Posts from 2017

Happiness Takes Balls, I Mean, Courage

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“For Hell’s sake, grow some balls and go after what you want!” So telling my daughter to grow balls may not be my best mom moment, and I really wish my rant wasn’t so Freudian, but I stand by the sentiment. Jumping out of an airplane takes little courage compared to the courage required to pursue happiness.

 

Misery is easy, drama is easy, remaining static is easy, being a pleaser is easy, letting things happen is easy. Easy does not equate to happiness. No matter how many times you use a smiley face emoji or post to social media and tell your friends how joyful you are, it just won’t happen until you have the courage to put in the work to obtain it.

 

So back to my kid. The thing they don’t tell you when you have a baby is that you can’t make them do anything, much less be happy. You can model the tools and gently, or sometimes not so gently, guide them, but in the end they have to choose to have the courage to work for their own happiness. As a parent, I really hope my kids grow those metaphorical cojones and get the job done because I love them. And honestly, I really don’t want them living with me forever.   

Can You Make Your Teen Get a Job?

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If your teen is perfectly capable, and you would like them or need them to find employment, but they are uninterested, there are some effective options besides demonstrating your frustration and anger.

  • Stop paying for their stuff.  Teens love their cell phones, computers, video games, driving the car, and looking cool. These things may be called essentials by your teen, but in reality, they are not. If your teen refuses to look for a job, stop paying for their stuff. It's amazing how motivating taking away their luxuries can be.
  • Make their life at home more work.  If your teen refuses to help you out financially, then perhaps they could help you out manually. Give them some added chores. Perhaps if they clean out the garage they can take the car Saturday night, or being in charge of garbage and recycling may earn them a month's worth of texting privileges. Allowing your teen to do nothing is not only unfair to you and your family, it is unhealthy for them. How can a teen learn to be a contributor to society when they haven't learned how to pull their weight within their own family? 
  • Show them the harsh realities. Talk to your teen about the realities of having no money. Share your paycheck, bills and your budget with them. Find the costs of attending college at their dream school. Volunteer as a family at a homeless shelter or food bank. In other words, it's time to let them in on what all adults know, money is important and it takes hard work to get it, and even harder work to keep it.
  • Find out if they're lazy or scared.  Teens love to play it tough and act as though they're rebelling when in reality they may be apprehensive. Finding a job for some teens is a scary thing because they realize they have to grow up, talk to adults, take responsibility for themselves, and generally leave their comfort zones. I had really great students in my classes who completely shut down when the topic of jobs comes up. Discuss with your teen why they don't want a job.  Let them know you are there to offer suggestions, find resources, research possibilities, and help them through the process of getting a grown up job.

Most teens I've taught can't wait until they're old enough to get a job.  But for those few who seem uninterested despite the pushing and prodding from their parents, there is hope.  Parents can't make their teens get a job, but they can employ strategies to motivate employment aspirations.

 

Three Things I Learned While Writing 'Hey, Get a Job!'

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During the process of researching and teaching teens about how to get and keep a job, I learned three things which drove me to write Hey, Get a Job!

  1. There are not many resources out there for teens seeking their first work experience.  You can find tons of stuff on employment for college graduates, adults seeking career changes, and even senior citizens wishing to return to the workforce.  But teens?  Not so much. 
  2. Kids like to say they know everything about getting and keeping a job, but in actuality, they don’t know anything.  The first time I assigned students to fill out a job application I received grumbles and those often-heard words, “This is stupid, I already know how to do this.”  I did not teach the application, I didn’t even provide tips, hints, or don’ts.  What I got was a mass of applications that were unacceptable.  Teens didn’t know how to properly write their address, education history became yes or no questions (YES, I want to attend college), strengths and skills prodded lists of things like the amount of weight one could bench press or the grade on an exam, and my personal favorite, the references they listed were their best friends.  Do teens know how to get and keep a job like they say they do?  Nope.
  3. Adults often mistake a teen’s reluctance to get a job as laziness when it is actually that they are scared.  All kids like money, and believe it or not, the vast majority of my students wanted to earn their own money.  The problem for many of them, however, was that they were intimidated by the adult world of work.  We treat them like kids, we feed them, clothe them, make them do a few chores around the house, and then it seems to them that one day we say, “It’s time to grow up, find a job opening, apply, interview, act mature enough not to get fired, and manage the money you make.”   It’s a change that many teens don’t believe they’re ready for and therefore resist.

My hope with Hey, Get a Job! is that it gives kids the comprehensive information they need to have the confidence to make a smooth transition from kids to young adults.  In our society, one of the most important rites of passage from child to adult is the first job.  How can we expect teens to successfully navigate growing up if we don’t provide the necessary tools?  Hey, Get a Job! is, in my biased opinion, a great tool for teens and their parents.

Cringe Worthy Halloween Costumes from Childhood

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I was a kid in the late 70’s and 80’s so political correctness was not a thing. Gram was as compassionate and open minded as anybody, but there was something about Halloween that brought out her crazy. Gram was in charge of my costumes, and although original, I have more than a few that as an adult I find cringe worthy.

 

  • Gram took a burlap sack and cut holes for my head and arms. Then she cut slits in the bottom to create fringe at the bottom. She took a western belt, added Grandpa’s turquoise belt buckle and a butcher knife. I wore moccasins purchased at Fort Hall, and a patterned headband with feathers and two black yarn braids sewn onto it. There was one last problem that Gram felt needed to be solved before I was the perfect Indian Squaw. I was the whitest white girl there was. Gram found the darkest foundation she could and caked it onto my face. I hated that costume because it was top to bottom itchy. The burlap seemed to make its way through my undershirt, and the cheap, waxy foundation was unbearable. In fact, I have not worn either one since.  

  • Gram believed that the search for the perfect costume should begin at a thrift store called Deseret Industries, D.I. for short. It was there that she found a passion purple taffeta prom dress. The skirt and bodice were accented with a hot pink net-like stuff. Gram believed that reuse of the moccasins and the addition of blue eye shadow, fake eyelashes, bright red lipstick, and an impressive amount of costume jewelry  would make me the perfect Gypsy. I didn’t even know what that was, but it was my ticket to go trick or treating. I did get tired of telling people what I was supposed to be.

  • One year one of my dad’s high school students (he was a science teacher) gave him a sombrero. The second I saw it, I knew if gram found out about it I would have to be a sombrero wearing Mexican for Halloween. Sure enough, Gram found me a poncho at D.I. This time, however, I did refuse to wear the foundation.

  • For this costume, Gram didn’t have to make a trip to D.I., she simply raided my grandpa’s closet for a threadbare flannel shirt, a pair of holy jeans, and one of the red bandanas he used as hankies. She filled the hanky with cotton and tied it to a stick. She tied the pants up with a piece of rope and removed the laces from my boots. It was the most comfortable costume I had gotten to wear thus far. Until she decided that I was a male hobo and needed stubble. She spread honey on my face then made me lean over the sink as she put coffee grounds over the honey like one put sprinkles on cookies. It was uncomfortable and it stunk.

 

Maybe in her own way, Gram was trying to introduce me to other cultures, maybe we are too sensitive in this day and age. I don’t know what the answer is. I did have some normal costumes. I was a vampire one year. Gram gave me a cape and some teeth, which I really hope did not come from D.I.  I used the cape again, carried around an antenna broken off a CB radio and called myself a magician. Ok, maybe that one isn’t so normal. I broke away from Gram’s costumes in seventh grade. I went to my mom to help transform me into Boy George from his “Karma Chameleon” video. Even as creative as she was, I didn’t think Gram could pull off that one. At least my costumes were never store bought, and they were always memorable!

 

For those of you who are a little older, what were some of your cringe worthy costumes?

How Do You Know It's Fall?

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There are many obvious ways you know it’s fall. The leaves are turning and falling onto my lawn, the wind is blowing the neighbor’s leaves onto my lawn, my teenage driver is complaining about having to scrape her windows, and many more. But there are also the more personal reasons that indicate the change of season. For example:

 

  • On the weekends, I feel like the Dunkin’ Donuts guy who meets himself at the door. One self is just coming from making the donuts, while the other is going to make the donuts. Mine, however, is not donuts. It’s canning. Every year I ask myself why in the hell I grow so many tomatoes.

  • There are many reasons to love fall, but one of the greatest is college football. Fall is absolutely for shouting at my TV, beer in hand. Go Broncos, and any team from the west, and any team playing Alabama!

  • In my classroom I’m breaking out the Febreze far less often. I love teaching sixth grade English, but man, those guys smell funky. They would smell funky in a freezer, but at least the cooler weather makes it a little better, which means fewer trips to Costco for me.

  • Also an indicator for me as a teacher is when I am motivated to look up what day of the week Halloween falls on so I can mentally prepare for the sugar highs, and the sugar hangovers headed my way. By the way, damn it, it’s on a Tuesday.

  • Me, my girls, and the dog are shedding. Liquid Plummer anyone?

  • I am no longer merely dusting the bathtub. It has to be cleaned.

  • My razor is new, the shaving cream can is full, and the socks that I’ve started to wear to work no longer fall down. Leg hair is one of the many perks of fall.

  • I have casually started to look for the remote start fob for my car. I know I put it somewhere I would totally remember come fall, so where the hell is it?

  • My latest Amazon purchases include snow boots and a roof rake. I’ll be damned if I let winter kick my ass this year like it did last.

 

 

These are the things that truly let me know that fall is here. What is it that lets you know this beautiful season has arrived?

We All Have Hell’s Fridays

 

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Hell’s Friday may be an odd name for a blog. Particularly a blog that I intend to be not at all hellish. "Hell’s Friday" is actually a catch phrase my grandmother used often. As a kid growing up in a very small, very Mormon, very conservative Idaho town, I liked when Gram said "Hell’s Friday" because it felt rebellious, perhaps even a bit dangerous. And, there’s nothing quite like a good "Hell’s Friday" to express an emotion that’s somewhere between a "damn" and a real get-your- mouth-washed-out-with-soap cuss word. 

Hell’s Fridays are those instances that leave us frustrated, irritated, and surprised. It’s also the Hell’s Fridays that make life interesting, and often funny. And, of course, it is through those Hell’s Fridays that we learn those lessons we need to make it through this thing called life.

I Googled "Hell’s Friday" once. After spending way too much time digging into some obscure scholarly work on the history of England, and watching clips from Monty Python movies, I found the meaning was not quite as optimistic as my own. Hell’s Friday, according to one scholar, was the day during the plague that the cart came through to pick up the dead. Like “Ring Around the Rosie”, I think the meaning probably evolved as time went on. At least I hope so because I want this blog to be helpful and humorous for the reader.

Hell’s Friday, let’s do this thing!

Watch the “Bring Out Your Dead” clip from Monty Python:

 https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=grbSQ6O6kbs

 

Posted on June 13, 2017Categories humor, lessons, life, parenting, wisdomTags gram, hellsfriday, idaho, montypython, mormons, notdeadyet, plague, smalltown

The 5 Real Reasons Your Kids Want Fidget Spinners

The 5 Real Reasons Your Kids Want Fidget Spinners

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As a sixth grade English teacher, I absolutely became an expert on the fidget spinner. After much experience and hands on research, I will say upfront that I am not a fan. At first, I was open to them because they promised student focus in my classroom. Like many things, however, the agenda for fidget spinner owners became much different than advertised. Kids really want them for the following reasons:

  • Hypnosis by fidget spinner. Many a student became stupefied by the blur of spinning color, the soft whirring, and the gentle breeze kissing their faces. Perhaps if I’d studied the ways of hypnotists I would have known how to manipulate my students. As it was, I couldn’t bring them back from wherever they had gone.
  • Temperature control. Spin them fast enough and a fidget spinner becomes a personal fan. A room full of sixth graders this spring looked more like a room full of menopausal women experiencing hot flashes.
  • An experience in capitalism and criminal activity. Students bought, sold, and traded fidget spinners. Sounds innocent enough, but middle school brains took over. For some, stealing was the easiest way to get the coolest spinners. Others formed a spinner cartel to restrict competition and keep their profits high. And, perhaps most shocking of all, the time-honored middle school rule of no tradebacks was eliminated.     
  • To throw. Even with the risk of losing your fidget spinner forever, the urge to throw a spinner like a Ninja star, or to see if it could fly like a helicopter, became too strong. We all found out, a multitude of times, that a spinning plastic object does hurt if it hits you, and fidget spinners do not make good propellers.  
  • Make a monotonous noise. If thirty spinners spin in unison, it creates a sound that reminds one of being in a beehive. For the adult ear, this leads to massive headaches and facial tics. The advanced fidget spinners figured out that for a more robust, dentist drill like sound, you can place your fidget spinner under the hand dryer in the bathroom.  

I gave fidget spinners my best shot, but in the end, I, like many other teachers, banned them from the classroom. I emailed my parents to let them know of my decision, but also said that if they felt like their student needed the spinner to focus, they could contact me. I got zero replies which tells me that parents knew what their kids were up to. Even the “experts” found that fidget spinners don’t help focus, unless you’re talking about focus on the fidget spinner itself. Click here for an article on the subject. Fidget spinners had a good run, but I’m really hoping that by the time the new school year rolls around they will have lost their appeal. Well, fidget spinners, here’s to the biggest Hell’s Friday of the 2016-2017 school year!

Your Peace is in Your Hands

Your Peace is in Your Hands

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For my grandma, who I called Gram, naps were for lazy folks, meditation was for hippies, and too much TV would rot your brain. Relaxation for her meant working with her hands and creating something. The only way to relieve stress, to exorcise the Hell’s Fridays, was a project that required sweat equity.

Gram’s favorite project was making bread once a week. She hummed or talked to whoever was in the kitchen as she threw dry ingredients into one bowl and liquids into another. There was no recipe, and the use of measuring cups and spoons was optional. I remember bits and pieces of this part of the process. I think potato water was involved because Gram took living in Idaho very seriously. I also remember the artist’s care she took when creating the crater in the flour mixture for the liquids.

What I will never forget, and the part that taught me all I needed to know about relieving stress, was the kneading. When Gram spread a handful of flour onto her yellow formica countertop, I knew it was time for reverent silence. She placed the dough gently on the counter and gave it a few reassuring pats. Gram took a deep, complete upper body breath and closed her eyes. Then she thrust the palm of her hand violently into the doughy mass and pummelled the hell out of that dough exactly one hundred times. If I listened closely I could hear her counting under her breath. Breadmaking was how Gram reached nirvana, recharged her chi, released the dopamine in her brain, and simply prepared for another week of life.

Exercise is awesome, drinking is divine, even watching TV is great, but if I really need a break from my brain and the thoughts coursing through there, I take on a project. It doesn’t matter what it is as long as you enjoy it. I don’t do baking. For me, it’s like the Indigo Girls song says, “I gotta get out of bed/Get a hammer and a nail/Learn how to use my hands/Not just my head.”

Try a project and let me know how it goes!

Mrs. Funke’s Advice for the Solar Eclipse

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Mrs. Funke’s Advice for the Upcoming Solar Eclipse

Idaho is in sheer pandemonium over the upcoming solar eclipse. Hotels, campsites, and in some cases, people’s personal residences are booked. There are daily news stories about stocking up so you don’t have to leave the house, warnings about traffic overload, and cell service being non-existent. One small town about an hour and a half from Boise has already declared a state of emergency. They are billing it as a once-in-a-lifetime experience, but I remember one when I was in Kindergarten, and Mrs. Funke was my teacher. Granted, it may not have passed directly over us, but evidently it was close enough for Mrs. Funke to scare the bejesus out of her group of five year olds.

Mrs. Funke was quite possibly the most interesting person I’d ever met. One, her name was Funke. She pronounced it just like you’d think, like a funky smell or doing the Funky Chicken. She wasn’t like the Fuch’s who tried to convince everyone their name rhymed with spoosh. Then, and this was the best thing, Mrs. Funke was blind! I was fascinated by her. I would watch her grade papers, which she did by holding them at nose’s length and studying small sections at a time. I didn’t know about Daredevil at the time, but it wouldn’t have surprised me if Mrs. Funke was a seemingly harmless school teacher by day and a badass crime fighter at night. My five year old brain didn’t think about the fact that being a crime fighter in my tiny town would have been pretty boring.

Yes, Mrs. Funke sparked my imagination, but that didn’t mean I wanted to be blind like her. Gram was the night custodian at our K-12 school, and I was often her helper. Mrs. Funke’s classroom took the longest because Gram made sure everything was back in the exact right place after she cleaned. One night, probably because I was chattering about how cool Mrs. Funke’s blindness was, Gram blindfolded me and told me to empty the trash. Blindness not only became uncool, it scared the hell out of me.

There was a solar eclipse in October of that year. We didn’t have glasses or anything so the whole school (we averaged about fifteen students per grade) was going to watch the eclipse on TV in the multi-purpose room. We would have to leave our building and walk across a small part of the playground to get there. Mrs. Funke lined us up like usual. Different this time, however, was she had us hold hands with the person in front and in back. There were uncomfortable giggles and a few groans because boys had cooties.

Mrs. Funke stared with her powerful milky blue eyes until all hands were taken and we were quiet. “Class, it is extremely important that you follow my directions today. Do you understand?”

“Yes, Mrs. Funke,” we said in reverent unison. There was something about Mrs. Funke that was different than before. I didn’t like it.

“I want you to keep your eye on the shoes of the person in front of you. Do not look up because if you do, the solar eclipse will get in your eyes and make you blind like me. Do you understand?”

Thirteen heads snapped downward in unison. “Yes, Mrs. Funke,” we said in small, horrified voices.  To myself, I muttered, “Hell’s Friday!” because I knew in that moment Mrs. Funke became blind because she looked at a solar eclipse. She didn’t really, but I didn’t find that out until much later. 

That’s all I really remember about the last once-in-a-lifetime experience of a solar eclipse, but it’s a pretty vivid memory. What I really want to say, however, is that if you are planning to watch the eclipse this year, please don’t look directly at the sun. It really can be harmful, and nobody wants to be blind like Mrs. Funke. And, if you’re coming to Idaho, please be a respectful visitor.

Things You Need to Know About a Hysterectomy

Things You Need to Know About a Hysterectomy That Your Doctor Doesn’t Tell You

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I believe in doctors and am super impressed by what they do, but sometimes they just don’t give you the whole story. I don’t blame them, our society as a whole has a thing when it comes to talking about our weird, wonderful, and disgusting bodies. I hung on my doctor’s every word, read every pamphlet, and even did some research on the internet (webmd is awesome – they don’t try to scare the hell out of you), but still wasn’t completely prepared for my hysterectomy.  

My hysterectomy was what they call non-invasive which means that I had three small incisions, two on either side of my lower belly and one in my belly button. They removed my uterus, my fallopian tubes, and a fibroid tumor measuring in at about eight centimeters. This type of hysterectomy cuts down on the recovery time and severity by a bunch. The only bummer part is that you don’t have any scars worthy of having a body part removed. It seems anti-climactic.

Here’s my list of what I wished I knew:

  • Prepare to slow way down. After the first few days you might feel pretty good, but don’t let it fool you. You will pay in pain and exhaustion if you overdo it. When the doctor says that full recovery will take four to six weeks, she means it. First, listen to your body. It warns you with a twinge of pain, a bit of swelling, or even a weird tightness across your midsection. If any of these occur, stop whatever it is you’re doing and relax. Second, become a nap taker. If you’ve never taken naps, enjoy the fact that you can now and your family has to let you – doctor’s orders. In short, your uterus, even though it’s gone, is still going to dictate your daily routine for a bit. You should let it have its last hurrah.
  • Slowing down is not the same as becoming stagnant. Walking as much as you can is a great idea. Your doctor will tell you this. At first, just a trip around the house feels like a two hour workout. You can increase it a little bit each day. When you walk around the block for the first time, you will feel like the winner of the Boston Marathon. Avoid sitting, especially upright, for long periods of time. Do you know how long Hamlet is? I do, three hours and thirteen minutes. By the end of the first hour sitting in a hard plastic patio chair, I felt like I was in labor. By the end, I was right there with the characters writhing in pain after being poisoned. To move, or not to move, that is the question. Move!  
  • Take the drugs. Don’t be me where you do this stupid thing and believe you are super tough and can handle pain without pharmaceutical help. You’ll learn quickly that you need the drugs. After all, a body part was removed. Your body has to deal with that and it’s going to be painful. I only did the heavy duty drugs and the anti-nausea meds for the first couple days. After that, Aleve became my best friend. Getting and staying ahead of pain is a real thing. Your body will let you know when it’s ready to abandon the meds.  
  • Pooping is an issue. Religiously take the stool softeners the doctor gives you. In short, an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure, or poop, in this case. Know that mere softening may not be enough and you may have to move up to more invasive measures. I had my first experience with Milk of Magnesia. I will say here that movies like Dumb and Dumber do not exaggerate the laxative experience. If you get to the point of needing this kind of help, you don’t care how explosive your body becomes. Passing gas hurts, pooping hurts, but it’s better than allowing your body to keep that stuff captive for too long. Like the other hysterectomy nuances, this doesn’t last for long.  
  • Peeing feels weird. It’s really not that I’m obsessed with bodily functions, I promise. It’s just that all these things happen in the same general area as where your uterus used to be. Weird is the best word I can come up with to describe how peeing feels. Peeing is not painful, but it’s not, not painful. See, weird. I did ask my doctor about this one. She told me that she hears the weird pee thing a lot. And it makes sense. The uterus and the bladder are right next to one another. It goes away after a few weeks, and then you become a champion pee-er, even better than you were before.
  • I actually can’t believe I’m writing this one, and I’m going to be really embarrassed if I’m the only woman who experienced this. I actually felt some sexual arousal during the healing process. Not only is that crazy, but it’s incredibly cruel because you can only imagine following that urge would lead to unimaginable pain. It could possibly ruin sex forever! This is definitely the time you need to get up and move. Give your lady parts something else to do.  

There are some Hell’s Fridays involved with a hysterectomy, but all in all, it wasn’t bad. The best part of the whole experience was when I handed over all my monthly “treats” to my teenage daughters and really realized that I don’t need that crap anymore!

The dictionary says ‘hyster’ means womb, and ‘ectomy’ means remove. Makes sense, until you think of the words hysteria and hysterical which in essence both mean bat-shit crazy. Anyway, the point is that not only did you have your uterus removed, but also your crazy. Our language is super sexist, isn’t it?

I would love to hear your hysterectomy experience, so leave a comment!

Posted on July 24, 2017Categories hells friday, humor, lessons, wisdomTags bodypartremoval, drugs, hellsfriday, hysterectomy, hysteria, hysterical, naps, pee, poop, relaxation, sex, surgery, uterus, walking