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To Resolve Or Not To Resolve….

Have you ever noticed on New Year’s Eve that social network sites are exploding with posts of people bemoaning what a horrible year 2012 was for them.  (I wonder if those people were all holding out hope that the Mayans were right.  Looking from the outside one would think the world exploding would have been a highlight for them.)  Those same people are looking forward to a “better year” in 2013.  At this time next year many of the same people will be posting the same things they are posting this year. One of these years has got to go well for them….right? I mean people are making New Year’s Resolutions today.  That ought to fix everything this year.  Maybe  not.

I don’t normally make resolutions.  Never have.  My natural-born tendency to feel like a failure doesn’t need any help thanks.  That doesn’t mean I don’t make lifestyle changes when needed.  For example: A few years ago I changed my diet and exercise habits and lost 50 pounds.  I wasn’t inspired by a new year however.  Nope.  It was my doctor using the words “cholesterol medication.” A new year may not motivate me to change but threaten to put me on any kind of drug and I’ll do whatever it takes.   That can happen at any time of the year but since this is New Year’s Eve and I’m in the resolution frame of mind…..here goes.

Popular New Year’s Resolutions I Won’t Be Making Because There Is No Way I Will Keep Them:

  1. Eat Healthier.    This one will get blown at about noon on New Year’s Day when our beloved Huskers play in the Capitol One Bowl and I serve super nachos.  If the game goes as I fear it will we will be in need of comfort food.
  2. Save Money.  Daughter graduating from high school and family moving to a different town. Odds of saving money this year?  Yeah.  Why set myself up for failure?
  3. Take A Trip.  See above.  Same reasons.
  4. Get Organized.  I already drive my poor family insane with my borderline OCD issues.  Can I possible nag them more about putting their stuff away? I’d like to not get voted off the island this year….
  5. Exercise More.  Please. I have enough trouble making myself do the amount I do now.  You want more? Ha!

 New Year’s Resolutions I Think I Can Keep:

  1. Get More Sleep.  Yep.  I can handle that one.
  2. Downsize. Since were shipping yet another child off to college and then moving the rest of the family I know this one is going to happen. It’s already started. (see OCD note above.)
  3. Get A New Job.  I’d better or living somewhere else is not going to be very fun.
  4. Try Something New.  See above resolutions.  New city, new job, new house….yeah.  That’d be the reason for #1.

And,  probably the most important resolution for me this year:

Beginning tomorrow I resolve to remember to write “2013” on all my checks.

Have a Safe and Happy New Year Everyone!!

resolutions

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Kids Quotes #15

Colorful-Speech-Bubbles-Vector

This morning as I procratinate  prepare to “undeck” our halls my mind is going over the fun things from this Christmas in our home. In the midst of my thinking it occurred to me that I haven’t posted a Kid’s Quotes for a while.  It isn’t that my kids haven’t been funny. It’s that I’ve been to busy “holly and jolly-ing”  to make note of them.  So before they are ever erased from my ever shrinking memory here we go:

Dropping off 10-year-old Jakob for his last day of school before holiday break last week I told him to have a wonderful day. “Mom. All we are going to do today is watch movies and sing. I could do that at home.”  He probably had a point but I made him go to school anyway.

That same evening, giddy from the prospect of having four days off, I was making pizza for the kids while listening to a “Glee” Christmas CD.  My girls were preparing frosting  and one of our oldest daughter’s friends was on his way to our house to help decorate cookies.  Suddenly the inspiration to sing along – badly – and throw in a few killer dance moves overtook me.  With a look of horror on her face,  our 18-year-old, Brittnie, looked at me and said, “Are you about done with that?”  What? She didn’t think her friend would enjoy a front row seat? Kill joy.

In a like fashion, Christmas Eve morning found me in the kitchen listening to my favorite Mannheim Steamroller CD when suddenly the need to perform an impromptu ballet overtook me. (What was in the peppermint flavored coffee anyway??) Wide eyed my children finally turned to their father. “Dad. Mom is losing it.  Make her stop.”  Their father, my ever loyal husband, replied with a grin, “Why?  I think it’s kind of sexy.”  (I love that man!!) After a chorus of “Ewwwwwws” 14-year-old Lyndsie piped up, “Really Dad? Must you make us all sick for Christmas??”  I love freaking my kids out.

Driving home for Christmas with my family last Sunday my kids were in rare form: hyper, cracking jokes and making each other laugh.  After a conversation between the youngest two I heard Jakob say, “I’m funny. I’ll be making Mom’s blog.”   Me: “Is that a goal in life?”  Lyndsie piped up: “No but you have to admit that was funny.” Me: “It was but I probably won’t remember what he said.” L: “Sure you will. You remember everything.”  Me: “I remember less and less every day.” J: “Don’t they sell pills to help that Mom?”  Smart Alec.

Because it was our final time to celebrate in this house during dinner on Christmas Eve my husband encouraged our kids to share some of their memories fromChristmases the past 14 years.  It was fun and one of my favorite memories shared came when our 21-year-old Erik started talking about how they would send Lyndsie down early in the morning (night?) to check out what Santa brought and report back to them.  Brittnie piped up: “Remember the year we got pets and she came upstairs all excited, ‘Britti! You got a FISH!'” (Lyndsie was probably three at the time.) E: “Yeah. Then remember she ran into my room, ‘Erik you got a RAT!’  I said, ‘A rat?’ and she said, “Well it’s alive and furry and running around and you got him!’ ” (It was a guinea pig for the record.) B: “Yeah and we were like, ‘Thanks for ruining Christmas Lyndsie!'”  Me: “Wait! You sent her down to spy and then got mad when she told you what you got? How does that work??”  E: “Well she was the quietest on the stairs.  We didn’t expect her to tell us everything.”  Me: “Serves you right.” B: “You’ll notice she isn’t the one we send down now!”  They send someone down?  I had no idea.

Christmas morning Jakob, who doesn’t believe in Santa any longer but still really likes presents, woke us all at 7:30.  I smiled at his bleary-eyed older siblings as we gathered in the living room.  Me: “You’ve been waking me up for years.  No grumbling.”  Brittnie: “We aren’t grumbling.  Besides in a couple of years he’ll figure out that the gifts will be the same gifts two hours later.”  Oh I hope not!

One of my favorite memories from this Christmas will be Erik sitting in the kitchen last Saturday while I was puttering about.  He kept pulling up videos of Timothy Hawkins a comedian he loves.  I don’t remember the last time I laughed that much.  I’m going to share two of my favorites:

If you watched that to the end, I am totally getting a t-shirt that says, “Jesus loves you but you are annoying.”  I’m going to wear it ever day at work for the next five months.

We now have “little helpers in the car” “little helpers in the kitchen”….you get the drift.

During Christmas breakfast Erik’s chair was in the direct sunlight reflecting off of the snow and streaming in the window.  He moved a little. Me: “I’m sorry you got the blinding chair.” E: “No worries Mom.  I can eat bacon blind.”

My husband, who is Superman, has a thing about filling the cars gas tanks when it is cold outside.  He thinks he should do it. While Brittnie was working he traded my vehicle for hers so he could fill her tank. Apparently she came out of work while he was gone because I got a text: “Am I supposed to drive the Escape? My car is gone!”  I texted back that her dad had it hang tight.  A little while later both my husband and daughter walked through the door. Me: “You found each other.” My Husband: “I found her all right. She started walking home.” Me: “What??” Brittnie: “Well the Escape was locked and I didn’t have keys so I didn’t know what else to do.”  (I might insert here that the doors have a key code.  Just saying.) I started laughing at her. B: “Well Daddy didn’t answer my text.” Me: “So you started walking?? It’s 5 degrees outside!” B: “I didn’t know what else to do!” MH: “Hmmm…how about walking back in the store and waiting. Or – hey – use your phone and call me.” From the other room Lyndsie interjected: “Wait! You can call on a cell phone??”  Me: “Apparently not everyone can.” B: “You people are all mean and you suck!”  From the other room, Jakob: “Maybe….but the rest of us aren’t freezing.”

While driving somewhere Canon in D came on the radio. Brittnie: “I don’t get why this is a Christmas song. It’s a wedding song.” Me: “Because they added words. You know ‘On this night, on this night, on this very Christmas night.” B: “Oh I know but it is still a better wedding song.” Me: “Wherever it’s played it’s beautiful.” Lyndsie continued to try to discuss whether it was better for Christmas or weddings when suddenly Brittnie says, “Shut your trap! It’s a beautiful song!”  We’ll work on a beautiful attitude later I guess.

That’s what Christmas was about for us this year: time together, love and a lot of laughter.  Perhaps that is why I’m busy procrastinating about packing the decorations away for our upcoming move.  I want to savor a little longer but the bubble wrap awaits….

photo credit: http:images.google.com

photo credit: http:images.google.com

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This Week’s Headlines #22

newspaper

In local news it snowed quite a bit yesterday and the pastor who owns the bobcat and usually clears the sidewalks  is on vacation.  The other pastor is home with the stomach flu.  That left the ever loyal secretary to clear the reeeaaallllly long sidewalks around the church of the lovely white stuff this morning.  I’m just thankful we contract our the parking lot.  At any rate:  my hands are killing me so if there are typos….please forgive me.  I am an old lady who isn’t in as great of shape as she had hoped.

In other news:

  1. “What Every Woman Should Know About Love By Age 30” – It doesn’t work like a Disney movie or romance novel.
  2. “Hamburgers In An Edible Wrapper” – Isn’t the wrapper technically already edible.  Beyond that – EW! Now I have to worry about the cleanliness of ALL the hands at the fast food place? And the surfaces…and the…..sorry. Germaphobe kicked in.
  3. “Most Searched Jeans” – The ones a chronic shoplifter is wearing? Just a guess.
  4. “Shoppers Disappoint Retailers This Holiday Season” – yeah…well…the feeling is kind of mutual.
  5. “The Truth Behind ‘As Seen On TV’ Items” – They are junk? Is this news really??
  6. “Celebrities Real Hair Color Revealed” – Ummm…..do they even remember? And – hey – if they have to tell then do I have to tell? Pass.
  7. “Don’t Die in 2013” – Good tip.  Thanks.
  8. “What Jessica  Simpson Won’t Do While Pregnant” – Hopefully prance around in clothes that are too tight but that’s too much to ask, isn’t it?
  9. “Which Actors Deserve Their Paychecks” – Does anyone truly deserve that kind of money? Really?
  10. “Eight Words Most Liars Use” – ‘No really I’m telling you that’s what happened.’ or ‘I swear that I’m telling you the truth.’
  11. “Space Tourism Facing Major Concerns” – Shooting just anyone off into space? Can’t imagine why that would cause concerns….
  12. “Edible Mosaic Portrait Of Kevin Bacon” – Bet I can guess what it’s made out of.  Again: some people have way too much time on their hands.
  13. “Why You Aren’t Getting Job Interviews” – I haven’t applied anywhere??
  14. “Bears Were Used In Test Flights” – Wonder how they taught them to steer the jets? ‘Yogi’s Flight School’….I like that.
  15. “Boomerang Kids vs Parents: How To Minimize Conflict” – Move before it comes back. Duh!
  16. “Sea Otters Victorious In Decades Long Struggle With US Government” – The government was struggling with sea otters? And lost? Figures.
  17. “Annual Bird Counts Give Scientists Climate Clues” – Someone actually counts the birds and gets paid?  I want that job!
  18. “Five Ways To Get Your Kids To Listen” – Speak louder. And get ‘the look’ on your face.  Works for me.
  19. “Is It Ever OK To Label Kids?” – Only if you want them returned to you….
  20. “Secrets Your Movie Theater Won’t Tell You” – It really doesn’t cost that much to make the popcorn.

And in honor of the “looming” fiscal cliff:

photo credit: googleimages.com

photo credit: googleimages.com

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Uphill….Both Ways…..

My father walked to school 4 o’clock every morning with no shoes on, uphill, both ways, in 5 feet of snow and he was thankful.  ~Bill Cosby

Driving home yesterday afternoon the radio DJ mentioned that his co-worker was sad because she had taken her family to the airport that morning.  About two minutes later he aired a phone call. “You should tell her to be thankful she doesn’t work in retail today because that is worse than saying goodbye to family.” the caller said.  I glanced at my radio.  Really?  What does one thing have to the other?  And when is it that people have decided that everything is a contest to see whose life sucks the most?  I understand encouraging people to keep things in perspective but, come on:  This is turning into a national sport.  We’ll call it “Hard Time One-Upping”. (HTOU for short)

I suppose I’ve always known people who have had it tougher, longer and handled it better than I have and aren’t shy about sharing their feelings.  I know more people who lived on less money and raised their children better and have survived more hard times than I ever could.  Just ask them.  Wait. You don’t have to ask them because they are happy to tell you their stories anytime you mention that something is frustrating you.  Or that you are having a hard time.  Or a bad day.  “A bad day??” They will scoff. “Well one time when I was your age I woke to discover that not only had the zombies taken over the planet they had stolen our car but I was THANKFUL that I had my family with me.  That was all I needed. We worked together to overthrow those zombies and the world is a better place because of it.  You over sleeping, having a flat tire and being late to work is nothing compared to that day. I survived the zombie apocalypse.”     Yeah. “Those” people.  Know any? Many of their sentences start with, “Well let me tell you about the time I……”

Probably the worst of the HTOU-ers I know are women.  Have you ever been around a bunch of older women who are talking with a lady who is pregnant for the first time?  Holy moly!  I never knew that giving birth could be that difficult and I’ve done it four times myself.  It’s like a bunch of chickens trying to out-cluck each other.  Don’t get me wrong. Labor and delivery is no fun but for pity sake!  I often want to look at some of these women and ask, “So….you had more children after that because….???”  I’ve also often wondered why in the world are we trying to scare the bejeebers out of this poor woman who is now pregnant and is going to go into labor one of these days?  Do they bring old veterans to military boot camp and have them expound on how scary it is to be shot at during a war?  Just shut up ladies.  She’ll find out.  HTOU women also have the worst husbands.  The most demanding kids.  The hardest house to clean.  The most pain.  They are sick more often than you. Their lives just stink and if you ever doubt it they’ll be happy to corner you for hours and let you know about it.  Something in their lives is worse than yours.  I will never forget when a few months after I had a miscarriage, a friend of mine also had one.  I called her one day to see how she was doing. She was very guarded at the beginning of the conversation.  After I talked to her for a while, without mentioning my own recent miscarriage, she said to me, “Thank you.  I was afraid you were calling to tell me how you got through it just fine.  I don’t understand why people do that. No offense but someone telling me that their grandmother died too doesn’t take away the pain of losing my own grandmother.”  She was right and her words have stuck with me for years.

I imagine the introduction on social media has not helped the HTOU situation at all.  I find myself sitting on my hands some days so that I will not comment on someone’s whiny post about having to get out of bed when they didn’t feel like it.  There are a few people I just want to slap upside the head most of the time.  Their lives are so difficult.  Well it would seem to be according to what they are posting.   To me it seems like they need to suck it up and grow up but to mention that in a comment would make me a HTOU – wouldn’t it??  I try really not to do that.  I remember my mother telling me one time, “What is a mountain to someone else may not even be a foothill to you but that doesn’t make it less of a mountain to that person.” She’s right.  Who am I to judge someone else’s mountain. Who am I to tell them my mountain has been bigger?  There’s a balance in there somewhere. The delicate balance between encouraging someone that they will make it through a hard time and throwing our own experience in their face.  We can help people keep things in perspective without skewing it with our own can’t we?  Somehow the scale has gotten tilted too far to one side.  Otherwise no one would feel the need to call a radio station to compare her irritation at working the day after Christmas to someone else’s sadness at saying goodbye to her family that day.  The two have nothing to do with each other.  We should probably learn to leave it that way.

oneupper

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The Holiday Hangover

It happens every December 26th: the holiday hangover.  No – not that kind of hangover. I’m talking about the “wow Christmas is over and I have to go back to work” hangover. The “really I have to get out of bed at a scheduled time?” hangover.  The “I can’t take a nap in the middle of the day” hangover.  The “they expect me to work and be productive?” hangover. Following me now? I woke up with a double dose this morning.  My hangover actually started kicking in last night.  My husband went back to work, I was tired and….well….the hangover started.  Fortunately my children saved me by suggesting we watch a movie.  That helped.  Until I started thinking about the fact that our oldest son was leaving this morning.  Yes I am my own worst enemy most of the time.  As hard as I try to concentrate on the good things I always have to take a tip-tow through the stuff I don’t like.  We had a wonderful weekend and Christmas together celebrating our final time in this house.  I savored it.  I enjoyed every minute.  I didn’t want it to end.  Enter hangover.

This morning as I drug myself to work I evaluated why it was that my mood had turned “south”.  Part of it is lack of solid sleep I believe.  Though I miss having our oldest son at home I cannot say that I am going to miss having his furry friend in our office/guest room.  The little hamster who chews.  On his metal water bottle.  All night.  Clang….Clang….clunk. Sigh.  Only a mother’s love kept me from relocating little Buck/Baxter/Buford/Beauregard (whatever his name is!) to the freezing garage.  Or encasing his cage in plastic.  I might have left an air hole.  Okay – no I wouldn’t have.  Noisy little rodent.  Those who have followed me for a while know of my deep love for all things rodent.  Obviously my love for my son is stronger.  Barely.  I don’t do well on less sleep than normal so waking to the sound of hamster for a few nights may be contributing to my hangover today.  Probably.

No less a contributing factor is that this may well be the deadest week of the year in our office.  I officially had all my work done for the week two hours after I arrived today.  Seriously.  The phone has yet to ring.  If my experience is an indicator it isn’t going to ring any time soon.  So here I sit.  In a quiet office with not much to do.  I’d rather be at home taking down Christmas decorations and doing all the laundry that I ignored this weekend.  I can’t start the end of the year things because…well…it isn’t the end of the year. So here I sit.  Hung over. I’m beginning to think we should have kept “Boxing Day” even after we won independence from Great Britain.  It’s brilliant really. Taking a holiday the day after a holiday. What were our forefathers thinking? My co-worker compared coming to work on the morning of  December 26th to the day after the zombie apocalypse.  Roads empty, lights off, halls desolate. Yeah.  Well at least I have company in my misery.  He’s stuck here too.

There are a few good things about a hangover however. The first is that I am not out with all the crazy people trying to snatch up after-Christmas bargains.  I just don’t have the patience or energy for that today.  Probably the most beneficial thing about hangover day is that at least I am not home where the leftover cookies are.  It’s easier to detox when you can’t see the object of your lust.  I’ve had enough junk food and sugar to last me until next Christmas.  Hey! That can’t be what is causing my hangover can it?  Nah…..

 

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Merry Christmas Blogging Friends

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I received this note and two cross stitched pictures from our oldest daughter (now eigthteen) last year.  I share it with you today as a reminder that it isn’t always about making sure that everything is “perfect” for your children for Christmas.  We never have. While our kids know beyond anything else that they are throughly loved, they have never gotten all the “best” gifts nor has our home ever been perfect. Our house is filled with love and laughter and the importance of spending time together.  Those are the things she remembers now. That’s what has made Christmas magical to her. I kept the note as a reminder for myself:  “magical” comes from the heart.

May your holiday be  “Magical” and filled all the things that make you happy: love, laughter and the ability to let not things be perfect.

Merry Christmas from our House to Yours!

merry-christmas____

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This Week’s Headlines #21

newspaper

To be honest I debated with myself for quite a while about posting my usual twist on news this week.  (Isn’t there some saying about talking to yourself being  okay as long as you don’t get into an argument?  Is a debate the same thing? Hmmmmm…..)  In light of the tragic headlines that have dominated the past week I wasn’t sure that my usual lighthearted mockery of news was appropriate.  Then I remembered my post for earlier this week and decided to go ahead. If you are offended by my posting of this I am truly sorry.  I mean no disrespect to anyone.  I just thought a smile midst the heavy news might not be a bad thing right now.

  1. “Funeral Home Reality Show Comes To Life” – Okay, first of all is there just something wrong with that sentence?  Second of all: a funeral home reality show???  EW!  Where does the madness end????
  2. “Man, 94, Uses Funeral Funds To Run For Office” – Well if it works out for him he’ll get a state funeral anyway.
  3. ” ‘Hunger Games’ Re-enacted In Gingerbread” – Some people have way too much time on their hands.
  4. “Why This Tequila Costs $90 A Shot” – I’m going to go with: Because someone is stupid enough to pay that much for it. (At that price the bottle should come with someone to drive you home, tuck you into bed and lay out a hangover cure for the morning for you.  Just saying…)
  5. “Lame Presents To Avoid” – People really need these lists?  Oh….wait….yes they do.  Never mind.
  6. “How Pepsi’s CEO Relaxes” – I’m going to guess that it isn’t with a Dr. Pepper.
  7. “Mind Controlled Robotic Arm Gets Closer Than Ever To Human Limb” – As long as they get it hooked to the right mind.  With my luck I’d get hooked to someone who doesn’t like me and end up slapping myself all day. Or you know….be taken over by aliens….
  8. “Worst Holiday Styles You Can Wear” – Someone under 70 needs to be told not to buy those Christmas sweaters?  Really?
  9. “Number 1 Reason You May Be Single” – Because you aren’t with anyone? Just a guess.
  10. “Bad Cold Weather Dates” – #1 – Scuba Diving…..
  11. “Airline With The Rudest Flight Attendants” – Like it matters if they are the only one with a flight to where you need to go?
  12. “How Not To Drive On Ice” – Ummm….fast?
  13. “A Remodel Mistake You Really Want To Avoid” – Not calling a contractor.
  14. “Woman Dies After Receiving Transplant Of Smoker’s Lungs” – Don’t they screen these people?!?
  15. “NASA Names Moon Crash Site In Honor Of Sally Ride” – Is that a ‘women drivers’ joke?
  16. “Escaped Prisoners Seen Fleeing In A Cab” – Wonder how they paid that fare? Did they cash out their jail accounts first?  If so should that have been a clue to what they were plotting??
  17. “Gift Ideas For Picky People” – Ummm….gift card?
  18. “Flirting Rules After 50” – You only need one rule: DON’T!
  19. “Doomsday ‘Preppers’ Prepare For Mayan Doomsday” – Bet they are feeling a bit sheepish now.  Oh the bright side  they don’t have to buy toilet paper or canned beans for a while.
  20. “Gifts She Doesn’t Want From Him” – Unless it has been specifically requested, if it plugs in and can be purchased in the housewares department…..

And in case you didn’t know….this just in:

headline10

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Christmas Traditions: Gifts From Kids

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As the last week of school winds down it finally occurred to me that I had better get the gifts my son intends to give to his teachers this year together so that he can get them to school. I’m a little slow some days.  You’d think after 16 years of buying presents for teachers I’d be more organized. It doesn’t help, perhaps, that my sweetheart of a youngest son isn’t satisfied to just take a gift for his classroom teacher.  He wants one for the teacher he has for science each day. And the music and physical education teachers. The principal.  The secretary.  The nurse. The para who is the crossing guard at the street he crosses every day. The custodian. The librarian. Lots of gifts.  And they need to be equal because he loves them all. His list has gotten longer every year.  I love that about him but it has presented a challenge to me.  Teacher’s gifts have always challenged me.  How many “World’s Best Teacher” ornaments do you suppose a teacher receives each year? A gift card seems rather impersonal to me. I like being thoughtful and original: thinking outside the traditional teacher gift box.  I’ve not been really good at it lately. It makes it harder when you have to think out of the box for 10 teachers who are equally loved. Luckily for me this year he had a very firm idea of what gift he wanted to give.  A few years ago we put together a gift of homemade cookies with a package of coffee or hot chocolate, depending on which the teacher preferred. Yes.  He knew which teachers drank coffee and which ones would like hot chocolate. Oh – and one tea drinker.  (That kind of scared me.) We adorned the packages with a cute simple ornament he helped me make.  Apparently  those gifts were a hit because he was determined that he was going to give the same gift this year.  It doesn’t feel really original to me but if it makes him happy I’m for it.  I have to wonder how many cookies teachers get too. Or candy.  Or other stuff they really don’t need or want. Or do they?

I taught children’s classes and children’s church for many years and have received quite a few gifts from students.  Several of them still have a special place in my house.  I think of the child from who it was received every time I see them.

This little fella sits by our computer:

kidgifts3

 

He originally came with a bag of candy attached to his hand.  I think I finally threw away the candy last year.  You can’t see it in this picture but his antler says “2007”.  I think of the little girl with big brown eyes, now in Junior High, who gave it to me that year.

One of my other animal/candy treasures sits on our phone stand:

kidgiftsjpg

 

He had candy canes attached to him of course.  Those got funky a little sooner than the other wrapped hard candy did. This was given to me the second year the same little girl was in my Wednesday night class.  So thoughtful.  So sweet. (Literally and figuratively.)  Sitting next to my peppermint bear is a candle holder made of cinnamon sticks given to me by a little girl in my 2-3 year old Sunday School class one year.  Her mommy made a whole bunch of them and she told me, “I helped her a lot!”  I’m quite sure she did.

Because I teach classes in a church I, of course, have gotten faith themed gifts.  This little cutie sits on our piano:

kidgifts5

 

I love it.  It was also a gift from a little girl in one of my Wednesday night 1st and 2nd grade girls’ classes.   She was as joyful as the gift she gave me and I think of her every time I look at this little statue.

Sometimes you get things that are festive but useful:

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This pot holder has a matching oven mitt.  I decided they were to pretty to actually mess up with use so they hang in my kitchen as decorations.  Every time I unpack them I think of the family of children who gave them to me.  The same family who gave me the snowman cookie jar that sits on my counter all winter long.  Those kids are all in junior high and high school now too but I still have lunch with their mother on occasion so I keep up on what they are doing.  It doesn’t seem possible that those little beaming blond children who excitedly waited for me to open their gift are now teenagers.

Over the years I have gotten my fair share of colored pictures, layer jar cookie and soup mixes, and bags and boxes of candy. All given in love and all much appreciated.  One year a little girl gave me a pack of gum with half the pieces missing.  I still remember that gift because I was so touched by it.  She wanted to give a gift so she used what she had available and gave me something that was hers.  I savored that gum.

I guess the more I think about it,  it doesn’t really matter how original or unique the gifts that  my son gives to his teachers are. What matters is that he is giving them from his heart.  I know that was all that mattered to me.

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Today’s Mug Story:

Sticking to my theme today, these guys were given to me by a little girl in my Wednesday night class shortly after I first started teaching it.

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She was a beautiful little girl with big brown eyes and long dark hair who had a pretty rough home life.  She was actually in my class for three years:  Kindergarten through second grade.  Around Christmas time the third year she was in my class she came in with her eyes sparkling more than usual and asked me, “Mrs. Paula, you like coffee mugs don’t you?” (She might have picked that up from the fact that I constantly carried one around.)  “Yes I do.” I replied.  She smiled, “That’s great.  I think coffee mugs are cool too.”

The next week she came to class and asked, “Mrs. Paula, what do you think about snowmen?  I think snowmen are really cute.”  I happen to love snowmen so I said to her, “Snowmen are some of my favorite people.”  She smiled again.

Week three as class started she asked, “Mrs. Paula you like bears don’t you?”  She knew I had a teddy bear sitting on my desk in the church office.  She may have also noticed that many of our coloring pages and crafts included teddy bears.  “I love teddy bears.” I told her. “I used to collect them.”  She grinned. “So like a mug with a snowman and a bear on it would be something you really liked, huh?”  Catching on to where she was going I said, “Oh my yes.  I can’t think of anything better.”

The next week she showed up with a gift, wrapped in re-used tissue paper for me.  As she beamed I opened the present and found these mugs in a box, still with their dollar store tags on them.  “Oh I love them!” I told her as I hugged her.  “I knew you would.” She told me. “I did chores for my neighbor lady so I could earn the money for them.  You are my favorite teacher ever!”

I still get tears in my eyes when I think about that night.  That sweet little girl is now in high school and has had a pretty hard life thus far.  Though she no longer attends church she is my friend on Facebook.  She still tells me I was her favorite teacher. Every Christmas I  as I get out her mugs and think about her and her sacrifice of love that year.  Then I send her a message on Facebook to tell her that I love her.

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We Cannot Let It Win

sandy-hook-elementaryYou may have noticed that I have ‘t posted a blog since last Friday.  Haven’t had the desire.  There seemed to be no words to say that were appropriate and it seemed disrespectful to go about blogging in my usual twisted and usually silly mode. I wasn’t feeling very silly.  I was feeling, like most people I know, shocked and saddened. Brokenhearted. Heavy.  Defeated.  In fact I contemplated removing my post from Friday.  Although I posted it before the shooting rampage began Friday morning I still felt like perhaps it was inappropriate to have it posted when such a horrific event was unfolding.  I decided to leave it alone. It reminded me that there is no way anyone can know something like that is about to happen.  No way to foresee it or prepare for it.  Life is fleeting.  We only have the moment we are in right now for certain.  Things can change in an instant.

I’ve spent the last few days struggling to wrap my brain around what happened.  I’ve decided that there is no way to wrap your brain around it.  There is no answer to the “why” questions.  There is no making sense out of a senseless act.  There is no way to figure out something that is as purely evil as someone walking into an elementary school, or any other place for that matter, and opening fire on innocent people.  I can’t comprehend that kind of evil. I hope I never do.  I have concluded only one thing: I’m not going to let the evil win.

Over the weekend though I couldn’t stand to watch too much coverage I did watch several posts and debates unfold on Facebook.  Religious debates.  Gun control debates. Mental health debates.  None of the questions are bad to ask.  There is nothing wrong with seeking some answers. What disturbed me was the vitriol that each side of each issue, clearly believing they were correct, was throwing at each other.  The anger at each other instead of the anger at the act.  The hatred shown to anyone who disagreed with the posters opinion.  I am all for debate and questions until they turn to anger and hatred.  While I’m angry at the evil that occurred on Friday morning – the evil – the act – I am unwilling to let it make me angry and hateful to others simply because they don’t agree with me.  While becoming angry that something occurred is normal letting it take root in my life and spewing it out upon others is not. If I let that happen then the evil is winning isn’t it?

Yesterday as I drove our youngest son to his elementary school I was hit with a kind of surreal feeling.  I noticed other kids walking down the sidewalk to the school and thought about the children who innocently walked into Sandy Hook Elementary last Friday morning.  Some dragging. Some skipping.  All counting days until the upcoming holiday break. As I hugged my son a little longer than usual and kissed him goodbye, twice, while telling him how much I love him, twice, I felt something close to panic.  If something like that could happen in a nice community in Connecticut it can surely happen in a nice community in Nebraska.  In that instant I realized that I was letting fear take over.  While I am a true believer in being diligent to do the things I know to do to protect them I cannot smother my children because I am afraid of what “could” happen.  If  I begin to live in worry, panic and fear over the safety of my children then evil has won.

School resumed in all of the other schools in Newton today.  Many families felt that it was time to get things as back to “normal” as they can.  To begin taking steps toward the future.  To begin to start healing.   So while today my heart is still broken for the community,  specifically the families of the victims and all the people who survived Friday’s attack, I am determined to shake off the heavy feeling that I’ve had for several days.  While I grieve with and pray for those dealing with the shock and aftermath of this tragedy I must not let it take away my hope for the future.  To let the weight of the evil bog me down. To let it make me jaded and  unable to trust people. If it does then the evil has won.  And though it may sometimes feel like evil is winning the battle,  I have enough faith to know:

Evil will not win the war.

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If you, like I, feel like there should be something you should do to express your support and thoughts to the people of Newton,  the Newton Post Office has set up a special  box to receive condolences.  Click here for the details.

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This Week’s Headlines – #20

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Wow!  This is headline post number 20? To think I have been annoying  fascinating everyone with my take on trending news every Friday for almost five months is really quite scary impressive.  Actually those of you who put up with me are impressive.  It isn’t everyone who can put up with my twisted angle for that long.  Therefore I present you all with the FABULOUS FOLLOWERS award:

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Don’t worry. I’m not going to make you do anything to accept it.   I just want you to know that you are appreciated. And hey – everyone needs to be given a shiny gold man statue at least once in their lives. Thank you for not un-following me in month one! (Besides that there were all sorts of award nominations this week and I’m in an award kind of mood.)

On to the news:

  1. “What Your Taxes Will Be” – Too high.
  2. “Most Common Passwords” – Well they will be now….
  3. “Frappuccino Makers Slams Starbucks” – Talk about biting the hand that feeds you.
  4. “Performance Leaves Swift Embarrassed” – It’s about time.
  5. “Frightened Burglar Calls 911 On Homeowner” – Perhaps he should look into a different ‘profession’.  Just a thought.
  6. “Pizza Hut Creates A Limited Edition Perfume” – Eau de Pepperoni?  Perfect.  If you are trying to attract a couch potato.
  7. “Prisoner Gets Stuck Trying To Break Out Of Jail” – Probably should have spent a little more time in the exercise room first.  You’d think all that digging would slim you down.
  8. “Customers Called ‘Fat’ On Restaurant Bill” – A little rude but better than ‘ugly’ or ‘annoying’.
  9. “Police Can’t Identify Man Who Fell From The Sky” – I wonder why….
  10. “Washington State Bar Owner Tells Pot Smokers To Light Up” – Must have just started a new appetizer menu.
  11. “Loaded Pistol Found In Package Of Frozen Meat” – The ‘experts’ are right.  What is in our food should scare us.
  12. “You’re Too Old To Wear That” – Seems to me this would serve better as a large sign to flash at people rather than a news headline.  You know the ones who need to aren’t going to read it.
  13. “Burglary Suspect Escapes In Police Car” – They put a thief in a car with the keys in it??  EPIC FAIL!
  14. “How To Avoid Getting Sick” – Don’t breathe?  Wait….
  15. “Love’s Uncertain Future” – I know this is about a basketball player but does this sound like the title to a really bad romance novel to anyone else?
  16. “Coffee From Elephant Dung” – Did the elephant eat some coffee beans or is this some new scientific discovery in mutating objects?  Either way – count me out!
  17. “Casket Offers Unusual Perk” – Because the person in it is so interested in perks?  Are they serious? What possible perk can a casket have?  Air conditioning?
  18. “Is This Two-wheeler The Car Of The Future?” – Ummm….pretty sure it’s the motorcycle of the present.
  19. “From Last In Her Class To TV Star” – That sounds about right. Particularly if she’s a ‘reality’ tv star.
  20. “Woman Stunned With Taser Over iPhone” – There really is an app for everything!

And in honor of “premiere mania” sweeping the land last night/this morning:

  •  “What You Need To Know About ‘The Hobbit’ ” – Here’s a thought: try reading the book.  Then you’ll know        everything ever written about it.

Some days are obviously slow news days…..

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