Wednesday, November 27, 2013

Lessons from the Truck Driver: A Thanksgiving Story

      He'd had it. She was never going to learn. His patience was spent. He was hot. He was tired and he was hungry! He'd done his fatherly duty for the day. Hell, for the year.
He. Was. Done!
      It made no sense to him. Shouldn't this skill be in her blood? In her DNA? He did this for a living.       Driving.
      He'd been doing it so long he was sure he knew how to do it before he could walk. It had been that long.
      Nope. It didn't make any sense whatsoever. He tried to think of all the reasons she could not do it. The skill must have skipped her. It was all that book reading. It was her Nana's fault. She'd never learned how to drive. It was her mother's fault. She spoiled her by not forcing her to go out, get in the car and move it. She was hard headed. Like her mother.
      Her 11 year old brother could do it for Christ's sake. It must be a girl thing. Boys were better at this kind of thing. Her brother was 11. He could drive.
     But then again, her mother didn't have any problem learning how to drive that new car he bought countless summers ago.
     He recalled the look on her face when he surprised her with a brand new car. This daughter was only eight at the time and the life of a long haul trucker was hard on a family. They would be able to visit him and he was sure the look she gave him was pure bliss at the prospect of driving all the kids across California to visit him.
      It took her five minutes to learn how to drive.
(That's what he remembered. )
 Her older sister never had a problem learning how to drive a stick shift. He took her out one time. That's it.
(Yeah, that's what he remembered, too.)

      What was so hard about driving anyway?  You put your foot on the clutch. You put it in first. You give it some gas.  You release the clutch. And you go.

     But each time she tried... Sputter...sputter...jerk...jerk...sputter... jerk.
     Each and every time she tried it the engine died another violent death and this time his head nearly hit the dashboard.
     He was calling it a day. Her mother could try teaching her now. He didn't care that she couldn't maneuver a stick shift. His neck and back were aching, he had a pounding headache and he had not sworn the entire time. That was good for him.
      Patience did not come easily to him. He wasn't raised that way. He didn't know how to be gentle, kind and encouraging. In his world no one ''taught" you how to drive. You just did it.
Like breathing.
      He'd had his fill of abuse from the little red car. The sweat was running down his back, soaking the seat covers and he was becoming delirious with hunger.
     Now, every time she killed the engine he was sure the little red car was mocking him.
Every sputter was a tease. "I'm going...I'm going...IIIIIIIIIIIII'mmmm goiiiiiiiiing...
Psych! Ha! Ha! Haaaaaaaaa!"
 That last time did it for him. He was hungry for turkey.
 And he needed a beer! Hell, he deserved a beer!
      "F@#&* it!" He muttered.

      She caught several other swear words slipping under his breath as he opened and slammed the car door. Where did he think he was going?
     She watched as he walked down the dirt road waving his arms in the air, swearing at some invisible passerby. As he made his way down the road she made out the words, "That's it. I'll meet you in town. I quit!"

      "Where the hell are you going?" he heard her shout out at him from the driver's seat window.
Without turning around he yelled back at her. "When you learn how to get it out of first you can come pick me up. I'll probably get to town before you. I QUIT!"

      Like a bull being released from it's confines, she flung the door open and ran after him yelling obscenities to the back of his head. "Quit? Quit? I'll walk to town. You can drive the frickin' car. I didn't even want this damn car! I QUIT!"

     This stopped him for a fraction of a second.
     When she caught up to him he turned to face her. Both stopped to stand their ground.
 Both readied themselves for a battle. She with fists on hips. He with limbs flying all around.
Punctuated with hand signals.
     Both were primed for a battle.
     While they held their stances they spewed obscenities at each other so profane they could burn the hair off of a passing feral dog. (If one dared come near.)
     It was a good thing they were out in the middle of the desert.

     After a few minutes of this they had exhausted their repertoire of profanities and themselves.
     They noticed the desert sun beating down on them; broiling their heads.

     There was a pause.

     He stared at her with amber eyes that flickered a challenge?
     She glared back at him through fogged up spectacles. She pushed them back up her nose as they slipped down her sweaty face.
      She caught the twitch of a smile tease her from the corner of his mouth. How dare he think this a joke! She glared at him even harder.
Ann Wilson's voice sang through her head...If looks could kill. You'd be lying on the floor...
     Quite often the most appropriate songs ran through her sub-conscious at the most appropriate times.
     Like a soundtrack to her life.
     She imagined herself roaring victoriously "I win!" While he puttered away in her little red car.
      She felt the tickle of a giggle beginning to rise at the image. She squelched the urge to laugh.
 She was pissed, tired, hot, and hungry.
And she needed a Pepsi. Hell, she deserved a Pepsi!
     He dared not laugh at her. He knew better. He'd seen that look before on her mother's face. And it said, Shut up.
     Laughing out loud could send her over the edge and send him into the nearby canal. She was so pissed she didn't care who he was, how big he was and what the repercussions would be. He was sure she could strangle him right there and leave him for the wild dogs. He needed to change tactics. Dammit!

      She turned on her heel and stomped down the dirt road. Continuing her verbal assault (punctuated with various hand signals) she began making her way back to town. Wherever that was."Get back in the car!" he yelled after her.
     "F@#$ you! I'm walking home!" She yelled back.
     She continued her stomp. She didn't know where she was, which direction she was heading and she didn't care!

      She walked until the swear words and music ran out of her head. She was calmer.
     That's when she heard the sound of a car approaching.  She turned towards the little red car. GREAT! What do you want! The frustration was rising again.  He pulled up next to her. "Get in the F@#$ing car!" He yelled out at her. Uh-oh the look again. Change tactics.

      She turned, adjusted her glasses, folded her arms and stood her ground.
Again. Did he really want to get into it again?

     She saw his face change. "Get in the car," he said more gently this time. She could tell he was struggling to do that. The tone helped ease her temper. This side of her father was a rare sight. It caught her off guard. She knew he was trying really hard.

     "Let's try this again. Get in."  He stepped out and she stared at him.  She gave in. She needed to.  She didn't know where she was out here in the middle of no man's land, who knew what could happen to her. She needed him. She needed her dad.
     And it was hot. Like their tempers.

      He got out and she climbed into the driver's seat. The thought of popping the car into first and taking off without him crossed her mind, but, she didn't know how to drive her car yet. She was dependent on him.

     So she sucked it up, and out there in the middle of the desert, surrounded by tumbleweed, canals and dirt, they practiced for what seemed another eternity.
     Until she finally did it!
     She got that little red car out of first. She didn't pop the clutch. She didn't kill the engine. She mastered that skill that came so naturally to her father.
      She was so proud of herself and the small smile on his face told her that he was too. Maybe it didn't skip her.
     "I'm hungry.  Can we go back home now?" She was spent.
     "Sure," he said.  "You want me to drive it home and show you how to power shift?"
     "Sure," she answered, intrigued by the words power shift.
     They traded places.
     The war in the desert was forgotten, forgiven and a thing of the past. They were friends again.
     They made their way back home.  He showed her how you could slip the car into the next gear without using the clutch and she was awed with his skills.  He was her hero again. More alike than different.
     The words they exchanged would be their secret.
they walked into their home and he announced to her mother, "You should have heard the words your daughter was using out there with me!"

Happy Thanksgiving!


Saturday, November 16, 2013

Quotes Advice, and words to live by #4:You can always change your mind...

     Little Pixie with Dimples sat on the floor staring intently at the picture her teacher decided to post on the board that morning. They were playing the "What is it?" game again. She liked the "What is it?" game. This was a thinking game. Teacher said this game would help them form a 'pinion. She didn't know what a 'pinion was but she sure did know she liked how everyone shared their idea. She told teacher that. Teacher said she liked her word, idea, too. This made Little Pixie with Dimples smile. It made her feel smart.
     So, they all sat there. They studied the picture. They all drew what was in their 'magination. They finished the picture. Then teacher asked each of them to give their 'pinion. They sat in a circle. They passed the microphone. The closer it got to her the more nervous she got. She felt her heart beating faster and louder each time one of her friends gave their 'pinion. She listened. Most of them thought it was the same thing. They gave their reasons. She didn't think it was what they thought it was. Something in her 'magination told her what it really was, but it wasn't anything close to what they thought. This made her nervous. Would they think she was weird. Would she be able to explain what she saw in her 'magination? She didn't know. She just knew that she knew what it was. She knew she was right.
     Then it was her turn. She took the microphone and held it with a sweaty fist.Teacher asked after a while, "So, honey what is your opinion? What do you think it is?" She looked down at her picture. She wasn't so sure now. Everyone was so sure of their own 'pinion. She wasn't so sure anymore. She stood up. "It's snow," she said, "because I saw it somewhere and that's what it looks like when it melts." Everyone stared at her with a funny look. One friend giggled. She wanted to cry. Then teacher took the microphone. "Okay friends, now that we gave all your opinions and your reasons, let's look at the whole picture and see if any of you change it."
So, teacher peeled back the page very slowly. Everyone sat still. She closed her eyes. She couldn't look. She knew she was wrong. What was she thinking?
      Then she heard the friend next to her inhale quickly and start clapping. She patted her on the back and gave her a quick hug. "Open you eyes!"
     When she opened them she saw that she was right. It was melting snow! Teacher asked them all if after seeing the whole picture anyone wanted to change their opinion. They all raised their hands. She asked why they thought their opinion changed? Little Pixie with Dimples held up her hand. Teacher called on her. "Why honey?" And this is what she said...

"You can always change your mind when you see the whole picture. That's okay. You just need to look at the whole picture."

Monday, October 28, 2013

Quotes, Advice, and Words to live by #3

"Cuidate el molcajete."
Ventura Valdez
My Nana
A bazillion years ago...
(the late eighties)
When the ozone layer was still intact. It was the days of big hair with bangs jacked up to Jesus.
(we called them eyelash heads)
When spraying Aqua Net or crowning your glory to a shellacifide consistency with that grapey smelling concoction, Aussie Sprunch Spray was "the thang to do".
 ("they" still sell sprunch spray 'ya know, don't know why, but "they" still do. Just in case you needed some)
The time came for me to fly the nest. For the second eldest in a big Mexican family this was difficult on so many levels. I had to leave the youngest of my brothers behind.
( still aches to sing Puff the Magic Dragon)
There were a lot of "Had to's" I had to do...
 I had to leave everyone I'd known and who knew me.
 I had to leave the small town I knew like the back of my hand.
(and the ditch banks too...hee, hee)
I had to leave the comfort of my big family.
I had to leave my Nana.
Leaving was hard. But like so many instances in life, hard things must be done.
I knew then like I know now, that leaving the comforts and security of home, family and friends was something I had to do to grow.
Nana knew this too.
She was a tough woman.
She had very little formal schooling, but she could read and write.
The border crossed her at a very young age, but she could speak english fluently.
The single mother of a deaf child, but she taught her how to sign.
Like I said, Nana was tough.
She was soft too.
I loved to sit with her and watch soap operas and Mexican novelas.
I loved to go to her house when I was sick and commandeer the television set. She had cable!
I loved to squeeze her and tuck my cold toes under her ample bottom. She was so warm.
I loved to goose her. She had a wicked sense of humor.
I loved to go shopping with her at the beginning of each month. She could stretch a Social Security check farther than I can stretch my paycheck.
I loved to eat at The Asia Cafe after our shopping trip. It was like a day out with the ladies.
I loved that she could defend herself against anyone. She could cuss like a sailor.
But I think the most I loved about Nana was that fact that she knew how to give advice in such a way that it told the receiver without mincing words, "I know of which I speak. Learn from my experience."
When I left home the only advice Nana gave was in spanish. Translation was not needed, nor was explanation.
"Cuidate el molcajete."
I've tried Nana. I hope I did you proud!
Teacher-Mom (Cory)

Saturday, October 26, 2013

Quotes, Advice, and Words to Live By #2

"If you don't ask the question, the answer is always no."


"In a year nobody will remember and it won't matter."

Debbie Walker


Wednesday, October 23, 2013

Quotes, Advice, and Words to LIve By #1

 "When you become a teacher there is something you must remember.  There is a difference between confidence and competence.  One must come before the other and one makes you look like an ass."

"More than two children together is a mob."

Dr. Ivan Rowe

     In my puny little life I have been blessed to be taught by the best, quite incidentally, and sometimes quite by accident.  Such was my student teaching supervisor, Dr. Ivan Rowe.  He was a small, round sort of fellow whom, now that I look back at my mind album, reminds me of a character right out of The Hobbit.  With his crisp, quick paced New Zealand accent, Dr. Rowe bestowed (hee, I made a rhyme!) 
unto me his wisdom of the ages.  I remember these word lessons, have taken them to heart and giggle every time someone does something befitting those words. 
Thanks Dr. Rowe...wherever you are!


Sunday, October 20, 2013

My FUN-ky Week!

     Nope I'm not talking about some Candy Dulfer song.  Do you know who Candy Dulfer is? Well, you should.   I'm talking about that feeling of overwhelmence (is that a word?) about this time in there's too much of too much and you need something to pull you out of it.
How do you do it? Thanks to some really funny people out there...namely people who think like kids, laugh like kids, and act like kids...of all ages, I get help getting myself out of that funk and turning it into FUN-k! Here's some FUN-ky stuff from the past week...

     1. Ask kids what their favorite number is.  You get this look of thoughtful introspection from them              and then they come up with some really random-not so random answers like..."I like the number            10 because it's round." Or..."I like the number 17 because it's 8."
     2. Go on a wild bug chase...with scotch tape in hand...when someone screams, "A BUG!"

     3. Go to Target and try on wigs!

     4. Stare at the moon...and howl at it with your chihuahua...and girls...and...and...!

     5. Throw in a random word when someone is venting.  Really. They look at you like you're nutso 
          then they giggle, then you both start two 6 year olds and then everything is okay                 again!
     6. Eat ice cream. Yeah that heals a lot of stuff!

     7. Watch as your chihuahua trots past you...eyeing you the whole she so sneakily takes a 
          pair of socks out through the doggie door. 
          Watch as your chowhuahua trots past you...eyeing you 
          the whole she sneakily takes a pair of underwear out through the doggie door.  

     8.  Go on a wild doggie chase throughout the back yard trying to retrieve 5,382 pairs of socks, 
          undies, towels...from them!

      9.  Watch as your chowhuahua flips through the air catching flies!

      10. Chase the cat through the house when you hear the beginnings of a full on hairball purge!

And listen to some Candy Dulfer while you're at it!


Sunday, October 6, 2013

Smiley Face!

Little Pixie in Pigtails held her momma's hand tightly and glanced up at her as she held back her tears.  She was tardy again.  Momma was tired.  Her new baby sister, her twin sisters and she were dealing with the effects of a nasty bug.  Momma was at her wits end.  Momma gave her a look that said only one thing, "Don't cry. I cant' handle that right now."  So she didn't cry.  Today she was going to be a big girl and walk in alone.  She tapped on the door, ever so lightly.  Maybe no one would hear it and she wouldn't have to go in.  From out there she could hear them saying words.  She peeked through the long window.  They were staring at those squiggly lines and mouthing words.  Her heart beat faster as a big kid twice her size and twice her age opened the door.  She wondered who he was.  This wasn't one of her friends.  He held the door open as she stared wide eyed up at him.  Her momma bent down and gave her a peck, a little hug and a coax past the threshold of her classroom.  "Good morning honey.  Come on in.  It's good to see you this morning. Come join us.  We're practicing our reading!"  The sound of her teacher's greeting helped ease her anxiety just a little bit.  Reading.  That's what her teacher called what they did when they looked at those squiggly lines.   Her teacher called to the big boy who had held the door open for her.  "Nathan, would you mind stting with our friend and helping her today?"   The big boy nodded.  He came over to sit with her.  She looked up at him.  He sat next to her most of the morning until they went to recess.
     Recess was one of her favorite times of the day.  She didn't have to do things that made her scared.  At recess she was free and felt good about herself.  Then the bell rang and it was time to go back in and look at more squiggly lines.  This time they had to write them.  Teacher tried to make it fun.  But somehow she could never match those lines to the ones that came out of her mouth.  Even drawing a picture wasn't fun.  Today was different though.  Teacher asked the big boy to help her.  The big boy helped her draw a picture.  He was a good artist.  The big boy wrote squiggly lines for her when she told him her story.  He told her he would read it to her if she put her fingers under the words.  Words, that's what he called those squiggly lines.  He told her she did a good job.  He told her it was a good story and to go show teacher.  She looked up at him.  Her heart beat faster.  "Go on.  Go show your teacher."  So she did.  She stood beside her teacher's table until the child she was working with scurried away.  Teacher looked up at her with that look.  She didn't know what it meant, but she knew it made her heart beat even faster when she saw it.  Her teacher took a deep breath, let it out and smiled.  "Whatcha got honey?"  "My story teacher." "Read it to me honey."  She repeated what she had said to the big boy while he wrote the squiggly lines.  Then teacher did something no one had ever done before.  She smiled and wrote a smiley face on her paper!  She gushed and she threw her arms around her teacher's neck and she squeezed as hard as she could.  "Oh thank you teacher! Thank you! Thank you!"  Teacher squeezed back and she told her this.  "Oh Missy Miss. You're gonna make teacher cry!"
And she squeezed her even harder.  This was a great day.  She got a smiley face on her paper!


Saturday, September 14, 2013

Soccer B'girl

B'girl, B'girl sitting in her chair.
Ten times too small
But she don't care
Thinking of her puppy
Takes her blues away
How her Momma so wishes
Little would she stay!



Thursday, September 12, 2013

Puppy Love

Do you have a "thing"? I have a "thing". Well, I have a lot of "things". But one of those "things" is the fact that I cannot help myself when it comes to puppies and kidlets.  There's something about the wiggly-waggly unconditional love those little critters give us that can't be beat.  From their little wet noses to their little fluffy paws they bring a smile to my face.  They make me happy.  They make my B'Girl happy.  As I listen to her talk to them I can't help but peak in and watch entranced as they stare at each other and with a cock of their heads and a twitch of their ears, I know that they understand.  They speak the language of children and small animals.  Love.




Sunday, September 8, 2013


Do you have mind albums? I do. Tucked away on a dusty shelf , holding the most precious of snapshots, these mind albums wait until someone picks them up, blows the dust off, and lovingly turns the pages to the memories closest to our hearts; those that played the most important part in molding who we are right now.  Like a child pulling on my shirttail beckoning my every ounce of attention and energy, I stopped everything last week and turned to a page in my mind album.

My Mom lost her bff last week and the moment I received the news, I turned to a small black and white snapshot of a very cute lady resembling Betty Boop and her hunky boyfriend rocking the "Elvis" wave. They were and are two of my mom and dad's closest and dearest childhood friends. I remember the glow on the faces of my parents whenever they got news that they would be coming to town. During these far between visits I caught a glimpse of who my mom and dad were as youngsters; long before the responsibilities of  jobs and children and long before the heart ache of loss.

Laughter was at the forefront of all these visits and because these friends "got" them, I saw my parents as they really are at their core. They finished each other's sentences. They told wicked jokes, laughed and argued, told the same silly stories that I could never get enough of and they would do this until the sun came up. It was during one of these visits that I first heard my father sing. Wow! Albeit, it was a bilingual version of Duke of Earl that, well, let's just say Glitterific Girl doesn't need to hear the lyrics to it.

(tu, tu, tu... tu cabron...tu, tu...tu cabron...)

It still makes me giggle. I'm Glitterific Girl and my parents...and their friends.
I realized that these visits molded my opinion and my values of what true friendship truly looks like, sounds like and who I keep in my inner circle.

To my friends...thank you for "getting" me and to all my parent's friends...thank you for loving them and showing me what true friendship really is.




Monday, September 2, 2013

Three day weekends...cough!

They got me! Yep. Within the first few days I heard it. Through the squeals and screeches of, "There's an aaaaaaaant!!!"
(Did I mention those critters have found their way to my classroom? No? Well they have. Yep. Yep. Yuuuup. They have. Give me a second. I need to sigh deeply, roll my eyes and shake my head...okay)

Anyhoo. As I was sayin'. I heard the sound of deep gutteral coughing and sniffling the first few days of the first few days of first few grade. And I tried really hard to deny that I was going to catch it.  I'm a robust, healthy, can't catch me Mom.  I don't have time to get sick. So I stayed away from him. Well. I tried. And all my tryin' got me nowhere. Nothin'. Nada.
And so I sit here after a busy weekend of car washing, and soccer game watching, and errand running, and laundry washing and...(that's a whole lotta 'inging') writing this just saying that...that little sucker got me and it isn't even the third week of school!
Oh well. Between the M...F'er and the ants and Little Mr. Snoots A Lot...I think this is going to be a very, excuse me...AAAAAAAAAACHOOOOOO....very interesting year indeed...
Oh, and did I tell you that I got to sleep with two girls, three dogs, and a cat last night...oh and GWH was in there somewhere too...I think...somewhere...I think...GWH??? Oh, GWH???



Thursday, August 29, 2013


     Little Pixie in a frilly skirt looked perturbed as she held the door open for all 2947 little sweaty firsties trotting in from lunch recess.  "Everything alright at lunch honey?" I asked, half knowing who was the cause for the scrunched up look on her little face.  "We need to have a meeting," she replied through huffy breaths.  "There was a problem..." I couldn't quite make out the rest of her words since the noise coming out of 2947 sweaty firsties... coming in from just having grilled cheese... running and standing in 102 degree weather...on the second week of first grade... rivals that of an empty freight train... rolling along in the middle of a tornado in New York City. (although I've never been to New York City, but friends tell me it's loud)
     So, being set on establishing those routines and putting out fires as they come up at the beginning of school, I say to her. " Well honey, you're the Student Teacher, have everyone sit on the carpet and we'll call a meeting."  So being the efficient little boss lady that she is (I know a leader when I see 'em) she barks out the order for everyone to quiet down and sit for a meeting to discuss our "issues" at recess.          As everyone quieted down, I asked her to tell what went on.  Little Pixie in the frilly skirt proceeds to address the crowd and spurts out, with out missing a syllable, "The problem is...when I was holding the door open _________ (insert your own little darlin's name here...and 'ya know you have one already!) called me a M...F'er!"
     And know what???  Nobody flinched...not even their Teacher.  She was too busy trying to contain her giggles!

     So, friends.  How's your year comin' along?


Sunday, August 18, 2013

How to Cook a Chicken

It's that time again. Time to squeeze my feet back into real shoes, brush my hair and put on make-up, dust off the alarm clock, and choose a focus for the new school year and for my busy life really. This year I'm gonna teach them all how to cook a chicken.
( say whaaaaat?!?!)
Okay let me 'splain...
I have been blessed to learn how to do this job of mothering and teachering from some of the best out there.  The lessons come quite incidentally and when they come something in the back my pea brain says,"Hold on to this. You're gonna need it one day."
(I hear those angels telling me it was them all along)
Several years ago, before the days of children. Before the days of sleepless nights. Before  the days of fly by the seat of my pants mornings and before the days of dazed confusion, I sat planning with two best teacher buddies at that time. Both ladies had my life now. Kids, work, family, kids, work, family, rinse, repeat...
As we sat there, Jennie, at that time had two boys in highschool, one in junior high and one in kindergarten.
(whew! and she still had time to do her nails!)
After the usual how are you's, Jennie proceeded to give her boy instructions on what to do with the chicken in her fridge. "Take it out of the package. Place it in the pan. Pour the sauce over it. Turn the oven on to..." The entire time she was doing this she was also shuffling papers, writing things down, handing things to me and our buddy Laurene and doing it with ease and grace.  During this whole interaction, Laurene looked over at me and with pure awe in her voice she said to me, "She's teaching him how to cook and he doesn't even know it."
So, this year I will channel my inner Jennie. I will try my darndest to teach incidentally, give patient direction and teach 'em even when they don't even know it!



Wednesday, August 7, 2013

Greetings from Tuscany

Where the wine grapes are ready for picking...
  The trees tell stories...
The bella signoras guide you through lyrical paths...
To out of the way sleeping treasure sites...
Until once again the schoolbell rings and slurps us back into reality!

It's that time again and well, the "imagication" is nearly over!


Sunday, August 4, 2013

Goodbye, Brother...

Even before I turned and saw what had happened I knew all was not alright.  Like a Momma with her sixth sense tuned into every twitch, whimper and whine the babies she bore make, I knew that something was wrong even before GWH walked in. (ha! the sucker slinked in really) 
From the abyss that we call "the GARAGE", he said nothing. He just held it up as I tried to make a sound. "I think it's time to get rid of this, " he finally said, "I was lifting something and all I heard was snap!" 
 And all I could say was..."Hold it there while I get my phone so I can post this on my Facebook!" 

So, goodbye and me...hundreds of sleepless hours.
I will miss you and your clickety-clack-clickety-clickety-clickety-cachunka-cachunka-cachunka...
I guess I had to let you go somehow.  
(however.. I did contemplate going out and getting it out of the recycle bin...)

Really though, if it weren't for me being busy crushing and boiling 40 pounds of grapes into jelly...well...
 From this...
To this!
And during all the, this-that-and the other happenings of busy summer life...

This, other-that, was going on! 

"Mom, I like the stories I write and those are the ones I like to read."

So...what kind of this-that-and the other is happening with you?


Sunday, July 7, 2013

Life is like a crayon...

 You are perfect and your possibilities are limitless.  
The person your life has been entrusted to attempts to keep you as perfect as possible. for as long as possible.  They take hold of you with tenderness and they revel in your scent, newness and flawlessness.

You are made to feel special.  In fact, you are special for a very long time.  But with all things put to good use you become worn and often broken.  Attempts are made to mend those pieces, however, tape will not adhere, the mending falls off and you no longer fit in your original home.

It's time to find a new home.
Your old one has been well worn by use and it can no longer contain you.  When placed there the fit is tight and you are lost.  So, you're given a new home and there you swim, oddly enough, more comfortably with the other broken and well worn colors.

 For a long time, these new surroundings make you feel tossed aside, disregarded and abandoned for something new.  You feel a mixture of sadness and anxiousness.  You ask your self questions.  Many questions.  Will you ever feel like you have a purpose again?  Will you ever feel special again?  You begin to think that your use for creating beauty is a fading memory.  And the boldness? It is but a shadow.
Then one day, someone reaches in and the remains of your original casing is shorn.  This is the beginning of something foreign. It is terrifyingly exhilarating as this is a rebirth.  And you learn even more about yourself than you ever dreamed possible.
Although you encounter others that share the same hue, you are unique. From being with this eclectic mix you have earned remarkable etchings and specks of colors that set you apart from every other crayon in the mix.  You are you and there will never be another like you.
You realize that how you started out was imperfect in its perfection.
The impossibilities had not been dreamed.
 Beauty and vibrancy was a sleeping illusion and now... you are the most perfect you.

And remelted together...
carefully poured in another form...
your hues are truly limitless...

and you are amazing!


Monday, June 24, 2013

So Close to Happy

    Her mother and father were taking them on an adventure again. Somewhere. They never told her brothers and sister where to.  "If we did, well, it wouldn't be an adventure, would it." These adventures always started out the same way.  Her mother and father would buy a loaf of bread, a package of bologna, and a six pack of Pepsi.  Enough, for everyone in the car if anyone got hungry  Her father would take them to the local liquor store and there they would fill their small brown paper baggies with candy for the long trip.  That was always a perk to these adventures.
  That evening, each child would bathe and get to bed as early as possible; a hard thing for an excited adventure seeker to do and especially difficult for her.  In the middle of the night, her dad would quietly go around and lift each little slumbering body into his arms, carry it out to the car, and then gingerly place it into a car seat.  Each body except for hers.  When he approached her bed she would poke her head up and she would scamper to the car.  She was always already awake and would stay that way the entire length of the trip.  It didn't matter how hard she tried, she could never fall asleep.  The whirring of the tires and the hushed conversation between her mother and father lulled the others to sleep, but for her? It only helped to keep her awake.  
     Night driving, her mother and father called it.  Once she overheard them talking to friends about the benefits to driving at night with kids. "They sleep the entire time and we beat the heat."  They slept and as for beating the heat-that really didn't make sense to her either while she became glued to the plastic seats of their car.  It was always miserable for her.  She envied how her siblings could doze and wake up refreshed.  She guessed the one benefit she did have over them was that she got to see beautiful sunrises. She had seen many a sunrise in her few years on earth.  She loved staring at the sun peeking out over the horizon; keeping her eyes fixed on it until she could see spots beneath her closed lids, she swore sometimes she could hear the earth sizzle as it poked its head out.
      The sweat from her neck trickled down her chest and formed a V on the front of her favorite sundress.  She raised her chin and pulled on the little cap sleeves using them to wipe the stickiness from around her neck. This would help keep her cool for a split second until the perspiration inevitably formed again.  She ripped one leg off the plastic seat, held it up for a few seconds fanning the underside of her leg, then repeated the same motion with the other leg.
       As she pulled the skirt of her dress further underneath her legs, she let out a long sigh and tossed her brother's foot off of her.  Then she did it again.  She had been repeating this same routine for what seemed a million and a half hours.  It was only about an hour really, but to a hot, miserable, sleep deprived 8 year old girl it was a million and half hours.  And to make matters worse, she had to pee...again.
      She counted passing headlights to keep her mind off of her bursting bladder but it wasn't helping.  She had to go.  Real bad.  "Dad," she whined from the backseat, "I gotta go."  She heard the grumble from the front seat and felt the car veer to the right.  The roadside dirt and rocks crackled beneath the rolling tires as the brakes squealed to a stop.  "Come on," her mother whispered to her over the idle of the engine.  As she opened the car door, the popping of the hinges echoed the popping of her father's bones as he stretched and yawned.  This made her mom giggle.  She climbed over two sleeping boys, over her sister in the front seat and stepped out barefooted into the total blackness.  "Hurry, we need to make time," her father growled from inside the car.  Make time.  He always said that.  She never understood what that meant.  It was the middle of the night.  What kind of time were they supposed to be making?
     Her mother took her hand and ushered her behind the car; away from the headlights and turned her back to give her a sense of privacy.  As they walked further out into the darkness, she was intrigued with the immense quietness and solitude.  This darkness didn't scare her.  Out here, in the middle of nowhere, the desert night was surprisingly cool and peaceful.  She caught her breath as a gentle breeze blew across her face, like a tender kiss from the night air it sent a tingle of comfort all over her body as she closed her eyes and held her face up to the sky.  When she opened them what she saw always took her breath away.  Above her lay an ebony blanket encrusted with millions of tiny twinkling diamonds.  She stood there mesmerized until the horn from the car jerked her out of her tranquility and on to her business.  "Let's go," her mother giggled, "before your father loses it."
     Into the car and onward to their destination.  "Where are we going this time?" she asked.  Maybe this time they would let her in on the secret.  She waited.  "Close you eyes and when you see it you'll know," said her mother.  She tried.  She squeezed her eyes shut.  She listened to the whirring of the tires.  She placed her head on her pillow and felt the cool sheet against her cheek.
     "Look, can't you see it?" The squeals from her little brother catapulted her out of her slumber.  "Wha, wha, what. See what?" "There can't you see it? There, peeking out."  She rubbed the sleep from her eyes and tried to focus in the the direction her whole family was looking.  It took her a few seconds and then it came into clear focus.  A peak.  A turret.  A castle!  She couldn't contain her excitement.  She had to get out of the car.  She had to run to it.  "Don't worry we'll get there.  Calm down everybody.  Let me park the car!"
     As they all clambered out of the car, she could hear her mother and father yelling after them. "Where are you guys going?  You can't get in without a ticket and you need shoes!"  But they didn't hear them.  They couldn't contain their excitement.  They were 20 yards from the ultimate in happiness.  Nothing was stopping them from going in and meeting their friends.  Nothing.  As they ran to the front gates they were met by a wall of people all waiting to go in too.  The gates were locked.  They would not be opened for another thirty minutes. What? They had to wait? What? Couldn't these people understand that waiting was torture?  So close.  So tired and yet she still had to wait.  "Ah rats! I got woken up for this?"

Sunday, June 9, 2013

Homework for the Teacher: Trapped!

     So, if you've read any of my "stuff" you know that I'm not the type of teacher who believes in giving homework during the summer. Really, what's that all about?? Yuck! I believe summer for kiddos is for doing their real job...being kiddos!  However, since taking the A-Z Challenge I've found that it's true what "they" say about it taking 21 days to create a habit.  The Challenge helped me create a good one!  I've learned that I need to write.  It comes naturally.  Even if no one else ever reads it, it's something I need to do for me.
(But to all of you who do stop by and take a peek...thanky, thanky, thanky!!)
      At the same time, since it does come naturally, I've taken it for granted.  I've learned writing doesn't come easy to everyone.  So this God given talent?  I need to practice and perfect it.
(Ugh! it sounds like homework, doesn't it!)
     But, you want to know something else?  I've learned that if you love to do something, it's not tedious, cumbersome, or something you really want your dog to eat! So, on that note...may I present my first homework assignment for Short Story Ideas...
(feel free to tell me what you think, but please be kind, I like gold stars too, 'ya know)
 The Writing Prompt
The realization of what he had done suddenly struck him.  There was no turning back.

     His hand shot up and he waved frantically. The lunch he had eaten was talking to him and it was telling him it needed out! What was he going to do?  She kept turning her back to him.  He willed her to turn his way.  She didn't.  He started to panic.  She had warned them all to use the restroom before they came back in, but he didn't heed her advice and he forgot to...again.  He would have to pay the consequences for not following the rule, but that was a chance he was willing to take at that moment.  He needed to go!              
     Just as he was contemplating throwing all caution to the wind and running out the door.  She turned. Through squinched eyes she pointed to the door and mouthed. "GO!" 
     But when he got there, the two stalls were occupied.  He had to think fast.  So he did what no 11 year old boy on the face of this earth would do.  Desperation and need some times take over and he ran out of there and danced his way to the next door; the girls restroom.  He took quick inventory of the hall.  Nobody.  He opened the door and bent over.  No feet!  He ran the three steps it takes to get into the stall and locked it securely.  He made it!  Without being noticed!  He was so proud of himself and bid good-bye to his lunch.  
     Then as he flushed the evidence of his visit down the toilet, the worst thing in the world happened.  He heard a shuffle of foot steps.  The jiggle of the door.  Then someone's loud sigh.  She was waiting.  "Go away," he thought.  But she didn't.  She waited.  "Are you okay in there?" Oh no.  It was her.  The one girl in school he did not want seeing him walk out of there.  What should he do?  Everyone would know then.  He had to stall.  But how? Quick thinking again, he did the only thing he could do in there.  Flush. Again, and again, and again, until she got the hint and went away.  She didn't.  "Hey, I really need to go, can you hurry it up in there? The restroom downstairs is locked." 
     More toilet paper.  More flushing and then it happened.  The inevitable.  It started with a gurgle.  It looked like it was going down.  And then it didn't.  It came up.  Oh boy, did it come up!  It oozed out.  It spilled over.  Over onto the floor, onto his shoes and under the stall. 
      He heard her gasp and let out a scream.  And as he heard the pitter patter of her feet running down the hall and back into their class, he also heard her screaming out, "Mrs. Ray, the toilet in the girls' restroom is gushing all over the place and there's someone trapped in there!"
     And, the realization of what he had done suddenly struck him.  There was no turning back.  And as he heard the mad footsteps rushing in his direction, he thought, "Yep! I'm trapped alright!" 


Friday, June 7, 2013

...And the teacher cried help!

     I've written about my student's buddies and the bond they've created throughout the year, but this week two completely unrelated events solidified the importance of creating mentors out of the kiddos at any school.

Well, Get Up...

     He was rolling on the ground.  Kicking up the dirt with one foot and making sure I didn't make eye contact but at the same time making sure I knew he was there.  He was angry because I didn't let him organize some books for me and instead wanted him to, no, no, do some work.  He was going to punish me for not letting him have his way and well, on this 100+ degree day, I was not going to stay outside and suffer with him.   He is an expert in passive aggressiveness.  He could give classes.  I think he may have.  Now that I think of it, all those trips to the restroom...dang-it! He was holding class in there! Now, I get it.  
(I'm quick like that)
      So, I lined up all the sweaty little sweeties actually listening to me (that minute) and proceeded to march them in.  " Are you coming with me or do you want me to have Mr. R come out and getcha?"  He pouted and gave me the stink-eye and spun on his bottom. "Hrumph!"  He was going to make me pay!.
(two years of that look, and it still makes me giggle...he hasn't figured that out)
     As he was giving me the death-ray look, not two inches from him I noticed yet another little darlin' stretched out on his back making cement angels.  He too was  angry at his teacher for something or the other.
     So here it is 100,000 degrees out, my other cherubs are contemplating mutiny to get into the air-conditioned building, and I'm stuck with these two lovelies.  What do I do?  Well, what any seasoned professional educator would do...I called The First Knight, Eagle Scout #1, The Man Who Makes the Big Bucks, The Human Fire Extinguisher, The Running Man, The...VP!!!
( More names for our Admin team? I got a million of 'em!) 
     And there he was to save the daaaaay! Poor man was actually doing something we rarely see him do...Eat!  I felt horrible disturbing him, but someone had to go out and get those kiddos in!!! 
 "Hey Mr. R. One of my little friends and another little friend are outside and they don't want to come in."
Fast forward about 15 minutes...
     In trots in my little friend followed by my VP still doing that rare activity and he shared that he asked my little friend to ask the cement angel why he was mad.
     "Hey, I need you to help me over here."  Mr. Pouty Lips got up and bent over Mr. Cement Angel.
"Why you mad?"  "I want a drink of water!" "Well get up and get a drink of water." "Okay."
And that was it!  Conflict resolved.  No time-outs.  No more crying and Mr. R was able to eat his salad!



Wednesday, June 5, 2013

Wisdom from the Backseat

It's the season for changes.
      Although challenging and often-times bittersweet, these changes need to continue in order for life to be lived to the fullest.  Without change, well, life isn't worth living.  I'm amazed at how little people can explain things so simply and profoundly.
 Let me 'splain...
     While driving home Glitterific Girl, B'Girl and I talked about the huge possibility of our moving.
( Really, we need to.  GWH and I are running out of room and these two girls are spilling out into our space...excuse me while I move some stuff!)
      Glitterific piped up and said, to my surprise, "Mom, I don't want to move unless Dad digs up Hunny and Bucky, puts them in the car and we take them with us."
     Well, after 32 seconds of imagining GWH exhuming the remains of our dearly departed, I hear a giggle from the back seat and a, "Eeeeyew, Hunny would be stinky!" from B'Girl.
(It's amazing how she read my mind!)
     Then, being the sensitive person that she is, Glitterific responded with, "Well, I'm not moving because they would be lonely."  My mind went..............blank!  What would I say to this girl?
     So, we got into a little discussion about how our doggies souls are forever with us and their bodies are mere coverings.  I thought my explanation was sufficient until Glitterific added this...

The Lesson
 When someone we love dies it's like they are a clam. We eat what is inside the shell and it goes inside us and it stays with us. That's their soul.  What's left is the covering that held the good stuff!

Here's to the good stuff!


Tuesday, June 4, 2013

End of Year Jitters

For me, and I do think many teachers out there will agree, there are three points in the school year that are the most hectic...
The beginning:

It's just as scary for us as it is for them.  We don't know what we're getting.  Nuh-uh, and those nervous little people you send off to us in the morning?  Yeah, they're a little like Gremlins... they're really cute...and cuddly...and sweet...and unsure of what to do...they're scared...they're strangers to us...they're reeeeeally quiet...and know what? We're scared of them too!
Then the middle happens...and happens...and happens...and there are ups and downs...and twists and turns...and we fall in love with those little people...and they make us laugh...and sigh...and cry...and pull out our gray hair...and just when we think we got 'em all figured out...we have to pack it up...test them out...write them in end of the year shows...and keep teaching them while they are in summer time mode...and wanting to play...and they scrape their bodies across wall...and drag their bodies down the hallways...and you swear that the children you have spent the past 9 months with truly are Gremlins and the sweat dripping from their little foreheads has caused them to turn into this...
So...right now I am MIA for a bit because I am busy trying to do this...


Thursday, May 30, 2013

Pawprints and Handprints on Our Hearts

Forever in our hearts

"I know that God truly loves us because He sends such beautiful creatures to accompany us on this life's journey."

These were words of comfort written to me by the lady who left this earth the same summer Hunny came into our lives. 
The ache and emptiness in the heart of our family is only comforted by the knowledge that everyone and every creature we have ever loved are sitting together in God's beautiful garden.


Wednesday, May 22, 2013

Messages from Little Angels

     The bell screamed out the signal for the end of lunch.  "Ugh! Not over already.  I hope this afternoon is better than this morning." She heaved herself up from her chair.  "Time to get the darlings."
     As she walked out to retrieve her brood, the same little people she had practicing walking in a line at morning recess rushed at her and practically knocked her over.  They still didn't learn their lesson! "Teacher he..."  "Get back in line!"  She griped at them.  "We will discuss any issues in class.  She checked the line and marched them all in.  When they arrived at their destination.  She gave them instructions.  "Go in.  Walk to your desks.  Do not talk and put your heads down."  She repeated her instructions 3 times.  She asked them to repeat the instructions.
  They began to talk as soon as they began to move. 
      She walked over to the front of the class, started writing names on the whiteboard and as she did this the volume in the classroom quickly dissipated.  She inhaled deeply as she turned to the 31 sets of puppy dog eyes looking at her.  She paused, then croaked out. "Okay friends, it is nearly the end of the school year.  You are all nearly second graders.  This morning you were all supposed to be working on your tasks and you were not supposed to get out of your seats and many of you did."
      She could hear the blinking of their innocent eyes as they glanced at each other. 
 "Do you see the list of names on the board? These are the names of all the friends I watched get out of their seats, chat with their friends, clean out their desks, read their library books, stare at the ceiling, do everything BUT what I asked them to do just right now.  Several of these friends had to practice walking in a line at recess this morning.  We are still having issues.  Friends, what exactly is Rule number 5?" 
     They all looked up at her and in unison recited, "Keep your teacher happy, because if teacher is happy then we're happy!"
      "Well friends, look at my face.  Am I happy?"  As she was saying this one sweaty little sweetie stood up and proceeded to walk up to her.  She looked around the classroom searching for the cameras she just knew were catching the bewildered look on her face."  He handed her an index card. "Here Teacher I made this for you."  She did the only thing she could do.  She took it from him.  She read it.  And she smiled.
The Lesson
My Rock-Star teacher buddy said this when I shared what had happened today.  "These are little gifts from God.  He knows what we need and he delivers His messages on the wings of these Little Angels.  We are so blessed!"


Monday, May 20, 2013

Off Duty-Yard Duty, huh? Well for most folks it is. For most, it's an idyllic scene. It conjures up memories of party hats, cake eating, and general merriment. The dads in the background mirror the joyous vibe coursing through the entire event.
     Everyone is having a rip-roaring time... if you're most folks.
(what's she getting at? Why is she rambling on? Don't fret. Seriously, there is a point. I shall illustrate the point with a story...)

     Jen hated birthday parties. She hated baseball games. She hated karate practice. She basically hated any activity that involved children and their parents. You see for Jen, accompanying her children to these functions and activities caused enough added stress in her life, that the baristas at her local Starbuck's could tell from the moment she entered the cafe if she was in the "mood" for a double mochaccino latte caramel machiato with a triple shot of espresso, or a simple brew of the day-sweetened with just a splash of cream.  If on her arrival the entire establishment cleared her path they knew not to greet her jovially.  To do so, would cause her to give them such a look by which all their perkiness withered away as did several of their reproductive years.  On these occasions her beverage was passed to her with averted eyes and minimal conversation.  New baristas were forewarned not to attempt eye contact.
     You see Jen is a teacher.  With that occupation comes the inevitable phenomena of having an invisible lanyard strapped around her neck with an equally invisible whistle dangling from it. Wherever she went she tried her best to go incognito.  She coached her children to keep her occupation a secret.  If ever asked, they were to tell the parents of their friends that she worked for the IRS, the CIA, the FBI, anything but the ABCDEFG.  To do so would result in her cover being lifted as she tried to be "normal" just like all the other Housewives of "fill in the blank".
For her, the aformentioned occasions began like this...
     On her way to pick up Boy Number 1 she notices a tell-tale envelope in his hand.  He throws it in her lap and grins.  "Can I go?" he asks.  "We'll see." she responds.  She "accidently" tosses the invitation in her teacher bag.  She figures out of sight, out of mind.  They make their way to karate practice.  When they arrive, she sits with all the other moms and dads.  She greets them and engages in light conversation about the weather, their children, shopping (yuck). She knows she could get a lot of paperwork done during the hour, but always decides against bringing in the tools of her trade.  They still don't know what she does.  For a full year she has dodged the subject of her job.  She is a mystery to them and she likes it that way.  She has become a master of changing the subject but for some reason her guard was down that day and it happens.  One mom asks what she and her family are planning on doing on a certain weekend in two weeks.  "Oh really nothing." she responds unsuspectingly.  Then the mom asks if she got the invitation to Jonny Joe Angel's birthday bash at Billy Bubba's Burger, Base-paintball and Bouncerama.
     The Super-mom hands her an envelope identical to the one burning a hole in her teacher bag.  "Well here's another in case he lost it.  It's in two weeks. You can make it!"

Fast-forward to the festive day...
     Jen is determined to have a good time.  She will sit with the other parents and relax.  She will keep her back to the children in such a way that any shenanigans will be out of sight.  She will talk and laugh and enjoy the party.

She really tries until...
     Her younger child comes up to her and tells her that there are kids playing Wrestle mania in the bouncer.  She tells him to go tell the party hostess.  She watches as the hostess goes over and warns the offender.  She watches as the little darling says he won't do it again and as she turns her back, she catches him stick his tongue out at her.  Jen's hackles begin to rise.  She catches his eye and gives the boy "the look".  He knows what that means.  He's seen it before and he cowers.  She decides to ignore that area but not before she tells her boys to stay away from "that kid".  She is off duty and she is going to enjoy herself too!
     As she proceeds to converse with a particularly lovely mom, the mother's darling little girl, a Pixie in Pink comes to her complaining about the same offender.  Her mommy knows who the parent of the culprit is and goes over to tell her that her child needs to be watched.  The mother gives her a look and turns in the direction of the bouncer. She yells, "Son be careful with the kids!" She turns her back and continues her conversation.  Jen tries to ignore the area.  But it's no use.  No matter how hard she tries, she can't keep her focus away from the havoc.  It's impossible to ignore.  She continues to watch the same scene play out over and over, as the little monster continues to leave victims in his wake, he even manages to recruit a number of other children to join him.  One by one the victims go to their mothers and complain.  One by one the mothers of the offenders ignore what is happening. Then, Pixie in Pink comes back to her mommy.  This time she is choking on her tears.  Now, the leader of the pack is spitting on children from inside the bounce house!  By this time Jen has had it.  She gets up, storms over to the bouncer and yells, "You, you, you and you.  You've been told to stop this behavior and you refuse to listen. Get out now and go to your mothers. You are off limits to this bouncer until you have learned how to play correctly and be respectful of the other children!  Do you understand??"  They look at her in shock.  "Get out now and go to your mothers I said!"

     As the other parents stared at her, several in a huff, her companion exclaimed, "I knew you were a teacher by the way you looked at that boy! IRS my foot!"

The Lesson
I think this one is obvious.  You don't have to be a teacher to have seen this scene play out and you don't have to be a teacher to react like Jen did.  Really people, watch and discipline your kids and when someone calls your kids out...say thank you!
Whew! I got that off my chest!


Friday, May 17, 2013

We'll Be Waiting

     Those little whimpers and whines, ears pulled back, noses to the window, they make you a little sad and echo your feelings. You want to hold back the hands of time and you mourn it's passing.
     Those whimpers remind you that those little people you all love so much...they are growing up way too quickly.
     They turn and they're little eyes beg to ask, "Where are they going Mom? Will they be back? Don't go. Don't you know we love you?"
     It makes your heart break a little every time you have to see it. Together you watch them walk away.
     And as they walk away, you capture the pixel image in your heart and mind and you whisper a prayer too. "I love you. Be safe my babies. We'll be waiting."

The Lesson
At this time of celebrating milestones; with graduations, weddings, birthday parties, and all the other reasons to celebrate the passing of time, I am reminded of something universal for most parents. Leaving your babies? It doesn't get easier as they get older.  You do get accustomed to the routine but the ache that tugs at your heart as you watch them walk away? It just becomes a little more familiar. 


Tuesday, May 14, 2013

Have you Giggled Today?

Attitude Adjustment

     There are things that just bring a smile to your face, a giggle to your belly and make you slow down on a busy Friday morning and say, "I love that people still do this!"
     I do imagine that the person this happened to wasn't all too pleased that he/she was the victim of a prank and that they would have to clean up, however, that initial reaction had to have been a mixture of hilarity and surprise.
     A person has to be one cold-hard fish for this not to evoke even a little smirk.

The Lesson
Silliness is universal.
Go a little silly today. It's good for 'ya!