a really cheap birthday present

The 19 year old version of myself didn’t make too many good decisions and was a pretty big mess. Yes, I had great friends and was involved with some pretty great organizations and loved Jesus…but it was no secret that I often skipped class, drank too much, signed up for credit cards I shouldn’t have, drove too fast and chased after all the wrong boys.

I’m 32. And I still do some of those things. But the last one I can scratch off the list.
Because, surprisingly it is something my 19 year old self managed to get right.

Thirteen Octobers ago, this shaggy haired guy with a goatee asked me to go to a soccer game with me. I had just broken up with a great guy, pretty much for being great, and the last thing I wanted was a new boyfriend.
But he was cute. And so I said yes anyways.
And he has been stuck with me ever since.

He was some magic combination between the good guys that I wanted to like and the bad ones that I always ended up falling for. He liked good movies, live music, soccer, Rolling Stone, the occasional beer, and Jesus. He watched my soccer games (even in the rain), called back when he said he would, held my hair, laughed at my jokes, made me a mix tape, called me out when I needed it, changed my tires and went to all my silly formals and date parties. He was patient. And didn’t scare easy. And he stuck around, even when he shouldn’t have. And even my 19 year old self knew better than to let this one go.

And today he turns 33.
And we have shared a lot of birthdays. His, mine, and now our kids.
And on his 20th birthday we had only been dating for about three weeks and I remember struggling with what to do or how much to write in the card. It was way too early to be breaking out the L word.
But I was completely smitten.
And still am.
And now, I don’t have to hesitate to say that I love him.
Because it wasn’t too long after that birthday that it slipped out anyways.
And that somehow over the last 13 birthdays, he has taught me so much more about what that word really means.

On our first valentines day, we were both a little strapped for cash and not really too into the Hallmark holiday so we set a 5$ limit on gifts. I bought a box of Star Wars valentines cards and wrote something that I loved about him on the back of each one.
(corny, I know…and I won’t even mention that all he gave me a half eaten bag of candy that year and a couple of bouncy balls!)And now, because in many ways I am still the same girl, we are a little strapped for cash so I thought I’d resort to the same trick for his present ( that and the whoopee cushion Owen picked out at Dollar General).

I dug the old valentines out of the closet this morning and was intending to list some of the things on the back here.
BUT
Most of them were super cheesy, or ridiculous, and a few even made me blush.
So I’ll mostly have to start from scratch. 33 reasons in no particular order. With just a few of the old ones in italics.
1. because you iron my pants.
2. because you make me be a grown up when I really don’t want to.
3. because you let me be ridiculous and silly all the other times.
4. because you have really good hair.
5. because of the way you scratch your nose with your whole fist and I sometimes think you are going to rub it off.
6. because you make better pancakes than me.
7. because the inside of my car doesn’t appall you. And your might just be even worse.
8. because you like good movies and music.
9. because you sometimes ask me to dance with you in the living room.
10. because when you read Hank the Cowdog to Owen, you do all the voices.
11. because you are smarter than me.
12. because you are way better at disciplining our kids than me.
13. because there needs to be at least one person in the house who can balance a check book. or at least try.
14. because you can usually find my keys.
15. because you make me feel safe.
16. because you do more around the house than most dads I know. (too bad we are both slobs).
17. because you hold my hand sometimes even when you don’t want to.
18. because you sneak candy into the movies for me.
19. because you give me a book allowance.
20. because you paint Tess’s toenails. And sometimes mine.
21. because you let me steal your jeans.
22. because you like me better when I don’t wear make up.
23. because you secretly like Gilmore Girls too.
24. because you don’t let me beat you at games.
25. because you are honest.
26. because you don’t know what you want to do when you grow up either.
27. because you let me drag you all over the place when you would much rather be sitting at home watching sports.
28. because you rarely say “I told you so” when you are right, which is more often than I’d like to admit.
29. because you get it.
30. because you made me a book.
31. because you sometimes you let me sleep in.
32. because our two ridiculously cute kids look just like you.
33. because you push me and encourage me and make me better than I would ever be without you.

Happy Birthday Shaun, and maybe next year I'll buy you a real present!

the waiting game

Lately I haven’t felt very productive in most areas of my life.

I have been going to all kinds of work trainings and I always leave a little conflicted.
Like I still don’t know what I want to be when I grow up.
That maybe I should quit and really try to write or serve in some bigger ways.
That maybe I should teach at a rougher school down the road.
Loving bigger and harder.
Or that maybe I should be just doing my current job better.
Because really, I kind of like where I am at.
But maybe start actually getting papers graded on time and getting lesson plans turned in for a change.  That I should be the ones teaching the workshops, rather than sitting in them, and using that Masters degree of mine.
I keep waiting to do something with my life,
And the writing is always at a stalemate.
I still have no idea what I want to do with it.
And so I just keep doing the same things.
And the same things are good things.
And my kids are little, and probably the most important investment of my time right now and on some levels I need everything else to be easy. For it to wait.
But sometimes, I still feel like I am waiting for the important parts to start.
And I’m not really sure what exactly I’m waiting on.
But I’ll be the first to tell you it isn’t God.
Because I think that is a complete cop out.

Because I really don’t think he is going to shoot me an email and tell me what to be when I grow up.
Or even what to do tomorrow.
Because God isn’t like that. At least not very often. He rarely is into giving us specific plans or road maps. I'm not saying we can't have hints or clues or better paths than others, but....
Unless you are a pregnant virgin, a Pharisee or knocked on your ass on the way to Damascus, or shoved in front of a burning bush.
There are some crazy stories in the bible, for some specific people with specific plans.
But mostly it is just filled with other people following, going, screwing up and trying again.
I think for the most of us, the path is pretty wide open.
We just have to go.

And make sure my plan lines up in some way with His.
Which is pretty much just to love and restore and help people (and the whole bring him glory thing).
And I assure you, if I am doing anything to love and help and restore it isn’t by myself.
By myself, I am pretty much only good for reading books, making a mess and drinking coffee.
And of course praying and listening aren’t bad ideas either.

But waiting.
Well, I’m pretty tired of that.

(and I’d totally like to take credit for most of these thoughts, but really I’m just finally starting to write about and process some of the stuff I learned in Portland. Donald Miller says everything I just said but lots better here )

a repost and a playlist

This morning my kids walked out the door as Jango Fett and a butterfly.
I'm not really sure who Jango Fett but it has something to do with Star Wars and requires a light saber. And well, Tess isn't too thrilled with the butterfly.

So here is to costumes and my annual Halloween repost from when he was 3 and spiderman:
Owen just scooted out the door for the day dressed as spiderman. His school is having a halloween party......but I am not sure he was supposed to show up ALL day in costume. I also considered the fact that they are serving lasagna for lunch, and the outfit is a one-piecer making "potty time" a nightmare. I thought maybe just taking his costume to put on at party time would be a better idea. However, I could not convince my child of this.Before leaving he asked me a question that has stuck with me ( well maybe because he asked it about a dozen times in a span of 5 minutes).

"Who are you going to be today mommy?"
First I tried responding with something easy......"Owen's mommy". Apparently that was not exciting enough.Then I tried to appeal to the superhero in him with "super woman". Apparently they don't show that cartoon anymore so there is no such thing if you are 3. I started to get desperate and told him I could be "Dora". He considered this a bit longer before declining. He finally agreed with an old classic......."a ghost". He looked around for a sheet.......but settled for a few "boos" before he was out the door for a day filled with future cavities.


I am still in my pjs and don't plan on dressing up as anything.........but it's not a bad question to ask yourself first thing in the morning.....and not just on halloween.


So, who are you going to be today?  

and the unrelated playlist:

from the water

Last weekend I made a quick run to the lake to visit my family.
I dreaded the drive. It’s close to four hours, which isn’t too bad.
But it had been a long week.
I hadn’t slept great.
And it was just me and my 2 year old.
My 2 year old that screamed a good portion of the way there.

But not long after exiting 45, the last stretch, a long windy road that takes me up the back side of the lake, I started crossing bridges.
And the second I hit the water something in me began to settle.
My husband comes from mountain people.
And I do love the mountains.
But I come from the water.

My annual family vacation growing up was always the beach.
I was wading in and out of waves, boogie boarding and collecting seashells and throwing back oysters on the half shell long before kindergarten.
Somewhere around middle school my parents bought a sailboat.
And dragged me down to the bay almost every weekend.
I was at the age where I wanted to spend my weekends on the phone or meeting boys at movies.
Instead I was reading books on the bow and trying not to get hit in the head with the boom.
I soaked in the salty air and worked on my tan on the deck.
Eventually they traded in the 33 foot Ericson for a place on the lake and a much smaller boat.
But still on the water.

And summers were spent at camp on the Guadalupe. From age 11-21.
The earthy river water mixed with that horrible vinegar alcohol mix they always dropped in our ears smells like summer to me.
Plus SunIn and baby oil and beer.
I canoed and fished and shot the rapids and jumped off the occasional bridge.
We picnicked and played volleyball and danced and pushed people in.
And on our days off, we often found ourselves back in the river. Floating in borrowed inner tubes sipping beers we had talked someone of age into buying for us.
But mostly we sat on the shore and laughed and had real conversations.
They ones that never seemed to come quite as easily at home.

And so last Friday night, I walked in and both my parents were already asleep.
And I quickly slipped out the back door and down the dock.
It was dark and quiet and the earthy water smell filled my lungs.
I went to the end of the dock and held Tess tight and laid down right there on the dock.
Full out. Arms splayed. Not worrying the least about splinters.
I breathed deeply and looked at the stars and soaked it in.
My sweet kid cuddled on my chest.
And I told her stories and listened to the waves gently swaying the dock.
To the boat lines knocking quietly on the hull.
And I tried to catch it all.
The stillness that was filling me.
That I have needed for weeks.

And my heart felt warm and full.
And my chest felt strangely warm.
Really warm.
And wet.
Really wet.
And then I realized that my sweet girl had just peed on my chest.
So much for liking the water.

Red Shoe Ranger Fever




Home Run and Claw and Antlers
For your enjoyment Owen Guest Blogging

slightly old school friday playlist

The ipod connector in my car isn't working, so I have had to drag some old cds out of the attic. I haven't bought cds in ages so my playlist is a little dated. just like the photos. The pics could have been better if:
a) I spend more than 2 minutes on my lunch break picking them out
b) I actually scanned them in rather than just taking pictures of pictures on my phone.
Sorry...I'll try to make up for it in commentary!

ok, guessing about sophomore/junior year of college at a soccer banquet. My hair cut is the same. His not so much. And I think that might be the last time I saw him wear a tie.
Freshman year. Bad purple hair. I have on a lamb name tag. And my hot pink lipstick and bad jumper aren't doing me any favors. Just glad someone else had on a bad plaid dress too. You could possibly sell advertising space on my forehead.
9th or 10th grade of high school school photo. That shirt was silk, Esprit and I loved it. AND HORRIBLE. But my hair has never looked better. And possibly never seen hot rollers since that day.

Senior year of HS soccer picture. My favorite thing about this photo, besides the perfect head tilt is that it looks like my leg is cut off at the knee.


Turning the question

My school has been sending me to some inquiry training.
The “i” word has been thrown around since my education classes in college.
It is one of those things that is really good as a concept but kind of hard to pull off in the classroom well.
For lots of reasons.
But the big one number is because teachers are reluctant to let go of the control.
To let the kids loose with a concept and see where they end up.
Let them discover, own it and share out all on their own. Without intervening.
Then push them a little bit further and clear up any misconceptions that they are holding onto before they slip out your door.
This is supposed to be the most meaningful way for a kid to learn.
For them to discover rather than memorize.

One of the other problems with inquiry and science is that kids have stopped learning how to ask questions.
My son bombards me with whys all day long.
Why are owls nocturnal? (which comes out a lot more like “not-turtles”)
Why do I have to take a shower?
Why does that cloud look bear with a tutu on? (I don’t make this stuff up)
Why does gum stick? (like to the bottom of my car floorboard)
Why does Tess have her head in the toilet? (good question, kid and I so wish I knew)
But eventually after years of hearing moms and teachers and everyone else say,
Later.
Just because.
And I don’t know.
Those “why” questions stop flowing.

And then in high school you have to pry questions out of them and bribe them with candy and stickers all kinds of silly.
And even then, they mostly don’t ask very good questions.
They still sound a lot like my 5 year old, asking questions that start with why.
And why questions are really hard to answer.

I can tell you how neurons fire. But not why.
I can calculate the speed of light. But not tell you why things get all crazy when you start moving that fast.
I can tell you how far away the moon is. But not why it ended up there.
I can observe altruistic behaviors in animals, but not tell you why they protect each other.
At least not with certainty.

Why is hard to calculate, observe and measure.

So, we learned this little trick today called
“Turning the question”
Taking a why question. And pulling out variables and finding things kids can actually investigate.
For example, if they ask “why does water boil?” That is a tough question to investigate.
But, they could do some quick experiments do see at what temperature it boils, if hot water boils faster than cold water, if different liquids boil at different temperatures, if adding something to the water makes it boil faster, etc.

Pretty much the trick and thing the instructor said that I dutifully jotted down in my comp book ( while thinking more along the lines of a blog post than a lesson plan)

“How can the question be turned into a practical action?”

And I am a girl coming out of a long season of questions and especially whys.
Most of which have nothing to do with science.
But more on the lines of my faith and my heart and my relationships.
And the whys weren’t really getting me anywhere.
Except more questions.
But turning those hard questions into actions.
That might actually teach me something.


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push



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A few months or so ago we were at the lake.
The cousins were all on the dock floating and jumping off the sides.
The older boys were doing gainers and cannonballs and even the occasional belly flop.
And by older I am including some in their 30s and 40s and possibly even me.

Owen was a little more cautious.
 

 
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He was floating and splashing happily enough in the water.
But he wouldn’t have anything to do with jumping in.
You could tell he wanted to join in, but I couldn’t convince him that his life vest would hold him up.
And that even though it might be a little scary at first.
That it would be fun.
Eventually I talked him up the ladder, and he was staring over the edge.
But not jumping.
I nodded to my brother to give him a little push.
And he looked back at me, like are you sure?
And I insisted.
And it didn’t take much.
Just a little nudge.

And Owen went flying over the side.
Screaming and gasping a little.
Only to scurry up the ladder and do it at least another 40 times before I finally insisted that he come in.
Lately I haven’t been sleeping well.
And not because of my kids (although coughs, barking dogs, and cover stealing 2 year olds sure don’t help).
But I can’t seem to turn my head off.
My thoughts circle and swim.
And although I have never really been a worrier,
I do question and examine and wonder.
And replay conversations from yesterday and twenty years ago.
I pray and count and take Tylonal PM with little relief.
I have been here before.
It isn’t new.
But it isn’t normal.

There have been a handful of things swimming through my head these last few nights.
Some of them are my own. And others are friends that could use a little carrying.
Currents and pasts and a few all mixed together.

But mostly, what keeps me up comes down to fear.
Of being afraid to jump.
And I just need a push.
A nudge.
And the assurance that I won’t drown.
To dive in.

reluctant dinner party

Early in the week, I had big plans to have people over.

Shaun and Owen were going to camp out and I thought it would be a perfect excuse for a cheap girls night.
And then the week took it’s toll on me.
Not sleeping well, behind at work, stomach hurting, emotionally drained.
By the time Friday night hit. I just wanted to put on my pjs and crawl into bed.

Add on to that the fact that the boys didn’t go camping.
And I had a screaming headache from unintentionally sniffing glue at school all day (long crazy story that could be a blog post in itself).
But some of my friends still wanted to come over. 
And I figured I might as well.

I love having people over.
I even like to cook.
But I hate to clean.
And my house and my mess and my lack of seating and matching china embarrasses me.
So we usually don’t.
Especially not when I’m super tired and haven’t picked up or done dishes or even gone to the store.

A few families were coming over and I warned them I wasn’t picking up a thing. Which I usually say and then do anyways.
But this time I really didn’t.
I broke out the paper plates. Ones with Easter eggs on them.
And brought in lawn chairs from outside.
I made a really simple easy meal and for some reason Owen put on his Halloween costume.

And my friends came.
And if they noticed the dirt on the floor or the dirty dishes piled up in the sink they didn’t say anything.

Kids ran around destroying.
Husbands watched baseball.
And the girls ended up sitting and talking easily at the table.
And very quickly I didn’t feel so tired or like climbing into bed.
The noise and the mess filled my house and my heart and I went back for seconds.
And we talked some more.

And later, I sank into the couch in the living room cluttered with toys, sipping sangria, while a good friend cleaned my kitchen.
Wondering why I cared about my mess anyways.
That I had enjoyed my night despite the paper plates and lack of appetizers.
And I was full in more ways than one.

And that maybe we don’t have to be so afraid to let people see our dirty floors and unmade beds or the rest of the things we try so hard to keep hidden.
In our laundry rooms or even our hearts.

(And thanks, Tina, for doing the dishes.)

not so different.

Sometime last Spring I went to Bible study like normal.
We had just read a book about the author’s pursuit of justice that uprooted her family from the suburbs to the city and eventually sent her on a short term mission trip to Africa.
The book felt like a journey that I was just beginning.

I read a lot.
And lately I have been reading more books on justice and poverty and compassion.
And I am growing tired of my suburban mediocrity.
And I am starting to read less, and do a little bit more.
Not much. But a beginning.
I’ve been asking a lot of questions.
And my faith has started to feel slippery and loose beneath me.
Lines are graying. Theology is being examined.
The only thing that feels solid is love.
And I figure that is enough.

So I get to bible study, and I love this book.
because of what is says about community and justice and all those questions that are finding their way into my head.
And some others in the group. Not so much.
And as the discussion progresses some of my statements draw some strong disagreements and concern.
And before, I had kind of thought we were all on the same page.
And suddenly I realize we aren’t even reading the same book.

And I drove home sad. Feeling different.
And most of all alone.

And it wasn’t just bible study.
Other friendships seem to be moving in opposite directions.
We laugh a little less. We offend a little easier. And there less common ground.

And realize that pursuing this path is taking me away.
Making me more different.
“Edgy and risky” - words used to describe my writing from a friend meant as a compliment.
But. I don’t really want to be edgy and risky.
Because I think edgy and risky also means alone.

That I can pursue these things that have been laid on my heart.
By myself.
And I do.

Or I can go back to what I know. What is easy.

And I know which way I am supposed to go.
But I don’t really like walking by myself.

And I see ugly things building up in me.
I’m judging people for judging.
I’m being awfully compassionate to certain groups and impatient with others.
I value my sweat over their checks. Time over donations.
Dirty hands over someone else’s prayers.
When both are necessary.
And lets be honest.
Very occasionally I am getting my hands dirty. The rest of the time I’m hanging out at Starbucks.

And even talking about this makes me uneasy.
Because it implies arrogance and pride.
Which are a few other things that I am wrestling with in this process.
Sometimes I feel inadequate and behind and not enough.
And others, I catch myself feeling better than.
Which then makes me feel horrible and question things all over again.

And somewhere over the course of last summer, some of these conversations started spilling out.
At first, in the worst kind of ways. Rude snide drunk comments.
And later in healthier places.
Over a burger with my husband.
Over a cup of coffee with a friend.
On a couch with another.

And I still feel a bit alone. Even though when I look around, I never ever am.
And maybe it isn’t so much about being different,
As it is giving up my comfortable.
Stumbling. Slowly. Toward something other than a two car garage and a white picket fence.
And I am pretty afraid of where I could end up.

And maybe it is about time that I start trusting that I won’t get there by myself.

the shockingly on time but I 'm too tired to write anything so settle for some pictures playlist.

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rusty

Last week I saw a picture of a guitar.
And ever since then I've been aching to get it out of the closet.
To tune it up.
And play.

The only problem is, after an almost decade hiatus,
It's not that easy.

After wiping the dust off.
My chords were clumsy.
The few that I remembered.
My fingers were raw and uncalloused and tender.
And my songs didn't really sound like songs anymore.

Let me be clear.
I was never a rock star.
I could barely even play bar chords.
But I knew a binder full of songs.
And could make music from those six strings.
Thanks to 8 slightly embarrassing years of orchestra, I could do even better on four.

But.
I am out of practice.
I am rusty.
And for the last decade my guitar has been serving the purpose of holding up sweatshirts in my closet rather than making music.
Still doing a job.
Just a really boring one.

Beautiful things don't play themselves.
And gifts and chords and songs get forgotten when no one is singing them.
A cardboard box could hold up sweatshirts and collect dust.
These six strings were meant for something much more.



Which makes me wonder what else is gathering dust in my closet.
And that maybe I was meant for something more too.

superwoman



I just watched Waiting for for Superman, which is a documentary exposing the failures of the public school system in the US.
I was warned that, as a public school teacher it would just make me frustrated and angry. Instead it just made me feel sad and helpless.
The narrator talked about how sad he was to learn that Superman wasn't real. And that no one was coming to rescue them.
I sobbed at the end as the kids waited for their name to be drawn in a handful of lotteries, for their chance to go to a good school. For a much better chance at education, college and adults pouring energy into their success as compared to their neighborhood schools with 60-70% dropout rates and even worse testing scores. Their future seemed to come down to their name being drawn out of hat. Or at least a pretty good head start.
Most of them weren’t picked.

And I watched it one statement just kept playing through my mind.
“What can I do?”
And it wasn’t a frustrated, this is too messed up, give up,sarcastic kind of question.
But an honest, really, what can I do to help kind of question.

And I don’t know the answer.
But I do know that it is easy to give up.
To see big problems without easy solutions and throw your hands up and do nothing because you really don’t know what to do. And it seems too hard or too much to even know where to being.

Like poverty.
Or discrimination.
Or abuse.
Or war.
Or addiction.
Or disasters.
And a million other things that I don’t know how to fix. And mostly don’t do anything about.

But I have this friend, who used to be a student of mine.
One of my first.
And she didn’t throw her hands up.
And she didn’t take the normal path after college.
She didn’t sit around on her couch wondering how to make things better.
Instead she packed her bags.

She joined the peace corps and just started her assignment in Peru.
And I am inspired and encouraged and humbled by her experiences.
By the love that she is living. To me she is Superwoman.
When she gets the chance she writes about it here. And her words on change and love and service and so much better than mine. Because she is living it.
I haven't written much in comparison to all that has happened in the last three weeks. I have met so many people, seen and learned more than I can really remember to explain. Every moment is an opportunity to learn, to experience life from a new vantage point. And everything seems to have deeper meaning than can be expressed on paper. It's not just a freezing cold shower; it is a connection with a lifetime of cold showers that my family has gotten used to. It's my little host sister breathing hard and fast; crying from the shock of the water. It not just trash everywhere. It is people living with heaps of trash to the left and the right, in mounds and scattered from one side of the neighborhood to the other while other areas are completed cleaned of debris. It is my family and friends and everyone I've ever known who are here in Peru, because I am here in Peru. It is God's hand getting ready to move because I am ready to move. It is Jesus and Tucson and Lubbock, Texas reaching out to others.

What I am experiencing seems so much bigger than the little help I can give. I'm learning how to be aware of the mighty power of our God who has been changing the world with the hands and feet of humanity all along. Knowing that this movement is so much more than my small efforts and failures (failures that feel so big at the time). The grandness of good news of forgiveness helps me to feel the arms of the Creator hold me tight, to care for me throughout the day. The moments when I fall become opportunities for me to be grateful for the way that God loves this ragamuffin. How awesome is it to know, as Shane Claiborne puts it, the God who didn't want to change the world without us.
"You won't relent until you have it all. My heart is yours."

And maybe I can’t pack my bags and move to Peru ( although I’m dying to visit), or single handedly change the nation’s school systems.
But I can encourage my student who just told me his brother died last week from an overdose.
And make time for the one that drives me crazy and always seems to end up in my room afterschool.
Just like I loved and made time for that 14 year old girl who kept asking me to play trivia, meet for coffee and emailing me after I moved away 11 years ago. And now she's superwoman.
And that isn’t such a bad start.
(and I’ve written about my friend Terrace before…my favorite post is this one.)

The let's-be-honest-rarely-posted-on-Friday-playlist plus bonus interview

I skipped a week in here somewhere, but I think my nephew helped me with my last playlist. In return for me helping him with a science project. He needed to interview a chemistry teacher. I tried to be serious as to not hurt his grade. But I just couldn't do it. Here is the interview more or less.


Q1. what degrees do you have, and from where?
A: 1. Interdisciplinary science from Texas Tech (BS degree, really that is the abbreviation...I am not shortening a cussword).
and a Masters in Multidisciplinary Scinece from UTA ( MA degree).
Q2. what are the daily duties of a chemistry teacher?
A. daily duties: light stuff on fire, put it out before the fire alarms go off, fix the copy machine, grade lots of paper, support Starbucks, reply to crazy parent emails, and all that other junk the school makes you do. (or more seriously if your teacher does not have a sense of humor...make copies, set up labs, print MSDS sheets, grade papers, grades some more papers, explain to parents why their kid is failing, try to have some adult conversation at lunch, convince 170 students that they should wear their goggles on their eyes and not their foreheads, grade some more papers, teach a few kids who were nice enough to show up after school how to convert moles to grams AGAIN...and get the junk out of there so you can go home and grade some more papers. worry about 9 pm that maybe you left the gas on or a hotplate on and go back to school and make sure everythign is turned off).
Q3.do you like the job?
A. most days. i mean yes, i like teaching. but there are bad days like everything else. On the up side. It is never boring, and I never have to wonder if what I do is important. I sleep better at night knowing that my students can balance equations (kidding). I also work with some people that I love and we play jokes and laugh alot sometimes making me forget that I am working at all.

Q4. what is the starting salary?
4. crap. just kidding. But it was 11 years ago. Low 20s. Now I think they start around 40,000.

Q5. what advice would you have for someone going into this field?
5. Wear your safety goggles, learn how to mix solutions. Lighting things on fire is always a good idea. The more demos you have up your sleeve the better. Figure out exactly how much smoke it takes to set off the fire alarms and try to avoid that. Make friends with the secretary and the janitor. Learn which APs can take a joke and mean deadlines and which ones don't. Convince your spouse that grading papers is fun. Name your kids after elements on the periodic table. Just makes things easier.
Let's hope his teacher has a sense of humor. Also, I'm not really a chemistry teacher.....so I hope she also doesn't mind purjery.


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coffee money

Recently my dad has started slipping me a handful of cash as he leaves.

“coffee money,” he says.

And I love this. I mean who doesn’t love a fistful of bills. It is usually far more than enough for coffee, but enough for a nice dinner out, or a new outfit, or a dozen or so trips to Starbucks. And I am particularly bad with money. I don’t have tons of credit card debt racked up. I just never ever balance my checkbook. ever. I am a horrible steward of almost all things, money and time included. I also associate a lot of guilt with money. If I spend 4$ on coffee, I feel bad because it is money that isn’t going to my family or serving the kingdom in any way. And I spend lots of 4$ on coffee….so the guilt and budget deficit tend to add up. So when my dad gives me cash, he is giving me freedom to indulge. A treat. Money that I don’t feel bad about spending or not giving away.
And it isn’t just he cash that I like, but the gesture. And I know that I am far too old to be taking money from my daddy. And he does it all sneaky. So my mom can’t see and as not to offend my husband. Who provides in all kinds of ways. Even my wasteful coffee, music, out to eat habits. And my parents have always been about parity among me and my siblings. He even counts out exactly how many Hershey kisses go in our stockings at Christmas to make sure it is even.
…but I absolutely can not picture my dad slipping either of my siblings cash like this. Partly because, they are both more mature and better with their money than I am. But this gesture feels special and just for me. Still the baby, even at 32.
(and who knows, maybe they get coffee money too…but don’t spoil it for me).

And this week, I have a friend who is aching. And I don’t know what to do for her. I feel helpless and horrible and wish I could swoop in and fix things. If I can’t fix anything at least some big grand gesture to let her know that she is loved and not alone.

But life is never that easy.

And I have been busy and tired and broke and not feeling well. And there have been no grand gestures. Which only left me feeling more inadequate.

I kept wondering what I could do to help. And coming up blank. It was enough to make me not want to try at all.

But then I remembered coffee money. And that I could do that for her. Not quite as big as my dad. But a smaller gift card. A few small indulgences to brighten up a few dark days. One cup at a time.
Sometimes gestures don’t need to be big to say big things.

sweet relief



We were in a pub.
(And I’m not trying to be all cool and English and hip, it really was a pub)
She ordered an iced tea and I looked at her a little funny.
She spilled quickly.
She had seen the heart beat for the first time that morning.
We celebrated that night, because it had been such a long journey.
And this friend was in some desperate need of good news.

I held my breath with her until she hit the safety mark.
Twelve weeks.

But it wasn’t safe.
And only a week or two later.
There were complications.
Big ones.
A uterine tear.
And she was told all she could do was rest and hope for the best.

And despite the bed rest, and the prayer, and the pleading.
It didn’t heal.

But somehow that baby hung in there.
And there was more praying and pleading and hoping.
And just when I decided to trust.
To believe.
To picture a baby in my arms. And more importantly hers.
And this mom who so deserved it, after one was ripped from hers.
She was back in the hospital. With contractions and bleeding.
And it was too early.
Eventually they sent her home.
To rest.
Hoping for the best.

And this wasn’t my journey.
My grief.
And my hope.
And my fear.
But for some reason, I went along.
I went to the hospital.
I sat on the couch.
I got take out.
I watched her belly grow.
I heard the heart beat.
Our kids played, while we looked at pictures of the one she lost.
And I usually cried on the way home.

And I grieved and hoped.
I feared the worst and hoped for the best.
But there were so many things I didn’t do.
I didn’t carry around the loss with me like a weight.
I didn’t get shots in my abdomen.
I didn’t count kicks.
I didn’t hold my breath for 9 long months.

But when I got the text that said she was here.
Safe and sound.
All 6lbs and 4ounces of her.
I cried tears of joy and relief.
Right along with her mom.
Across the country.

So welcome to the world little girl.
We have been waiting for you….
And hoping and praying and loving you long before you got here.



ok, so I haven’t written much about this in a long time b/c my friend Beth moved across the country and I miss hanging out on the couch with her. . .but here are a few of those posts if you want the rest of the story:
for tucker
bigger than a mustard seed
what hope sounds like

you never know until you tri

I had another crazy busy weekend.

Owen had not one but two soccer games (both wins!).
My parents were in town.
My in-laws were in town.
My house got skunked, again (and still smells!)
I threw a fabulous 2nd birthday party for Tess.
My grades are due at 8 am tomorrow
( and still aren’t done in case you were wondering).
Plus, I’m still really tired from my Portland trip earlier in the week.
Exhausting right?

….oh, and I also ran a Sprint Triathalon!

Last night after the soccer game and birthday party and ridiculous amount of food I ate at dinner (thanks dad), I tried to get to bed early. I read a little Born to Run as motivation and wished I had resisted the urge to have dessert at dinner.

And I couldn’t sleep. And it wasn’t just the dog barking, the 2 year old crying or the 5 year old falling out of bed. I was totally nervous.
I have done lots of races. Even hard ones. Like a half marathon and the Mud Run last Spring with Shaun.
But this race, with the swimming and biking had my stomach in knots.
There were crazy rules. No ipods. Transition areas. Body marking. Tri suits (which I don’t own) and all kinds of biking terms I didn’t know.

Triathalons. Even little ones are for REAL athletes right? Not 30ish overweight soccer moms. But some of my friends signed up and so did I. My goal was to finish. To not be last and to try not to walk. I trained for this race more than I have ever trained, but I still knew it wasn’t enough. I had never done the full distance on the road. And my workouts the last few weeks had tanked.

But I got there bright and early, giving myself a pep talk the whole way. I considered puking while we waited to get in the pool. And my number was near the back so I had to wait quite a while. I thought the swim would be my easiest event. But the pool did not go well. I’m not sure what it was, maybe getting kicked in the face but I sputtered and gasped and swallowed mouthfuls of water. I have practiced almost double that distance a dozen or more times at the gym but my nerves and the traffic got the best of me. As I crawled out of the pool I was already towards the back of the pack.

I put on some sneakers and climbed on my mountain bike. And pedaled. And people kept passing me. I pedaled harder. And more people passed me. And it was beautiful outside. My legs burned, my knees started to ache and the front of the pack started to lap me. But the sun was shining and I was still going. At some point this younger girl, dressed in a hot pink tri suit with a braid swinging perfectly down her back and tied with a ribbon passed me on the left. She was lapping me. She cheered me on. Also commented on the beautiful day and smiled sweetly. She looked flawless and like she was ready to go out with friends and not halfway through a race and then she took a swig from her water bottle and hocked a giant loogie into the grass.
I finished the bike portion with a horrible time, despite my ferocious pedaling.
Apparently I had it in the wrong gear.

I racked my bike. Grabbed a glass of water and took off for the run. Slowly. But my legs felt good. Finally, I got to do some of the passing for a change. And smiled as I passed about a half dozen girls who had flown past me on the bike.
So what if some of them were my mom’s age.
And then I saw some friends. I caught up. And we chatted and jogged. And barely even noticed the last mile and half. Ok, I noticed. But I didn’t even think about walking or crying.

And I finished.
I finished.
I finished a tri.
Me. An overweight thirty something soccer mom. Swam 300 meters, biked 20 km and ran another 5. In less than two hours. Without puking. Without dying. Without crying. Without giving up.

And I felt like WonderWoman ( who happened to be racing as well).
This is why I run races.
For that feeling.
For conquering something that I wasn’t sure I could do.
For owning it.
For finishing.
Slow and steady and strong.
With my husband and friends waiting for me at the finish line.
Because you can do almost anything with friends by your side.

And now my only question is what will I do next?
Run another race?
Write a book?
Clean out my closets?
Who knows. But today I feel like I could do almost anything.

(and special thanks to my husband for cheering me on, rhonda for the pics and encouragement and for my friends who trained and raced with me )