Thursday, September 30, 2010

Running towards base: Intentional Happiness for the week of October 1, 2010

As children, when playing freeze tag or hide and seek, there was always a free zone or home base. Once you reached and touched it, no harm could come to you. Unfortunately, as adults, we don't always have a tangible base to get to when things get tough.

Last night, my night crawler, Joshua, was up to his old tricks. Prior to the nasty cough from two weeks ago that settled into his chest, Joshua was sleeping through the night in his own bed. However, when he is feeling under the weather or has a bad dream, base is right there between Mommy and Daddy.

But he is going to be 3 1/2. When he comes into bed with us, none of us get a decent night sleep. My husband and I closely resemble zombies of the scariest kind: parents with severe sleep deprivation. It also does not help that my head, face and kidneys are his personal target practice for kicking. I am sporting some fierce bruises, people.

So last night, when he came around and my husband attempted to put him in bed with us, I lost it. I sent Daddy back with Joshua, to his room and bed. It did not go well.

For close to 45 minutes, Joshua wailed and approached the bedroom door, but did not come in. It quite literally broke my heart. Finally, he was howling. I got up, and found him. His tear stained face mumbled something about having to go potty. As he went, I stood, waiting, sleeping with my eyes open.

I tucked him in bed. I went back to bed and lay awake, trying to go back to sleep. And the thought of how we each need a base when things go bad came to mind. And how I took that away from him.

And yet, this morning, he awoke with a smile on his face, eyes bright with rest. His little arms pulled me close to him, fierce in his love for me.

As I looked at each of my sons this morning, I thought of how regardless of what messes life throws at us, this is my base. This is where I long to be, with whom I want to be with, when I need everything to be right.

My mother in law got a taste of that this past week. She had what could have been a MAJOR setback. She underwent emergency surgery and when she awoke later on that morning, she was surrounded by the men she loves the most: her husband and sons. The original four. The original base. And that did wonders for her recovery as she begins anew, working towards healing, gearing up for the fight.

And where she has been our base for a LONG time, it is nice to be that for her and my father in law. Because that's what families do. We are the touchstone, the roots, the wind that carries those who cannot.

As my sons grow older and my role changes as their mother, I imagine that they will always be what I most cherish, what brings me comfort when I am sad. I suppose that the image of them I call to mind will differ as they get older. But for now, those lanky legs and arms, wide eyes and smiles are the most welcoming base that I have ever known.

Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Wrong again

After many a sleepless night, courtesy of my youngest son and his unwillingness to stay in his own bed, last night I collapsed. Too much drama in Florida last night and today, y'all.

The news made it seem like there was going to be some great flood today. I mean, the Today show had a correspondent in Ft. Lauderdale this morning. Were they expecting Noah to make an appearance with the ark?

Parents, students and teachers alike waited with bated breath to see if school would be closed today.

No such luck.

No such weather.

It was just a rainy day. But nothing gets Floridians in a tizzy and glued to their TV's faster than the thought of a tropical depression or storm.

We had five hurricanes in a two month period FIVE years ago. The news people need to eat, yo.

It must have been a REALLY slow news day.

Regardless, the storm never materialized. The traffic was nightmarish, particularly because when it is raining in Florida, people can actually get out and PUSH their cars faster than they are actually accelerating.

Traffic around the school? More of the same. God forbid that a child get wet, especially since they are not wearing a rain coat!

All day, in spite of the fact that I actually slept a full night's sleep, I just wanted to be home. In my bed. Watching movies that were not geared for children.

I missed not going out for my run/walks with my neighbor, as we train for a half marathon in late January. My legs, amazingly, ached for lack of exercise.

I have been a little bitchy. Little things have irritated my beyond belief, and I have found myself marveling that such stupidity abounds on Earth. For example, people who seem to forget the function of the right pedal in their car when it is raining outside.

But much like the Little Engine That Could, I did. I survived the craziness of this morning, watching my son struggle with what must surely be the strangest way a person has ever put on a raincoat. Survived running back out to the van to get Joshua's lunch with my broken crap-o-la umbrella and coming back to find Andrew still struggling. I survived crazy mothers driving their children to school, parent phone calls and emails. I even survived Math today (none of you will truly appreciate what a feat that was today) and rainy day dismissal, even finding four students that decided to do their own thing.

I even managed to get the kids to CCD (Catholic studies) on time, only to find it cancelled. And I was NOT even upset. And for you foodies that have been following my struggle to manage to recreate the Red Thai Curry from our favorite Thai place, I came pretty darn close tonight.

After all, tomorrow is another day. And just because I was pretty much wrong in my assumptions for what today would hold, I will not let that stand in the way of progress.

Tomorrow, I WILL run/walk my 4 miles at 4:30 am; I will get back in my groove, regardless of what the weatherman says.

'Cause really? What other job could you have and be wrong about 90% of the time and STILL be employed and listened to?

Oh, I forgot.

Motherhood qualifies for that category, no?

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Gratitude

I have had a heavy heart and silent blog for the past few weeks. My family received some news about four weeks ago that has reshaped our lives and how we choose to live it, but by anyone's standards, is not the most exciting positive news ever.

As many of you have surmised over the content of my blog, my relationship with my mother in law is pretty spectacular. For many years, she has been an infinite source of comfort and support and for all practical purposes, I see her as a mother figure in my life.

About six weeks ago, she awoke with a pain in her breast and decided to get it checked out. She had a mammogram, that came back abnormal and required a biopsy. Four weeks ago, her biopsy confirmed she has breast cancer.

In spite of incredible circumstances, my mother in law has had EXCEPTIONAL luck. In the doctors that are guiding her treatment and care. In the speed in which accompanying tests have been scheduled and executed. In the way the world has responded to this circumstance our family now faces.

My mother in law has cancer. The cancer does not have her.

Frankly, when news like this hits you, it usually feels like a gut punch. Your knees get weak. You cannot keep a cognitive thought in your head if your life depended on it. But, the stronger part of you starts drumming up a list of things that need to be done.

Upon consultation with my MIL, I decided not to write about this for a while. And it has been hard to keep this within me, when it has colored so many parts of my life. But it is not defining us.

Because, in spite of the ugliness of the word cancer, the gratitude within my heart cannot be explained in any rational way. I am grateful that this cancer has a worthy opponent. My MIL is no shrinking violet. She fights like a girl: proud, courageous, with a fierceness that can overcome anything. Her heart and mind are determined to beat this, and, if the last 20 years prove anything, my money is on her, 2:1.

I am grateful to those whose prayers and good wishes have so often lifted me throughout these last few weeks. Your kindness, compassion and willingness to do for our family is worth so much more to us than just the mere words that have left your mouths. They have sustained us, given us strength, given us comfort.

I am grateful for those people who have been involved so far in her care. She is so positive because the people around her are filled with hope. She has doctors that have involved her in every decision and are positive that she will be around for a long time.

I am grateful to this cancer for giving my family the opportunity to fuel ourselves with the wonder of each day, the wonder of our family.

Monday, September 27, 2010

Scrambled eggs for brains...

Why is it that today, I found a bill that should have been paid two weeks ago? Or that I went to buy children's ibuprofen even though I had a forgotten, unopened bottle of it in the medicine cabinet? Or that I bought children's cough medicine in orange flavor, which my oldest son clearly detests?

Why is it that I went to work, regardless of the fact that I slept very little after my oldest complained of a splitting headache at 3 am? Or that I left the house without realizing I hadn't eaten breakfast or had not brought a protein bar with me to munch on during the drive to work?

Why is it that I scheduled a ENT follow-up on a day that I have an informational meeting for a recertification that I must begin this fall? Or that I can barely find the time to make, let alone keep, a hair dresser's appointment so that I no longer look like a graying version of Cousin It?

Why is it that regardless of whatever stupidity I find myself in, my loving husband can get a gleam in his eye, shake his head knowingly and smile as he says everything will be okay?

Why is it that the area formerly known as my brain now closely resembles and functions much like scrambled eggs?

Thursday, September 23, 2010

Intentional Happiness for the week of September 23, 2010

It has been an exceptionally rough week. There are many reasons for this, many reasons I cannot go into it on this blog, because of the nature of the circumstances, because of promises I have made. But in spite of the bad news and setbacks this week has ushered in, I am filled with gratitude for many things.

I am grateful for the kindness of the people that surround me on a daily basis. Their gentle words have slowly brought my soul back to life, helped me pick up my family from our worry, has helped my find the right words to bring comfort and hope to those I love the most.

I am grateful for the prayers so many have been saying for all of us. Those prayers are powerful weapons against anxiety and worry. That kind of faith can move mountains.

I am especially grateful to my students, my own sons, for making me think of someone other than myself. Their wit, perspective and humor fuels me on a daily basis.

I am grateful that, in spite of the events of the last 24 hours, we have been given yet another opportunity to embrace a new day with renewed faith that things can, indeed, get better. And they will.

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Meet the parents...

A few nights ago was my school's Open House. For parents, it is the opportunity to meet your child's teacher, get informed about the year's goals and objectives, and get a peek at what your child does throughout the day.

For teachers, the day and night of Open House is an exercise in endurance and patience. And for me, Monday was an answered prayer for air conditioning. So once again, for the second day in a row, we headed over to our Media Center and hung out there, waiting for cooler days ahead.

That being said, we had about two hours to reconstruct the classroom and prepare for the meeting of the parents. And write letters, clean desks and take care of the fish tank that was orange, full of fish food the Boys Scouts had dumped into it a few days before.

Plus, I looked like a bum. I knew that I had a lot of cleaning up to do, so I wore crummy jeans and a polo shirt. My filthy hair, pulled back into a pony tail, I was a force to be reckoned with. And, I was about to make a first impression.

I met yet another Language Arts/Reading teacher who will be covering for my beloved co-teacher as she enjoys these last few weeks with her brand new, crawling baby girl.

Yes. On Open House Day.

At least I had the air conditioning going for me.

At the sound of the three o'clock bell, I ran out of school like a maniac, drove to pick up Joshua at school, came home, saw that my aunt had made it to my house okay, ordered pizza, left money for said pizza to feed the kids, jumped in the shower and managed to wash my tresses and shave my legs, put on one outfit, discarded it, put on a winner with coordinating accessories, did my hair, put on my face, kissed my kids goodbye as I barked orders and threats relating to homework and behavior. I made it on time for Andrew's Open House session, the one I stayed at for a total of 15 minutes before I had to head out to my room to prepare the laptop and projector. Thank goodness, John played the concerned, involved parent.

One of the things that I love about Open House is to find the faces of my students in those of their parents. It's almost like a game to me, to pick out the parents and match them to the kids. It is so interesting to see how much some kids look like one parent, or how certain features closely resemble their child's.

More importantly, it's a chance for parents to hear that no matter what, their kids are going to have a great year. That they are doing the best they can, and it is good. That they are not in this alone.

As a child, the thought of my teacher meeting my parents was terrifying. I was a good kid, a great student, but somehow, the thought of my two worlds meeting filled me with anxiety. As a teacher, it is a wondrous thing to be able to tell a parent that their child is doing well, that they are a joy to have in the classroom, that you are proud to be their teacher.

And so, for the sixteenth time in my career, I stood in front of anxious parents, made them laugh, made them think, made them smile.

After all that went on Monday, it was by far, the best part of my day.

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

The only thing we have to fear is fear itself...

Being a math teacher is hard. Being a math teacher in third grade is like growing teeth and THEN pulling them out. Being a math teacher in third grade with a new math series sucks rocks. SERIOUSLY.

Most kids begin third grade with an abnormal terror of all things mathematical. Apparently, the stigma of having to memorize your times table is a ghost that lingers past my own childhood and continues to haunt GENERATIONS of children. The fact that we have a state mandated test that determines your promotion into fourth grade does not help.

Our old math series was traditionally heavy handed with lots of computation skills, a fair amount of reinforcement exercises and plenty of opportunities to provide homework after good amount of practice. Basically, it did the job, had adequate opportunities to practice, and had a good amount of resources for remediation and challenges.

The new math series is a consumable workbook, which means you can write in it. And that pretty much sums up all that makes it great.

I REALLY hate the new series.

Don't misinterpret me. I did not love the old math series. But I knew it. I knew how to circumvent the obvious deficits of academic types who have never actually taught third graders. I knew when to strap on my boots when the skills to be taught were going to drive me to drink. I knew what concepts my kids would literally sail through.

With this series, I got nothing.

Except that the kids can write in it and instead of 3 GIGANTIC teacher's editions, I have six small, lightweight teacher's editions.

Not much of a selling point folks.

For you naysayers, there is a huge amount of deep psychological reprogramming that has to occur in third grade to not turn off kids to math. I remember constantly feeling stupid at the beginning, middle and end of every math lesson from Kindergarten through 12 grade. Every single one. I NEVER left my classroom feeling like it owned whatever we had covered. I hovered between treading water or drowning. And I cannot say it was my teachers' fault. They were good teachers, but every year I struggled so much that they focused on keeping me with everyone else, rather than finding out WHY I was so frustrated.

And for the first 13 years of my 16 years of teaching, I NEVER felt qualified to teach anything above first grade math. Because even as an adult, I was still afraid of math.

Then, I decided to teach third grade. And my administrators agreed it was time for a change. And for the first time in my life, I knew I had to be okay with math so that I could make sure no student ever walked out of my class feeling like I had for so many years.

I took that damn math book home over the summer and I taught myself all the sh*t I could not understand when I was in third grade. I started to see that there were patterns. That is really wasn't all that hard, if you were paying attention. That numbers, dare I say it, were actually pretty cool.

After discovering, albeit too late to do anything for myself, this new respect for math, I knew that I had the power to help my math haters reform themselves while they still could enjoy it. I vowed to make those kids who so closely resembled my former kid-self learn from my mistakes.

Was I not, after all, one of them?

The first year in third grade was rough. I had an intern the first quarter of the year. There were so many days I left school with bite marks inside my mouth from trying to keep myself from interjecting in her lessons. When she finally left, my real work began.

My students were timid, afraid of making a mistake, unwilling to let go of this fear. I vowed to do my best and promised them that if they paid attention and asked questions, success was theirs for the taking. I told them that if they didn't get it after holding up their end of the bargain, I would have to do a better job of explaining it.

It worked. Two years in a row. Glowing scores. More importantly, children who LOVED math.

Once they knew, they had nothing to fear anymore. They knew that they were more than capable.

Flash-forward to this year. A whole new crop of eager brains. A new math book.

A monkey wrench.

Our first math lesson was a disaster. I actually had one little boy start crying and tell me he was stupid. As I looked around the room, it seemed like there were many eyes teetering on tears as well. And then I wanted to cry. But more than that, I was pissed off. That this stupid book, written by people who had never met these kids were making this poor kid think he was stupid. Just like I thought I was.

And so we had a little talk. About people who write books that are designed to trip up kids. About how we are in this together. About how we were going to GPS anyone who was lost and help them find their way back.

We kept on it. In the midst of these past weeks, they tried to hide in their seats, behind their neighbor's head so that they could deflect my eagle eyes, searching for those who didn't want to be found. The last few weeks have been more than a little rough.

But we have persevered. We have hung on.

And today, my students actually felt ready to complete math problems on their own, without me holding their hands. I had students eagerly waving their hands, waiting to be called, instead of students with sullen, shifty eyes that beg not to be called upon.

Today, I had success. My kids got it.

But I will make a confession. Even though there was some deep psychological drama going on in that classroom for the last three weeks, my students owned it today. They proved to themselves that they are capable. And that is going to fuel the fire in their belly to continue to succeed.

And if I were the math problems in that sh**ty, new math textbook, I would be afraid.

I would be VERY afraid.

Monday, September 13, 2010

The words get in the way...

As far as days go, today was a tossup. While I heard of news that definitely leads me to believe that prayers are answered, in other ways, my day was a rough one.

The common denominator of the good and bad: words.

Words that can help smooth over rough spots, create uncomfortable silences, give great joy, announce devastating news.

Today, three simple words lifted a great burden of worry this morning. Other words brought information regarding the Turkish bath otherwise known as my classroom.

Words spoken and exchanged...Phrases, commands, statements, exclamations, questions...Swirling, finding meaning in some, being lost on others.

Words changing depending on the audience, their purpose refocused as determined by the occasion. Words made to fit into small silences, time constraints.

And at times, we are at a loss. For all the words that exist at our disposal, none seem to fit the bill. Sometimes, our hearts, our eyes, speak volumes when our mouths cannot form sounds that resemble the form of communication that so often fails us. Because our hearts and souls cannot be held by such limitations that words, by their very nature, are bound by.

Sometimes, our words find their mark. Their meaning is interpreted as they were said, as they were meant. Other times, we are not as fortunate. Our words miss their mark. The meaning twisted, misunderstood. The message; lost.

This occurs quite often in teaching. However well you think you explained something, the blanks faces of your students quite plainly tell you that it has flown over their heads, no information received.

Other times, our words hurt others, however their well meaning prose was constructed. And while medical science has made many miracles, one does not exist for peering into the hearts of others.

Perhaps, tomorrow, I will have the marksmanship of William Tell. My words will be as true and sure as his steadfast arrow. They will find the way to be the right words, the words I intend them to be.

And hopefully, they will not get in the way of their message. My heart will find the words my brain cannot know yet.

Thursday, September 9, 2010

!!!- Intentional Happiness for the week of September 10, 2010

Seeing the couple in their eighties holding hands at Mass on Saturday afternoon.

My husband reaching for my hand as we walked back to the car after Mass on Saturday afternoon.

Menacing possum from last week's run becoming road kill. That's what you get when you mess with people that early in the morning...Karma is a bitch, yo.

Combined barbeque dinner with our neighbors. At my neighbors house. Delicious, with half the work and no clean up in my kitchen!

My nieces saying I love you. Melts my heart every time.

Having my sister and family over for dinner.

Unexpected hugs from my sweet boys.

Joshua' devilish look when he smiles and he's up to no good.

Finally discovering no chip manicures...slightly expensive but having no trailer park trash chipped nail polish is worth it.

Completing Sunday's spinning class as it was meant to be finished!

Teacher's report on Joshua's mad academic skills that make up for his sh**ty a** wiping skills. Skid marks don't lie.

Yoga at work this morning and being able to get my exercise in today when I didn't think I would be able to.

Being able to do Yoga for the first time and really enjoy it (and do it right!)

Being 65% to my fundraising goal for the half marathon in January.

The amazing response of former students and their parents upon finding out I am running a half marathon.

4 miles in 4 60 minutes...and that's just walking!

Seeing the AC repair guy from the school district in my classroom today...

Thinking I actually felt cool air in my classroom for the first time in 4 weeks!

That the end of the week is finally here and I get to enjoy it with the ones who mean so much.


What made your list of !!! this week? A little behind on what the !!! is all about? Check out Bad Mommy Moments and Momalom for the scoop on the !!!

Wednesday, September 8, 2010

A long day and weary body...

Not enough sleep, 4:30 am wake up time to walk close to 4 miles for training, fight horrendous traffic, students who don't want to work or are too afraid of making mistakes, parents who demand home work assignments but don't bother to make sure their "gifted" children actually complete it, a hubby who will be off on work related travels, tennis, offspring's' home work assignments and ensuing battles related to its completion.

Muscles ached, eyelids drooping, heavy with sleep and exhaustion.

Only one answer, really. Too tired to cry, although that would feel good. Too tired to write, even though words cannot replace the lost rest I can never seem to find. Longing for sleep.

And yet, I long for more days when the events don't always go as planned, but hold a certain kind of magic. In that you can overcome those things that should otherwise impede progress. That in spite of a long talking to, your students can still recognize a feeble attempt at a joke, and inevitable, surprise you with new knowledge, even if it's at the eleventh hour. For colleagues and their knowing smiles, for parents who do appreciate what you do, for your own children that confess their fears as you mention your own, their growing hand safely nestled in your own.

Looking forward to an extremely early bed time; a night's slumber that will restore and empower.

Wishing the same for you.

Tuesday, September 7, 2010

Women: The Cockroaches of Emotional Nuclear Holocaust?

I know, catchy title. But when you think of it, aren't we, as women, just about the hardest creatures on Earth to crack? Are we not the human equivalent of cockroaches when it comes to getting back up when there should be no possible way that we could or should?

From the get go, there is drama. I see the difference between my boys and my nieces. With girls, everything is about the drama. I think it is a warm up exercise to what we go through as adults. And while this might sound cynical, I am truly not mocking. I think that women, particularly mothers, put themselves aside for the well being of others. And often, it is more than any heart should have to bear.

Broken hearts. Everyone has a couple of these lurking around. Whether it is puppy love or a bitter divorce, women converge to help the afflicted along. Armed with Ben and Jerry, Grey Goose or both, your girlfriends, sisters, etc. will be there to hold you up, tell you are justified, to you to just F*** Him. Just what we need, in the right dosage.

Friendships betrayed. This drama usually finds its peak in middle school and high school. Intrigue and soap opera antics never fail to deliver the bemoaning and the fledging alliances. But sometimes, these new friendships will pass the test of time, and more often than not, they will be the ones that support you through some of the hardest stuff you will encounter in life.

Infertility. One of the hardest things I ever dealt with. And I consider myself extremely lucky. My problems were resolved with minimally invasive procedures. I ended up Fertile Myrtle by my mid-thirties. I often think that if I survived that, I could survive anything.

Messed up families. How do you reconcile relatives that often make you wonder how on God's green Earth you could possibly be related to them? You love them, but can't expose yourself or your kids to their ways, bringing sadness, denial, unwillingness to accept. But the ability to look at a situation truthfully, and be able to walk away without regrets takes some serious gumption.

Work related drama. Both yours and your spouse's. If it is heart-wrenching to experience it first hand, it is even harder to hear about it happening to your spouse. The conniving evil that some people spout off is just unbelievable. I often wonder why some people choose to make so much trouble, cause so much harm. What's wrong with them?

Becoming the parent to your parent. It is so hard to be able to gauge how your parents are doing. After all, parents can be the master of disguise. They will appear to be fine, yet small things set off alarms in your head. Making decisions about their care, particularly if there is a degenerative disease, is never an easy one. It is usually wracked with guilt and uncertainty. And yet, as time passes, and they adjust, you see that even though it was incredibly difficult, it was the right choice.

Parents getting really sick. Having gone through my father's battle with prostate cancer is nothing I would wish on anyone. There is something debilitating in watching someone battle so hard and courageously for so long. My father's outlook, however, was not a positive one. It was hard to play cheerleader to someone who was willing to fold, and yet, I cannot judge. I cannot pretend to know what helplessness he felt at diagnosis, over the countless chemotherapy drugs and radiation he endured. He battled, we cheered. When an illness like cancer comes into play, we get pissed off and we get marching orders. We rally, we cry, we go on. Because we know others depend on us, particularly those who are afflicted. And when all else fails, we walk for the cure...

Motherhood. Nothing piles up the emotional arsenal like motherhood. The hormones, the sleep deprivation, the worry. Am I doing it right? Are they okay? Will I mess them up too much? Motherhood breaks your heart like nothing else. After all, these children are a piece of you. Your body grew them and sheltered them for nine months. The first two years of these children's lives are spent assuring their survival, marveling at their growth and newfound skills. Their elementary years are filled with making sure they know right from wrong; their adolescent years spent making sure that they practice it. Then, they leave. As they must. And with them, they take a piece of you. If you've done your job right, you get to enjoy them in a different capacity.

I think that the common thread here is that women have hope. They have hope when the odds are stacked against them. They have hope when everyone else in the world is ready to call the game and head home.

That hope is born from love. Love of our families, love of our friends and love for making sure that wrongs are righted, that justice prevails, that the happy ending happens. In spite of the odds, is spite of the difficulties.

Rest assured, when an emotional holocaust is omnipresent, there will be a group of women who lead the way, to help support those who need some wind in their sails, to hold the hand and comfort those who need it, to tell a raunchy joke and alleviate the tension. In spite of a broken heart. Finding the strength where there might be none. Because it is in our nature to be indestructible like no other creature.

We are there.

The cockroaches, and us.

Thursday, September 2, 2010

!!!- Intentional Happiness for the Week of September 3, 2010

This weekend, my mother and father in law will celebrate 46 years of marriage. In this day in age, marriage means very little to many people. Other people try to define it in who gets to participate in it.

While I respect other's beliefs and opinions, I think that marriage should be defined by what people going into it intend for it to mean: what their commitment to each other is, and sticking to it; weathering and thriving in the most adverse circumstances; celebrating survival and all the wonderful, small things that tend to be swept under the rug; surrounding yourself in hope, faith, and love for each other. It doesn't hurt if you think this person is cute, by the way.

Apparently, the dental issues of toddlers around the blog sphere is not limited to others. Joshua refused: loudly, quietly, with whining and without, to have a dental cleaning. There was no amount of begging, pleading, negotiating or reverse psychology that would work. I gave up, and rescheduled. For December. The happy part is that at least I don't have to think about it until then.

My class has been an endless source of happiness this week. There are all kinds of characters in there, and I am really enjoying getting to know them; their personalities, their weaknesses, what makes them tick. They have a wicked sense of humor, which helps immensely.

I am finding myself really enjoying my training for the half marathon. My neighbor and I wake up at all kinds of crazy hours of the morning, and do interval run/walk. When we first started about three weeks ago, I had no game. Now, I can keep up with my neighbor for most of the 40 to 50 minutes we are out.

The turning point? Thinking there was a rat by the lake where we run. It turns out it was a possum. But really, who gives a SH*% what it was! I was not planning to stick around to see what it was, and blessedly, neither was my neighbor. I think the last time I ran that fast, I was sixteen years old and chasing after the cute boy in Physical Education. (Not Hubby, by the way. But it's ok. He was chasing after someone else in the same class.) Nothing like the proverbial carrot to get you off your ass.

The main source of intentional happiness this week has to come from knowing the strength that is within each of us to face whatever challenges come our way. Some challenges are physical, others medical, many are emotional hurdles that life sets before us or that we create for ourselves.

I am in awe, but not really surprised, by the courage, wisdom and true hearts I have encountered this week. In spite of the muck they have encountered, they (and I) have marching orders. A plan of action to get through whatever come what may. I really believe a positive outlook and a good support system of family and friends can get you through just about anything.

Nothing is more beautiful than a scar that has healed.

Of course, good food and fine libations don't hurt either.

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Wednesday, September 1, 2010

What doesn't kill you makes you crazy

The thing about parenthood is that many of us are duped into thinking our children will be different (in a better way, mind you) than other people's children. And while that may be true, more often than not, all children are pretty much the same.

As a teacher, I know this.

And as a teacher, I can tell you that I repeat myself constantly.

And as a parent, I can tell you that I repeat myself constantly.

Were you listening to me when I said that I repeat myself constantly?

While surely, you would think that constant repetition would cause death, of the slow and painful kind, I can assure you that it does not.

At least, I think it doesn't, because I am sitting here writing this blog post.

Maybe it's just REEEEAAALLLYYYY SLOW. And painful.

But I can tell with assuredness that repeating yourself will surely drive you crazy. You will repeat things to yourself often, mutter obscenities under your breath, and feel the need to repeat yourself to adults in frightening ways.

You find yourself using different vocal intonations, facial expressions, hand gestures (of the non-obscene kind for the minor set) and physical shenanigans, just to get your point across the FIRST time.

And then, you just give up.

You just keep saying the same thing, over and over, like a damned scratched LP.

It's enough to drive the sanest person nuts.

The repetition is not limited to the under 18 crowd, either. I am sure that there are several, special adult loved ones that require a repeat performance of what you just said before they even register that someone is speaking to them. Do I hear an AMEN, people?

If you think you can't repeat yourself one more time before you literally crack up, then you should try being a teacher. And then come home to school aged kids. And auditory impaired adults.

Yeah, good times.

So, let me just confess that there are days I wish I had a choice.

Because my first choice would be speech recognition and on command compliance of spoken request.

No, I am not taking prescription medication, but it is nice to dream, isn't it?

And for the record, I think there I times when I would choose death.

Going crazy ain't so much fun, you know?

Hey y'all, when I end up in the funny farm in my very own padded room, will one of you make sure that my straightjacket is nice and snug so I don't pull out my hair? Thanks!

Hey? Did you hear what I just said?