I am SO not in a summer reading club. I used to love love love reading, but I’ve found it to be hard work the last couple of summers. Is it all the digital nonsense, the suck-you-in, immediate feedback nonsense that has taken over my brain? I don’t know. I feel dumber. I feel less focused. As I sit here typing, I am struggling not to look up the lipstick I want to buy whose name I can’t remember or to check if it’s going to be cloudy tonight because I want to look at the stars (and use my new sky guide app that I downloaded this afternoon). The popcorn that is my brain.
I bought a new book awhile back because it had a pretty cover. I finally made some time to read it, and I hated it. That was a bummer. And, when going through my to-be-read stack on my nightstand, I realized I have started about 4 books in the last year. Started, not finished.
Is it a brain crisis? Am I bored? Am I distracted? Am I really dumbing down? The BEST things I’ve read lately I have finished. Last summer, I read All the Light We Cannot See by Anthony Doerr. I couldn’t put it down. I had to stop and breathe and eat between chapters, though. Because it was challenging reading. I have also done a few bible study books with my bible study friends … I am finishing up The Armor of God by Priscilla Shirer right now. It’s amazing reading. And a few summers ago I chugged down Nobody’s Cuter than You by Melanie Shankle. I’m anxiously awaiting her next book. And I have LOST my copy of Sophie Hudson’s Giddyup Eunice! It’s gotta show up. I took it with me on a road trip. It better not be in a hotel somewhere between here and Boone, North Carolina. There is neither rhyme nor reason to this litany of my book issues. I almost feel like it’s a reflection of my muddled mind. It’s been quite scattered in the last year or so!
Last summer I DID scarf down Francine Rivers’ collection of five stories about women of the Bible called A Lineage of Grace. A sweet friend loaned me her copy, and I think I read it through her eyes somehow. She had written some notes in it as she read it, and it made it somehow better than it could have been without those notes. My friend was a wonderfully strong woman of faith. She battled cancer for years. But if you asked her how she was doing, she wouldn’t talk about it long, and she’d direct the conversation to something else, like books. Which is how I read her book last summer. She wanted me to read it because she knew I’d love it. She passed away before the New Year, and I’ve been itching to read A Lineage of Grace one more time. My bible study friends and I bought copies of it to read this summer. So I started reading it today. Hoping for more success in my reading than I described in the first couple of (boring) paragraphs.
What are you reading this summer?
Wowee. Today I was thinking of my day, and it kind of wrote itself in my head. I really don’t know why I’m so slow to share!
It’s the crazy time of the year at school. Because we are an alternative school where students work at their own pace, students can graduate at any time! Last Friday, we had three students finish all coursework and graduate! Today … two young men decided they need to be done with English IV. They expected full and complete attention from their English teacher. And there are the new students who have come to our school because they are realizing that they need a different kind of school. For various reasons, they are way behind in their classes, and need to figure out how to escape an academic nosedive! And some of them need extra attention as they settle in to doing work ‘at their own pace.’ So there are the graduating kiddos who are reaching their goals, and the students who are just now getting serious about making graduation goals. And it’s a BUNCH!!!
My favorite part of my day was texts from friends. Even when it’s hard stuff … it reminds me how we get through this life. We need each other. My wackiest part of the day was waving at someone I thought I recognized and saying, “HEY! How have YOU BEEN!!??” And then realizing we didn’t know each other. Then the look on her face trying to place me, followed by her reading my face that I didn’t know her either. Wacky awkward turtle moment. The worst part of my day involved an exchange with someone at work who has some classroom management theories that completely clash with mine. Love this person, but don’t love the frustration this situation brings.
It’s April, it’s Spring! My lilac bushes are flourishing! The amaryllis are about to bloom! And we are anticipating a hard freeze tonight. Yuck! Gotta get those flowers covered up. We are making the most out of an unexpected cold snap. The fireplace gets one more go round, and there’s chili on the stove. See ya later!
It’s almost cold enough to use the fireplace tonight. So we might just do it. It is definitely cold enough for a bowl of chili. That happens to be my husband’s specialty, so guess who isn’t cooking this evening? Instead of taking the evening off, I decided to clean out the hall closet. The hall closet is home to every coat, vest, and scarf that I own. The shelves are where I stash gifts throughout the year. But the floor. There is no easy way to describe the floor. Gift wrap, gift boxes, bubble wrap mailers, kitchen table leaves, a humidifier, puzzles, a trick-or-treat bucket (my youngest child is 19, so I have no clue on this one), a dozen confetti eggs that we couldn’t find last Easter, and the list goes on.
ABOUT THE COATS. I opened the hall closet with every intention of clearing out some space. But each one passed the ‘have I worn it in the last year?’ test. I carry the same purse day after day, but I guess you could call me a coat girl. Each one is now neatly rehung. I couldn’t part with the old denim duster that dates back to 1991. It isn’t the latest style, but I will heart denim til I die. The newest jacket, a mustard anorak from Target, was a necessary purchase when I found myself needing something neutral (no black, red, or orange) for the Texas vs. Tech game in Lubbock Saturday night. And even though I will not wear orange (EVER!) to a ballgame, I will not hide the fact that the Texas victory made this Aggie do a little dance.
Fast forward one hour. Fire blazing in the fireplace, delicious chili, and an organized closet. Now for another football game where I’m neutral. Except I really am this time.
If confession is the road to healing, forgiveness is the promised land … Lately when I’m thinking about what to write, whatever song is my theme song of the moment seems to end up in my post! This is an old DC Talk song that’s been floating around in my head because guilt is mounting about not being ready for school to start ! Can you hear the clock ticking, or is that in my head too? I’m going to need a pile of forgiveness if I don’t stop avoiding the summer schoolwork that must be done, namely preparing curriculum! The coursework must be aligned (in specific order) according to the Texas Essential Knowledge and Skills (yada yada, for anyone who isn’t teaching school), and it’s kind of new territory for me. Fear of this particular job has me hiding in fake housework, like cleaning out drawers in my son’s bathroom and ironing things I don’t intend to wear any time soon. I cleaned the kitchen three times yesterday. But attack the curriculum, I must. It has to be done in the next three weeks or TRAINWRECK. And it has to be done well for my awesome students. One week from today, teachers in my town will be back at work! And in less than three weeks, we start a new school year. So I’m not going out into the yard to pull weeds right now, I’m not. And the hall closet that needs organizing is not going to get me off track either. Here’s to a shiny new curriculum for a shiny new school year!
Disclaimer: the DC Talk song has nothing to do with school, but I included the link so that you too can get it stuck inside your head!
For time is a river rolling into nowhere. We must live while we can… (There’s a little Steve Winwood for ya!)
I took a trip to the cattle sale with my Dad yesterday. Living for the now is something we don’t always get to do. But I’m a teacher, and it’s summer! And even my busiest summers afford me some time to ‘do what I want’, to live for the now. I’m so glad it occurred to me to hop into Dad’s old white Chevy pickup with him and ride over to Clovis, NM to the sale.
I loved watching my dad at the sale. I loved reliving some very old memories of going to the sale barn as a little girl. I loved watching all the cattlemen interact and kid with each other. I loved how everyone seemed to know my Dad’s name.
It’s about an hour’s drive to Clovis, which means I got Dad to myself for an hour each way. You can’t put a value on that kind of time. We talked about everything and nothing. Like, where should we get lunch? Do you remember that time we went to the sale in Waco when I was 5? And ‘how do you not know what a hundred weight is? Everyone should know that.’ We talked about my school, and his cattle buying business. And we figured out where to eat our late lunch. Amy D’s Diner in Texico, NM. Excellent decision. He had the chopped steak plate, and I had a cheeseburger and fries. If you’re ever crossing the state line at Texico, NM, I recommend you make the same decision!
Yesterday I helped administer the STAAR test for English II students. So many thoughts crossed my mind as I “actively monitored” students working hard on a test that they must pass in order to graduate. I thought about my students, scattered in different rooms at the high school. Were they using their dictionaries and ‘lucky’ highlighters? Were they stumped or inspired by the essay prompt? Were they writing the best thesis they could come up with, and proving that thesis with excellent examples? Or were they discouraged, tired, distracted by something that happened at home or on the way to school? Were they hungry because they missed breakfast? Were they remembering the hints and helps that we’ve repeated in class? I walked through the halls during my break, hoping to catch a glimpse of one or two of them, praying for all of them. Lord, please let them think and be creative and intuitive. Please let them have the stamina to complete the test in a strong way. Please let them be smarter than usual! ha!
In the quiet time that we test administrators experience while monitoring the Big Test, we have plenty of time to think about what we wish we’d taught differently. We have time to worry about the students who have been missing from class, yet show up for the Big Test.
I had time to reminisce about the days when my own sons were testing. Testing days always meant breakfast. Pancakes or oatmeal, or something else that was hot and ‘stick-to-your-ribs’. No Pop Tarts or granola bars on testing days. The last time one of my sons tested, I’m pretty sure we went to McDonald’s for breakfast. But, hey, he had breakfast! How I miss those boys and their high school days. I miss the friends who came over when I baked cookies. I miss their company, I miss their presence. I have the same thoughts about them, as they are out in the world learning about life – the real test. And I find my thoughts and prayers much like the ones I have for my students today. Did I prepare them? What would I do differently? And Lord, please let them have the desire and the stamina be all you have in mind for them to be.
I sit here, in the comfy green chair, sipping coffee and reading this and that like I have nothing at all to do today! Today is the last day of Matt’s childhood. It is. We pack him up today. When we walk out the door, he will be a college student, and Aggie, a member of the Fightin Class of 2017, a member or the Corps of Cadets. Life is changing. As much as I’ve worried, planned, advised, hoped, prayed … it’s his job now to go out there and do it. And he will. And what will my job be? All I ever wanted to do in my life was be a mom. Seriously! Now quit rolling your eyes and give me some support here. I truly wanted to be my kids’ mom more than any other job in my life. Yes, I am still the mom, after tomorrow. I know! But it’ll be a different dynamic, and I guess I’m going to have to figure out how this next phase of life is going to work!
I don’t want to cry and dwell on it. My mom and my friends who have grown children have all very sweetly pointed out that this is what our goal is – making good adults who will go out and have good, happy lives! And before you ask, NO, I don’t want Matt living here playing video games all his life. But I’m just not ready! I’m not!
So I’m going to sit here in this big comfy green chair for 5 more minutes. I’m going to chug down the last of my coffee. I’m going to breathe deeply. I’m gonna smile and pack and get happy about my handsome boy who is probably more worried about this than he lets on. I’m gonna love on that boy today, laugh with him, and get ready to send him on the biggest adventure he’s had yet. Gig em.
I know why mommas of boys going off to college make lists and work on their calendars! Duh! It is so that they have something to do while their big kid continues to sleep late and act like boxes will pack themselves, textbooks will reserve themselves, and everyone will make it down to the Big School with their parking permits.
Please please don’t think Matt’s totally slacking off this summer … he has spurts of mowing and edging, washing cars, and feeding/exercising dogs! But strangely, there’s usually a paycheck attached to those spurts.
If I stopped NOW, and let the chips fall, so to speak, Matt would still get to college and probably have the exact same transition experience! Maybe this is part of my transition. Sticky notes, lists, hotel reservations … this is where I shine. I’ll just keep on doing my mom thing until all of the sudden it is clear that my time has passed, and I’m an empty nester.
Now! Off to Target, Academy, and wherever else is on our list today so that somebody can start packing!
MATT and his momma at his New Student Conference in July
Sure wish I could give the originator of this photo a shout-out. I came across it online sometime last spring and saved it to hang on the wall in my classrooms. I do that a lot – when an encouraging saying brightens my day or strikes me as helpful for my kiddos, I save it and use it to decorate the room and hopefully help someone along the way!
It’s been a ‘not good’ week for me, if I were to judge it by what I didn’t get done or how bad I’ve felt! But I’ve caught up on some correspondence, a LOT of t.v., and a lot of sleep. (oh yes – I have to mention the utter BLESSING of homemade banana pudding . our neighbor brought it by, and she did not even know I had tooth issues!) And I’ve had the two guys I live with treating me with such kindness. I have to be thankful for that!
And the Scruff, who wanted to be laying by my side while I was laying around in pain, and while I was subsequently doped up on pain meds that somewhat dulled the flaring nerve in my upper right back tooth. Back to Matt – he has brought my medicine, a drink, a bowl of ice cream whenever I holler his name. And the kisses on my forehead and the hugs … well, those are healing medicine! Last week, it was my turn to take care of him, after he had his four humongous wisdom teeth dug out of his mouth. He was a chipmunk in pain for a few days, bless his heart! And I guess his pain is fresh enough to have some genuine empathy for his momma.
Good news is that I had a root canal yesterday! Oh my my – you KNOW it was remarkable pain if I am happy about a root canal! I am somewhat ‘back to normal’ today! Normal enough to do some laundry and boss Matt around a bit. That boy leaves for college in about 10 days. NOT to be wasted!
(Did I mention I’ve lost 3 pounds!? Thought that was worth mentioning!)
Some days it is just so clear to me that God speaks my language. A couple of days ago, it was just a BAD DAY. Sometimes the struggles we face all come to a head on the very same day, and it is almost too much! It was one of those kind of days. Additionally, we were preparing for Matt’s wisdom teeth to be removed, and the local pharmacy didn’t have one of the medicines he was prescribed. So in the middle of ‘too much’, I had to drive thirty miles to Canyon (the big city) and pick up those pills. My sweet husband drove with me, and we talked, and I cried a little. But this little break in the day turned out to be prescribed by God, I’m pretty sure. I told Myron I was feeling like I couldn’t even pray … do you ever feel that way? Anyway, the drive was a chance to breathe, and in the middle of a rainy day, we were treated to a truly glorious scene of sunbeams shooting out of a pile of cumulous clouds. It was a picture of heaven, the kind of sunlight through clouds that always makes me think of God. And as we neared Hereford, there was a partial rainbow in the sky, right where we picked up our other car to head on home. But wait! The hopeful messages kept coming. As I pulled into our garage, a song began to play on the radio. It’s a song by one of Matt’s old favorite groups, Sanctus Real, and it was one that I had never heard before. It was just what the Doctor ordered, and it fixed my soul. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zrQHNQ0hwQE
And then yesterday morning, there were some black and white messages from God. I’ve been working through Proverbs, slowly but surely. Each chapter, I try to choose a couple of verses that I really want to hang onto. So, in Chapter 15, while I was waiting as Matt’s massive, monstrous wisdom teeth were pulled (excavated), I found several specific verses that will truly hold my hand as I work through the yuckier parts of life! God did that. He knew what book I’m reading, and what I’d need to read. Isn’t that awesome? He speaks our language, whether it’s a song on the radio, a text from a friend, or a verse in the Bible … He knows where you are likely to find him, and He puts Himself in plain view. So thankful that He is personal that way.
How can we be hopeless when He is near!?! Here’s one of those special notes I read yesterday: For the despondent, every day brings trouble; for the happy heart, life is a continual feast. Proverbs 15:15