“Finally brothers and sisters…think about such things”

iris

Friends, It has been so long since I have even visited this space. I came here tonight looking for a picture of me and my mom. I thought I’d take a stroll down my virtual memory lane. And friends, what I found here made me mostly sad. My goodness, what a frustrated, unhappy woman I found here. I am particularly saddened by how often I vented the frustrations of motherhood rather than express my gratitude for my daughters and all the things they are teaching me.

Looking at those old posts was like looking at the worst version of myself. I don’t mean this in a down-on-myself, fishing for reassurances kind of way. I read those posts and I saw a woman who was so burdened with guilt and shame that it made my heart cringe. Worse, even, than looking at old pictures of myself in junior high. Yikes. Maybe, if you’ve been around here awhile, you saw something different when you read my posts. I hope so. I know it wasn’t all negative. It’s just that when I read those happy posts, I remember how fleeting those moments of happiness were. How the frustration and guilt and worry were the constant. I am happy to say that this is no longer the case.

For that reason, I feel like it is important to make a change, so, I’ve renamed this blog.

Phillipians 4:8 has been rattling around in my head for a few months now, and I’ve been looking for a way to integrate it more into my life. What I post here will not be all sunshine and happiness, because I have found real peace and beauty on my way to the other side of pain, but I’m not done yet. I have so much to share with you. So many good and difficult and wonderful and painful and freeing and hopeful things. I don’t know if I’ll give much backstory or if I’ll just pick up where I am and let that big blank stay there. I was tempted to start a whole new blog. To metaphorically sweep all that old bitterness under the virtual rug and let it go to the place where neglected blogs die. But I decided that if nothing else, it’s good to know where we come from.

Perhaps by leaving the entire record here, anyone who cares to read it–past, present, or future–might have an understanding of why I celebrate what others might see as brokenness. Somehow I feel like my version of true, noble, right, pure, lovely, admirable, excellent and praiseworthy is more intact if I leave it all here.

“Finally, brothers and sisters, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable—if anything is excellent or praiseworthy—think about such things.” Phillipians 4:8

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Ahem. [taps microphone]

Anybody out there?

Well, where do I begin?

Maybe with an, “I’m BAAAACK!”

Or maybe with just a whisper, “I am here. I am here. I am here.”

Or maybe I just start writing as though I never really stopped.

Truth is nothing much more in my life is any more settled, completed, worked out, or put into order than it was when I took this hiatus in August.

Truth is life is just as busy and complicated as ever.

Truth is that it was nice to have one less thing to fuss/tinker with and distract me from the things I should be doing.

Truth is sometimes I’m uncomfortable with the title of this blog because I know I’m not “Lucky.” I know that I am Blessed–and abundantly. But I hope that my friends know that I know that. But who am I writing for, anyway?

Truth is there isn’t much to tell. And what there is to tell, I haven’t really delved into very deeply myself.

Truth is that I’m not sure how frequently I’ll be writing here, but I am officially opening the door.

I am here. I am here. I am here.

Desert-blog

Hello, my poor little neglected blog. I wish it didn’t have to be this way, but I am at a crossroads in which there are things that I absolutely have to do that simply don’t allow time for…you. And me. In this way. As in, the trajectory of my career will be significantly impacted if I don’t put things in the proper order and act accordingly.

Don’t worry, I’m not about to lose my job. But, the path within my career is dependant upon my developing resources and spending my intellectual efforts elsewhere. Also, my spiritual health depends on keeping things in the proper order and perspective. You, little blog, have been instrumental to that health, but now it’s time to make room for some other things. Anyway, you’ve probably noticed in the last month what I’ve had to do.

I promise you, if you will allow me to demote you from the back-burner to being taken completely OFF the stove for a few months,  I promise that we, you and I, we will both come back better than ever. I just know it.

Don’t worry about our reader(s), little blog. Most of them know where to find me even when I’m flying pretty low under the radar. And if they don’t, well, we’ll get them back. Somehow I know we’ll get them back.

See you around Christmas 2011!

With much love and thankfulness to anyone who has ever perused these pages,  xoxo, One Lucky Girl

Uncool.

I am terminally uncool. I know this. Consider the evidence.

Exhibit A: My kids’ initials spell G.E.E.K.  That was totally unintentionally done, but now that it is so, I have a necklace that proclaims it. I’ll post a pic and a link someday when I’ve showered and don’t look like what I am–a summer SAHM mom who doesn’t give a rat’s patootie what I look like when I’m blogging in my basement.

Exhibit B: Little Miss G is ever so slowly giving up her Nickelodeon crap for this: <a href=”http://www.youtube.com/embed/uvwCLGCozIk“>The best science-fiction-fantasy series going right now. And it’s British! YAY! I really have to thank my brother for this. If he didn’t come and commandeer our television at least once a week, none of us would have taken the time to watch. I’m ashamed of this, because staying up late with my dad on Sunday nights to watch this Doctor <a href=”http://www.youtube.com/embed/PwkYhLiY_fM“> is one of my fondest childhood rituals.

Exhibit C: I went to this guy’s concert last Friday, and loved every single minute. Every time I hear a Lady Gaga, Justin Bieber, or Katy Perry song, I want to stab myself in the ear, but this? This is good stuff. I’ve been humming this song all weekend.

Guilty as charged.

Where’s the 10-foot pole when you need one?

Okay, so this lady. Do I feel her pain and frustration at trying to teach–of being held accountable to teach–students who seemingly have no interest in learning? Sure, I do. Have I, in a moment of frustration, vented and pronounced judgments and labels upon certain students or groups? Probably. But I did it behind closed doors to my spouse or my parents or my friends whom I trust. And, most importantly, I did not do it to make pot-shots at my students’ expense.

And that is my biggest problem with Mrs. Munroe’s actions. Her words read more like insults, no matter how “symbolic” or “about-no-one-in-particular” or even how truthful they were. And worse, the purpose of the insults seem to be, in part, to entertain herself and her readers. At that point, she positioned herself as an accusor instead of an ally and compromised what I believe is an intrinsic level of trust placed in teachers.  You are there because you want what is best for students. That you are there to help them.

This does not mean that I think teachers should shine sunlight up everybody’s fannies, either. I could say that every student wants to learn they just need to be properly motivated… Or that students don’t fail the system, the system fails the students. I could say that… but that isn’t reality. The reality is that there are troubling and unpleasant truths to tell about education, about students, about teachers, about schools–about the whole shebang–just like there are unpleasant truths to tell about all the endeavors of humanity. But I’ve never adopted the philosophy that you’ve got to be cruel to be kind. I’ve never supported the idea that truth can be weilded as a weapon simply because it’s true. Just because the truth just hurts sometimes does not mean that the truth-teller can be just as harsh and unmeasured as they desire.

Finding that measured level of honesty without harshness can be difficult. There have been plenty of times I’ve had to inform a parent that their child’s performance and/or behavior has been unacceptable. And every time, I feel a little anxiety about what the parent’s reaction will be because I want the information I give parents about their children to be accurate, and truthful, and I want to be fair. As long as I am fair, I believe that the parents and students will see me as an ally, even if they do not like the truth that I had to tell. Ms. Munroe’s comments strike me as unfair to her students.

And just to be perfectly fair and truthful, this generation of young people have have some absolutely beautiful, spirited, talented, bright, kind, outstanding individuals.

I’ve often wondered if the things I’ve written here will ever come back to haunt me. If you were to comb the archives, yes, you would find a few colorful choice of words. You would find a few posts in which I sound-off about the state of education and my job. However, I’m pretty confident that even when I was frustrated with my job and vented here, I did not turn my frustration upon my students–although I will admit that at times some of them really deserve it. I would never want to say or write anything that would cause my students to question whether or not I see the goodness in them…

…Because I do see it. Every day. I really, really do.

Transitioning…

…into a new school year is always a big adjustment, and this year has been no different in that regard.

I’m off to a good start. Things are definitely different at work. In most ways better; the rest is yet to be determined.

I am happy to report that Little Miss G has been loving school this year so far. She’s in a new school, with a new teacher, and has a new best friend that I will refer to here as BWK for reasons only known to me. (HA!) Some of her former classmates are in her class this year, and that has helped her transition go well. I made a commitment to try to be more active in her school and to try to meet more parents. So far, I’ve been successful, making regular contact with BWK’s mom and two other moms I’ve come to know over the summer. BWK has already visited our house for a Saturday playdate, and it went of smashingly well, even with Super L tagging along for most of the morning.

Super L is in a new daycare and has started preschool three days a week at a Lutheran school. Every day I pray that she will not say anything too awfully inappropriate at school. So far, God has granted my prayer, but I’m sure that we will not get through this year unscathed. She went from being my sweet, mild, laid-back one to my pistol, my wild card, my oh-em-gee this kid will say anything to anybody child.  For example, she shouted at our 85 year old neighbor from across the front yard, “I’M GONNA MAKE YOUR LIFE MISERABLE!!” while brandishing a toy pistol. Completely unprovoked and out of nowhere.

So basically, that is what I’ve been up to for the past five weeks. Summer is fading out slowly, and I am looking forward to the arrival of autumn. I haven’t had my hands on my camera in far too long, and I’m waiting on this change of seasons to give me a good reason to get back out there shooting… there just hasn’t been time. And to be honest, summer isn’t all that pretty in August around here.

About the long silence in this space, well, I beg your forgiveness and thank you for your patience.  And honestly, I haven’t had that much interesting to share.

Hope all of you (whoever trips over this little post here) are doing well!

Sprint to summer.

Last summer was about getting some much needed rest and peace after having a really difficult winter and spring. Last summer was the beginning of getting better. I’ve managed to let go of a great deal of negativity in my thinking and in my life this past year. And when I reflect upon it, so many good things have happened since then. And even though I am rather stressed about the end of the school year, that’s nothing new. This summer I feel ready.

Just—ready.

ready for long mornings in my backyard with my girls (yes, including her)

ready to take Karen‘s advice and shoot every day

ready to take long walks and enjoy nature

ready to be barefoot in the grass

ready to expand my itunes library with some old CDs

ready to see lotus blossoms

ready for impromptu cocktails with good friends, who also happen to be neighbors, in the front yard

ready to devour grilled cheeseburgers and pasta salad

ready to read things that make me laugh

ready to take weekend trips to museums and sight-see with John and the girls

ready to write

ready

Just ready.

Facebook and iPhone may be the death of this blog.

Just kidding. This blog is not dying. But they certainly do distract me from this space. The phone because I can get a quick “fix” of surfing or blog reading from my compact, handy-dandy phone almost instantaneously rather than sit down with my big ‘ol laptop, wait for it to boot up, and fuss with the mouse pad or (heaven forbid, gasp) the mouse itself. Remember how I felt so free when I went wireless? (Thanks again, Geek Squad!) Now my poor laptop and I casually glance at each other from across the room. Yeah, we used to be close. It’s different now… We haven’t broken up, per se. It’s just that I have different needs. Different desires. Wow. This paragraph just took a really creepy turn, didn’t it?

As for my writing outlet, Facebook accommodates the random so very easily… and that is pretty much what my life has been. For example, while driving home from work this week in approximately 284 mph cross-winds, I had to explain to Super L, in much (elaborated and improvised) detail why boa constrictors cannot and would not squeeze mosquitoes. The old folks like to say that this is the wonder of a child’s imagination. That certainly is a positive spin on it. But I submit that this is a challenge–a gauntlet–of mental dexterity because kids know, you see, that they are better at mental gymnastics than their parents. Kids know that they cannot disobey,  disrespect, or defy their parents. But they can probe and question and prod, all in the good name of curiosity and imagination, without much consequence and enjoy watching their parents try to keep up. And if your kids are anything like mine, there is a price to pay if unsatisfactory (or untrue) answers are offered. Then it becomes a thing that can go on for days, or even weeks.

This is what has been going on with Super L on the subject of snakes, ladybugs and fire ants for 45 minutes daily while driving home from a full-day of work. It almost has me wishing we could talk about where babies come from or the difference between boys and girls.

Okay, maybe not. But you get what I mean.

In other news:

My mom had her thyroid removed and is recovering nicely.

One month left before school is out, and my American Lit classes are in transition from taking the ACT/PSAE test. I have until 8 a.m. tomorrow to finalize my plans for the rest of the year. None of the possibilities are 100% satisfactory.

Prom is this Saturday, and since I am a junior class sponsor, I’ll be decorating and chaperoning. And I want to say, for the record, that prom is a heck of a lot more fun when all you had to do is show up looking pretty.

Don’t tell my kids, but we’re taking the girls to Disney World in summer of 2011. I know that talking about it this early is kind of pointless, but for the people who took two years to decide upon curtains for their house… to even say that we’re gonna do it is something worth getting excited about.

Oh, and I saw Jake Gyllenhall in real life, with my own two eyes.

And now you see why I haven’t been blogging much. This is about the most coherent writing I’ve had to offer in a month. I’m sorry.

or

You’re welcome?

Dad.

I’ve been mulling this post over for a few days, but I’m still not really sure how to write it. Earlier this week, Her Bad Mother encouraged her readers to celebrate the beauty of the people in our lives. I knew immediately who I should write about, but as so often is the case with my dad–the words just don’t come easily.

I’m not sure why.

But then again maybe I do.

Dad, I am quite certain, has never wanted to be the center of anyone’s attention. He leads his life content to be in the background, to have a job to do, to observe, to think, to appreciate beauty and knowledge, but mostly to go about his own business.

He is an easy guy to misunderstand. He is quiet, and so very private.

Of course, to me, he is just Dad.

But he is so much more than just Dad.

See, I don’t want to present him simply in light of the father he is to me. That would be simple. I would write about how when I was a little girl, I would crawl up on his soft belly and sleep. I can still remember how he smelled and how his chest hairs would tickle my face. At times he would wake me with his laughter, his belling rolling and his hand on my back, steadying me there. I would tell you about how it would comfort me to wake in the middle of the night and hear the t.v. on, because that meant that Dad was home. He spent years on shift-work, and though I never felt unsafe when he wasn’t home–it felt extra-safe when he was. I would tell you about how he would walk into the living room on a random Saturday morning and announce to my younger brother Matt and I (who were still in our pajamas), “I’m leaving for the Zoo in ten minutes. If you want to go, be ready and in the car by then.” That was Dad’s way.

I would tell you about how on a once-in-our-childhoods vacation to Florida, Dad took Matt and I to Epcot Center. While we were there, Dad sat sat down on the ground for some reason, and when he went to get up, the outer seam of his shorts split from the bottom all the way up to his hip. I image most dads would have hauled the kids back to the hotel room, changed clothes, and tried again another day. But we were staying over an hour away from Orlando, and the fun was only just beginning. So dad walked around all day with a brochure in his hand covering the rip rather than cut our visit short.

I would tell you about how he came to as many of my high school softball games as he could, always sitting on the left field foul line away from the crowd where he could see the whole field. He continued to follow the team years after I graduated, always sitting in his same spot. Just a couple of years ago my former coach, who is now the Athletic Director, remarked that he missed seeing Dad out there on that left field line. Mind you, I am sure that Dad probably never said a word to him in all those years. He’s quiet and just keeps to himself like that.

I would tell you about how after LMG was born, and I had made the decision to breastfeed, that it was Dad who put me most at ease about where to nurse, when to nurse, what was appropriate at home or elsewhere. Basically, it went like this: The baby is hungry, and you can feed her wherever and whenever you want, however you want. The day we brought her home, of course he and mom were there to greet her. It came time to feed her and I asked Dad if it would make him uncomfortable if I nursed her in the living room where we were visiting. It was right then and there, when she was about 48 hours old, that he made it clear that it was not going to make him uncomfortable, not one little bit, at all. And I can’t tell you how much that kind of support and reassurance meant to me at such a vulnerable and physically taxing time. When he and I would go places together with LMG as an infant, I would occasionally nurse her in public–discretely of course. Many men go for a short stroll or continue shopping–leaving their wives or daughters to sit quietly alone while the baby eats, which is fine. Not Dad. He would always sit right next to me as if daring someone to give me a disapproving look, which I am sorry to say that women often *do* get no matter how discrete they are. It’s much harder to see the stink-eye being given to you when you’re being surrounded by so much love. John was extremely supportive of me and my decisions, but Dad was downright protective. And I am one lucky girl (hence the name of this blog) to have two men in my life–and especially at that time when new mothers are so vulnerable on so many different levels. I wish every new mother had the same.

And see… that’s Dad as dad. The man that he is is far more complicated. He is a puzzle. If still waters run deep, then my dad is a veritable ocean of feeling, of passion, but I’ve caught precious few glimpses of that side of him in my 34 years. He’s too measured, too pragmatic for that. He will tell you what he thinks, but not much on how he feels. And even when we’re talking about feelings, we’re really talking about what we’re thinking–if that makes any sense at all.

And think, he does. A lot. Matt and I get a chuckle at the random questions that he throws our way sometimes. We’ll just be driving down the highway on the way to the movies or something, and he’ll say something like, “Do you think bluebirds distinguish between different shades of blue, or do they see the blue/brown pattern to know their own species?” Um, what??  But with that natural curiosity comes a natural inclination for learning and sharing knowledge. My dad works for a big company that has to work closely with the EPA to make sure it’s not over-polluting the area. Years ago before John and I were married, John once asked Dad, rather casually, how the company ensured that the water was clean enough to meet the EPA’s standards. I think John was asking just to be conversational, but Dad, in typical fashion, launched into a looong explanation of each of  each and every step right down to the molecular components of the filters and what-nots, and the thinga-majiggies and I’m not even kidding. It went on and on. And a day or two later John found in the driver’s seat of his car a 10 page document that explained the whole process because Dad wasn’t sure if he explained it well enough. That’s dad. If you want to know something, he’ll tell you. In painstaking detail. It really is quite charming (unless you’re a 16 year old girl stuck in the backseat of the family car while your 9 year-old brother asks questions about sex to the parent who will tell the truth–the WHOLE truth. That wasn’t so much fun. I didn’t need to overhear that father-son chat. I’m still scarred.).

When my parents divorced nineteen years ago, it was my mom who wanted out. It was the right thing to do, but Dad was left quite vulnerable. I think that is why I am so very protective of him. That is why he occupies the tenderest places of my heart. Places even I rarely dare to touch.  He has his flaws, just like we all do, and they are a part of who he is. But his vulnerability makes me want to overlook those flaws, because for the most part they are his own. I don’t think anybody bears any pain for them–at least, not anymore. It’s hard to say things that will push upon those vulnerabilities and bring old pain to the surface when he has been so good to me and he is so private. Even if I just want to help him.

Well.

It looks as though changes are coming regardless. It’s funny how we sometimes think we’ve got an idea only to discover sometime later that our “idea” was really the Holy Spirit is preparing us for something big. We started noticing that Dad didn’t “look so good” last summer. Those of us who know him wondered if he had a minor stroke. His doctor said it was difficult to say at that time. This week, though, we now have a definitive explanation for the things we have been noticing. Dad has Parkinson’s. And while I don’t want to overstate this, or make it melodramatic, and I don’t want to make it about me, I am very aware that this will be, over time, a complete game-changer.

The Holy Spirit has been preparing my heart for the fact that there could possibly come a day when Dad might need help from me. I’ve even thought that we may come to a time when Dad may have to live with us. In light of this diagnosis those possiblys and mights and mays disappear. It has jarred me awake. I see now all the little ways that he has been needing me for the last few months, but has not said anything, and I just didn’t realize it. Major changes, thankfully, are not immediately necessary. Hopefully they won’t be for some years, but that time is definitely going to come. And while I take comfort in the fact that God has been preparing my heart for this, and that He already has a plan to answer all of our needs, there are some hard decisions that will have to be made. Dad is going to have to face some difficult things that he has spent years avoiding. And I, who have rested in Dad’s comfort and protection for 34 years, will be the one to comfort and protect as much as I can, but I may also have to be the one to push and prompt him to face some of his demons and wrestle them down. That’s the part that worries me the most. I pray for the strength and the grace to be a good daughter. The daughter he deserves after all he has given to me. The future I envision for my family is quite different now than the one I had even just a week ago.

But it is still beautiful.