Friday, April 27, 2012


I've always wanted to be a teacher.  I remember carrying all the extra dittos home so I could play school all summer long.  I loved my elementary, middle, and high school teachers.  Even though I abandoned my first love for a shot at television broadcasting and then being a social worker who specialized in geriatrics, I couldn't deny my heart.  Fifteen years later, I have no regrets about spending my time in the classroom.
I do sometimes wish though someone would have told me a few things.  First, I wish someone would have told me that I would spend more time pushing paperwork than teaching.  I've given 4 reading assessments and 3 math assessments since the beginning of April minus the first week we spent on Spring Break.  In case you think I teach 18-years-old headed to the Ivy League, I teach 8 and 9-year-olds headed to fourth grade.  I know the value of assessment.  With all the information I have collected this year about my students, one final assessment is enough.  The students aren't the only ones groaning.  Secondly, I wish someone would have told me that every year there will be one student whose pain at 9 years-old will be more than I can take.  My solution will be to take him home and make him my newest family member. But my solution won't work so I'll have to watch and feel so helpless.  Third, I wish someone would have told me that not everyone thinks childhood is something to be protected.  I've got third graders with iphones.  Please don't tell me they're for emergencies only.  I might buy that if they were the cheapest phone the company offers.  Girls wearing make-up - not Lip Smackers but full on eye shadow with black eye liner. Monday morning conversations about what R-rated movies their parents let them watch. I also hear about how far they are on Call of Duty, a war video game.  These kids will spend more than two-thirds of their life dealing with adult issues.  Why are we in such a hurry for our kids to grow up?  
I may be naive, that's true.  I thought teaching would be about the 3Rs.  My day rarely is.  It's more about the big C - character.  Ironically, we haven't found an assessment for that - yet. 

Sunday, April 22, 2012

A Nasty Seven Letter Word

When Parker said he wanted to join Scouts, I thought my involvement would be learning how to sew the badges on.  Tony, on the other hand, signed up as assistant, went to leader, assistant cub master, and now cub master, I've still managed to stay in the background and leave the boys to it. Macy, on the other hand, thinks she is a scout too.  Thankfully, everyone, the boys included, have played along and not told her the truth.  So when there's an activity that Macy can do, we tag along with the boys.  
Last year, I celebrated the fact that Parker was too young to camp!    Memories of centipede filled bathrooms, the scar on my elbow, and losing my very first contact in the concession stand's grass are strong enough to make camping a bad word in my vocabulary. I had missed the Fall Camp-Out due to a girls shopping weekend that had been on the calendar for months. Tony took the kids and all three had a blast and talked about it for weeks.  I'm not sure the exact moment when I took the bait to participate, but I think it was when my loving husband said "This has all been Parker's idea.  Since I love my son, I am going to support him in his Scouting efforts."  Tony doesn't remember saying that weeks ago, but it was the gauntlet that I couldn't walk away from.
I begrudgingly said I would go. I put it out of mind until the end of Spring Break when I had to face reality.  I was c*mp*ing!  
For the first time all school year, I did not celebrate the 4 o'clock bell.  I told anyone who would listen that I was going camping without running water, flushing toilets, and in a tent.  Did I mention that we don't own a lick of camping equipment?  Despite my resolve to be a good sport, I was filled with fury on the drive to the campsite.  Tony immediately picked up on my mood, and we had a soul cleansing conversation while the kids happily snoozed on the way to Illinois.  Once I got it all aired about how much I despised roughing it and Tony's promise that I would never ever have to do it again, I felt lots better.  Despite freezing temperatures and our tent taking on water, I learned a few things about camping and for those of you who think camping is a nasty seven letter word this might encourage you...
The company you keep makes all the difference!  Thank you to the Breezes, Jakles, Chiles, and Wagner families!  Your expertise and camping equipment were awesome!  Thank you for including us in your plans.  I would have been lost without you.
Your equipment matters.  Watching the experts has given me tons of birthday, anniversary, and Father's Day gift ideas.  I would have never have guessed you can eat so well so far away from civilization.  Thanks to the LeCaves for the camping equipment loans and the Jakles for the tent!
A shower is nice. I managed to live without a shower, but I was also paralyzed by it to some extent.  I didn't want to do a lot since getting dirty would mean staying dirty...Showers should be taken into consideration for those of us who have camping impairments.
Take the pictures while you can.  I kept thinking I needed to leave the fire to take pictures so you could experience this adventure with me.  The fire was too cozy and keeping it going was the only job I had been given, so I thought I would take them on Sunday.  Despite Mr. Jakle having a weather radio and some folks getting phone service, we had no idea the rain was coming.  Where were you KSDK when we needed you?
Just because you hate something, doesn't mean you can't enjoy it.  When we loaded up wet and cold, Parker proclaimed "Didn't we have a great time? Except for the rain?  Oh yeah, you hate camping Mom, but you love being with me."  Your purpose can change something you hate into something fun.

Monday, April 16, 2012

My Boy

It's a misty-eyed mommy moment...Parker had his first baseball game tonight.  He played second base.  I didn't  think I would be one of those moms...always yelling witty bits of encouragement and clapping loudly.  Obviously, I have no problems with self-delusional thoughts.  I was that Mom!!! "Go Parker! Look Alive!  Touch the base!  Go WILDCATS! Good effort! Hustle up!"  I had to apologize to the people behind us.  "I'm sorry! I didn't know it would be this intense!"  

Since it was his first game, Parker made his share of mistakes.  But what melted my heart  was that after each mistake, I would see this sweet face of disappointment look to the stands and make eye contact.  Silently asking me if it is alright.  I'd respond with more loud clapping and another bit of my vast baseball wisdom.  "Defense!" or something else equally motivating.  Tony had up to this time been the intense one with Parker at practice.  I had been the laid back one - "It's just little league, honey."  Tonight, I was the lion, and he was the kitten.  As I helpfully pointed out to Parker what to try next time during his team at-bats, Tony had to remind me that he is just learning and sometimes real life is the best teacher.
Tony might of as well thrown cold water on me!  We are taking another step in Parker's life of letting go and letting him do.  If it is this scary at a little league game, how much more scary will his first day of  middle school be? Driving? His first date? Lord help me, dropping him off at his dorm?

With each birthday, I count off one less year to hold my babies. And although my friends with older children tell me it happens before they turn 18, I can't imagine it.  How on earth will he have learned everything he needs to know?  He won't, and I think that was what Tony was trying to gently tell me - get out of his way and let life be the teacher.  Stay in the stands.  He'll look for you if he needs you. 

Thursday, April 12, 2012


 I had dropped our laptop the day of Macy's birthday party in November. A dear friend's husband pulled a MacGyver and got it working again.  Sadly, it finally booted up for the last time a week and a half ago. 

Yes, friends, I have been unplugged for almost two weeks. 

The detox wasn't pretty...I had acknowledged that I was am addicted to FB and Pinterest which Tony finds endless ways to tease me about.  Then I read an article about how our children need us and don't let Pinterest bring you down.  WHAT?!?!?! 

Having lived two whole weeks without electronic connections (did I mention one of those weeks was Spring Break?), using only my Blackberry and Tony's android whenever he wasn't looking, I can speak as an expert who has been to the dark side and returned to the laptop light.  Yes, I agree.  Our worth as a mother has nothing to do with our spice organization.  (Although ironically, my kitchen set-up pretty much mirrors my mom's kitchen.)  Do we find ways to put pressure on ourselves unnecessarily? Of course!  It's part of our genetic make-up.  HOWEVER, we have been redeemed by the One who never keeps score.  He covers our messy closets, wrapper filled cars, and counter-top clutter with grace and mercy. There is not a stain He cannot get out. We were made in His image. There isn't an app or a status update or a pin that can top that.