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.

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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.

Uniformity

As a teacher, I have always been supportive of school uniforms. The thought of not having to worry about what my students are wearing seems to be a little bit of heaven to me. It has nothing to do with wanting kids to look the same. It has everything to do with not having to tell a fourteen year old to wear a shirt that doesn’t show EVERYTHING.

Now I am a parent of a kindergartner who goes to a school that requires uniforms. When I found out about the policy, I was thrilled. We wouldn’t have to worry about what to wear every day. As far as I was concerned, it was the ideal situation all around.

Flash forward a quarter into the school year.

My delight at school uniforms has quickly waned. I miss picking what to wear every morning with my daughter. I miss being able to listen to her opinion on what is fashionable. In fact, I am starting to feel resentful about this loss of experience with her. As a parent, I should be able to choose what my child wears.

The principal of her school said at the beginning of the school year that she is planning on having a poll to see what the community wants to do with the policy. If someone would have told me that I would vote no on uniforms, I would have told them they were crazy. Isn’t it amazing what a change in perspective does to a person?

Being off the Grid

I recently had an opportunity to go completely off the grid for a week. Well, it wasn’t an opportunity, really, more like a forced exclusion. I visited my father in the middle of Missouri– three hours from St. Louis and three hours from Kansas City. It was out of network for my smart phone and not even on the map for Internet access.

That’s right. I went a whole week without Facebook, Twitter, email (all 7 of them), and all things cloud-based. Crazy, I know!

At first, I was in a panic. How would I keep connected with the world? How would I blog about what I was doing? How would I get my online class started? I was like an addict, freaking out about my next “fix”. However, being the trooper that I am, I soldiered on.

I left my smart phone in my room (gasp).

The first day was very hard. I kept on clutching my pocket, seeking the rectangular security that I usually found there. Feeling the absence of its assuring weight was alien to me. I felt a little lost, especially when I wanted to share with my friends what we were doing. It felt strange to not tell people what was happening on my vacation. The thing is, I found myself paying even more attention to my family and sharing with them.

It was AWESOME!

Mighty Fishermen!

Because I was forced to let go of my Internet “leash,” I realized how much I have been missing in the present moment. It has made me think about how inundated I was getting with extraneous information. It made me realize that so many of my students probably feel exactly the same way.

When I returned from my vacation, I wasn’t as frantic to get online. I deleted my Facebook and Twitter apps from my phone. It has been three weeks, and I still don’t miss them. I still check both networking sites daily, but I am not checking every hour. It is kind of nice to not feel the urge all of the time.

Have you ever been disconnected unwillingly? If so, how did you deal with it?

Life Interferes Again

Is blogging to yourself the same thing as talking to yourself? It makes me wonder sometimes. Anyway, I am back again. I know that all of my followers (ha ha) have missed me while I was gone. A little bit to catch up on what has been going on:

  • My darling daughter’s broken leg healed perfectly. She didn’t need any physical therapy or anything like that. Yay! I didn’t realize how expensive a broken leg is, though. We are still trying to get out of that hole. It is going well, though. 🙂
  • I never did finish Moby Dick. I decided that life was waaaaaay too short to read a book that bored me to tears.
  • I took a class about technology standards in education by the AZ Department of Education. It was lots of work but massive amounts of fun. Plus, I learned so much. I was complimented when the facilitator recommended me to facilitate one of the next waves of courses. Unfortunately, I was unable to apply for it. Too bad, though. It would have been fun!

    That is the catch up portion of today’s post. Now on to other things.

    Part of one of the classes that I am taking has to do with integrating blogging into my classroom. I think that it would be a really interesting thing to do, but I wonder if I would be able to keep up with it. I have to figure out a direction for this blog. I think that is one of the reasons why I have been deficient in posting.

    There are so many blogs that I have seen that I really, really like. I have discovered Neil Gaiman‘s blog and have thoroughly loved reading his words. Of course, I couldn’t read his blog without reading his lovely wife Amanda Palmer‘s blog. Who would have thought that one of my favorite living authors would marry one of my favorite punk cabaret musicians? Crazy awesome.

    The point is, every quality blog that I read seems to have a point to it. It’s not just a bunch random chattiness. So, my next goal is to find a focus. Ooh! Maybe my focus will be random chattiness. It might suit me perfectly.

    A Child’s Spirit

    

    Before the Cast

     Ah, the beautiful girl, waiting for her cast. I have learned so much from her, watching her deal with her brokenness. If it were me, I would be pouty and depressed.

    Her spirit has been so full of love and light. The only time when she has expressed frustration is when when she said to me, “Mama, I want to be able to play tickle and run again.” Then she cuddled up to me and put her head on my shoulder. I just held her until she got over it. Other than that, she hasn’t shown any indication of discomfort or sorrow.

    Princess Pink Bound

    Now she is able to walk sometimes on her casted leg, as long as she uses her boot. Boy can this girl get around like a pro! Her problem solving skills are amazing to behold.  She figured out how to crawl off of her bed, drop onto her bottom, and scootch along the floor. The girl can pretty much go anywhere she wants now.

    The first time that she did it was a shock to me. It was in the morning before work. I was in the shower, well, showering. I heard this knock on the door. As far as I knew, I was the only person in the house that was awake and she couldn’t get out of bed. I felt a whole bunch of panic, thinking that someone was sitting there, ready to rob me or something worse.

    “Nutter-butter?” I said, hoping for a response, but none came, other than just another knock on the door. “Butter-boo, is that you?” Still no answer, just a knock. A little bit more panic came over me. Holy crap! Someone was going to kill me! I know, totally irrational. If someone was going to kill me, they sure wouldn’t knock. It was early, though, and I wasn’t quite awake.

    I hurried and got out of the shower, trying to think positive thoughts about what was going on outside my bathroom door. When I finally wrapped the towel around myself and opened the door, there was my daughter with a HUGE grin on her face. “Mama, I figured out how to get out!” she said proudly.

    I never thought your love for a person could grow exponentially every single day. My daughter amazes me.

    Of NaNoWriMo, Princess Pink, and Other Things

    I know it has been a while since I have written. It has been very busy for me lately.

    NaNoWriMo went much better than I thought it would. I was able to write 37,000 words and really enjoyed doing it. I had a few days of complete blockage, but I was able to work through it. I also had a couple of people read parts of  my novel and I think I have a good start! With six days left and a plan to get the 13,000 words written, I was fully ready to complete the first draft and “win.” Unfortunately, the day before Thanksgiving, my dear daughter fell off a purple dinosaur and broke her leg.

    Yes, you read it here. A purple dinosaur broke my daughter’s leg. Well, technically it wasn’t the dinosaur’s fault, but it was a huge player in the catastrophe.

    I thought I knew what it meant to have your heart hurt until you thought it would burst and you would die from it. I was wrong. Watching my daughter deal with the pain of a fractured tibia was the worst heart-pain I have ever experienced in my life. I do believe that I cried as much as she did when I had to help her stretch her leg out so that they could get the xrays.

    After the trip to urgent care proved the necessity of a trip to the emergency room, we loaded my poor girl back up into the car and drove to the Cardon Children’s Medical Center. They got us in quickly and made sure that our daughter was well taken care of. We even got a visit from one of the therapy dogs, though I believe it was more for me than for my daughter.

    The fractured tibia required a splint for a week. I took three days off of work. Thankfully my wonderful mother and father-in-law drove up to take care of her for two of the days. I am so thankful for their help! Because of them, I was able to get what I needed done at work. My girl did a fabulous job with the pain of the broken leg and staying off of her splint. Finally, the day came when she had to go to the orthopedist. The doctor’s office was wonderful, too. Everyone was so friendly. They got us in quickly, got the xrays done (again) with no pain for my girl (thank goodness).

    I was not prepared for the casting process, however. Her fracture was slightly askew, so they had to realign her bones. I listened to her pain as they molded her cast to set her bone correctly. That was not fun at all, but at least it was not as bad as the day she broke her leg. Guess what color her cast was? If you said princess pink, you’re right!

    And let me tell you, my girl is amazing to me. She hasn’t let this broken leg get her down. She’s kept her sense of humor and truly loves all of the attention she receives from everyone around us. Now we are sitting with four more weeks of princess pink and a child who has shown me how to deal with discomfort with a happy heart.