Friday, December 31, 2010

Thank You...and Happy 2011

In March of 2011, I'll celebrate my 3rd Blog-iversary.  I started blogging as a way to channel my angst as Lorelai graduated from high school and Legare graduated from college.  I didn't know that I'd do much with it afterwards. Well...look at us now.  Hundreds of posts and 431 friends (that I know about) later, I'm still plugging along.

2010 was a wild year with the new job and I didn't get to post as often as I wanted.  Thank you for not forsaking my blog during the lulls. I'm going to do better.  If you're a blogger, you know what I mean when I say that the act of chronicling the collective life of our family is SUCH a joyful activity. On the occasions when everything is decidedly NOT joyful, it is a cathartic activity.  Win Win all the way.

I have some great stories and photos to share, but for now...

Thank you for your friendship via the blog...and HAPPY NEW YEAR to you and yours!

Monday, December 27, 2010

Easing Back Into Reality

  1. Christmas Day is always a big old hullabaloo with mother and Ned, and Hank's mother and difficult half brother.  Every year we hope it will be different but for the last five or so years, it hasn't. We hope. We pray. We survive.
  2. On a positive note, I began my strategic maneuvers to move Christmas Day to our house next year. Hosting the family here would in and of itself, I believe, decrease the hullabaloo factor tremendously. I'm not entirely sure, but I think I made progress and may have an ally in my cousin Elizabeth, who 'bout died doing everything by herself this year. I don't see that changing for her and even if we could alternate years, I would be so happy!  When I spoke to her on the phone Christmas night, I said, We enjoyed today, you really did work hard.  She replied...Yes, I DID.  I countered with, You know I'm ready to take over Christmas anytime you say the word.  She came back with, We'll talk.  Her mother, my aunt, was standing beside her or we might have sealed the deal right then.  What do you think...should I be hopeful??
  3. December 26 was a big old fairy tale day. It snowed all day long.  Even though the snow didn't stick, it was beautiful to watch as Legare and I sat around by the fire drinking coffee and hot chocolate while reading and watching movies.  Lorelai, who finds it nearly impossible to just sit around, went out and about in the snow with our next door neighbors.  Hank rolled out toward Hometown about 8 AM and got back about 5 PM. Everybody did just what they wanted to do and that does NOT happen often around here.
  4. Today, we're trying to do a little straightening up and putting away. I have to go back to work tomorrow and Wednesday from 8 AM to 1 PM. We have a friend (or two) of Legare's coming in on Wednesday through the New Year. They'll head down to the Beaufort house sometime around New Years Day to round out their holiday.  Hank and I will stay home, watch a bowl game or two and put away the Christmas decorations. I will feel compelled to fix collard greens and hoppin' john even if it's just the two of us. Never can be too careful.
  5. We, Hank, Legare, Lorelai, and I, all agree without hesitation that we are tired of eating.  Isn't that sinful to say when there are so many hungry people in the world...and right here in our own community? I put two pound cake gifts and a few other sweets in the freezer this very morning. (They're delicious...we tasted them even thought we're tired of eating.) Another sin and shame is that sometime next fall, I'll notice them still sitting there in the freezer and we'll end up throwing them out.
  6. I leave you with a photograph.  Rarely, are photos of me taken because I'm always the photographer. Hank snapped this of Legare and me as we left on Christmas morning (because we always have take two cars due to anticipated hullabaloo...)

Saturday, December 25, 2010

Christmas Day 2010

There are many good things about children growing up.  One is that Santa can start coming on Christmas Eve.  No more early mornings up at the crack of dawn.  Legare was always pretty easy, as a matter of fact we had to wake him up to open his presents.  Lorelai was another story all together.  We tried telling her that Santa's rule was that you couldn't get up before the baby Jesus, i.e. the sun had to be up.  She was willing to take the risk and could often be found standing by our bed staring us well before daylight.

Last year, at the ripe old age of 19, we finally talked her into opening gifts on Christmas Eve.  The minute Santa got the good word he started out for the lowcountry and SUDDENLY, gifts appeared under our tree about dark.  It was nice...we weren't rushed and nobody was half asleep or cranky.  It wasn't a hard sell to get her to agree again this year, and glory hallelujah, a new tradition is born!

Most of the photos will speak for themselves...Santa found a really good deal on the BumpIt and couldn't resist it as a gag gift.  Oh...and the fancy wrapped gift from Legare...pottery by Ben Owen, III, one of North Carolina's greatest.  Lor is in her pajamas because she came home from work and promptly got into bed for a long winter's nap.  We had to wake her up to eat supper.

You can have a bag like this

Merry Christmas to All...and to All a Good Night!

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Yes indeed...I believe in Santa Claus.

I am loving the time off from work.  Legare got home last night and he and I spent the day in Charleston picking up a few last minute things.  In the past year or so, he's taken a shine to cooking and really enjoys himself when he's home and we're paying for the groceries.  Hank and I enjoy the fact the Legare enjoys cooking. During the work week, we lead a dull existence from a culinary perspective. the spirit of everybody enjoying the holidays in their own way, we wrapped up our afternoon at Whole Foods.  As I sit here nursing a tibble of Maker's Mark, Legare is making a Beef Bourguignon for dinner.  The house smells divine...and on a Tuesday night!!!  Amazing.

Tomorrow morning, I'm meeting my friend Ted at Starbucks then he and I are going out for lunch.  Since Ted and I don't work in the same office anymore, we have loads to catch up on.  Who said what to whom when and all manner of "he/she did WHAT??" will be the gist of the conversation.  I'll spend tomorrow afternoon getting "santa" ready for mother and Ned. 

Mother is obsessed with "does Ned really believe in Santa Claus?"  He's never said the words, "Santa is not real," so nobody is going to burst his bubble on my watch...including mother, I do hope and pray.  A year ago, she never would have entertained the thought but these days, who in the world knows what she might say.  I'll tell you this much...while Legare and Lorelai know what's what, both of them will tell you in a heartbeat that they believe. 

When Legare hit the age of questioning, Lorelai was still little.  Our response to him was this..."as long as you believe, you get toys and gifts from Santa.  When you say you don't believe, Santa will stop coming and you'll just get a present from mommy and daddy."  He never mentioned it again.  When Lorelai posed the question a few years later, Legare was quick to tell her exactly what we'd told him, almost word for word.

All these years later, we still have so much fun...letters to Santa and the whole nine yards.  It makes me smile.

What's making you smile??

Sunday, December 19, 2010

Christmas with Mother and Ned

Oh, you know Ned...he goes along with just about anything as long as he's got plenty to eat and doesn't have to deal with dogs and cats.  Mother.....HA!   hahahahahahahahahahhahhahahahaha
(in case you are wondering...that is hysterical laughter)

Mother called early this morning from Green Grove...Hank is out of town...she woke me up.  Before you go judging, the following is the basic framework of a conversation that she and I have had three times in the past week (minus the waking up part).  She and Hank have had the same conversation three times.  We'll have the same conversation probably ten more times before Christmas Day.

M: Are you awake?
B:  No ma'am.
M: Why's time to go to church.

At this point, I sat straight up in the bed and looked at the clock.  Trust me...NOT time to go to church in these parts unless you are a monk (and yes...we do have a monastery in our community for real.)

B:  It is not time to go to church.
M: What time is it?  (She apparently looks at her watch.) Goodness, why am I up and dressed so early?
B:  No idea...I promise...NO idea.
M: What are we doing on Christmas Day?

Here we go...

B:  We will come by for you and Ned and go to Mary Elizabeth's. (her sister...until I was eight, Christmas Day was at my grandmother's. When my grandmother moved from the farm to live next door to ME in town, she began to host the family.)
M: Are you sure?  I don't think I've been invited.
B: You're invited.
M: How do you know?
B:  OK...maybe you're not invited. ( I do this...I get sarcastic.  Not proud of it, but it does usually knock her into reality for a bit.)
M: Of COURSE I'm invited.  What else would I do on Christmas Day?  What do I need to do?  Have you bought all of the presents?  (By this, she means the presents that SHE is giving to people.  I have purchased, wrapped, and delivered all of her Christmas presents for the last ten years, including what she gives to us.)
B:  I will by Friday.
M: Why are you waiting until the last minute?
B:  Because I work very long days and have not had time to shop.  I have this entire week off.  I'll bring everything over to you no later than Thursday afternoon.
M: Why in the world would you have to work long days.  You work in a school for heaven's sake.  The children go home at 3:00.  (I let that one go...)  Why don't you all come and stay here at Green Grove for the holidays?  (Hmmmm this is new...not a part of the previous conversations.)
B:  Who?  Me?
M:  All of you.  They have rooms with cots.

I couldn't help it...I started to giggle. I couldn't help it.  I started to giggle and tears started streaming down my face.

M:  What are you laughing about?
B:  Nothing
M:  Stop laughing! I'm going to hitch hike to your house. 

The hitch hiking idea is a new twist too.

B:  Feel free.
M:  Good...Now... I called to find out where we're going for Christmas...Did you just get up?  It's time for church...

I'm tired now...will save the conversation about whether or not Ned believes in Santa for another day.

OH...and if you see a little old lady hitch hiking down I-26 between Orangeburg and Charleston, please drop her off at Exit 194.

Saturday, December 18, 2010

Dr. Bronner's Magic Soap

I've not been able to find my usual holiday Peppermint Dish Soap...not from Williams Sonoma nor Mrs. Meyers Clean Day.  Ran across Dr. Bronner's Magic Soap/Peppermint the other day in Target and decided to give it a try.  It smells heavenly...not sure about using it full strength or diluting it.

Does anybody have any experience with Dr. Bronner's?

I Survived...and I've got to get a few things off of my chest so I can enjoy my vacation!

After this post, I promise nothing but Holly Jolly and Fa La La La La for the rest of the holiday season!!

FAIR WARNING...this is a preachy post...if you aren't in the mood, I completely understand.  Just move along without reading...

I've made it to the halfway point of my first year as principal.  On Thursday afternoon, I hosted a staff Christmas drop-in here at home. I am priviledged to lead an amazing group of kind and caring educators!  Hank joined us for a bit and I think that he started to develop a better understanding of what I do and why it's difficult to leave work AT work.  He constantly tries to "one up" me as to whose job is more stressful.  Shoot, everybody's job is stressful these days but the difference between what he does and what I do is the emotion factor. 

Hank deals with business people all day and while there are difficult business people (what say you, all you business people out there?), in a school system if you're an educator with a heart, that heart breaks several times a day because of the unbelievable burdens many students carry.  We want to "fix" everything, but a lot of the hurt has been happening a long time and is too deep.  We can try to make them better and help them learn to be more resilient but...

I had to deal with my first truly irrational parent on Thursday afternoon. Irrational in the sense that I wasn't entirely sure that I wouldn't have to call campus security for assistance. It didn't take half a minute before I realized exactly why the child is the way the child is.  The child has tremendous academic potential but it may never be realized because I cannot FIX what goes on at home when I only have access to that child six hours a day for 180 days.  (Although that doesn't mean I'll stop trying...) The parent was more calm by the end of the meeting and I don't imagine we will meet again, at least not on the same issue.  The incident did; however, make me realize that I probably need to take my blood pressure medicine in the mornings, rather than at night.

For people out there who think that they know what a school principal does...unless you've BEEN one, you have absolutely positively no idea the magnitude of the responsibility that falls on our shoulders. There...I said it!!! Teachers don't know...central office people don't know...state department people don't know. Nobody knows unless they've walked in those shoes.
OK...if you made it this far, I appreciate your support. Your reward is that you don't have to read the just deleted four paragraphs of ranting and raving about know-it-alls and people who'd rather complain than go out and help make things better in the world. Writing and deleting can be cathartic in and of itself.

I'm better now...thanks for listening.  A Holly Jolly post...coming your way SOON!

Sunday, December 12, 2010

This and That

1.  Hank is on his way over to the farm.  Some idiot or idiots got past the camera system AND the alarm system...broke in a window and stole the central heat/air unit.  I may be more annoyed at the camera and alarm companies than I am the thieves.  Hard to say just this minute...(Edit @ 10:32 PM...once Hank got there, he found that they'd also taken the refrigerator, stove, washer, dryer, microwave, and his hunting clothes. They opened every closet and drawer and left everything all over the floor....AARRRGGGHHHH!!!)

2.  Is anybody else out there in a funk?  I sent Lorelai with Hank to a wedding last I'd been looking forward to attending...because I just couldn't get myself together.  I made a nest on the sofa and watched "Eclipse." Felt better this morning but now the funk has returned. I believe the source of the funk to be an interaction on Friday afternoon which left me feeling that I'd been insulted ever so slightly from a professional perspective.  The rational side of me keeps saying "it was nothing," and it WAS nothing in the big scheme of things but I just cannot let it go...I'm not proud of this...I'm just saying...

3.  I need to take a chocolate chess pie. out of the oven.  I am home alone.  Hmmmmm


Friday, December 10, 2010

My Buddy Dook

Dook is a senior in our high school.  He's a character...a good old boy with a big old heart.  He's a hard worker if you hand him a set of tools, but NOT so much when it comes to academic endeavors.  Dook and I have an interesting relationship.  Most mornings, if I'm out and about when he walks in, he throws his arm around my shoulder and says, Good morning, Mrs. Southern...I love ya.   Sometimes he growls at me like a bear.  I growl back.

Since Dook is 18, he can sign himself in and out of school.  For the first few weeks, he played fast and loose with the coming and going and got behind in his work.  At that point, I started laying down the law and giving him a hard time.  We had a few rocky weeks.  Finally one morning I was OVER it...worn slap out.  Dook loves coming to the office and that particular day he stuck his head in my door about 9 a.m. and declared, Mrs. S...I'm signing out at 1:30.  It was time for some tough love, so I turned in my chair and replied, You know what Dook, why don't you go on and sign out now.  If you don't care, I just GIVE UP.  You're not a child.  You're practically a grown man and if you don't WANT to do what it takes to graduate in May, I apparently can't make you. 

He went back to class.

Two days later, my door was closed, so he went to my secretary and said, Will you please go tell Mrs. S. that I'm signing out at 1:00?  She came around the back way to tell me and I replied, Go back and tell him that I said "whatEVer."  I heard a growling sound through the door, but he went back to class and we had four really good weeks.

Around noon today, Dook was at my door.  He started with, Mrs. know I've been working really hard on my school work and I haven't signed out a single time lately.  I'm going to leave now.

Dook, I said, I know you've been working hard and I am VERY proud of you, but it's Friday and school is out at 3:00.  What in the world do you have to do between now and 3:00 that is so important?

Well, he countered pointing to his lower left jaw, these teeth have been bothering me when I eat anything hot or cold so I'm going to the dentist.

(Dook is not a good actor...)

Belle:  What time is your appointment?

Dook:  Well (pause) I don't exactly have an appointment.  I need to call.

Belle:  Come on over here and use my phone.  I don't think you're going to get a last minute appointment on a Friday afternoon but if you CAN get one, I won't give you any grief about leaving.  I wouldn't want you to suffer with a toothache all weekend.  That would be TERRIBLE!!! I'd worry about you ALL weekend long.

(I, on the other hand CAN act...)

Dook:  Well (pause) I don't have the's at home.

Belle (getting tired of the "wells"):  For pete's sake Dook, what's the dentist's name...I'll look up the number for you.

Dook (putting his hand on the jaw again):  Mrs. S...I know it's hard to believe (he looks up at the ceiling) but I can't remember the name of the dentist.  Besides, I need to make sure it's OK with my mama if I go.

ME:  Come on and call her.  She'll know the name of the dentist.  Get the good word from her and we'll call for that appointment.

Dook:  MRS. S....OK...PLEEEZE let me leave early because I've REALLY BEEN WORKING HARD!!!

Belle (all shocked like):  Dook, are you telling me that you do NOT have a toothache????

Dook (looking at the floor):  No ma'am. 

ME:  You almost had me there, pal.  Tell you what...let's split the difference.  You can sign out at 1:30.

He growled.

I growled back, but I was really smiling inside.  Apparently, Dook has forgotten that I can't MAKE him stay if he really takes a mind to leave. 

At 1:30, I was standing in the hall as he blazed by on his way out of the door.

Dook:  Love ya, Mrs. S

ME:  Right back atcha, Dook. 

That boy is going to get a high school diploma on May 31, and I'm going to be the one handing it to him, probably through tears.  The only person in that room who'll be more proud will be his mama.

Friday, December 3, 2010

Student Quote of the Week

Two of my more rambunctious lads at school REALLY disappointed me one day this week.  I quite often take such offenders into the office and sit quietly and give them "the look."   The look...especially when combined with the silent treatment can be a tremendously effective disciplinary tool. It only takes a few minutes and they start confessing and saying their sorry.  Lots of times girls will start crying.  Getting mad just makes the troublemakers defensive.  "The look" makes them feel ashamed.

Student Quote of the Week:  "Mrs. Southern!!!!   PULEEEEEZE stop looking at me with those EYES!"

Lordy, you'd a thought I was this guy...

...or maybe this one...

In short order, the two boys apologized to the young lady whose feelings they'd hurt AND to the teacher whose class they'd disrupted.

Dang....I'm GOOD!