Dissolution of Resolutions

2011 has been a very action packed year. There has been good and there has been not so good. I started my Masters degree, then changed it to a different one that I feel will give me tons of opportunities that I never had before. My husband and I grew closer after nine years of marriage. I lost my father-in-law who I never realized how much I loved. My daughter started kindergarten and I didn’t cry (much). I’ve gotten closer to my family. My father actually learned how to text! I’m working on a post about that. There is so much more, but I didn’t intend this post to be a recollection of the occurrences of the year. Moving on.

This New Year’s Eve, I will be sitting safely at home and snuggling with the love of my life. There will be no wild party, no alcohol, no excess. Well, maybe we will eat a bag of Cheetos– best way to ring in the new year as far as I’m concerned. This year, we might even make it to midnight. No, probably not. We are an “old” married couple that figure it’s the new year somewhere and sleep is sacred, especially when you know your five-year old daughter will be up at the crack of dawn the next morning. This is how I love to spend my New Year’s Eve.

NatterAs everyone knows, this is the time for people to make resolutions. It is a fresh new year to undo all of the things you did the year before. I have always made resolutions. I can honestly say that I did not stick with any of my resolutions from the beginning of the year. When I was younger, I made crazy ones that were unattainable. As I grew older, I tempered them. Still, I often fell short of the goal that I set. I blamed it on myself. I would beat myself up over my perceived failures and then feel guilty about not being good enough/strong enough/smart enough to follow through. I don’t want to do that to myself this year.

This year I have one resolution: I will do things that give me happiness.

I believe that is the only resolution I need and I am pretty sure that I will be able to keep up with it.

Happy New Year, my friends. May your resolutions be attainable and may you find all that you seek in the new year.

Tuesdays at McDonalds

This morning I decided to take my daughter to our local McDonalds to have a “nutritious” breakfast (They wanted $1.92 for a teeny bag of sliced apples. Robbery, I tell ya.).  They have a pretty neat play area and a free wifi connection so it makes us both happy. This is the first time we have come on a weekday.

I knew that coming on a Tuesday at 8 o’clock in the morning would prove to have a dearth of children for my daughter to play with. That’s okay. She’s an only child and really does like to play by herself. Plus, there are these little touch to play video games that she loves to entertain herself with. She just likes to hang out and run around. This play is WAY more fun than our house.

Let me tell you, I wasn’t prepared for what I saw when I got there. It is winter and we live in an area where the winter visitors proliferate, partaking in the enjoyable 70 degree weather. Who wouldn’t want to be able to wear shorts in December? I know that I enjoy it. It is one of the rewards for surviving the stifling heat during the summer. But I digress.

As we entered the playground area, it was full of people. Real people with white hair and magnificent stories. I had stumbled upon the morning meeting place for a local trailer park. Apparently Tuesday morning is free Senior coffee day. The play room was filled. Both of the touch to play games were taken up by seniors playing them. It looked exactly like they were at the casino, playing video poker. The intensity was tangible. I kept on expecting tokens to come pouring out.

When I was younger, I was freaked out by older people. To me they were a signal of impending death and the end of it all. I don’t know where I got that notion. Probably because my grandmother was ancient and the youngest in her family. It seemed as if everyone around her was dying. Luckily, I’ve outgrown that and I’ve come to realize exactly how wonderful so many of them are.

Their stories amaze me. This group has seen so much in their lives. When they were born, there was no Internet. Gasp. Choke. Sob. I don’t know how they managed! They’ve seen beta tapes, vhs tapes, laser discs. 8-tracks. 8-tracks! I remember listening to the audio version of Star Wars on the 8-track player on our van sized stereo. Darth Vader’s voice clicking in the middle as the tracks changed. I used to know exactly where the clicks were.

As my daughter was playing and I was attempting to blog, I was listening to some of the conversations that they were having. They were telling somewhat dirty jokes (Oh.Em.Gee.) and talking about things that my friends and I would talk about. It made me sort of wish that I could come every Tuesday morning to get to know them. Maybe they could teach me a lesson about life. Maybe they could sneak me a free coffee. I bet some of them would be willing.

One thing I figured out though… there is more life experience in that place on Tuesday mornings than possibly anywhere else in good ol’ AJ.

Cold-Filled Christmas

Welcome to my first Christmas post. I know. It is a very exciting moment for me. Not only is it my Christmas post, it is also going to be my 30th post on my blog. Apparently WordPress thinks that is a big deal because it has been counting down for the past three or four posts. It must be a sort of a milestone. Maybe if you make it past 30 posts, you are a blogger for life. Kinda like when they say if you make it past your third year of teaching, you become a lifer? Sounds so positive, doesn’t it? But that is fodder for another post. Let’s get on with this one, shall we?

It seems like every time I get a break from teaching, my body betrays me. I spent Christmas in a cold medicine induced fog that was not pleasant. It wasn’t unpleasant either. Just foggy. So here are my sappy and (hopefully) coherent thoughts about this Christmas.

For the first time in a long time, I got to spend Christmas Eve and Christmas day with my mom, brother, niece, and nephew. We usually go down to my mother-in-law’s house and spend it down there because my brother doesn’t always have his kids with him. I missed our normal visit with my mother-in-law, but it was so very, very nice to be able to see my family. Even if they were sort of blurry because of all the cold medicine I was hopped up on.

It is so hard having two families that you actually want to be with during the holidays. My brother- and sister-in-law with their two children were at my mil’s house. I rarely get to see them, especially my brother-in-law (he’s a surgeon–inorite??) and so is often not available when they come to visit from Denver. Their children are such neat kids. My niece is so smart and so very creative. My nephew is the cutest thing. My husband’s best friend/brother is also there from Idaho. I know it makes hubs so very happy to spend time with him and talk about all the ham radio/Star Trek/Chess things they talk about. Knowing that my mother-in-law had so many people there on this first Christmas after my father-in-law passed really helped, but it was still hard for us to not be there.

Spending this time with my family, however, made me realize some things about them. My brother is an amazing father. I knew that he was a good one, but this visit bumped him up to amazing. It is hard being a parent and he sometimes gives himself grief about it, but I would have loved to have him as my father– not in the inbred, warped way. I also realized that my niece and nephew are growing up faster than I would like them to. I don’t know what I am going to do when my Natter starts doing the same.

My ninth-grade nephew is stronger than he thinks he is. That’s enough said about that. When I look at him, I see a little bit of me when I was his age. He’s also totally and completely hilarious when it comes to playing the game Balderdash. It didn’t move him forward on the game board, but it sure did have us laughing so hard. If there was milk involved, it would have been flying out of noses. Let’s just say that the figurative milk was EVERYWHERE.

My eighth-grade niece has turned into this confident, caring young lady with a dry wit and a practicality that I’ve not seen in an eighth grader. My baby girl was connected to her at the hip. Oh, did I mention that she’s patient, as well? Having a five-year old worship the ground you walk on can be very tiring, especially if she wants to play princess and bad guy and she always gets to be the princess and you always have to be the bad guy, never mind the fact that you’ve been the bad guy the last five times you’ve played and you just want to be the princess ONCE because it sounds like fun. Err…. yeah. exactly.

My mom is awesome. She is so generous with her time and her love. Plus, she actually cooks! Crazy right? We had ham and beans and roast beef and mashed potatoes and gravy and veggies and pies (from the store, but that’s okay). The only thing I missed were the Christmas cinnamon rolls that she mentioned she might make. (HINT: Mom, if you’re reading this, that was a hint. :-P)

I am pretty sure everyone got what they hoped for. I know I did. Being able to spend the time with my family for this holiday was splendid.  I hope your Christmas was as pleasant as mine was, minus the cold, of course.

Oh, and if you thought this was going to be about an actual COLD Christmas, well… sorry. I live in Phoenix. Ain’t no such thing! It was a nice 60 degrees out.

When a Heart Hurts

Today my daughter and I drove by a cardiac care facility. Natalie right away saw the heart next to the sign and knew exactly what it was. She said, “Momma, is that a place where people go when their hearts hurt?” I replied in the affirmative. She said, “If their hearts hurt, they get in their cars really fast and drive here. Then they lay down and the people fix it so they won’t die.”

“Is that the way it works?” I asked.

“Yes, Momma,” and she paused. “Why didn’t Grandpa come here when his heart hurt? That way they could have fixed him so he wouldn’t have died. I miss him.”

I wanted to run right in to the care facility and have them fix my heart hurt.

Ripples in my Pond: Twitter and My Donors Choose Project

Right now I am completely in awe of the power of social networking. I recently submitted a project to Donors Choose to purchase a classroom set of Neverwhere by Neil Gaiman. Donors Choose is a place where teachers can post projects and donors can donate as much or as little as they choose. I heard of it through comments on this post by The Bloggess (who is really very sweet, in spite of all her declarations that she is not).

I looked at the website and immediately thought, “Oh, this will never happen. I don’t know enough people.” Then I started thinking of my social media network. I follow some of the most amazing, generous, funny people. I decided right then and there that I was going to do this thing. After all, you never get anything unless you try, right?

So, I spent a couple of days filling out the proposal, stressing over every word. When I submitted it, it came back approved. *YAY* The next step was getting the word out.

Last night I turned into to a human spambot. No… a spamhuman. (Oh great, now I am hearing Monty Python in my head. Lovely day, innit?) I have never been very good at self-promotion. Asking for help makes me feel all funny inside. Asking people for help with MONEY makes me feel like … well, I don’t want to put a disturbing image in your mind. Let me just say that it is incredibly uncomfortable.

My followers were very kind and didn’t jump ship when I started asking everyone I knew to retweet my project.

My twitter friends Amy (@lucysfootball) and @patrixmyth assured me that I wasn’t a spambot. It was good because I was beginning to wonder. Lisa (@lgalaviz), another generous person though she tries to deny it, decided not to retweet it just once, but a million times. If you don’t follow them on twitter, go, do. If you aren’t on twitter at all, sign up, then follow them. It is easier that way.

My heart swelled when pnut from my favorite-band-of-all-time-forever-and-always 311. If you’ve never checked them out, you need to. They are an amazing group of guys and their music is the rockin’est.

Then Neil Gaiman HIMSELF retweeted it. Not only that, but he replied to my request for a retweet! I think my hubby thought I blew a gasket. I was jumping up and down from the joy of the response. I thought I was too cool to react like that. I guess I am a geek at heart. I am embracing that part of me.

All of this ties into the novel itself and the unit that I am going to be teaching. Every action has meaning. If I had read that comment and not done anything about it, I would still be sitting here, trying to figure out how to get a great book for my students to read. I made the choice. The velocity of that choice allowed me to experience this awe-inspiring moment. Because I took this step, my project was funded in less… than… eight… hours!!

To all the donors and those who helped me: Thanks for being the ripples in my pond.

To post or not to post, that is the question

There is a fabulously written* post about my last visit to the doctor sitting in my draft folder, waiting to be let out and play with the other ones.

This blog post could make me a BLOGSTAR!!**

The big question is, why don’t I publish it? Why haven’t I pushed that button and let it roam free? Those are very good questions. Thanks for asking. Here is the conversation about this that I imagine we would have if we were sitting in the same room.

You: Why haven’t you published this stupendous blog post?

Me: The answer is simple, but complex. Paradoxical even.

You:  >.>  Huh?

Me: I don’t want to lose my job. I am an educator.

You:  <.<  Oh-kay? What does that have to do with anything?

Me: (entering justified– in my humble but accurate opinion– rant) Anything I post is subject to scrutiny. I can’t joke about how I wish sometimes that teenagers weren’t allowed outside or in public when I am around and especially after dark. If I talk about imbibing an alcoholic beverage or, goodness forbid, have a picture posted of me with said beverage, there is the possibility of administrative sanctions. Even though I am of legal age. Swearing in my blog? Heavens no! What if one of my students saw it and decided that it was appropriate? Please understand, though, that I am not one for swearing. However, an occasional swear provides emphasis. Sometimes I like to drop a curse. I have to watch what I write because I could get into trouble. If there is one thing that I hate more than anything else, it is getting into trouble! There are so many teachers out there who have been put on administrative leave or lost their jobs because of these innocent things. I don’t want to be one of them.

You: O.o

Me: Inorite?

Unless I want to blog anonymously (and seriously, don’t we blog to be famous??), I have to watch what I write. Will I get fired if I do any of the above things? Probably not. My district is a good one to work for; my principal is understanding. However, the risk is still there. Because social media is relatively new the rules in academia haven’t been determined. There is no standard that I can follow, no set guidelines to … um… guide me, and no way to know whether or not my post about waiting for my doctor can get me into trouble.

I guess that is one of the reasons why I don’t blog as consistently as I ought to. I have ideas jostling around in my head, fighting to get out, but I worry about what ramifications will occur if I post them. Every post is an act of self-censorship and it kind of makes me sad.


*I know this because my mom told me it was fabulously written.

**application of @lucysfootball’s emphatic style (read her blog; it rocks!)