Thursday, May 31, 2012

SAVOR: Endings

This week wraps up my first year as an elementary librarian.

This week, the first group of students I taught at this school are graduating from 6th grade and moving on to middle school.

This week is the first anniversary of the death of my dad.


That's a lot of endings. I'm not big on endings. I'm a much better starter than finisher. I get 2/3 of the way through a big project , like moving, or a major cleaning or painting project and I get bored and I'm ready to move on to what's next. One of my regrets about my time with Dad last year is that I was so focused on what was coming next and the dread and the "what about...?" questions that I didn't really engage with him as much as I wish I had. I wasn't in the moment. That 's what this SAVOR business is all about. I'm going to try to walk through the endings that are coming this week and really be aware of them - soak up time with my students, leave my to do list and library business in the library when I am with them. We'll see how reality lines up with my good intentions!

Tuesday, May 29, 2012

Wait and Pray

This past Sunday, I woke up far earlier than necessary - something that has happened on the weekends much too often lately. As I lay there, willing myself to go back to sleep, I started praying about various things. Then my mind wandered to all the things I had to do this week at school before the kids finished up for the year and all the things I wanted to get done this summer. In that moment I realized I hadn't once prayed about my priorities for the summer. I knew I had more tasks than time, even if I worked every day of summer break. I also knew I didn't want to work every day of summer break. But it hadn't occurred to me to pray about those tasks.

This past Sunday was also the celebration of Pentecost - the day in the early Church when the Holy Spirit was poured out and many were converted. Some time before this, when the risen Christ was still with them, Jesus told his disciples not to run off after he was gone, moving in their own power to fulfill their calling. Instead, he told them to wait and pray because God was going to send them help - power - for the tasks ahead.

Specifically, Jesus said, "Wait and pray."

Hmmmm. Wait. And pray. Same message, twice in one day - in the span of just a few hours. When that happens, I try to pay attention.

So fair, in my waiting and praying, I have determined that there is one project I was going to start this week that will move forward. Nothing else is scheduled for sure. I started a list of all the things I know I need to do, all the ideas I wanted to do, and the things I would like to get done.

It's a ridiculously long list. I felt the panic building as I wrote it all down in one place and really started looking at it. I started to feel like this was my life:

I really will need at least 4 of me to get everything on that list done this summer. I am so glad this revelation came now and not at the first of August when I am completely exhausted and it's time to get ready for the new year to start.

I don't know how it's all going to come out in the end. There really isn't anything "frivolous" on the list. But I feel better knowing that I don't have to figure it all out on my own.

Thursday, May 24, 2012

SAVOR: Celebration

Last year, my husband and I spent our anniversary apart. I was home getting ready to move my dad home with hospice. My husband was here, trying to keep the life of my son as "normal" as possible. My son had started a tradition of bringing us breakfast in bed on our anniversary (chocolate doughnuts), so I took some with me and called the boys that morning so we could have that breakfast in bed like always, even though I was several hours - and one time zone - away.

This year I was in town for our anniversary. It was nice to celebrate together. It was nice to recognize  what we survived together over the last year. It was a day to SAVOR.

Tuesday, May 22, 2012


My cousin and his family serve in Costa Rica as missionaries. In their most recent newsletter, my cousins reported on a recent trip to Nicaragua to train pastors.

When they got there, they discovered that the pastors had no Bibles in their language. They were teaching and preaching from their own instincts and ideas. It took hours to cover basic principles like salvation by faith rather than works because they weren't familiar with the Biblical passages. Over and over, the leaders asked, "But what does the Bible say?"

As a person who lives in a house with multiple Bibles in various translations, all in my language, I can't fathom how these pastors became pastors and how they lead others to life in Christ without this basic and vital resource. My cousin and his team sent the pastors out with some Bibles and training materials in their language, but the need  is great.

I checked with my family and they said they can provide a Bible for $6 and the next piece of training material for $2. I'm going to send them something to help these pastors have materials to share with their congregations. If you'd like to join me, let me know and I'll help you get your money there.

Saturday, May 19, 2012

Teacher Appreciation Wrap Up

Last week was Teacher Appreciation Week, and at our school, it was delightful.

Each classroom teacher has a parent liaison. Those "EPals" placed treats in our mail boxes every morning, gave us a gift card to our choice of several restaurants, and treated us to a special lunch.

I felt well cared for and appreciated by parents and students - sweet notes, sweet treats, book marks and the like. One of my students brought a different small treat (with clever, pun-y notes) every day. I really liked this idea - it spreads out the joy for the whole week.The notes from parents and students really mean a lot and I plan to keep them and cherish them.

Thursday, May 17, 2012

SAVOR: Routine

I celebrated Mother's Day with an extra son in my home this year. One of my son's friends stayed with us for the weekend while his parents were away. We are fortunate that my son has developed friendships with a great group of three guys. I would have any of them in my home any time.

The boys had a great time and I had a glimpse of what it would be like to have two boys instead of one. They fussed and jostled one another. They wound each other up - giggling, farting, etc. They talked Avengers and Lord of the Rings and Legos. It was a great weekend, but it also gave me an appreciation for our quiet life. I enjoy our routine, the relationship we have with one another, and knowing what to expect from one another. 

Tuesday, May 15, 2012

Happy Birthday, Dad


This month I've been thinking of Dad a lot. This week we would have celebrated his birthday. I really miss him.

Tuesday, May 8, 2012

Teacher Appreciation Week

It's National Teacher Appreciation Week. And today, Tuesday, is the day folks are supposed to use social media to give a shout out to teachers. The best shout out I can give this year is to my father.

He taught high school social studies for over 30 years for the same school. Many of my fondest childhood memories involve him in that role

  • I remember drinking soda in a bottle from the vending machines in the basement of the school's original building.
  • I remember walking through the underground tunnel between the school and the annex building behind it.
  • I remember spending teacher work days with him in his classroom.
  • I remember the New Year's Eve parties my parents would have at our house. Most of the guests were teachers. I loved those people.
  • I remember a summer school class he was teaching when a student came up, hugged Dad, and then picked him up off the floor. Dad laughed.
  • Another time in that same summer class, all the students threw paper wads at him in the middle of class. He laughed (and they cleaned up).
  • As a kid, I got to play cribbage in the teacher's lounge with Dad and other teachers.
  • I loved going to the school dances with him on Friday nights when I was 5 or 6.
  • He sang in a quartet with the band, choir, and orchestra directors in the annual variety show. They called themselves the Golden Oldies. They would do two songs - one snappy one like Greased Lightening and then they would bring a female student up on stage and serenade her. It was the highlight of the show every year.
  • I remember that anywhere we went, he would run into current or former students (or even his "hall people" - students he knew from joking with them in the hall between classes). They would shout to him from across the mall or stop to shake his hand and tell him what they were up to.
One redeeming thing about the week between Dad's death and his funeral were the messages from his students on the funeral home website and at the visitation. So many said he was their favorite teacher - that he made learning fun. And several said they went into teaching because of Dad. I was - and continue to be - proud to be his daughter. And I count myself among those students now. In many ways, I teach now because of him.


Honor a teacher this week.... And maybe a few other times a year, too!

Saturday, May 5, 2012

I Don't Wanna

When you're a kid, you are at the mercy of the adults around you. If a parent or teacher asks you to do something, you better hop to or suffer the consequences.

When you're a teenager, you start to wonder why adults get to be in charge. The eye-rolls, the push-back and the attitude that tend to come with the teen years often kick in because of a power struggle. Who gets to be in charge of the teen's life?

Being an adult is a pretty good gig. Sure, most adults have a boss who can tell them what to do, but otherwise, adults usually get to make their own decisions. We get to do what we want.

Sometimes, though, as adults we have to exercise our maturity because we know there are things we should do even though they aren't the things we want to do. Right now I have a long list of things I don't want to do. My dear husband is trying to be helpful by saying things like, "When are you going to make that phone call." In a little voice, I mumble, "I don't wanna."

Real mature, huh? I know I sound like a four-year-old. I feel like a four-year-old when I say it. I almost wish I had a parent standing there saying, "You need to do these things today, young lady." {At my age, someone saying "young lady" has some appeal to it.} But, I have to suck it up and act my age. I am a grown up. I have to make myself do the unpleasant things because they need to be done. I know I'll feel better once they are addressed and behind me. Taking that first step is difficult.

Thursday, May 3, 2012

SAVOR: Making Progress

I had two encounters at school recently that I want to savor.

In the first, I was working with a student in an after school writing program I do one day with 2nd through 4th graders and a second day with 5th and 6th. Each group is delightful for different reasons. On this day, I was working with my older students who are a delight because they are really starting to get how stories are put together. They've read enough to know what they like and how they want their story to sound. Their stories are intricate and they come up with some great moments and phrases in their writing.

One student aspires to be an artist of some sort. She wants to sing and she wants to write and be published and she is a good artist. As is typical with that age group, her brain moves faster than her pencil , so our conferencing time is spent working on filling in some of the details of the story that are in her head but didn't make it to the page.

As we were working through her story one day, she asked me what my degree was in. I told her I had a bachelor's and a master's in psychology. She said she thought it would have been in writing because I am good at it. It was a very sweet comment and it touched me. I am woefully aware of my failings and the many things I don't know. But in that moment I felt like she and I were making progress - and it made me want to be better at what I was doing for her sake.

A week later, a parent stopped me with tears in her eyes as she told me that her son, for the first time ever, was reading a book he didn't want to put down. She and I had talked at a book fair about some options and apparently, we had found a winner and she was thrilled. I was relieved. I am painfully aware that it could have gone the other way. I am aware of other times I have recommended things that have bombed with kids. But we got one right for this boy. We are making progress.

And so I march on, day after day, trying to SAVOR the moments where we are getting somewhere, where we are moving forward, and try to let those encourage and inform the moments that fall short.

Tuesday, May 1, 2012

Hell Hath No Fury

I despise my cable company right now. There's only one in our area, so they can pretty much do whatever they want. The path of least resistance is to accept them and their ridiculously inflated rates and their bills that go up by $10 on a whim.

I called them several weeks ago to see if I could sign up for a promotion that would get us a more reasonable rate. The rep I spoke to was very nice, found me a deal, and we were all set to go.

Then my next bill arrived. There was no new rate, no prorated bill for the transition to the new rate or any mention of a change whatsoever. So I called them.

They had no record of the previous conversation at all, not to mention my new rates. I had to ask for a supervisor because the rep didn't want to deal with me since my name is not on the account (this has never been a problem in the 15 years we have had service with these people). This is not the first time I have called, worked out a new deal, and then had to call back and start from scratch because there is no record of the call or revised plan.

I. Am. Done.

I don't care what we have to do or who we have to call, but we will be replacing our cable service with something else in the immediate future. And all my Facebook friends and twitter followers have heard the story by now, too.

Customer service matters.