Sunday, December 17, 2006

Anticipation for Sunday Scribblings

Anticipation - that feeling inside, much like suspense, that makes the tummy fluttery. Anxious? Patient? Experiencing dread? Experiencing nervousness? Experiencing all the possibilities, good or bad? All anticipation.

Take, for instance, a dinner date. It's not a regular dinner date. He orders wine. We're dressed in our Sunday best. We're at a pricey restaurant that we both love, soft music playing in the background. The conversation is lively. He appears a bit giddy and nervous. It's as if we are alone is this crowded room basking in each other's glow. This is no ordinary dinner.

Is he going to ask me to marry him tonight? It can't be. Frankly, I haven't been expecting this to happen, though I am elated at the thought. It's a feeling deep in my soul that tells me tonight is the night. Now I tell myself: Act surprised when he proposes!

So many questions run through my mind. Will he have a ring? Will I like it? When will he want to have the wedding? What kind? Who will be invited? What will we wear? How will we all (blending two families) adjust to each other? How do I know that's what's going on here? Could I be wrong? No. Women's intuition. I know, but the suspense is killing me!

A glass of wine, a salad, bread, Italian entrees, more wine. I know in my soul this is it. The anticipation makes it so much better, more exciting. The heart is thumping loudly when he says my name with a particular tone of love and seriousness. He asks. Of course, I say yes! We're not school kids anymore, but the anticipation of this was more meaningful the second time around. Words do not do justice to the thrill of it all.

Tuesday, December 12, 2006

In the Last Hour

This is the Sunday Scribblings topic from over a week ago, but I didn't know then if I could write what I want to write or not. I'm still not sure if I can make it through it.

In the last hour of my father's life... The hour just before death stole him from me... I didn't even see him. I was at a little league football game with my son and daughter. I saw neighbors of my parents walking around the field area who aren't normally there, but I didn't think anything of it. I found out too late.

His last hour on this earth was spent in service to others. I so admire him. He was at a refresher class for CPR. They were learning to do the Heimlich as part of the class, and he had asked someone to demonstrate on him so he would know that he was doing it correctly. That may have contributed to his death as he had bleeding in his stomach when he was in the hospital. The hospital staff was never able to completely revive him. He was on machines keeping his heart pumping and his lungs breathing. He had come home from the class and collapsed in the bathroom. My mom was there alone and had just had knee surgery. She tried to get to him, but physically, she couldn't do anything. She had to call for neighbor's help and dial 911. I still wonder if she had been a little braver and less concerned about re-injuring her knee and tried to revive him herself if he would have lived. Probably not, but I wonder. He had suffered a type of brain aneurysm/stroke. They called it a sub arachnoid hematoma, or something like that. He was only 69.

The last hour with him.... No, the last hours. I can't forget all the wires and tests and so many friends who showed up at the hospital. I remember arriving at the hospital and asking, "Is Daddy awake yet?" When they told me no, I cried and asked, "Why not?" No one could really explain it. I didn't understand. I had no idea how serious things were. He was supposed to live to be 98 like his father before him! When would he wake up and get well?

He was transferred by life-flight to a better hospital in the medical center. They ran their own tests and told us there was nothing they could do. There had been too much blood on the brain. Even if he could breathe on his own, and even if his heart would pump, there was no activity in the brain.

The last hour... I held his hand and tears streamed down my cheeks as they disconnected the machines. I wanted him to start breathing on his own. I prayed for it! I hoped against hope! I remember crying, "No daddy, don't go!" And his heart blipped a little faster. Then it began to slow, and I kept hanging on to his hand. I couldn't let go. I still can't. Finally, it stopped. I will never forget that silence. That was the saddest day of my life. I miss you so much, daddy, and I love you so much. And I can't wait to see you in Heaven. But for the rest of my life here on earth, I will always remember holding your hand and holding hope until it was wrestled away from me.

My children loved him dearly. I so looked forward to them growing up with him as their Papaw. He was already a huge part of their lives. He was Mr. Fix-it, and Mr. Ride-a-little-horsy, and Mr. You-look-away-while-I-steal-your-jello. That's probably what makes me the saddest, that my kids were only 8 when they lost him. He was such an awesome grandfather. And he was a rock of strength for me through hard times. He was going to be everything to them that their father wasn't.

Dad, I'm so lucky to have had you as a father. You are the finest man I'll ever know, the most decent, the best influence in my life, taken too soon. I love you. Please come back.

Punishment and Reward (Sunday Scribblings)

It's Tuesday, so sue me. The title is Sunday scribblings. At least I am here now.

Like some of you other writers, I'm a teacher, so punishment and reward is a much-discussed topic, but teaching is only my career, not my life or a definition of me. Why am I here? That's the $64,000 question we all ask at one time or another. My answer is... to please God. He made us. He wants us to enjoy life. He wants us to live in joy and to spread joy and to worship Him who created us.

So you are probably asking what does this have to do with punishment and reward? I guess I am looking at it from an eternal standpoint. I think there is plenty of evidence of Godly punishment in the Bible as well as in times not so long ago. But I don't believe He takes pleasure in punishment. As a parent, sometimes I just have to say to the kids, "enough is enough!" I believe that God gets to that point, too. And sometimes what we consider "punishment" is actually discipline used to teach and reinforce a lesson. Admittedly, punishment does exist, and it should, both in the here-and-now as well as in eternity.

Then, there is the reward. When I do what I can to bless others, that blessing comes back to me ten-fold. I believe that with all my heart. It may be something simple as smiling at someone when I'm walking down the hallway, letting someone go before me in a line, not cutting off that car trying to get on the freeway, or giving a quarter to a student who doesn't have enough money for lunch. It may be as elaborate as donating money and toys for various charities that help the needy or delivering gifts to a family in need. It may even be so elaborate as to attend a benefit for charity, tithe at church, or donate a kidney to a relative in need. The movie "Pay it Forward" is an example of something coming back to you ten-fold (or more). I believe in the philosophy that if you serve others, if you help others, if you are kind and generous, you will receive your own blessings, have reason to feel good about yourself, not to mention the heavenly reward we will receive.

To some, that may seem like it will never happen. Some may say, "Oh, I'll worry about that another day." Others may scoff at the idea of a life after death, especially a life NOT as we know it, one that words cannot describe. But I believe that it is my reward waiting for me for a life well-lived. I believe others may "punish" me for my beliefs, but that will mean nothing once the reward is received.

Sunday, November 26, 2006

Nemesis (for Sunday Scribblings)

You know that person... the one you would jaywalk across a busy street to avoid? As I think about those people - yes - plural - people - in my life that I have considered my nemesis, I feel guilty, although I can picture them in my mind.

There was a particular "young lady" from elementary school with short, dark hair and fiery green eyes who attacked me on the school bus on the way home one afternoon for no reason apparent to anyone but herself. Her name sticks with me still, and woe to the person I meet now with that name.

There are the ones from middle school who seemed to have everything I wanted and couldn't have; who lived in fancy, 2-story homes; whose parents were "normal" and well-dressed; mannered, cultured even; with more money and more possessions. Those people who belittled others, perhaps myself, because they had more. Popularity came naturally to them, and boys were attracted to them as well. They had the best clothes, the best smiles, the best parents, the best friends, the best parties, the best of everything. They were the ones I tried to emulate and failed miserably to do so.

Then, high school came and went, and with it, its fair share of people who I considered a nemesis. Again, the jealousy factor. They all had something (or someone) that I couldn't have. The perky cheerleader with the sexy, gravelly voice we all envied, and who I would meet once again in college. The ostentatious twirler with Dolly Parton boobs, who I also would meet again in college. And countless others, far too many to describe here.

But college came and went, and with it, another nemesis: society. With the exception of my elementary school nemesis, all of my enemies were enemies because I felt like I didn't measure up to society's arbitrary standards. I spent about two-thirds of my life trying to be "worthy" by someone else's definition.

In my growing wisdom, I have realized that life is what I make it. People will love me for who I am, not what I have or don't have, and if they don't, then I will move on to the next friend. I don't have to have a nemesis. I don't NEED a nemesis. I don't have TIME for a nemesis! I have and probably always will be my own worst enemy. Who needs another one? Why should I give power to others by allowing them to be my enemies? That, in and of itself, is a statement.

I have also learned that the biggest nemesis is one that can only be conquered by Jesus Christ and His Love, thus, the guilt I feel about describing people I once thought of as enemies (my apologies to you wherever you are). Yes, there are still people I would cross the street to avoid. But those are just everyday annoyances, not enemies. God, hope, faith, wisdom... love really does conquer all.

Monday, November 20, 2006

A Hero

This week's Sunday Scribblings is to write about a hero. The first person that comes to mind is Jesus Christ. The people that DON'T come to mind are celebrities, athletes, and politicians. Instead of focusing on Jesus as the ultimate hero, which he is, I have chosen a person (two, really), who I am familiar with through South Houston Bible Institute here in Houston, Texas, and through my church, New Beginnings, also in Houston in the Clear Lake City area. He and his wife are the closest things to heroes that I will ever know in my lifetime.

First, what is a hero? A hero is one who is considered good and noble, often courageous and brave. A hero is willing to sacrifice himself in order for the greater good to be achieved. He shows outstanding character, or perhaps has performed a heroic act or deed. Lastly, he is admired and respected.

B. Shelburne is the President of the South Houston Bible Institute. He is an ordained minister who serves as an elder at my church. When I first began attending New Beginnings Church, I was attending a class in Hebrews on Wednesday nights taught by B. Almost instantly, I knew I could trust this man and his breadth of knowledge. If ever I had a question on scripture, I would know whom to contact.

Shortly after I began attending Sunday services, B. and his wife Ruth invited me to breakfast to get to know me. I remember feeling so nervous and shaky, although I said yes, I would go to breakfast with them. Within the first five minutes of our time together, I was completely at ease. I was not being judged. I was not worried about being inferior, and I wasn't worried that I was being quizzed on my actions or beliefs. They were truly trying to get to know me! Imagine that! They wanted to know ME!

These are people who have been involved in ministry, probably for 40-50 years, or thereabouts. They were missionaries in Africa for 19 years, and oh, the stories they can tell! It takes a great calling and a great amount of sacrifice to spend 19 years in service to the Lord, much less in a poor nation with little or no necessities that we are accustomed to, and to raise a family including an adopted child at the same time!

Just a few minutes with B. and Ruth and one knows their hearts are pure. They are wise, and kind, and open, and loving. They have sacrificed much, and their love has touched hearts worldwide. There is no jealousy in them, nor judgment, nor selfishness, nor pride. They are human, yes, but they have the qualities I aspire to have if I could just be like them in some small way. They have been a faithful married couple for almost 50 years. Their children have all grown up to be servants of the Lord in different ways. Servants. That is what their Biblical philosophy can be summed up as. They are servants of the Lord and work for the greater good of humanity with a genuine love and concern for all people.

If that is not good and noble... if that is not brave and courageous... if their lives have not been of sacrifice... if they are not of good character... if they are not admired and respected... then heroes don't exist. But I know they do. They are my opinion of modern-day heroes, and I am so blessed to know them.

Info anyone?

Does anyone know of a website or weekend seminar that offers information on blended families and step-parenting? Or a weekend seminar in marriage, in general?

Saturday, November 11, 2006

"I don't want to be a passenger in my own life." (Diane Ackerman)

There are so many ways to interpret this quote. At first glance, my response is... that's me! I don't get to make any of the decisions. I do what everyone else wants me to just like a puppet on a string. So many of my own life's choices are made by others instead of me.

Sometimes I want to be the one back in control. I want to decide where I'm giong and when I'm going. I want to decide where I get to live and where I eat dinner. Decide where to go for holidays and how to spend my money. When to be happy and when to be sad. I want to get my own car.

I've been there before, in the driver's seat rather than just the passenger's seat. Life was loneliner, but easier in a lot of ways. Maybe if you want to have someone in the car with you to keep you company, you have to give the driving over to them most of the time. It's also riskier, not being in control of your own car, just as it is in life.

As a passenger in my own life, I'm just along for the ride. I want to drive! I want to decide when to take a road trip and when to pull over at a rest stop. I don't know why!

But then when I really think about it, even if I am the driver, God is still my navigator, so am I really in control? Yes, I believe I am. And even though much of life feels like I'm just along for the ride, that's probably not the case. It just feels like it sometimes.

This makes me wonder if I am going down the right roads. What if my path is wrong? Maybe I turned off one exit too soon. Or maybe I passed my cut-off several exits ago. Am I on the right highway? I need a map and a compass! Maybe being a passenger is okay if I end up in the right place.

Oh, my head is hurting from all this thinking!

Sunday, November 05, 2006


Is it morning already? Where did the night go? I think I just fell asleep a few minutes ago. Ugh. I must get up and face the frantic panic of getting three kids dressed, fed, and ready to go to school, as well as getting myself ready for work. Luckily the oldest gets herself up and out the door before us. It's always a race to see if we can make it on time! On your mark, get ready...

Oh No! It can't possibly be morning! I just want to lie here beneath the cool sheets and cozy comforter, burrowed in the warmth of my own body. But I'm awakened by slivers of sunlight slanting through the blinds. Maybe if I curl up just a little more, close my eyes again, and wish really hard, morning will wait another hour for me. No such luck. There's the alarm clock screaming for me to get up. It's definitely morning.

Ah, the joys of morning. The rich aroma of freshly brewed coffee wafting through the air. The sizzle of crisp bacon frying in a pan. The lustrous colors of a tangerine sunrise. The sweet music of chirping birds in the air. A new beginning. Sounds grand, doesn't it? If you like that sort of thing.

What is a morning person? It's hard to define, but I know I am not one. My dad was. My husband is. But what, really, does that mean? Does that somehow define the rest of our personalities? My mom is the one who we consider NOT a morning person because you can't talk to her till she's had her coffee. I don't even drink coffee! But I'm still not a morning person. It's not as though I growl or grouch at anyone in the morning. I guess I just don't get enough sleep. Can a night owl become a morning person? Temporarily, perhaps, when there are newborns or very young children in the home. Will I always NOT be a morning person? Maybe. My definition is this... I have so much to do, and the only time I have with peace and quiet away from my family is the late night, so for me, morning is when I'd rather sleep.

Early morning on the road... a peaceful time, really. Cool, crisp morning air. Little to no traffic on the highways yet. Sun just barely peeking over the horizon, not yet warming things up. It's a safe, quiet time out here. Leaves the mind clear just to enjoy the atmosphere. You can cover a lot of ground out on the road in the morning, in more ways than one.

It's a zoo out here on the Interstate this morning! People trying to get to work to clock in on time and keep the boss happy, weaving in and out of lanes thinking that a lane change will get them there just one minute faster. Men situating their ties in the mirror just before they get to the office to impress their next clients. Women making up their faces in the rearview mirror, risking an accident to apply another layer of mascara and lipstick. Lawyers practicing their closing or opening remarks to an audience of none. Various morning radio hosts yelping from the car radios. Intersections jammed with people trying to buy the morning paper before they get into town, giving the poor soul on the side of the street a buck per copy. That poor soul is probably the luckiest of us all. The crisp night air already polluted with exhaust. The blaring honking as cars barely move bumper to bumper on their way downtown. It's just another morning in the city.

Morning again? Just five more minutes, please!

Wednesday, October 18, 2006

If I Could Freeze Time - Super Powers!

This topic makes me think of Cher's song, "If I could turn back time." I'm not sure I want to turn back time or freeze time. What a powerful concept. If I could freeze time, I would have frozen it with the last time I visited with my dad before he was taken so suddenly from this world. I also think of the book Tuck Everlasting where all the family had was time, and too much of it! They would never die, and that's no way to exist. If I could stop time, would I? What would I accomplish? If I could add an hour to the day, wouldn't I just end of with an hour's worth of more to do and still have no extra time? There are times when I wish I could live part of my life, then come back to the rest with no time having actually passed like in Narnia.

My greatest wish, though, is that I could spend time with my dad once again. That's when I would freeze time.

Super-Powers! I already have them. Who is able to clean house, feed the children, feed the dogs, wash dishes, cook supper, work a full time job, get the laundry done, take kids to their activities, take a class, attend church, and see to all the minute but necessary details of life, in one single bound? ME!!!!! I'm Super-Mom! But seriously, folks. If I had a super power, I would want to create a new one for myself. No flying for me. No twisting or morphing into different shapes. No ability to rescue people or use my hands to throw fire bombs. My Super-Power would be the ability to always say the right thing under any circumstance. My power would really give me power! Those who always know what to say and actually say it when they should and how they should, with the right tone of voice, the right amount of empathy, the right amount of concern and love... those are the people who truly have a gift. Is that too much to ask?

Wednesday, October 11, 2006

Interesting Observations at Church

Tonight at church during my Bible Institute class - The Life of Christ - we learned of Jesus' compassion and his ability to drop what he was doing to help someone in need - for example, he was teaching when the paralytic was lowered to him through the ceiling. Instead of getting mad that his teaching was interrupted, he was glad to help the man.

Well, tonight, my 13 year old step-daughter interrupted while I was downloading some photos for cheerleading and science projects, and I dropped it to comfort her. I think that's what Jesus would have wanted me to do. Her boyfriend had broken up with her (for the second time), but instead of an I-told-you-so, I felt like I gave her the hugs, love, and encouragement she needed. No told-you-so's. I feel so happy that I was there for her with love and compassion. And it just seemed like the timing was so "there" that it was a way for me to demonstrate what I had learned. I'm not saying I'm like Jesus - nowhere near! I'm just saying it felt good to show her love and compassion and not preach to her. I feel like it went well. I hope that it was a help to her in some small way. Seems small, but it made me feel good.

Saturday, October 07, 2006

October 8 Sunday Scribblings

Jim is an average Joe. He watched his son play football today... and his team lost. Jim was on the sidelines cheering the team on all they way, even cheering with the cheerleaders and telling them, "You girls rock!" Jim's son is age 8 playing football for the first time. Jimbo isn't getting any younger. At age 37, he is getting to relive some of his own football glory through his son, although today wasn't so glorious. A 38 to 19 loss, to be exact. But Jim yelled till his lungs were tired and his throat was raw. That's what he does every weekend.

Jim is about six feet three inches tall, in pretty good physical shape with curly blonde hair and a cleanshaven face. Not handsome by today's standards, but not awful to look at, either. There are two things that endear him to his friends and the ladies. Not his height, nor his physique, nor even his golden hair. Not his high school football trophies, and not his $90K job, either. Not even the red Mustang GT convertible that he drives. One thing is his infectious laughter, laughter that comes from deep within the belly. Sincere laughter. The kind of laughter that comes from truly enjoying everything life has to offer. The other thing people find is they are hypnotized by his clear turquoise eyes, the kind of eyes that remind you of the ocean, that you could dive into and swim in the coolness of their translucence.

So, why is Jim alone at the game? He's not a wife-beater. He's not a cheater. He's not even a penny-pinching Scrooge. So what is it? He's too nice. Yep. Too nice. His wife left him for a man of more drama and mystery. His heart was shattered. Since then, he's found that the women he dates don't want to be treated chivalrously. They seem to expect a man to be uncouth, foul-mouthed, selfish schemers, and when they find he isn't, they leave him.

He's a good dad, and the kids come first. There are two. The 8 year old and a 4 year old boy who would rather paint that play sports. But that's okay with Jim. Although he wishes both his boys would be interested in football, he is completely accepting of the differences in his children. He shares custody of the boys with his ex-wife, and the two of them get along as though there never was a disagreement between them. There probably wasn't. Jim would've hung the moon for Patricia if she'd let him. There just wasn't enough excitment for her.

So Jim is alone at the game today, just like last week and the week before that, wearing cut off jeans, sneakers, and a plain white tee shirt, screaming his head off and encouraging the boys to do their best. Was it different for him in high school? Well, that's another story.

Sunday, October 01, 2006

Sunday Scribblings

I've decided to participate in the Sunday Scribblings blog when I can. They give you a topic, and you respond to it however you want. Here's my take on "skin."

What I first thought of when I saw the topic "skin" was what I’ll write about. People often say that you have to have "thick skin" to get through this things in this world. Exactly what does that mean?
For example, I had a cheerleader mom complain about something the other day. A little background: I’m cheer director (a volunteer position) for a group of 10 girls ages 5-10 for a local little league football team. The parent wasn’t criticizing me personally or really complaining about something that I have control over. I had to have thick skin so as not to take it personally, but I didn’t. It really bothered me until the next time I was able to talk with her. She’s very sweet, but I felt like I was being asked to fix something I couldn’t fix. I don’t think it was meant to be an attack, but it felt like one.
Another issue where I needed thick skin but had a hard time with it was also during this past week. I had a boy write something naughty on the computer screen with a certain program, and I saw it, and I had to write it up. He finally admitted to the principal what he did, and he got in trouble, both at home and school, and when he came to get his books out of my room after seeing the principal, he was crying, and I felt so terrible. If I had thicker skin, it wouldn’t have bothered me so much since he’s the one who made a mistake and needed to learn from it.
My daughter is also very sensitive. My sister has told me a number of times that she’s going to need to develop thicker skin or she’s going to be miserable. I don’t think it’s that severe. My stepdaughter is fairly much the same way.
Then, there’s the oldest stepdaughter who’s exactly the opposite. She doesn’t care what anyone thinks! Actually, I think her case is worse because no matter how much she claims she isn’t bothered by things, I think she hold it inside and makes herself almost sick over it. Sometimes I wish she had thinner skin so things would matter to her, because the way it seems now, nothing does!
Thick skin… definitely a trait that can be useful. Not letting things "get" to you. As long as you know in your heart you’re doing the right thing or that you’ve done nothing wrong, then why let other people have the power to control your emotions? So much easier to say than do.

Saturday, September 16, 2006

Teenage Dilemma

The fastest way to get a girl and guy to go out together is to tell them they can't, right? So how do you get a girl and guy to NOT want to see each other?

They've known each other a long time. They've treated each other well. They've treated each other like crap. She lost her virginity to him. They've both dated other people, maybe even had sex with other people, at least I know he has. Now, they're talking again. He's just going to hurt her again, I know! He's a thug. She has the potential to be a great nurse or even doctor. He's stuck in a trailer park in Conroe 50 miles away. She's considering college next year. Different worlds. And to look at them, there is no apparent attraction, and it's not as though other people don't want to go out with them.

So, I can't logically analyze it, but I know they don't belong together. He holds her back from achieving her goals. What's a parent or step-parent to do? Sit back and watch the mistake unfold for the third time? Or will this make the fourth time? I've lost count. How do you get a co-dependent to leave the "dependee" behind and look toward what could be a bright future?

Much of what has happened around our house the last day or so can be attributed to this nonsense.

I know when I was 17/18, I thought I knew everything. Of course, I know now that I didn't, but I was stubborn like her. I couldn't really see what the future held, and I didn't realize some things that held me back.

If the quickest way to get a couple together is to tell them they can't, what's the quickest, least painful way to get them to break up? Anyone? Suggestions? Help!

Thursday, September 14, 2006

On Teenagers

(red - for anger) Boy! Did I give my parents this much hell when I was in high school? I guess I did. I'm sorry Mom and Dad. And this one is my step-daughter! I think I get madder than her dad does. What does that tell you?

Let's see... skipping school. Not being where she says she's going to be. Telling bold-faced lies about a couple of things, to us and to her teachers. Using the multi-media on the cell phone (and having no job to pay for it). Downloading ring tones (again, no money to pay for them). And to top it off, crashing our glass coffee table into bits and pieces so that there are shards of glass on everyone's school work and all over the rug and floor, all because she didn't get what she wants and threw a temper fit. I need some prayer, people! Please, God, give me some patience and some wisdom to deal with this the best I can.

I haven't said a word to her, and my husband doesn't talk much to me about it. He gets so defensive if I say anything. I guess I can understand that. And she starts this crud about people not liking her. It's just a cop-out. Oh, poor me! Baloney! I guess it's best I hold my tongue and stay out of it. She probably already blames me for some of it because NOTHING is her own fault.

So, she's lost the lap top for a while (which she wouldn't have except that her uncle bought it for her). She's lost driving privileges, and perhaps the cell phone, too. I think he took it away. But she has no way to pay for a new coffee table (about $400) or to pay the cell phone bill, and I'll tell you another thing. If she thinks I want to contribute one thin dime to her college fund if she can't be responsible enough to trust to go away to school, she's got another thing coming.

All this happens the day after my husband gets home from an out of town trip of four days where he played in a golf tournament sponsored by Southwest Airlines in honor of his deceased brother. So, he was home about 8 hours when all this came about.

Amid all this, she has good grades. She's a bright girl. She has a bright future if she doesn't mess it up right now. Part of it is that she is talking to an ex-boyfriend of hers that she is so hung up on after he treated her like crap over a year ago. You know what it is? She is still so "in love" with him because he rejected her. She can't stand rejection. Who can? But, she sets herself up for a fall over and over. I guess I didn't listen when I was her age, either. I wish someone had MADE me listen and saved me some heartache! If we only knew then what we know now.

And last, the apple doesn't fall far from the maternal tree.

Tomorrow is another day. Hopefully a brighter one. God please have mercy on us all! I just had to vent.

Friday, September 08, 2006

Friday Night Blog

Hello out there in cyper-land! It seems like a long time since I logged on. Well, I got my first paycheck, although it was lost at first, but it was wrong. My former school district didn't send my service record, and it makes over an $8,000 difference in my yearly salary. I know it will get fixed, but it bothers me when people are incompetent. I spend most of Tuesday on the phone and email trying to find my "lost" check, trying to get my service record sent post-haste, and calling eye doctors about fitting my daughter for contacts. She lost her glasses at Schlitterbahn on Labor Day.

That's a bit of good news, though. I won five free tickets to Schlitterbahn in Galveston, which is less than an hour away. So, all but Heather went on Labor Day. She went with her guy friend to Moody Gardens. They were right next door to us all day and we didn't even know it! Anyway, other than Kathleen losing her glasses - don't even ask - we had a great day! The water is refreshing, and the slides and rides are exhilarating. It was a nice break for all of us.

Back into the swing of things now, though. Football, cheerleading, piano about to start, one kid wanting to take hip hop, and another wanting to take jazz. Plus I'm taking a course through South Houston Bible Institute and Dave and I are going to take a Dynamic Marriage seminar through our church.

Remember Dave's brother died not too long ago? He worked for Southwest Airlines, and they are hosting a golf tournament in honor of John, so Dave is headed out to San Diego Sunday and then to Tijuana. Wish I could go, but I can't. I wouldn't golf, but I would like to go anyway.

So far all the kids are doing well in school and I am adjusting to having to work again. I'm spending so much time creating materials and lessons that will be fun as well as educational. I'm exhausted all the time. I've come up with some really cool ones, though. We did a parts of speech scavenger hunt in our commons area at the school. We're making charts based on some of our nonfiction reading. We're making word scrolls and working with partners instead of just doing vocabulary definitions and tests. I'm creating a bulletin board with their "super sentences" on it. I think the kids are having fun, and they are definitely learning.

Blah, blah, blah. I really could go on and on because creating these lessons and new materials is taking a lot of time. But it's probably a boring subject for most people. Most NORMAL people!

I want to upload a picture of the adorable baby pandas in China but it's on my other computer and I can't get to it right now. So, I guess that'll be all.

Friday, August 25, 2006

Let's talk money

I made it through my third week of teaching. Yes, we here in Texas have been back in school 2 and a half, almost three, weeks. Next year, this will be the week we start due to a new state law. Thank goodness! We'll actually get a whole summer.

Some people are under the misguided notion that teachers get paid in the summer. Technically, we don't. I do get a check year round, but I only get paid a daily rate for 187 school days. That's not including the extra inservice and staff development training they tack on early and on weekends. So, I get a certain rate paid for those 187 days, but I choose to spread it out over 12 months. I have worked in a district that didn't pay except for 9 months of the year, and then, only once a month, and let me tell you, that takes some budgeting expertise!

I have been working again since August 10th, and I will finally get a paycheck on September 5th. That's wacky!

What will we do with this "newfound" money? Never fall behind on bills, for one! I want to replace our house door to the garage, get new siding, and replace the air conditioner. I figure we could do all that before next summer. But, then again, we will have one going off to college next year for which my husband and his ex did no financial planning at all, so who knows? We need to plan for the 8th grader, too. I've already started college funds for the fifth graders, thanks to my dad, God love him.

Have any of you ever heard of Dave Ramsey? If not, I suggest you listen to him on AM radio. He has a web site, but it's not nearly the same as hearing him. And if your church or community offers Financial Peace University, it's worth it! I feel much more capable of managing my money than I did before I took it. I'm no longer a slave to credit cards. I want my money to work smarter so I don't have to work harder. It' s not so much that he says anything new, that he puts it in layman's terms, and he has been in debt before, and I'm proud to say I am almost completely debt free except for the house note. His seminar is based on several Biblical principles as well. He's going to be in town in our area in October, but I think we already have plans that weekend. I'd love to see him in person rather than just on DVD or radio. He is a very humorous and dynamic speaker.

Friday, August 18, 2006

Back to Teaching

It's been almost 2 months since I checked in here. That's how long it's been since I had a few minutes to sit down and actually think and write!

Things in the home are off and on good and bad. It's hard blending families. My dh and I often disagree on parenting issues. And, as usual, I am feeling overworked and underappreciated. I worked this summer at a part time job, 35 hours a week, and two weeks ago, I returned to teaching full time. Yet, the family still treats me as if I am at their beck and call.

I guess I do complain too much. It's hard to find something to be excited about when there are disagreements in the home, but I'm going to try.

I have done some cool activities with my 6th grade language arts students already. We've done color-coding activities, watched a TV interview to set up our own scenarios, looked at pix on the Internet to help us understand what we were reading about, classroom games, cooperative groups, and even a scavenger hunt, all related to grammar, writing, reading, and spelling, so they are actually seeing why they have to learn it! It's taking an awful lot of work and preparation on my part, but I love it when the kids think my class is fun! Especially since I know they're learning at the same time. I think students need to keep having fun learning instead of being bored in class every single day. If we can keep their enthusiasm up for learning, their futures will be brighter and so will ours!

I will admit I am having to remind myself daily that they are still sixth graders, so I need to cut them more slack than I would an 8th grader. Intermediate school (junior high) is such a huge change from what they did in 5th grade. There are major adjustments going on in all their lives. And with the twins in 5th grade this year, I'm trying to be the kind of teacher I would want my kids to have.

As for my soap operas, I have hardly seen them in two weeks. I tape them sometimes, but I don't have time to watch! Plus, my son is in football and I'm coaching my daughter's cheerleader squad. We have church, of course, and there is a Bible Institute class I'd like to start next week on Wednesdays. We still have to find time for piano and girl scouts, drama festivals, choir shows, not to mention the senior activities of my eldest step-daughter - who, by the way, is at the age where we know nothing and she knows everything. And I'll tell you one more thing where she's concerned... I hate MYSPACE! Enough said.

So, there are good things in my life right now, but we're going through a rough patch or a growing pain, if you will. Please pray for me and my family. Toodles!

Tuesday, June 20, 2006

The Rain Matches my Mood

The rain we're having in the Houston area today matches my mood somewhat. Gloomy, lazy. My "babies" were supposed to leave to drive to Nebraska today with their dad. They left yesterday to go to his house, then today were supposed to hit the road. I haven't heard from them. I'm sure my ex has enough sense not to strike out on a long journey in torrential rain. I miss them already, and they won't be home for four weeks! Luckily, I will be working a lot. I don't know how my step-kids' mom can stand not to see them for weeks or months at a time! On the other hand, I was subtley reminded tonight that my husband's ex used to live here in this house, and thinking about that makes it feel like it's not my own. I know it looks totally different now than it did then, but that's not the point. I wish we could afford to get a different house. This one is large enough, but it's not "mine." Oh well, I'll get over it, I supposed. I just need to cheer up soon. Toodles!

Wednesday, May 03, 2006

Goodbye John

It's been almost a month, and my brother-in-law did die. Things were really hard around here for a while. Still are in some ways. He would have turned 40 April 20th. I'm 40! Remember when 40 seemed so old? Now it seems so young. Something like this sure makes you consider your own mortality. And how everything can be over in a blink of an eye like it was with my Dad and John. One minute everything is fine, the next, it's over, and there's no real explanation. No warning. The suddenness is what is hardest.

Saturday, April 08, 2006

My Brother in Law is Dieing as I Write This

My husband's younger brother (younger - he's my age!) is in serious need of prayer. While riding his bicycle home (I think he has "environmental reasons" for using a bike instead of a car), from a Padres game (they live in San Diego), his bike collided with a stationary object. He had internal bleeding, and they removed his spleen. He also has a collapsed lung and fluid on the brain, so his prognosis is bleak at this point.

We need prayer. We ask for anyone who reads this to intercede and ask the Lord to heal John. If that is not in His plan, we ask then for comfort for the family, both parents, three brothers and their wives and children, and John's own wife Kristy. We ask for peace. We ask God for His loving arms to wrap us in security in a time of need. With the whole family here in Houston except for John, some of us have been scrambling to try to get out there to support his wife. It's been three days since the accident, so I won't give up hope, but if healing isn't in God's Divine Plan, I pray that we can all deal with the loss.

My father passed a year and a half ago. I can't imagine what it will be like to lose a child or a sibling, especially at such a young age and in such unusual circumstances. Thanks for your prayers.

Saturday, March 25, 2006


Has everyone filed their taxes? We haven't. There is so much to do on this year's taxes that we've been procrastinating. We got married, I inherited IRA's from my dad, I worked a part time business in addition to teaching, of course he had a full time job, and I sold a house. All of that in one tax year. And some of the IRA is tax exempt, and some isn't. It's going to be the death of us!!!! I think I'll actually get to take a capital loss instead of a gain on the house, though. I'm thinking maybe we'll get a CPA to do our taxes this year. We usually use one of the computer programs, TaxCut or TurboTax, but maybe this year even that will be too time consuming and difficult. Oh, and I don't have 4 of my 1099's because they went to my old address and weren't forwarded.

Oh well... just getting a little off my mind.

Thursday, March 09, 2006


Well, I did it again. Remember my first post, what brought me in here? Of course not! But I do. It was about being forgetful. I had finished my shower yesterday, and I was about to get out, when I realized, I forgot to shampoo my hair! How can you forget to do that? Oh well. It's not that big of a deal, but it's just so strange to forget to do that!

ADD/ADHD - Anyone have experience with a child that has this? My son's first appointment was today for our ADD evaluation. The doctor's initial impression is that, no, he's not ADD or ADHD. He has to take some computerized test that helps determine his level of concentration, and his teachers have to fill out questionnaires. I think what he's experiencing is a combination of several life upsets in the last few years (divorced, death of a loved one, both parents remarrying, and getting a new half sister - not by me!) as well as a personality conflict with the teacher. He is very bright, and when he does things at home, I watch. He's smart. He reads and can answer comprehension tests orally, but when he takes those written tests, something happens and he does poorly. He passed both math and reading last year, the reading by only a point or two. He hasn't passed his reading benchmarks this year. TAKS comes up again for reading and math in April. He had similar problems in second grade, but again, it was largely due to a personality conflict with the teacher. Third grade was great. Now, fourth grade, here we are again.

On to other things. I'm not working full time, and money is extremely tight. I may have to go back to work full time, but I don't want to - especially not in public education!!!!!!!!!!! Money has caused a few fights between dear hubby and me in the last couple of weeks.

Also, I'm dealing with a lot of sassing from my two kids, and I don't really know what to do about it. A little pop on the cheek, go to their room, take a privilege away????????? And my son gets rather defiant and angry sometimes when he is forced to do something he doesn't want to or when we argue about homework. Neither of them minds me all the time. Let me change that to - most of the time they do not mind, at least not in my time frame. What do you do? They've been grounded. They've had toys or other privileges taken away. Friends not allowed to spend the night. I don't know what else to do. Input?

Monday, February 20, 2006

State Mandated Testing

Tomorrow is the "big" day. My two 4th graders and one 7th grader take the Texas Assessment of Knowledge and Skills Writing portion of the test. Revising and editing in a multiple choice format and writing a personal narrative based on a general writing prompt will be their tasks. Will there ever be a time in their adult life when they have to revise and edit someone else's writing without the use of a computer or other assistance - or where they have to write a story or composition without the aid of a computer or other assistance? I don't think so.

I understand the need for assessment and accountability, but these kids are over-tested! Additionally, the test is only a snapshot of their potential, a few hours in one day of their school life, yet whether or not they go to the next grade level rides on the TAKS tests. They can make A's and B's in all their classes all year long, but if they mess up on one of the tests (writing, reading, math, social studies, science), they will be held back a grade.

Texas schools are rated on a "report card" based on these tests (and attendance, dropout rate, and other minor criteria). So, students in neighborhoods whose parents take part in the educational process or who place a high value on education tend to do better; therefore, their schools do better and are rewarded. On the other hand, students in lower socio-economic neighborhoods do the best they can with what they have, and their schools are punished, not because the students don't do what they should, but for various reasons such as lack of parental support, poor classroom situations, discipline issues, lack of materials, lack of importance placed on education, and so on.

There are financial bonuses for schools and administrators with high performing campuses. Plus, Texas lawmakers have instituted monetary bonuses for teachers with students who do well. Is that fair? If a child is in 4th grade, he has had 3 or 4 previous teachers. Why should his 4th grade teacher get the credit if he does well, and why should that same teacher be held accountable if he doesn't? What about those teachers who have only the brightest students in their "gifted" classes? At the other end of the spectrum, what about teachers who have the learning disabled students? Is it really fair to reward a teacher for the performance of her students, or to punish that teacher, for that matter?

As a teacher, I have a real problem with the testing. They have benchmark testing, aptitude testing, final exams, chapter tests, unit tests, practice TAKS testing, field testing for the state, and anywhere from 2-6 "official" TAKS tests per year. It's unbelievable! If teachers were allowed to do their jobs and focus on teaching kids what they need to know (rather than just strategies for passing a test) our kids would be far better off. Their report cards would be a true reflection of what they know or don't know. Too many teaching days are, instead, spent testing children. Unfortunately, we have a bunch of non-educators (read: idiots) making decisions that affect the public schools of Texas when they probably haven't stepped foot in a school since they graduated and have no basis on which to make their decisions. What do you think?

Tuesday, February 14, 2006

Valentine's Day... Hallmark or Holiday?

I often wonder who the romantics are and wh0 the cynics are. I think it's easily determined according to each person's thoughts on Valentine's Day. My husband and I decided to be frugal this year. We each got the other a card. I got him a small box of chocolates, and he got me two pink roses. I also made him a gift - a very clever (imho) coupon book, and I wrote him a short poem. We went to dinner together sans kids - very early as he doesn't make reservations - and it was blissful.

Now - did we do enough for eachother? I believe so! I suppose that Valentine's Day was originally a true observance or commemoration of something or someone that I have heard about in legends, but I think now that it's mostly a Greeting Card Company Marketing Technique. Obviously, the American public buys into it wholeheartedly. I "participate," but with reservation because what exactly am I celebrating? Perhaps I am celebrating my love for my husband, children, and God, but don't I celebrate that every day? If I don't give a Valentine to my husband, does that mean I love him less? My answer is no. Would I feel a little guilty if I didn't. Yes, I would. Perhaps Valentine's Day is a celebration of love, and perhaps it's just another day. It's a tug-of-war for me.

Oh well. Who's a cynic and who's a romantic?

Sunday, February 12, 2006

Just stuff

I am tired. We've had a little more drama around here. I guess that's to be expected when you have teenagers in the house. My 9 year olds are already sassy, rolling their eyes at me, minding only part of the time. I hate to see when they are teenagers. It's not going to be pretty!

The 13 year old is somewhat moody - normal for a 7th grade girl. The 17 year old is, well, 17. Nuff said. I have decided that I am just going to let her be. If she makes mistakes, I hope they're not huge ones, but she doesn't have as much supervision or guidance as I think a 17 year old should, and she has no work ethic. She has a year of high school left, then it's on to the "real" world, and she's going to have some rude awakenings, I think.

I'm going to share my laundry pet peeve with you. It is when the kids (any or all of them) leave their underwear inside their pants or jeans when they take them off or when they have one leg inside out. I'd rather it be either both in or both out.

I realized is that I need to get back into taekwondo or some other sort of activity where I can work out my frustration as well as get back into shape. Any suggestions? I don't think my bones and muscles can take the impact of taekwondo anymore, and I definitely don't want to spar, but I need the workout. Jazzercise just doesn't do anything for me anymore. Got any ideas?

Tuesday, January 31, 2006

One Big Happy

I just wanted a picture of my "new" family of seven out here in bloggerland. My step-daughter Heather is behind me, so you can't really see her. Dave's step-son Jason is to his right, the tall one. I'm in the middle. My step-daughter Kathleen is on the far left. David and Angela are up front. I have a better picture.... somewhere! I am the forgetfulone!

Monday, January 23, 2006

lotsa drama

Oh, there's been lots of drama around our household the past 9 or 10 days. The one I spoke of in the previous post - she snuck out at 2 or 3AM to go see her "boyfriend" (and that's a saga in and of itself). He's a 90 minute drive from here. Well, the next morning, she had laryngitis. We thought it was just her cold that she's had for a week, the reason she'd already missed two days of school. Come to find out, it was from screaming and crying and fighting with this guy. Anyway, I'm still waiting to see what dear hubby does about it. So far, nothing. Even the school is doing more than we are. She has community service for missing too many classes in the morning. That's what happens when parents let their teens parent themselves. He always says, "I trust her." Well, that's all well and good, but as parents, I believe we have to check up on our kids and be in their business so they'll stay out of trouble. He believes he laid the foundation and has to let go now, but he let go long ago.

Oh well. Enough whining and complaining. It's not as if that was the only drama this last week, either. We've had several arguments about parenting, money, the noise level in the house, as well as my being taken for granted around here. What? Do they think their clothes magically appear in their closets and drawers? This isn't Lucky Charms! I work hard! And I do more than laundry. Who cleans, cooks, takes stuff to school when the kids forget it, runs errands, grocery shops, keeps everyone on track going to the right places at the right times, helps with homework, makes the phone calls, pays the bills, and so on and so on? Me! I just want to be appreciated for what I do. Just because I'm only working part time, not full time, that shouldn't make me less valuable than anyone else. If I had to work full time, who would do all the things I do now? I'll answer that. No one! They'd be curled up in the fetal position wondering what was going on if I didn't do those things. Moms are under-appreciated.

We've been discussing ministry and service through our church and life groups the last few weeks, but I don't think it's supposed to mean just my service to my family!

I went to a class at church last weekend, and when the preacher talks about his wife, it's just the best example of love I have ever seen in my life. (They're about our age with kids the ages of our kids.) If my dear hubby loved me like that! I guess I've just felt depressed lately, and I'm not really sure why. Not lovin my life as much right now. Maybe it's a phase. Growing pains. The moon. Whatever it is, it's dampened my spirit.

Friday, January 13, 2006

Blended Families

This step-mom thing isn't easy. I imagine it's easier in some ways than if they were little kids, and I imagine the reverse is true, that it is easier for me since some of ours are older, but regardless of the age of the kids, "it ain't easy." Being careful not to overstep your boundaries is tricky. Mostly, though, I'm just resigned because there are some things that aren't going to change. Either the kids are just so ingrained in a certain way, or the spouse won't let things change, or would let things change but won't make the effort, as if I can make everything happen on my own.

Okay. None of this is making sense to anyone else! My point is it's hard to draw the line between being a loving step-mom and doing what you know is right and saying so. I have great step-kids, but there is one, in particular, who is treated as an adult though she's never lived on her own (of course not! she's not even 17 yet), never held a job (Nope, not even part time), has "her own" car, and basically tells us where she's going rather than asking. Luckily, this girl makes fairly good decisions.

But she has so much freedom, and very few boundaries. And her dad won't hassle her about anything whether it's homework (waiting till the last day of a two week project to start working on it), talking on the phone at 2AM, or not calling when she's not coming straight home from school. She makes good grades, and to him, that's all that matters since she's not a hoodlum out on the street making trouble. She's basically a good kid. But who's the adult? Apparently, she is as much one as he and I are. No, I don't believe that, but that's how he treats her. She has a car, cell phone, cash when she needs it, lots of freedom to do as she pleases, someone to pay for her clothes, gas, and insurance, someone to cook for her, someone to do her laundry (which is going to stop now), and someone to bail her out if she gets in trouble and to lean on when she's sad. Her mom is not in the picture on a regular basis, but things have been a little better between them lately; however, her mom isn't in a position to instill discipline, values, work ethic, etc.

The daughter is a procrastinator like her dad, and I worry that she's going to procrastinate so much and not get into college. She has a year and a half left of high school, true. But still... I can't do it for her, but it will come back to bite me in the butt if she doesn't get it all together in time. I will be blamed. Oh, and when something happens, it's never her fault (read this with dripping sarcasm).

Don't get me wrong. I love her. I just don't like her walking all over her dad and just assuming that all will be taken care of for her. I also don't like the example she sets for my other step-daughter and my two children. I guess a big part of my resentment, and I recognize it for what it is, is that I had to work all through high school while taking honors courses and dealing with family issues that were not normal. Her excuse for not having a job is the honors courses. It doesn't fly with me. But it does with dear hubby. I also had to ask permission to go places and report to my dad when he said to. I did my own laundry, made my own breakfast and lunch, went to school, worked, also did dance team, and so on, and she's not expected to do half what I had to do! And we are by no means rich.

We're all doing the best we can with what we have. I know I need to extend grace. She doesn't have the life experience to rely on that I have. But I wish her dad would quit treating her as if she did. This is more about him than her, I guess.

If you made it this far, thanks for reading my blog. Feel free to respond! Oh, and as I said in my profile, I'm still lovin' life!


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