Wednesday, October 28, 2009


I am finding that this journey of grief is something like a jigsaw puzzle. If I have a question unanswered, I just need to slow down and seek God about it. That reflection often affords me a piece of the puzzle that I can snap into place. Once the piece is there, I am resolved and can move on to the next question. Progress is little by little, but it is completed progress.

An area I'm puzzling over right now (besides WHAT WAS THAT, GOD?) is on the matter of marriage. Marriage was instituted in the second chapter of Genesis; the second chapter of the entire Bible. When God was creating the world, He always finished a stage by seeing "it was good". The first time He did not think it was good? It was when He made man and found it was not good for man to be alone. He made woman to be a helper, a helpmate, a help meet.

I went to a women's conference a few years ago where the speaker made the point that wives are not the problem, they are the solution. The God-given solution. Kind of changes the job description, don't you think?

I know that we all fall short of the intended glory of marriage. My gosh, look at Adam and Eve: the first couple is responsible for us all being kicked out of the garden. (And their kids Cain and Able? Well, guess we all know Cain slew Able. First kids on earth and one kills the other one. Is it no wonder that sibling rivalry is alive and kicking today?)

I know that we all have regrets in our marriages and wish we could have a second chance in some areas. And that is when the finality of death comes knocking: there will be no do-overs. There is only one spouse left behind to try and puzzle through mistakes, regrets and missed chances.

But that word "help meet"? The thing wives were primarily created to do? I think we do that part well. If you've been married a little while you realize that marriage is not all moonlight and roses. And that promise "till death do us part"? It can involve some difficult stages even if your spouse is not suffering from a terminal illness.

We kick ourselves if the romance wains. Surely we should be giving ourselves points for staying in the race, finishing the course even if there are bumps and potholes along the road. All I know is that for 7 years of our marriage, we fought a battle with cancer that ultimately could not be won. But during that time? We lived a lot of life. The boundaries continued to shift and change because of the ravages of the disease. We couldn't walk together and hold hands anymore. We couldn't go places that involved stairs or long distances. We couldn't plan too far into the future. But we could be faithful and determined to stay together to the end. Helping. Faithfully helping.

That help meet part? I think in the scales of life, it outweighs the frailties of our flesh. Peace, patience, kindness, gentleness and all those other fruits that are not always ripe in our lives are important, and we should continue to cultivate them in our spirits. But the enduring and helping in sickness and health? I think God treasures it when we stay through the hardest stretches. When we don't just endure, but we thrive in the squeezing tight places.

That click you heard? Another piece falling into place.

Tuesday, October 27, 2009


You may have read about my struggle to buy a door from Lowe's in this post.

Because I thought I was...what's the word? A customer, or something. You see, they gladly took my money on September 21, promising me a new door and installation. They have my money; I have nothing. Still. Yet. Again.

Lowe's called last Thursday to tell me my door was in and my installer, who has already told me several whoppers, was to call me within 48 hours. Four days pass, installer calls Sunday night. Oh: those 48 hours only count during working days, I'm told. So why is he calling on a Sunday evening?

Anyhoo, the only time installer can come is between 12 and 2:00 on Tuesday. I work, I say. Sorry, he says. I ask Loyal Sister to come over. She waits at my house from 12 until ten minutes until 2. The phone rings. It is Lowe's installer: the door is in, but it has a dent. He won't be coming, the door must be reordered and it will take TWO MORE WEEKS. (Back away from the caps: they foreshadow anger.)

Loyal Sister smells something fishy in the state of Denmark. (I can quote Shakespeare during an angry blog on Lowe's. I'm fancy like that.) She wants to know two things: when was the dent discovered? And why did they wait until the last minute to call her when she'd been at my house waiting for two hours? Seems the good people at Lowe's knew the door was dented for a while. Seems installer knew the door was dented for a while.

And that is when Loyal Sister turned the reins of this trainwreck (I can also mix my metaphors during an angry blog on Lowe's, apparently) over to her husband, Loyal Brother-in-Law. Who is a construction superintendent for a large and nationally known commercial builder. He is not to be messed with. He is a man's man who Gets Things Done. Quickly. In his world there will not be a two week wait for a door that is already a month late. If the people at Lowe's who talked with him on the phone have any eyebrows and eyelashes left, they may consider getting this job done. Quickly. The heat is on.

I'm sure you'll wait with baited breath for the update on the door that would be red. In the meantime, I'll throw you another little tidbit of an update. Perhaps you read my blog about Barry Manilow canceling the show I had tickets for here.

I'm watching Entertainment Tonight (a guilty pleasure with too much of the family Goslin and the weather balloon dad) and who do you suppose they are featuring? Why, our Barry doing a concert at the Hollywood Bowl. There is nothing wrong with that man's hips. Nothing, I tell you. He is performing just fine. So why can't he perform in Las Vegas in two weeks?

I think I'm handing Barry over to Loyal Brother-in-law, too. I wouldn't be surprised if he could cause Barry to perform on my porch. In front of my new, red front door. They are both already paid for.

Thank you Greg and Marsha Brady for teaching me a great slice of financial wisdom in the early 70s: "caveat emptor": let the buyer beware. Next time I will heed your warning.

Awaiting the rest of the story...

Saturday, October 24, 2009

PreChristmas Shopping

I am not much of a shopper when it comes to buying things for myself. We've kind of been in duck-and-cover mode financially for 7 years with D's illness, and I just got out of the habit of thinking about needs--let alone wants. That dress winter coat of mine? Works just fine. Until I start counting on my fingers like my first graders, and realize it is more then 10 years old. (In my defense, D got it from Land's End and it is a classic wool cut. And winters in mild central Texas do not call for wearing it more then a few times each year.)

But last week at the Marathon in Kansas City (I really should just call it the Walkathon for my effort), I kept looking at young Anna's sassy red suitcase. And I coveted it. ( I think I lusted for her black Coach purse, but I am sensible in my desires.) My collection of suitcases is pitiful. The only redeeming value is that my ragtag assortment is so hopelessly out of date, it is easily identifiable on luggage carousels at airports. Most mothers know they end up with what their children cast aside in categories like luggage and beach towels. (Which explains why I still have the Aladdin towel circa 1992. It is topped only by my friend Twyla who has six kids and landed at the bottom of the beach towel food chain with the original Transformers threadbare towel during their childhood. But I digress.)

Looking through the ads last Sunday, I came upon a startling discovery: new luggage can be purchased at department stores. Well who ever heard of such a thing? I thought the luggage left-behinds that populated my hall closet were my only options since the kids took all the good pieces when then left for college.

In trying to discern those new desires of my heart, traveling tops the list. I am going with three friends to the Women of Faith Conference out of state next weekend, and Loyal Sister and I are going to Las Vegas next month with or without Barry-did-I-forget-to-mention-I needed-new-hips-when-you-made-your-reservations-Manilow. And Married Daughter's husband will find out this week if his job will be relocating them to Pennsylvania. That luggage? Becoming more of a necessity then an impulse buy.

And (drum roll, please) as of today, I am the proud owner of a red 24-inch rolling, expandable bag with a matching rolling carry-on bag. Just the right size for taking my laptop on board. And OH MY SOUL did you know that American Airlines has inflight Wi-Fi? Used it last weekend on the way home from Kansas City. That's just FANCY. (And I was glad to know that there were others, many others, my age who did not know of Wi-Fi's existence on airplanes that won't let you use cell phones, but will let you blog, email and Facebook to your heart's content.) After yesterday's pitiful post, you are probably glad to know I had two little red pieces of joy added to my day.

And the day was much better, until I saw this:

I'm sorry: I thought it was still October and Halloween had not even been celebrated yet. Oh, wait: it hasn't. Early Christmas trees make me grouchy and should not be allowed in stores until after Thanksgiving. Like in the old days, before there was Wi-Fi on airplanes.

For breaking the rules, this tree would not be allowed in my home.

Unless it had that black Coach bag under it. Gift wrapped and addressed to me.

Friday, October 23, 2009

Slipping Through My Fingers...

The most bizarre thing happened last night. I was awakened from a deep sleep by the sound of loud crying, accompanied by hot tears. To my surprise, I realized I was the one sobbing. It was kind of like an out of body experience because, judging by the dampness of my pillow, I'd been crying for a while. I can think of two reasons for this. One, there must be more pain then I am aware of trying to make its way out of my heart. Or, two, there is a heck of a lot of hydrocodone in the prescribed cough syrup that I may have taken a wee bit too much of before bedtime.

I'd like to think I'm doing OK most of the time, but then the little reality checks come creeping in. Like the lady who cut my hair recently who told me that I was losing a lot of hair. Or the sudden cloudburst of tears when the dentist asked how I was doing. Or the inability to attend a baby shower tomorrow that I'd been looking forward to.

And then I take my emotional temperature for the week: The donation of D's prosthetic leg to be remade for someone who can't afford one. The sickness that produced a flushed face and hoarse voice that caused my (elderly) grief class leaders to tell me it would be OK to just go home for the evening. Barnes and Noble informing me tonight that D's discount card expires at the end of this month.

It's just like little pieces of him continue to disappear around me. I was thinking the other day as I vacuumed and dusted that the last traces of his DNA would be gone from around the house soon. Morose, I know.

And the cards, letters and phone calls? They have all but stopped. But truth be told? I really, really just want to be alone these days. I do know that I'll desire the company of others some day. It is just not today. Or tomorrow. Or anytime soon.

Hoping for rest and restoration in solitude this weekend.

And an accurate dose of cough medicine tonight.

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Sick Day

Somehow, I guess I thought I was totally immune to germs after all these years in the classroom trenches. I've had several students miss a week with H1N1, and some had encore illnesses. But moi? I laughed at this flu. Until this morning.

I took some Tylenol before I left for school because I was feeling a little head-achy. I was dizzy by the time I arrived from my commute. I checked out the pill bottle to see if I accidentally took Tylenol PM. (And what is up with regular aspirin being blue, too? I thought blue was the code for SLEEPY PILLS.) Nope. Those aches and that dizzy? Seemed that flu was coming to call on the teacher.

Here is the scenario: It is 7:21 am. My students are arriving in 14 minutes. I have two parent conferences scheduled for today. I run (literally) to the nurse to see if I have a fever (don't want to re-infect the ones who infected me). In the nurse's office I begin to list my symptoms and realize my voice is gone. Totally gone. Teaching first graders is not for the faint of heart. Teaching them without a voice and flu-like symptoms? Just shoot me.

7:31 am: students arrive in 4 minutes. I try calling the 3 subs I know: subbing, no answer, sick. Drat. For the first time in my career I dial SubFinder and take Sub Potluck. Mystery Sub will arrive at 11:00 am; I have missed the morning sub cut-off.

I can do this. We have morning work, music (which is my conference period and I do have a conference scheduled), library and lunch. (For the first time I'm happy about my 10:30 am lunch slot.) Report cards are supposed to go home today but the office does not have them ready yet. I run off a quick note to send home to parents that our cards will go home tomorrow. Cancel afternoon conference. And I'm off: to the doctor's office.

"Been near any flu?" the nurse casually asks. I'm a teacher, I reply, and I've had lots of H1N1 in my classroom. She drops her chart and her pen, walks swiftly out of the room, and returns wearing a mask. And gloves. Amazing that a flu called by 2 letters and 2 numbers can produce haz-mat results in seconds.

She tests me for flu by shoving a pencil sized swab through my nostrils into the bottom of my brain. I'm pretty sure she scraped my eyeballs on the way up. A 10 minute wait and the verdict is in: no swine flu. But something viral is producing viral results.

Take prescriptions to drugstore for a Z pack and cough syrup. The syrup costs as much as my groceries did last week. I go home, drink the kool-aid and sleep for six blissful hours. That cough syrup? Not blue-colored, but good for sleep, and worth every cent if it shakes the cough.

Tonight, I'm feeling a lot better. Tried talking to myself: seems the voice is returning. A little. I'm ready to return to the classroom tomorrow to dig through the debris that Rent-a-sub may have left behind. I'm ready to get our first report cards out.

But first? I'm ready for the good night's sleep the cough syrup is promising me.

(Only 23 more school days until Thanksgiving break from the incubator that is a classroom. You're welcome.)

Sunday, October 18, 2009

Weekend Update

Waiting in the Kansas City airport to fly home to Austin. Making the lazy-woman's-blog using bullets.
  • After competing in the 5K at the Kansas City Marathon yesterday, my friend Adrienne and I realized that the winner of the 1/2 marathon was right behind us. (We beat him, but just barely.) In our defense, we finished the brisk stroll all caught up with news of children, family and friends. And our hair and makeup still looked fresh.
  • After completing the half-marathon, daughter Katy confessed that she had only run three miles once to train. (But did walk their large and energetic dog, Tex, on a regular basis.) Ahh, youth.
  • Panera Bread, and any restaurant, really, should let you know they are out of ice when you order iced tea. Especially before encouraging you to upgrade to a large. (And how do you run out of ice?)
  • I forgot that fall showed up in other areas of the world. Central Texas is "greened" out again after all the rain, so the beautifully unexpected fall colors of Missouri took my breath away.
  • How does Starbucks run out of Pumpkin Spice for lattes? (At least they told me before taking my money.)
  • A young man just came to the ticket counter to find out: "Can I get a new seat for my fiancee, I mean my wife--we got married yesterday--can we get seats together? Ours are separated." A collective sigh went up from everyone in ear shot, and I'm pretty sure if the computer had not shown side-by-side seats, we'd have made changes to accommodate them ourselves.
  • Young son-in-law interviews for a job in Pennsylvania on Wednesday. (Pray!) I have to fly to Missouri to see them anyway, what difference would a flight involving a couple of more states make? (Until there are grandchildren...)
This weekend felt normal and comfortable with old friends and family. When we planned this excursion in August, I wasn't sure how it would go. Not to worry. There is still some fog swirling around my head, but parts of the future are becoming a little more focused. It's OK to go on; it's OK to plan for the future.

It's not OK to run out of ice or pumpkin spice.

Saturday, October 17, 2009

Team Dave

This weekend we are at the Kansas City Marathon to participate in Dave's honor. I was picked up by Katy and her husband, Joseph. I may have mentioned a time or twenty that Joseph's mom and I have been friends since high school, so his entire family showed up in force.

Katy and Anna ran the 1/2 Marathon; Adrienne, Chuck, Elizabeth and I did the 5K. Joseph drove the family sag wagon.

Katy and her husband celebrating her 1/2 Marathon finish.
Anna and Katy finishing 13 miles with a smile on their faces.
The girls and their moms.
Dave running a marathon in 1989. We all wore these pictures, but I didn't need it to remember him. He's staying close in my heart today.
Thanks, family, for the precious gift of this trip.

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Mile Markers

It has been three months today since I lost D. It seems like yesterday and it seems like forever ago. I never thought I'd be one to mark dates like that. But I also never thought I'd regularly call my home phone number to hear D's voice, which is still on the message machine. Or send myself emails from his Yahoo account. Or spend time in his coat closet just to feel the familiar.

I miss taking him his oatmeal and green tea each morning while he checked his email. I miss the smell of cut wood coming from his workshop when he worked on projects. I miss hearing him laugh at his favorite comedy TV shows. I (almost) miss his endless choice of "autopsy" TV shows including CSI's Horatio and his eternally bent head.

But most of all? I miss the companionship. I don't feel lonely: I feel alone. All those hopes and dreams that we shared as a couple are gone. Poof. It is like there is this empty chasm in front of me.

My friends have been so good about asking me out, and I appreciate it so much. But when I come home, there is no one to tell my story of the evening to. And somehow, that makes it matter less; seem less significant.

One thing D always did was reach for my hand whenever anyone was praying at church or home. I find myself reaching for his hand still during prayer time. He called me "sweetheart" and always, as the sign says, kissed me good night.

It is all those little, yet extremely significant, small acts that I miss on a daily/hourly/minute by minute basis. Yet, somehow, life goes on. This is the in-between time where the old is missed and mourned, and the new is not yet formed. This is the time of honoring the memories and carrying them around like a well-worn blanket.

We'll be honoring the memories this weekend, as well. I'm flying to Kansas City on Friday to participate in a cancer race with my daughter, son-in-law, and his family. Team Dave. Young son rode a 100-mile bike ride in D's honor last month. A time of remembering and, hopefully, celebrating a life well-lived, a cancer well-fought.

Holding out for that future and hope that I know is out there. Amen.

Friday, October 9, 2009

Comfort Food

Here is a view from the front porch of my portable classroom. What is that wet stuff on the ground? Why, it looks like rain! Here in central Texas we are glad for all this rain to ease a draught that has left lakes virtually empty.

We are especially glad that this current weather front ushered in COOL WEATHER!

How!many!excitement!marks! can!I!add!about!that?

Not enough, apparently. Bloggy friends: the 40 days of 100 plus degree weather are over and we now have the COOL.

I feel like a new cool new world has opened up to me, and spent most of the morning planning tonight's Comfort Food. (Disclaimer to parents of students in my room who may be reading this: We spent most of the morning tearing Kleenex into small pieces. We put it into bottles of water because we are learning how paper is recycled. So I had the brain power to multi-task Comfort Food planning and Kleenex shredding. Even though recess was canceled and the energy level inside my small portable classroom could be harnessed to give electrical current to a small third-world country...This is making my heart beat too fast. Could we just return to that Comfort Food part?)

Ahhhh, yes! Comfort Food. I'm sure your family has some food traditions. At my house, when the children were growing up they always wanted fajita nachos and pumpkin pie as the home meal for their birthday. Not sure where that tradition began, but I embraced it for lo these 20 years or so.

On the first cool night of each season, our menu was always sausage wraps, macaroni and cheese and sauerkraut. Again, not sure how that evolved, but by golly it was on my table last night. Actually, on my tray. Because I've dumped the six chair table as being too lonely and relocated to my new chair and ottoman in the den. (And, apparently, the Gosslein train wreck and David Letterman's little fiasco will dominate dinnertime TV for a loooooonnnnnggggg time.)

Traditions. I'll have to say my annual Comfort Food meal did not taste quite as good as I remembered it when all the chairs at the table were filled with family. They gave it a lot more flavor and fun. But I am considering it all joy: cool weather, Comfort Food, and weekend off where Loyal Sister and I are going to see the "Toy Story" double feature in 3D at a theater that serves great popcorn.

I'm thinking there is a Pumpkin Spice Latte in my future today. (Shout out to bloggy friend, Gina, who is making me want all things fall.)

It's those little traditions, established long ago, that are bringing me great comfort. Not just the food.

Do you have any fall traditions?

Tuesday, October 6, 2009

Opening Doors

The road to my future new, red front door is a long and winding one. It has gone something like this over the past 3 weeks:

1. Choose door with Door Salesman.
2. Man is assigned to come measure door for installation. He will call and set up an appointment.
3. Measuring Man leaves message.
4. I call back and leave him a message.
5. I call back again and leave him another message.
6. I call back again and leave him yet another message.
7. I go to the Lowe's store and go postal.
8. Clerk calls Measuring Man and hands me the phone. Measuring Man stumbles over his excuses. Makes appointment to come to my home.
9. Measuring Man sends someone else to measure my door.
10. Measuring Man does not send in measurements to Lowe's.
11. Measuring Man is contacted to see why Lowe's does not have measurements.
13. I go to the Lowe's store and go postal.

I must be doing something wrong. You see, all I want to do is give Lowe's my money for a new, red front door.

And then comes the good part. I walk to the desk that sells doors and my Salesman sees me and knows my name: first and last. (And my name is not an easy one to pronounce or remember.) He knows about my problems with Measuring Man: the entire timeline. He cares that I have not been treated right. He is going to fix the problem.

Then he is going to blow the smoke off of his six shooters, return them to his holster and tip his white hat. Because, seriously? Lowe's door Salesman is my new hero.

He walks me through every step of my new door. He promises to make sure Measuring Man shows up on time and stays on task. Helps me pick the right hardware and peephole. Walks it all up to the cashier and calls me "ma'am" at least 100 times. His mother raised him right and his employers should give him a raise. He has overcome a three-week nightmare and replaced it with impeccable customer service.

Instead of giving into the Ugly Cry one more time in Lowes, I'm now making plans for new patio doors. Because I have a Salesman I can trust. And I will soon have a new, red front door to prove it.

Monday, October 5, 2009

Can't Smile Without You

On the list of things D and I wanted to do, seeing Barry Manilow was toward the top.

(If you immediately started making mental Manilow jokes to the tune of "Copacabana", move along. Nothing for you here.)

I can give no explanation (or apologies) for that Fanilow Fact. (Sorry, adult children of mine.) But we tried to go several times and always seemed to be sidelined by yet another surgery or procedure. Then, the end simply came too quickly and we did not make the journey.

I decided I was going to fulfill this pilgrimage and recruited Loyal Sister to accompany me. Barry is headlining at the Las Vegas Hilton, and they had a deal that was too good to refuse: 2 tickets to see "Manilow: the Music and Passion", two nights at the hotel, two buffets and two of a lot of other things for under $300. Score. I made the reservations, but was told "if Mr. Manilow should cancel" we would only be refunded the price of the tickets. Hmmmm. A very interesting disclaimer. Why would the man who makes the whole world sing cancel? We booked it for the middle of November.

I fully believed I would be able to check this one wish off the list, when the phone rang yesterday. Caller ID: the Las Vegas Hilton. Barry canceled. He was available one weekend in November and one weekend in December. "Can you guarantee he'll be there those other two weekends?" Nope. "What about after the first of the year?" I asked. He is apparently parting ways with the Las Vegas Hilton after 2009.

Hang up the phone, and here comes the Ugly Cry. Seriously: I'm not that attached to Barry, even though he was the sound track of the 1970s. When I may or may not have been in high school and college. It was just a plan that I wanted to fulfill. For Dave.

Extended Googling session brought me news that Barry is having hip replacement surgery and is ( 66 years old. How thin the veneer of our dreams can be.

Loyal Sister and I have decided to press ahead and go, Barry or no. The trip is already paid for, and surely we can still have a good time on this little get away. Maybe we'll go see the Blue Man Group instead.

Wonder how their hips are doing?

Sunday, October 4, 2009

Growing On Up

I was recently in Cracker Barrel with a friend, when the girl behind the counter said, "Mrs. O, do you remember me?" I glanced at her name tag, and then back at her, and a big grin slid across my face. I told her what I tell all my students who have left my elementary classes and morphed into adults, "Your name and memory are forever in my heart, but I have trouble recognizing you in your grown-up body!" 12 years later, my former kindergartener is serving you with a smile. And she can now see over the counter.

I had that same experience this afternoon as there was a shower for one of my favorite former-third graders and his bride-to-be. The are both in college, soon to graduate, and getting married over the holiday break. It reminded me of the scene in "Father of the Bride" when Steve Martin's character looked at his daughter proclaiming she was getting married. What his eyes saw was his daughter at age 5 playing dress up. How could these years have passed so quickly?

Several other former students were there. S helped give the shower. When I taught her in third grade, she used to always tell me that her father was "praying she'd be more delicate" because she was somewhat of a tomboy. When I was dating D, she used to sit in church and sketch pictures of him and hide them in her little purse so she could show the other students what he looked like. She is now a "delicate" and beautiful college senior who is looking into a graduate program in nursing.

C was there from my kindergarten class, lo these many years ago. I remember when I'd drill her on her letters she would always forget the letter "w". And she'd always ask me if I was sure "that letter was supposed to be in the alphabet?" She's a high school junior who is tutoring a young boy in his reading, leading cheers at football games and no longer beating up a fellow classmate named J when he got on her last nerve at the Playdoh station.

Sisters M and K were there. I taught them both in different grades, and they are now outstanding high school volleyball players who will soon (if they haven't already) top six feet and look down at me with kindness.

I ask you, is there anything better than watching children grow up well in the Lord? I love the verse that says, "I have no greater joy than to know that my children walk in the truth."

Today was an afternoon of great joy. No leaky eyes. Just a full heart. Godspeed to them all as they take hold of what the future holds for them. Godspeed.

Saturday, October 3, 2009


In my grief class Thursday night, the facilitator asked me a question. She began it by saying, "Since you've become a widow blah blah blah..." My mind couldn't take in the rest of the sentence, because I had not had the "w" word applied to me before, and I was momentarily stunned. One of those little out of body experiences where you think, "She cannot possibly be talking to me." But: she was. And I am. That "w" word. 

I think that "w" should stand for "without".  One of the main areas I find myself "without" is boundaries. I realize just how much discipline D brought into our day-to-day lives. He was the most careful and disciplined eater I had ever met. I realized I had hit the bottom of the culinary food chain when I was eating a hot dog at Target the other night because I was late to class and in a hurry. A HOT DOG AT TARGET. There are so many things wrong with that sentence I will not even attempt to try and make an excuse for it.

I have gotten better at making the bed and hanging the clothes up. Young son came to town and cut the grass so young children no longer run past my house because it looks like the Town Crazy Lady lives here. Those rooms with all the half-completed projects and piles? I've found closing the doors makes them look much more tidy from the outside. 

 I am so hoping that order will be restored to my life soon.  It's just that when no one is there to add accountability, it is so easy to drop things and let them lie in piles. Because who will see it? 

 Are you a fan of the late poet Shel Silverstein? Then perhaps you know of the poem I read regularly to my students about a girl named "Sarah Sylvia Cynthia Stout, would not take the garbage out" (I pause to add: I do take mine out. The garbage, that is. It's just the rest of life that piles up.) The poem goes on to end, "Sarah met a terrible fate, in that garbage she did hate..." Well. Admitting that there is a problem is half of the solution, right?

I confess: I still hunt and gather my food and do not buy groceries regularly, because take-out is much easier. I cannot even think of cleaning out the garage that is so full of tools and unfinished wood projects that I can barely walk though it. I cannot make myself go back to church yet and I can't even explain why that is. I have quit watering the plants in the backyard and only the succulents look like they will survive. (Maybe I should turn to cactus gardens.) And bedtimes? Friends  who remember the days when they could not call after 9 pm would be shocked to know that bedtime keeps getting pushed farther and farther out. I admit there is a problem.

But the one thing I appreciate is that somewhere in the deepest, darkest corner of my heart and mind I KNOW that this, too, will pass. I don't know how I know and believe this, but I do.  There are three things that remain, according to Corinthians: faith, hope and love. And that hope? It lives somewhere in my being and continues to encourage me along.

I do know that things will get better.

 And that I shouldn't eat hot dogs at Target anymore.

Thursday, October 1, 2009

A Trip to Bountiful

For most of the summer, I kept having friends tell me that they were praying for the class of first graders I would get this fall. I usually pray all summer for things like an instant love for my new students, a good relationship with their parents and a quick understanding of what each individual student needed. But this summer? After loosing D, I was lucky if I remembered to put toothpaste on my toothbrush. So those friends praying? Reminded me of the story in Exodus when Moses' friends Aaron and Hur stood on either side of him and held his arms up for him. I was in dire need of some assistance.

But those words, spoken by so many friends who did not even know each other, made me really pay close attention to the group of six year olds who filled my room (and my heart) on the first day of school. We are now on Day 28 in first grade. (FYI: We count the days on the way to The Hundredth Day of School, a celebration that is second only to Sports Day where you can eat snowcones while jumping on a bouncy ball on your way to the popcorn machine for a snack before the baton relay. That just exhausted me; I may need a sub for Sports Day.) Anywho, I really believe that there is something different about this class. Very different.

For starters, they were a cohesive group from the first moment. Every year, the kindergarten classes are shuffled like a deck of cards and re-dealt into five new classes. It usually takes a few weeks for the new combination to jell as the students find their place among new classmates. Not in my class. Even though we had five students who were new to the school among my 19 new best friends, they all got along immediately. They support each other. They clap when someone does something well. They share. They don't run with scissors. They put the lids back on the glue sticks. They work hard. They laugh at my lame jokes.

Anything I would change? Well, they could bring in more chocolate. With almonds.

But other than that? This group truly is a little Miracle Group for me. Tonight in my Grief Class the leader asked how I was coping with teaching. Are you kidding? I close the door and have 8 happy hours a day. Make that VERY happy hours. We were having so much fun the other day, they asked if they could just spend the night in the room. (We made a journal entry based on that idea. Let's just say there were some mighty creative uses of the school building suggested for after hours.)

Life is good in the first grade. And you know what? I think it is all the love of praying friends and six year olds that is making my life good in other areas as well.

(If you'd like to view this Magical Classroom, you can visit us at: where we blog almost every day.)