homeward bound

I leave Arizona today for home.
This is bittersweet for me. Leaving my precious friend and her family makes my heart ache. We have had a whirlwind of a visit, with just enough time for me to spend with each kid and parent. I selfishly want more time with my friend.

We’re each at a sort of crossroads in our lives. Kids no longer at home and the ones at home needing less mommying than when they were small and more chauffeuring.
We talked about our passions and how we might turn them into something to inspire and motivate us to try something new.
A joint venture would be ideal. (except for the pesky bit where we live completely across the country from the other.) And there’s actually an idea that we could make work…if we were in the same place. Alas, that’s not how it is.
So she is brainstorming as am I and we’ll encourage each other from afar.

It was good to get away from school for a few days. I feel I’ve gained perspective I couldn’t grasp when I was up to my ass in it.
It is absolutely time for me to stop teaching.
But to do what?
Your guess is as good as mine.

I’m in no hurry. I have time figure out what I really want to do before I actually do anything. I’m going to focus on being aware.
Aware of what moves me. Aware of what’s around me.
Perhaps I’ll find that finicky muse that will jumpstart the next phase of my life.

I’m being mindful.
But even better than that, I’m hopeful.

Categories: me | Tags: , , , , , | 2 Comments

so sciencey, so amazing

I went on a very special tour of Biosphere 2 at University of Arizona today.

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I’m here visiting beloved friends and for the first time in seven years I’m with the entire family of six. I’ve seen a member or two a few times in the in between but this is such a blessing!
I arrived late last night and after having been up for twenty three hours and forty five minutes, I finally collapsed into a heap. Slept for four hours and saw two kids off to school then went on the tour with the remaining family members. The eldest is a junior here and the dad works for the university.  The second born, who is my Goddaughter,  is home from Clemson for spring break.
The mom and I have taught each others kids in preschool and been friends for over fifteen years.

My heart is joyous being with this family. It’s as though not a moment has passed since we were last together, the only thing missing is my two Things.

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on the advice of Nick’s father

Whenever I begin to compare my life to that of someone else, I’m reminded of Nick Carraway’s line at the beginning of Gatsby: In my younger and more vulnerable years, my father gave me some advice that I’ve been turning over in my mind ever since. “Whenever you feel like criticizing anyone,” he told me, “just remember that all the people in this world haven’t had the advantages you’ve had.”

I’m using the concept rather loosely, less in the way Fitzgerald intended and more along the lines of considering each of us comes from a different place. It has nothing really to do with having, or the lack of “advantages”, and everything to do with point of view.
Each of us is raised with a certain set of values based on our environment and the life experiences of the people who raised us. We take those values and adapt them as we gain our own life experiences. We raise our own children based on these values we were taught and modified for them to continue the process.

I sometimes fail to remember, or perhaps simply take into account this very important advice. I think about the people I know and, I think rather naturally, compare myself to what I see of them. Of course this is futile as we seldom see the reality of an individual, but what they choose to share with the world.

We each behave based on that initial set of values we learned as children, even though we’ve changed them here and there to fit our new world view.

I am accused of being extremely judgmental.
I am a little…to deny this would be a bold face lie. But I’m nowhere near as judgmental as get accused of being.

I question everything.
This can be misconstrued because I ask questions in a way that may not always reflect my desire to understand. I question everything partly because I was brought up in an environment in which questions were ignored or left unanswered and I have a life-long compulsion to have answers. Partly because I’m curious and want to know and understand. I especially want to understand motivations for behavior.
This creates a goodly bit of friction between YBW and me. I ask to know and he hears my question as criticism. Occasionally I ask to criticize, again this goes back to what I experienced as a child, which is no excuse. It is however, the truth. I ask to understand the motivation, the thought process behind it…whatever the “it” is.

When I look at other people and see the differences I have nothing to base my opinion on other than the “advantages” of my upbringing. So I don’t understand why they do or don’t do things. I don’t understand what motivates them. I can only compare it to what I know and understand, what motivates me. I don’t think that’s judgmental.
The stubborn part of me doesn’t feel I should have to rephrase my curiosity so as not offend. Perhaps it’s not stubborn, perhaps it’s that bit of me that was stunted in my childhood. Perhaps because I couldn’t ask questions and get answers, I’m much more inclined to question everything? (The question mark at the end of that sentence is not lost on me.)

I am, have always been, interested in human behavior. The whys and wherefores of the way we behave, make choices, socialize, raise our children. I’m still learning everyday what motivates my behavior, some aspects I accept, some I realize need improvement. But I’m still asking questions. I’ll most likely go to my grave asking questions.

I must remember that I was brought up very differently than some of the people I know. That we will function in completely different ways.
I must remember that though I’m curious to their whys and wherefores I have to be mindful in the way I ask questions.
I must remember that I did have “advantages” that some people didn’t have.
I must remember that I am capable of many things and needed compare myself to anyone else.

Will I remember these things? Will I always act upon them?
Most likely not, but if I simply pay attention…I’ll make progress.

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our love (of Joss Whedon) is ever-changing AND constant

Just had a great conversation with Thing 2. She called as I was leaving school this afternoon and we just hung up the phone. Her voice is one of my true joys. We’ve been playing phone tag for almost a week now and I am so happy I got to talk with her!
She was sounding a bit sad when we first started talking. I asked and she explained there was a bit of drama. Girl drama. I laughed and said: I didn’t think you hung out with girls any more. She laughed too then said there was some ickiness with her best (girl)friend. I asked her if she wanted to talk about it. She explained that she’s hurt that her best friend has gotten really close with another girl (a common friend) but Thing 2 is kind of feeling put out. She said: Like I’m suddenly less cool than (girl’s name)? (I can assure you that Thing 2 is INFINITELY “cooler” than this other girl, and I’m not saying that just because I’m her Momma.)
We talked about how all her friends are in school and she’s not. How her life is completely different than their lives. Then she said something that gave me pause (and great pride).
She said: Maybe it’s me. Maybe I need to change my expectations.
Damn, that kid has insight. How many seventeen year olds have that much self awareness? (I did something right.)
So we talked about her perspective, she was thrilled to have my feedback. I feel hopeful that it will help her when she begins to feel this way again.

We talked about our adoration, nay, worship of Joss Whedon, Thing 2’s girl crush on Eliza Dushku, and how freaking talented Alan Tudyk is.
This portion of the program started with her sharing that she finally started watching the second season of Dollhouse.
(Then it went a bit like this: OMG Thing 2! I was just thinking about Dollhouse earlier this week! OMG Momma! We’re totally connected!)
This was a hilariously animated discussion which moved into Buffy and what a total whiny crybaby we both think Angel is. (We love Spike.)

We discussed a visit. She told me she promised to visit her sister first and then come here. But she wanted to come here sooner rather than later but didn’t want to hurt her sister’s feelings. Hmm…this got me thinking…and I said: It isn’t lost on me that we are talking about a twenty-one year old grown ass woman and the concern that if you spend time with me instead of her it will somehow hurt her feelings.
Thing 2 said: Wow! Way to put it into perspective! I’m coming to see you! (We don’t yet know when, but she’s a-comin.)

We talked about our emotional connection now that we don’t really have our physical connection. I told her I missed the days when (as a teenager) she would come into my room with her pillow under her arm and I’d say, “Whatcha doin?” and she wouldn’t speak, but walk to my bed, move the other pillow, place her pillow and get into bed, look at me and grin.
She giggled and said she missed that too. She said: Now you have a boy in your bed. We laughed. But I said: You know, there are other beds in this house, but you were all, No! I wanna be right in the middle of this big bed with your tiny self. (the same bed that was mine into which she would plant herself) She laughed again and said: Well damn, if I’d know that, I wouldn’t have left. (Interestingly, hearing that didn’t sting.)

We agreed we were both missing our connection. We agreed to be more aware and mindful of it and to amp up our communications.
That kid.
That kid has been my very favorite human being since she first grabbed my finger through the tiny hole in the incubator bed in the NICU.
Our life is different now. We’ve hurt each other immensely, but we’ve healed each other, too.
The love we share is different from any other love in our lives. It is true and it is deeply rooted, but it is also adaptable. And that is what will keep us together even though we’ve been through some gut wrenching pain. Even though we’re five hundred miles apart. Even though she’s almost grown.
Our love is unconditional. Our love is ever-changing AND constant.
But I could cut off her Netflix at any moment…
(If you’re a Whedonite, you know what I did there…undercut a “sappy” moment with “sharp” humor. Thing 2 would be chuckling…as long as she believed I was kidding.)

Categories: love, on being a mom | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

digging out

Snow day at home with YBW and Things C and G.
YBW and Thing G are playing games on their computers. Thing C watching Clone High on his laptop. I’m finally reorganizing my “office space” from the chaos when my dad died. (Yeah, it’s been ten months but who’s counting?)
Sunday I redistributed all the books between the old and new bookshelf.

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Today I’m tackling the desk tables. They’re a hot, hot mess. I honestly haven’t had it in me to do anything but stack more stuff on the piles of stuff. All the papers needed in dealing with my dad’s estate were in a special basket. Anything else just got crammed on one of the tables.

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I have put it off and put it off. I’ve stood here in tears ready to just light a match. I’ve stood here braced and ready only to take one look, shrug, and walk away.
Today is the day.
The day I dig out of the hole I’ve been in.
Wish me bon courage.

Categories: around the house, me | Tags: , , , , , | 4 Comments

do what you love

I’m in existential crisis. It sounds ridiculous to say, but it’s true. I’m struggling with the difference between a job and a calling.
From the time I was a little girl, I’ve always felt I as meant to spend my time with little children. As a mom, as a teacher. But I’m beginning to wonder if that’s my actual calling. I’m experiencing feelings that the time has come to “hang up my spurs”. The part that gives me pause is the fact that I can’t clearly identify from where those feelings come. I keep thinking if I could understand the why I could apply logic to it and be able to make a more informed decision.
I don’t know where these feelings started, it’s not that I’m tired or whatever, it goes beyond that. It’s deep in my gut. And if I’ve learned anything in forty three years of life, it’s that my gut is NEVER wrong. My brain can argue both sides until I’m completely lost. My heart knows what it wants and will stop at nothing to have it’s way. But my gut just ‘knows’. I’ve learned to trust that instinct, because when I haven’t I’ve paid the price.

So I’m hearing the gut feeling, but don’t know what it means exactly, neither do I know how to articulate what I’m feeling. Hence the crisis of existence.
I’m sad. I’m confused. I’m frustrated that I can’t figure it out. (Have I mentioned patience isn’t at the top of my skills list?)
I feel so strongly about early childhood education. About what’s best for children.
I’m not so sure I’m what’s best for children.

I am so sad about this situation. It’s absolutely consuming me.
I was in the car with YBW last night and he said: Are you OK.
I shrugged and said: Yeah.
He asked: Are you sure.
I asked: What do you want me to say?
He said: You just look so sad.
I replied: I am sad.

I’m sad because I don’t know what to do with the feelings I know I have to trust.
What do I want to do?
Ideally I’d like to be able to write or take photos to earn my living.
What inspires me?
Children.
Do what you love.
I love to write.
I love to take photos.
I love children.

YBW expressed his concern about me leaving this job I’m spectacularly good at for some random job. He has a valid point. I oughtn’t “jump out of the frying pan into the fire”.
There really is no solution at the moment. I need to understand the ‘why’ so I can figure out how to proceed.

Le sigh. Le really big sigh.
See how I get nowhere?
I’m walking away from the vehemence of my gut’s opinion. I’m just going to be in the moment.

Categories: education, me | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

how I spend my days

My kids decided we needed a hair and nail salon in our classroom. So after about two weeks of hard work creating shampoo chairs, hanging hairdryers, a pedicure station, and asking for donations we’re ready!
Yesterday was the Grand Opening of Sound Stage Salon (The kids chose the name.)

before the ribbon cutting ceremony

before the ribbon cutting ceremony

Some friends decided to take a shave.
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They actually got quite good at this.

One little friend decided it was time for me to stop taking photos and have my hair done.
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He worked really hard to make me ‘fancy’.
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This transformation of our dramatic play area was completely their idea. We designed and built and play in it together and will continue to do so until we’re no longer interested.
The kids enthusiasm and excitement are contagious! Our administrators and other teachers have requested to come have their hair and nails done to the extent that we had to create an appointment book. Mommies and Daddies are beginning to ask for appointments too.
I love teaching and learning with three and four year olds!

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I bought a new (old) book today!

Normally when I spend a rather large chunk of change I experience that feeling of buyer’s remorse.
Not today!
I woke to photos of a first edition book I’ve been considering.
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I’ve always maintained that The Great Gatsby was my favorite book. But I’ve been thinking more and more about books I love, and realized that The Secret Garden might be my favorite after all…or it could be that I’ve just been thinking more about it because YBW sneakily purchased that litographs.com Secret Garden tee for me.
Perhaps I just can’t have one favorite book…I simply love too many to choose between them. Favorite or not, the original British publication of The Secret Garden has been purchased and is being shipped to me.
My joy is HUGE!

The wonderful ladies of Pioneer Books in Adelaide, Australia went out of their way to provide me with photos to ease my mind about plunking down that much money on a book sight unseen.
I’ve spent the better part of the week emailing back and forth with Cathy. As I learned about their story in our emails I became even more inclined to purchase from them. Their bookshop is almost as old as I am, was started by Cathy’s father, and since his death, is run by the two sisters and their mother. I have added Pioneer Books to my “bucket list” of places I’d like to go. I want to meet these ladies and personally thank them, for their patience and willingness to go out of their way to help me with my purchase. I want to see what Cathy’s father created and spend time among the books, and talking with this family.
I might not ever make it to see them personally, but I discovered they blog right here on wordpress! So I can check in with them from time to time, and that might be good enough. Check them out here: https://pioneerbooks.wordpress.com/about

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in lieu of a nap

YBW’s mom is leaving her apartment in the fancy retirement building for a much smaller one in the next door assisted living building. We’ve spent the last two days helping her sort what to take, what to leave behind, and dividing things between our family and YBW’s brother’s family. I adore YBW’s brother, but he is inept at packing, loading and moving. So much so, that I could do nothing but stand, mouth agape when I opened the back of the truck to find such disarray, and the china cabinet tipped over, glass broken into a cardillion pieces. 

That’s when I started running the show. I’m in NO way “tooting my own horn” here. I’ve packed and moved enough times that I’ve got a particular knack for it. The fierce compulsion for order doesn’t hurt when it’s time to organize. I’ve felt the need to tread very softly through this process as it’s complicated enough without “the new girl” trying to run the show. YBW did call me Wonder Woman and praise my mad skills. (I totally heart him!)

Now it’s all over, I’m feeling a bit puny. I’m tired, have a wicked bruise on my right thigh and a little achey all over. We grabbed dinner on the way home where I murdered a gigantic cheeseburger and drank a really tall beer. We talked about wanting a nap, but realized it was simply too late to try that today. My solution is a tubby full of hot water and my iPad to binge a bit of House of Cards. I’m just dying to see what the Underwoods are up to. 

Bed will soon follow and I’m going to sleep as long as humanly possible tomorrow. (Which for me, most likely means till 7:30.) Thats OK, it’s still later than my normal 5:00.

More “wintery mix” is in out forecast tomorrow and I’m going to lie low, possibly organize my new bookshelf, and lie low some more. This week was shite and I deserve it. 

Categories: love, me | Tags: , , , , , , | 2 Comments

sometimes you just don’t need words

This pretty much sums me up.
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I’m not feeling an overabundance of clever words this morning, but I do see something pretty. Snow is falling steadily making everything white. It’s absolutely beautiful and I do love it.
Rarely do I consider pretty things over clever words…but today I humbly accept the simple beauty of the snow and realize I don’t need words.

Categories: me | Tags: , , , , , | 1 Comment

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