Saturday, December 24, 2011

Traditions...New and Old

I love Christmas. And I am a stickler for traditions. As a kid, Christmas Eve was always spent at my grandparents' house. We always had pork sandwiches (we call them porkies) and macaroni and cheese. The house was full of people and the proliferation of presents was amazing.

As we grandkids got older and started our own families, we didn't always do Christmas Eve at Nana's, but there was always a celebration at her house some time before Christmas...whenever we could all get together. Christmas Eve 2010 was the last time for the tradition of Nana's house. It turned out that it was a blessing that my family, my parents, my sister's family, and my brother's family could all be together one more time. It was a special day, but we didn't know how special until the next day.

Christmas 2010 was the worst Christmas ever. First my sweet G woke in the night sicker than she had been in a long time. The poor thing was puking every hour and then after a couple of hours, it was my turn. I called my dad to come and pick up the other two girls (Lili and Gab) for Christmas dinner at mom and dad's house (another tradition.) An hour later, he called back to say that mom wouldn't be cooking dinner. Nana, who had been diagnosed with lymphoma for quite some time, was rapidly declining. Mom was staying by her side.

Nana passed away later than evening. It was a terrible Christmas.

This year I decided to take over for Nana. Christmas Eve is going to be at my house. I have a pork roast in the oven for the porkies. Genevieve made Nana's Chex Mix...she used to make gallons of it and everyone got to take home a huge bag full. Mom is bringing my brother's favorite corn beef dip. And G made pumpkin pies all by herself.

And the Noel/Leon train is all ready for my brother. :)

So we carry on old traditions in a new way and we will be thinking about the precious people in our lives who began these traditions that we are lucky enough to carry on.

Sunday, November 13, 2011

A Christmas List...with commentary

I LOVE my Pill. Seriously, if you need an illustration of how awesome she is, just check out this Christmas list she gave me yesterday. Comments in italics are mine. :)

1. Leg warmers
2. Arm warmers
apparently she gets cold
3. playdough dentist umm, no
4. mind flex she's seen the Try-It-Before-You-Buy-It that shows this is worthless but I guess she thinks her mind is more powerful than most people's
5. stompies I don't even know what that is
6. socks
7. new room in a new house? an addition?
8. cloths or maybe clothes?
9. ripped leggings
10. white sparkally heels those must be even fancier than sparkly heels!
11. red sparkally heels
12. flats
13. leggings good to know I don't only have to look for ripped ones!
14. Gaga stuff
15. laptop
16. new phone
17. shoes/heels in case I didn't know what sparkally heels and flats are, I guess
18. shirts
19. Wii games
20. xbox kennict hmm, I'm not sure I'll be able to find a kennict!
21. ripped shirts
22. kitten
23. bunny
24. bags
25. money
26. bows
27. playdough icecream what is with the playdough? She knows I hate playdough.
28. shorts
29. make up even though I took away all her make up about a month ago!
30. nail polish
31. jackets
32. posters hmm, any old poster? She hates Justin Bieber, I should get her a poster of him! 
33. jeans which she will never wear because she only wants to wear ripped leggings and tutus. I can't believe there are no tutus on her list!
34. crowns
35. puppy because the kitten and bunny aren't enough AND we don't already have 5 dogs!!
36. this one is my favorite: go to wesco that's right, wesco the gas station. Doesn't every kid want a trip to the gas station? No? Only The Pill? Well, she did used to ask for a bag of cotton balls every year. At least she makes it easy for me!
37. movies trip
38. any other things
Yep, that's right she ends with "any other things." What a goofy kid!

The Pill in the orange skirt. She is one of a kind...although she is rubbing off on her friend!

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

Anyone could lose weight on 500 calories a day!

I have a good friend who just finished following the HCG diet. That's the one where you put some homeopathic drops under your tongue...I'm not sure it's really HCG. But she looks great and she swears the diet works. So, seeing that I was still skeptical, she let me borrow her book: The Weight Loss Cure "They" Don't Want You to Know About by Kevin Trudeau.

Let me just begin by saying, Kevin is not a good author. The only reason this book ever made the NYT Bestseller list is because so many people are so desperate to lose weight. And if you can lose weight on this diet, you can lose weight on ANY diet. It is unrealistic and full of lies. That alone made me so angry that I would not do any part of this diet that might cause money to enter Kevin Trudeau's bank account. He has such a thing for conspiracy theories, but if anybody is telling lies to make money, it is he.

From here on out, I am just going to share quotes from the book.
Page 7 "When you finish the protocol your metabolism is reset to the normal level...You will be able to eat any food you want."
Page 9 "Most importantly, when I finished losing all the fat, inches, and weight I wanted, I needed to be able to eat anything I wanted, any time I wanted, as much as I wanted, and never gain the weight back."
Page 19 "This does not mean you will be restricted to certain kinds of food. On the contrary, when you finish 'the weight loss cure protocol' you will be able to eat any food you want in any amount you want any time you want."
Page 29 The even better news is when you are finished with the protocol you will be able to eat any kind of food you want. You will be able to eat cheeseburgers, French fries, ice cream, cookies, cakes, breads, pasta, cheese, butter, cream, steak, pizza, Mexican food, mashed potatoes and gravy, virtually any kind of food you want."
Page 47 "To further prove that the treatment, in fact, cured the disorder, all patients must have the ability to eat normally any food he pleases in any amounts without regaining abnormal fat or weight after the treatment."

Compare those quotes with these:
Page 76 "Phase 4: This phase is for the rest of your life. It contains the simple easy to follow dos and don'ts that make sure..."
Page 105 "Phase 4 is for the rest of your life. This phase will consist of some basic and easy to follow dos and don'ts that will become your new, exciting habits."
Page 106 "The simplest rule to follow is to eat anything you want, as much as you want, as often as you want. The only caveat is only eat 100% organic food."

The "simple easy to follow dos and don'ts", the "new exciting habits" consist of a list that numbers 50 items! I'll just give you a taste (which is really about all you can eat on phase 4: the rest of your life!)
Page 106 "1. Eat only 100% organic food."
Page 107 "2. No "brand name" food. The rule here is not to eat food produced by publicly traded corporations. Remember, large publicly traded food companies are the enemy."
Page 107 "3. No fast food, regional or national chain restaurants."
Remember, this is THE REST OF YOUR LIFE!
Page 107 "4. Do a Candida cleanse."  Umm easy? I don't even know what that is!

It goes on to list a colon cleanse, a liver cleanse, a parasite cleanse, a heavy metal cleanse...and on and on and on. The list is so ridiculous. But it's the dichotomy of his first chapters that claim you can eat whatever, whenever, as much as you want and then the chapter where he finally lays out the phases of the diet and it is clear that you will NEVER be able to eat whatever you want, as much as you want, blah, blah, blah. I hate when I get lied to. I hate people who don't think I am smart enough to figure out their game. Kevin Trudeau's game is to make money by writing about a diet that is so impossible very few people could ever follow it, and therefore, they can't blame him when it doesn't work.

Please, please, please be careful if you do this diet. I have serious concerns about the healthiness of some of the procedures he recommends. And at the height of the diet, you are only supposed to eat 500 calories a day. Anybody could use weight on 500 calories a day but it sure doesn't seem healthy to me.

Sunday, November 6, 2011


A couple of months ago, The Pill said to me, "Mom, you're so lucky you have me." She is always coming up with off the wall things that leave me wondering.

So I replied, "Yes, I know that. Why do you say so?" And she proceeds to tell me that if I hadn't been pregnant for her when I turned 30, my mom would not have had the awesome 30th Surprise Birthday Party that she threw for me.

Then she said, "You told grandma you would have a party for her when she turned 50 and you didn't." Well, I honestly don't remember saying that, but I asked The Pill how old grandma would be this year (yea, I know, pretty sad I have to ask, but she has a younger mind!) and she said sixty.

So I said, "Then I guess we better have a party for her this year!" My dad was on the same wave length and when I told him I was planning one, he told me he had been planning to ask me to do just that.

Well, today was the day. And I'd be lying if I said it was easy-peasy-lemon-squeezy! See, my mom is the quintessential party thrower. My mom is the best cook, she can bake like nobody's business, she decorates better than Martha Stewart, and she comes up with the best party favors and gifts. I've thrown parties before but ALWAYS with mom's help.  But I did have help this time too. My dad was great helping me pay for stuff. My sister brought all the paper products, the pop, and a big crock pot of macaroni and cheese. My aunt pitched in with a veggie tray and some broccoli salad--very last minute after I realized I had no veggies planned and I sent her a facebook message asking for her help! And my brother, who'd been planning to make sausage and sauerkraut, brought chips. :-D Which was great because the sausage and sauerkraut would have been TOO much food!

So, mom wasn't exactly surprised. As it turned out, my grandpa passed away a couple of weeks ago. When mom and dad were at his house to clean things out, my mom found grandpa's invitation to her party. Not knowing what it was, she looked inside, saw the words "surprise" and her name, and quickly closed the card back up. So, she didn't know exactly when, but she knew it was coming.  I think it was a good party. It wasn't everything she deserves in a party, but that would be impossible for me to do!

I'll let the pictures tell the rest of the story.

I used a Fall theme for decorating. Candles, confetti, harvest mix candy. My sister got the paper products in fall colors.
The cake was made at Leppinks, the local grocery store. Mom's name is stitched on because she's such a great seamstress. :)
Happy Birthday Mom!
Mom's aunt and my sister.
More of mom's aunts and a cousin. And my nephew...isn't he a sweet thing?
Mom and dad's neighbors: they helped get mom to the party. And my Aunt and Uncle.
Mom's good friends.
Dad, Mom, and G. Mom had to enlist G's help to blow out all 60 candles. :)

Thursday, October 20, 2011

I Write to Assert My Democratic Rights

Today is the National Day on Writing. In the past, I have celebrated this day with kids by writing 6 Word Memoirs. Today I didn't have anything special planned. Though I thought all day about why I write. I couldn't help but think about it; it's a hash tag (#whyIwrite) that has been popping up on twitter all day. (It should be trending, but it currently is not.)

Then I stopped at my mom's house to pick up The Pill. It's Thursday, so the tiny town newspaper was delivered today and I sat down to read it before I left for home. In it, I read an article that really had my hackles raised. I just had to write a letter to the editor regarding the article. This wasn't the first time I have written a letter to a newspaper, and that made me realize how very thankful I am that I CAN write to voice my opinion. And since the procedure for submitting letters to the editor of this paper are nowhere to be found, I am going to post my letter here. And so, because I have the right and responsibility to voice my opinions is #whyIwrite.

Thank goodness we live in a democratic country. Thank goodness we have a say in who represents us in our government. Thank goodness that when we believe that our elected representatives are not listening to our voices, we have a procedure to follow to make our dissent known.

I am disgusted by some of the choices that my elected officials have made recently in the course of their work. I am fed up with the way certain groups of people have been targeted by the Governor and the Republican-led legislature. I have followed the channels allotted to me to voice my opinion: I have emailed and I have called the offices of Governor Snyder, Senator Emmons and Representative Outman on several different occasions. Only one time have I ever had my communication recognized. These people are supposed to be our voice in the government, but they don't seem to want to listen to everyone, rather only the people who are in agreement with them. 

Feeling as though I did not have representation, I took the next step to make my voice heard in the democratic process. I signed the petition to recall Governor Rick Snyder. I would sign a petition to recall Judy Emmons. I would sign a petition to recall Rick Outman. I completely disagree with Rick Outman as quoted in the October 19 edition of Lakeview Area News that “recall elections should be reserved for people who have committed a crime...” Recall elections should absolutely come about when enough citizens come together to call an elected official on the carpet. They need to be held accountable for being the voice of the people they represent.

As a citizen who has signed a recall petition, I also take issue with being characterized by Shirley Pool as being someone who does “not care about the financial ramifications to our county or state...” I am a tax paying citizen. If a recall election comes about, I share that cost. I am part of Ms. Pool's “we.” I would hazard a guess that most solicitors and most signers ARE taxpaying citizens and therefore also a part of Ms. Pool's "we." Ms. Pool may not agree that there should be a recall election, but she should be thankful that we live in a county, state, and nation that allows its citizens avenues to express displeasure when we feel our elected officials are not fulfilling their responsibilities. 
                                                  L. Moore

I wish I could link to the original article for you, but it isn't online. You'll just have to find a copy of  Lakeview Area News for yourself.

Sunday, October 9, 2011

I'm Really Not Ready

Lately I've been feeling pretty overwhelmed, emotional, and maybe even a tad depressed. Here's why:

Ready for the dance...

It is G's freshman year. She's going to be 15 years old. And I just don't have an inkling of how that happened. It just seems like yesterday that she was dancing around the house in her sweet little girl dresses, singing Oops I Did It Again, and pestering me to change the focus of the video camera to her and not The Pill: "Tape me now mom, tape it my turned to be taped?"

I almost cry when I see the competent athlete she is on the volleyball court. I almost cried yesterday as I watched her ride on the freshman float rather than enjoy the Homecoming parade by my side. I almost cried at how beautiful she was as she was getting ready for her first Homecoming dance. And I remember how I used to wait so anxiously for the firsts: when would she say her first word? take her first step? read her first word?

Now I want the firsts to stop. I would go back to those baby, toddler, and little girl days in a heartbeat. Not because I don't absolutely adore the young woman she's becoming, but just because I am not ready for her to become her yet.

Thursday, July 14, 2011

Capturing Fleeting Moments

Last weekend I had to sit through hours of softball in the heat. My daughter was on the Pony League All-Star team, I have to admit, to my chagrin. I rarely look forward to events that cause me to miss a weekend on the houseboat. And as this weekend was forecast to be the hottest and most humid of the summer, I was really dreading a softball tournament. But after a little facebook complaining, an old friend reminded me that my girls wouldn't be in the house forever and I should make the most of the time I have with them. So I adjusted my attitude and the tournament really was pretty fun.

This week, Wednesday was my day off from my summer job of teaching graduate classes at Central Michigan University. Normally when I have a day off I spend it getting a little caught up on laundry and housework. But I've been thinking a lot about how little time I have left with my girls. Genevieve will be starting high school this fall. When I think about how fast the first 14 years of her life have gone by, I know these next 4 years are just going to be a flash in the pan. So I decided yesterday we just needed a girls-day-out.

We got a late start and spent quite a bit of time trying to decide what to do. We decided on a trip to Ionia. It has a quaint downtown and Lili and I had spent some time discovering its charms during Spring break when Genevieve was doing a job shadow at the court house there.

Some road construction caused us to go off the beaten path. We LOVE Tunnel Roads--you know, those narrow roads so crowded by trees that the trees make an shadowy emerald tunnel to drive through. We drove down plenty of them and marveled in the beauty of Michigan fields in full foliage: corn that is now about chest high, wheat fields that make you want to sing "amber waves of grain", and potatoes with tiny white blossoms bobbing on the breeze. We even saw some workers in a field of onions, their large-brimmed sun hats made us feel like we could be driving through Vietnam rice paddies!

As we were weaving our way through the dirt roads, we looked at the names. We passed one called Bogart Road, and I said, "Humphrey Road," and continued driving. About two minutes later, Genevieve started laughing and saying, "Humphrey Bogart Road, that's priceless!" It always cracks me up when the girls get my jokes but only after they have time to crystallize in their brains! We also discovered, on our drive through the countryside, the quaint villages of Lyons and Muir and discovered they were full of Victorian era homes.

Once we arrived in Ionia, our first stop was Eldon's Cafe. We ate outside under a colorful umbrella and enjoyed chatting with the townspeople who walked by. Eldon's Cafe has a fantastic hot dog menu: 20 different ways to order a dog! And they are yummy! I recommend the Deputy Dog: a hot dog smothered in pulled pork, BBQ sauce, mustard, pickles, and onions.
As we sat out on the sidewalk waiting for lunch, Genevieve said, "If I am ever in prison, I'll sharpen my toothbrush into a shank." Where does she come up with this stuff?

After lunch it was on to the Favorite Finds Consignment shop. This shop has great prices--even better than Goodwill, which is another store we love to frequent. We ended up with some new school clothes for the girls and they had fun trying on other funky clothes.
I hate to think that I'll have to buy her a dress like this for real soon!
Lili is cute in just about anything, but crazy high heels are her favorite!
Genevieve couldn't resist trying on some "gangsta" pants.
We did a little more window shopping around town. I couldn't resist, in spite of their rolling eyes, taking a picture of the girls in this side alley. It reminded me so much of the foliage filled alleys and streets of Aruba--minus the heat and humidity today!
It was such a fun day with my girls. At the end of this week, I will be done with CMU for the summer. Although Genevieve will have volleyball practice twice a week, that gives us plenty of days to discover other out-of-the-way places and most importantly to make some great memories with the fleeting moments of childhood they have left.

Sunday, June 19, 2011

Happy Father's Day

Nine years ago, for my Dad's 50th birthday, I wrote him a poem and had it mounted with some pictures of us. The sentiments I wrote then haven't changed, and since the framed poem was the only copy still in existence, I thought I'd share it here to tell my dad Happy Father's Day.

Daddy's Girl
If you are a newborn baby
and your eighteen year old father
rushes home from school
wanting nothing more than to
hold your tiny delicateness...
                     You must be a daddy's girl.

If you are a toddler
and your best idea of fun
is to lie, butt in the air, across
a strong sturdy lap
and watch Sesame Street...
                     You must be a daddy's girl.

If you are a small child 
and you dress up 
for a date to the movies
with the most handsome 
man on the planet...
                   You must be a daddy's girl.

If you are an adolescent
sick in the hospital
with a Trivial Pursuit buddy
at your bedside every day
(even though he never wins)
and with tears in your eyes 
at night when he's gone...
                     You must be a daddy's girl.

If you are a college freshman 
who call crying almost hysterically
for a ride home
at 2 in the morning
from a house you can't
give directions to
and someone is there
faster than is possible...
                   You must be a daddy's girl.

If you are a college sophomore
who calls home late at night
just to hear that certain voice
because you saw a sad movie
about a dad who died...
                     You must be a daddy's girl.

If you are a young bride 
walked down the aisle
by your hero
who also happens to be 
your personal photographer...
                    You must be a daddy's girl.

If you are a new mom 
whose precious baby daughter
prefers the rocking of Papa
to her own mother...
                     You must be a daddy's girl
                     Who has just taken 
                     A backseat to Papa's girl.

If you are a second time mom
with your father's calming 
presence next to you
in the waiting room
as your baby undergoes
three hours of surgery...
                     You must be a daddy's girl.

If you have a man 
that buys you Mother's Day gifts
and he isn't your husband...
                    You must be a daddy's girl.

If you have a man that will
give everything to you
do anything for you
ask nothing from you
                     You must be the luckiest daddy's girl in the world.
                     You must be the daughter of the world's best father.
                     And you must thank heaven for him every day.
                     I do.

Happy Father's Day, daddy, with much love from your Daddy's Girl.

Friday, May 27, 2011


Yesterday, Lili was "spoken to" by the counselor about her style of dress. She was very upset that she was asked to dress "normal" for the rest of the school year. The counselor then emailed me about the conversation. She says Lili's outfits have become a distraction. This annoys me, because it shouldn't be Lili's responsibility to make sure other kids are not distracted. It also bothers me because Lili's fashion sense is nothing new, so I'm not sure why it is an issue now.

Here is Lili this winter. She does not dress crazy in order to get attention at school. This was taken at Papa's house while she was getting ready to go play in the snow.
 This is an outfit Lili wore shortly after Christmas. Santa put the skirt in her stocking, so how bad can it be?
 This is another outfit she wore in the winter. The leggings were a Christmas present.
 This outfit was worn in the Spring:
 Another Springtime outfit:
 The studio where Lili dances had tutus for sale for a fundraiser. I bought her two of them and she was over-the-moon excited to wear them. And what this girl can do with just two tutus!

 The gun didn't go to school as part of this outfit. But parts of this one were her dance recital costumes. I paid enough for the darn things, I figure she might as well get some use out of them!
 She didn't wear these shoes when she wore this outfit to school. And she has on shorts under the tutu. But this one apparently garnered her some attention from boys (according to the counselor...Lili said she didn't notice any extra attention.)
 And this is the outfit she was wearing yesterday when the counselor told her she was distracting other students.
What you have not seen in these photos is her poofed hair, the tiara she loves to wear, and the make-up and glitter. That is because I am not really fond of her wearing make-up so she waits until she's at school to put it on. And she has a pretty heavy hand. And she LOVES glitter. Lots and lots of glitter. But Lili is a straight-A student. She is responsible and respectful. She is helpful and caring. So I choose not to make a big deal of the fact that she likes to layer glitter on her face.

Now, I can see that if you stretch the dress code you could say the tiara is a hat. And if that is the case, she shouldn't wear it. But I do not see how anything else she has worn violates the dress code. The counselor said in her email that she spoke to Lili at the request of teachers. If the teachers thought she was violating dress code, they should have just told her to change. I think the problem is that they just don't like what she's wearing.

So basically, my daughter's school is disrespecting her right to individuality. They are asking her to conform. Too much of public education is about sameness. I am so proud of Lili for being quirky and unique and confident enough to show it. I am regretting that in my return email to the counselor I agreed that Lili wold CONFORM for the rest of the year. I am not happy about crushing my child's spirit, creativity and individuality. It makes me sad that the school would ask me to do that. I am sad that the school obviously doesn't appreciate my child as an individual. And I don't know what will happen next year. But I will not let them change my child just to suit their idea of what is acceptable.

Sunday, May 8, 2011

What is a Mom Worth?

If you add up all the jobs a mom does, how much should she be paid? According to ABC World News Tonight, she's worth just over $61,000. But that is only for the very basic things that mom does: childcare, driving, cooking, cleaning, party planning, and a couple other smaller jobs. But for my mom, these tasks are only the beginning.

My mom is also a seamstress. She sews clothing for me, for my girls, for their dolls. And if I need anything mended, of course, I take it to her. My mom is also an interior designer. The only project I have done in my house without her help was painting my living room. And believe me, you can tell she wasn't there. She's painted a moon mural, a castle wall, a frog pond, and stripes...lots of stripes. She's hung wall paper and sewed curtains and pillows and bedding.

My mom has been a laundress. When I was first married and had a tiny washer and electric drier that took forever to dry a load, I would take my laundry for the week to mom on Friday. She'd have it ready when I got out of work. And later, when my appliances were big enough but my water was terribly rusty, she'd wash my whites weekly so they didn't become oranges.

My mom has been a nurse. Beyond the normal jobs of taking temps and dispensing medicines, when I was a kid, she'd soak my sunburns in ice water and vinegar. Her hands were so soft. And after I grew up, she came and stayed with me after each of the girls were born, being the one to get up in the night and bring them to me in my exhausted state. She also took care of me after two serious health issues: a car accident and a surgery with complications, putting up with not only me moving back home for short stays but also bringing the girls with me. She had to cook and clean for us and change bandages and help me shower.

My mom is not a 9 to 5 mom. She's an on-call, on-demand mom. She's there to answer questions and give advice and encouragement and comfort. She has a way of listening and remembering, thereby getting me the best presents for birthdays and Christmases. $61,000? I don't think so. My mom is truly the most gifted, generous, wonderful mom. You could pay her $61 million, and though I'm sure she'd accept it, it still wouldn't be enough. Even words aren't enough for my mom. While I can tell you all the things my mom has done for me, the power of what it has meant to me cannot be explained in words.

Happy Mother's Day, Mom. I love you.

Wednesday, May 4, 2011

Teachers Make All the Difference

This week is Teacher Appreciation Week and even though I am a teacher (thanks, self!) or maybe because I am a teacher, I want to take some time to recognize some of the teachers who had profound effects on my life. Of course my first teachers were my parents. My mother taught me so many lessons, I wouldn't even dream of beginning to enumerate them. In fact, given that Mother's Day is this Saturday, I will reserve a post just for her. Ditto for Father's Day, also on the horizon. (geez, is this year 2011 speeding by for everyone else?!)

When I was a young adolescent, a teenager, and then a young woman, if you were looking for me at family gatherings, your best bet would be to find the smallest children and I would be among them. I grasped every chance I had to hold babies. Truthfully, that included asking complete strangers in the grocery store if I could hold their babies. And people were either more trusting then, or I just had an air about me, because 9 times out of 10, they would let me. But it was at one of these family reunions that my future was cast. My Great Great Aunt Genevieve, a wonderfully generous and beautiful woman who had taught kindergarten for over 30 years in the town where my father grew up, told my mother and grandmother, as they all watched me entertain the extended family youngsters, that I was going to make a great teacher one day. I don't know about the great part, but it shows the power of language, praise, and recognition, that 30 years later I am a teacher and I remember that she said that about me.

When I was in the third grade, Mrs. Feutz was my teacher. I always thought she looked like an angel: blond wispy hair, a gentle touch, and a voice that lulled you with comfort. I had a hard time in third grade learning how to tell time on an analog clock. I'm not sure digital clocks even existed at the time so it was probably pretty important that I learn this skill. And because it is usually pretty darn easy for me to learn new concepts, the fact that I was struggling with this caused me to have a break-down right in my third grade classroom. Mrs. Feutz sent me to the hall and of course I was sure this was the end of my school career. I must have thought she was going to reprimand my behavior--that's what teachers do, right? (After all, I did skip the story of my kindergarten teacher--when asked what I wanted to be in kindergarten, I said, "A teacher, so I can be the one to yell.") But I wasn't scared. Somehow I knew even being in trouble by Mrs. Feutz wasn't going to be a bad thing. And of course, Mrs. Feutz was that kind of teacher who understood that sometimes kids get frustrated and can't control their reactions. I don't remember what she said to me that day. I do know that she taught me how to read that darn clock!

I would love to share all of the stories of teachers who meant so much to me, but nobody would want to read for that long. And if they did want to, I'd make it into a book and maybe make some real cash off it. But let me give you some highlights:
Mrs. Newberry who told me after I was grown that she had expected me to be a journalist because of my writing abilities. I still have the poetry anthology I made in her 6th grade classroom.
Miss Frost, the first year creative writing teacher who helped me and my best friend Laura navigate the rough waters of best-friendship in 8th grade.
Mr. Adams, my high school English teacher. I can still recall verbatim several comments he left on some of my writings, though the papers are long gone.
Mrs. Lange, my high school Spanish teacher. I didn't stick with Spanish long after college, but she's the reason I pursued a minor in the subject.

And teachers need teachers too. So lastly, I'd like to tell you about Norma. The first teacher I ever called by a first name, even though she's a doctor (I'd wear that title right out if I had it!) Norma was my mentor and teacher during graduate school when I was working on my Masters degree in Middle Level Education. If I am a great teacher today, I owe much of it to her. I am a kinder, more patient, more humane teacher because of her. I had a class with her during the time when those WWJD (What Would Jesus Do) bracelets were so popular, and as a class we decided that it would be much more appropriate to have WWND bracelets. We measured everything about being a good teacher on the What Would Norma Do scale. Norma had so much faith in me that I am now assisting her and teaching in the same program she taught to me so well.

So on this Teacher Appreciation Week, thank you to all you teachers who open your hearts and share your gifts to create successful, responsible, and happy adults. May you one day find the riches you so deserve right now.

Thursday, March 24, 2011

You'll Always be the Baby

Eleven years ago, I was full of doubts. I doubted that I was ready for your arrival. I doubted that I had enough time, enough patience, enough love for two. The love I felt for your sister had the power to take my breath away and make my knees buckle. How could my heart take a double dose of that?

And then you were here. A sweet bundle of perfection. With one tiny flaw. You were imprinted on my heart. And the flaw brought the fiercest sense of protectiveness. I felt that you would not only need my love, care and attention, but you would need me to protect you from a world that often is cruel.

But I needn't have worried about you. From the very beginning, you were sweet- natured, calm, and charming. Before you could talk, you could get whatever you wanted with your winning smile, your impish eyes. It came naturally for all of us: mom, dad, Gigi, Papa, and Nama, to give you whatever you wanted. You didn't need me, it was I who needed you.

You are such a dreamer. It wasn't a mistake that one of the phrases you heard first and often was "Focus, Lili!" You have a tender heart. You are caring and generous. And despite the fact that I want to keep you my baby forever, you are becoming such a responsible young person.

Lili, your joy for life bubbles around you like a fountain. Eleven years ago, you slipped into our life so naturally. The doubts that I felt fell away as you completed our family and filled our days with sunshine.

So today, on your 11th birthday, I just want you to know how much I love you and how much joy you have brought and you continue to bring. Happy birthday sweet girl!

Friday, February 18, 2011

Now you're 14

 You came with the rain and the lady bugs. A tiny creature with so much power. Power to change everything. Schedules and priorities and balance and hearts.
 You grew too quickly. And to say you brought nothing but joy would be a lie. Because you also brought frustration, knowing your mind before you could even talk. Demanding a new mom when you were angry with me. Playing your games of "Mommy, please I want to talk about it" as I left your room but refusing to talk when I turned back in.

You also brought worry. Like when you passed out right in front of me as I told your great-grandma on the phone that you weren't that sick. And as you grow, the worries have grown...and changed.

 But you've always been wise beyond your years. And you've always known the way
you want to live your life. And so you've also brought pride. Pride in your strength and your values and your confidence. I'm so proud of the young woman you are becoming.
And yes, you have brought joy. So much joy into my life. You are witty, intelligent, silly. You make me laugh almost every day. You are AWESOME and I hope your 14th birthday is just as awesome for you. I love you so much, my sweet girl.

Sunday, February 13, 2011

I'll smoke...

this carrot if you won't let me drink!
Yep, she's still trying to convince me to let her have a wine cooler.(See previous post.)
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Hey Mom, can I get my drink on?

Yesterday I bought a box of 12 wine coolers to take to a party. This morning, G looked into the box and saw that I had only had two at the party. G has always been precocious with her language--she said funny stuff since about the first day she spoke. Now she's about to turn 14 and she is just as funny, but it is her logic and reasoning that cracks me up. This was our conversation this morning:

G (looking in the box): You only drank 2?
Me: Yes, I was a good girl. I had to drive home.
G: Can I have one?
Me: No!
G: But it's Sunday.
Me: What does that have to do with anything?
G: That's my day to get drunk. Can I split one with you?
Me: No!
G: Why not?
Me: You are only 13.
G: I'll be 14 in a week.
Me: And then I'll say you're only 14!
G: C'mon, please? Besides it's opposite day, so I'm really 31 today.
Me: Yea, right. I don't think so.
G: Plus I'm double covered 'cuz on opposite day the legal drinking age is 12 not 21!
Me: Keep trying!

Then later she says to me, "Hey, mom, if I can't get my drink on today, can we go get French fries?"
I wish you could see the twinkle in her eyes as we have these conversations! She cracks me up!

Friday, February 4, 2011

“If you want to become full, let yourself be empty.” ~Lao Tzu

I love the show Hoarders on A&E TV. I love it for a variety of reasons. Whenever I watch it, I am compelled to clean my house during the commercials. That is one reason I love it. My house is not the neatest or the cleanest house. Watching Hoarders makes me feel better about myself because I can see that, while I'd love to have a neater, less cluttered house, it is not as bad as it could be.

And I really do fight an almost losing battle, because as much as I try to keep things in order, my husband is a hoarder. I don't think he's as bad as many of the people featured on the show, but without me around, I know he'd be much worse. And now that he has become self-employed and is working from home, it is getting worse. He's selling on E-bay and though I gave him the built in desks in the front room to use for this purpose, his packaging spills over to the dining room table. And stays there. And stays there. And stays there. You get the picture.

One of the items he sells is fishing lures. So there is a box of lures being prepared for the living room. His paperwork has absolutely no organization. I bought a cabinet for him to file paperwork and keep his records in some semblance of order. But it spills out of his cabinet and slowly creeps along the living room floor like an iceberg. He's also doing small engine and boat repair. So my laundry room has engine parts ALL over it. And oil. Lots of oil. His hoarding has also led to a yard full of boats and boat trailers, old cars, and various other pieces of equipment.

All this mess and clutter is driving me to look at becoming minimalist. I would love to strip us down to the bare minimum of belongings. Yesterday I began cleaning the basement. I got rid of two big trash bags of junk to the dumpster. I have a giant bag of crafting items to take to school for kids to use there. And I have a giant stack of items to take to Good Will. Cleaning and de-cluttering always makes me feel like a weight is lifting off me. I hate feeling like I am buried under meaningless junk. Clearing it away gives me a sense of freedom and power. I don't need stuff to rule my life.

I know that my husband understands that this mess and clutter bothers me. I don't know if he realizes how high on my scale of unhappiness it ranks, but he has been trying to clean things up. Sometimes it seems that this just means moving mess and clutter from one place to another. But he's trying, and I do appreciate that.

Now, I think I should go find more clutter to get rid of.

Wednesday, February 2, 2011

The Making of a Teen Room

My 13 year old decided she was ready to say goodbye to her Fairy Castle bedroom. Her Grandma and I painted this mural on her wall when she was 3 and moved into her big-girl bedroom as her baby sister was on the way.
It was so hard for me to do it, but I covered that sweet castle wall with several coats of primer and paint.
She had to spend a couple of nights sleeping on the floor during the painting process. She picked out this striped bedding set and we designed her new room around it.
Once again I enlisted the help of my mom. She is the Design Queen. Here we are painting stripes on half the wall.
I painted the backs of her bookshelves the same color as the stripes. After the stripes dried, we added a chair-rail border above and filled in the border with circles in the colors that are in the comforter.
She decided that she wanted a new desk and to get rid of some of the other furniture in her room to make more space. It is a pretty small room. This desk was a great buy and fits the updated look.
On the wall behind her bed we made some fun circles she can write on. These are made from chalkboard style Contact paper. She's been having fun looking up quotes on the internet and changing them frequently.
Jeff found an old speed boat side-rail and used this as the rod for her bed curtain.
Her Grandma made the bed curtain and the matching window valance.

You'd think after all this we would be done, but there are some finishing touches we still have left to do. I have some crown molding to put up around the ceiling. And we have some pictures she chose that we are going to cut into circles and put up on the wall behind her desk. We will be using repositionable Contact paper so that she can change the pictures. After the pictures are placed, I also plan to add some colored circles in paint to add a little zing to the whole thing.

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Saturday, January 29, 2011

Cupcake Making

Lili made red velvet cupcakes tonight using my flower cupcake pan, mini muffin pan, and balloons pan. She tinted frosting and decorated them too. I think that was her favorite part. She's very creative and quirky.
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Thursday, January 27, 2011

Dealing with Loss

Loss has been weighing on me heavily. I know loss is a part of life. I know it is something we have to learn to accept. Sometimes it takes grandparents, and we can be sad, but we can also celebrate and appreciate a life fully-lived.

But sometimes, loss decides we are becoming too complacent. Instead of taking those whose time we know is near, it hits us with a sucker-punch to the gut. It takes a child too soon.

The community in which I work has been dealt too many of these sucker punches lately:

A cherub-faced little boy struck down by an insidious cancer, succumbing on Thanksgiving Day. A boy who the community rallied for, prayed for, and in the end, cried for.

A young couple, graduates of our community school, buried their 4-month old baby this week.

And today the promising future of a bright, energetic junior boy was cut short in a car accident.

How does a community come to terms with this kind of loss? How do we comfort parents who, in a perfect world, should still have their children in their arms, should still be looking forward to birthday parties and cheering at sporting events and graduations? How do we continue to find the joy in life when it has been ripped so perfectly away from our friends and neighbors?

In this community, as in many communities, the people come together. They raise money. They fight for cures. They pray. They support. They console. They remember.

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

My First Post

This week on the Bloggy Moms' Writer's Workshop group, the assignment is to reflect on my first blog post.
The first thing I realized through this assignment is that I missed my first anniversary! My first post to Tales from the Compound was titled Welcome to the Compound. It was posted on January 13, 2010.

I think the post is a great description of how I ended up living on my own little Waco. I realize that is probably not politically correct, but there really is nothing else to call it when your entire 13 acres is enclosed in electric fencing and patrolled by two rottweilers. And this is your husband:
And he was a corrections officer in a maximum security prison, a gun-shop owner, and currently is turning a wrench on boats and golf carts.

So if you are new to my blog, read that first post to find out how a young girl who thought she'd be living in high fashion in a big city ended up in the middle of nowhere, happy as a clam.