Friday, November 05, 2010

My sister woke me up on my sleep-in day,
Da Doo Run Run Run, Da Doo Run Run
To tell me 'bout a song from back in the day,
Da Doo Run Run Run, Da Doo Run Run
Ooooh revenge is sweet,
Ooooh next time she sleeps,
I'm gonna wake her up,
Da Doo Run Run Run, Da Doo Run Run!

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

A Day In The Life

Alarm is set for 7:30, but I'm awake long before that. I try to convince myself to go back to sleep while I can, but to no avail. I lay awake thinking of this or that at school that I should do or move or make or file.

8:05 out the door with Flash. This week he has had Science Camp in the morning and now Band Camp in the afternoon. Drop him off at school and return home. Eat a bowl of cereal while I check emails (personal and school) and then get busy on school work. Discover Eli has jumped the fence again while I was eating breakfast. Track down the dog and grit my teeth while cheerfully encouraging him home when all I want to do is wring his neck. Get a load of laundry started. Get back to work writing parent letters, making first-day activities, checking items off my long list of things-to-do while adding just as many as I go. Stop long enough to mow the yard before it gets too sticky hot this afternoon. Run in for the fastest shower known to woman, get dressed, throw my hair up and a hat on and run out the door again.

Pick Flash up at 11:30, bring him home just long enough to eat lunch and head off to his other school for Band Camp by 1. Drop him off at camp, keep driving on out of town to the district where I teach.

Enter classroom and sigh. It's overwhelming every time I go in there. Yesterday I was there for three hours and all I accomplished was opening five paper boxes the retired teacher left behind to discover thousands of copies of various math and writing pages. Sorted all the pages out (I should so take a photo of this) and then found another third grade teacher in the building to come help me determine what to keep, what to save for later and what just needs to be tossed. I had to leave before I could deal with all of that, so it's there waiting for my return this afternoon. Today I have acquired two filing cabinets. I don't know that I'll keep both of them, but I clearly have copies to get in order so they will be useful. I've also taken a more spatially-gifted teacher up on her offer to come help me with my classroom layout this weekend. For now, I'll just try to get things as organized as I can.

Return home and head out to the garden for a quick gander. Find out there's a dozen tomatoes ripe and ready as well as a zucchini, green beans and cucumbers. Leave the cukes, they will just have to wait. Come inside and get the beans snipped and blanched and then tucked into the freezer. Cut up and freeze the zucchini for soups this winter (I already have enough chopped zucchini for all the bread I could want to make this year). Stare at the tomatoes. Check email to find responses from other teachers on edits for my parent and student letters. Get changes made and letters ready to be copied at school tomorrow.

Make sure Flash is getting his Science camp assignment done, and then get him moved on to trumpet practice. Spend the next 45 minutes trying to keep him on task and encouraged when all I want to do is wring his neck for not practicing more this summer. Listen to complaints of how his lip hurts and how he can’t seem to hit the right notes and how he’ll never get this song memorized. Try not to be bad cop, knowing his band director will be all the bad cop he will need. Get a load of laundry moved from the washer to the dryer so I might stand a chance of having clean clothes for the rest of the week.

Decide to deal with the tomatoes. Blanch, skin and pack. Smile at the joy of owning a beautiful new stove that actually works, but notice the kitchen getting quite toasty with just the small pot of boiling water – worry at how hard the a/c is going to have to run once the canner gets going. Work around Flash who is heating up pasta for dinner. Finally get four quarts of tomatoes processing. Clean up mess in kitchen. Realize it’s nearly 9pm and I haven’t eaten dinner. Turn on oven to reheat leftover pizza.

Sit down with Flash to watch a movie (The Book of Eli – I just love this movie!) and keep getting up to go check on the canner. Watch the movie while thinking about all the things I should be doing for school. Try to focus on the movie. Realize I can smell tomatoes, which isn't a good sign. After 50 minutes of processing, pull 4 jars from the canner to discover 2 leaking. Jars are intact, but they didn't seal. Try to contain frustration at all that effort down the drain.

Movie ends at 11, take it back to the movie store before its midnight deadline. Return home still talking with Flash about the movie. Head to bed with head still spinning about my classroom, wishing I could at least get the room set up and arranged and basically done so I could focus on nothing but curriculum for the next three weeks.

Finally fall asleep.

Rinse, repeat.

And you wonder why I’m not blogging more!?

Saturday, July 31, 2010

P.S.

ONE MORE WEEK and Flash will be home!!

All I can say is THANK GOODNESS!!

Blessed

I was picking up the clutter on my bathroom counter, which mainly consists of putting hair ties and clips away in the cabinet and hanging necklaces up when I paused for a moment to be grateful. My dad made me a beautiful necklace holder last year and even came up to intall it for me. It's not overly complicated and has been easily taken for granted this past year, but I paused to appreciate how nice it is to just hang my necklaces up now and not sort through a tangled mess of them.

I came down stairs and turned off the under-cabinet light that I leave on while I sleep. Again, I had to stop and smile and think of Dad, who took it upon himself to remedy the problem of poor lighting left by the previous homeowners and spent hours working through a beautiful solution for me.

I put away some dishes from the previous night and noticed the trash was full. I carried the bag out the garage and stood to admire the potting table he made this spring. While I love having a place for my flower pots and tools, I love the memory of him working with Flash to build this for me. The act itself means as much, if not more than the product they created together.

Before I came back in, I picked up the hose and watered the plants on the deck. The spigot only works because my dad, Bear and Jules spent time trying to figure out why I didn't get much water pressure and finally installing new spigots outside for me. They work wonderfully now, and have made gardening so much easier for me all summer long.

When I came back inside, I sat in the living room to check my email, feet propped up on the coffee table Dad built. End tables of his creation sit on either side of the sofa and around the room are plant stands built by his hands. There are bookshelves and a headboard in Flash's room a hope chest upstairs, and shelves still waiting to be hung that he has crafted over the years with love to help make first my childhood room, then my dorm room and eventually my house a home.

I am full of gratitude, today, Dad. Not just for the gifts you create for me, but for the countless hours of thought, planning and craftsmanship that has gone into each one. I love not only the functionality of each piece, but the time and energy that you poured into each one.

I love you, too.
Going out to watch the game with friends only to have the fun friends ditch and go elsewhere: Frustrating.

Watching the Red Sox lose to the Tigers by one run when they had 2 men on in the bottom of the 9th: Frustrating.

Staying up till 4am talking to a boy who not only makes you laugh about the 'wussification of America' but proves he'll have no part in it by kissing you with confidence at the end of the evening: Priceless.

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

Leavin' the Light On

Two cats, one dog and no one was suspicious.

I had the TV on (What?! I know, I don't normally ever watch TV, but Flash is gone and it's just too darn quiet in the house!) or I would have noticed the sound sooner. It finally got to where I had to mute the TV as it just sounded far too close by to be a neighbor, but I couldn't place the sound. It's one of those slow-motion moments in your life, when you mute the TV, turn your head thinking the sound is coming from outside the window and realize....it's coming from....the lamp.

I have an upright lamp in the corner of my living room and it didn't take but one super-slow-mo-moment to realize there was a CREATURE in the lamp. Yeah. One split-second view of feet in a shadow and I very quickly realized this wasn't a bug.

The lamp was off, I rarely even use it. And now there's a creature. And the creature is trying to escape.

I thought over my options. 1) cover the lamp. Let the thing die and then deal with it. Sounded like a great idea to me. Dead creatures in the house are much better for me to deal with than live ones. 2) take the lamp outside. Great idea, but what if jostling the lamp causes the creature to secure its footing and it JUMPS OUT AT ME. Yeah, #2 was not really an option. 3) get someone else to take the lamp outside. Ahhh, great idea!

I called Jules. I swear it's moments like these that should make her appreciate her husband. I think all it does is provide her with fodder for years. In between offering me bits of advice (none of which did I especially like - especially the "get-close-enough-to-put-a-pillowcase-over-the-lamp idea) I swear I could hear her laughing at me. I finally said I was going to find someone to come save me. While Jules would love to be helpful (read that: she'd love to volunteer Bear to save me) she lives 30 minutes from me.

I called six friends from church. NO ONE WAS HOME.

I saw a neighbor out in their lawn. I shut Eli in Flash's room and headed out to my neighbor's.

Me to neighbor I've never met: "Hi! Um, can I ask a favor?"

Neighbor: "Um, sure?"

Me: "Um, yeah. See, I have some sort of a critter in an upright lamp in my living room, and I'm really kind of freaked out by the whole thing. Could you come help me remove it?"

Now, I have to interject how unfair this really was of me. Guy standing innocently standing in his lawn with his wife and I walk up and put him in a spot where to say no means we're all going to think you're a wuss. He comes over. At this point, I've put the pizza board over the lamp (if I had returned to find the creature OUT of the lamp, I would have had to sell my house and move that instant). He picks up the lamp, holds the board in place and carries it to the front lawn for me. (I was courteous enough to hold the cord and open the door as well as to warn the man that if for some reason the creature escaped, I would let out a blood-curdling scream. Just so he was aware.)

The MOMENT the lamp is out in the daylight it's very easy to see this winged creature trying to claw its way out of my lamp. "It's a bat!" I yelp. I know, Captian Obvious Award goes to me, but seriously, this confirmation is NOT reassuring. While clearly remarkably unlikely, a frog I could deal with. A bat? NO NO NO NO NO.

We set the lamp on the lawn and he goes to get something to fetch the bat out with (I really don't think this part amused him at all. But he did put on his brave face and make an attempt to be my temporary hero). I am struck by a huge pang of guilt. I have had all the shots for rabies. If anyone should be reaching into a light to get a stupid wayward bat, it should be me. If this 2eighbor gets bitten by the bat, I will never forgive myself. However, while he was next door fetching his bat-removal gear, the bat climbed up and flew out and I did, very nearly scream. But I can deal with bats outside. It's flying things INside that I can.not.deal.with.

I profusely thanked my neighbor and willl be baking cookies tomorrow to further express my extreme gratitude. I called Jules and told her the creature issue was resolved. George was disappointed that he didn't get to come see it. I said he could move in until Flash got back home. She did her best to convince me it was a fluke, but I have to admit, she wasn't all that convincing.

Just to be safe, I think I'll sleep with a light on. That is, after I get done revising my wish-list for a husband. Item #417: must deal with all rodents. God-speed, wherever you are husband o' mine, God-speed.

Friday, July 09, 2010

For Hillary's Sake

(and it's not lost on me that you of all people are the one who doesn't know this yet - )

The big news is that I am officially a third grade teacher.

I will have my very own classroom this fall in the district I've been working in the past couple of years.

I couldn't be more excited, anxious, nervous, thrilled or stressed! LOL

This road has been a long, circuitious route to this point, 17 years after I graduated with a degree in Elementary Education, but I wouldn't trade my years at home with Flash or my work experience for anything.

(So bring on the advice, Hillary!)

Weeds

I've been watering the weeds.

My front flower bed has been all but forgotten - the middle child of my lawn. Hand-me-down plants that didn't seem to go anywhere else ended up here, weeded only once the garden has been carefully tended to and the lawn precisely mowed, I get to this flower bed once upon a never. But with all good intentions, I water it from time to time thinking I'll get the ground all soft and the next day I will pull the weeds out with ease.

The road to hell, they say, is paved....

I went out the front door this afternoon to check the mail and was astonished by my front bed. I can't even call it a flower bed. It was a weed bed. My poor flowers. I waited for the afternoon to settle into the early cool of evening and I went out with my bucket and trowel to remedy my self-created situation.


I was on my hands in knees in the dirt, listening to the bird on the wire scold me, when I realized how many times I had watered these weeds and never returned to pull them. I paused for a moment when I realized the weeds in my life I've been watering. How many times have I said I'll change this habit or stop that one? How many times, with road-paving intentions have I laid plans in my head to make a change tomorrow, in the morning, on Monday or next week, but never "got around to it"?

My life, I fear, looks in some ways much like my weed bed. It's hard to see the fruits.


I was out there for awhile digging and raking and pulling and weeding when I noticed my sad puppy eyeing me out the front door. I went out back and got his leash and brought him out where he lay in the shade of the tree while I worked. And it comforted me. I had company now. I wasn't out here alone. The bird stopped scolding me and it felt like a peaceful way to spend my evening.

I don't need to weed out my life alone, either. I have an ever-present support system just waiting on me - waiting to encourage - literally to give me the courage - waiting to provide me with the resources, the willpower, the stamina...whatever I need, I know it will be provided.

The bed was daunting when I began, but before dark I had the front complete. I know in several places I didn't get all the roots of the weeds - it might look thorough now, but it will need vigilance and dedication to keep it this way. I've raked up the soil, trying to disturb any of the weed's roots from flourishing again, but I know it's just a temporary effort. I still have more work to do on both side beds, and it seems now that I'm on the look out for weeds, I see them everywhere in my yard. So much work to do...

Before I went in for the night, I turned on the sprinkler and gave my flowers a long refreshing drink. It was nice to stand back and see all the blossoms and flowers this time.


Jesus told them another parable: "The kingdom of heaven is like a man who sowed good seed in his field. But while everyone was sleeping, his enemy came and sowed weeds among the wheat, and went away. When the wheat sprouted and formed heads, then the weeds also appeared. "The owner's servants came to him and said, 'Sir, didn't you sow good seed in your field? Where then did the weeds come from?' 'An enemy did this,' he replied. Matt 13:24-28

Thursday, July 08, 2010

I Keep Forgetting

That some of you out there don't know me on Facebook. Which is really all fine and dandy except that I keep posting things on FB and NOT here and then I get these sweet little emails saying...."Did you fall off the earth?" and I realize that you're not at all up to speed over here in Bloggerland.

Sigh.

So, there's the fact that Jacob is gone (again - you know, it's summer). One month until he returns. I can do it.

So, the garden. Yeah, um...I'm starting to panic.

And then there's the big news that I never seemed to reveal (how rude was that?!)

So, here's what I propose (and you really get no vote in the matter, so hush. Yes, Mig, you in the back, that means you.) I'm going to post over the next few days HERE and catch you up. Cause that's how nice I am. But I'm not going to do it yet today.

Sorry.

But it's coming!

Sunday, June 27, 2010

The Dispute

I see this as a fence.
Eli thinks it's just a hurdle.

Friday, June 25, 2010

My Son Went To Chicago and All I Got Was...

Flash: Hello from the Big Honking Rainstorm that may or may not be headed your way! Biiiiig honking storm.

Mom: Nice! Keep it in Illinois, would ya?

Flash: We’re still being clobbered. A tree branch dropped by to say hi, but so far so good.

Mom: Don't feel any need to send it this way. You can keep it in Chicago.

Flash: I thought you might want it so I gift-wrapped it with thunder and a nice lightning show too!

Mom: Oh yeah, nice radar pics. Thanks.

Flash: Just a little something to let you know I was thinking of you. Glad you enjoyed it. Lemme know if there’s anything else you have your eye on.

Mom: That is so sweet of you! You didn’t need to send more damaging winds. Really. Thanks for the lack of Internet and intermittent TV that came with your gift!

Flash: It’s the gift that keeps on giving! Only the best for my loving mother!



My son went to Chicago and all I got was this crappy rainstorm.

Monday, June 21, 2010

Happy Boys

It's not every day you invite your ex-husband from several states away to spend the night. The boys are off to explore Chicago - a hometown to Flash's dad, J, and so it worked out to just have J stop by here to pick up Flash en route. I won't say it didn't feel a little odd at times, but I'm the one who moved far away and if I can help make it easier (and cheaper) for Flash to spend time with his dad, well, then, I will. A special Father's Day indeed.
Who can deny those smiles? Look out Chi-town, here comes trouble!

My Eighth Grade Graduate

I moved you from an upper-middle class Pennsylvania neighborhood elementary school, to a rough-around-the-edges urban middle school. You've confessed to holding back the truth about your first day of sixth grade for fear I'd never forgive myself. You took on Freshman and Sophomore English as a seventh grader and while we had our weekly struggles, you came out with flying colors. You took on Freshman and Sophmore Alegebra and Junior and Senior English as an eighth grader and passed with all A's. You found a passion for film-making and editing, where your creativity and sense of humor ran free and wild. You made friends that are supportive, encouraging and competitive. You've been First Chair trumpet your whole musical life thus far. You are involved in church youth group and have made good friends there as well. You've survived your first girlfriend without heartache or resentment. You've been accepted to a challenging high school program that will push you in math, science and computers without the reward of weighted grades. You are socially confident, friendly and generous.
I am so very proud of you, Jacob.
May high school be all that you dream it to be and more.

But Who's Counting?

I have 2 days until I start teaching summer school...

...57 days until Flash returns...

...and 78 days until I start teaching third grade.

Which means I have a LOT to do and no one to help me do it.

I Want It Back

I have just lost two hours of my life trying with all my might to post a LANDSCAPE photograph under my header - cause, ya know, I've seen that and I sooo dig it, but no. Can't do it. It is probably the simplest of things but I cannot figure it out. So you'll have to do with my new photo feature on the right, the first photo of which I'm totally not happy with because it's really a much better photo in its LANDSCAPE entirety but Blogger doesn't like that.

Ugh.

Saturday, June 19, 2010

Not The Answer She Had In Mind

Last month, at an inservice meeting for our new literacy curriculum, our instructor asked us what the following words have in common:


illegal irregular immature


My answer? They all describe men I've dated.


What?! That was incorrect? Perhaps so, but it's still true.

Wednesday, June 16, 2010

Do You Know What Really Stinks?

When you have amazingly great news that you can't share.

:)/:(

Sunday, June 13, 2010

A Typical Errand Run with Flash

Walking to the car in the garage (try to follow in your best English accent):

Flash: "Okay, so this is how it's going to go down. You're going to stay in the car and Sam and I are going in. When we get back out gun it."

Me: "Sam? You're taking Sam? After the last time?"

Flash: "What's wrong with Sam?"

Me: "I don't have time to list all the things wrong with Sam. But after the last time, I thought we agreed, no more Sam."

Flash: "But he's good with a gun!"

Me: "Sam? Good with a gun? That's precisely the problem! Sam isn't good with a gun at all!"

Flash: "I didn't say a real gun. I gave him a pellet gun this time."

Me: "How is a pellet gun going to help us?"

Flash: "Well, Sam doesn't actually have to shoot anybody, he just has to look as though he might."

Me: "Yes, this is exactly what we told Sam to do last time. Have you forgotten about the last time?"

Flash: "Of course I haven't forgotten. Have you forgotten what it was like before we had Sam?"

After getting movies, and returning to our car:

Flash: "Okay, you're right, Sam was a bad idea."

Me: "How many times are we going to have to go through this? I don't want Sam involved. Everytime we use Sam we come out empty handed!"

Flash: "It wasn't Sam's fault this time!"

Me: "Wasn't Sam's fault?! He stood right in the doorway under the video surveillance with his pellet gun and threatened the cashier! How is that NOT Sam's fault?"

Flash: "Okay, he's not exactly perfect, but you have to admit, he's pretty good for a dog."

Me: "Unless there's a squirrel or cat - just like last time."

Flash: "Well, yes, we know this about Sam. But the jobs that don't involve squirrels or cats are surely better with Sam involved."

Me: "Except you just can't predict which jobs might involve a squirrel or cat."

After getting snacks at the grocery store, Flash returns to the car, saying:

Flash: "Go! Hurry! They're on my tail! Like literally, for Sam!"

Me: "But you didn't get what we came for!"

Flash: "Yes I did, it's right here in my hand!"

Me: "I didn't say get Fluff, I said, 'get the STUFF!'"

Flash: "They didn't have stuff, so I got fluff! Besides, it's cheap and we're on a budget!"

Me: "We're not on a budget! We're trying to steal from them! We don't want Fluff! We needed the stuff!"

Flash: "It was either Fluff or jail, fluff or jail, I like Fluff. Besides, you know what Sam's like in jail..."


and so it goes. Each and every time we head to the car lately. I tell you, who has conversations like this with their teen?! (And why oh why do I?!)

Thursday, June 10, 2010

"Hey Mom? I wanna try skydiving!"

"What on earth made you think of that just now, Flash?"

"I thought of it when I jumped off the ledge just now."

"Jumping off the ledge isn't anything like skydiving, Flash."

"The only difference is the time you hit the ground, Mom."

"Point taken, Flash."

Wednesday, May 12, 2010

Why I Call Him Flash, Reason #412

"Hey, Flash! Check out this book Stacy just sent me! Read the title!"

"Ella Minnow Pea? Where have I heard that before? I swear I know that from someplace. 'Ella Minnow Pea'...?"

"Um, Flash? L, M, N, O, P...?"

"Oh, right. That's it."

A Godsidence

I cannot begin to articulate how badly my day stunk. One of those days where despite the fact that I've been covering for a co-worker (my boss) who is out on medical leave (for the past many months) without any added benefit, today was a day of pointing fingers in my very specific direction. Without cause.

So yeah, a feel-good kind of a why-can't-I-just-quit-my-job kind of a day.

It's all because of this new literacy curriculum we're learning this year - curriculum I really enjoy and love and believe in. I'm sure it's not without its faults, but in general, I believe that giving children the tools necessary to decode our compicated language is a step in the right direction.

So, I sat through a day-long inservice where we were supposed to be covering new material and instead...well, it just was ugly and not fun at all.

So I arrive home looking forward to my once-a-week dinner to myself (while Flash is at youth group, I enjoy a little solitude) trying to shake the stress of this day and wishing that I could be working with a team of enthusiastic teachers on this new curriculum when I spy a box by my back door. The box we all love - the one that says it's from Amazon, the heaven of all boxed surprises!

I told Flash he had a package (his birthday was a week ago - what, I haven't blogged about that?!?) and then saw my name on the label. I immediately squealed and said, "It's from Stacy! It's from Stacy!" 'cause I know my dear, amazing friend, Stacy has this amazing ability to know exactly what to say and do at exactly the moment I need her to say or do those things. She is full of grace and generosity with word, deed and spirit and can transform a difficult moment in my life into a blessing just by her perspective. In short, I adore her, and I KNOW she is an angel that God has placed in my life.

The box contained two books. One that is what appears to be, a delightful tale that has to do with language and letters.

Do you see what I mean? Just as I was wishing for SOMEONE to appreciate our language and the joy of learning it - it is Stacy to my rescue. Saying here, read this book alongside me so we can talk about it!

I don't have the words to articulate my gratitude, today, Stace. You are an amazing gift in my life - one that you may never truly understand the magnitude of. I love you, too!!

Thursday, May 06, 2010

For Those Who Think It's a Cake Walk

I have a profile on Plenty of Fish.com, which is a free internet dating site. I refuse to pay to meet someone online (I think it's a lame way to meet people, but since I'm not meeting them any other way...) so there it is.

Just so you marrieds have an idea of what it's like on the other side of the fence, I thought I would share a day in my life.

I get an email. An email that notifies me of mail at POF. I get home and check my POF inbox. There's mail from some guy I haven't corresponded with previously.

Step One: read his profile. Even before I read the email he sent, I want an idea of who sent this. His profile mentions things like, "in search of a family oriented, well educated, fun loving woman..." "I enjoy spending time on Sundays watching football or playing with my kids", blah, blah blah. But what really catches my eye is this line, "if we do not mack good chat and feel it gooding good on the date than it will not work'''' or if we see it all hot,chat is good. than we will go there." Um, what?!?!

Yeah, so being that well-educated woman, I'm a little concerned. I decide that it doesn't matter what his email says, he'll get a polite, "I don't think we're a good match" line.

His email reads, "come to your area on the 15th for my football game. look at my profile and my wecan meet that sat night or not the wab page in in my profile.. hopw you been?"

Yeah, so about that...I send my polite but firm rejection, wondering what on earth I do to deserve this. I get a reply that's more entertaining than the rest of this... "i see that is ok i am dateing 2 woman now full time. got to love a good 3way gf bf gf there moveing in this week. andi have been friend for 10 yr with both of the woman move in work good .. thank you for your time and bye"

Well, now that we got that cleared up...

Hug your spouse. Appreciate the things s/he does even if they drive you nuts sometimes. When you say your prayers tonight be grateful you're not out here in the dating world.

Sigh.

Saturday, May 01, 2010

The Silver Maple

I was talking to a boy last night, one I've talked to a couple of times and plan to meet for coffee later on today (Coffee= The New First Date). He was talking about Ephesians 5, and the desire he has to replicate his parent's marriage with the sort described in those verses.

I was sitting out on my deck this morning watching the grey clouds blow over thinking about the conversation we had last night and praying about this man. It's a difficult balance to want to get excited (again) for a first meeting, but trying to remain somewhat unattached to that hope (again) in case it doesn't amount to anything (again). You can't make a good first impression if you're a cynic, but allowing yourself to believe that this might be the last first date is too much in the other direction.
In any case, I was looking at my yard and allowing myself to feel satisfied and pleased with the progress we've been making. Of course, such thinking also leads to plans for more projects and changes, but that has a certain joy attached to it as well. Eventually, my gaze fell upon the old silver maple in the yard.

I noticed how the trunk is huge and solid at the base, for the first six feet or so, but with a visible line that makes me wonder if it originated as one tree, or if it was two that fused themselves together. From there, however, it splits into two solid and substantial branches. Seeing all the limbs from each coming together to make the tree balanced made me think of the relationship this boy was speaking of in Ephesians. Two people, fused together in faith, solidly one unit and yet individual with balance and purpose and most of all, a common direction to be heaven-bound.


Maybe this boy isn't the one. None have been so far. But I'm grateful, today, for his shared desire for such a relationship. And for the beautiful reminder of that in my own backyard.

Bliss!


I was beginning to wonder if they were coming up or not...


Potatoes!

Never Saw it Coming

We have a new literacy curriculum this year that is teaching reading from a refreshingly new perspective. It gives the students the knowledge (and therefore the power) to figure out words for themselves (imagine being a first grader stuck on the word "bicycle" and having a teacher say, "sound it out!") I work with small groups of at-risk students as well as filling in for a couple of teachers while they are out on maternity leave (since their subs aren't trained in the new curriculum, I get to fill in - which I love!)

It was during my half hour with the first grade class that it happened. I had given them ten spelling words so I could see just how much they have absorbed and what aspects we still need to review and practice. A particularly challenging task for this age is to understand why some words have double letters in them, something this class is getting very good at explaning (which I could not have done well six months ago!)

I had collected their papers and we were going through the words on the board one by one when I reached such a word. "Alex? Do you want to try to spell 'tennis'?" Alex was eager to give it a try and I was so delighted when he told me "t-e-n-n-i-s". I followed-up by asking Alex how he knew that "tennis" needed to have two n's in the middle.

(I have to interject here for those of you who, like me earlier this year, don't know why tennis has two n's. Doubling letters is how the designers of our language (and other languages) created a way for us to ensure that a reader of a word would know we meant the 'e' to be a short 'e' and not a long 'e'. Think of the difference between something like 'tigger' and 'tiger' for example. )

Alex, confident of his perfect answer replies, "Because if it didn't have two n's, it would say, 'tenis'!"

Which of course, created an eruption of giggles in the classroom - a word far too similar to 'penis'.

We all recovered nicely and moved right along to "simple" without much of a glitch. Maybe the little giggle over 'tenis' will help them all to remember the rule for double letters!

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

Joy

Onions are coming!

Growing Up Fast


Today





All his favorites. Forbidden for the next two years. Today, I let him indulge.
Tomorrow the braces come on.

Sunday, March 28, 2010

Flash is gone for the week. Which means:

a) I was able to grocery shop with a basket instead of a cart, check out in the 12 items or less aisle and get out of the market for $22.

b) The food I bought at the market will actually stay in the house until I get around to eating it.

c) The house is far too quiet.

In regards to c), I was on hulu.com looking for something to entertain me this evening and found some silly show I'd never heard of. I start the pilot episode (thinking 24 episodes should keep me busy for a few days, right?) and I realize IT'S THAT GUY!! You know the one, the guy with the absolutely amazing smile from Catch and Release?! The amazing rebel boy that she falls in love with?! Oh, I love that man's smile!!

Okay, so...

d) I've got to go. I've got a boy to drool over. And no one here to tell me that I cannot use the word "yummy" to describe a man.

Friday, March 26, 2010

Growing Together

"Time to work in the garden?"

"Yep."

"All right. What's our goal going to be for tonight? I say, let's make it all the way to the corner."

"All the way to the corner? That's more than just optimistic, that's crazy!"

"I know, but we can do it!"

"Okay, if you say so!"

...

"My arms are going to fall off."

"You can do it! Keep going!"

...

"Seriously? The corner?"

"Come on, it's not that far!"

"Not that far? You're not the one digging up each and very square inch of sod out here!"

"No, but I'm the one hauling every single square inch of sod off to the pile!"

"True."

...

"I don't think I am going to make it. It's getting really cold out here and I'm exhausted!"

"We don't have that much further to go! Come on! Don't make me go all 'bootcamp' on you!"

"Don't make me stab this weeding tool in your eye."

...

"Seriously? Are you sure we can't just stop here? I'm freezing!"

"Nope! We're so close! Come on!! Just a little bit further!!"

...

"I'm so cold and tired."

"I know, but after this, you can take a long hot shower while I get dinner together. We're having steaks tonight!"

...

"How long do you think the car thing is going to take tomorrow night?"

"Why?"

"Because I'm thinking, if we can get back home by 6ish, we could get that last chunk of the sod done tomorrow."

"Are you crazy?"

"It'd be nice to have it all done."

"Well, yes, but it's going to be cold!"

"So, that'll motivate us to move a little faster!"

"You are nuts."

...

"There. That's it. We reached the corner. I'm going in to thaw now."

"We did it!! Woohoo!! Good job!! Go take a hot shower and I'll get dinner started!"

...

It was later, when I was curled up under my blanket on the couch, after filling my belly with delicious steak and watching a great movie together, that I thanked Flash. It's his comments that are in bold, afterall, not mine. Not that I was as cynical or quite as pessimistic as it reads, but he was certainly the cheerleader and the one who pushed on this third night of digging up sod. I told him how proud I was of him. Of his work ethic out there in the yard. That he really impressed me by not grumbling once this week, even though I know this garden isn't his passion. I told him how much it touched me that when I ran upstairs to change my clothes, he got right outside so he could get a "head start" on me. He has worked his tail off hauling the sod to the pile in five gallon buckets.

This garden has been a dream of mine for a very very long time. But I had no idea that in addition to the amazing veggies and flowers that would grow there, so would my relationship with my boy. In just the few days we've been out there this week, covered in dirt, cold to the bone, my boy and I have laughed together, teased each other, talked about touchy, difficult topics. He doesn't get paid for helping me in the garden. He didn't get a shorter list of chores for the week in exchange. He's been out there because he loves me.

And I made certain he knew how precious that gift was to me.

Very precious indeed.

Saturday, March 13, 2010

Safe

He did it more than any other that I've dated. Perhaps because the situation just lent itself to it more often, but I think in part, because he knew it meant the world to me.

It was a simple gesture, one that might get overlooked after years in a relationship, but it always caught me off-guard; not the gesture itself, but the way it made me feel. He would come up behind me and wrap his arms around me and just stand there, holding me, without saying a word. I remember it most often as I was in the kitchen cooking, but he would do it while we waited on a table at a restaurant, too. The moment I felt his arms around me, I always had to stop whatever it was that I was doing. The emotion it caused in me was so strong, I wanted to savor it, to relish it, to close my eyes and take it all in. I would lean my head back against him and exhale.

He never said a word.

He didn't need to. I could hear him loud and clear. There wasn't a bone in my body that didn't understand his message, that didn't understand his intention.

"I've got you," the embrace said. "Go ahead and fall."

It's no simple or common thing to feel that safe. There aren't many times in my life that I have felt that secure with someone else. But in that moment, if only sometimes in that moment, I felt safer than I ever had. I could exhale. Truly. I could stand and feel arms around me - arms willing to hold me up, if need be. To hold me tight, to hold me back, to just hold. In that enclosure, I felt free.

It wasn't just a promise of security from being alone. It wasn't just something that said, "I'm here." It was a moment that told me that I didn't have to take care of it all. I didn't have to be everything. "I've got you," meant he had whatever it was that I might need. If that was nothing more than a hug, he was there. If that meant I needed someone to make some serious decisions with me, he was there.

I've thought about that a lot recently; maybe just because it doesn't happen anymore. But I have come to realize that the embrace was a far different experience for him. There's no real way in that sort of embrace for me to have wrapped my arms similarly around him. Even if I tried to replicate it, our size difference would have made it an awkward experience instead of an enveloping one. For him, perhaps, it filled the masculine desire to provide, to give safety, to give security, to give strength. Perhaps just my head falling back against him was enough for him to feel as cared for. I'll never really know.

But of the things I miss most about being in a serious relationship, this is high on the list.

Tuesday, March 09, 2010

As If The Evening Hadn't Been Emotional Enough Already

We were at the house of a dear friend the other night, for my church small group. It had been a tough discussion and my friend and I had sat afterwards talking (and crying) through some of the tough stuff I was struggling with, not the the least of which involved my desire for someone wonderful to come into our lives. Flash had spent the evening corrupting the minds of small children, namely my friend's two youngest, two boys aged four and two.

As we were leaving, my friend thanked Flash for coming along and playing with the little ones. It's no small thing to her that he comes along to help with the kids when the other teenage boys get together at another house for the evening. Flash shook off the compliment with a typical teenage, "no problem," and then stopped to say to her how he envied her six year old son.

Caught off guard, my friend looked at Flash quizzically, wondering how it could be that Flash might say such when it was obviously her six year old who is completely enraptured with Flash.

"You're jealous of K?" she asked Flash.

"Absolutely." He replied in all seriousness. "I'm envious because K has a little brother."

From a Movie, but Feels so True

"I've got lots of people to do something with. I just don't have anyone to do nothing with."

Sigh.

Saturday, March 06, 2010

Concert #2

I don't have any pictures. That was my sister's job. (Note: I didn't even take my own camera to the McGraw concert, we just used Jacob's little one. I didn't want to spend the night obsessed with pics...I just wanted to savor the moment in real time!) But let me just say that while I could do without Trace Adkins altogether, Martina McBride can sing like no one else can. She is talented beyond measure, beautiful inside and out and put on a terrific show! I'm so glad we got free tickets (and upgraded once we got there, even!) and that my sister joined me for the evening! What a great time!

In a Word

Rocked.


Yummy.


Awesome. (Lady A)

Thrilled.

*As a side note: During the concert, Tim sat with stool and guitar to play a few tunes. He chatted with the crowd while he rolled his cuffs so they wouldn't interfere with the guitar playing. Only he couldn't get his left cuff button undone. He finally said, "Can someone help me with this?" and a girl jumped up on stage faster than you could blink and he signaled her over and she unbuttoned his cuff for him so he could roll up his shirt sleeve. The girl sitting next to Flash and I about lost her mind at this. All I can say is this girl will forever get to say that she unbuttoned Tim McGraw's shirt! What a claim to fame!! LOL

Wednesday, March 03, 2010

Published With Permission

We were just chatting after school while I checked email and graded some papers. I didn't even realize we were dancing around an issue until he said, "I'll tell you at dinner." I stopped and looked at Flash trying to discern if the topic was going to be a good one or not. "Why not just tell me now?" I asked. "Nope. I've got it all planned out. It will have to wait for dinner." I tried to get him to budge, but clearly the topic was off-limits until I had food on the table.

I got up and went to the kitchen to cook.

When there was food in front of him, Flash said with a coy smile, "HALT!" - our phrase for Highs and Lows and Thankfulness at the table. I gave him a "mom-look" and said my low of the day was that I had to wait to hear whatever Flash's great news was. We both chuckled. Flash's low had something to do with Science (I think. It's all a little fuzzy now.)

We moved right on to highs as my brain began thinking through to possibilities. I had already figured out that since it was Tuesday and Tuesdays meant English gifted class with the Object of His Affection, I had no doubt the news had something to do with The Girl. The smile on his face confirmed it. I gave him a look.

"Well, it's official, Mom. I've kissed my first girl. And it was way better than how you said your first kiss with a boy was."

"What did you do, kiss her in class?!" I asked, almost afraid to know the answer.

"No! We all went to the WMU library today in class to do research for our conspiracy-theory papers and so..."

"...you took her back into the stacks and kissed her. I see how you work."

Flash laughed. He was full of confidence and courage and he was officially wearing the shield of nothing-can-harm-me-because-a-girl-digs-me. It was cute. I have to admit.

I know this means the world to Flash. It's a milestone he's been anxiously hoping for and he's just tickled to have finally arrived.

I don't expect for one minute that I'll be privvy to many more of such milestones (and I'm thankful for that). But it was a special and sweet moment with my boy. I hope it's a long while before his heart gets broken.

Tuesday, March 02, 2010

Well, Scratch has been scratched.

Sigh.

It's the right thing, but the hard thing. Faith just isn't something I will compromise on and we were just too far apart in that area to make anything work. I would rather be alone for all the right reasons than with someone for all the wrong ones (at least most days).

This news will be perhaps most devastating to TB (you remember TB?) who was quite convinced from my previous blog posts that Scratch and I were soon to wed. (?!?!?) Sorry to disappoint, TB. You're the only one who is soon to wed. Feel free to stop reading my blog at any point. I'm sure your fiancee would appreciate it. I know I would.

On a related note, (to dating, NOT to TB) I think I'm going to take dating lessons from Flash. So far, he has wowed his girl with...sock puppets and now he is constructing an alien-blocking tin foil cap for the class he shares with this girl. I'm not sure which scares me more, the fact that he is unabashedly creating these things without any fear of embarrassment in front of the object of his affection or the fact that after having seen (and perhaps smelled) his sock puppets (and soon his conspiracy-theory hat), she still digs my boy.

I'll have to get back to you on which one it is. I'm a little busy tonight making a hat and puppets to impress my next suitor...

Friday, February 26, 2010

Can I Just Say...

...that for as much as Flash l-o-v-e-s his new trumpet music from "Pirates of the Caribbean" that came complete with a full orchestra accompaniment disc which can only be played at top volume on the surround sound (sorry neighbors; Thanks, God, for the house!) Eli, my poor, howling puppy is not nearly so amused. Every evening I'm entertained by Flash's increasing abilities on his trumpet and Eli's ongoing antics.

Flash is uber-eager to get in the house and get the stereo cranked and his trumpet out and the dog just looks at me like, "Seriously, can't you make him stop?"

As for me, I love it all. It's great to hear Flash playing and working hard to get the notes and rhythyms he doesn't know and I get to watch the puppy lay his head back and howl...and howl....and howl. Even when he's hiding under the coffee table and he hits his head. (And maybe even more so then.)

On The Way Home

On a cold, blustery, winter day, with snow blowing all around and the wind chill, well, chilly...I thought it was prudent to stop and get gas on the way home. Besides, Flash was in the car with me which meant I didn't even have to get out at the pump.

While the boy froze, generously helped his mother, I was in the warm car listening to the radio. I'm a dial flipper, so the fact that the announcer was talking and I hadn't changed stations yet is a miracle in itself. He said something about being down the street handing out Birthday Bash tickets. Nothing I was interested in. But then he added, "We also have Martina McBride tickets for next Thursday night."

When Flash got back in the car and we drove off towards home, I asked if he would have any interest in seeing Martina in concert. He quickly shook his head and gave me one of those teenage looks that said, "If my mom likes the singer, I don't, duh." And so I dropped it.

For a block or two.

Then I picked up my cell and called my sister. "Would you have any interest in seeing Martina McBride in concert and could you be free next Thursday?" I asked. While she flipped her calendar and told me how she had just been talking about what a good concert that would be that morning with George at the bus stop, I turned my car around and headed back to where the man had said he was handing out tickets. Flash made it perfectly clear that not only was he NOT going to this concert with me if I did get tickets, but he was NOT going to be the one to go and ask some dude for tickets.

She said she'd love to go if I got tickets and so I parked the car and left it running while Flash shook he head at his crazy amazing mother. I approached the two men standing outside the restaurant cautiously. "Do you perchance have....um...tickets?" I asked, afraid I was looking like a fool. There was no radio van, no indication that there was anyone there with anything to give away. Just a stretch limosine parked in front. The guys smiled at me and said, "Yep." I said, "Martina tickets?" knowing I wasn't much interested in the Birthday Bash. "Yep!" The first guy answered and headed to the limo. He returned with two tickets to the concert and three cd's, telling me I could also choose a CD if I wanted to.

I wasn't sure what CD. The only artist I knew was Miranda Lambert, and while the guy said he had heard it was a good one, Miranda is always p.o'ed at men, and so I chose a Josh Thompson CD instead.

I returned to my car and sent a text to my sister, "I have two tickets!"

So, tomorrow night, Flash and I are off to see Tim McGraw and Lady Antebellum. Next Thursday my sister and I will head back to see Martina McBride and Trace Atikins - for free! What a great week!!

All this AND a tank of gas I didn't pump!

Friday, February 19, 2010

T-Shirt Slogan of the Day

You all know how much I just love those t-shirts slapped onto our children advertising sibling rivalry, bad manners and behaviors and other ideas I think we ought to reconsider as parents. Today's was equally bad: "If I throw a stick, will you go away?"

Really?

I'm not sure what worries me more: that some parent thought this was funny and bought it, or that there are enough people who think this clever that the shirt was mass produced in the first place.

Sigh.

Thursday, February 18, 2010

Spoiled

Tuesday evening I had stroganoff with mushrooms for dinner with asparagus (with hollandaise sauce!) and artichoke dip - all from scratch by Scratch! Last night we had dinner at church with a couple different delicious entree choices. Tonight is KICK'N and Flash is making goulash, spinach salad and bread.

I could really get used to this!

Monday, February 15, 2010

So Now That I've Said That Much

Let me just clarify...

Scratch.

Is nothing at all like the sort of men I usually date and perhaps that's exactly why he's captured my heart in a way no other has in a very long time. He's remarkably hard-working (on active duty and proud of it), he's honest, funny, intelligent (far more so than I would have given a career military man credit for, but trust me, when it comes to WMD, he's your man!) Maybe I can best summarize how I feel about him by sharing this:

The other night, Scratch came over after work to join Flash and I for family pizza night and wii bowling (exciting, I know, but it was). Scratch jumped right in, cutting up peppers and mushrooms as we introduced him to a long-standing tradition of making your own pizza. While I finished preparations, rolling out the individual pizza crusts, Flash and Scratch had an ongoing conversation about Bond movies. What was the best Bond location? (Russia) Who was the best bond actor (Sean Connery, of course) What was the best Bond gadget...car, blah, blah, I admit it, it all went over my head at that point. I do recall the boys, one in camo uniform sipping a Guiness at my table, the other in a t-shirt standing at the counter, eating nibbles of ingredients, had quite the laugh about the time Bond confused Q's sub sandwich with a new gadget. In any case, it was only a matter of time, and yet, my heart skipped a beat when he said it. The boy in camo fatigues and dog tags said with a wink in his voice (if ever that was possible), "Best Bond girl!" and without skipping a beat, Flash jumped right in with his vote.

I'd be lying if I said that was just a typical boy moment. You see, in my lifetime, I don't recall EVER witnessing such a moment with my son. I have never been present when he's had a "typical male conversation" with another man. I don't ever remember anyone so casually, so naturally engaging my boy in a conversation that was appropriate for his age AND gender quite like Scratch had just done.

I know, I know, to those of you who are married with kids, maybe it's just something you take for granted. But, in Flash's life, he doesn't have a male role model who teases about women, who is willing to say things, perhaps inappropriate in some sense and yet, exactly what is going through my teen's mind.

I turned around and looked at Scratch. For a moment, I think he thought I was going to scold him, although it wouldn't have mattered, he just winked and smiled at me, pleased as punch with himself. But if he thought I was upset, he was wrong. I wanted to hug him, I wanted to scream THANK YOU! I wanted to somehow convey to him the significance of what he had just done.

I tried, later, to tell Scratch, and maybe, on some level he understands. But it's just who Scratch is, so he didn't see it as any big deal. Don't get me wrong, he doesn't for a minute think that parenting (even step-parenting) is all about having fun and being a "buddy". When given the opportunity to ask me a "hard question", Scratch wanted to know if I would allow a step-parent to really parent my boy, or if I was just looking for a spouse.

Suffice it to say, Scratch and I are on the same page there.

The difficulty right now is that for all that Scratch has seen of this world, which is to say, a lot, and not many of the good things, he's a little skeptical on the "loving God" theory on life. He was raised in a Christian home and has a mother that keeps praying for him. He's not opposed to the idea, but opposes those that push their faith. We've had many conversations on the topic; he knows it is no small thing to me and that if we take any steps further it will only be if we're on the same page. But for now, for what it is today, Scratch has sure brought some joy into this little family of ours.

Busted

So I've been seeing this boy.

Oh, what. You wanted details before now? Yeah, well, tough.

We haven't really been seeing each other on any official terms, except that we're, well, seeing each other. There's just complications and whatnot that prevent me from declaring it official. But let's just say that for non-daters? We're really good at dating.

So, this boy, Scratch. (my affectionate term for the boy who seems to perfect the art when we shoot pool together), well, he and I have been hanging out and spending time with the boy and all and well, last night he invited me over to watch a movie. I made sure Flash was okay with that and headed over.

Whenever I'm out of the house, Flash likes to check in from time to time. Just to let me know he's doing fine (no alien invasions at the house) and I think, more importantly, to keep tabs on when I'm coming home (so the music gets turned down and off and he appears to be in bed studying upon my arrival).

In any case, while at Scratch's last evening, Flash sent me a text letting me know he was still doing fine. I sent a text back letting him know we had decided upon watching a sci-fi movie, "Blade Runner", one I thought I remembered Flash talking about before.

Shortly after the text I sent, comes a response from Flash, "You'll hate the movie. It's not your type at all."

Now, let me interject with this: do not for one minute think I had lost my senses and was actually going to subject myself to watching some sci-fi movie like "Blade Runner". You all know me far better than that! I simply knew that the choice of movie didn't matter in the least as I was probably going to spend much of the movie-watching time finding out if Scratch was a good kisser or not, and so the actual movie choice didn't matter to me in the slightest. But, I shared it with Flash thinking at least he might enjoy the fact that on some level, his mom had HEARD "Blade Runner", but I digress...ahem...

About a half hour into the kiss-a-thon, I mean, movie-thon, I get another text from Flash. "Did you get to the part where he gives the rooftop soliloquy yet?"

Now, I have objections to this message in particular for some very specific reasons: a) use of the word 'soliloquy' should be outlawed in text messages as a violation of "presumptuous, pompous arrogance misuse of a word"; b) I've already mentioned that I wasn't exactly watching the movie, so now there's that dilemma and c) if my date can't understand the meaning of the text, my child ought not to be permitted to send it.

I held up my phone to Scratch. "Um, have we gotten to this part of the movie yet?" I asked, realizing that he had seen as little as I had on this particular occasion, but hoping his prior knowledge might at least allow me to send a reasonable response back.

"Just say yes," was Scratch's definitive answer. I'm not altogether certain if that was his response to the text, or the overall philosophy for the evening together, but again, digression...

In either case, his answer turned out to be a bad one.

"I thought the soliloquy was at the end, Mom," was the reply a few very short moments later.

Um, yeah. So, few things suck worse than realizing that you're 38 years old and you've been totally busted by your teenager for making out when you were supposedly watching a movie.

I blame it all on Scratch. As it turns out, he is a remarkably good kisser.

So I blame him. That and the complete misuse of big vocabulary words in text messages.