Sunday, October 31, 2010

Earning our Candy!

This is the official "Ross/Williams" Corvallis 5k running team. We have Lucy VanPelt, Charlie Brown and a Rag Doll. I personally find the RagDoll to be the most scary costume, but then you know how I feel about dolls.

This morning we all ran the Corvallis 5k through OSU's beautiful campus. I was worried about it yesterday as I went to bed to the sound of pouring rain on my roof. However, this morning the skies had cleared and the sun was shining which made for a beautiful morning and a perfect fall run.

The run itself was fantastic. I wore my new Mizunos and I absolutely love them. They didn't really match my Lucy dress, but hey, it's hard to get that saddle shoe look out of a pair of running shoes. No matter. We looked pretty good all things considered. I found that dress yesterday at the second hand store for only $14 which is much less than the pain it would have been to try and fashion something out of duct tape which was my original plan. So yay for thrift store finds.

The only downside of the entire even was at mile 2.9 when I rounded the corner just about the time Laura said "let's pick up the pace and finish strong." I dug down, pushed hard and completely crashed. Seriously. I crashed. Falling on pavement is never a fun thing to do, but as an adult it is even more annoying than as a kid. First, you are totally embarrassed by the fact that you are going down and there is nothing you can do to stop it. Everything moves in slow motion as time slows to a crawl and your bionic movements pause with every shift as you head down, down, down to the ground. The last thought in your head is usually something like "shit, this is going to hurt" followed quickly by "Oh crap, how many people are going to see this?" Well, in my case since I did it right at the corner and there was a wall of spectators watching, the answer was way too many. I'm hoping that none of those cameras there caught it because that is more than my 41 year old pride can take. However, other than leaving some skin on the pavement and some bloodstains on my dress and leggings, I think I got away pretty good. I don't even think I lost more than about 10-20 seconds in the "nothing feels broken, get up and run stupid" conversation I had in my own head. On the slightly annoying side, not one person except my running partner and team mate Laura asked if I was ok. Trail runners would have sacrificed their own times to help me up. Roadies jump over you or get annoyed you are blocking them! Here is a small sample of the damage.

All in all, it was a darn fine day. Sean set a PR and won 3rd place in his age category. I think I set a PR myself at 33:05 but I'd have to double check back to my last road 5k which I think was about 5 years ago. Regardless, it was a beautiful day to get out there with other costumed fools and have a blast.

Next year, Zombies!

Friday, October 29, 2010

Never too old!

I love Halloween. This year we have the pleasure of coming up with two different costumes. The first is displayed above. The costumes said "Dracula" for Sean's and "Fallen Angel" for mine. Whatever, we went for mostly dead in our interpretation. We had a blast. We wore these fashion masterpieces to the birthday party of a friend. I can't believe how pregnant I look in this picture. Especially since I'm not. No, that is nothing but a good old fashioned combination of many weeks without regular runs to anything but the candy dish. In my defense, the "one size fits most" costume was less than forgiving. Who are these "most?" I want to know!

This look was pretty easy since the costumes were already made and we just had to do the make up and accessorize. For informational purposes, my jewelry was my grandmothers and I think it makes the outfit! So here is a holla out to my Nanny! Thanks for that rock star ring!

Sunday's costumes need to be worn for a local 5k costume event. That will be more of a challenge. I'll post the photos. Until then, I have to go hit the candy dish again. After all, I don't have to wear this costume again for a year or more and..I'm in training!

Sunday, October 24, 2010

Boys, Beer and Meat

Today my house was filled with two distinctly boy smells. Beer brewing and meat smoking. The boys finally got around to brewing a batch of their famous brown ale. I'm not a beer fan in general, but damn those two can brew up some good beer. It's even worth giving up my big bath tub to the two carboy fermentation fest going on in the make shift brewery. I can shave my legs elsewhere.

The other marvelous smell came from the smoker the boys bought this weekend. A smoker and buy one get one free pork shoulder roasts created a smokey, meaty, delicious feast at my house for dinner. I was even moved to look up a coleslaw recipe on the old Internet to do my part.

All in all this very manly fest made for a most excellent Sunday. We watched the inaugural Korean Formula One race on the tele, prior to the DVR getting cut off due to the bad weather delays. No NASCAR in this house though. I do have my standards and have to draw the line somewhere.

So boys, thanks for a delicious dinner and a reminder of why I wanted us all back together in the first place!

Friday, October 22, 2010

Rendered Speechless

This is the Snow Princess Barbie in Brunette created in 1994. I had no knowledge of this doll until I was called her last night by a parent who was nearly in tears at my conference table. It seemed like a normal conference. I was sharing samples of her daughter's work so far this year. We were discussing how I may need to move her out of my reading group and into a higher level and she just stared at me. I explained to her how well her daughter was doing and how she has really taken off. Nothing, no words. Slightly confused I pulled out more samples of the work, showing the perfectly formed letters creating well written sentences. I showed the trajectory line of her September reading score to the October reading score. I explained while she is not yet on grade level she is making excellent progress and is at the top of my reading group. Still silent but at this point I notice the tears that are beginning to well up in her eyes.

She then shocks me with her words. "Please, please don't move her"." What?" I say," why not?" She then said, "you believe in her, you work with her, you have found the key to our daughter". Now I am the one with the tears welling up, but I am the professional so I can not let them show. I then state, "Oh no, it's not me, it's just her time, some kids are late bloomers and it just takes them longer to get into the groove". She then goes on and says to me "You don't understand, every year it has been a struggle just to get her to school, she cries, she makes herself sick, she tells us how stupid she is and her teachers call her slow." At this stage I am rendered speechless as she tells me that the past experiences have included labels and gross generalizations by professionals who should have known better if they had only taken the time to look. It broke my heart.

Now I get that we all have classrooms full of quirky kids who have different learning styles and crazy behaviors. We are not teaching the same kids who we sat with as kids ourselves. As a child the worst behaved kid in my class would occasionally not follow directions, or get out of his seat when he wasn't supposed to. This year I have a student who throws chairs, clears table tops, and screams when he doesn't get his way. I have another who at 8 has decided he is in charge of his own life and goes against all parent rules (which aren't enforced anyway) on a daily basis. This year I'm lucky to have all my students in their seats at the same time. I have one who can perform wonderfully if he is allowed to squat in his chair and lean on the table. He can work for 15-20 minutes silently focused in that position. Previously I had spent 15-20 minutes a day asking him to return to his seat every time he got up. I have one who needs a mental break about every 30 minutes so she either gets her book from, or takes her book to her locker. She doesn't bug anyone on the trip to or from said locker. But the minute it takes her to get there and back allows for a mental reframe that keeps her going the rest of the work time. It is who she is and is what it takes to keep her from falling apart because school is hard for her.

It takes time to learn about what works and what doesn't for my students. That is my job, it is what I am supposed to do and I take pride in doing it well. Sure most days I don't think I have succeeded and I ponder the day and evaluate what to change.

And then there are the days when I am called "Snow Princess Barbie" during a conference, about a girl who is doing well. The exact statement went like this "You know you are Snow Princess Barbie at our house." I say, "oh wow, thanks, I've never been called that before. Wow, thank you." The mom smiles and repeats "Our daughter came home and told me the first week of school, Mom, I have Snow Princess Barbie for my teacher this year". I thank her again, say my goodbyes and prep for the next family. I don't think about it until this morning when I wake up and wonder "who is snow princess barbie?" And so I do a google search and discover that Snow Princess Barbie was created in 1994 and is a rare, unique and collectible barbie of which only 265 dolls were ever made.

I am rendered speechless. It is I who now have the tears in my eyes as I truly realize the extent of the compliment. It is the much needed answer to my daily question "Do I make a difference?"

Thursday, October 21, 2010


The past two days were made up of approximately 24 hours of being at school. Two 12 hour days of parent teacher conferences. Well one day of full teaching followed by 4 hours of conferences and then a solid 12 hour day.

That's a lot of hours sitting and talking. This year I had all but 5 of my regular class show up and I had at least 12 kids in my reading group show up too. I also had some past kids stop to say hello which is always a pick me up.

All in all it was a great experience this year. Supportive parents and kids who are doing pretty darn well at this early date. I kept really busy which made the time go pretty fast.

Now I have a 3 day weekend to make up for the crazy two days. I'll take it. I think I'll start now.


Friday, October 15, 2010

Ode to the Girls

Yes, it is national breast cancer awareness month, but those aren't the girls I'm talking about here.

I think the secret to a long and happy marriage is not mutual respect or undying love. Nope, it is having girl friends. Not for him, that wouldn't help! These are my girls. This week I had two interactions with two of my favorite girls that helped me see the light. Would I eventually have come to the conclusions that I did if not for the time spent with my girlfriends? I believe wholeheartedly I would not have. I'm just not that reflective.

The first insight was less of an insight and more of an affirmation, that I am not evil. This came from my trainer whom I also call my friend. Over the past month our weekly sweat sessions had become my favorite workout of the week and even more recently they have become the highlight of my entire week. I realized how much I missed that connection with someone while I work out. A physical therapy session if you will. Having someone who will push you while sweating it out with you is so awesome. Recently the conversation has turned more confessional on my part and as it turns out, she gets it and makes me feel better. So an hour later I'm not only physically trashed, I'm also sporting a new renewed spirit and in a much better space to go home to the husband. Thanks Olivia!

My other shout out goes to my often quoted and much loved girl Erin. This week she reached rock star status as she helped me sort out in my own round about way why I have been so damn pissed off for the past couple of weeks. She helped me figure out two things. First that my anger wasn't actually at what I thought it was and two, that it was just a symptom of something else that I hadn't even considered. Yes, she is that good. No couch, no regression therapy, just a short drive from work to what will most likely remain my happy home. For that I give Erin the Cody 5!

Thanks ladies for keeping me centered in an off kilter world. My glass is lifted in your direction!

Monday, October 11, 2010


Today I took myself for a run after work. Well, I took myself for a run after PT is a little more precise. I was supposed to call Stafford, but I was so wrapped up in my own head and thoughts I forgot until about 5 minutes in. Oh well, he will forgive me I'm sure.

The run was nice. First, I kicked up my pace. Usain Bolt I will never be, but I did run sub 10 minute miles for 27 minutes. The air is cooler and it is getting dark earlier so I think that the days of the safe after work run are numbered. Especially since my running partners are all MIA for various reasons these days. But today, the quiet in my head and the cool in the air was exactly the ticket for what turned out to be a bizarre day.

In PT today my therapist informed me that I can pretty much return to my regular activities for the most part. This means back to running as I can and back to classes at the gym. Wait..what? But my knee still feels like sandpaper. Is it always going to feel like that? I don't quite get it.

Then I gave a quick check of the cell phone on my way to PT and what do I see? The news that a very dear friend is pregnant. Wait...what? Double wait..what? I am absolutely thrilled for her/them, it is just so unexpected. This racks up my unexpected friend pregnancies to two in the past 5 months. Both will be absolute wonderful additions to the world of families and I would give anything to have all my students have the kind of families that these two children will grow up in.

I think though that with each new announcement comes a bit of chaos in my own brain of unresolved issues. They are mine and choices I made and that ultimately I would make again given the same two options on the table. But human nature wouldn't be what it is if you didn't have the ability to wonder.

Or wander, like my mind did, on a crisp fall evening, enjoying the trees, feeling the crunch of the gravel beneath my feet and feeling alive. And so like the changing of the seasons of the earth, so goes the changing of the seasons of our lives.Time marches on, and the best thing to do is jump right back out of your head and into the game. Besides...I always welcome the opportunity to be another "Auntie Tracie". I'm good at it, I have experience, and you can always, always count on me to have gum.

Saturday, October 9, 2010

Extreme Home Makeover

Ok so the wallowing in self pity is over. No more worries about pointless rants for the time being.

What brought about this change? Nothing, I just built a bridge and got over it. Time to move on. To the new couch and love seat I'm hoping to purchase today. We have had the same lovely purple couch since the day we bought this house. I'm pretty sure there is still Casey and Marley fur embedded into the cushions permanently! It matches nicely the rawhide chew goo left from the teething months of Lucky and Rogue. Yes, the years are not counted in the Ross house by rings like on trees, but rather by dog damage. It was our first actual furniture purchase as grown ups. But that was 12 years ago. It's time to let the purple beauty go and bring in the new. It's glory days are over. Am I sad? Slightly, but like earlier said bridge I'll get over it!

The only question is do I go with Forest Green or Ruby Red. So hard to know since it will probably last another 12 years.

Hmmm, I wonder if I can manage a new area rug out of this too....

Thursday, October 7, 2010

Speaking of Bullshit

My last blog post was all about senseless death and the bullshit we focus on in life. I guess this is a carry over from that.

Cause we are smack dab in the middle of a big pile of bullshit right now.

Job bullshit, marriage bullshit, just a bunch of senseless crap everywhere.

I think it's time for a step back and a trip to the woods. Maybe that will happen tomorrow and everything will look better.

I sure hope so.

Sunday, October 3, 2010

Tired Ramblings

Sean and I just got home from the "Celebration of Life" of his step brother who basically died of complications of being an alcoholic. At 47. What a depressing load of crap.

I know I am normally sarcastic and funny on this my blog, but I'm just not feeling it so much right now. 47. That is exactly 6 years away from where I'm at right now. While I don't have a drinking problem myself, I still think what a sad, sad waste has occurred.

I'm not going to spend a lot of time dwelling on the depressing nature or the details of the event. What struck me as so strange is the fact that all anyone could say was how sweet he was and the overarching theme was that of childlike innocence. No major accomplishments, no family left behind other than the family he was born into. There were childhood friends who have lost touch. There was a 1st grade teacher. And there were parents, who seemed to busy themselves with the day so that they didn't have to think about the reason.

Steps. How did that particular phrase come to be anyway? Steps are what you use to raise things up. What do they have to do with making people become a family? How does kids of the woman your father marries suddenly become your "family". We were asked to attend a "family" function after the event. We declined. The only "family" of ours was Sean's Mom and we already showed our support for her. We avoided that side of the family in life, why would we embrace it in death?

Rambling. That is what is happening here. I don't know why other than it was just so damn depressing of an afternoon. Life, over at 47 mostly by choice. I just don't get it. Nothing much to show for it except a room full of confused people wondering the same thing. I hope at my funeral there are things to celebrate and people who are excited to have known me and to have been in my life. I want to embrace the life I make for myself.

Take a look around you. Tell those you love that you love them. Seize the day, live your life and make your choices. If it matters, make it matter, if it doesn't, let it go. Life is too damn short for all the bullshit.

Friday, October 1, 2010

Stranger than Fiction

I'm training my class this year with a dog clicker. Yes I said it, a dog clicker. Conditioned response is the name of the game. I click, they stop talking. Yes, it's all about the response. Speaking of which, here are some priceless stories so far this year.

Like the kid who came back from recess to put his coat in his locker only to discover a lacy blue thong had fallen from the sleeve. Not initially noting their original location, he proceeded to swing them around on his index finger indignantly asking " Who did this?" Who put underwear on my coat? "Mrs. Ross' did you do this as a joke?"

My immediate response was to rack my brain as to how a 7th grader lost her underwear in our room, prior to coming to my senses and the more likely mishap of a mom doing her laundry with her kid's coat. A discrete drop in the backpack and a call the next day confirmed that those in fact were hers. And for the record when it happened I did what my friend Erin likes to call "lost my shit". I laughed hysterically. The sight of an 8 year old boy swinging a thong around on is finger trying desperately to determine it's owner was more than I could take and I lost it. I can't help it, it was hands down in nearly 8 years of classroom experience, the most funny moment ever.

Or the birthday party that happened today. Birthday parties are normal at school, however usually they involve only a parent sending in treats. It is rare that the parent actually shows up to deliver the goods and pass them out and clean up. And then there was today. Both parents showed up along with both sets of grandparents, and about a dozen cameras to boot. It was like a freakin' family reunion. "Oh so sorry, don't mind us 3rd graders trying to conduct a class here". Ironically it was the same family. Sean asked if she brought more underwear. I of course thought in my head "yes, panty favors for all".

And then there is my daily battle with two different kiddos on opposite sides of the mental health spectrum that makes everyday a joy because much like the box of just never know what you are going to get.

Oh, and the kid in my PE class who wants to be a boy and is pissed off that people have figured out she isn't. This revelation occured after the the big argument about how kids were being mean to "him" by saying "he's a girl". "Well, she is a girl" was my response. No "he's" not came back at me, followed quickly by "when did Mrs. Ross become a meanie, she used to be so nice."

And finally, for the record, if you ever get into a battle of the "my dad is stronger than your dad"variety between 3rd graders and it seems there is no end in sight, I've found the trump card. The exchange in my room went something like this:

"Hey Mrs. Ross, my Dad can lift like 750 pounds of weights, can your dad?"


(boy 2) "Duh, because he is too old"

Boy 1 " oh, well then can he lift like 200lbs"

me: "nope"

"jeez, can your dad lift any weights at all?"

me: "nope"

Kid-"he can't lift any weights at all? Really? Why isn't he strong at all?"

Me: "nope"

Kid-why not?

Me: "cause he is dead, my Dad died a few years ago"

Kid: "Oh man mrs. ross- that sucks!"

me: Tell me about it.

Normally I don't allow the word "sucks" in my room but it did seem appropriate here. Harsh, yes, but damn it was funny. And somehow I'm betting that my old dad got a kick out of that one too!