Friday, October 29, 2010

Photo Friday: Flower Shower

On my last day at work, my wonderful students and their families gave me a "flower shower." They all brought in a single stem, a small bouquet, or a small plant for me. I had two very large (think plastic gallon size pitcher) bouquets to take home and enjoy as well as a book of very sweet letters and pictures from my students. See what I mean about them making it hard to leave?

The flowers were a diverse bunch. There were purple mums, blue, green, and a never-before-seen-before-by-my-eyes purple hydrangea, yellow roses, pink roses, lavender roses, red roses, yellow spider mums, sunflowers, stargazer lillies, purple irises, some decorative berries, and a couple of pretty flowers that I cannot name. There was also an orchid stem. I was able to have five different arrangements of flowers from that lot. My home smelled wonderful and looked lovely.

Having only admired orchids from afar, because I fear that they are far too temperamental to withstand the neglect they would receive from me, I was delighted to have one in my home that I could photograph. I had a great time experimenting with my camera and admiring the beauty and intricacy of this flower.

All that remains of the lovely bouquets now are the pictures I took. Although when I walk into my bedroom there is a hint of the scent lily even now and it makes my heart happy.

Happy Friday!

Thursday, October 28, 2010

Twelve Things I Love About You

1. Your sense of humor is well-honed. The fact that it so closely matches mine only makes things better. We get each other. We play off of each other. We like to make each other laugh.

2. I love that you are a peacemaker. You are quick to apologize, even though I know sometimes you hate that it's almost always you that says "I'm sorry" first. You don't like discord. You never have. And even though you are quick to apologize and smooth things over, I know that you will not be a pushover, because you are stubborn--which can be a good thing if used well--but being a peacemaker is a great trait to have. And you have it in spades, my boy.

3. I love your smiling hazel eyes. I love how your eyes change color depending on what you are wearing and the mood you are in. I adore being able to see your smile in your eyes before I see it anywhere else on your face. Even as a baby with a pacifier in your mouth, we knew when you were smiling because it showed in your eyes. Those eyes are lady-killers and they have slain me.

4. You are passionate. When you love something, you love it all the way. When you were little, it was trains you were crazy over. Now it is football. You breathe it the way the rest of us breathe air. You love the Colts and root them on, but last year, you became devoted to the Steelers as well, and there is no swaying you.

I joke that it's your way of hedging your bets come Superbowl time. When you love something--trains, football, video games, Gary Paulson books, my burgers on the grill--you LOVE with your whole heart.

5. I love our shared love of books. I love that sometimes, we are sitting in the same room, contentedly reading and off in our own worlds. I love that when you are reading a new book, you want to tell me all about it. I love that when I am reading a new book, you want to hear all about it. I love seeing the light coming under your closed bedroom door and knowing that you are reading yourself to sleep.

6. You are driven. You work hard and you have high expectations for yourself. Your father and I have tried very hard to let you know that as long as you are doing your best, that is enough for us. I'm not sure it's enough for you. I know that you will succeed at whatever you put your mind to. I pray that you will grant yourself some leniency and allow yourself some room to know that your best doesn't have to be perfect.

7. I love your modesty. You are smart. You work hard. You play hard. You never boast about yourself. You are quick to give others credit and praise.

8. When we are in an unpleasant situation, when things aren't looking so great, you find ways to make the best of it. You encourage others. You find something funny to laugh about. You think of ways to help. You are a good guy to have around in those situations.

9. I love your squealy, crackly-voiced laugh when you are being tickled. And you are very ticklish. I love that you still let me tickle you and hear that laughter.

10. I love that you are the only one in the family that likes green beans. And I really love that you don't want fresh ones or cooked ones. You want them cold, out of a can. I try to keep a can in the pantry, because I never know when you'll request them. (Blecch!)

11. I am enjoying seeing the young man you are becoming. You are maturing in body, mind, and spirit and it is a delight to behold. I get full-body shivers when I catch a glimpse of the man you will be someday.

12. I love that you are my very own. Of all the children that God could have entrusted to my care, He gave me you. And for that I am blessed beyond measure.

Happy 12th birthday, son. You are my favorite James.

My apologies for the lateness of this post, but your birthday was full of football and friends and scaring your mother with the possibility of you having cracked your ribs. So this didn't get published in time. Instead, you are my Love Thursday post for the week and my 200th post. And since your ribs are fine and I have forgiven you for scaring me, I hope that you will forgive me. ;)

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Letters To The Past: What I Wish I Could Tell My 23 Year Old Self

Dear Sara,

You know what? You look good. You look so much better than you think you do. Trust me--your 33 year old self will be jealous.

Trust yourself. You know how to do your job. It's hard, but you can do it. And those kids that you are working with, well, you don't know the impact that you are having on them. You may never know. But you are definitely impacting them in a positive way. Don't get discouraged.

On the other hand, don't be in such a rush. You're only 23 years old. In the span of an average life, that's not very old. Work will always be there. Responsibilities will always be there. Yes, you should "be responsible," but now is the safest time in your life to take some chances and make some mistakes. Take time for new things: eat things that you never have before, learn something new, buy something frivolous, travel to places you've always wanted to go--you may never have another chance.

Along the same vein, be more open to making new friends. Don't be so shy. Be BOLD! What have you got to lose?

Relish your independence. It won't be long before others are fully dependent on you.

Call your grandparents often. Time moves faster than you think it does. You will never regret spending time connecting with them.

Oh. One more thing. That "hippie" shirt? That's a bad idea. You might want to rethink that one. Because, trust me, someday you will be explaining your fashion choices to people who already think that you don't have a clue. Don't give them ammunition.

You are doing great. Good things are in store for you. Take some leaps.


Monday, October 25, 2010

The First Day Of The Rest...

Today is the first day of the rest of my unemployed life. Or something like that. Remember how I was overwhelmed? After mulling and stewing and praying and crying and seeking advice and deciding and backing out, I finally got things straight and made the decision: it was time to quit work and stay at home again.

It was a painful decision because that's not who I am. I am not someone who undertakes a big responsibility and then backs out. I am not a person who thinks that a job is just a job. That's not how I was raised and that's not how I'm raising my children.


I was so torn. I didn't feel as if I was doing great work either with my family or at school. My part-time job took up more time than I'd estimated--not through any extra expectations on the part of the people I worked with, but because that is the nature of part-time work. I just couldn't catch up. I was feeling overwhelmed, anxious, and even a little bit resentful and that's not a good way to live.


Last Tuesday was my last day. And I have to say, if you are ever going to quit a job, my old workplace is the place to do it. I was met with hugs and gifts and love and wonderful words of support. It made me want to take it all back. Well, almost.

Actually, as my kids had fall break on Wednesday, Thursday, and Friday, I hadn't really had the chance to think about the relief of not having to battle it all. But last night, knowing that I wouldn't be going in today, knowing that I would be home? Well, it felt like I'd lost 300 pounds from my shoulders and that feels pretty good.

Now I have to order my week. There are things to do around here. Things like catch up on the blog--there was a birthday on the weekend and I need to get stuff posted for it. I need to read utter crap that has no literary value whatsoever. And I need to do it while consuming large quantities of wine, cheese, and chocolate. I need to visit craft stores and Goodwill because they are starting to forget who I am. I need to catch up on all the shows that I've got sitting in the queue on my DVR and have been to tired to watch. Too tired to watch TV? Now that's some serious tired, my friends! I need to play with the dumb dog and take her for long walks. I need to start running again. I need to clean out my pantry and refrigerator because I keep grabbing empty or near-empty containers that my offspring leave in them. I swear once I do that, both will be nearly bare. I need to do an actual with-a-list grocery run, not just an oh-crap-I'm-out-of-____-and-I-should-pick-up-a-couple-of-_____-as-well grocery run. I need to dive into the closets and drawers in my kids' rooms and clear them out. I need to paint furniture for James' room. I need to paint Maggie's room. I need to paint Sean's room. I need to paint the kids' bathroom. I need to clean the blinds. The garden needs to be winterized. My bedroom needs a deep cleaning. The planning desk in the kitchen needs to be relieved of the 65 metric tons of crap. I need to go to the eye doctor. I need to get my mammogram. I need to schedule a visit to the vet for the dumb dog.

Actually, I think I might need an assistant. It would only be part-time work and I couldn't pay them much. In fact, I can't pay anything. But I'm fun to be around and I would totally share my wine, chocolate, and cheese. Any takers?

Friday, October 15, 2010

She's No Boots. In Fact, I'm Not Sure She's Really A Dog

When I was growing up, we had a dog named Boots. She hated squirrels. We had a big silver maple tree in the back yard and the squirrels used to sit up in that tree and taunt her. She'd sit at the bottom of the tree and bark and carry on at those squirrels.

Sometimes, when we were in the house, we would look at Boots and say "Get that squirrel!" and she would run barking to the window or door. The thing is, we didn't even have to say those words to make her crazy. We could say something like "Hit that girl!" or "Knit and purl!" and she would lose her mind. This was big entertainment for us.

Now I have Tilly. Of all the dogs I've ever owned, Tilly is the most, um...special. I would never say this in front of her for fear of giving her a complex, but I don't think she's the sharpest knife in the drawer. Okay. You caught me. I would totally say it in front of her and she would look at me with a blank stare because what she would be hearing is "Tilly blah, blah, blah. Tilly blah, blah."

The other day when I was out in the back yard with her, she was sniffing along the treeline and we heard a frantic chirruping at us. I was looking around trying to spy what was chattering at us and suddenly I saw this about three feet away:

It was decidedly unhappy with our presence and it was not holding back. I kept saying "Squirrel! Tilly! Squirrel!" and pointing it out to her, but she just couldn't find it. She was sniffing excitedly on the ground but when I would point up to the tree rat squirrel, she just looked at me with a quizzical expression. There was no doubt that she was excited; her ears were pricked up, her tail was up and wagging, she was on full alert. She just didn't know what she was on alert for.

Meanwhile, Mr. Squirrel finished bawling me out and then scampered up the tree and jumped from branch to branch, tree to tree. Tilly, nose to the ground, sniffed in circles and missed it all.

I swear I heard that squirrel laughing at her as he scampered away. If she were still here, Boots would disavow her as a member of the species. Shameful, really.

Dumb dog.

Thursday, October 14, 2010

I Love...

...brightly colored smiley face cookies that are as big as my 6 year old's face.

...when, after several weeks of trying, friends are finally able to get together to celebrate and catch up with each others lives.

...starting a new book and finding that I cannot put it down because it's so compelling.

...watching my 11 year old son wrestle the dog.

...the bright smell of oranges and how it permeates the lunchroom when a student peels one during lunch.

...the satisfying crunching sound as I walk through leaves on the ground. If the leaves are so deep they bury my feet up to my ankles I am really happy. If I can send them flying skyward as I walk I get stupidly happy.

...the satisfaction I get from crossing a job off a list. Even if the list is as long as my arm and I know that I'll never finish, just crossing something off feels like a small accomplishment.

...hearing my kids yell "Daddy!!" from different locations around the house when my husband walks in after a trip.

...talking with my brothers on the phone. It doesn't happen very often, but it makes me feel happy and connected.

...watching the dog's eyes widen in anticipation when I hold my hand claw-like in front of her and say in an evil voice "You can't. Escape. The CLAW!!" Then watching her leap as I bring the "claw" toward her.

... the crazy-dog play time that comes about after a round or two of "The Claw."

...the coolness of my pillow and the softness of my bed when I first lay down at night.

What do you love?

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

Coming Up For Air

I spent a few hours this weekend--it only felt like days--long, torturous days--cleaning out my 14 year old daughter's room. We are not finished. We made an excellent dent in the closet. And by "dent" I mean we came up with 4 garbage bags for Goodwill. To be fair, some of those clothes were hand-me-downs from my college age niece. She used to give my daughter her castoffs as "dress up" clothes. Now they are just clothes. Regular old "I can wear this! And this! And OMGEESH! This is legit!" clothes. Maggie's taste is a bit different from her older cousin's so naturally some of the clothes get the "thumbs down" and thus get sent to Goodwill. Except some of these clothes had been sitting in her closet for, um, awhile. Ahem.

What?!?! I've been busy, remember? Just barely keeping my head above water! How was I supposed to get into that seventh circle of hell known as my child's closet to clean it knowing that it would be a Project? (Notice the capital "P"?)

The good news is that her closet is organized and there is actually a floor. True story! I've seen it with my own two eyes. The bad news is that I can say with 99% metaphysical certitude that it will not stay that way.

I had to quit the project early to go to James' football game. The game in which he didn't get to play due to last week's concussion. (Yes, it's official. My son was concussed. He missed a few days of school and all of practice last week as well as the game. He is back to himself now and will start hitting again on Wednesday. None too soon in my book. He gets grumpy when he doesn't get to play.) The game that was played at 2:30 on Sunday afternoon. When it was 88 degrees. IN OCTOBER. Let's not even talk about how it happened to fall right in the middle of the Colts game. Thank goodness for DVRs.

Um...I digress...(Surprise, right? Shut up.)

Maggie wants her room painted. We've been promising since we moved in. Which was two years ago. Her room is very juvenile and she's been waiting patiently until we finished some other "must do" projects around this not so old house. By the by, did you catch the word "patiently" in the last sentence? I'm totally lying. If you now anything at all about teenage girls, you know that patience--delayed gratification, in particular--is not something they have a lot of. Hm. Maybe it's just my teenage girl. Correct me if I'm wrong. Anyway! We cannot paint until the black hole that is her room gets cleaned up and sorted out.

It's been delightful. She tosses three things in a pile, puts one thing on a shelf and then gets sidetracked by old pictures. Then she lays down on her bed and moans "UGH!! This is soooooo boring! I'm tired! Are we almost through?!?" And as I look around the room at the 635 metric tons of detritus of a teenage girl's life I think "UGH! This is sooooooo gross! Are we almost through??!?"

But what I say is "NO! And we won't get through when you have the attention span of a meth-addled feral goat! Get up! MOVEMOVEMOVE!!"

And then ten minutes later I spy my watch and say "Oh, would you look at the time! I've got to get to your brother's game. Darn! We'll have to finish later!"

I know that I'll pay the piper and have to get back in there later. But for now, I'm enjoying not being trapped in an over-crowded, smelly, sweet-cracker-sandwiches-how-long-has-this-drinking-glass-with-left-over-and-now-dried-something-been-in-this-room kind of room.

I'm only coming up for air. I'll have to dive back in there soon so the painting can start. But, man alive! Does the air out here smell good!

Friday, October 8, 2010

Photo Friday: Fang-k Goodness It's Friday!

This post brought to you by Candy Corn. It's not just for compulsive eating anymore!

Sorry for the poor quality of this photo. I was laughing when I took it, so the camera jiggled. I tried to fix it through editing, but I'm not sure how much that helped. Still, you get the idea. Candy corn fangs are funny, folks.

Thursday, October 7, 2010

I Love...

...peanut M&Ms.

...the way a child's face lights up when he or she begins to understand a concept. gifts to people. I really love it when it's a gift I've made with my own hands.

...sleeping in a cool, dark room. I look forward to doing more of it soon.

...looking at other people's photographs.

...watching football with my family. I love it more when it's cool enough to snuggle up under a blanket and have a fire. If we decide to have "noshes" for dinner instead of me fixing it? Well that's 'bout near heaven.

...when my teenage daughter wants me to listen to a song that she likes. I don't always like it, but I always feel privileged that she wants to share it with me.

...walking through the kitchen and seeing a fort set up and seeing this underneath:

(that's Mary, reading a children's Bible.)

What do you love?

Wednesday, October 6, 2010


The students were recapping their Bible story for a new student.

Student: There were these 12 spies and they went to spy on the Promised Land.

Teacher: And what was the name of the Promised Land?

Student: Oh! I know! The land of Canine!!

Suddenly I was imagining the spies coming back to report not giants and grapes but very large dogs and large clusters of doggy bones. Made my day.


Driving in the car with Mary, we passed by a pasture with a horse in it.

Mary: Wow! Did you see that horse?

Me: You know, my granny rode a horse to school everyday.

Mary: WHAT?!?! I never get to ride a horse to school!

Me: Well, you have a car. When my granny was a little girl like you, she didn't have a car.

Mary: She should have gone to the car store.

Me: There weren't any car stores, honey. Nobody had cars. That's why she rode a horse.

Mary: Can we get rid of our car so I can ride a horse?

Me: No.

Mary: Ugh. That's so unfair.

Someday I'll tell her how my granny used to pick cotton. Somehow I don't think she'll have the same response...

Monday, October 4, 2010


I have been just barely keeping my head above water these days. Working 5 days a week is a lot harder and more than I bargained for. I just can't seem to keep up. My husband travels weekly for work. Two of my boys are playing football. I have four kids in four different schools. I have been battling The Crud for 6 weeks now. Although I feel better, I am still hacking up a lung. Maggie and Patrick have come down with it as well (Maggie missed 4 days of school last week--so much homework to make up!!) and now Mary is starting to cough. I cleaned my house this week for the first time in about six weeks. I was afraid we were going to wind up on one of those reality shows that show people's really dirty houses and send in a team to intervene. You think I'm kidding, but I think one of my crazy neighbors would totally turn me in. In short, I am overwhelmed.

I had good motivation to clean up. My parents were coming for the weekend and I didn't want my mother to think she had failed in my raising. She raised me better than to be a pig and live in utter filth. I didn't want her to see the truth--that we are indeed, pigs and living in utter filth. Sigh...

My mom, God love her, did somewhere near 432 loads of laundry in the 48 hours she was here. I only helped her with two. My dad provided support in other ways; he laughed at my jokes and let my daughter do this:

Is there a cooler grandpa anywhere? No. No, there is not.

My folks came to watch Sean's game on Saturday and James' game on Sunday. I am happy to report that both teams were victorious. Sean got in on a couple of good tackles and had some good blocks. James also made his way into the backfield and caused some grief for the other team's offense and he held off some seriously big dudes on the line. Really--there were THREE triple stripers and two double stripers on the other team. (If a boy is over a certain weight he gets a stripe and cannot run the ball.) I think one of them may have driven himself to the game. While shaving his beard. And registering for the draft. I kid. But those boys were BIG and a couple of them could really move. Still, our boys managed to dominate, which was a nice change over last weekend. I told my sons that they'd better win their games since their grandparents would be there to watch. I threatened them with no dessert for the rest of their lives if they lost. Do you think they believed me?

Anyway, it was nice to have my parents here. I felt my shoulders come down from around my ears for the first time in weeks. They may regret coming, however, as our house sounds like TB ward. At least they won't get Whooping Cough.*

Oh yes. I almost forgot. James tried very hard to give me a heart attack. He was injured in the last minute of the game. He was in the backfield trying to make a diving tackle and was kicked in the head. It rang his bell. He lay there face down trying to get up and looking dazed. I sat on the sidelines next to my mom while we alternately said "Get up. Get up James!" Soon three coaches were on the field and rolling him over. Then they were easing his helmet off and I was trying not to hyperventilate. After a few minutes they helped him off the field. My beloved was running the chains and my dad was standing on that side of the field with him. When my mom could stand it no longer, she called my dad on his cell and made him find out what was going on.

The coaches gave him The Concussion Questionnaire (seriously-- a list of questions to help decide if a player has been concussed. [I love that word. Not it's implications, but the word is a good one.]) He met only one of the criteria--although once we got home he complained about dizziness and being sensitive to light--so we took him home and settled him in with an Advil and low stimuli. He seems to be doing just fine now. But seriously, after an injured knee in the preseason and now this, I am stating here for the record that he has exceeded his quota of Mother-Scaring Moments.

So here it is, Monday, and I am staring down the barrel of another loaded week. I am not sure exactly how I'm going to make it through. I'm not really sure I want to try. I am feeling overwhelmed. But the pint of Ben and Jerry's I have hidden in my freezer may just get cracked open and help me to feel less so.

On the upside, at least I don't have to do laundry. For a day anyway.

*Maggie was tested for Whooping Cough. It was ruled out, thank goodness. This "old" disease has made a comeback around these parts and while my children have all been vaccinated, they can still get a milder from of the disease. If she had tested positive, our entire family would have had to be treated. I'm not disappointed that we won't all be getting dosed with antibiotics, but I sure wish we could find something to get us over The Crud once and for all.