Thursday, June 30, 2016

What Ted's Been Up to Lately

As anyone who has kids or pets will tell you, you're never truly alone in the bathroom.
I captured this of our ragdoll cat Ted, who was entertaining himself recently as he waited for me.

Here's hoping you capture everything you reach for today! :)

Monday, June 27, 2016

Seeing Things Mom's Way

My sister Michelle posted this sentiment and photo on Facebook today:

There's something so special about my mother's kitchen sink. As much as I despised doing dishes as a kid, I love doing them for her now. Besides, today is her birthday, and growing up, we never had to do dishes on our birthday. You may see clutter. I see representations of her smile and the joy that she gets from the little things in life. #grandmaskitchen #knickknacks #memories #childhoodmemories

I smile at Michelle's observation, though these very knick-knacks recently impacted me recently when I cleaned Mom's windows and had to remove a great many of them in order to get to the windows themselves. Every single window had a plant (hanging, or in a pot on the sill), a sun catcher, an angel of some kind, a framed something-or-other, or all of the above. 

We don't even try to talk Mom into getting rid of her little treasures; she knows where each one goes and can usually tell you where she got it.

Some might ask how Mom is able to see out her windows, but I don't think she cares; I think she's content to simply enjoy what's right in front of her. She couldn't be happier in her space. Like Michelle said, some see clutter. Others see joy that comes from simple pleasures. 

Doing dishes, cleaning Mom's you'll do them with a smile; and knowing her, that's probably not an accident.

Saturday, June 25, 2016

Hello Again, It's Me

Excuse me while I clear a few cobwebs away here, thanks. My daughter Kendall (bottom lip stuck out) consistently asks me when I'm going to get back to blogging. Dave, of 42 North (one of my biggest writing cheerleaders) also prods me once in a while, so I decided to at least post an update. As I typed this, I realized there are many topics about which I could blog for weeks! Maybe this will be the post that inspires me to get back at it.

I'm a teacher off for the summer, but I'm not really, as I'll be attending trainings and meetings, plus teaching summer school and tutoring. I’ve also been spending a lot of time planning for next year. In the fall, I’ll be joining a new 6th grade team, so that should keep me pretty busy, but I’ve always enjoyed sharing the entertainment that naturally comes out of teaching middle school, so I’ll likely blog about that once school starts.

One thing I’ve been doing this summer is decluttering. I read the book, The Life Changing Magic of Tidying Up and have been inspired. It has been so freeing to finally be able to let go of a lot of things that I couldn’t (for emotional reasons) seem to get rid of before. I highly recommend the book.

In September I began working out consistently. I lift weights or do other cardio (YouTube videos and Beach Body OnDemand) six days per week and enjoy riding my bike (sometimes with a hitchhiker), now that it’s summer.

If you had told me years ago that I would be getting up at five in the morning in order to work out, I would have bet against it and laughed in your face, but here I am, and I love it. I’m 100% healed from my rotator cuff surgery from two summers ago. (I’ve been gratified to see that my post written to help others facing shoulder surgery has more than 6000 views!) An added benefit is that ever since I started getting stronger, I've had no more pain in my non-surgery shoulder, for which I'd thought I'd be facing surgery this summer. It just goes to show you, when they invite you to do physical therapy to avoid surgery, do it, and do it with commitment; it could save you a lot of pain!

As if that's not enough, I've purchased some paint for two rooms. Since our youngest has been away at college and will not likely return to live here, Mr.4444 helped me turn her old room into a workout room! Here's a photo:

(What the photo doesn't show is ceiling paint peeling.)

I’ve recently finished training to become a Hospice volunteer. My experience with my dad’s passing and my desire to leave this world having made a difference motivated me. So far, I’ve only had two patients, one who passed away the day after I met him, but I’ve already learned something and hope that I can be of more use in the future.

The biggest news I have since we last talked is a wedding! Yes, Kyle and Alayna will be getting married in Milwaukee, Wisconsin on August 27th! I’ve got my dress, shoes, and am working on accessories.  What do you think of this necklace? Does it make me look like like a blue hair?

A few weeks ago, Kendall and I threw a “This is Your Life!” shower that was a big hit; I really should blog about that! Here's a photo I shared on Facebook recently with the caption, Gaining a daughter, gaining a son :)

As I type this, Mr.4444 has taken Kyle and a few friends to “Bachelor Camp” in the Sylvania Wilderness Area. The prep for this trip alone would make for a great blog post.

Mr.4444 and I went to Aruba in April and I am now spoiled forever--It was wonderful. It was our second trip without kids, which was a little weird for us but definitely something I could get used to. Island vacations are expensive, though; how do people do it every year, I wonder?! We didn’t have to pay for our flights or hotel (due to Mr.4444’s business mileage), but it still wasn’t cheap. I’ve learned some tricks for next time, though, so I’ll definitely be saving up for another trip in the future.

Milo, Steve, and Ted are doing great. Steve and Milo have been chipmunk obsessed for weeks and have gotten in some trouble as a result. Fortunately, the hot, humid weather we’ve been having has put a damper on their outdoor adventures.

Note the dirty feet (from digging a hole with his accomplice, in the patio!)

We celebrated my mom’s 87th birthday recently with a party at my brother’s house, and we surprised her with a barbershop quartet. This of course, blew her mind, because she is a barbershop groupie!

She just kept repeating, “This is just marvelous!” I’m happy to report that she’s feeling relatively good for her age and is still very active and content.

Two of my sisters flew home for Mom’s party, which meant that we were all together for the first time in four years. We enjoyed many meals and activities together, and of course Mom was thrilled to have all of her chicks under her wings.

My favorite photo (in age order)

Life is short, and I want to get the most out of it; I don’t want to spend too much of my time on a computer, you know? Balance. That said, I do think I have more stories to tell; I’ll be back. Thanks for checking in. I’d really love to hear what’s been going on with you--Feel free to leave a link or just a reply in the comments :)

Ya happy now, Kendall?!

Monday, February 8, 2016

A Very, Very Special Birthday

I recently put out an all-call announcement at school, 
asking for help with a goal I have,
of helping me make this sweetheart of a man's 96th birthday (Valentines Day) 
special by sending him a birthday greeting.

Ed is the charmer I wrote about here and here. He's a distant cousin, a very special man. I adore him.

I've since received a good number of card promises (about 67, I think). Students have made some great cards, but the card I received this morning blew my mind. See if you don't agree.

Each of these balloons on the front of this card are hand-cut, individually. The letters that spell out Happy Birthday were separately and carefully placed.

 Inside, I found this:
(again, each detail individually cut and placed)

And the melted my heart.

Here is the creative student who made the card. She's in 8th grade!

Sri is an outstanding student, creative, and human being.
I do not know many middle school students who would go to such lengths for a stranger.
When I commented on how incredible it was, she replied,
"I like to work on things on the weekends." 

Ed is going to be so honored to receive Sri's gift. 
You may remember that Ed's career (back in the day) 
was an interior decorator; he knows art when he sees it!
I can't wait to hear how he liked it!

Want to help make Ed's birthday?
I promise, you don't have to go to the lengths that Sri did!
Text me a t 920 445 8989 and I will share his address!

Thursday, January 7, 2016

The Song in Our Hearts

Every once in a while, a very special educator casts a spell over a group of children who are forever changed.  Mr. P is one of those educators. Having completed a full career as a teacher, as well as as a principal, this snow-topped, 6-feet-tall beanpole charmer just can't get enough of kid-company, apparently, as he continues to substitute teach on a regular basis in our district.  I can always tell when Jerry's in the hallway, because children exclaim, "Mr. P!!!!" and run to throw their arms around him in greeting. Everyone smiles when Jerry's around; he's just very charismatic.

Mr. P also just happens to be nearly 80 years old, which only becomes evident when you observe classrooms in which he subs. Mr. P has a unique way of starting class; no class begins without him leading students in a good old round of the 1940's Found a Peanut song. What? Middle schoolers singing Found a Peanut?! Isn't that song too old and corny for 12-14 year-olds? Normally, yes, but not when Jerry's in the room. I've seen it myself; having known Mr. P since grade school, they know the drill. He leads, and they become greasy haired, pimply faced little songbirds with sheepish grins, heads swaying back and forth with enthusiasm.

Unfortunately, though, we haven't seen Mr. P at school in more than a month; in December, he had a spill, breaking a rib. He then got shingles. As if that wasn't bad enough, he developed a staph infection! The poor guy couldn't catch a break and was feeling kind of low. He apologized for not feeling well enough to sub. We responded by sending get-well cards that made Mr. P's day when he received them.  He sent a thank you note that read, in part:

Tiffany wrote, "Roses are red, violets are blue, we all get sick, even you."
My response is, "Roses are red, violets are blue, I'm getting better, because of you!"

What a sweetheart. Mr. P wrote that he'd read every single card multiple times. He also sent a separate note to a student with whom he'd had had a not-so-good interaction one of his last subbing days, telling him that he forgave the boy and to have a nice Christmas; what a class act.

Because Mr. P was so appreciative, we were inspired to do more. Right before Christmas, we decided to do something really special for him.  Guess how he felt about it.

As you can imagine, Mr. P's spirits absolutely soared when he received the video (once he figured out how to play it, which took about a  Once he got it going, though, he could hardly stop watching it, according to his wife, who stopped at school and (with tears in her eyes) thanked us. She did add, though, that she was losing her mind over hearing that song played over and over! Jerry, though, can't get enough of it, and for that we are gratified. After all, to be able to do something so simple that makes a difference so big for someone who's blessed so many of us, it's a wonderful feeling.