December 29, 2013

The Memory of a Lifetime...and he got a toaster.

When we bought our house, the front door was a perfectly respectable color:  a nice, stately black.  A little faded, yes, but otherwise nice.  Just nice.  It didn't scream at you if you drove by. It matched the shingles.  Perfectly fine, but so not me.  Shortly after moving in, I painted it red.  Red seemed like the perfect color on that particular day, and I lived with it for a bit until it wasn't the perfect color anymore.

It must be stated at this point that my mother is the queen of all things color.  It's like some weird sense only few people have, like the ability to see auras. At least I think that is also an amazing skill.  I truly believe her color thingy trumps Martha Stewart's or any other gazillionaire decorator.  

So, Mother and I decided it was time to move away from the red and onto new frontiers.  She brought over her chips (I must tell you at this point she has at least 15 boxes ~ those clear shoebox size ~ full of paint chips, all organized in ways only art people would understand, which is to say I don't.) and we found this color of green and declared it the "perfect" shade of green.  And it is.  Perfect for all seasons and any color of flowers should I ever get off my lazy arse and actually plant flowers.  

Upon arriving home to find the front door area covered in plastic and painter's tape, my husband asked exactly why I needed to change the color. We promptly explained the concept of the "perfect" shade of green.  It doesn't scream at you; rather, it invites you to sit on the (matching but horribly painted by a pissed-off 12 year-old) front bench, but watch for the stray nails poking out here and there.  It says, "This door opens to a happy house." (Most of the time, but never at the nasty homework hour.)  It reminds me to frolic about and not be so serious.  Mother can read colors, but they speak to me. They do not, under any circumstances, speak to my husband.  The door has become the butt of all jokes:  "Is that the perfect pair of shoes, like the perfect front door?"  and so on....

So what has my amazing front door got to do with anything?

Well, let me tell you...

I should have known there was a plot brewing because my better half was very sure to remind me several times how he was waiting until at least December 21 to shop, and it might possibly be December 23.  Let me clarify right here.  He is a liar.  As I was explaining to him we should not spend much on each other and I had only gotten him two small things, and quite unglorious gifts at that, he already had my gift.  Did I mention he was a liar? He let me carry on with my heartfelt conversation about saving money and such, all the while knowing his gift was snugly wrapped up and tucked away. Liar.  But I heart him for his lie because his gift was a once-in-a-lifetime, glorious, exquisite and joyful thing from the bottom of his amazing heart.

I was given a box, a quite nice Dior white leather box, from my mother. I knew something was going to happen and that something would make me cry, so I went ahead and started before I opened anything.  I like to be proactive that way.  While I had started my crying jag, I opened the box to find a sweet pale pink hankie with a note:
Are you crying yet?
I never have a hankie or a tissue or anything remotely appropriate when I cry. I pinch the snot and wipe my eyes with my hands because in my head I'm not a tender-hearted mush.  I'm a tough broad, and yet I cry at every inappropriate moment...

At this point, Niagra Falls is a tiny creek barely an inch deep compared to the waterworks I am providing.  My husband tenderly passes me a box and I manage to open it.  Inside I find a CD the perfect shade of green. When I open it, I find a CD with a picture of our most recent family photo.  I look up at him and asked him if he had bought the digital rights to that photo session.  He said we should watch it and show the family, so I took my spot front-and-center on the couch while he hooked up everything to the TV.  With children on each side cuddled up, we watched...

My husband, in cahoots with my parents and our wonderful friend/photographer Jessica Sharpe, had compiled a biography of my life, complete with songs special to us and notes from him.  It starts with my baby pictures and Miranda Lambert's "The House That Built Me" and ends with our family photos from this fall with Shania Twain's "You're Still The One".  In between those two songs was the song we danced to at our wedding, "Bless the Broken Road" by Rascall Flatts, which sums up our road perfectly.  

It contains pictures of my precious Aunt (of Stripper Dip fame) and my beloved grandparents, three of whom have passed on.  It was full of funny photos of my high school days, including all my bestest friends.  There were plenty of our children from the days we brought them home from the hospital to their current ages.  It is 39 years of memories placed lovingly together just for me.  That's love, ya'll.

To give you an idea of what they have pulled off, my mother dug through boxes of photos I didn't even know existed.  She pulled together somewhere in the neighborhood of 160 photos!!!  The whole time I've been accusing my better half of wasting his days off, he was patiently scanning pictures and working with Jessica.  Remember that perfect shade of green from the start of this blog? He took a picture of it, emailed it to Jessica, who then color-matched it for the CD case.  It's that detailed.  For real.  They pulled off the gift of a lifetime.

I am blessed.  I am loved.  I am thankful.  And he got a toaster.

November 27, 2013

Oh, Arne...I Think You Shoulda Stuck To Ballin'

Let me be the first to go on record as saying this teaching gig wasn't where I thought I'd find myself at almost 40.  A lawyer or architect, perhaps, but not this thankless (except by my hormonal, twitchy fan club of 12 year-olds) and underpaid profession.  And, yet, here I am...

So it goes with Arne Duncan.  He's the Secretary of Ed dude for the WHOLE country.  All of us.  As in, from sea to shining sea...or inner-city project to the foothills of Appalachia.  He is numero uno in the food chain. (um, in case you haven't guessed, I am not numero uno.  I am, like, numero 145 quadzillion.  I am a minion.)

I'm betting Arne wishes he could take this back, but maybe not.  Maybe he is so amazed by the man he sees in the mirror he is totally okay with what he said.  What he said was, "All of a sudden, their child isn't as brilliant as they thought they were, and their school isn't quite as good as they thought they were."  I believe he said he was 'fascinated' by their response.  He was talking about white suburban moms.  I think I'm one of those, but I could be poor, rural Appalachian trash. Either way, I'm going to pretend it was me because it might as well be.

Short little history on the man running our nation's educational system...He was raised in Hyde Park in Chicago.  You might recognize that because it also happens to be where the President is from, too. Hyde Park is racially diverse and is pretty much all liberal.  

Growing up he attended the University of Chicago Laboratory Schools.  It's pretty fancy. Check it out here. He was graduated from Harvard with a degree in sociology.  I am pretty damn sure that is why he was fascinated by those white suburban moms.  Sociology is the study of human behavior, after all.  

So, what does a man with a Harvard degree in Sociology do after graduation? Well, if you're Arne, you head to Australia to play basketball.  While ballin', he also worked with troubled children as a social worker.  Not a teacher...a social worker. (Props to my social worker friends, but I don't do what you do and you don't do what I do.)

After returning to the States, he began working with the Ariel Education Initiative.  Conveniently, a childhood friend was the person who appointed him to this position.  The initiative is the offshoot of an investment firm.  His job was to mentor struggling youth.  It wasn't too successful, though, and the school closed.  Never fear, though, because he reopened it as a charter school.  Charter schools receive public money,  but have more freedom in what/how they teach.  

After a short time, he was chosen as CEO as the Chicago Public Schools. From what I've read, his ran the system like a business.  Which is fine...if you're making grills or radiator caps.  He closed neighborhood schools, displaced staff, and opened up charter schools.  He was, truly, the CEO...not a director or a superintendent, but a market-brained CEO.  Again, if you're the CEO of a company, go rock that life.  Show me the money, Arne.  Kids don't work that way, though.

Why am I telling all this?  I don't hate Arne, but I have serious problems with the people steering the education of my kids.  I am beyond lucky because my school system is amazing and our director 'gets' it.  Others aren't so lucky.

Food for thought...Einstein's brain weighed less, was wider, and had different grooving than the average human brain.  Why do we expect that not to be true of kids today?  All kids are not alike...You don't stamp them out at the factory. 

Bottom line is you, Arne, have not taught in a classroom.  You married a PE teacher from Australia.  Your mom ran an after-school program, and your dad was a professor.  I'm not real sure how that qualifies you to be the Secretary of Education, but I suppose someone thought it was a good idea....So was the Edsel.

I can get on-board with the criticism of grade inflation.  There are plenty of teachers feeling pressured to "support" grades with fluff material just so Johnny's dad won't come barreling into the school asking for a job/head on a platter.  Go back and look at your own middle school grade card...according to mine, I wasn't the brightest bulb on the strand.  Next time your kid doesn't bring home straight A's, think on that.  Your kids' grades aren't your claim to fame despite what your stupid bumper sticker says. Quit living vicariously.

And I will proudly say I had no clue what to do when it came to college.  Kids need to be better prepared, but college should not be a given.  It should be, by God, an institution of thinking.  It should be hard.  Hello?  It's college! It's where you go to learn about the stuff you want to learn about, not what someone like Arne thinks you should learn.  

I'm going out on a limb here, but I think this has become a huge pissing contest between us  and the world. "Oh, yeah, you have this many college graduates?  Well, we're gonna have more!"  For the love of God, quit using developing brains to make yourself feel better.

So, that said...I hope you figure it out, Arne.  For the sake of the nation's children...for the sake of those kids I birthed over the past 13 years....and for your own sake.  Screwing up a whole generation of kids would be quite the burden to bear.

P.S. On a sidenote, I don't think CC is the devil.  Matter of fact, I can see benefits.  It's not creating a legion of little baby socialists.  However, the same way I can't fit into my best friend's size 4 jeans, one education can't fit all kids.  Diversity is more than the color of skin.

November 25, 2013

The Wife I Am

Most of ya'll probably know I am married man who just happens to be a police officer.  The fact that he married me is almost as shocking as him being a police officer. I would've never seen that when we were in high school!  A while ago I asked him if it would be okay if I wrote about his profession, and he said it was.  This is less about him, though, and more about what it's like for the rest of us.

When we were all younger and less wise, police officers were those people to be avoided.  They gave you tickets for speeding and took you "downtown" when you got caught rolling people's homes in the middle of the night.  (Not that I did that, but my favorite "associates" might have...)  They were intimidating and you avoided them like the plague.  Some people still think of them this way:  Scary, mean, not to be trusted.

I wonder what it is like to be married to someone who works 9-5 Monday through Friday...what it's like to have every weekend it would be to eat dinner as a family each night.  I wonder if life would be different if we had to share a bathroom each morning before beginning our days...or got into bed together to wind down and talk about how the day had gone.

There are many nights he is late getting in, or at least later than I expect.  He usually won't leave until all his shift is in and accounted for, so there's never a "usual" time.  It might be he needs to talk to the shift coming on, or maybe there's paperwork. Whatever it may be, there is usually little time to call me. Not because he doesn't care, but because his responsibility lies elsewhere at that moment.

Whenever this happens, which can be often, I find myself going through my usual thought process:  If he's in trouble, which grandparents do I call if I have to go to the hospital?  What if they're not home?  How fast can I get there?  Can the kids stay in the waiting room?  What if I have to decide if they should go in?  What if he doesn't come home?  Can I raise these kids alone?  Surely God wouldn't ever do this, right?  This is my depressing,  yet necessary, train of thought.

He misses soccer games and school programs.  He has to go out at odd hours sometimes and I'm not sure when he'll be home.  I do a lot of our parenting alone when he is at work.  It's difficult at best to swing between being a one-parent home and a two-parent home.  Add in three kids, and I am waaayyy out-numbered.  

You get used to doing it by yourself and all of a sudden there's another parent in the mix. Shifting between the two is challenging.  It's harder still to get back into the groove of being a couple when you literally haven't seen each other in five days other than a quick good-bye in the hallway.  

Being married to him means I'm not as innocent and trusting as I used to be. I've always been a chicken, but now I'm a paranoid chicken.  Everyone is a potential carjacker/murderer/rapist.  When the house creaks, it's obviously Jack the Ripper coming through the door.  It couldn't be, oh, the house just creaking or anything, ya know, logical.

In short, the person I am has been directly shaped by the person he is and the job he lives.  It colors our family's lives and our friendships.  It has woven itself into everything about us.  It's a different life, but it's mine.

November 10, 2013

Well-behaved Women and all that...Rewriting History

There's the old internet favorite quote about well-behaved women seldom making history.  Apparently you gotta break the rules to rewrite the history books.  I would bet that women who are not well-behaved as adults were probably not all that well-behaved as children....that's my assumption, of course.  Maybe they were perfect angels and life somehow altered them in a way that changed their perfect demeanor.  Who knows?  Maybe they were just born to raise hell...

My youngest was christened with the nickname Hurricane because this is generally how she tears through life.  The last 20 words I've uttered, after making sure my mother was going to trim my Crepe Myrtles so that I didn't butcher them, have been (in no particular order) "Stop!"  "1-2-don't make me say 3!" "Get away from the spider-infested playhouse!" "Go wrestle with your dad!!!"  If you followed me around with a recorder, this is my daily mantra. Some people have om; I have "So help me God!"

I know people judge me when they see her sometimes-well-maybe-alot of questionable behavior.  Truly, I feel bad because they think she is a heathen and undisciplined.  Some of it is pity for myself, but more so for her. She is a hard child to parent because to try to reign her in would only cause her to fight more.

I admit I have added to it.  When people have asked how she is, I respond, "If she'd been first, she'd been last."  However, that is possibly the truth. This girl is a work-out 24-7.  There is no downtime for her, which means no downtime for us.  As much as I delight in her, there are days when I wish for a kid who would go play quietly with some dolls or trucks or crayons or something...just something.  


She is so golden and pure and good.  There is a light within her that is unlike anything I have ever encountered.  She is fearless and full of wisdom.  She is a teller of the truth, even when it wounds those who need to hear it.

Recently she was holding up the bathroom line at preschool.  Her teacher was concerned she was taking a bit too long to take care of business, so she gently opened the door to check on her.  There she was, drawers at her ankles on the pot with her chubby four-year-old hands clasped in prayer.  The teacher, who knows and loves her, gently asked who she was praying for, she responded her grandpa needed some extra prayers that day.  The teacher let her finish her business (both toiletry and prayers) and she moved on with her life for the day.  

She can tell you where President Andrew Johnson is buried and much about his life.  She knows that the leaves are turning colors and falling because the chlorophyll is leaving them.  And, yes, she uses the word chlorophyll.  She understands how echos work.  She is amazing.

I know that raising her will be a challenge.   She is going to test every boundary we and society set for her. She will test her teachers and try their patience.  But she is going to be a freaking mind-blowing adult.  I believe she will embrace every hurdle life hands her. She will stomp through life willing everyone to live as fiercely as she does.  And I think they will.  

"And though she be but little, she is fierce."  Right on, Shakespeare...right on.

October 15, 2013

A Ninja...My Marketing Plan

I'm still working on separating my work-self from my mom-self from my adult-self and so on.  Most days I struggle with what is appropriate where and when and if I've embarrassed my children or my parents or my husband.  I constantly question if I've committed career suicide with my lack of filter.  Sheesh, it's exhausting and that's before I've actually done anything most of the time (hey, thanks, anxiety!)

We had a tech conference today that was amazing in a million ways, but one part has me struggling:  Marketing ourselves in tomorrow's world.  (Hey, it ain't about today: We're past that and the sun hasn't set!)  One presenter, who was great in what he is doing, talked about teaching our kids how to market themselves for the world in which they will live and compete for jobs. could I market my 10-year old? If he changes by the time he applies for his first job, will they sue me for false advertising?

I am guilty as all get-out when it comes to getting excited about new tech stuff and all the amazing and wonderbar things we can do in classrooms.  Sometimes, though, does the excitement and hurrah about the "next" great thing override the moment in which we live?  I'm excited about the cool things my kids will be able to do one day while I sit on the couch with glazed eyes and nod my head with no clue as to what they are doing.  They will experience the same feeling I had when I tried to show my mom how to use iTunes for the 143,687th time. (Practice makes perfect!)  It's part of the changing of the guard, I guess.  I just don't know that I want her tweeting my picture with some snarky comment to pay me back for that mullet in Pre-K.

For now, my marketing plan is to be a ninja.  I figure since they are trained in the ways of espionage (now I'm singing Charlie Daniels the rest of the day...go youtube it, you know you want to), that would work.  I can change my mind each day depending on my particular assignment.  I can wear all black so these last 10 pounds won't matter so much.  I can carry a large sword to poke anyone brave enough to challenge my designated marketing plan.  I seem to think, also, they wear shoes that resemble Toms.  That should work for me.

There ya go...BreatheChick Ninja.

August 7, 2013

About A Boy

So. I am usually all indignant about this being my personal space and career or education talk up in this joint.  But.

There was a keynote speaker today and he spoke of education being a calling and telling our stories.  This will be a shocker, I know, but I'm quite cynical.  Okay, not exactly.  I force myself to believe in the good of others, but there are days I think a little Clorox in the gene pool would go a long, long way. I digress.  As an educator, I grow weary of those emotional stories of callings and epiphanies and saving lives.  That's the doubter in me.  Then I remember I have my own story. You see, sometimes the teacher is the student, not the other way around.  

I had never officially done individual conferencing with students.  Sure, I knew my students, but I hadn't formally sat down with them to set goals and talk about their academics.  Last year was the first time I had done so.  Of course, I set out to have the mother of all conferences.  Appropriate time?  Check. Color charts of all prior standardized testing performance?  Check.  Benchmarks testing data?  Check.  Goals chart?  Check.  I got this.  No, I GOT THIS!  Then.

My first conference ever was with a young man we shall call Billy.  Obviously not his real name because I would like to continue to have a job.  So, Billy comes up and I have all my fancy crap out on my desk.  I break out my gold felt-tipped pen (because that was the color I had designated for projecting gains, obviously.  Duh.) and start to talk about all the data gibberish.  I described his somewhat erratic testing performance and then I turned and asked him if he could think of anything that might be causing him to be so inconsistent.  

The most soulful brown eyes looked back at me, filled with tears, and he sat silently.  I asked again.  After a moment, as the eyes couldn't hold any more, he points to third grade.  "That was the year my parents were fighting so bad.  I couldn't think."  Then, as he looks at fifth grade, "My mom found out my dad has a girlfriend, but she didn't want my brother and sister to know.  I don't want them to know either."  Oh. Guess that's why.

After more conversation, I learned this young man was truly the man of the house.  He worked at the family business and helped out with his siblings until after 9 pm at night.  Then he would tackle his homework.  His work ethic at 12 years old waxed the floor with that of many adults I know.  

Did I cry? Why are you even asking that question?  Of course. I cried and I hugged him. I told him it was okay...we would be alright.  I told him his success had nothing to do with my charts (although they were beautiful) and data and anything else.  I told him numbers on paper don't define him.  I told him I didn't care what any of that paper said.  I told him he would rule the world one day if he wanted to.  I told him it was okay to be a kid.  I told him to come to me if he ever needed anything. I told him I knew he was smart.  I told him it was okay, and I meant it.

We had a great year.  I don't know how he did on his testing, and I really don't care.  (Shhh...)  I know that I got to see his smiling face everyday and he was happy.  He made some great friends, and he was loved every single second he was in our building.  He will be amazing and wonderful and successful and all those things we want kids to be...because he already is.

I teach because someone once believed in me.  My high school English teacher, Patsy Barger, wrote a compliment on my theme paper.  She made me think that maybe, just maybe, I could be somebody.  I teach because I want to break cycles and stop bad shit from happening.  I teach because to do anything else would just suck.

So there is my story.  It was nine years into my career, but it was a game-changer.   I see my students differently now.  I always saw more than numbers and data, but now I scratch that surface and pick at those scabs to find out who is really underneath there.  It can be uncomfortable and itchy and hard.  Most things worth doing are.  

I leave you with this from The Breakfast Club.  People are always more than you think...even kids.

Saturday, March 24,1984. Shermer High School, Shermer, Illinois, 60062. Dear Mr. Vernon, We accept the fact that we had to sacrifice a whole Saturday in detention for whatever it was we did wrong. What we did *was* wrong. But we think you're crazy to make us write an essay telling you who we think we are. What do you care? You see us as you want to see us - in the simplest terms, in the most convenient definitions. You see us as a brain, an athlete, a basket case, a princess and a criminal. Correct? That's the way we saw each other at 7:00 this morning. We were brainwashed.

So, that is my story.  No angels got their wings and no puppies or kittens were saved.  Not a big deal, really, but it was a big deal to me.  In the end, that's all that matters...that it mattered to me.

P.S. Kevin Honeycutt was the keynote today. 

March 28, 2013

Taking A Break

As I've said before, I live (LIVE!) for social interactions.  I thrive on being around other people. It makes me joyful to come home after spending time with family and friends.  Waitressing was my one of my favorite jobs ever because I got to talk to people

One of the best inventions in my life has been the book of Face.  I've found old friends, made new ones, and actually come across some of my family overseas I never knew existed.  We've had a glorious run, but I believe our time has come to an end.  Why?  So glad you asked.

I'm glad you love your brother/sister/mother/father/cousin/dog/cat/and sister/brother-I-never-had.  Sincerely.  I don't need some picture of a sparkly candle with "I love my 'insert relation here'" to show me that.  Furthermore, it's always some kind of day.  National Colon Day.  National Love Your Weiner Dog Day.  National Whatev Day.  THERE IS ALWAYS SOME KIND OF DAY.  And I feel like a shit if I don't repost some support for someone who lost their snuggie on National I Heart Snuggie Day.

I generally know my friends' political views.  I don't need a running commentary on why you love/loathe any other point of view.  I know you think you're right.  I know you have documentation either of biblical or constitutional sorts to back up what you think in either direction.  I know what I believe, but I'm willing to listen to others.  Want to know why?  BECAUSE I MIGHT LEARN SOMETHING!!!  There are two devices attached to our skulls and they are intended to communicate information to that pea-brain we have.  Putting others down, insulting others' intelligence, and just in general being a dick is not nice. 

We have become such a cynical, doubting people.  Case in point:  Manager of an Olive Garden makes a kind gesture toward a family who had suffered a house fire.  He comped their meal.  This should be seen as a kind gesture; however, critics laid out a conspiracy theory detailing why this was a marketing ploy by OG.  Really, people?  We've become so jaded and distrusting we can't even believe in kindness anymore?  Sweet Jesus.

Life is hard, and shit like this weighs heavy on me.  It disappoints me.  It pisses me off.  It makes me want to crawl into a cave and stay there where mean, cynical, unhappy people won't shit on my joy.  I can't do that, though, so I'll do the next best thing:  I'm filing separation papers from the facebook.  I'm not ready to divorce just yet, but for now we need some space.

February 1, 2013

Dear Bully

Dear Bully,

It's a rough morning for me.  My face is still raw from salty tears and my eyes need a long session with some cucumbers.  Maybe they would take the puffiness away.  I didn't sleep well last night, just so you know.  There was lots of tossing and turning.  Rest was nowhere to be found.

Last night I cursed God and humanity and all the stars in the sky.  I'm strong.  I've been gorilla strong before.  I've held my breath when life was so low I felt the weight of the oceans on my soul.  I've not broken until last night.  But you broke me.

I know you're a kid.  I know you don't see through my older, wiser eyes.  I get that.  I can forgive a little bit because you've not lived as much as I have just yet.  But we know the difference between right and wrong even at your tender, single-digit age.  Belittling my child doesn't make you much in my book.  You might get a few laughs from the other kids.  You might feel superior for a fleeting moment.  But...It does not make you shit.  It makes you a bully.  It makes you hurtful and mean and little.  Yes, even at your age.

My child is not weak or weird.  He is smart.  He is witty.  He is an old soul who has walked this Earth before.  He has amazing eye-hand coordination.  He can put both of his legs behind his head and the same time, and he is a member of the Monkey Club for climbing the rope in the gym.  He has abs of steel and the most beautiful green/gray/blue eyes.  They change colors, you know.  He's a charmer with the ladies.  He can hold an intelligent conversation with adults.  He is friendly to strangers and is fearless.  He was born different from you, but he is so much more than what you see.  He is certainly not weak or weird.  And he is mine.

I won't let you turn the sweet child I carried in my belly for nine months into a sullen, depressed young man who shuts out the world.  I won't let you ruin his childhood.  You will not take from him any more than has already been taken. You will not break us.

A little boy's mom

January 7, 2013

Ice Ice Baby...Thaw It Out!!

First...Dun Dun Duh Duh Duh Duh Duh Dun Dun (or something close or maybe not close but you get the idea)...because you know that's what is going through your head right now.  Okay, done?  Moving on.

So, um, yeah, I finally made a doctor's appointment last week after having some pain for about the last two months.  You know what gets you a quick appointment?  Chest pains.  Apparently that's a red flag to those in the medical profession.  Who knew?!

I sauntered on over there after school today with my knitting in tow so I could occupy myself while I waited.  I love my doctor's office, but I usually have to wait a bit and they have really shitty magazines.  My new hobby is knitting, so it seemed like a good time to work on my oh-so-lovely scarf that will be a gift...that is if I ever get the thing finished.  I'm thinking short scarves should be the new trend...I could at least call this one as DONE!  But, alas, probably not going to happen.

I met the lovely, amazing, and genius NP at my doc's office.  Although I knew her prior to today, she was the parent of a student, not the lovely, amazing, and genius NP at my doc's office.  She hooked me up with the EKG just to make sure I was being honest...turns out I was!  Apparently being 25 pounds overweight AND eating crap for six months has not hurt me a bit...She totally described my heart as "good as any athlete."  Um, excuse me, have you looked at me? There are many words that come to mind when I look in the mirror, but athlete is not one of them.  (Although I'm going to impersonate a coach in a few months when I become Assistant Track's to hoping no one catches on I'm only accessorizing with that whistle!)

So, you ask, what the hell is wrong with me, the girl who can lug around this extra poundage while still having the innards of Michael Phelps?  Apparently my left shoulder is a bit stuck in that acorn in Ice Age.  Guess what?  All those muscle-thingeys wrap around the chest and all around and stuff.  When they bind up (think a rubberband twisted round and round and round and round till it's about to pop), it apparently causes chest pain.  Dull, aching, burning, throbbing, holy-shit-this-hurts chest pain, BUT not holy-shit-I'm-dying chest pain.

I'm feeling quite a bit better now thanks to the lovely, amazing, and genius massage work of Nathan McCarter.  This post is sorta sponsored, I guess, by my lovely, amazing, and genius mother-in-law who was kind enough to get me a gift certificate for Christmas. Because I am totally psychic and intuitive and schtuff, I had already booked a massage for tonight (amazing timing, no?) so I got a start on thawing this bad boy out.  Hopefully the chest pains will be no more and my should will again start to feel like it's part of my body.  Just to make sure, though, I feel quite certain I will need a massage on a regular basis....for medical reasons only...not just to escape my crazy house...promise.  ;)

January 1, 2013

A New Day...This Is What I Know

Dear Peeps, 

When I was a kid, I did a great impersonation of Louis Armstrong's "What a Wonderful World."  I used to do it to crack up my bestest little friends, the sisters.  I can still crack them up with it if I work really hard, I'd bet.

Whatever random television station I was watching last night played this immediately after the apple/shoe/peach fell to mark the beginning of the new year, and it reminded me of sitting outside of Wendy's waiting on our dads to bring out some cheeseburgers while this song played.  Funny how those moments sneak up on you when you least expect them.

The new year always brings with it so much promise, but I'm always a little sad to see the old one go away.  Not because they've always been great years, mind you, but because I know that year.  It was predictable and comfy, like my green houseshoes with the soles worn thin.  It fit me because I had adjusted to it.  I didn't have to think about it when I wrote checks; it was instinct.  Now I have to start all over again.

Just like most, I make the same promises every year....better health, more exercise, blah, blah, blah.  And, just like most, I stick with it for a bit, but then I give in to summer ice cream trips with the kids and emergency runs to the drive-thru.  Thus the cycle begins again....and again...and again.   I've decided I'm done with that.  Of course, I will clean out the fridge and buy the healthy foods because I need to do that for health reasons, but not because it's my resolution.  It's just what I need to do for my body, but not my soul.

My soul resolution this year is to take a weekend or at least one day each month and to do something to recharge my batteries, so to speak, and to be a better friend.  Simultaneously.  I think I'm a good friend to many and a great friend to a few.  I'm dependable.  I'll bail you out of jail, let you borrow my clothes, give you amazing unsolicited advice, and cook for you on occasion.  But, I compartmentalize my life.  My family is one box; my career is one box, and my friends are a box.  I try to keep these separate because, truly, sometimes I need to go to another box to save my sanity.  It's harder and harder to make time for all my boxes.  

I want to make 2013 the year of friendship.  My goal is to spend the time each month with at least one friend.  I want to travel to visit those people I always say, "We need to get together!" but then life takes over and we never do it.  I want my girlfriends to come over with all their damn kids (trust me, there are a lot of kids....13, not including mine!) and let them play games and chase each other around while we chat around the kitchen table.  I want to jump in the car and spend the day  with my peeps in the town an hour away.  I want to fly to the other side of the country to see my girlfriend and explore her new happiness.  

Life has always been a series of mundane events punctuated by some spectacular event....a wedding...a funeral....a birth....a milestone of importance, such as starting school or graduating one.  I have always lived for big events.  I love the planning for a big trip or the anticipation of a surprise, but I fail to live in the moment.  Life is about my baby girl coming into my room on a Saturday morning and cuddling in the crook of my arm.  It's about explaining the ups and downs of friendship to my son.  It's about watching my oldest grow into a beautiful and strong young woman.  Memories are nice, don't get me wrong, but I need to leave more than memories to my children.  I need to leave a legacy of love and caring about those who are important to them as part of their everyday lives.

For January we are taking the kids out of town for the day and I'm planning to invite the girls over for a night.  In February there is Sisters' Prom!!  i hope sometime this summer to make a trip out west if everything falls into place.  As for the rest, we'll see how it goes.  I'm sure I can conjure up something! 

Where will 2013 take you?

Breathe Chick