Monday, February 28, 2011

Blank Slate

A blank slate to write our thoughts upon...but not a coherent thought in our head! I often have an inspiration for a post during the week; during a session with a student, a phone call with a distraught parent,a meeting with an angry administrator, a couch visit from a weary teacher or sometimes in the car with my Mom. My world is full of options for posting, I interact with a hundred people each week. The number of stories overwhelms me sometimes. Yet when I have the time to sit and process I cannot seem to pick out the nugget of inspiration to share with you. I admit to occasionally writing all my jumbled thoughts on the screen and editing later, attempting to create an interesting, honest version of my week. Usually this helps me see the real topic of the post, sometimes it just adds to my confusion on what to say. I love writing. I'm not good at it I know, but that is not important.
 The writing process helps organize my thoughts and I think helps me to do better work with my kiddos and others. I also write to have a record of my days and what was going on in my head at this time. The more time I spend with my mother as she falls deeper into dementia, the more afraid I become of losing myself as she has done. Yesterday she told me she thinks," I am worse than I thought I was". We had a good afternoon shopping for Courtney and Mackenzie's birthday presents. Over two hours in one store, just like old times, Mom picking up every item, looking, judging, putting it back. Over and over throughout the store from tops to pants to jeans to jackets to sweaters to dresses and shoes. She loves shopping, the crippling back pain recedes, the clouded thoughts clear when she smells a bargain. But in the car, minutes later, she asks what we bought, remembering nothing of the afternoon. This scares me and breaks my heart. But we end our day on a happy note. Laughing about how easy it is for Mom to curl up on her nest and rest. Something that never happened in her first 80 years. She spent those years in the kitchen preparing meals, doing laundry, making her home. Most of the snapshots of Mom are in the kitchen; standing; washing dishes, washing fresh vegetables, washing delicate sweaters and lace bras, preparing her special fried chicken, potato soup, beef and noodles, corn bread. Never sitting, never resting. All those years waiting for others to come in that back door and allow her to serve them, NO, making them let her serve them. No one ever left her kitchen empty handed or empty bellied. She force fed her grandkids handmade milk shakes, cookies n milk, full meals even as after-school snacks. They all know what it means to enter Grandma Helen's kitchen. All who enter take home a baggie full of something. Now whenever they go, she is in the small TV room at the back of the house, usually asleep, always on her little nest on the couch. The kitchen is dark, the stove is cold, it doesn't feel like Grandma's anymore. But she is still there, the light in her eyes is dimmer, but still there, she still speaks of all those days, not remembering our shopping, but reliving the first 80 years.
ISTEP begins tomorrow, so I am spending today at home resting up. I test our 504 kids and That becomes an intense morning. All of them become distracted so easily and it requires awhile to settle everyone. We allow them all the time they need and some days it might be 3 hours. Ofcourse, some days it is 3 minutes and they all are finished! I enjoy working so closely with a few students at a time and most of them try so hard to do their best. This type of testing places to much sress on kids. They cannot be judged for one test on one day. There must be a better way. Trusting good teachers' judgements might be a start. These next few weeks will be an interesting time in Indiana education. Someone let the fox in the henhouse in Indy.
I've spent several hours looking a summer rentals for the family. We have such a wonderful time each year, but finding just the right home for all our needs and interests can take a little work. Have to have a private pool for the teens and little guys, need lots of open space for everyone, I need at least a view of the ocean, good restaurants within 30 minutes, a terrific grocery close by, big equiped kitchen for Nina and me, bicycles for Shay and Maddie...the list goes on and on. And amazingly, we find a perfect one each year! Cannot wait to celebrate Cabe's birthday at the beach again. He believe's the trip is an extended celebration for him! Love that little Pretty Boy, can't believe he will be 8 this summer. And my Sweetie Gavin is 6 already. My babies are growing way too fast. 
Stephen King has been sick for 3 weeks, but he is on the mend today. He has plans for the next several days just to catch up on his activities. He loves retirement and does not handle illness at all. I am thrilled to see him up and out again. One body lying around the house is enough. He makes a great care iver, but a terrible patient.
I'll post this now, I've managed to fill the blank slate once again, Ladies. Hugs and kisses to Alison for organizing the Spring Gagglefest in April. Take care. Love

Friday, February 18, 2011


I've spent a large portion of my day dealing with angry girls, heartbroken girls, weeping girls. Hormones run rampant in the middle school. I completely understand that. I understand that females will be at the mercy of hormones until the GREAT CHANGE OF LIFE. What I don't get is why females are so cruel to each other. Why can't we see that we are all in this together and need to be kind to each other? Why do we save our most evil words for other females? Why do we treat each other as enemies? Why, why, why? Try as I may, I cannot convince the girls to play nice with others. That will come with time, I suppose. I know my own friends are precious to me. Old school buddies have been through good times and bad together. New friends reap the bounty of wisdom gained as we grow older.
But I still remember the power friendship gave to girls, the power to betray confidences, to lie, and to exclude. I remember feeling lucky that I wasn't a victim of others when I was a kid. I witnessed the behavior of our Queen Bee and her power over so many of us. I remember the uneasy relief of watching someone else burn under her stinging words. I realize now that I just wasn't a threat to them! I was quiet, but not timid, I wasn't jealous of what they had, I didn't date from the same pool of guys. In truth they probably didn't even give my presence much thought at all. I was lucky.
We have dealt with Facebook drama all week and the worst of it comes from mean girls... mean-spirited girls who should know better. Who don't appear to care how much they hurt someone. Who stand in high school halls and spray ugly words for everyone to hear. Ugly lies about a person who used to be their friend. A friend who made the mistake of confiding secrets or fears to someone she thought of as a sister. A sister who would support and protect her secrets. Secrets which are now out there for the world to see and judge. How can one female do this to another? We are all sisters in this world and should be that support for each other, we should stand strong against the hurts and trials of the world. Instead we choose to force each other to stand alone. Oh my, I hope these girls grow up soon and learn to treasure each other.
One of my good friends, a part of my Gaggle, has faced a health threat this week. It has ended well, but the stress of "what if" was heavy. I thank God for His mercy and blessing on her. Scares such as this make us realize the truly important things in life. Best wishes, Sweetie, and a speedy recovery. This wonderful group of young women helped get me through grad school at an age when I should have been planning retirement, not a new career. Each of them has blessed me with her friendship and I cherish the opportunity of their friendships. I cannot wait for our next Gagglefest, Ladies.
The warmer weather has been such a welcomed relief this week. Hopefully, some of the awful germs will blow away with these wild winds we've been having. I've never seen such a winter for sickness, people suffer from yuck to yuck without a break. No one remains immune. Stephen King has had a cold for 2 weeks and is tired of it! No one suffers pain and illness quite like him, I'm sure. He truly hasn't been himself, too tired to even get out. He usually makes his daily rounds regardless of the weather, so I know he isn't well. Too many hours watching westerns just isn't healthy. He was going to help #3 son put up fence today, I hope he felt like it. I worry if he feels bad.
Our kiddos are doing OK this week other than the regular elementary school crud, Cabe has a stomach bug and Gavin is still sneezing. The girls are all good. Madeleine had a terrific check-up with her heart surgeon. X-rays couldn't look better! Wonderful news. She is getting her color back and has been playing outside after school with the neighborhood crowd. She loves that.
Courtney reports all is well in OZ, no flooding or cyclones in their area. She just complains of heat, something I cannt sympathize with this winter! She has her resident VISA now so will not be returning to the States for a long while. We will miss those visits every 90 days. That has been how we've accepted her moving to the other side of the world. It will be interesting to see how long the parents can survive without scheduling a flight downunder!
Have a wonderful weekend, everyone. I'm looking forward to a little sunshine on my front porch.

Saturday, February 5, 2011

February-- The (hopefully) Shortest Month

Let's have a moment of silent prayer for this being the shortest, mildest February ever. I do believe the past 3 months have been a sufficient notice of Who is in charge. "We get it, God. We will straighten up down here, promise."
Whenever the weather grows harsh, natural disasters happen or civil strife breaks out in the world, there are those who claim the world is coming to an end. Maybe, maybe not... No one knows for sure, no one can stop it if so, but why take a chance? God has set before us a list of rules for living. Kind of a Renter's List. We haven't abided by the list for the most part; polluting His air, water, soil, wiping out species after species of His animal kingdom, anihilating each other for centuries over color, creed, and religion, having false gods, such as Money, failing to honor our parents, lusting after our neighbors' wife, car, house, the list goes on and on. Little wonder we get edgy whenever it snows, we know we have it coming! 

As a school kid in the 50s, I was so fearful of just about everything, but especially the End Of Time. I was certain each day might be our last. The Cold War years were a severe trial for me, WWIII would be an obvious way to end it all. Between my great-grandmother's fire and brimstone church and the nightly news, I cowered in bed each night praying for mercy.I was also terribly afraid of dogs, horses, carnival rides, but those are other stories.
As I've grown older and wiser, I've lost most of my fears. I can watch an electrical storm and feel confident I will not be struck by lightening. I can pet all dogs and horses without a racing heart. I've ridden more fast, spinning, dropping amusement park rides than I can count. I hate the idea of war and killing and human suffering, but I don't fear these things for myself anymore. I have faith that God knows my fate and will take care of me.  Fear is the greatest crippler in life.
As far as this wild, cold weather goes, weather is a never ending cycle, out of our control. The planet we reside upon is old, older than dirt, so to speak. It has seen it all. Nothing is new to this sphere; earthquakes, cyclones, tsunamis, volcanos, floods have all been part of her past and will be part of her future. Our response should be to jump in and aid those affected by disaster, not whining. But right now, I wish for Spring.

We tend to ignore the fact that people are animals. Unless one is exposed to children before a snowstorm!! They become squirrels dropping from the trees, deer caught in the headlights staring blankly in response to any comment made by an adult, wild horses running in herds up and down the halls. Our first whole week back in school in 2011 was a jungle. We had cat fights, dope smokers, and meltdowns aplenty, food fights, weepy jocks, suicide threats and a 5 year old pulling the fire a rainstorm. Yes, we were back to a normal 5day school week. Animals, for sure.
All in all I have laughed more than cried this week. As my son says, "you can't make this stuff up".  It happens, it is called life. I for one, wouldn't want to miss it. I wonder what I will be doing this time next year when I'm free. Will the house seem quiet and boring with just me and Stephen King? Can a few sheep and chickens replace 250 wild animals? I'm sure the Lord has His plans for my time, it will be interesting to find out what they are.

Gaggle, we just have to have a gathering this spring, I miss you all. I want to begin quilting in earnest this summer and make you all a miniature quilt to mark our friendship. My sister-in-law makes the most beautiful tiny  doll quilts for her grandchild that I would love to try. Time and patience, neither of which I have now. But soon.
Next week looks to be cold and wet in southern Hoosierland, hope you all stay safe and warm. Hedy