Sunday, August 21, 2016

Summer Swan Song

Tomorrow I will be heading back to school as summer vacation officially draws to a close.  Tonight, my friend Erin and I took our annual "Teachers Back To School Cry Fest Pic" (5 years of these pics, she tells me). 

See how sad we are? We really like our summers off. 

Every year, I think about how lucky I am to have summers off.  I love my job.  Really really love it lately.  However, I can tell you that I look forward to that summer break, where I can rejuvenate and reaffirm that teaching is what I want to do.  Summer gives me a time to relax, to connect with my kids, to be destressed and not distressed. 

I've had a great summer, one of the best yet.  We went on vacations.  I got to hang out with friends (my favorite thing to do).  I got to sit by the pool.  I bonded with my husband and children (another favorite).   I planted a flower bed.  I ran 15-20 miles a week (except a few weeks).  Life was good.  Life was great.  Life was full of blessings. 
I actually own this tank top and it's a pretty true statement

But summer being over changes the nature of the blessings but not the blessings themselves.  One child is moving out to get his first ever apartment (I'll miss him but I'm so pleased he wants to be independent).  The second child is starting her sophomore year of college.  The third child is starting high school.   Tony and I are getting closer to being empty nesters, but that just means we get to spend more time alone together (I'm probably more thrilled than he is about that...LOL). I am also looking forward to what this school year will bring.  Because I looped this year, I will have many of the same students, but I will also have new ones.  I will have a new curriculum and I am looking forward to trying out some different things. 

So, yes, I am sad to see summer go.  But I am learning to embrace what lies ahead.  To my teacher friends who also start back tomorrow, good luck and have a great school year! 

Thursday, July 21, 2016

What A Difference 2 Years Makes

A recent Facebook flashback took me to a blog post I wrote in 2012 when I was first starting my gratitude practice.  Looking at this old blog, it hit me that my last post on it was May 2014, over 2 years ago.  A lot can happen in two years.  A lot.  I've had triumphs and I've had tragedies.  I've gained weight; I've lost weight.   I've filled up more gratitude journals (currently on #8) and tried to peg down some of my struggles so that I can work through them.   Here are some things I've taken away from my last 2 years of blog hiatus. 

1.  Life is too short
I was an orphan already (Mom in 1983, Dad in 2010), but I also lost my stepmother in 2015 after a nearly 2 year battle with cancer.  Friends of mine lost their parents as well.  We never have long enough with those we love.  Never.  I could spend 1,000 years with those I love and I would say it's not enough time (well, maybe I might get sick of them...)

2.  Gratitude just makes things better 

I started a regular gratitude practice in 2012.  I still have bad days.  I still have times when that gratitude is hard.  But you know what?  If I can latch onto just one aspect for which to be grateful, I can pull myself out of the anxiety and stress and sadness.  It took me years to be able to do this.  It is easy to jump onto the negativity train and choo-choo into Grumpyville when something doesn't go my way.  I have a journal in which I write at least 10 things for which I'm grateful most days (occasionally I don't have time or am too tired).  To be able to say, "I am grateful that [insert bad thing here] happened because it was [a learning experience, a cue to change my behavior, a valuable lesson, etc.]" is very difficult, especially in the midst of said bad thing.  I confess that I'm not always successful, but I recover so much easier these days.  Not to mention, if I can't be grateful for the bad things, I can at least go back and look at all the GOOD in my life.  I am blessed beyond measure.  When I lose sight of that, I reread some of the 7 completed gratitude journals and I remember...

3.  Patience pays off and sometimes detours are learning experiences
Me waiting for my dreams to come true
In 1993, when I graduated college, my dream was to be an ELA teacher in middle school in the county in which I live.  No ELA jobs in 1993.  Then, I had babies.  Working in non-public schools.  Got my master's degree in Special Education.  Worked for 12 years in the county school system as a special education teacher.  Then, last year, 22 years after I graduated, 22 years after I set that goal, it became a reality. Yet, without that wait, I would never have had some of the wonderful students I came into contact with as a special education teacher, nor would I have the skills in differentiating my lessons that I now have. 
 I also have wanted to drop the extra poundage that I've been carrying since my oldest was born (nearly 22 years ago--maybe I should play the number 22 on my next Lotto ticket).  I was finally able to make some headway this year, and just bought a size I haven't seen since I was 20 years old.  I had to be committed.  I also got a pretty fun running habit (really, it's great!) in my quest.   My advice is to look at detours as learning experiences and be patient.  Dreams and goals have a way of working themselves back into your life. 

4.  Laughter really is the best medicine. 
Have you laughed today?
When I can find the humor in a situation, I do so much better.  Really, who doesn't like a good belly laugh once in awhile?  My favorite memories with friends, family ,etc. involve laughing our asses off. 

*  So that's just 4 of the little life lessons I've been learning since I last wrote.  Who knows when I will write again?  

Wednesday, May 7, 2014

RIP, Seabrite

I was not home when our pet parakeet of 7 years decided that the end of her life was today, but I received this text message from my daughter:

"Lol just to let you know...
the bird's dead.  Happy 

Oh and her food and water were full so it wasn't that...

The funeral is at sunset, I'll
speak.  We'll bury her at noon and say our
farewells.  I've already 
forwarded the invitations"

Now, that might seem like a cold-hearted reaction (that and her taking pictures of the dead bird carcass in the hole she dug to bury the thing) but you have to understand that this is how we deal with death at my house.  Jokes, nervous laughter, the inappropriate text message (although taking graveside pictures is new).  Not necessarily the best way to deal with it, but it is how we roll here. 

I remember when my grandfather died.  Poor man--the funeral home zipped up the body bag incorrectly.  Smooshed his nose.  Rather awkward laughing at the viewing was to follow. 

I remember when my father died.  The magicians who were his friends wanted to perform a "wand ceremony", which consisted (among other things) of breaking his wand and throwing it into the casket with him.  We joked that now people would mistake the coffin for a trash can and start throwing their drinks in on top of him. 

Humor can be very cathartic in death, even the death of a 14 oz. parakeet whose only friend is our nineteen year old son, who gave her kisses and let her fly into things in his room.  I really didn't expect to feel anything, but I do.  I'll miss that little bird.  She may have had a brain the size of a marble, but she had personality and she was with us for 7 years, whistling away, singing with music boxes, and being a part of our family. 

RIP, Seabrite bird...

Yeah, and she was a football fan too...

Monday, May 5, 2014

Thank You, Teachers!

Today starts Teacher Appreciation Week, a week where we teachers can be appreciated for the things that we have done and things that we do to help enrich the lives of young people.  Even though I myself am a teacher, this week always makes me think about the teachers that my children have had and currently have. 

I have been extremely fortunate.  I can probably count on one hand (and I wouldn't need all the fingers) the teachers that my kids had that I thought probably should choose a new vocation.  That's less than 5 fingers for THREE children (funny that most of them were my middle child's teachers), which is not too shabby.  Most of my kids' teachers have been awesome.  They have worked with my children, recognized their talents, supported them with their needs, and made them work hard.  One has made it through (our "leisure learner"), one is almost through, and one has a month before he's halfway through.  That's a lot of teachers and a lot of years of homework, projects, plays, and concerts. 

So, I wanted to say "thanks" to all my children's teachers.  Thank you for times when you worked one on one with them.  Thank you for the extra hours you put in grading papers.  Thank you for supplies you bought with your money.  Thank you for the phone calls and emails and conferences.  You rock! 

Wednesday, December 4, 2013

Some Pre-Christmas Rhyming

Twas 3 weeks before Christmas, and all through my house
The clutter was piled by my kids and my spouse
The stockings lay unmatch in the basket with care
In hopes that the laundry fairy soon would be there.
The children were nestled all snug on the couch
Watching their programs with all kinds of slouch
And I in some sweatpants and Tony in his cap
Were dozing at 7pm in a pre-bedtime nap.

When down in the basement, there arose such a clatter
That I struggled to stand upright to see what was the matter.
When what to my grateful eyes should appear
But a big glass of wine and for Tony a beer.
And a cranky young adult child who was grumpy and quick
I knew in a moment it was my son Nick. 
He spoke not a word but handed us our brew
And then started hollering at the rest of our crew.
"Clean, Tara!  Stop, Vinnie!  Hey, Mom, they're not helping!
Dad, make them!  They're lazy!"  That's what he was yelping.

I spoke not a word but swallowed my wine
And three glasses later, I was feeling just fine. 
But holiday d├ęcor should not pair with liquor.
Getting the tree up could have been that much quicker. 
The kids, oh so helpful, were playing their cell phones
And the dog was attacking the branches like they're bones.
But we still exclaim as this poem takes its flight:
"Merry Christmas in 3 weeks but for now it's 'GOOD NIGHT'"

Wednesday, October 30, 2013

Halloween Blahs

I have the Halloween Blahs, and I am not really sure why.  It used to be my favorite holiday.  Many years were spent choosing the perfect costume. 

As a child, I could be Princess Leia...

Or Wonder Woman...

One year, my mother even made me into a flower pot.

That was the year I won "Most Colorful" in the annual Magic Show/Halloween Costume contest that my dad used to perform in.  The costume fell apart a week later when I went trick-or-treating...all it was made of was cardboard, fabric, tissue paper, and my winter hat...but it got my face in the newspaper. 

Even as an adult, I've dressed up.  I've been Cleopatra, the Bride of Frankenstein, "Kitchen" Spice (a very inspired 1990s Spice Girls send-up), a body bag, a French maid, and yes...

Wonder Woman again.

So, I'm not sure why I have the Halloween Blahs.  Maybe it's stress.  Maybe I'm just not feeling the creativity this year.  Maybe it's the hoards of children that will come to my door tomorrow night looking for candy and maybe a fright.

Hopefully, then, I'll have my spirit back.  Just the walk down memory lane kind of puts me in the mood...

Monday, September 30, 2013

Wine Whine

Today has been the kind of Monday that would make a cartoon cat hide under his blankets and avoid like the plague. 

Today was a Hide The Sharp Objects kind of Monday.

Today was a Glass of Wine kind of Monday. 
Or 3...

I think I am spent.  I woke up feeling like crud.  My kids are driving me crazy.  My body is falling apart (well, my knees and joints).  I'm clearly whiny. 

 Perhaps Tuesday will be an improvement.  It can only go up from here.