to stand as we reached the next metro stop, but God was smiling on us, and the man rose and left.  I'm still shocked that he was wearing a designer jacket.  Shouldn't designer people bathe?

We arrived at the Book Festival very early in order to get third row seats for Toni Morrison, which, may I say, was totally worth it.  She is delightful.  Unfortunately, twin sisters sat behind us.  While they do believe in dressing alike over the age of 60, they do not adhere to the norms of common bathing.  In short, they STANK.  They smelled WAY worse than the guy in the metro.  Even through my cold I was getting sick to my stomach.

I feel a little bad for complaining, because she did overhear me saying I taught high school and gave me her Book Festival poster to give to another teacher.  But if you had only smelled her and her sister, you would be complaining too.

In hindsight, I'm not sure why I felt the need to share my story about smelly people, except perhaps that I could smell them DESPITE my cold, which means they were stinkier than all get-up. 

Actually, there seems to be no purpose at all to this blog. 

I'll make it purposeful:  GO TO THE BOOK FESTIVAL NEXT YEAR.  It is wonderful, and something I would never miss, even when sick.  Katherine Paterson, author of one of my favorite books, Jacob Have I Loved, was there.  It was an honor to listen to her. 

There.  I feel better now. 

Beth - 1  (I don't stink)
Stinky People - 0
Book Festival - 100,000!!!!

Thursday, September 22, 2011

I Made A Video!

I made a video to show my freshman.  They needed a reminder of my homework policies.  Check it out!

Thursday, September 15, 2011

Why I Hate Going to the Dentist

A picture of what would happen if
the dentist had her way with me.
I hate going to the dentist. 

I probably have about fifty "watches" on my left upper distol or right aclusal distal **or my upper left right besial distal aclusal.  Each time the dental hygenist reads them aloud, a small part of my tooth self esteem dies.  I continue to try and blame things on mouth-breathing and allergies, but that only gets me so far.  I think they are catching on to my excuses and one day will just roll their eyes at me.  

The sense of guilt I feel is overwhelming whenever I am there.  I hear phrases like:

"Oh!  You've been clenching your teeth.  Why don't you purchase our $800 custom made mouth guards that make it impossible to sleep at night?"
or
"I see some staining on the back of your teeth.  Do you drink red wine?"  (They know I do.  I refuse to give up my favorite bad habit, so I just shrug and give them my most innocent look.) 

Invariably, they always find something wrong.  Today, through no fault of my own I might add, they informed me that one of my teeth is a darker color, which means it may be dying.  Fan-freaking-tastic.  I asked them what I would have to do, and heard a new phrase this time.

"Oh, we'd just do a root canal to fix it," she said, as if she was talking about taking me for a nice leisurely walk. 

Oh!  That's all.  Just a little minor root canal with needles and drilling.  They aren't fooling me, because I've heard ALL the horror stories.  Root canals suck no matter which way you look at them. 

For the record, I would perfer to do any of the following instead of go to the dentist:

1.  Re-take Drivers' ED - even the parallel parking portion.
2.  Sit through a day full of meetings discussing the purposes of air.
3.  Work as a paralegal again for a day, with my former, horrible, attorney boss.
4.  Spend the day picking up trash on the side of 66.
5.  Babysit the horrible girls that used to live behind my parents and made me cry when I was 14.

At least I don't have to go back for another six months.

Beth - 0
Dentist - 1

**My apologies to the dental community for misspelling these words.    

Sunday, September 11, 2011

Opportunity

Something a student said to me on Thursday has bothered me all weekend.  He mentioned that he didn't do his homework last year, but was going to make a real effort this year to do better.  I told him that he should find a quiet environment, like his room, and do his work as soon as he got home. 

He told me he didn't have a room.

"OK," I said, "how about the kitchen table?"  You guessed it.  He doesn't have one of those either.  And he wasn't joking.  Wherever his family lives, they do not live the same way I do, and his lack of resources made me uncomfortable, followed with a strong sense of how spoiled I am. 

I then suggested that maybe he could stay after school in my room and do his work, but he doesn't have a way home because we only have late buses one day a week and teachers aren't allowed to give rides to students.  

Out of options, I gave him a sad, uncomfortable smile and changed the subject.  

I seriously take for granted all that I have.  My parents were (and stilla re) married and provided me with every opportunity to succeed, from taking the time to quiz me for history tests, to taking away my license when they found out I'd been drinking when I was only 19.  They still encourage me and help me when I need it  
In case you couldn't guess,
I'm the person here.
Still, I am left with a feeling of helplessness, for I am only one lowly person in this grand world and there is so little I can do.  My hands are tied with familial responsibilities, work, and rules.  How do we help students like the aforementioned succeed when they have so few opportunities?  The government can push national standards all they want, but how do you explain this to a kid that has no room and no kitchen table in his house? 

Why would he even care about homework when his basic needs aren't being met?

(This is where I heave a huge sigh and leave the question unanswered.  I simply don't have the answer.)
All I know is:

Beth - 0
Kid - 0
Government - 0

Sunday, September 4, 2011

My Day Off

From Saturday at noon till Sunday at 4:00 p.m., I had about 28 hours of freedom.  It was everything I thought it could be, but I have to admit I missed my family quite a bit. 

All in all, however, I was much less productive than anticipated. 

And sadly, my day, plus four hours, wasn't as exciting as you might think.  It went something like this:

1.  Go to the gym
2.  Color my hair
3.  Shower
4.  Go visit my parents' house and drink wine
5.  Go to Arlington and have dinner and drinks for Bethany #2's birthday.
6.  Win a bet that I would NOT be hit on.  (Some dude asking why I wasn't smiling doesn't count)
7.  Drink too much and get a ride home.
8.  Wake up at 6:00 a.m. to my dog barking at the door because his stomach is making unnatural noises.
9.  Wake up at 7:00 a.m. to my dog barking at the door because his stomach is making unnatural noises.
10.  Wake up at 8:00 a.m. to my dog barking at the door because his stomach is making unnatural noises.
11.  Wake up at 9:00 a.m. to my dog barking at the door because his stomach is making unnatural noises.
12.  Decide to finally get up at 9:30 and eat leftover bok choy veggie dish at 10:00.
13.  Do nothing from 10:30 - 3:00 except watch television, drink coffee and eat popcorn.  Saw some good movies, however.
14.  Actually, add in a champagne drink at 2:30 p.m.  Just because I could.
15.  Go to my parent's house at 4:00, drink more wine, eat good food and hang out with my family.  My husband arrives with the children.
16.  At 10:11 p.m., my children are finally asleep and I am watching Curb Your Enthusiasm with the love of my life. 

Life is back to normal.  Thanks for sharing my day.

Beth - ??  (How do I rate this??)
Life - 1

Thursday, September 1, 2011

Nervous

Those who know me well will be surprised to learn that I am still awake at 10:38 on a work day. And not just any work day.  The day before ninth-grade orientation.

Tomorrow I meet my new students, and am nervous as usual.  So, I'm going to say a quick prayer before I go to bed.

Lord, please let me sleep from 11:00 p.m. till 6:00 a.m. without waking up, for we both know that should I awake during those hours, my crazy brain will move into overdrive, causing me to stay awake for at least two hours obsessing about, well, everything.

May the school dreams which have plagued me for the past month bother a different teacher tonight.  I do not need to arrive to school in my dream only to discover that I have nothing planned for the day.  Nor do I need Satan's child in my classroom for the next ten months.  (In hindsight, it is very possible that WOULDN'T be a dream.  Ug.)

May I have enough confidence in the morning to fool the new faces in front of me.  And please, please Lord.  Do not let my voice tremble as it so often wants to do on the first day.  It shows weakness, and ninth graders can smell weakness.

Amen.

Beth - 1/2 (maybe)
Students - 1 (always)