family, parenting

It’s Hard

Marriage is hard. There I said it.

Forget the movies of all happy moments, cheery smiles, and love music. Sure there are bits of that, most would agree. But there are also times of no talking, uncertainty, hurt feelings, and distrust. Why?

Because, marriage is a continuous learning curve! If it’s not, hmm, seems boring.

Sure, we might argue over who loaded the dishwasher wrong. Or why one didn’t follow me the loosely knit, not written in stone, parenting agreement. Or perhaps, why did you do that? I cannot believe you said this.

If we didn’t have these moments, how would we continue to go as a couple? How could we learn more deeply about each other? How would I discover more reasons why I love him?

Is it hard? Hell yeah! Is it stressful? Of course! Then why?!?!

Simply put, because without this marriage and hurdles, I wouldn’t have grown into the person I am today. Those rough patches, the stress, the tears, are what bring us closer and help us dig deeper. Together.

Remember that the next time you see someone on social media talking about Mr Fabulous or amazing Mrs Perfect or kissy kissy face blah blah blah.

That’s not reality, that’s a false faced love bug. Don’t get envious, don’t follow. Stay your course. Because real love is the arguing over who left the van windows open when rain was forecast, wondering why you let the kids eat stew for breakfast, or whose fault it was that one missed an appointment. And if you throw kids into the mix. A new set of marriage pressures, responsibilities, and a new kind of love to share.

It’s how you get through these moments, that’s where the love is. The real heart of marriage.

Dig your heels in and hold on, that is marriage.

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parenting, Uncategorized

An Almost Missed Moment

Driving to the youngest’s field trip to the zoo, I envisioned a day spent with his friends and a time for me to connect with other parents. Upon getting off the bus, my son shared his plans; a solo day, a day alone, no friends, no moms. I longfully glanced over at the moms and dads and kids venturing off together, envious of their shared time together.

But then something magical happened. My son wrapped me his arms around me and announced that I smelled good. Afterwards he stared up at me, then announced it was the best mama date ever. And we hadn’t even looked at any animals yet!

What happened next sealed the deal. He grabbed my hand. Yep in public. With classmates around.

We ventured off on our own path, own adventure, occasionally seeing friends, but it was his time. His agenda.

Our plan was to have an early dinner afterwards. When I heard of others heading to a nearby Mexican restaurant, I attempted to tag along. He asked to think about it. Later he said no, I want hibachi, sushi, and only you.

What did we do? We ended our time with a hibachi table and chef to ourselves, many laughs, and lots of moments that would have been missed if I didn’t stop and listen.

Uncategorized

Life is a Jar of Rocks

Some say life is a highway; road that winds through calm, quaint areas leading to roads that blast through mountains and past life moments.

That’s where I’ve been stuck, on this coiling motherhood path.

A much needed teaching position change, an increase in family activities, and well, kids in general.  Life has been like a meat and three plate; exhilarating with sides of exhausting, exciting, and essentially fast.  2 years without a post?!

Reading and writing and cooking, my jar fillers.  Without them, my jar of life rocks, seems full, in reality, it’s just sand and pebbles.  My highway left me focusing on life’s sand and pebbles, both of which are less than stable and non-fulfilling.  My rocks, I need to get back to my rocks.

Some say put your feet in sand to feel better, I’m focusing on becoming a rock collector.

 

family, parenting

Slowing Life Down

Pick up. Drop off. Dinner. Homework. Bedtime routine.  Repeat, repeat, repeat.  Leaving parents to crash into the engulfing couch for an hour or two of meaningless tube time.

Over Christmas break, we found ourselves relaxed, hunched over the dining table perplexed with an old past time, a puzzle.  Now after seeing each little one nestled in for dreamy visions, we pounce at the chance to twist and turn pieces until alignment is made.  Life has slowed and calm hearts are seeping back in.  The mister now steals away moments to gaze at the puzzle, hoping for a piece to float into place.    I love seeing his contentment and hear the calm in his spirit.  #slowinglifedown
  

education, family, special education

A New Year – A Confessional of sorts

 I am not Catholic, so I’m not sure how this whole confession thing works but I’ll give it a shot. Or maybe it’s like attending an AA meeting, “hi I’m Jules and It’s been 314 days since my last blog post”. Whew, I feel…mildly relieved and somewhat disappointed. Why the break? Words over those missing months never seemed to unjumble, time sped away, and well, I took a break.

My focus turned to growing myself as an educator and learner.  During this time, I developed a new vision of a learner for myself and my students.  Excited I launched into pet projects, volunteered on interesting committees, and searched endlessly for a big “aha” moment to bring me back the passion that I seemed to lack.  What I found more than anything was stress, a longing for when teaching was more fun less paper driven, and through it all, my self-made mountain to the teaching promised land of high fives and power leader thumbs up, dead ended.  Instead the mountain became Mount Everest and I was/am low on oxygen.  And the view is the same.

When I made the tough decision to let blogging fall behind as I focused on this taxing professional goal, I lost a bit of myself.  Writing had become a sanctuary for vexing ideas, and I was lost.  My free time, if having three kids allows for it, was spent working on a district chat, increasing numbers in a volunteer student group, starting a makerspace group, growing my educational community; becoming a better teacher. 

While the “thanks Ms Z”, sly high schooler smile, or seeing a face light up in Makerspace is fulfilling and can turn gray days to sunny times, I need to make some changes that give me some time to rejuvenate.  Perhaps saying a few more no’s to others and adding more me time will part the writing clouds and cause words of wonder to rain upon me.

Like a soprano practicing to hit the elusive high notes, I find myself rehearsing the word no.  Currently it’s pianissimo.  With confidence, crescendo will be around the corner.  Then I can change the tune to a bit more me, me, me, me.  Sounds harmonious, right?

   

Current students who make my everyday.
  
Makerspace cuties lighting up holiday cards.
  
  
Peer-to-peer program, watching students support each other.
 

education, special education

Teaching – A Journey of Sorts

Teaching, a family of sorts, has ranks in my top 5 favorite things.  The connection to our youth, educating, nurturing of young minds, and the development of learners has been a daily part of my last 17 years in education.  I love the journey that students and I travel in our four years together.

In recent years, my room has transitioned into a haven of sorts.  Besides learning and teaching each other, we laugh, cry, support, and uplift.  Students see this space and our department, Special Education, as a family.  Sure every family has ups and downs, problems and causes for celebrations.  What family also has, is a bond.  Our department has created this safe space through a bond of trust.  Not a day passes without a student sharing fears, tears, or laughs.  Not an hour slips by without a face just popping up or a quick email to say hi.  Not a week trickles past without one of us having a conversation about life, the future, and “the plan”.  Students are on this education journey and in most ways, we are tour guides.

We lead them around the curriculum, hoping they soak in the knowledge.  We show them the better paths for exploration, but allow self-direction and exploration.  Like the old saying goes, “we can lead them to the water, but cannot force them to drink”.  I have witnessed incredible personal growth, determination, and learning come from our shared students.  Our department is a home for many souls looking for a caring face, some tough love, a welcomed ear, or just a place away from the high school daily storm.  This haven, it’s what keeps me excited about education, searching for new techniques, and ready for each day.

I am not just a classroom teacher for these students.  I am mom.  An advisor.  A counselor.  A cheerleader.  And much more.  Special education has my heart. I love the smaller class sizes, the journey from rambunctious freshmen to independent seniors, working weaknesses into strengths, and together, this small core group, seeing each other through great growth.

Education for me is creating a safe haven for failure and growth.  One cannot have the growth and success without stumbles, failure, along the way.  After four years, together my students and I go through a lot of wonderful learning.  About life, education, family, friends, and everything in between.

Now that may change.  My educational vision is being challenged, perhaps changed.  I am a classroom teacher, that’s where my heart lies.  Never have I visioned my role in education as a layover, a place for students to pop in and out for minutes of support.  A room for students to drop in and gain academic support and head off.  I love to teach, plain and simple.  I love having a classroom full of learners and together seeing each other through pathways of understanding, acceptance, and life.  Education, special education specifically, has always been about that journey.

What do I do if my idea of education, my career, my heart is being called to change?  Forced to reexamine why I am in special education, I sit and think.  Think and ponder.  Ponder and be still.   And still, that’s where I find myself remembering the why, the why I went into special education.

The why?  That’s simple, it’s the journey.  Excuse me while I go back to researching ways to reach and teach this wonderful population.  They are why I love teaching.

education, small town living, special education

Better Than a Blue Ribbon

Each morning a small group gathers outside my classroom door waiting for the key to unlock their home away from home. While I stow away my winter gear, a few wander about, turning on lights and checking the temp. We chat about last night’s events, the latest flick (even though I’m clueless unless it’s a Dreamworks or Disney production), newest drama run down, mostly about life. This group keeps me centered in a lot of areas. Usually I’m reminded that my hair is disheveled…perhaps oohs about my jewelry…a mention that my mascara is smeared…an occasional compliment on the outfit, or random remark about my overall “look”. They check in before lunch incase I’m needing a tea or a little lunch pick me up. For most, we will grow together as an educational family over the 4-5 years of high school.

Amongst this group is a bubbly, sweet lady. My colleague and I are her pushing her to meet and surpass many family obstacles. The first to go to college, not get pregnant at 18, and to get a career beyond minimum wage; she can do it, we have faith in her. Today it was my day to learn from her. Outside her friends and secure special education class, she’s quiet, shy, and watcher instead of her usual leader role. This day, she set her nerves aside and read aloud to her general education class a poem written about me. Better than a blue ribbon, national award, or administrative thumbs up is the honest words of a teenager. Here are Miss A’s wonderful words. This deserves a frame.

Sometimes Mrs. Ziemelis
can be overzealous.
She is very short, in height,
and still very delight.
From her glasses to her dark brown hair,
from the beautiful jewelry that she bares.
She is like no other,
but a wonderful mother.
The fun of her personality,
and she has mentality.
The smile on that face,
can never be replaced.
From what she teaches,
is what she preaches.
From the helping hand,
to the smiles that stands.
Mrs. Ziemelis’s beauty
can be fruity.

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Here is Miss A hanging out with my youngest at a Christmas gathering. She’s a sweetie!