Saturday, August 16, 2014


I walked back into my classroom this week expecting to see the posters, drawings, and pictures I had accumulated over my years of teaching still hanging on the bulletin boards that I had left up at the end of the school year.  We had been told we didn't need to take anything down off our bulletin boards, as they wouldn't be painting the walls this summer.  That was what I expected to see.  What I saw when I walked in, was nothing.  Everything was gone.  My bulletin boards were bare, pictures gone.  Posters, gone.  Not going to lie, I said a few choice inappropriate words.  A friend and I searched my room, going through every drawer and cabinet, thinking that whomever had done this had maybe left everything in a pile somewhere else.  After an hour of searching, I told her we should stop.  My stuff was gone.

Stuff can be replaced, I know that.  What hurt me was that some of those pictures had been drawn by some talented students who have long graduated from South.  The picture that made me cry and was like a stab to my heart when I realized it was gone, was the picture of my Chili Dawg, from when he had made the Tripawds calendar the January after he had crossed the rainbow bridge.

I know nothing can be done to get my stuff back.  It's gone.  I asked the head custodian if he knew anything about it, and he asked his staff, the answer was no.  I sent an email to my boss letting him know my stuff was taken, because I was too emotional to discuss it in person. The principal knows, he walked in when we were discussing it.  He feels bad for me, but again, there's nothing that can be done.

I feel violated.  Why would someone do that to me?  I won't ever know.  Stuff can always be replaced.  At least I have the memories still.  So now I move forward, gathering new posters and pictures, and re-decorating my very sterile classroom.  What a way to start the new school year.

Friday, August 8, 2014

Sometimes All It Takes Is Kindness...

We were about halfway through our third flight on our way to Hawaii, when the crying began.  I was kiddie corner from the mom and I watched as she tried to soothe her young son.  Nothing was working and she was getting frustrated.  Her husband came up from a few rows back, grabbed the boy by the arm and said something to him, I don't know what, but it made him cry even harder when he left.

I have been that mom many times, not just on land, but also in the air.  I remember holding Juli on the airplane while she screamed, because the flight attendant made me wake her up and buckle her in her seat due to turbulence.  The consequence of that action?  A screaming 2 year old for the remaining 2 hours of the flight.  I wracked my brain for a way to help this mom, who was desperate to stop her son from screaming on the plane.

This was the first time Ryan and I had vacationed childless, so none of my "go-to's" were in my backpack.  I had left my tablet at home for the kids to play on if needed.  I didn't have any children's books, coloring books/crayons, play-doh, suckers, etc in my backpack.  I just had boring old grown up stuff, and then something prodded my brain, "you have your iPod and there are movies on it" (the in flight movie was not a kids movie, and honestly it sucked).  I pulled out my iPod, and scrolled through the movies, hoping there was one on it that wasn't scary for a little boy, and I found one.  "Thanks, God" I whispered, as I tapped the mom on her shoulder.

"I know you don't know me, but I have been in your place before; trapped on an airplane with a child who is melting down.  I was wondering if your son would like to watch a movie on my iPod".  The woman looked at me and burst into tears, "That is the nicest thing anyone has done for me today!"  I crouched down in the aisle, so I could be face to face with her son, "Hey buddy, do you like movies with aliens?  I have a movie on my iPod that we could plug your ninja turtle headphones into and you could watch.  What do you think?"  The boy got quiet and looked at me.  I handed my iPod to his mom and pointed to where I was sitting, I squeezed her shoulder and went back to my seat.  I watched the little boy climb into his mom's lap and put his head on her chest.  30 minutes later, she handed me back the iPod with a thank you and said he had fallen asleep.

I know I've written this before, but I will continue to write it: don't judge the parent and immediately label the child as a brat when they are having a meltdown until you have walked in their shoes.  Sometimes all it takes is a kind word or gesture and you can make a difference in a situation that isn't going so great.

Wednesday, August 6, 2014

Being Thankful For What You Have...

On Monday, we returned home from a camping trip with Ryan's Mom & Dad (I will blog about that on a different day).  We had left the air conditioning on, and "held" it at 75 since Buster would be home (don't worry, someone was taking care of him-thanks Desi!).  When we finished unloading everything, Ryan and I noticed that the house was warmer than it should be.  A LOT warmer than it should be, since we held the thermostat at 75.  It was 81 degrees.  The air conditioner was running, but the air coming out of it did not feel that cold.

I sent a text message to Theresa (the same Theresa that watched our kiddos during the school year) and asked if her husband, Larry, had a moment sometime during the week to come over and check out our air conditioner (Larry works for a heating/cooling company and has done maintenance on our air conditioner and furnace in the past).  Larry texted me back and asked what the problem was.  I explained what was going on, and he said he was on his way over!  How is that for quick?!?

After Larry finished checking everything out, he told us that our Freon was extremely low & he suspected there was a leak somewhere.  He didn't have the equipment at his house to fix it, but he gave Ryan his work number and told Ryan what to tell them when he called in the morning so that Larry could be sent back out to our house to do the leak check, leak repair (hopefully), & Freon refill.

We told the kids to pretend they were tent camping, except they got to be in their own beds with fans and put them to bed.  Fortunately, we have a large whole house fan, and we counted on that to suck in the cool night air and cool down the house.  Ryan and I went to bed around 10 that night, the house had cooled down to about 80 degrees by then.

Around 11:20, I was woken up by a crying and VERY wet Noah.  The poor kid was sobbing because it was pouring rain into his room.  He was soaking wet, his trundle bed that he was sleeping in was soaking wet, the bottom part of his bunk bed was soaking wet.  I got him changed into dry pajamas and calmed him down.  Then I took care of the wet bedding (after closing the window in his room), and then woke up Ryan so he could help me close windows and mop up the wet patches.  The house temperature had made it down to 79, but now we had to shut off the big fan and close windows.

I finally climbed back into bed and then it began to thunder.  If you don't remember, Buster, is terrified of thunder and fireworks.  He immediately jumped into our bed and laid all 82 pounds of golden retriever on top of me as he panted in my face.  It was magical.

At 12:30, Juli woke up crying because she was hot and thirsty- I was still awake, because I had a dog in bed with me, so I got her something to drink & untangled her from her blankets.  I got her back into her bed, and then checked on Noah.  He was awake because I had forgotten to take the ladder out of the top bunk bed (we store it up there so Juli isn't climbing up there) and he didn't have much room in the bed.  I took care of that and went back to bed.  Buster had already found somewhere else to sleep during this, so I thought I would be able to fall back to sleep, but I didn't.

Sometime after 1, the storm ended, so I was able to get up and turn the big fan back on and open the windows again to start cooling the house back down.  Then I fell asleep.  Around 2:15, I woke up to Juli gagging, and I smelled skunk.  I swear that skunk had to have sprayed right underneath her window because when I walked into her room, I gagged too!  I shut off the big fan and closed her window and got her back to sleep.  Then I fell back to sleep.

I woke up again at 4, I don't know why, and the skunk smell was gone so I turned the big fan back on again and slept until 6 when I woke up wide awake.  We successfully cooled the house down to 72 degrees in the night, but I was exhausted.  Why didn't I wake Ryan up to help me, you might ask?  He had to work on Tuesday and had to give a presentation, so I knew he needed to sleep.

Tuesday, it was humid, and Larry was unable to give us good news about the air conditioner.  The cost to repair where the leak was and fill it with Freon was almost as expensive as putting in a whole new air conditioning unit.  So, guess what is being installed on Thursday?  Be thankful for what you have, because Monday night was a miserable night in the Mahlberg house without air conditioning (I did remind my children that I used to have to sleep without air conditioning when I was a kid, because we didn't have it at all, and they couldn't believe it).  I am also thankful that we installed the big whole house fan right after we moved in, because that fan is wonderful (when it's not raining or a skunk has sprayed).