Friday, February 28, 2014

February 28,2014

     In the quiet of the early winter morning I wait for my ride outside my home.  The view is of the bell tower of this neighborhood church.
      The first summer that we lived here, we had no yard or landscaping, so I made the front porch my favorite perch and spent the summer reading Nine Tailors by Dorothy Sayers.  It all tied together so well, since the victim in the story was found in a bell tower, struck down by the loud tolling bells.
      It is such a sweet memory of those first days of life here, and that first perch has become my favorite place to read in summer, even though we now have a beautifully landscaped yard. Who wouldn't be happy with a view like this?

Thursday, February 27, 2014

February 27, 2014

     As February winds down a cup of something warm is in order.  It has been a brutal month weather wise and in other ways too.  How can a month with only 28 days seem so long?  Tomorrow we have a break in the schedule to attend a conference in Illinois.  Even with the promise of delicious food and camaraderie with colleagues it doesn't sound enticing.  A cozy chair, a cup of cocoa and a good that would do the trick.

Wednesday, February 26, 2014

February 26, 2014

     In my latter years of teaching I have become good friends with coworkers young enough to be my own children. They have given me excellent advice and new ideas.  They have also given me hope for future generations.  Here's to 'intergenerational' friendships and the richness they bring to our lives!

Tuesday, February 25, 2014

February 25, 2014

      I've had a hard time writing lately because I've been discouraged, but with prayer and thoughtful friends I'm slowly coming out of it.  What I am struggling with is best laid plans, hours of work, blown to pieces by unpredictable behavior.  I knew it would be like this, but there is no way to imagine how it would really affect me.  This afternoon I am meeting with a coworker from last year who will make me laugh which will go a long way in boosting my spirits.  Perhaps that is the lesson in this:  we need others to help us through rough times.

Monday, February 24, 2014

February 24, 2014

Psalm 143:8  Let the morning bring me word of your unfailing love, for I have put my trust in you.

New day, new week, renewed strength...

Sunday, February 23, 2014

Friday, February 21, 2014

February 21, 2014

     The wind has been whipping wickedly around the corners of the house since the middle of last night.  It is howling and whistling trying desperately to get inside, and the chill in the house shows that it is succeeding.  This winter has been difficult in every way, in every single person's opinion that you could hear from.  It doesn't seem as if that will change any time soon.
    It seems I have gotten used to going outside only to get in the car and go across town to enter a building, and then returning home to curl up under a blanket.  It is hard to remember a time when that hasn't been the case this has gone on so long.  How sweet those first warm days of spring will be when they finally appear...

Thursday, February 20, 2014

February 20, 2014

   Many years ago a pastor that was between calls spent some time at our church and added much depth to our already excellent Bible classes.  One Sunday he quoted a passage I had never heard before that I thought was profoundly beautiful.  I remembered it this week, when many things have gone wrong and it reenergized me:
Habakkuk 3:17-18
New International Version (NIV)
Though the fig tree does not bud
 and there are no grapes on the vines,
though the olive crop fails
 and the fields produce no food,
though there are no sheep in the pen
 and no cattle in the stalls,
yet I will rejoice in the Lord,
 I will be joyful in God my Savior.

Wednesday, February 19, 2014

February 19, 2014

   Even though yesterday afternoon didn't end very well, I headed off early for school this morning with high hopes for the day.  I had become inspired to redecorate our extra room in order to use it when the gym is too noisy for us to learn and only have time before school to work on it this week.  My efforts are slowly paying off and the room is taking shape.  Of course I was disheveled and exhausted before 7 am but it was worth it as I stood back and admired the progress I am making in a room that lately had begun to resemble a junk pile.  I added bookshelves to block the clutter towards the back of the room, cozy chairs with comfortable seat cushions for a reading area, and more colorful paper fish hangings as a room divider.
    In the early afternoon things disintegrated in my classroom as we worked on a long term project.  It is so discouraging to put so much effort into preparing special projects, trying to make things more hands on, and redecorating to make it appealing, when someone just wants to push my buttons to see how much they can get away with and before I know it I have turned into an ogre.  I had the best intentions today but it seems I was thwarted in my plans.  Now I have to come up with some way to not repeat the same mistakes tomorrow....

Tuesday, February 18, 2014

February 18, 2014

     When I was 23 I may have sat near a tiger just as my daughter did in Thailand recently.  But as her mother I immediately was concerned, how can they do that?  I started to research petting tigers in Thailand and right away, third hit down:  girl mauled by tiger in Thailand, August 2013.  I instinctively look for the inherent danger in every situation and want to protect my kids in every way, even though they are adults.  What is it that changes in us and makes us so fearful?  Knowing the possible consequences takes all the adventure out of life.  That's what maturity and experience brings to us.  Does it also rob us of spontaneous joy?

Monday, February 17, 2014

February 17, 2014

     Because I come from a large family, there is always something happening to someone, some story developing to cause concern.  It's a relief then when I hear that something has been resolved, so I can move on to worrying (and praying) about something else. It is interesting to me then when I learn of a struggle I haven't heard about, that someone is dealing with something quietly and under the radar.
   We all are challenged in some way every day and it is good to take note and realize this.  I tend to think I am the only one and begin to feel defeated.  Life is rarely easy for anyone. Knowing that there is a heavenly plan and it is all being worked for our good helps me to continue on.  '
   When I first started teaching there was a little prayer in a devotion book that I still say every time I face a tough day.  It is kind of tender and sweet:
Oh help me Lord this day to be
Thine own dear child and follow Thee
And lead me Savior by the hand
Until I reach the heavenly land.
   Puts everything in perspective and helps me start the new week...

Saturday, February 15, 2014

February 15, 2014

     This past week at school was Spirit Week which is usually the craziest week of the school year with very little actual learning taking place.  Surprisingly we were able to focus very well, but that might be what we were studying: bats, ancient civilizations, and weather.  The level of energy was so high though, that last night I was comatose by 8 pm and this morning I awoke early trying to come up with ways to tweak things for next week.  That kind of sums up the life of a teacher: persevere, get a good night's sleep, tweak everything, regroup on Monday.

Friday, February 14, 2014

February 14, 2014

     When I saw this poster I immediately thought of my husband.  Through all the years we have spent together he has calmed me down from the dramatic person I once was.  I haven't always appreciated it, but I do now. It is nice to know after 25 years of marriage that he has been a good influence on my character.  I can only hope that I have done the same for him.  Looking back we've had many ups and downs, times of heartache and sorrow, but just as many laughs and good times.  At the end of the day I'm glad I can come home and be calm with him.

Thursday, February 13, 2014

February 13, 2014

    With Valentines Day on the horizon, thoughts of romance are on the mind.  Since it is the day before, I will allow myself to write on the subject of failed romance...
   Growing up as a bookworm and with a love of musicals like 'Oklahoma' and 'South Pacific' I had a pretty skewed view of what romance would look like.  The plot would move just like in a novel: rising action, a problem, problem overcome, solution, and the happy ending.  Real romance is much messier than that, for me the problem usually came with the happy ending.  I thought I would be fine ending a relationship, that was a horrible experience so I resolved never to be the one to end it again.  Therefore I stayed in a relationship well past the expiration date and when he ended it I was devastated again.  I often wondered why I had to learn these lessons so painfully.  Now I have my answer: to understand and help my children go through their own.
  With my first heartbreak, my mother watched me suffer and told me later she didn't know what to do to help me so she left me alone.  She was a wonderful mother in our childhood, but didn't really understand teenage girls and she had four of them at one time! (I can't even fathom that.) So it means so much to me to be able to help my children through those rough times.
   I know I have written about my older sister a lot since January, and not just because she has become my most devoted reader.  I must mention how much she helped me through my second failed attempt at romance.  She was there for me during my darkest days and didn't let me flounder through them alone.  I don't know what I would have done without her.
   But finally I stood on my own, with my battle scars and the Lord led me to the right person for me. Tomorrow I will write more about him...

Wednesday, February 12, 2014

February 12, 2014

          One of the things I love about teaching is sharing a passion for writing and good books.  This week we are looking at a beautifully written book, Bat Loves the Night by Nicola Davies.  We watched a video interview of the very engaging author telling about how she writes her books.   I found a lesson plan that makes an anchor chart of her very descriptive writing and the kids were right there with me today as we delved into the book.  What a feeling that is, to finally have it all come together.   It has been an elusive feeling this year but one I will continue to pursue.  Today we are going to read bat poems and web all of our ideas and attempt to write a poem about bats ourselves.  Amazing what is possible, even when one doesn't like bats!

Tuesday, February 11, 2014

February 11, 2014

"Oh would some power the gift give us, To see ourselves as others see us."Robert Burns
     Yesterday was a day so full of twists and turns that I awoke early today and couldn't get back to sleep with all the thoughts circling in my mind.  I like to sort things out but some of these thoughts are unsortable.
     It comes back to the quote above, the way people behave with a kind of tunnel vision, so self absorbed they don't see that they are sabotaging their own lives.  Whenever I have thoughts like this I know it is time for some self reflection. 
     How do others see us?  To be socially aware, one has to think that there is usually a grain of truth in the criticisms aimed at us.  As painful as that may be, we won't grow as a person without addressing the criticism in some way.  I suppose I should be thankful that I am over sensitive to criticism so it has kept any ego I might have had in check. Then again it isn't a good way to live, always cowering in fear of offending someone.  Somehow there has to be a balance.  We need to check ourselves every day against what others are saying or doing around us.  There is always need for improvement and prayerful consideration of being more thoughtful of others.

Monday, February 10, 2014

February 10, 2014

     This week is 'Spirit' Week at school so every day has a crazy theme.  Each year during this week I just about lose my mind trying to have some normalcy while the kids struggle to focus on learning while wearing pajamas or crazy hats.  I'm going to try to relax things a little, but then things just seem to get crazier.  Having 'fun' at school without actually learning anything is hard work, at least for the teacher.  At least there is Valentine's Day in there so it's a good excuse to eat chocolate!

Sunday, February 9, 2014


     I have always been a shy person, as a child I hid behind my mother's skirts or sometimes in the laundry room behind the furnace when people came over.  I am an observer, I love people watching, and I have learned much from doing so.
   For some reason I was comfortable in kindergarten, but after that school was painful for me.  Once I learned to read, I existed in the world of those books.  When I wasn't reading, I was thinking about the plot and characters and reliving the stories.  In seventh grade, I made a conscious decision to stop living in my personal world of books and join reality.  As I have written here before, that was a big mistake. Reality is brutal to shy people.
   When the book Quiet came along, it almost championed my cause.  There will have to be a sequel titled Shy for it to really be my book.  Then the next one could be titled Late Bloomers and Why It Is Good Not to Peak Too Early in Life.  
    I watched the same pattern emerge for two of my children.  Early social success in school and then plummeting into invisibility and sometimes being bullied.  Now, after many years, they have come into their own, met people they connect with and who appreciate them.
     Long ago I read the novel I, Keturah by Ruth Wolff, a coming of age story about an awkward orphan who is told by her foster father, "The cream always rises to the top."  The novel ends with her acknowledging to him, that the cream had finally risen.  But in real life, this rarely happens.  Those who  point out their accomplishments get the praise, the rest of us toil (and perhaps excel) unnoticed.  What a relief to have a heavenly Father who does notice.  Without that comfort it would be impossible.
     Even at my advanced age, I can still feel like that little girl who is invisible at times.  I have learned to cope with it, but it still hurts.  When I feel like that I rush home to find solace in a place where I know I belong.
     Do I do this to quiet and shy students?  Do I notice them and compliment their achievements or just cater to the extroverts in the crowd?  Do my quiet students silently soothe themselves at home each night and avoid me because the pain of being ignored and overlooked is too much?  I hope not.  I need to attend to them first thing Monday morning to make sure.

Saturday, February 8, 2014

Feb. 8, 2014

     I am not a William Faulkner fan, having been forced to read the Sound and the Fury in college literature classes, but I do like this quote attributed to him.  I have made it a goal to try to write something every day and it is not easy, at least not to put words down here.  There are days when I have plenty to write about, but I would have to do such heavy editing there would be nothing left on the page.  I do know this, writing helps me sort things out and work out the problems I am dealing with.  The last few days have been no words, but then this morning a thought came to me that helped me to resolve it somewhat.  Immediately I thought, I need to write this down!  I will write it down elsewhere of course, but it will be written.  Then when I encounter the difficulties again, as I inevitably will, I can go back to that paper to remind myself, this one is already solved.  Move on.

Thursday, February 6, 2014

February 6, 2014

     This week I hesitantly began a basketball unit in Phy. Ed.  This year I never know what will be destined for success or failure until we try it, but they absolutely are loving it.  I know shooting hoops or playing Horse for hours got me through an awkward time in my life.  Whenever there wasn't much to do, my sister and I would be out there in the driveway competing.  I thank her now for dragging me away from my beloved books and dolls to play those outdoor games.  It has served me well!

Wednesday, February 5, 2014

February 5, 2014

  On Monday a former student was chatting happily with me at recess about winning third place in a wrestling match over the weekend.  He ran off to play and I turned my attention to other matters.  A few minutes later he said from the floor, "Do you think you could help me up?"  He jokes around a lot so I tried to give him a hand but couldn't get him up.  His teacher tried to assist, but we finally told him to try to pull himself up on the edge of the stage.  He couldn't do that either.  Becoming increasingly alarmed his teacher started trying to get a hold of his mom, while I talked to the student, trying to figure out what had happened.  He really couldn't say.  About 20 minutes later, the ambulance had to come and take him away, and his mom, a nurse, spent the rest of the afternoon with him at the hospital as they ran all kinds of tests.  Thankfully, as he moved in the hospital bed, there was a loud pop and his hip popped back into place.  He was back at school today as good as new. (hopefully)
   While traumatized by the entire episode, it makes me stop and think how fast life can change.  One minute he was a carefree child, the next living in fear of being paralyzed or facing surgery.
     Each day is a day of grace to be thankful for:  our physical, mental, and emotional health and our spiritual well being even more so.  So very thankful that our afternoon of prayers were answered for my young friend.

Tuesday, February 4, 2014

February 4, 2014

     On Sunday, my sister in law posted a plea on Facebook to get her children to call her, not text, not email, but call.  I tried to stick up for the non calling people by saying I don't enjoy talking on the phone, I'd much rather message with my children which my brother in law took objection to.  But if one thinks about it, in the past all we had was the written word.  People communicated everything in letters that crossed the continents to people they loved.  Now we write our words and they are instantly transported around the world.  My daughter can think about what she wants to say before she hits the enter button, I can go back and reread what she wrote and relive the moment.  A phone call is gone forever.  I say, go with whatever communication works for you.  When I don't hear from my children I know they are fine, out there enjoying their lives, living in the moment.  When they need me, I will hear from them and hopefully say what they need to hear.  Until then, a brief word here or there, a photo of them with a happy smile is good enough for this mom, and hopefully always will be.

Monday, February 3, 2014

February 3, 2014

     I first saw this 'tag art' in Victoria magazine many years ago and immediately was smitten by the look.  What is there about simple manila tags that is so appealing?  I love the look as much today as I did back then.  I think it is the idea of taking something basic and making it elegant and beautiful.
    Next week I am going to set up a valentine making station for my students to see how creative they can get. It is an idea I saw online for women friends to get together and craft, but I thought I would tweak it for my girls.  It'll be fun to see what they come up with.

Sunday, February 2, 2014

February 2, 2014

      I loved the movie Groundhog Day for various reasons:  the quirky humor of Bill Murray, the story of one day starting over until he gets it right, beginning each day with the song 'I Got You Babe' blaring from the clock radio...  (That is kind of an inside joke, because my husband teased throughout our engagement that he would sing it as a solo at our wedding.) ...the long awaited happy ending which you are not sure the main character is going to pull off...
     No matter what Punxsutawney Phil says today, I know from the weather we have had this winter what we are in for: more winter, and a long time of it.  Well, so be it, I'll take whatever comes, we have to anyway!  Might as well be content with what we have.  

Saturday, February 1, 2014

Winter Sunset

      Dealing with my mother's illness these last few years has been like going out on ice that seems to be frozen solid,  but in reality is fragile enough to break through at any moment, plunging you into the murky, dark waters below.  As I move through daily life, suddenly something will trigger the grief that lies just below the surface.  Suddenly I am weeping uncontrollably, grieving for what was, unable to explain what caused this to happen.
   It is a strange feeling, grieving for my parents while they are still alive.  What they were in the past is gradually fading away as their memory lapses more and more and her ability to communicate becomes more difficult.  The roles have reversed from what they once were, I trim their fingernails, give Dad a haircut, put in the dvd of the church service for them to watch, water the plants, gather the mail to go through...all the things they once did for me when I was growing up.
    Somehow I  thought I  would be ready for what would come.  I  recognize the passage of time, that I am aging, my parents are aging.  I know that death is part of life, but it never seems to be that simple.  They are dying slowly as they live and I was not prepared for that.  Will it make it easier when death finally comes?  I'm not sure.  But I know that it will be a sweet release for my mother from this crippled physical body and a mind that has slipped away from her.  I pray that she does not realize in full what has happened to her, that it is a hazy mystery that seems intangible to hold on to, and that she slowly slips away to enjoy the rewards of heaven by the  grace of our Lord.
    Then the grief will be sharp and painful not this lingering sorrow that lies just under the skin.  I will deal with it, go through its stages and accept what is.  This time out of time cannot be categorized or sorted out until that happens.
   What I can do with this time though is to live.  To notice little things, to appreciate being able to go off to work, to drive a car, to shop at the grocery store, to attend church, spend time with friends, to cherish each day of grace that has been given to me.

February 1, 2014

     Even though the view out the window looks the same, turning a calendar page seems to give a fresh start.  The last two days have been parent/teacher conferences with the students attending and sharing their work,  for the most part it was very rewarding.  I can see progress has been made.  We are halfway through a challenging year.  We have turned a corner for the better and now we have to soldier on.
     It is strange to be writing this in the peace and serenity of my home when the rest of my life is tumultuous and uncertain at best.  It is a blessing to have one small piece of my life that is orderly and somewhat predictable.  I am so thankful that the Lord gave us a day of rest during the week to regroup and rest up for the days ahead.