Friday, August 31, 2012

One of those "Good Days"

Today has been one of those good days that I long for..... the ones that only come around once in a while. Things just seem to fall into place and even the bumps in the road are a little less rocky.

There are times in my career when I wonder if I am really getting through to my students the way I want to. I sometimes feel that maybe I have run my race and I should just go ahead and get out. Then there is a day like today. I stuck around after school today to grade some practice exercises that my students did in preparation for the upcoming EXPLORE test. At one point I was almost in tears, not from sadness, but from pure elation. I was so excited with how well some of my students did. I can't wait until Tuesday to tell some of them about their scores. It makes me remember why I went into this career in the first place.

After grading my papers, I hurried home to get supper ready for Keenan. He has a three day weekend too, so he came home for a couple of days. I can sense his enthusiasm and happiness with his experiences thus far at Bellarmine University just by looking at his face when he talks about it. This is the happiest that I can remember seeing him in a very long time. I think higher education agrees with him.

You know, I am sure that there was something, somewhere along the way today that didn't quite go right, but sitting here at this minute....... I just can't remember it. :)

Sunday, August 26, 2012

Settling In....

I am beginning to settle into a new routine, new roles, and my "new" life. I am still not 100 percent sure that I LIKE all of the "newness", but I guess I can accept it.

I have been going into work at 7:15 AM daily and staying until 5 or 6 PM. I am trying to stay on top of the paperwork connected with teaching, including lesson plans, creating assessments, and grading all of the student work. So far...... so good, though I am hoping that I can shorten the amount of time I spend at work and lengthen the amount of time I can spend with my family or on things that I want to do.

We got to visit Keenan at college Friday. I could tell by the smile on his face and the lilt in his voice that he is enjoying college life. I actually departed the campus that night without crying. I think I am beginning to accept the geographic distance between us, because I know that there is still a closeness in heart. He has texted a time or two, emailed, and phoned. I wasn't really sure that he would, because he is not much of a communicator.

And then there's Kari...... my "little girl", who, at the age of 15, is already taking college classes as part of her daily high school experience. I am beginning to accept the fact that maybe, just maybe, she is not so "little" anymore. The first week of College Algebra was a tearjerker....LITERALLY, for both her and for me. Since then, however, she has settled into a routine and appears to be doing quite well with the level of difficulty that she is encountering. She seems to be happy and is learning a lot. While I am definitely not ready to have both of my kids in college full-time, I am feeling more comfortable with the idea that both of my children are ready for the academic challenges they will face in connection with their college experience. Their teachers have prepared them, they have prepared themselves, and Glenn and I have been there to support them through the whole experience. Now it is our turn to stand back and watch them begin making their own decisions, experiencing their own successes, and learning from their own mistakes.

Tuesday, August 21, 2012


I think that someone out there in the universe is keeping a watchful eye on me and is really trying to help me in my quest to rediscover myself and why I do the things I do.

I have experienced a turmoil of emotions in recent months. Between the new job that I had but couldn't take, the retirement that was on-again off-again and then not to be at all, and Keenan heading off to college my emotional stability has hardly been in existence.

Imagine my delight when I heard an announcement on K-LOVE, my FAVORITE radio station, about an upcoming webcast titled, "Unglued". Lysa Terkeurst and some of the ladies from K-LOVE will be sitting down to help women like me get a handle on what to do when life's stresses causes us to come unglued. The webcast is scheduled for Thursday, August 23 at 7 o'clock PM Central time.

I know that Lysa has also written a book on the subject. I have read some of her devotional materials and I have REALLY enjoyed it. I am sure that this webcast will be just as good. I only hope that life will cooperate and give me the time to actually listen!

If you are like me and you sometimes feel "unglued", why don't you put it on your calendar and join us? Here is a link to more info on the K-Love website. They even posted a chapter or two from Lysa's book to peak your interest.

Unglued Webcast

Friday, August 17, 2012

D-Day.....24 Hours and Counting

It is hard for me to believe that within 24 hours I will be driving my firstborn off to college. If it were not for the pegasus-size butterflies that are trampling through my stomach or the tears that I keep fighting back, I could possibly forget.
This week something happened that is going to make it a tiny bit easier to send him away. We got back his t-shirt quilt that we had taken to be machine quilted.

As I look at the squares I am reminded of the times that Keenan has spent in service with the 4H Club and the BETA Club. I think back to the days that he spent helping at Second Sunday fitness days when he could have been sleeping and snoring in bed like his peers. All of these things help me to be a bit more certain that he is well on his way to becoming a real life grown up, the thing that all parents dream about.

As he takes this quilt to college with him I hope it will serve as encouragement to him also. I hope that he remembers the leadership roles that have brought him to this place in time and that he continues to develop those as he goes on through college and afterward.

If I had to sum up what I know in my heart about my son, I think the Sidewalk Prophets said it best in their wong "The Words I Would Say".

Be strong in the Lord
And never give up hope
You’re gonna do great things
I already know
God’s got His hand on You
So don’t live life in fear
Forgive and forget
But don’t forget why you’re here
Take your time and pray
These are the words I would say

Sure,I will shed tears; that is part of being a mother, I suppose; but at the same time I know in my gut that this is one of those moments that I have worked hard for the last 18 years. Keenan is ready....... and I ....... Well, I guess that I am GETTING ready.

Wednesday, August 15, 2012

The Week the Women Went

Anybody else catch the premiere of this show last night on Lifetime?

I had seen a trailer introducing the series a few weeks back and decided that I was going to have to check it out. In the hustle and bustle of the first full week of school I almost missed it!

Just in case you don't know anything about it, I will give you a quick synopsis: This is labeled as a social experiment. Women in the town of Yemassee, South Carolina are sent out of town for a week, leaving the men to fend for themselves. The children must be cared for, the businesses must be run, and life must go on. We, the viewers, are allowed to sit back and watch the whole scenario unfold.

BLOGGER ALERT: If you haven't watched it and you intend to, you may want to stop reading at this point. There will probably be some "spoilers" within the next few paragraphs.

In the first episode we are introduced to some of the many townspeople who will likely be affected by this disruption to their normal routines. This includes a single mother, a fire chief who proposes to his girlfriend as she prepares to leave town with the other women, and the fire chief's mother who is none too happy about the impending nuptials.

My husband watched the episode too. (Well..... sort of..... He was sitting in the next room within eyeshot of the television, but far enough away that he didn't have to comment on what was happening.) I'm anxious to see what becomes of these couples. Lifetime is presenting the whole thing in a very lighthearted, fun manner, and even though I know that some of these couples probably won't come through the whole experience unscathed, I don't think the series will cause the uproar that other "Social Experiment" shows like "Kid Nation" did.

If you didn't catch it last night, check your television schedules. I'm pretty sure that this episode will be shown again, so you can catch up on all of the backgrounds of the families before the series continues. It's sure to be an interesting one. After all, the women's departure from town was delayed for two hours due to a storm with heavy lightning. They even threw the word "tornado" around.... I wonder if that was the producer's way of foreshadowing????

Monday, August 13, 2012

Forward into Battle......

This morning I got up and dressed myself, preparing for the first FULL WEEK of the school year. This is usually the one that gets us teachers the most exhausted. Our bodies aren't yet into the routine of five consecutive days in action. Top that off with our first full week of lesson plans, grading papers, after school faculty meetings, and back to school paperwork and this week can really take a toll on a body.

Perhaps that is why, when I was selecting the proper attire for today, I selected a camo colored shirt.

To be fair, when I laughingly mentioned to my daughter that I was wearing camouflage as I prepared to go into the battlegrounds of the first Manic Monday of the school year, she wasted no time in telling me that it was definitely NOT camo! (Being a true fashionista, I suppose I should take her word for it.)

Whatever the case, today was not as bad as I had expected. (I knock on wood as I type that.......) The students were on task, for the most part, the paperwork seemed to flow in at a smaller trickle than it would normally, and my classes ran fairly smoothly. Perhaps, after completing twenty seven years of this I am finally getting into a routine. (One would hope so.....) OR...... Perhaps this is the calm before the storm. Either way, I'm ready. After all, I can always wash my camo "uniform" and hide it away in the closet until I face another battle...........

Uh oh...... I just remembered that tomorrow is my first day of Early Duty. Maybe I should have saved the shirt for THAT......LOL!

Sunday, August 12, 2012

Mixed up Feelings

With back to school this week, I found myself getting rather melancholy. It was so strange to head off to high school with only one child. I felt sentimental as I watched my "baby girl" get ready for her first day of junior year.

Where's the little girl who loved to color with crayons and cuddle with stuffed animals? Now I have a daughter who is fascinated with her college level anatomy and physiology class.

The weekend brought even more emotional highs and lows as my son and I went shopping to get the last few things on his college list. Instead of looking for video games we were looking at desk lamps and small printers.

My one consolation was that, as I listened to Kari talk about her first few days of junior year and Keenan discuss his college classes and upcoming orientation, I could also feel pride mixed in with the "Mommy blues". I can tell that we have done a good job preparing both of them for the challenges that they will face in coming years. They are mature when they need to be, but they can also relax and slip back into that "kid" role when it feels comfortable. Kari keeps her large sock monkey on the bed, and Keenan can find pleasure helping me with a craft project.

 I guess this is what it must feel like when the Mommy bird has to sit by and watch as the baby bird takes wing for the first time: a bit of nervousness about whether their wings are strong enough to hold them up and happiness that they are prepared to try to find their own path.

Wednesday, August 8, 2012

Family Inspiration

Sometimes I find myself doubting the success of marriage in today's society. This past year I have seen couples that I thought would NEVER have problems experience all kinds of issues, with several of them ending in divorce. With next year being my twentieth wedding anniversary I admit that there are times when I feel that things in my own marriage, while happy, can sometimes be a bit "stale". I think it is very possible to get too comfortable in a marriage and to take your mate and their feelings for granted. Maintaining a long and happy marriage isn't easy! Sometimes it helps to have a bit of inspiration from a couple who has weathered the storms of life.

That makes me all the more grateful that I have one of those inspirational couples in my own life. Today is my parents' 50th Wedding anniversary.

Over the years they have been through a lot: loss of jobs, moving across the state away from family, moving back across the state to be with family, car accidents, hospitalization, other accidents, and the deaths of their own parents.

I can remember myself as a youngster, helping them both clean the church that we attended, going each week to sweep, vaccuum, and clean as needed. I can also remember returning to that same church each Sunday morning at their side, to attend Sunday School and church services as a family.

I can remember those hot summer evenings at home, no air conditioning because we couldn't afford it. My father would load us all into the family station wagon, with us children sometimes already dressed in our pajamas. We would get to select our favorite flavors of ice cream and lounge in the back of station wagon, enjoying each cool, sweet drip until it was all gone.

I can remember being at my mother's side as she waited patiently in a hospital emergency room while my father underwent eye surgery after he suffered a fall from a church roof. I can also remember the feeling of despair that I felt when the doctor came out and announced that my father would be blind in one eye. For a man who did construction and electrical wiring for a living I thought this would be a deathblow to his soul. It wasn't. Today, many years later he still does construction from time to time, though it is on a much smaller scale.

Through it all, the one constant has been that the two of them made decisions together and supported each other. Don't get me wrong- they haven't always agreed on everything, but they have manged to achieve that lovely state of compromise when it was needed most.

Today when one of us experiences a problem we can call on them and BOTH of them will come- whether it is a plumbing issue, a needed baby-sitter, or support during a time of crisis. As I sat at their side this weekend, listening to the friendly banter back and forth, it was very clear that the love is still there, 50 years later. My parents stand as a testament to the fact that marriages can last and that "Till death do us part" is still possible. I can only hope that Glenn and I can follow in their example and maintain that same loving, caring attitude and support in our own marriage.

Monday, August 6, 2012

An Olympic Battle---- Won?

No, I'm not talking about one of the track and field events in London or even the water polo matches- which I don't really understand, by the way. I am talking about that intense, never ending battle that I have with my hair.

I haven't had "good" hair for quite a while now, at least 18 years, possibly longer; but the hair that I did have was tolerable. Then last year, as I neared my 48th birthday my hair underwent a drastic change. The texture changed so much that my hairdresser even noticed it, asking, "What have you done to your hair?"

I'm not really sure what caused it. I had been taking prenatal vitamins, not because I needed them... but because a doctor had told me that it would encourage hair growth, something that had slowed down a lot for me. I had been using a flat iron to help style my hair, after years of using a curling iron. I had also been using a different shampoo, one that was advertised as making a visible improvement in hair. The particular brand shall remain nameless just in case it did NOT cause the drastic change in my hair.

Whatever caused it, my hair had begun breaking extensively and was very coarse with no shine. Of course there were also the expected grey hairs that had begun drifting in, particularly at the front and at my natural part. I debated just letting it go, but I am just not ready for that yet. Perhaps later, when I become more comfortable with the idea of aging.

The last twelve months have been filled with experimentation: trying different brands and shades of hair color in an attempt to find one that looked fairly natural, stopping the use of the shampoo that I had been using, trying other shampoos, and eliminating the prenatal vitamins from my daily routine. It seemed like a never ending battle to find something that would help bring my hair back to a "good" state.

Now, I don't want to turn this blog into an advertisement, but I do feel that I can offer a "review" of the products that I have finally decided may just have helped me win this battle of "hair quality".

A month and a half ago I saw an infomercial for Ken Paves "Self Help Hair", a sulfate free shampoo, conditioner, and intensive mask. I debated for a week or so and then decided it was worth a try. I was very skeptical when I placed the order, thinking that I would likely end my membership after the month trial period. As the month went on however, I noticed that my hair felt silkier and was shinier too. When the month did draw to a close I visited my hairdresser to see if she could tell any improvement. She DID!

My favorite piece of the hair care system is the mask. I use it 4 minutes on 4 consecutive days, once a month. Luckily for me, my hair is still fairly short, so I have plenty left over to provide "touch ups" throughout the month too.

This stuff isn't cheap, but it is definitely worth it for me! (That's saying a lot, considering that both of my children think that I am a cheapskate.) I would encourage any woman who is aging and has seen a change in the quality of your hair to consider giving this stuff a try. It just might help you too!

As for the greys...... well..... they are NO MORE, thanks to the Garnier Nutrisse foam hair color, shade 5AM. (I thought it was so ironic that the hair color that most closely matches my natural shade has this number, since I normally wake up on school days at either 5 AM or 5:30 AM.)..... Oh well, I digress....I love the application of the foam hair color. It is so much easier for me to apply than the traditional store bought dyes. The hair color seems to last very well too, probably partially because of the Self Help sulfate free shampoo that I am using.

Now that I have (at least temporarily) won the battle with my hair, I think I may move on to a new battlefield........ Maybe wrinkles?

Friday, August 3, 2012

Final Friday of Summer

The day has finally arrived.... the last Friday of summer break. This is actually the last Friday of the LONGEST summer break I have ever had as a teacher, but that doesn't change the fact that I am not quite ready to return to the classroom.

I think back to the goals that I set for myself at the close of the last school year and I find myself falling short: my house isn't as clean as I intended, I haven't lost those few pounds that I put back on since my last diet (to be honest, I have probably gained another one or two), and I haven't scrapbooked one single layout.

My classroom is clean and tidy, thanks to several short visits over the past couple of weeks; and I have attended the typical 7 days of teacher trainings that were meant to flood my brain with ideas to add sparkle into my lesson plans and routines. Normally at this point I would be a bubbly, energetic instructor just itching to begin filling the brains of my students with literary knowledge. Instead, I find myself feeling a bit empty.

This will be year 28 in the classroom for me. Over that span of time I have taught a little bit of everything and a little bit of every grade level spanning third through eighth. Things have changed a lot in education since I was a beginning teacher. Students have changed a lot. I have changed a lot too. As I prepare for my six classes of students, grades 7 and 8, I find myself being self-analytical.... I am less tolerant of the typical "foolishness" that is prevalent in many of today's middle school students. I am less accepting of a student who CAN do the work, but just chooses NOT TO. On the positive side, I am more flexible about many things. Twenty eight years in the classroom and facing my second round of major school reform have taught me a lot about flexibility and change! Another thing that hasn't changed about me is the reason that I got into this career in the first place: I want to make a difference for children. I want to take that student who doesn't think he or she can be successful and show him or her that EVERYONE can be successful, given time, effort, and attention. I want to take that student who enters my room saying, "I've never read an entire book on my own" and have him or her leave my room with a new-found love for the written word. I want to be a listening ear for that teenage girl who can't seem to talk to anyone at home and just needs to be heard by someone.

Hmmmm.... the more I think about it...... Maybe I AM ready for school to begin again. Maybe I just need to be with my students to really FEEL ready. Maybe the energy that only middle school students exude will help me find my own personal energy.

Wednesday, August 1, 2012

Hello..... Is Anyone Out There?

I know you are out there somewhere- the other women who are like me: nearing 50 years of age, getting ready to send a child off to college, and retirement looming just over the horizon- close enough to catch a glimpse of it, but not near enough to make a run for it.

I find myself at a crossroads- maybe not a crossroads, so much as a point on a timeline: I've put in most of my productive years at work, I've raised one child to college age and another is nearing it, I've spent almost 20 years trying to maintain a happy marriage. Now I stand here looking into the future and I see only a fog covering a large open area. I've never really thought about life AFTER 50 or life AFTER retirement or life AFTER the kids leave.

It seems like many of the things that once brought me pleasure just aren't cutting it anymore. For years I have scrapbooked and crafted, cutting and gluing photos and bits of paper, trying to document the daily happenings of my life. It was my therapy, my release, and my own personal artform. I must be truthful and tell you that I have not completed one page in a scrapbook album this summer. Don't get me wrong, I have tried, but all of my efforts have just seemed too BLAH. I didn't feel that inner joy that I used to get when the pictures and the papers came together in just the right way. I miss that feeling of personal satisfaction that I felt when I completed a project.

I find myself searching, digging inside myself to find the REAL ME, the one who will face the coming decades. That is why I am writing this blog. I want to document my search. I am hoping that there are others out there who will step into this journey with me. Feel free to comment. Support me, chastise me, laugh with me, or comfort me. Just be here to help me rediscover ME.