Sunday, November 20, 2016

Woefully behind

I had good intentions of writing every day what I am thankful for, but exhaustion and life have gotten in the way.

I can't promise the next days won't be the same. So some things I am grateful for on a regular basis:

Mondays youngest has newspaper after school so I stay after at my school and visit with one of my best friends. Her kids are in another district now and involved in their own activities so this is one of the only opportunities I have to talk with her face to face. It is a wonderful time to share frustrations and to laugh. She is one of my only confidants and I value the 45 minutes I get to spend nearly every Monday.

Said oldest son empties the dishwasher every morning. This makes the mornings so much smoother and I don't feel like I am the hired help. It has taken a huge amount of stress out of the mornings because I am not the only one working to get us out the door. For those with younger kids, it does get easier. I am grateful for that.

Husband is done with soccer now and is home on Fridays again. After the week apart, my very most favorite moment of the entire week is that moment when we are in bed and he spoons me. I feel so safe and cared for and knowing he is there to help with life again allows me to relax and breathe. That singular moment is what I am grateful for every weekend.

I have friends who have been married about the same amount of time that hubby and I have whose marriages are ending. Not for abuse or anything horrible -- they have just grown apart. I can't imagine starting over at nearly 50 by choice. I am so grateful for my hubby and the effort and work we both put into this marriage. He is the best thing that ever happened to me. Because of him we have two amazing boys. Because of him, things in his work world and concentric circles outward have changed for the better. He is a good man and I am grateful for him every single day.

We got to spend 3 hours with my sisters and their families yesterday. We are spread out in age and personalities and after losing our parents we could have drifted apart. We don't talk often. We don't get together often. But yesterday was wonderful and I am grateful we have each other.

And as a bonus, I am grateful they have finally come to appreciate the importance of the photograph. Memories can be captured by the heart but photographic evidence is wonderful.

And lastly for today, we got an email today that we don't have subs for tomorrow so I will be filling in tomorrow. I have to cancel reading groups for my K's and 2nd graders which disappoints me, but at least I have a heads up. Usually it is a last minute scramble. So I am grateful for early warnings of schedule changes.

Hopefully I can find more to be thankful for tomorrow despite the change.

Wednesday, November 16, 2016

Thankful on the 16th

Our school has one to one technology.

In the old days (two years ago) a cancellation would mean using a built in snow day.

In the old days a two hour delay for fog would have gone to a three hour before cancelling.

Times have changed.

The district has decided they can save money by going to a cancellation if the two hour delay isn't enough. If they cancel, assistants do not get paid. Only a few food service staff get paid and not for their full hours. Bus drivers get a lesser pay. No food is used. Utilities are much less. Therefore cancellation pays off for them.

I find it a slippery slope to on-line education, but that is a topic for another day.

I don't know if it's the full moon or the predicted snow this weekend but the kids have been bonkers -- a continuation of last weeks upended scheduling craziness. So when the call for a delay came around 5, I was happy. When the cancellation call came just before 8, I was ecstatic. Even though it means the loss of a day of pay that I won't ever get back, I am thankful........for fog.

And they are predicting more for tomorrow. :-)

Monday, November 14, 2016

Thankful Day 14

Today I am thankful for flights that go as planned and land safely. And I am hopeful hubby's return flight repeats this fact.

What can I say... It was a super moon Monday. :-)

Sunday, November 13, 2016

Thankful Day 13

Our oldest is in college and it still takes some getting used to.

When I went to college we had a phone in our room but had to use a calling card or call collect. And the internet wasn't really a thing. Needless to say I did not have many conversations with my parents.

I told oldest I would like one proof of life text a week and he has been pretty good about it. And I have been pretty good about letting him be the one to contact me. Baby steps to independence.  (just realized the irony and poignancy of that phrase. May be the seed of a poem.)

Today I am thankful for the technology that allows me to keep in touch with my kids and they with me.

Friday, November 11, 2016

Thankful Day 11

Our principal is an amazing party planner and her best showcase of that talent is our annual Veterans Day program. She hand picks the kids to be in the program. She selects the songs. The music teacher and band teacher help out by practicing during class. In all, the kids put in about 12 hours of practicing over the course of 3 weeks.

And the effort shows.

We usually have members of the military there to help as well. They are members of the American Legion and family members of staff. It always brings tears to my eyes as we place our hands over our hearts for the Pledge of Allegiance and the National Anthem but they stand at attention and salute. I see the pride in them and feel it in my soul.

These military members also perform a flag folding ceremony for us. This is my favorite moment of the program. The first time we had it was about 5 years ago and it was the first time I knew that each fold had a meaning. I knew how to fold a flag but had no idea there was a meaning behind each fold --that there was a reason it looks like a triangle once it is folded.

 I really listened today and took so much from it. It made me so proud to be American. Things are going to be crazy for a while. I am excited about the possibilities of a Trump presidency. But I also fear for the actions of those who aren't happy. The words of the Pledge, of the National Anthem, and the Flag folding ceremony really bring into focus all that America means -- at least to me. If you haven't seen a flag folding ceremony look one up -- or at least look up the meanings for yourself.

Three of my nephews served. Two of my brothers in law served. Several uncles and cousins have served. I am thankful for their service. I am thankful for all those who volunteer to keep us safe at the risk of their own lives. We owe them all a debt of gratitude.

So today, Veterans Day, I am truly grateful for all our veterans.

Thursday, November 10, 2016

Thankful Day 10

I'm realizing as the month goes on that it is hard some days to come up with something significant.

Today was a good day. We practiced our first evacuation drill and it went incredibly well.

Of course an hour out of the day first thing in the morning kind of set the tone for the rest of the day.

I'm thankful the ground was dry or frozen and not muddy.

Although we pray we never have to make practice a reality, I am thankful we practice.

We are starting to use elements of ALICE in regards to lock downs and for that I am thankful. I hated when we first started lock downs and had kids "shelter" quietly in a dark room. The young ones didn't understand and were scared. The older ones found it ridiculous.

We are learning and practicing other options and it has helped. While I hate hearing kindergartners speak of "bad guys" so matter of factly, they aren't really scared any more. The older kids have options no matter what the situation and that gives them power.

I hate lock downs and I hate even more that it is necessary to have them. But, I am thankful we are now being taught we don't have to be sitting ducks. In a world where people think violence is a valid way of solving disagreements, I am thankful we are being given options.

Tuesday, November 8, 2016

Thankful Day 8

I have kids in one of my reading groups that really want to read. The teacher they had last year did not and is not one who inspires learning. The teacher they have this year is so supportive and helpful. They listen to our coaching and try our suggestions and they are doing so well!

Today one child read a page of Three Cheers for Tacky that had so many challenging words. He never gave up. He proceeded with strategies we have worked on. I could cry. I am so proud of him and the others in this group.

I have a rule that no one is allowed to "help" when someone reaches a challenge. Individuals need the time to think and practice skills and these kids give each other that time. I could not love my time with these kids more.

Today I am thankful for breakthroughs and kids who try. God bless the kids who try!

Monday, November 7, 2016

Thankful Day 4

I apparently posted this to my old blog because I was using my phone in the last moments before losing Wi-Fi coverage. But I actually did post. 

Thankful day 4

Today, I am thankful for weekends. Plain and simple. It was a day that started frenetic, continued crazy, and ended insane. But it is over. The sun is shining and all my guys are home.
Today I am thankful for weekends

Sunday, November 6, 2016

Thankful Days 5 and 6

I am combining yesterday and today because we were in a land with limited Wi-Fi.

We went to our residence camp in Michigan for their volunteer work weekend. The same people tend to come back year after year and it is so fun to see the kids go from being on "stick patrol" to helping with more substantial tasks like painting and moving picnic tables.
There is always a new family or two that come to see what camp is all about and many are so impressed they end up sending their kids back for the summer.
Volunteering is important. Getting involved in something bigger than you and that you can be passionate about is important. Schools require volunteering. Colleges look at volunteering. Many jobs encourage volunteering. But I feel that volunteering needs to be more than a box you check. If you find that thing you love to do and find the organization that can use that skill, it won't be a chore -- it will be a bucket you fill that will overflow into your own.
Work weekends at camp are just that for our family. And I think for the other families as well. We are teaching our kids to give of themselves and to give back to those who have helped to shape their lives. Why else would most of us drive 3 hours or more one way to work muscles we forgot we had and get sweaty and dirty as we work to make camp a little better?

Because of camp I am thankful for opportunities to give back, and
I am thankful to all of those-- past present, present, and future-- who are willing to give their time, talent, and personal treasure to help ymca Camp Pinewood continue to change lives.

Thursday, November 3, 2016

Thankful day 3

I am not a sports fanatic. I am not athletically inclined. However, I grew up near Chicago. And if you grow up near Chicago you are a Chicago fan.

The 1985 Bears. Superbowl shuffle anyone?  Mike Ditka is Da Coach.

Michael Jordan, Scottie Pippen, Jon Paxton and the Chicago Bulls of the late 80s and early 90s.

I've watched games on TV. I've been to a couple of Bears games and they were fun.

And  then there is baseball. Husband and his family are Cub fans so I am a Cub fan. I have been to a few games at Wrigley and that is by far the better way to watch baseball.

Because baseball is boring. There is a lot of standing around in baseball. The games last forever. It is boring. But I'm a Cub fan by default, so I root for the Cubs and say, "There is always next year." when the season once again ends early.

This year after 108 years our Cubbies made it to the World series.

They lost the first game and I thought well at least we made it here.

Then they won. You start to believe it's possible -- really possible. And they were coming home for 3 games. Maybe they could win it all at home.

Then they lost.
And lost again.

But game 5? the last of the Chicago games-- and they won!

Hope resurged.

Game six we killed it. The series was tied.

For someone who doesn't care about baseball or sports in general I was holding my breath along with every other Cub fan. I had only checked in on my phone and watched the little play by play guy that showed the pitches and a tiny diamond that lit up green if a runner was on periodically so there was no way I was going to jinx it by watching the game. I got updates from hubby. Finally at 10:30 I checked in and saw were up 6-4. Then Cleveland tied it up. You could feel the collective groan from Cubs fans everywhere. I waited til the bottom of the 8th and then told hubby I was going to bed because either they were going to lose or it would be extra innings and I could not afford to stay up that late.

Subconsciously, I must have heard the cheering, because I woke up at 1:30 and thought the game has to be over, I'll see if they won.

I find out there was a rain delay and an extra inning but in the end the Cubs were victorious.

2 teams that hadn't won in decades meet in the World Series.
They take it to game 7.
Game 7 goes to extra innings.
The extra inning is delayed by rain.
The game ends with a 1 run advantage.

Today I am thankful for Miracles and for all those who believed it was possible every year for 108 years.

Wednesday, November 2, 2016

Thankful Day 2

I laughed out loud today. I went outside with the class I am scheduled to be with at the time as they took an extra recess. One little girl came running up and informed me that sliding down the monkey bars that are also used to stair step up and stair step down made it feel like she had "sparkles in her pants."

Can you think of a better way to describe static electricity?
I sure can't.

It might even be great in a poem. At least that's what I told her.

Today I am thankful for the amazing things kids say and their perspective on any given topic.

Tuesday, November 1, 2016

Thankful Day one

Growing up in northern Indiana, Autumn is the best of all seasons. The warm days and cool evenings lead to spectacular leaf colors. The angle of the sun is warm and inviting. Growing up in the 70's  leaf burning was allowed and in the country now, it still is. I love the smell of burning leaves so much, I would buy a candle with a "burning leaf" scent if it existed and they could capture it exactly. Being able to wear a T-shirt during the day but needing a sweatshirt at night is a beautiful bonus to Autumn's attributes.

If it were possible to hug a day, today was a day to bear hug. 

Younger son and I went for a walk after school down our country roads and as we walked the overwhelming thought in my head was, "What a gift!" 

Warm air stirred by strong breezes wafted leaves from the trees to shower the road as we walked. I love to take photos and as I listened to  my son talk about his day at school and what homework he had for the night, I kept wishing I had my camera with me to capture the angle of branches on the trees that were now uncovered from their summer layers. You normally think of "dappled" pertaining to the patches of light and dark on the ground, but the angle of the sun made the orange practically sparkle -- if it's possible for orange to sparkle. The sky was pale blue and made the perfect background for the colors of the leaves. I asked my son to take a picture of one tree in particular, that was stunning, with his phone since I didn't even have that with me. 

After we got home, my wonderful 17 year old son even agreed to humor me by collecting some leaves from the yard and tossing them in the air so I could get a picture of falling leaves. 

I wish there was a way to bottle days like this, but I guess if they were common we wouldn't appreciate them as much. 

For the beauty of the day and the gift of a teenage son I adore, I am truly thankful.