Friday, November 07, 2014

Back at it...

Summer is LONG gone; we are back at work. This is the autumn of my discontent. I am finally mourning the loss of my mother. It has taken a while because mourning requires time, something that was in short supply when she died and even shorter supply the first few months after her death. I've shed my tears and done everything I think one should do to begin to recover, but I still feel a tremendous sense of loss. Maybe it's because of our Saturday lunches. Every Saturday, lunch out and then projects at Mother's. She preferred to do things on her own, but in these last few years, she acquiesced to my pleas to render some small service when possible. Maybe it was the nightly phone calls... like the one when she didn't answer, and didn't call back, for the first time, ever. I don't know; I just know that day by day, the missing her is very real. I rest in the knowledge that I did everything I possibly could to both help and care for her. I regret only one thing, but it's a big one. I am so sorry I wasn't there when she died. I wish, oh how I wish, I had been there to hold her hand, to pray, to tell her it was okay, she could go because she was ready; she had lived so well. I am so grateful for her, so proud to be her daughter. So... back to work. Maybe that will help, maybe not.

Friday, August 08, 2014

Wonderful Summer!

It has been sunny (only one day of rain) and quite warm for the Pacific Northwest - at least the 80s daily. The best part of our summer was mid-June - July when our French kids and their kids came to stay. What a blast! Being a grandparent is wonderful! Saying good-bye was horrific, knowing it might be another two years before we have the chance to reconnect. I'm hoping not. I "plan" to start saving $$ for a summer 2015 voyage to France.

That aside, it's August. School starts in three weeks... well, kind of. The staff meetings and open house and all of that starts in three weeks. School starts the Wednesday after Labor Day around here. I'm so glad because summer in the PNW is July, August, September! This week I was reminded why we teach. A month ago, one of our alums contacted me through Facebook and asked if we could get together. To me that means they should come over for dinner and a nice long chat. That happened, Tuesday night... five our our former students showed up at our door (I had planned for four but the fifth heard about it and just came - love that) and we had a wonderful dinner together. As we sat out in the back, surrounded by the beautiful yard and great food (I am a good cook!), we listened to their stories of the first year of university. One of ours was at SPU during the shooting last Spring. She shared and we cried, incredible stuff. All had roommate stories, significant other stories, concerns for the future, and one brought a recommendation form for a scholarship. LOL! Love our kids! As frustrated as we get with some of the stupidity that happens around us, we know that impacting kids to be world changers is why we are in education. They will change the world. They are extraordinary!

And now... we're going camping one last time before school starts. It's unlikely that we'll be able to get away again before September. We could probably do something over Labor Day, but joining that stream of traffic just doesn't seem relaxing. This camping trip is again out to the property of an acquaintance, located on the Cowlitz River, dry camping. There's something about no electricity or water that calls us back to nature. Don't get me wrong. We have big batteries and a water tank so we won't do without, but we will use it sparingly since it is in limited supply. The most exciting thing about this trip is that our local kids are camping about 40 minutes away and the oldest granddaughter has decided that she wants to be baptized, so grandpa and I will join them Saturday afternoon and T will baptize his oldest grandchild. My heart is so full that it's leaking out my eyes at this moment. Whatever we do, may we be faithful so that those who come after us will also know the reality of a loving God in their lives.

Thursday, June 12, 2014

The Not-So-Merry Month of May... and more

I never expected the month of May to drain me completely dry, but it did. The first weekend I was in charge of logistics for the memorial service for our former music teacher. Mr. S. had a brain tumor and died of a pulmonary embolism. The memorial was on our school campus. The service was held in one building with seating for 500 and the luncheon in the other with tables and chairs for 100. Running between the two buildings in my high-heeled boots made my feet and legs hurt so much. The day started around 9 o'clock in the morning and we got home about 6 that evening. We were so tired. It took a lot of planning and work, but it was a wonderful event.

The next weekend was Prom. Fortunately the junior class president knew exactly what she wanted for this event so all I had to do was print stuff, pack stuff, and show up as the ticket taker and election board for the King and Queen of Prom. It was a fun night, but again, late and tiring. But the worst was yet to come.

On Friday May 16th, we celebrated my husband's birthday. Our older son and his family came over for dinner and we enjoyed a wonderful evening. I usually call my mother every evening. As I sat down in my recliner, so tired, I thought about not calling. I was almost too tired to talk. The phone was on the table next to me or I swear I would not have called. It rang and went to voice message, and I left a cheerful message, saying I would call again in 30 minutes. It was 8:30 PM. After a beautiful day, it was still sunny outside so I figured she was watering her lawn. I called at 9, no answer. Now I was concerned. I called my brothers to see if by chance she was with one of them and such was not the case. My brother who lived closest said he would go over. The house was locked up tight, so he broke a window next to a side door and let himself inside. He found mother sitting on her kitchen floor, long gone from this world. As far as we could calculate, she died suddenly of a blood clot or aneurysm sometime around 10 in the morning. I was/am devastated. It was so sudden; she had not been dealing with any particular issues other than being 85, almost 86 years old. Looking back, she was prepared. She had told me several things over the past couple of months about what I was to do should anything happen to her. I did exactly what she asked me to do. In addition, I planned the memorial for her for the following Wednesday. I wrote the obits, chose the scripture and hymns, wrote the eulogy, ordered the flowers, contacted the extended family, purchased the food for the after-service gathering, and cleaned out a lot of stuff from her house. She would have been please with what I did. I was exhausted.

The next weekend, Memorial Weekend, my hubby, brothers, and I did a thorough sorting and cleaning at mother's. We found important papers, old photos, our report cards, and such. It was a tough weekend.

The next weekend was the senior trip. Twenty-four of our 36 students and I headed down the Oregon coast to a beautiful beach house for four days and three nights of fun. I cooked every meal. I truly didn't mind; I love cooking for a crowd. Of course that meant I did all the shopping the week before. Once I returned home, I told my husband that I couldn't seem to catch my breath. Such a whirlwind. That was May. June has been just as busy with final exams, new senior culminating seminar meeting, graduation, and our kids arriving next Monday for six weeks. Before they arrive, T will head to TX for his annual check up at MD Anderson, the greatest cancer center in the world. He will miss almost 40 hours with our little ones. Poor guy! We are really anticipating some fun times with our sweet youngest grandkids. We'll have birthday parties, beach trips, camping trips, bike rides... lots of fun. Oh, I'm taking two classes this summer also. Yeah, I'm nuts.

I'm still trying to pull myself together. I finished everything at school and walked out of the classroom with no intention of returning for at least two months. I got through my mother's 86th birthday, cried all day, but survived. I think I will titled this year as the one I survived. It's been grueling!

Saturday, March 22, 2014

Stick to the Strengths

Or the tale of the depth-perception challenged woman directing the one-eyed man!

What a mess! There are many things I do well. I can house-clean up a storm. I do laundry without effort. I can take care of grandchildren and keep them happy for hours, for days if needed. I can teach children - any age, even math (that I hate) up to about fourth grade! Ha! English, History... no problem; I'll go through high school. Give me a subject to speak on, something I know a little bit about, in five minutes I'll make a speech - in front of hundreds of people. I can do that. What I cannot do is give directions to someone trying to remove a 24-foot camping trailer from a tight, covered drive that is right next to a house. Our house. Our trailer. Somehow, even though my husband is well aware of my level of incompetence, he entrusts me with giving him directions. Oh my... I have no words to describe the past hour and a half, except to say I've been looking at RV covered storage units online. I know we won't rent one; I know this thing will come home next week and we'll somehow get it into its little spot next to our house. I just wish I could wiggle my nose and get it there - in and out - without having to say a word. Oy vey!

Friday, March 14, 2014

Conflict Resolution

We had a very uncomfortable moment in class yesterday. While discussing ideas for a skit, one student became offended and called out another by name - in a brittle, critical manner. This particular student has decided to go to a different school next year and has been heard stating that it's time to burn all the bridges. This is SO unfortunate; it's also pretty immature, something this student doesn't think fits him/her. I vacillate between sadness that it's happening and anticipation of his/her departure. People need to know how to leave well. Yes I have taught the R.A.F.T. method but this student doesn't want to hear it. So today we will deal with conflict resolution in class because the student who was called out by the departing one, stepped up, said sorry, and asked forgiveness. Yeah... a really mature great student!

Sunday, March 02, 2014

So Tired but Smiling...

How do you spend Fridays after school? It seems that every week has multiple evening activities, but when it applies to a Friday, I get a bit stressed. The week is long and full; I've taken on a lot more than I should have this year. But when I spend time with these students, I have to recognize how blessed I am.

 On Wednesday, our girls who earned the state championship in Cross Country and Track and Field (for the 8th year in a row) were honored at as outstanding women in athletics by the legislature. Not only are they fast, but they are smart - earning the highest GPA's of all the state teams. One parent made the comment that this is done with no late work and no test re-takes. Evidently such a practice is not common in schools today.

On Friday, we said good-bye to one of our International students. Diego returned to Chile today. Our international students help us recognize that the world isn't all about us! We did a version of a "roast" with Diego, but it was a blessing as we shared good memories and Bible verses to send him on his way.

After school was the Senior Class sponsored Volleyball tournament. All of the students above were my students in junior high. Three years ago, I moved to the high school and have had the opportunity to teach these wonderful teens for their junior and senior lit classes. It will really be hard to let them go, harder than any class I've had, and that's saying something. So as tired as I am, and I am, it's impossible to miss the blessings that are mine. Investments do pay off and seeing hundreds of students launched into productive futures, that's something to smile about: a big return on a personal and professional investment!

Thursday, January 30, 2014

Commit and Submit

Ever nearly kill yourself doing something that you know probably won't make much difference in the outcome category? I was there a couple of times this week. Spend HOURS organizing an event for people who don't really care, but the event is expected. That was tough. When it was all over and the debrief of participants completed, I realized my students had the same feeling of sadness that I did. Sure everyone had fun, but some of the attitudes by the guests were just ridiculous. Entitlement, social superiority, egos on steroids... I know these attitudes are simply facades, masks to hide the true feelings these kids bury. But good grief it's frustrating! We committed this event to the Lord, no question about that, which means the outcome is His not ours. Ever feel disappointed anyway? We did. But we're working through it, getting ready to repeat the event with another group of kids who may be more receptive. Some things we cannot fix; we can only commit and submit. sigh.... Too bad that's not easier to do.

Friday, January 03, 2014

Happy New Year!

2014 - Oh my goodness...

I am trying to wrap my head around the fact that we have lived here in this house for nearly eight years.

My husband says that owning a house in not the American Dream but the Nightmare! I just about proved that true yesterday, painting the guest room closet. I believe it's much more difficult to paint a small space than a big one. I had to twist myself into awkward angles to get the job done, but it's done. I have another closet or two to paint but it may have to wait for another week off to do the job. I hate painting but I love a cleanly painted surface.

This weekend I need to take down the tree, the mantle decorations, and the nativities. Sigh... Lots of work head!

Then... back to school. So much to do before finals in two weeks - like write the finals! ugh! I'm not a fan but it is rather expected that English classes have finals. Oh well... onward into 2014. May it be a year that surprises us by bringing out the best in all of us.