Tuesday, December 13, 2011


I started writing because my friend at school does it and part of me thought, well if she does it I can too! I am sitting tonight tired and weary without a whole lot to say and for some reason I am making time to write.  My posts were intended at first to be about teaching, mentoring, writing curriculum and the many academic things that I fill my days (and nights) with, but looking back at my posts only one is close to that subject.  I always write about what will make me feel better, my family. 

Family is a funny thing because it never is the perfect situation, comment, or story to be told.  There are always left over feelings about anything that happens.  At times I would like to hit a button and redo an entire year. I would love to erase the flock of seagulls hairdo in the Christmas card that year, or running away from home for a full 3 hours until my mom tracked me down, or age 20 (Yep the whole darn thing!) But then again these are the things that make up the fabric of who I am.

Last week I posted about my amazing daughter and how she is facing some trails in the near future with her eyesight.  Today I took some time to reflect. I thought about what if things had been different? What if I hadn't dated that loser? What if I had stayed at UW-Madison? What if we had waited a little longer than 3 months after the wedding to get pregnant? All of these questions resulted in the same idea for me, all of these things are what make me who I am.  Determined, intelligent, and passionate.  All those people touched my life and shaped it in some way that makes me better today because of what I learned from them.  These are the lessons that I can pass on, use as examples, and forge ahead. 

I think I write about family because they are everything that I ever dreamed about.  It is one of the things that I did right on the first try.  Again, there are times that the car gets pulled over and things aren't perfect but perfection isn't the goal. The journey is what makes up the fabric of who you are and Grace and I are going to weave a new pattern together that is our own, unique from everyone else. Now that's a beautiful thing, something to celebrate.

Wednesday, December 7, 2011

What's in a name?

The name of my first daughter was never a mystery to me.  I knew it would be a girl from the moment I thought of the name.  It was fitting, right, almost meant to be and today I struggle with that idea a bit.  How can you know who someone will be without even meeting them yet? Sometimes the details are worked out for your beforehand.

Grace is an exceptional child and always has been. Yesterday she was diagnosed with Stargardt's disease, something that will change everything for her in a short amount of time.  I laid in bed with her tonight, something I skip too often, and reminded her how special she is.  In true 6 year old fashion she stroked my back and said "I know I'll be awesome even though my eyes don't work that great. You and dad will make me better."  There are no words to describe that feeling as a mother.  When there is something that you can't shield your children from it feels like you have failed in some way.  I keep running back to her name, Grace.

Grace is the perfect complement to her condition and describes everything she embodies.  She is strong and stoic when she needs to be.  In the quiet moments that don't count to anyone but us, she is graceful and reassuring.  She will climb every mountain put in front of her and meet every goal she sets for herself knowing at all times that we are behind her to give an extra push if she needs it. What I realize now is that I need to take my lead from her.  Trust in her knowledge and insight; believe that she is graceful and resilient.  She will teach me so much about what it means to truly live, in the only way that a 6 year old knows how to.

There is a lot in a name. I know now that we choose the right one

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

Moments of Silence

Every morning we pause for a moment of silence because we are mandated to. We honor our individuality through a small gesture that many students don't even understand.  Today was one of those days. The kind of day that makes you rethink why you chose this path, one kid gets stuck, one cries, one boldly lies to you without flinching, but in the end I found myself drifting into my own moments of silence.  Sometimes moments of silence speak volumes.

There are not many people in this world that would tell you that I am a quiet person.  Reserved is not something that typically is the go to character trait that my husband or sisters use when describing me but that is what I became today. Moments of silence became my safety, my individuality, and my escape.  I realized that in a moment I could disappear in a room full of people, ignore comments that I wasn't ready to address in the moment, and preserve my dignity and sanity without a word. Sometimes moments of silence speak volumes.

So I tried it, taking moments to gather my thoughts using silence to gain individuality.   I also watched when my students took moments to themselves throughout the day, and who didn't.  Some of them choose not to, and that wasn't a bad thing it was just very telling.  If you always have an instant opinion does that mean that it is right? Does that somehow make that person more intelligent than someone else? One of my most reserved students was also one that had the most powerful things to say today.  This person didn't need an audience to know that the ideas she shared were important, but when she spoke people listen and noticed.  It's amazing that a 10 year old can teach a truly powerful lesson, Sometimes moments of silence are golden, they prepare the world to hear what is important.

Tuesday, November 1, 2011

Life in 6 words

I read an article today on Scholastic.com that talked about a teacher who had her students write memoirs in 6 words.  I rarely open these emails. They typically go directly into my trash without a second look but today I was compelled for some reason.  The article talked about how Hemingway once wrote a 6 word sentence that told a much longer and larger story.  "For sale: baby shoes, never worn" It just goes to show you that less is more sometimes.

This got me to thinking, so much is packed into the smallest phrases of our lives. 
I love you.
I hate that.
I can't do this anymore.
I'm sorry we did everything we could.
Congratulations it's a girl.
Please mommy!?
These little phrases can change our worlds in amazing or terrible ways.  Why do we as people give so much power to words and yet use them so carelessly? I hear people claim that they were misunderstood or that they didn't mean what they had said.  If everyone took the time to think and value the words they did say, conversations may look a lot different.  So here is my attempt at a memoir in 6 words.  A word of caution: I am no Hemingway!

My life began with "I do"

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

The other side of mom

I have found over the years that I increasing sound like my mother.  Every day I sound more and more like her in my work, home, and yes even with my children.  My mom is not your ordinary woman. She is reserved yet driven, kind to a fault and yet can get her point across with a look or one sentence. She is what I have always wanted to be, so in some respects this is an accomplishment for me.

I found myself this week saying things that would only come from her.  Things like "what would you do in that situation?" or "I bet if you thought about it from their perspective you would understand." I'm conflicted about this at times because it is hard think about everyone's feelings before my own, but at the same time it is something that is engrained in my soul. It is who I am because of my mother. 

My middle daughter Makenzie came down with a stomach bug today.  It was not planned and in true working mom fashion I went into panic mode.  I rearranged schedules, thought 14 steps ahead of every phone call, and tried to make her as comfortable as a 3 year old throwing up every 20 minutes can be.  When I held her in my arms, sweaty, and weepy I channeled my mother and broke into Makenzie's favorite song. The voice and song that once soothed me as a child surfaced and created a safety that Makenzie hadn't felt all day. At that moment I became the mother from my childhood memories and I crossed over to the other side of mom.

I didn't learn how to teach a lesson, how to deal with my kids, or how to be a wife from my mom. I learned how to be a person that can juggle, manage and succeed at all those things at once.  I am the person I am because my mom challenged me to think about what I do before I do it.  I am intentional and deliberate because of her questions and example.  I am me because she was willing to let me try and fail, always knowing that the best way to teach is by example.  I am not her and never will be, but I am a better version of myself because of her.

Tuesday, October 4, 2011

The revolving question.

9 o'clock already.
where did my morning go?
3 drop offs, 15 minutes of tears, 1 lost lunch
Where did my morning go?
No parking, morning meeting, giant coke
9 o'clock already
the bell rings
students rush in
no time to be, just time to think.
Think aloud, solve problems, change course
It's lunch, where did the morning go?
a little slower
more time to search our brains.
one great book
one new class
working, working, working
the nine o'clock Metra barges into my consciousness.
Is it 9 o'clock already?

Tuesday, September 27, 2011

The Cone

"Open the door, you have to come see this!" I darted outside to reconnect with my bloody and battered best friend and there he was stuck in the yard between a rock and a picnic table, literally.  Although Jumbo peered out of the tiniest eyes that I have ever seen, I know he blames me for all this pain. I wanted to crawl in that cone and take his pain away.

Maybe it is my guilt or overactive imagination but the cone continues to pop into my head. I'm the one that needs the cone. I need it to block out the noise that has become the realty surrounding my profession.  A cone so I can sit and savor every word the 30 unique personalities share because they value my opinion. One to focus me on the most important tasks of the day and bounce me off a wall when I start riffling through boxes left by someone I don't even know.  A dome of solitude when the complaining becomes too much.  Jumbo doesn't know how truly lucky he is. 

In a week, when his world becomes whole again, I'm sure he'll spend a little more time at the water bowl, running up and down the stairs, and sneaking food off the kids plates.  He'll remember how good he has it.  Maybe sometimes it would be good for all of us to wear a cone, so we can bask in the joys of our world when we finally take it off.