Thursday, March 31, 2011


Well, it's suppose to snow on and off for the next three days. Following that, we are suppose to get 6 MORE inches of snow on Sunday. Really? Where is global warming? I'll gladly give the polar bears my snow, so they don't all have to crowd on the one ice burg. I remember two years ago, in the middle of May I was at Noah's all day baseball tournament. I wore two shirts, a sweatshirt and a winter coat along with long johns. I think we'll still have snow in the middle of May this year. Oh well, baseball is a mind numbingly boring sport anyway. Maybe I'll get out of a few games this way. Stay tuned for the next blog, "Sam and Max get a haircut so now Maxie has a personality."

Wednesday, March 30, 2011


If you know me at all, you know I LOATHE the circus. I hate that the animals are locked up and "forced" to perform, and well I hate clowns. However, I do love the smell of cotton candy and popcorn. I remember bringing Noah when he was two years old and he wanted to leave at intermission. I spent the next six years dragging the kids to the circus. I took the last two years off mostly because 1) I didn't tell the kids the circus was in town and they didn't realize until it was gone and 2) Ethan didn't want to go because it would cut into his pajama wearing time on a Saturday morning. Last night Ethan and I were snuggling on the couch watching TV. A commercial for the circus came on. Me- "Do you want to go to the circus this year?" Ethan- "Can I have dots?" (an ice cream that melts in your mouth) Me- "Do you only want to go so you can eat dots?" Ethan- (Pausing) "Kind of. But one time there were three tigers and they jumped through a hoop that was on fire." So I guess I'm going to the circus. It'll probably be the last time, so I'll bring my camera and morn my children growing up. When did they get so big. What was I doing? I swear they do it when I'm not looking just to spite me.

Saturday, March 26, 2011

Maybe I DO Make A Difference

I have acknowledged and almost accepted that I do not make a difference in the lives of children, especially working on the South Side. One the South Side, the class sizes are so big the kids get less one-on-one attention. The schools are so big the kids could go a month or more after moving onto the next grade without seeing you, and when they do it's like, "That lady looks somewhat familiar. I wonder if she works with my mom..." Having taught for four years at the Kindergarten Center, I found this to be especially true. The kindergartners go off to their "home school" and never see you again. One time I saw a girl two years after I taught her and I went to talk to her and her mother. Neither one recognized me, and actually ARGUED with me about having been her teacher. The kicker is she was the type of student I wouldn't "dream" of having. I really deserved a metal-or five to six tall ones at the end of the year with her. That was when Ethan was a baby and the last time I went up to a former student.
One the North Side, the schools are so small you can (and I did with many) teach all of the siblings in the same family. Also if you're willing to switch grades you teach the same kids for two years. Even though after TWO years Andy Panda still called me "Teacher" and I'd bet money he can't recall my name, but if I saw him at the Mall I know he'd sprint over to me and give me a hug while telling everyone around him, "She was my teacher. Twice."
Anyway, recently being re-located to the South Side and adopting my new bad attitude I've been proven wrong THREE TIMES!! I know- crazy- I'm never wrong!! The first time was when a girl from one of the other third grade rooms asked me if I used to teach at the K- Center. "Yes." "You were my brother's teacher!!" "Really? You were a newborn. I remember the day he came to school and announced he had a baby sister!!"
The second time was this week. I was walking to the office and a fifth grade stopped me. "Are you Mrs. Fairfield? Did you teach Kindergarten?" "Yes." "I was in your class- I'm Baily!" Oh my gosh! She was so grown up! I never would have recognized her (even if she wasn't wearing a stocking hat). The fifth graders don't fit in our school because of over-crowding so they go to the Middle School, but get to come back for after school activities. After telling her she's tall and asking how she could be so grown up, I asked her, "Are you here for open gym?" "I came for open gym, but now I'm going to do net books and I just got my last rabies shot today." Of course you're Baily!! Only Baily can make leaps like that and logically think those things are related. There was a time when I could totally catch up with her leaps and make perfect sense of them as well. While we were talking about the reason she's gotten "either 5 or 30" rabies shots, the fourth grade teachers walked by and Baily points at me and yells to them, "My Kindergarten teacher!" as if I'm some sort of exotic exhibit. It made me happy. I did make a difference. She remembered me. She can't remember how many rabies shots she just finished receiving, but remembers me. After I finished my chat with Baily I told her fourth grade teacher, Donna, that she remembered me. Donna told me I was her hairdresser's daughter's kindergarten teacher too, and she talks about me all of the time. I thought about it and that girl must be in eighth grade by now. All three kids were from the South Side. I didn't teach them for two years, and they didn't see me when they were in first grade, but the remembered me. Maybe I do make a difference.

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

My Epiphany

Flying down the stairs and floating up in the air are recurring dreams I have. Freud says dreams are your unconscious' was of trying to sort out problems you're having. I don't think I have an unrealistic fear of tripping while going down the stairs- as long as it's not in public and I don't get hurt, or a fear of the ability to float. I actually think that would be a neat little trick. However, sometimes you have a dream that doesn't just sort things out in your unconscious, but hits you like the big elephant in the room. My second grade teacher, Mrs. Nikle, is now a fourth grade teacher at my school. I had a dream that I was back in Barnesville in the second grade, but this time I was the teacher and my teaching partner was Mrs. Nikle. The students we were teaching were in my grade- as in the ones I graduated with. Mrs. Nikle was so worried about and fretting over the students. "Dusty doesn't work up to his potential. Dave is lazy. Ryan keeps setting the curtains on fire. Jeremy keeps showing everyone his privates. Tiffany is whinny, and Ann is just plain mean. I don't know what I'm going to do with them. How will I fix them? What's going to happen to them?" On a side note, every time the teacher left the room my cousin, Jeremy, would whip out his privates and parade up and down the aisles showing off his "stuff". Having grown up never seeing my brother naked, or having any younger boy cousins, I should have been shocked that boys have something I've never seen. Oddly, I remember not being surprised about boys' "privates", but that he'd wander around shoving it at kids so they'd have a good look. Maybe it's just me, but isn't that more disturbing? Huhhh. Anyway, in my dream I told Mrs. Nikle, "It's OK. They'll all turn out fine. Dusty still doesn't work to his potential, but he's really happy. Dave is still lazy, but oh well- you can't force him to work if the National Government can't. Ryan isn't an arsonist- well unless you count burning down his mom's garage in High School. Jeremy isn't a pedophile. Tiffany is still whinny, and Ann is still mean, but they seem to be OK. There are a few who didn't turn out so good, but it's sure not YOUR fault. No one can blame their Second Grade teacher for not turning out." I woke up thinking, 'THAT'S IT! however, or whatever they grow up to be is not my fault.' I highly doubt after a brain surgeon completes his first surgery he celebrates by saying, "Thank God for my third grade teacher! If it weren't for her, I'd never be successful or saved that guys life". You might hear, "If that third grade teacher would have been better (without telling my child 'no' or making them sad), my Johnny wouldn't be in prison."- But let's face it, that's totally misplaced blame. I think not only my unconscious, but my every thought was focused on feeling like a failure because a few of my students aren't where I want them to be. Having that dream made me let go. And, while looking at the big picture- they will all turn out fine, but if they don't it certainly isn't their third grade teacher's fault. - It's the fourth grade teacher's fault. :)

Snow Day/ PJs and Do What I Want Day

Sleet, freezing rain, snow and wind is not what people think of when they think about March. "Mad basketball games", grass, and short drunk angry men dressed in green accusing everyone of wanting their gold is what we think of. We knew about this winter storm since Monday. It was supposed to hit yesterday (Tuesday) afternoon and last through tonight. It did sprinkle on and off all day yesterday and at about 4:30 it started sleeting and raining ice pellets. The ice pellets quickly accumulated to about 3 inches by 6:30. It was really windy, but ice pellets are pretty heavy so they didn't fly very far. By Tuesday night they closed the interstate and I went to bed thinking, "I really don't want a snow day. That means we won't get Easter Monday off. I want a four day weekend! However, wouldn't a two-hour-late be wonderful? We would get to skip Morning Meeting plus (a half hour of teaching students in grades K-4 who are not in your class about good character). Mine do not answer or participate AT ALL. I swear I could ask, "Who wants ice- cream?!" and no one would raise their hand. Anyway, we'd skip Morning Meeting Plus AND not have to make up a snow day! Win-win!! However, I quickly realized that we are still expected to get to school at the regular time if school is two-hours late (I'm guessing it's in case some parents didn't get the memo that school is two hours late and send their kids anyway). That led me to wonder, how will I get to school in the morning? I fell asleep at 9:30 with my phone next to me. If school is two hours late, or if it's canceled, we get a phone call telling us. Every time I turned over or half woke up I thought, 'where in the hell is my damn phone call'. My alarm went off at 6:15. I got up and started getting ready. I can always tell if we'll have a late start or cancellation based on if I can see the houses across the golf-course in my back yard. I could not only see the houses, but if I squinted, I could maybe make out who built a snowman in their back yard. Just as I was about to step into the shower my phone rang. "This is the district office. All school and after-school activities have been canceled for the day". YAY!!! SNOW DAY- also known as 'pj wearing, staying in bed or big comfy chair, and doing only what I want day.' I went back to bed and slept until 10:00. I was hoping I'd wake up at 8:00 so I could wake the kids saying, "Oh NO! We are late for school!! GET UP!" Hee hee. It's a little game I like to play on snow days. Anyway, I slept for 12 and 1/2 hours. What's with that? I checked on the Internet to see if maybe that's another symtom of a disease I might have that also causes me to be impatient, gain weight, and want never leave the house. Turns out stress causes all of those as well as "D-SOWS"- Damn Sick Of Winter Syndrome. Huh. Now that I know I'm not dying I am going to eat a cookie and take a nap. After all, it IS "do what I want day" and the high temperature for today is zero.

Thursday, March 17, 2011

Leprechaun Day

One of my students came up to me this morning, "Guess what? My dad is full leprechaun, so that makes me half."

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

Home Sweet Home

Late last night we returned from our California adventure. We spend six days and seven nights by the ocean in San Diego. It was really great to get away from the winter, but even better to come home. We stayed less than a block from the ocean. We went to Sea World and Noah got to be part of the "Shamu Show" and ask Shamu to do tricks-( you don't tell a 6- ton animal to do anything). We went whale watching and saw three gray whales. We went to the San Diego Zoo, and saw a panda and koalas, and walked 28 miles uphill. We went to Lego Land and went on lots of rides, and also the Wild Animal Park. The Wild Animal Park is on 900 square acres of land. The animals are all African animals (and tigers) and aren't in cages. They are wandering out among each other- except the lions, tigers and cheetahs- they are in fences. We got to see the lions "playing leap-frog" aka- mating, and a cheetah walking on a leash like a dog. We also went to DisneyLand. We had Disney cash left over from two years ago when we went to Disney World, so we went to a fancy restaurant. It was a New Orleans restaurant. I had chicken gumbo and shrimp jambalaya. It was the spiciest food I have ever eaten. My mouth was on fire. I had a stomach ache and heart burn the rest of the night. I was not feeling good, and Disneyland is the happiest place on Earth, so that just seemed wrong. I am exhausted from my trip. Every moment was jammed pack full of activity. I like my down-time. However, when I look back at vacations, I don't remember the down-time, I remember the adventures. Anyway, I am sure I walked at least 25 miles each day because we were at every park from open til close. I only ate a small breakfast (to avoid side cramps) and skipped lunch and had supper. You'd think walking 25 miles each day, every day, for 6 days and skipping a meal would mean I'd lose weight. I lost a pound and a half. Really?? I remember in my twenties I could skip lunch two days in a row and drop three pounds. What's with this?
I'm not sure what to think of CA. It's a nice place to visit, but I'd hate to live there. Everyone is crabby. And rude. I'm thinking, "You have beautiful weather all year. What do you have to be crabby about?" They are also so... different. I felt like the black sheep- well the pasty white pale sheep who sticks out like a sore thumb. There are a lot of Asians there. I used to think "You're crazy" when people would tell me that Spanish will be the official language of USA in the year 2035, now I think, "based off CA, yes, it will." California seems to have only two classes- well maybe three. The super rich. The working poor, and the non-working poor. One lady was on the news crying because she 'misplaced' her eight-year-old. How in the world do you misplace your eight-year-old? It's not like he's your car keys or remote. He's a human for cripes sake. "I jus don't know what happened. I ain't 'member the las time I saw 'em". Really. Who says that? And I thought social services was overworked in our area. During the whole vacation I really wanted to sleep and relax. I figured I could do it on my two long plane rides home. Ethan sat by me from San Diego to Chicago. He decided to do his homework. I'd just get to the real relaxed, about to conk out feeling when he'd nudge me and ask, "How do you spell once?" Again, I'd be falling asleep and I'd feel him staring at me and he asks, "How do you spell taking?" The last time I tried I thought 'three times a charm...' and he said, "how do I spell Disney?" I wanted to say, "m-i-s-p-l-a-c-e-d". Sleeping on that flight was not in the cards. I tried during the last flight. I sat in row 23 C. It was a three seats across plane, A on one side and B and C were together across the aisle. I was in a row with strangers. Scott was in 24A, Noah was in 24B and Ethan in 24C. I thought, 'yay, I'm by myself. Now I'll sleep.' Well the man next to me thought he was Bill Gates and he thought it was his job to educate me on the process of computer programing. As the plane was taxiing down the runway he started telling me "if you put all of the super computers, all of the regular computers, as well as any device or machine with a computer chip together, it still would not be as smart or powerful as the human brain." I don't know about you, but my GPS is smarter than a lot of brains I know. I started pulling out my magazine, hoping he'd get the hint. He didn't. He went on and on. He told me this is his first trip this far north and said, "Far-go. Get it. I am going Far?" Yep. Never heard that one. "Are your from Far-go?" I said, "Nope, Moorhead, it's right across the river in Minnesota." "You mean More-ahead? ahhhhaaaa haaa" I turned off my light and closed my eyes. He started talking to the person across the aisle. She was a french major from Concordia, but the only reason she majored in French was because she had a lot of credits in french from High School that could transfer. He started explaining computer programing to her. Told her a dumb french joke, and kept rambling. All I kept thinking was "why don't they have a NO TALKING sign here? I could start flashing at any time now." I was about to fall asleep and Ethan poked me through the seat. "Can I have your I-Pod?" I give it to him. Five minutes later, Bill Gates ran out of people to listen to him and I was drifting off and Ethan pokes me again. "Noah needs help with his homework." Really? He is sitting across the aisle from his dad. He couldn't ask him? I talk to Noah through the seat, "Why did you wait until now to do your homework? You had 10 days to ask for my help. I can't help you now."- Because I am talking to him through the seat we only see half of the other person's face. Noah got teary and I turned around mad. I was mad because I made my kid cry, and because he waited until the last possible moment- 9:30 PM to do his homework. AND his dad was right by him!! All of a sudden Noah and Ethan jump up and Noah announces, "Can I go to the bathroom?" Turns out he threw up in the bathroom. When he got back he told me he's fine and I told him to drink ginger ale. I closed my eyes, only to hear the stewardess say, "ohh, honey, just breath deep and take sips." ARE YOU KIDDING ME?! I turn around and look at him between the seats. He's crying. I give him my barf bag. He immediately starts to use it. I look at Scott and he's staring out the window with head phones in his ears. Seriously? The only time I am that oblivious about what's going on is if I am unconscious. I glare at him and ask if he'll take care of his son. He says, "What? huh? Why?" As he's ushering Noah to the bathroom, Ethan pokes me between the seats again and says, "Noah threw up because he doesn't know how to do his math." I was torn between switching with Ethan so I can help, or staying put. Chatty Cathy had his eyes closed and I didn't want to start him up again, so I asked Scott to help him. He did and Noah was perfectly fine the rest of the way home. I didn't sleep at all on either plane.
Fargo might have only three months of decent weather, but it's home. I fit in here. I don't feel like someone is going to yell at, or shoot me for looking at them. We may be dangerously close to the frozen tundra, but it does keep out the rif-raft. I guess all I have to say is there's no place like home.

Today at school we were talking about nationalities.
"I'm part Norweigan and part German"
"I'm Irish, Bosnian and Canadian"
One girl said, "My mom is Norwegian and my dad is Catholic."