Category Archives: family

Slowing Life Down

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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
  

A New Year – A Confessional of sorts

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 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.

 

I’m Okay with Average

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Recently I had someone tell me that my child was not the “best” _________.  This was not a news flash as I don’t expect my children to be the best.  No feelings were hurt.  Best is a word that I try to tip toe around.

What I expect is that our children never give up, that they follow through on whatever task, sport, or group that they commit to.  He or she should be the best him or her; an individual best, not an overall best.  If our children excel at striving for personal perfection while rarely seeing #1 ranking, I’m okay with that.  If he goes through life pushing his skills beyond individualized best, but falls in the middle of the pack, I’m okay with that.  If our middle E, wins some games and loses some opportunities, yet gains insight on learning life lessons on loss, I’m okay with that.

Yes, I am okay with average.  No I am not accepting mediocrity, instead I  am challenging our children to continue to strive.  Being the best at a task means he or she has solidly beat out all others in that select task.  Is that possible?  Yes.  Will it happen for our children? Perhaps.  Most likely and existing in reality is the fact that our children may spend their lifetime striving for that elite status.  Falling flat may and will happen.  They could be destined for middle of the pack and again, that’s okay.

I am not celebrating the ordinary or the unexceptional.  Rather I am teaching and embracing the road to extraordinary if that’s where life heads.

I’m average; build, hearing loss, mother, teacher, friend. It’s okay, really it is. This garden variety, mainstream life is what drives me to try new things, push personal limits, and aim high. My best has not been achieved, I’ll keep striving for the allusive best. It’s there somewhere.

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Me – a quick write

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Me – a quick write

Recently my seniors were tasked with writing about who and what influenced them to be who they are today. To model this 10 minute quick write, I also wrote and then shared out my draft. It is not perfect and is still a work in progress, but that’s me and why I’m sharing my draft. My hope is that I can show students that the writing process is as much about the words as it is about the interactions and conversations that come from opening our words to others.

I’m from blue collar parents who worked for every dime and saved each nickle.
I’m from a large family of older brothers who were my protectors and not much of friends,
until now.
I’m from a small town, my roots go deep and my branches wide.
I’m from an illness that nearly took me, but instead gave me a gift.
I’m from a life lived in a hearing world where I was often left behind.
I’m from experiences; of hope, love, and learning.
I’m from a place where I get to share and develop young minds, molding the next generation.

I’m from a loving relationship that inspired me to find one of my own.
I’m in a caring marriage of laughter and support.
I’m from years of infertility that grew the desire for parenthood and a family of my own.
I’m from a home of pitter pattering feet, silly sons, and a caring daughter.
I’m from love.

Where I’ll go is unknown.  Where I’ve been is everything, it is me.

What is a friend?

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Do you know the value in a close friend? One there through life’s ups and downs, heart aches and triumphs, and sets a side ones life and time to care for another. That’s my definition, I watched it define itself.

Over the last few years it has been honor to watch such an amazing friendship, one that someday I hope to find. My mom and my “Aunt” June had this incredible, inspiring friendship. I cannot recall the history of their friendship or even when I started calling her Aunt, in the end it does not matter. She was always a part of my growing up years, the title fit.

Aunt June fought multiple cancers in her life time, a Muhammad Ali of sorts. The last few years as age and health compacted with the cancer, my mom’s friendship evolved. Caretaker, nightly “life alert” caller”, chauffeur…most importantly true friend. Countless trips to doctors, treatments, chemotherapy. In any weather, distress, or time. Her calendar reflected two lives, hers and Aunt June’s. During these times, almost nightly phone calls. It didn’t matter that just a few short hours ago they were sitting at radiation or chemo together, mom called to check in and they talked. And talked. If I called in the evening and the line rang endlessly, I knew the two were catching up. Mere hours since their last conversation and still they shared.

What my mom did the last few years is amazing. Her friend needed her beyond trips to the mall or the latest movie. She needed time; precious, endless time. Perhaps and ideally, my mom did too. Their friendship is an inspirational mix of gratitude and unselfishness. Laughter and tears. Heartache and joy. And deep love.

This time, their time together, has come to an end.

Their testament of devotion carries on in each who watched these two giggle through the good days and support through the tough days. Someday, should life grant me such an honorable friend, I’ll never let go, never give up. I know how to, because I watched the true definition of friendship grow and write itself.

That Scary Moment

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That Scary Moment

Parenting is an abundance of moments that take your breath away. Cry. Scream. Jump for joy. But some moments just slam your chest so hard, you gasp for a breath. Struggle and gasp again.

Monday was my moment to feel my heart sputter and ache that it still brings tears to my eyes.

Our 8 year old was at a program sponsored by a neighborhood school. When the program ended, he waited. And waited. Not knowing if I was coming, being the last one, and to see if someone was waiting outside, he left the safety of the school. Once outside, he was locked out. No one answered his knocks. His next decision, against his normal worry mindset, led him to walk home. With darkness settling in, 18 degree air, and without the experience of ever taking this 1 mile trek, he set off.

Driving to the school to pick him up and still 1/2 way to go, my headlights found a terrified, cold, familiar face walking in the road. With the sidewalks still not cleared, he ventured to road. What I cannot erase from my retinas, his frightened, tear stained face. He didn’t know what happened to us. Were we coming? Did we forget him? Once inside the warmth and safely in the van, he shut down and just wanted to go home to the security of his bed.

After many hugs, reassurance, and heart to hearts, his face and body relaxed, a bit. How did this happen?? It turns out we were given the incorrect end time, instead given the previous years time. With no one around, unable to return into the building, he searched deep and found his brave, big boy pants. And walked.

My anxiety is the what if…. He passed a poorly lit parking lot, across from a large equally dark cemetery, dressed in dark colored clothing, and in the road. This mommy mind filled with the unmentionables. The headlines. But none of them happened. I know someone was watching over him. Someone calmed his fears and led him towards home. I am thankful.

After a family meeting about safety, emergencies, and lots of cuddles, I swept him in my arms and said, “you are so brave”. Inside I said, thank you.

My M is stronger than I.

Peace.

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Peace.

I found Peace tonight. It was there all along. I just needed to venture out to find it.

In sub zero temps as I took the pup out for duty #8 of the evening, Peace met me.

After a long day back, moderating a dismal attended twitter chat, abandoning my aids in an effort to comfort the Tinnitus, and putting aside parental responsibilities, Peace met me.

I entered the glittery, shivering yard and there it was. Calm. No sounds to disrupt the message. Not a distant siren, roaring engine, not even a loan woof in the night air. Ignoring the icy breeze, I gazed out, my eyes lingering on all surrounding me. Our path, built on love. And there was Peace.

I met Peace tonight and my heart is calm. Come back tomorrow.

Perhaps I should explore more often, leaving my hearing aids aside.

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