Saturday, May 29, 2010

Wal-Mart Rage

Dear Wal-Mart,

There is a reason you have shelves and shelves and shelves of so-called "Memorial Flowers" left in your stores the Saturday before Memorial Day. There is also a reason that your downsized rack of small fake flower bouquets is as ransacked as the aisles in Hy-Vee before an Iowa blizzard. Your "Memorial Flowers" SUCK. They are so decidedly hideous that I wouldn't stoop to put them on the grave of someone I hated, let alone someone that I actually liked. To think of putting them on the grave of someone I loved? Ha! Whatever. The crosses you slap a bow on to sell look like something to use to kill a vampire. In fact, why don't you attach garlic instead of a bow and fake greenery? With the Twilight craze, I'm sure you could sell more that way. And the wreaths? I have nothing to say about them that does not involve profanity. I know here in southeast Iowa, we're a slave to your monopoly on retail, but seriously. This is ridiculous.

Not your friend,

True, I waited too long to buy my flowers. I'm aware of this. But I usually DO wait until this weekend to buy my flowers. I'm a teacher. It's the end of May. I don't have extra time to flower shop until my long weekend! I always go during Memorial Day weekend and buy some bouquets of fake flowers. I mix and match them and join them together until I'm happy with the cluster I've created. I feel good about leaving that on my loved ones' graves. Not only did Wal-Mart not have a single little bouquet (they didn't receive ANY of the small ones this year), the medium sized bouquets were completely sold out. There wasn't even a sprig of greenery in the section where they usually are. Nothing!

I thought maybe it was just Fairfield's Wal-Mart, so with a shred of hope, I drove to Ottumwa to the Super Wal-Mart. Well, it was super. The amount of crap in the Fairfield Wal-Mart's Memorial Flower section was supersized in Ottumwa. Crap. Complete and total crap. And LOTS of it. I gathered an armful of $5 ginormous sprigs of fake flowers that are not meant to ever be stuck in the ground. I thought maybe I could make something out of them... then, out of the corner of my eye, I saw... possibility. Glass vases with some unknown gooey chemical sludge in the bottom holding a cluster of fake flowers... the very kind of fake flowers I usually improvise with and create something attractive enough to put out for Memorial Day. Hm. There were plenty of them to choose from because they were awful. I can't imagine putting one of those vases anywhere in public. I don't know what a person is supposed to do with those things. Unless...

I swear I heard giggles at that moment. I could imagine Mom & Grandma looking down at me and both having that, "Oh Lord, what is she doing?" look in their eyes and smiles on their faces. Yes! I loaded my cart with these wretched vases. I had other plans for them. I stocked up on florist tape and bought a pair of wire cutters. I called Andrew to see if he was up for some demolition. When I checked out, the saleslady was trying to be all careful putting the vases into bags. I said, "Honey, don't bother. As soon as I get home, I'm smashing these things to pieces." The look on her face was priceless. Then again, when you work at Super Wal-Mart in Ottumwa, you are probably used to hearing such insanity on a daily basis.

I should also interject that I'm aware I still gave Wal-Mart my money. And not a small amount of it either. But I'm under no misconception here. Wal-Mart is going to keep getting my money because I live in Fairfield, Iowa, and my choices are limited, to say the least. But, this time, knowing that they hadn't gotten the best of me was enough.

After much satisfying glass breaking and wire snipping, and with Andrew's help, I freed those plastic flowers from their wretched cages. I began rearranging them into something suitable, maybe even a little pretty. I wasn't too unhappy with the work either. I seriously loved trashing those tacky vases. And everyone at the cemetery looks loved. Nothing is lonelier than a grave without flowers on Memorial Day. So to my Grandma Nelson, Grandpa Nelson, Great Grandma Sutherlin, Great Grandpa Sutherlin, Grandma Sutherlin, Grandpa Sutherlin, and Mom: You are missed. You are remembered. You are loved. And I hope you were all a little entertained by how it went down.

Wednesday, May 26, 2010

Now THESE Are Toys!!!

Just when I thought I was feeling so sick that nothing could make me smile... enjoy!!!

Tuesday, May 25, 2010

Documentary Night

During the 4th quarter, my 7th & 8th grade GOAL kids work on movies. 7th graders do stop-animation, and 8th graders do documentaries. I've had a preview time in the past, where they can see each others' work, but this year, the kids had the idea to make it a big event and use it as a fundraiser. They (and their parents) planned the concessions, 2 students were emcees and wrote their own script, and they advertised it. I helped, but they really took on the idea of the fundraiser, and they rolled with it.

I was in charge of the nagging. Deadlines are not this group's gift. We were finishing movies up until 5:30 tonight, burning documentaries to disc and uploading animated movies to YouTube. And then at 7, it all happened. Mike (my principal) had things set up for us to use the big screen in the cafetorium, the concessions rolled in, the kids dressed up, the technology cooperated, the audience arrived. Everyone was so generous. We even had some businesses kick it up to boost the bounty. In short, we made all the money we needed with some to spare to help pay for the chaperones' trips too.

I was blown way. I figured we needed somewhere around $1150 to pay for everything, and I was hoping to make half that tonight. We made more than our total goal, and I think everyone was impressed by the movies the kids produced too. The whole event was over in an hour and 45 minutes, and the kids were so engaged. I was so proud of them. I'm so lucky to live in such a generous community that supports kids. I'm going to sleep like a baby tonight, knowing our trips are paid for and that I won't have to keep fundraising through the next month to reimburse for our trips. Thank you to everyone who made tonight a success. My heart is full!

Monday, May 24, 2010

Hello, Summer! :(

Suddenly, I appreciate the cool spring we had. I even appreciate the 40 degree days we had just a couple of weeks ago. Summer has arrived. Maybe the calendar doesn't indicate that yet, but when you teach in a middle school, one hot, humid day is all you need to be convinced. It was so humid today that I actually had a layer of wet on the floor. Kids were slipping on the floor! Papers were limp, faces were glistening, and no one felt like concentrating. We still have 3 weeks of school, and if this weather keeps up, it's going to be a LOOOOOOOOONG 3 weeks!

On a happy note, I got my flowers planted yesterday. I feel very close to my mom and my grandma when I do that. It was always a spring ritual when I was growing up. In Council Bluffs, we'd head out to K-Mart and buy our flowers. Matt & I would haul the big pots around to the front, and Mom would plant away. Matt is the one who figured out that the gigantic pots are a lot easier to move when you put them on a skateboard! Our deck was always overflowing with impatiens... other things too, but I especially remember how fond my mom was of impatiens. They're cheery. When I moved to Fairfield, I would help Grandma plant her flowers, and we'd haul stuff around in her red wagon. That red wagon just bit the dust last year. I was sad to see it go... many good memories with it. But when a wagon rusts clean through, it's basically just 4 wheels and a handle. Not much good for hauling. Luckily, I have the best boyfriend ever who replaced that red wagon for my birthday this year. I had fun testing it out for the first time yesterday when I hauled my own flower pots and bags of peat & soil around. It's amazing what a few pots of flowers do for a person's yard... and a person's spirit. :)

On a crappy note, I woke up yesterday with a wretched sore throat & headache. It's not any better today, and I CANNOT be sick this week. The 8th grade GOAL kids are premiering their documentary films tomorrow night, and Thursday is the 7th grade GOAL trip to Hannibal. I repeat... I CANNOT be sick this week! Send healing thoughts my way!

To close, I'll reiterate what I said today on Facebook & Twitter. Air conditioning is my favorite invention. Stay cool, everyone!

Thursday, May 20, 2010

Weekly Update

This has been a great week so far at school. Monday started with a rocking assembly. We celebrated kids who made their goals with Iowa Tests of Basic Skills. The assembly started with our band playing the school song as everyone got seated. The drumline played a killer cadence, and about 25 teachers took their places on and around the stage with pompons and drill team flags. We did an impromptu dance routine to "Eye of the Tiger." The top 5 students in each grade with the biggest ITBS improvements got called to the stage and got a fleece Fairfield Trojan pullover. The top 2 have the option of turning that back in for an iPod. The students in each grade who scored 95% & above for composite scores got called to the stage. 6th & 7th graders each got a pass to all the school dances for next year. The 8th graders got $20 in Chamber Bucks. This is a gift certificate to any place in town that is a member of the Chamber of Commerce. Then, the homeroom in each grade that had the biggest improvements in scores won a pizza party (mine won for 7th grade... go homeroom!!). Suddenly, the room went silent as pulsing music poured over the sound system. As the theme from Chariots of Fire played, three teachers began their slow motion race to the stage. Each teacher represented a grade level, and after coming from behind, Mr. Owen leaped up to the stage, winning the prize. 7th grade had the biggest overall improvement in ITBS scores, so tomorrow, the entire grade will be watching The Blind Side in the cafeteria and eating popcorn. The crowd went wild. The afternoon ended with the teachers back up on stage, this time dancing to "Don't Stop Believin'" with the entire student body singing along. It was a GREAT afternoon.

Tuesday was Andrew's birthday, and he and Zach and I drove to Bonaparte to celebrate with supper at the Bonaparte Retreat. It was a beautiful evening. One of Andrew's presents to me is a share of a new Hawkeye season ticket for next year (hopefully close to the Mornin' Crew). I can't wait to have him at football games with me!

On Wednesday morning, when I pulled into school for Wednesday morning staff development, I was flagged down and waved away from the parking lot. In front of our school, the red carpet was laid out, and my principal took my keys. Valet parking and the red carpet for teachers on Wednesday morning. I felt like a celebrity!

Today was the 6th grade GOAL trip to Nauvoo. It was a rainy day, but it was a fabulous day. The kids were so well behaved, and luckily, it's a trip that works even if the weather doesn't. You can still see and do almost everything in rainy weather. I was very proud of the kids... I'd take this group just about anywhere, I think. I also had a set of very helpful chaperones go along.

And, tomorrow is FRIDAY!!! Hard to get a better week than that! :)

Sunday, May 16, 2010

Sigh... :)

The only thing that could make this ad any better is if Julie Andrews were singing. But, nothing is perfect. ;) I'll take darned near close to perfect, in this case.

Friday, May 14, 2010

For some reason, I was back in the 1991-1992 school year today, reliving my sophomore year of college. Maybe it's because I wore my USD t-shirt today (Go 'Yotes), but I had They Might Be Giants songs in my head all day. I thought of all the games of Double Solitaire my roommate Cristy & I played on the floor of that teeny tiny dorm room, listening to our tape of They Might Be Giants' Flood. Good times.

Wednesday, May 12, 2010


Our high school media specialist told me about the coolest thing this week. It's called Glogster, and it's like an interactive poster maker. I have several kids trying it out on projects, and we're all loving it. Here's my experimental one...

Tuesday, May 11, 2010

It Doesn't Get Any Easier

Let's say a certain person turns 38. That certain person expects to start getting a handle on this thing called life. But said certain person realizes that she still doesn't have a freaking clue.

* Mother's Day still sucks. And I don't mean a little bit. When you don't have a mom, and you aren't a mom, this day is rock bottom, 50 feet of crap, and then me, to quote Rachel Greene.

* More birthdays don't make a person wiser. I still don't have the answers. I still don't know how to run my life. I still want my mom to give me advice. I still want to crawl in a hole some days. I swear, the older I get, the less I know.

* Despite what my mom told me, there are some things that you can NEVER get, no matter how hard you work or how much you want them. Thank goodness there aren't many things like this, but there are some.

* I've felt very emotionally unsettled lately (can you tell???). If you're the praying kind, I could use a few.

Luckily, I have a lot of blessings in my life. I always need to remind myself of those. I have wonderful friends and love in my life. I have a caring extended family. I have a roof over my head. I have options and possibilities. I have fantastic students that I care about. I have theatre. I have books. I have Hawkeye football. And, I have a sweet little furball named Avery who greets me with love every day, no matter what kind of mood I'm in.

It feels good to release some of this bottled-up stuff. Hope none of you mind.
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