March 23, 2009
Do you ever feel like God is trying to teach you something? Like he’s looking down from heaven and talking directly to you.
I was waiting in line at the McDonald’s drive thru after just ordering my dollar soda. The truck in front of me was lost. The employee was trying to offer directions.
I can be impatient. Certainly there is a better way to get directions! Go inside the store. Ask at a gas station, but not in the supposed-to-be-fast drive thru. This McDonald’s also has a concrete barrier between the drive thru and the parking area. Even if I had wanted to get away, I was trapped.
Up walked a gentleman maybe 40 or 50 years old. He was alone. His disheveled appearance led me to believe that he was probably a hard worker, but simple. The town I was in has seen a lot of economic hardship. He wore a jacket from the former town grocery store. A big conglomerate bought out the small grocery franchise. In ten seconds of seeing this man, I formed some not-so-nice opinions.
He stood on the concrete curb and said somewhat quietly, “Where do ya want to go?” The driver and the Mc Donald’s worker didn’t hear him. He said it again. Oh, how nice. He was going to try to give directions. I was totally patronizing him in my head.
Then I heard the most selfless words, “I’ll take you. Follow me.” The gentleman walked back to his rather new looking Jeep and away they went, the truck following closely behind this considerate citizen.
As nice as I think I am. I wouldn’t go out of my way like this for a stranger. Sometimes I grumble under my breath as I wait to hold the door open for someone. I am pathetic, I know.
I was wrong. Very wrong to judge this man. I pulled up to the window and got my dollar soda and drove off.
Yes, God, I’m listening.
March 16, 2009
In my house we have clearly defined roles. Call me old fashioned, but I like it that way. My husband takes care of all of our car issues. Magically my tires get rotated, the oil changed, and Rain-X applied. In short, he is the diagnoser and fixer of my car-going-wrong problems.
Things aren’t one sided. I take care of most of the cooking and “management” jobs like typing up a contact list for my husband’s class. I like these clearly defined jobs. I find comfort in knowing that I have one less thing to worry about.
That is until today.
I was driving to work and heard a currblunk. It’s dark. I was entering the highway. I was pretty sure that the noise was not coming from my car. I glared at the driver next to me: He should really take care of that noise.
The currblunk grew a little noisier and the car just didn’t feel right.
Call it a woman’s car intuition, but I rerouted to the next exit and pulled into the nearest gas station. I was a fully functioning grownup when I got married. I could certainly handle this myself.
The front driver tire was fine. The back tire looked full. I rounded the back of the van and stared at the exhaust pipe. As far as mufflers are concerned, mine looked pretty ordinary. I stepped back and that’s when I saw it. Flat as a pancake. Wheel rim on pavement. I had a flat tire.
I was confident that although 40 miles away my husband could take command of the situation. It is, after all, his job expertise. Fast forward to the wrecker being called, the spare tire not budging, and several more calls to my husband, and I realized that I am capable of handling this. I might not want to, but I can. So I did.
Two hours later, the purchase of two additional lug nuts, and I’m a proud owner of a Gold series 70,000 mile tire. Today was a nice reminder that I don’t need my husband to function or to swoop in and handle everything for me, but I sure do cherish and appreciate his help and support. I value his knowledge. I’m blessed to have him as a help mate, and I’m thankful for his willingness to be the “car guy.” We complement each other like that.
Even though I was able to roll with the punches today, I am happily content to relinquish any and all car maintenance responsibilities and go back to more important things like vacation planner and clothing shopper. It’s my “job”. Somebody’s got to take the hard ones.
March 12, 2009
It’s no secret that I don’t wear makeup on a daily basis. I am partly too lazy and partly unable to apply it properly.
I found this great resource on the Mary Kay website. It actually shows you how to apply your makeup! The videos are very simple and easy to follow. My favorite is the eye shape tips. Who knew that not all eyes were the same!
Check it out for yourself.
March 9, 2009
We were busy this weekend finishing up a “parent project.”
You know the kind of project I’m talkin’ about. The one that a teacher assigns to you your child and there is no possible way he can complete the assignment without his parents help.
William had to make a musical instrument using non-musical items. With 5 different pitches. And learn a song with at least 25 notes.
Luckily he has a handy dad. The type of dad that if you can dream it, he can build it. We also have handy kids. I have an “I Love U” cut out of wood that William actually made. Made all by himself. Grandma was lucky enough to get an “I Love You” made out of nails this past Christmas. A ton of nails. The idea was his own and he lovingly pounded each one in himself. We are a family who makes and creates things. But what sixth grader can reasonably build an instrument with different pitches? And in tune for extra credit!
I’m not against helping my kids with their homework. I’m also not against projects.
I remember well my own days of project making. In sixth grade I had to make a volcano. My mom purchased some plaster of paris and away I went. My volcano looked more like a meatloaf with a hole in the top, but it was my creation.
So, what’s the dilemma you ask?
He never has to explain to anyone, not the class or his teacher, how he made his instrument. He needs to list the materials used. He needs to explain how the instrument works, but he doesn’t need to explain how he built the instrument??!!
This, my readers, is what I have a problem with. This is how I know it is a parent project because if a kid created this masterpiece he would want to talk and explain how the idea came to be. I want to see projects that require a kid to be the one who actually makes the project and it is graded fairly. If his instrument involves tearing paper to make sounds, I want that to be ok because it was his idea. His effort. His creative power at work.
So instead of tackling a project around the house, we were working on creating “beautiful” music on the out of tune pan flute that will not be receiving extra credit.
Do you think the teacher would mind if I gave her a “teacher project?” I need some painting done and the laundry needs folding and the bathroom needs cleaning and the cat box needs emptying. . . oh, yeah, I want all of this done while she whistles zip-a-dee-do-da, in tune. Really, I don’t think I’m asking for too much, am I?
March 5, 2009
I teach teenagers and there are some words that you just don’t want to say or even think in front of them.
Today’s example is pretty innocuous. We are reviewing for a test over Of Mice and Men and I asked, “What does Lennie wanted to stroke?” I’m sure you can imagine the response I received. The class filled with mostly boys snickered, and even I smiled at the sound of this question. The answer is Curley’s wife’s hair—clearly.
Over the years I’ve had my share of other phrases gone wrong.
When I was a new teacher I had to teach Moby Dick, the classic American novel by Herman Melville. Now there is a story with two words you don’t want to say in front of adolescents: Dick and seaman. I ended up calling them men of the sea because I couldn’t say the words aloud. I usually just called Moby Dick the “great white whale”.
I have since mastered the art of keeping a straight face. The important thing is not to laugh. They don’t teach you this in college, but trust me, laughter only fuels them more.
There is one story, however, that takes the cake. The one story that my family still finds funny and teases me about. The superhero assignment gone wrong. I had the students create an original superhero. One group of bold boys created “MILF Man”.
I’m telling you I was completely ignorant. I stood before the front of the class and read a brief description of each group’s superhero. I came to “MILF Man” and confidently held up the superhero picture that they decorated and read their description. I asked questions, and even though I don’t remember exactly what I asked or what their answers were, I had a feeling that something wasn’t quite right. The class laughed a little bit too much.
Don’t worry, my loving husband filled me in and the students were punished. And if you don’t know what MILF means, talk to a teenager.
I think I am going to have to start another list. Things you don’t want to read if you’re a teacher: The paper said something about a party and then “we both ended up, you know.”
Oh, some words are better left unsaid and unread.
March 4, 2009
The anticipation of a trip is half the fun! Why not turn the wait into a fun, educational experience for the entire family! Each month we have a trip celebration day, and what’s a celebration without a quiz and some prizes!
First determine what it is you want to learn about the trip. For our upcoming cruise, we had celebration days that focused on each island, the ship, and shore excursions.
Next go online and gather information. The “education” part of this can be as in-depth as you like. The kids can research with you, you can provide reading materials for them to read, Netflix sometimes has some great videos you could use, or you could just blindly “test” your family. This is the one I like best!
I create a quiz (true false or multiple-choice) to go along with the information I researched. A sample question from our last trip was about the Disney Cruise ship: The ship is nearly as tall as what major landmark? a. Statue of Liberty; b. Eiffel Tower; c. Sears Tower; d. Our House. I usually put between 8-10 questions on the quiz.
The winner, in my family everyone is a winner, gets to pull one strip from the celebration suitcase. The person with the most correct gets to pull two strips. On each numbered strip is a prize. The prizes don’t have to be elaborate. Some of our prizes we have used in the past have included: pick your own seat on the airplane; you get the tv remote at the hotel for the night; five dollars in souvenir money; a special snack on the airplane, etc.
If you don’t want to give prizes, you can always put facts on the strips of paper and your family can learn about the upcoming trip that way. Get even more creative and plan your meal around the celebration day.
Directions for making your own celebration suitcase:
You will need scissors, a pencil, ruler, box, and stickers for embellishment.
I purchased the box at Michaels for .89 cents. It is 9X4X4.
Draw a line across the front of the box approximately 1 inch from the top. Draw a second line .25 inches from the first. This will form the opening. Carefully cut the opening and assemble the box.
Fold a piece of computer paper in half and cut out strips. Write prizes on one half of the strip and insert them into the celebration suitcase. I number the part of the strip that sticks out of the box. If you don’t want to give prizes, you can also write facts on the strips of paper instead.
The best part is that the box folds up for easy storage until your next celebration or trip. All this fun for under $3.00!
Check out We are that Family for other great tips.
March 2, 2009
I’ve always said that Monday is my favorite day of the week because it is a chance for a new beginning, a new start.
I had an idea this morning while driving to work.
Somewhere on the highway before the truck stop and the college, it just popped into my head. Really, that’s how it happened. One minute I was listening to Taylor Swift and the next thing I knew there it was an exciting, thrilling idea.
Dare I say it. A dream.
One handedly I rummaged through my school bag to find a pen and a piece of paper. I had to capture this idea. Make it concrete before reason and doubt took over.
I called Paul to discuss the possibility of this dream becoming a reality. He’s used to my crazy ideas: reflective strips on deer, cars that drive themselves, GPS for cats, and my best one yet, car aerobics.
Paul would be objective. He would be the voice of reason. He would introduce the obstacles that I didn’t yet see at 7:10 this morning.
But, he liked it. He thought this was a good idea.
I’m excited. Scared. Ready to begin.
Why haven’t I thought of this perfect idea before? Maybe I have. Maybe my brain is just recycling an old idea, but now I am ready to act.
Maybe now the idea is ready to take off and fly.
Maybe this Monday is the Monday that I begin to live the life I dream.
February 27, 2009
I have several friends who are in the midst of the adoption wait-and-see process. They were each called to adopt for different reasons. One couple, after years of infertility treatments, was unable to conceive a child. Another couple feels so blessed with three young boys that they would like to add a girl to the mix. The final couple has one child, but the pregnancy was difficult, so they turned to adoption for their second child.
Their journey has been difficult and time consuming. Their financial resources have been stretched. Their patience tested and yet, they persist. They maintain hope. They have confidence and faith that God will deliver in his time. They inspire me with their determination and courage.
For those waiting for a child, I pray that your prayers are answered soon.
I hold you in my heart and touch you in my dreams.
You are here each day with me, at least that’s how it seems.
I know you wonder where we are… what’s taking us so long.
But remember child, I love you so and God will keep you strong.
Now go outside and feel the breeze and let it touch your skin…
Because tonight, just as always, I blow you kisses in the wind.
May God hold you in His hand until I can be with you.
I promise you, my darling, I’m doing all that I can do.
Very soon, you’ll have a family for real, not just pretend.
But for tonight, just as always, I blow you kisses in the wind.
May God wrap you in His arms and hold you very tight.
And let the angels bring the kisses that I send to you each night.
— © Pamela Durkota
February 26, 2009
I’m trying to find my bloggy voice today.
I love to read blogs that sound real. I can picture the writer. I laugh with her, rejoice in her success, and empathize with her pain. If you visit other blogs, you know that there are a lot of really great writers out there.
My problem is that it is hard for me to drop some of my writing habits. Perhaps I’ve been a teacher for too long, but finding my bloggy voice has challenged the rule follower in me.
First Up: Contractions. What can I say? I’m a fan of contractions, but they don’t always make it into my writing. I’ve noticed that by writing out the contraction it makes me sound. . . uptight. Which I am not, ThankYouVeryMuch. Well, maybe a little.
Next: Creative punctuation and sentence structure. Right now my students are learning all of the comma rules. Yes, there are actual rules. Too many, in fact. But, in blog writing some of those rules are relaxed.
Making up the word bloggy. Not a problem.
A one sentence paragraph actually works in blogdom!
I’m breaking Standard English usage rules left and right! You know what I discovered? I like it. It is kind of freeing. Maybe blog writers understand that some rules are made to be broken.
Watch out world I’m livin’ on the edge today!
February 25, 2009
Welcome to the debut of “Travel Tip Tuesday!” Yes, I realize that it is Wednesday, and the banner says “Works-for-me Wednesday” but that is because I’m makin’ the best of a bad situation. My computer died yesterday. I’m sure you understand my pain and frustruation and the control it took for me not to hurl the computer into the trash.
It took a lot of self-control. Anyway, Welcome to “Works-for-Me Wednesday.” ta-da!
Our family loves to travel and whether your preferred mode of transportation is by plane, train, automobile, or on foot, I have a tip to help make your traveling a little less stressful.
I created the “lost card” after loosing my younger brother in the Magic Kingdom. He was fifteen at the time. Let’s just say that one collect call from Main Street, hours of roaming around the resort, and one frantic call from my mother 1000s of miles away made for a not so “priceless” experience.
So, if you are traveling, you need a plan: A plan for what to do if someone is temporarily misplaced.
Purchase the self-sealing laminating business/I.D. pouches from Scotch. They are 2 7/16 inches by 3 7/8 inches. Mine came in a pack of ten. I have many uses for these things, but you can also just go to any office supply store and have your card laminated right there.
On the front of the card, this is where I would really like to insert a picture–but the pooped out compter has other ideas–I type in my word processing program the lost directions. For our most recent trip, it was 1. Stay where you are; 2. Find a Cast Member; and 3. Give them this card.
The directions can vary depending on the age of the child. On the other side of the card I put the child’s name and our contact information. This is usually our cell phone numbers.
You can get as creative as you would like by adding in clip art and using fun fonts. The kids feel secure knowing that tucked away in their pocket is some “Lost protection”. This is what works for me.