Thursday, December 30, 2010

Did This Cipro Work on Anthrax?

I had great faith in those antibiotics I began taking yesterday. This morning, I followed the Rx's instructions and skipped the caffeine. The day went downhill from there.

I guess I thought I was fine, fine, everything is fine! and decided to drop by my classroom to take care of pressing business. Like re-organizing the classroom library before school starts on Tuesday. Oh, the fun! of returning to the land of second grade. Until the Tylenol wore off, and I found myself laying on the carpet and staring at the ceiling wondering if I could just put all the books in a large basket, and call it a day.

I went home to collapse on the couch and napped while watching daytime t.v. for the first time in years or decades. (I have several observations about that: I recognized characters from General Hospital, and I have not watched it since 1985. Every new show on Oprah's new network is her Favorite! New! Show! Some of Dr. Oz's topics border on creepy. And Nate Berkus seems happily sincere, but unable to carry an entire show.) I fell into a deeper sleep until news was over, and decided I'd better eat or drink something. I drank a large glass of orange juice and belatedly looked to see if it was on the "foods to avoid" with my antibiotics after the fact. Sure enough: calcium enriched o.j. is not on the approved list. Neither is chocolate. I do not want to live in a world without chocolate, so antibiotic: KICK IN. Or else.

Or else I'll be watching a lot of bad daytime TV and I do not (I repeat loudly: DO NOT) intend watching to find out if Snookie is really in that ball over Times Square (like a hamster) on New Year's Eve. Maybe I just hallucinated that odd story in my antibiotic haze. Or maybe Nate Berkus should invite her onto his show to jazz it up a bit.

I also need to get well quickly because I have a date for New Year's Eve. (Settle down, out there: it is at Loyal Sister's house where she is serving king crab legs and our yet unseen "Toy Stories 3" DVD. Living large, but avoiding caffeine and chocolate.)

Anyhoo, four days until seven year-olds return to the classroom. I must be well and able to ingest large amounts of caffeine by then. And get Junie B. Jones, Cam Jansen, and Lilly and her purple plastic purse back on the library shelves.

Wednesday, December 29, 2010

Take Two and Call Me in the Morning

I had a slight headache for the past week. I've been able to keep it under submission with Tylenol, Clariton D and copious amounts of caffeine. During this crazy-busy time of year, it's easy to explain away sickness as too much activity, too much rich food and too little sleep. Or all of the above.

But when I woke up this morning with a pounding head - again - I mentally counted the days until back-to-school: four. For some reason, that commercial featuring a teacher with a sinus headache flashed through my mind. Do you know the one? The teacher has pounding sinuses, is doing effleurage on her forehead, when a small child across the classroom pulls out Sharp Scissors. In slow-motion, she covers the distance to prevent the kiddy equivalent of hari-kari. I think she even leaps over a few desks. And all because of two brand name aspirin. Which were not cutting it for me.

So, this afternoon found me plodding back to the doctor's office that can see me without an appointment. I guess the office staff does not read blogs like this one, because I was allowed to sign in. And I was seen in a relatively short time. It was "only" a sinus infection, so I was only given two prescriptions this time but, alas, no magic shots.

The antibiotic of choice was Ciprofloxacin. You may remember it as Cipro during the anthrax scare. The good news? There is no shortage of it right now. The bad news? The instructions plainly state I should not "ingest large amounts of caffeine." Drat. The drugs or the caffeine?

Is there a door number 3?

Texted Married Daughter on the way home because I still feel the need to let someone know when I'm sick. Even if they live 1,321 miles away. Give or take. And then I took my meds and crawled under the blankets.

The good news? My Christmas trip to New York was cancelled when family came to my home instead. I could be blogging with a sinus headache right now while trapped at LaGuardia Airport.

The better news? I think I'll have this sinus snafu healed by the time I return to the Land of Second Grade. Home of permanent markers, sharp scissors, squeezable glue and potential critters lulled inside by leftover Holiday Party crumbs.

I don't claim the ability to leap over desks. Even on my best days. But I do know there is a party going on in my head while looking forward to going back to my 18 seven-year old best friends and their Yuletide Tales. Can't wait!

Monday, December 27, 2010

The Return Trip of Over the River and Through the Woods...

Yesterday, I sent Married Daughter and Loyal Son-in-law off at dawn for their 30-hour drive back to Pennsylvania. They wanted to beat the much trumpeted blizzard heading that way.

I went to church, took a delicious nap, and looked around at all the cleaning that needed to be done.

And I walked out of the house and went to a movie. There are a few pluses to living alone. (And PS: the mess was still there when I returned and the earth did not shift on its axis.)

While I was gone I got a call from a precious teacher friend to go out for hot chocolate. We closed Starbucks down with our then-cold chocolate, and talked in the cold car until we could no longer feel our hands and feet. We're caught up, and a good time was had by all.

I spent the night sleeping and listening for update texts from the cross-country travelers. I'm writing this 29 hours after they left my driveway, and just got the message they are an hour from home with no road problems.

Thoughts? Thank you, Lord and oh! to be that young that you can drive 30 hours without stopping! ( I put in many years of 24-hour road trips to Chicago to see relatives in my 20s. I know that it takes about a year to forget the drive, and sign back up to do it again the next holiday.)

Plans for today? Still in my jammies. Totally completed the crossword puzzle. Preparing to go find the shovel to clean out the living room from the debris of Christmas. And loving the thought of one week off to do whatever I want. Oh, teaching profession, you are so good to me.

And my own Christmas miracle? Surrounded by friends and family in my home, I did not feel sad. Not even one time. The memories of D are becoming the Happy Ones, and I am so very grateful for that.

Looking forward to the New Year.

Friday, December 24, 2010

Merry Christmas 2010 from the O/C/S Family!

If you got a hard copy of my annual Christmas picture/letter through snail mail, move along. Nothing for you here today. I'm posting the pictures/letter here for my Merry Christmas wish to each of you.

I would say the word that best describes this year for each of us is "Milestones". We have all had some significant accomplishments and changes in our lives.
K (Married Daughter) and J celebrated their third wedding anniversary in November. They moved to Pennsylvania in March due to J's promotion. He is leading a team of engineers to design and complete a new factory. They brought a darling townhouse and learned to deal with large amounts of snow. (This picture was taken on our visit to Hersheyland in Hershey, Pennsylvania, the land of chocolate kisses.) Their dog, Tex is two years old.
H (D's oldest daughter) will graduated this May from Brite Divinity School at TCU in Fort Worth, where she received the Episcopal Studies Program Book Award for last year. She in a on-call Chaplain at Baylor All Saints Medical Center, and was approved by her Diocese as a Postulate to Holy Orders (her first step of three on the path to her ordination.) This summer she attended Gatecon in Vancouver and spent time camping in British Columbia. She is dating DB.
C (Young Son) graduated from Texas State University. His take on the year was: "Traveled to the northeast, saw family, visited Chicago, Indiana, New York, Pennsylvania, New York, Boston and Maine. Worked and saved for a bike tour and rode over 1,000 miles to Flagstaff. Pedicabbed for the Ranger's World Series, UT and Dallas Cowboy football games. Work at Flipnotics (a local Austin coffee house), looking for a professional job. Want to teach abroad in Southeast Asia and South America and WOOF (work on organic farms for a free living work trade in various countries.) Reading writing, hosting couch surfers from all over the world at least once a month." He and J have been dating for two years.
E (D's youngest daughter) and M became engaged in July and will be married next fall. THey live in Seattle and E is completing her education as a veterinary technician at PIMA. M is finishing his Political Science degree at the University of Washington. He will graduate in June, and is applying for government jobs on the east coast. After graduation, they hope to relocate to the Washington D.C. area.

R (that's me!) moved up with her first grade class to second grade, and loves having the same students and parents two years in a row. She traveled to New York in the spring as a chaperone for a choir tour of high school students who were in her kindergarten class many years ago! She visited Ireland with a dear friend last summer, and stayed with K and J at their new home in Pennsylvania. She and K took a trip to Seattle to see E and M. She helped facilitate a Grief Share group at a local church and will begin directing a Children's Church ministry in January. Those activities and a remodel of her home have kept her very busy this year!

We miss D, but we continue to honor his memory by moving on with lives full of love and purpose.

"The people who walked in darkness have seen a great light. Those who lived in a dark land, the light will shine on them" Isaiah 9:2

The Merriest of Christmases to you and yours. May the New Year bring untold blessings upon all of you.

Thursday, December 23, 2010

It Takes a Long Time to Grow An Old Friend...

If you have read this blog for any amount of time, you know that I love teaching. But I will have to admit, I also love the two weeks off at Christmas that allow me to spend time with lots and lots of friends I don't get to see as often as I like during teaching season.

Yesterday, Married Daughter and I drove north to meet some of our oldest friends. P (far left) and I (far right) are playing bookends to much of what we have accomplished over the past 25 years. We met as young mothers when we only had one toddler each. Since then, we have amassed 7 (now adult) children (and 3 in-law children) among us. The picture then tips toward her side because she now has 2 grandchildren ages (almost) 4 years old and 6 weeks. (No rush K & C, but we do need to do our share here eventually...)

We met at a Mexican food restaurant for chips, salsa and queso (because that's how we socialize in Texas), and continued the conversations at Starbucks. I am so very grateful for my friend, P. We've walked through a lot of life together, and I've been thankful every step of the way to have her near my side. Having her now-adult children as my friends, too? Icing. Just icing.

(An aside: My daughter asked me why all the children of the clan ended up as good friends. I told her she probably wouldn't want to hear my answer, but she assured me she did. It is because (lean in here, people, because I'm whispering): These children of ours? They have grown up to be an awful lot like us. And somehow? That revelation did not horrify her as it would have during teen aged years. She smiled, took it in calmly, and agreed. Oh, life: you are one perfect full circle at times.)

Today? Another small trip north to a breakfast meeting among high school friends I've know for over 35 years. There is nothing better in the world than someone who carries the stories of your life with them. I am blessed beyond compare looking at these smiling faces around me. I know that I have done nothing to deserve such wonderful companions on this road of life. This circle that has surrounded me is just a grace gift from the hand of God. (We missed you, Pat!)

We hogged a table for far too long, and caught up on life. (And I may have mentioned a time or a million that A (left front)'s son and my daughter are MARRIED. It still gives me such joy to say/type/IM/text and remind people continually of that fact.)

After a great visit, we may or may not have shopped at Cracker Barrel's gift shop (NO CLOTHES PURCHASES, however, so don't you be thinking we are Memaws...) and made plans for a future get together. Thank you friends for finding time among family plans for a visit.

Loyal Sister and I spent the rest of the afternoon perusing antique stores and generally having a wonderful time. I ran into someone who recognized me from this blog, and I got to visit with her and her sweet daughter. What a blessing that the world is so full of every type of friend.

Something I am not friends with on December 25th?
That's just wrong.

But, let's end on a positive note: I hope your holidays are being spent with lots and lots of family and friends. Take the time to appreciate what you have, because this life can be far too short.

Merry Christmas, bloggy friends.

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

The Evolution of Family Photographs

We had one of our family Christmases yesterday. Young Son is accompanying his girlfriend to Mississippi for the holidays, so we grabbed the only window available when all the kids could be in the same room.

L to R: Girlfriend, Young Son, Happy Mom, Married Daughter and Loyal Son-in-Law (who look amazingly fresh after driving to central Texas from Pennsylvania.)

We ate, we opened presents and we set the A/C to "cold" so we could don Christmas apparel without losing consciousness in the Texas heat. And then? We took family pictures.

When the kids were babies, it was easy to snap random shots at will. Toddler shots were a guessing game of who was responsible for the lyrics for "you better not pout, you better not cry" in the famous Christmas song. I think it was my children. Early elementary pictures showed daughter under the table at birthday party cake shots. I don't think she like the attention focused on her. (This did not present a problem when she cut her wedding cake. Thankfully, that tendency was outgrown.) Many teen aged photographs showed a yearly array of happy hearted shots and/or straight lipped pictures. It was a yearly lottery of successes or failures.

But now? Take heart, parents of young children. My now-adult children will all pose and smile when asked. A miracle 26 years in the making. (Thank you J, C, K and J! I love having these memories captured for future viewing.)
And how could we leave out Loyal Sister and Brother-in-Law? A good time was had by all.
And I leave you with a shot documenting the difference between girls and boys. The ornament to the left was given to me by a female student. It is a delicate blown-glass, glittery angel. The ornament on the right was given to me by a male student. It is an alien elf, impressive for its attention to detail on both sides. (And they fill me with The Happy each time I pass the tree.)

On to more celebrating. Hohoho.

Monday, December 20, 2010

The One That is the 300th Post

I have a special window where I write this blog that you cannot see. Blogger calls it a "Dashboard". It includes oh-so-many useful gadgets, including a counter that numbers my posts. I'd noticed that my 300th piece was coming up, and I wondered where I'd be in my heart and mind when I wrote it. This blog has served as therapy for me through some difficult times. I still marvel that people read it regularly, and am blessed by the friends that I have made through this cyber portal.

Well, blog post 300 finds me creeping quietly around my light-draped home (thanks, KM for your decorating services) because MARRIED DAUGHTER AND LOYAL SON-IN-LAW FINISHED THE DRIVE TO TEXAS FROM PENNSYLVANIA and they are sleeping in MD's childhood bedroom. Tonight Young Son and his girlfriend will join us for an early Christmas dinner, as he leaves for Mississippi with her family tomorrow.

I had to brave the HEB yesterday (our local grocery) for copious amounts of foodstuff. (Is that a word? It seems to fit the list Married Daughter requested of childhood foods such as sausage balls, blintzes, Russian Teacakes and iced brownies that are a staple of our holidays, but probably contain no real nutritional value.) I digress.

While I was there, I stayed jolly despite loud Michael Jackson Christmas music circa 1970 (the high-yet-teetering-on-screeching voice in "Santa Claus is Coming to Town") and traffic jams on every aisle. The store was not crowded: there were just many shoppers in a hurry to rush home with their treasures. (I am full of the song references today.) They paid no attention to their carts blocking the aisles. I thought a lot of D, who had to use the electric cart when we shopped. He maintained that there should be a stripe down the center of each aisle to keep shoppers aware of their baskets. Because he believed that an ordered world was possible.

An engineer in every area of his life, his workshop tools were hung in order by size, his bath towels draped in neat rows, and his shoes perfectly lined up in the closet. I am organized but not very orderly. I must have driven him crazy sometimes/many times with my random tendencies.

He'd lay out everything he needed for his shower before he went in, including 3 Q-tips in a perfect parallel row. Sometimes just to mess with him, I'd add a few more crooked Q-tips while he was in the shower. I'd watch out the corner of my eye from my side of the sink. I wanted to see how he'd react to that little anarchy toward neatness. It would take him a moment to figure it out, and then he'd look at me and we'd both laugh. I miss those moments the most.

Oh, those moments.

One of his biggest pet peeves were waiters who said "no problem" when asked for something. He'd always maintain that he was a customer and not a problem; and what ever happened to "yes, sir" or "you're welcome"?

When we saw erratic drivers on the road, he'd always comment that it "must be a woman driver". When we'd pass the car and glance over, he was right 99.9999% of the time. Drat.

He just wanted order in his crazy world of cancer, I think. I have discovered in working with seven-year olds that I cannot have a perfect world. My existence in the classroom is more about the process than the product, where we work with sharp scissors and rivers of Elmer's glue.

So, on this 300th post I want to share a dream I had about D the other night. This is significant because I sleep very, very soundly and rarely remember dreams. To the point where I've wondered if I even have them at all.

He was sitting on the edge of our bed in the way that my bedroom is newly arranged. On his side of the bed by the wall was this perfectly arranged row of neat drawers and containers. He looked at me with total happiness and said, "I have everything just the way I want it now." And with everything that is in me I believe that he does. No more cancer; no more living in this imperfect world. I woke up feeling very happy and settled in my spirit for him. And maybe even a little envious.

And now, on to Christmas with bits and pieces of my family and friends in combinations that are different than usual. I've decided that life is not about stability and keeping everything the same: it's about having the ability to accept change gracefully.

Christmas this year? Anything but orderly. But always full of joy and love.

Saturday, December 18, 2010

Oh, the Weather Outside is...

I have a small confession to make, on my way back to a normal life: I just turned on the heat in my home for the first time this winter. And only because company is coming. You see, I just can't see warming a four bedroom house just for little ol' me when I have afghans, electric throws and all manner of flannel jammies for the few hours I am home each evening. In my defense, I live in central Texas where it rarely gets very cold, and my new energy efficient windows (coupled with the new attic insulation) keep the house pretty comfortable. I guess I've become used to dressing in layers, but I had a friend drop by today who noticed the pervasive coolness of the house. So, I changed the HVAC filter (I am handy like that) and cranked the unit up.

And while I'm on a roll, I will admit that I did a cooking marathon that involved turning the oven on as well. Cooking, using the oven, turning the heat on...what can this mean?

Married daughter and her husband are on the way here from Pennsylvania for Christmas!

The original plan had been for me to go see them. I'd bought my tickets and planned to ignore Christmas decorations in my home for one more year. There is some illness on my son-in-law's side of the family that caused them to need to come here for the holidays.

Screeching turn in plans, so I decided to rip off the bandaid and embrace the decorating, the cooking, the traditions. And apparently the heater. And oven.

And guess what? I'm loving it! I have more energy than I've had since July 2009, and I'm really excited about this holiday season in my home. Could it be that this unexpected change in plans was really a Higher Plan all along? One that would force me to open my home to guests and the holiday? I'm thinking yes.

It is time to resume my former place at the front door, throw it open and declare, "Let the celebration begin!" like I have in former years. With a big smile on my face.

Tribute to a Teacher

I generally have my digital camera near by at all times while I'm at school. Teaching is very blog-worthy. Our last day before the Christmas holidays was on Thursday, and through the craziness of end-of-day release (which was ramped up that day by sweet treats, excited good-byes and oh-the-freedom of two weeks off!), I glanced back and saw a dear friend and colleague at the end of her last day of teaching. Ever.

Mrs. B has taught on our campus for 22 years in several different grades. She is one of the most positive and professional teachers I have ever met. Each time I talk with her I carry away encouragement and/or a new teaching strategy. Her love for instruction and patience with children is inspiring, and her mind is continually set on her classroom and how she can improve it. It boggles the mind to think of how many children's lives she has touched, and what a difference she has made in their futures.

She decided to retire this year at mid-term, and while I am wildly excited for her decision, it is a loss for our entire campus to lose one of the finest teachers imaginable. I wish that we could somehow transfer all the educational knowledge she has collected and place it in the brains and hearts of all the new, incoming teachers.

My husband had a plaque in his office that said, "The life so short, the craft so long to learn." I know that Mrs. B mastered the craft of teaching, and we were all changed as a result of her dedication and everyday excellence.

Thanks for your love for our children, Mrs. B. Godspeed in your next new adventure.

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

One of the Many Reasons I Love Teaching Children

Putting all that knowledge together can often make for an entertaining Christmas card for Mom and Dad...

Monday, December 13, 2010

Making Lemonaid

Three months ago I wrote a post about a flood in my neighborhood found here. A block full of people lost virtually everything in their homes, and the repairs brought the houses down to bare studs. The bad news was, since it was in a 500-year flood plain, none of the homes had flood insurance. The worse news came when the national government did not declare it a disaster area for unknown reasons. Those poor people still have dumpsters in their yards and PODS on their driveways containing the precious few possessions that were salvageable.

Driving home yesterday, I spied some new Christmas decorations covering the POD, dumpster and RV of some homeowners working to get back into their homes. I'll have to give it to these people for their holiday spirit, and for making the most of a difficult situation. May they find themselves back in their homes soon, and may they have a Merry (little) Christmas.

Saturday, December 11, 2010

Thanks to a Christmas Angel, The Tree is Up

Guest blogger: The Grinch

Welcome, Christmas, bring your cheer.
Cheer to all Whos far and near.
Christmas Day is in our grasp
so long as we have hands to clasp.
Christmas Day will always be
Just as long as we have we.
Welcome, Christmas, while we stand
Heart to heart,... and hand in hand.

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

Checking that Tree, Fluffing it Twice...

So, to continue an incredibly long and uninteresting story about my inability to put together my own Christmas tree this year...

Santa's Little Helper is coming tomorrow night to assemble my tree for me. And maybe spread some more Christmas magic around the house. I will walk into my home after dinner out with a friend and VIOLA! instant Christmas. Right?

Well, first I had to haul all my holiday tubs into the den for SLH to use tomorrow. And, then I may have dug through a cheery red tub or seven. Big Mistake. I ended up blubbering on the phone with Married Daughter, because I was considering taking all the tubs straight to Goodwill and pushing them to the curb. Married Daughter asked me to wait until she could look through the items I didn't want anymore. (All. Of. It.) She said she might take some back to Pennsylvania with her after Christmas. (Secretly? I think she knows I may regret the Christmas Purge of 2010 and is going to hide the red and green tubs in the attic until I come to my senses.) (Or maybe she really does want that Precious Moments nativity set circa 1980.)

Continuing on, I kept eyeing and circling the Christmas tree box. Why, oh WHY, does that box upset me so much this holiday season?

And then I remembered.

I was always the appointed tree-put-er-upper in our house. But, during D's last Christmas I developed walking pneumonia and he volunteered to put the tree up. When I awoke from a three-hour nap, he had just finished fluffing every single branch. "I don't think these branches have been fluffed in years!" he commented. (Wrong. They had NEVER been fluffed.That was up to me and I am not a fluffer.) D, ever the engineer, also noted that the different lettered branches were not sorted out together in the box. In Mars, they apparently sort fake Christmas tree branches for fun. Who knew?

I also remembered that year was also the only time D also took the tree down. Loyal Sister and I had flown up to see Married Daughter, and we were taking a side trip to Branson, so D did tree take-down duty for me, too. Call me crazy, but something about knowing D was the last one to have been inside that box makes it very difficult for me to open it.

I finally plucked up the chutzpah tonight to open the box and peek inside. And? I immediately burst into laughter. You see, D had taken zip lines and bound all the same sized branches together for easy assembly. And then laid them in neat order inside the box.

Thinking about me until the end.

When I put the tree away this year, maybe I will sort and organize the branches so they'll be ready for Christmas next year.

You know: the year that will be easier than this year.

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

O Christmas Tree...Assemble Yourself

The plan for last Christmas, my first one without D, was to (A) leave town and (B) not decorate. At all.

The plan for this Christmas was amazingly the same. In fact, identically the same.

Until circumstances stepped in and I will no longer be visiting Married Daughter and Young Son-In-Law in Pennsylvania after all. They will be coming here!

Except that means putting up my tree. Yea for everything except for the tree. Drat on the tree.

I finally hauled the artificial tree's box home into the living room. It sat there for a week, and I gave it a swift kick every time I passed it. But, amazingly, it did not set itself up. I've tried, goodness knows: I'VE TRIED to put that tree up, but it is a no go. How can I be emotionally attached to a box full of artificial branches?

I finally hired a 20 something sweet friend to put up and decorate the tree. The plan is she will come while I'm away, set up the tree, and I will enter a house that is tree-filled. Done. But not by me.

Baby steps back to that place called "Normal" during the holidays.

Monday, December 6, 2010

A Long Winter's Nap

Among my friends, I am known as someone who is "(very) early to bed and (very) early to rise". I wake up without the alarm at 5 am each day, and go to bed hours before my peers, apparently. The other night I was talking to a friend at 9:30 pm. Her husband happened by and asked who she was talking to. When he learned it was me, he questioned, "WHAT is SHE doing up SO late?"

Anywhooo, I planned to take a personal day today because I have so many things I needed to take care of on weekdays between the hours of 8am-5pm. Which, coincidentally, are the same hours that I teach. So, I intended to make my customary predawn leap out of bed and totally eliminate the long to-do list on the kitchen counter. Maybe even have time left for a Starbucks run.

Good plan, except I ended up sleeping until noon today. NOON. May I type it again? NOON!!! Hear that loud thumping noise? I am fairly sure that my friends and adult children are falling over backwards throughout the nation.

I have not slept that late since the mid-1970s when I returned from a six-week European study abroad trip. When I am pretty sure I did not sleep a total of twelve hours. Total. You know: places to go, things to do, sixteen year-old European boys to meet. But WHY in the world would I sleep so long on my To-Do Day Off?

I can think of two possible reasons. One involves the five words that any teacher hates to hear on the Nightly News: "a new strain of flu". Symptoms? Sleepy, achy, dry coughing, runny nose and did I mention sleepy? Could that be me?

Or could it be The Other Reason, that involves oh-the-festive weekend I had? Friday night I helped host a table at my church's annual Christmas Women's Dinner. My co-host (and former fellow teacher) spent the night at my house because we also had a table at the annual Christmas Women's Brunch the next morning. And we may or may not have stayed up most of the night talking and catching up. The afternoon was spent getting the Christmas letter/cards out. The evening was spent with my date, Loyal Sister, at my grief class leadership dinner. (Oh, I live the fast life.) We later went to the Christmas Stroll on the Square in the quaint little town where the dinner was held, and arrived home pretty late. Sunday? Church, Sunday School, house cleaning and Family Group Christmas Dinner. Yes, rereading that list makes me understand why I may have been a wee bit tired today. Lots of fun things to do+ lots of energy expended + little sleep. Equation for The Tired today.

But guess what? With only half the time I expected to have, I totally finished the To-Do list. Woo Hoo!

I'm ending with pictures from my church's annual Women's Dinner/Brunch. We host a table for seven other women, decorating with our best Christmas finery. There are carols, fancy food, a great speaker, door prizes and fun. The event has grown so large, we have to hold it twice in one weekend to accommodate all the ladies who want to attend. Hope you enjoy the table settings. (Not sure why they lined up center/left, but you can click on the photos to enlarge them.)

Saturday, December 4, 2010

A Friend is a Stranger You Haven't Met

This Christmas season is harder than I ever imagined anything could be. The Novocaine of Early Grief has worn off, and things Merry and Jolly are blunt force objects. Every time I feel a subject for a post rising up in my mind, it sounds like a long and annoying whine. I have considered suspending this blog, even though the processing it has granted me has been extremely therapeutic. I just don't want to be an assault on the hearts and minds of others.

As I've been mulling that thought over for the past week, I've also prepared to be a hostess at a women's Christmas brunch this weekend at my church. (Overextended much?) The guest speaker was a sculptor who shared with unflinching and unapologetic honesty about her struggle with walking out the Christian life. When she finished her talk I made a mental note that keeping it real is not a bad thing after all. As that thought was beginning to head downward from my head to my heart, a lady tapped me on the shoulder. "You're R! I wanted to come meet you. I read your blog and I can't tell you how much it has helped me. You write things that I wish I could write. It is like you say it for me."

I was momentarily speechless. Hard for you to believe if you are a real life, not virtual, friend 'o mine. But I recovered enough to hug her and ask her how she found my blog. She mentioned a mutual friend who blogs here. This blogger is the very friend who inspired me to start posting; she's also the parent of a former student. (One of the best fishing holes for great and lifelong friends.)

So, shout out to Susan. Thanks for taking the time for a few kind and casual words to a stranger. You've encouraged me to continue on. And reminded me that it is OK to be real, even if the subject is not always jolly.