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The Power of Story

January 8, 2014

I just watched this:

My favorite quote is:

“There is a word, an Igbo word, that I think about whenever I think about the power structures of the world, and it is “nkali.” It’s a noun that loosely translates to “to be greater than another.” Like our economic and political worlds, stories too are defined by the principle of nkali. How they are told, who tells them, when they’re told, how many stories are told, are really dependent on power.”

Wow.  What do you think?

I think I want my students to watch this.  Maybe they can tell me an instance of how a single story has affected them.  Has a single story affected you?

Baby, It’s Cold Outside

January 6, 2014

I am still in bed, but even sitting up to type my neck and back are feeling the chill.  The next three days are going to be brutal temperature-wise.  It really started yesterday.  When we went to Nicholas’ hockey game in the morning it was -10, but it “warmed up” to -1 by the time we got out of there.  Last night we went to my niece’s birthday dinner and it was -18 when we got out of there.  I woke up to this:

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The windchill is -47.  This is all Farenheit, by the way.  So, um, it is a little chilly.  The Governor canceled school for today for the entire state.  Everything else seems to be canceled too…choir, dance…but not hockey!  We were supposed to have OUTDOOR practice today, but they switched it to INDOOR practice.  How sweet of them.

In other news, the tree is down and in its box.  The decorations are packed away as well.  I just have to go arrange my back room to make sure everything fits the way it should, and then Christmas is officially over.  Sigh.  Today is the day to do that and to work on my syllabus.  I also have to register for my LAST class for my Post-Secondary Reading and Learning Certificate.  I am excited about that!

My classes are in limbo still, so I am hoping my night class gets cancelled so I can teach a different night class.  I am scheduled to work on Wednesday nights, but we have MANY kid activities on Wednesday nights.  I need to be home to be the taxi!  Tuesdays would lessen the load there.  I also hope that they take my advice and just change one of my classes from an every-day class to a block class (meets 2 days a week instead of 4, for two hours).  I have a waiting list for my other block class and I think that if they change my every-day class they will move to that class.  This whole thing gives me a stomach ache.

So, that is what is on my mind.  What is on yours?

A Fresh New Year

January 2, 2014

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Oh, how I love a fresh start.  All the endless possibilities.  A blank page.  I get to design it!

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I have not done much thinking about 2014.  In fact, I have just looked back on my 2013 post, I remembered that I had chosen a word, but I couldn’t remember the word.  So.  That worked out.  But in retrospect, I really did strive, (THAT was the word!) at least through half of the year.  I call that a success.  I think this year needs to be a whole phrase:  Just Do It.  I have heard this before….somewhere.  I do not own any Nike apparel.  Maybe I should go shopping too…JUST DO IT!  Ha.  On the other hand, I also want to focus a little bit on self-care.  It is so easy to get taken away by all of the external demands of life, I need to do something for ME.  And, I do think that has to do with health and well-being.  Mindfulness, yoga, meditation?   Exercise?  Eating better?  All of these things sound cliché, but I think I need to try at least one if not all.  I will feel better.  I will have more energy.  Then I can Just Do It.  And if you need to know what IT I am talking about, see any past New Year’s post.  My goals don’t change.  I just keep thinking I should be a neat, organized, thin person.  Just Do It.  Baby steps, and I will feel better all around.  I just know I will!

IMG_0750Happy New Year, Everyone!

New Year’s Eve: 2013 in Review

December 31, 2013

When I think back through the year, I am just amazed.  Things change so subtly, and yet those changes can be life altering.  And as it happens, often I think about how big of a change the event might be, but it takes time and perspective to see just how profound those changes are.

January 2013.   I was waffling between applying for a job, and not applying.  And I chose to apply.  I got the job.  Because of this job prospect, I chose to begin to take classes for a Post-Secondary Reading and Learning Certificate through California State University at Fullerton.  Both of these decisions are inter-related.  Without the decision to go for the job, I wouldn’t have taken the first two classes.  Both of these events have altered the way I see my career, and how I view my job with students.  I am still struggling to figure out how to be a better teacher, I don’t think that will ever end, but now I have tools and research to help me make my decisions and to change my practice for the better.

Winter 2013.  We began to prepare for middle school.  We visited the school, and went to orientation.  This was the first step away from the security of elementary school for Sarah.

January 2013.  My dad’s diagnosis of dementia was shared with us.

March 2013.  Jeff’s dad falls, breaks a hip.  This becomes a hands on education about long term care insurance, aging parents, and caring for Alzheimer’s patients.

March, April, May 2013.  Jeff’s mom moves in.  Education consumes us. End of life decisions are discussed.  Facing institutionalization of a close loved one is awful.  And that is not really a strong enough word.

April, 2013.  Trip to California without Jeff.  Unknowingly, our last trip as we know it.

April, 2013.  Interview for BIG JOB.  Yikes!

April 2013.  My dad decides not to drive anymore.

May, 2013.  A new JOB!  Woot!

May 2013.  Jeff’s mom moves into a nursing home.  Begins accelerated decline.

June 2013.  Sarah “Graduates” from Elementary School.

June 2013.  Apparently, my dad only decided not to drive in CALIFORNIA.  Doctor then forbids him to drive in MINNESOTA as well.  This is not taken well.

June 2013.  First time leading an inservice for teachers.  Hoping to do more of this in the future.

Summer 2013.  Baseball.  Softball. Golf.  Hockey.  You know, the usual.

Summer 2013. Dance–Sarah invited to take the “pointe” class and loves it.

Summer 2013.  Revamping course (again).

July 2013.  Fourth of July.  Last Family celebration where Jeff’s mom is present.

July 2013.  Blogged EVERY DAY!  WOOT!

August 2013.  Sarah goes to “Cougar Camp” and begins her middle school adventure.

August 2013.  NEW OFFICE!  (Still not all the way moved in, and it is New Year’s Eve.)

Fall 2013.  My dad’s decline accelerates.  Assisted Living apartment is confirmed.

November 2013.  Blogged ALMOST every day.  THIS was a huge ACCOMPLISHMENT!

December 2013.  Katie steals the show as the Magic Mirror in the school play:  Rockin’ story of Snow White.

December 2013.  Christmas happens.  Everything gets done.  It is a Christmas Miracle.

December 2013.  So busy I get sick (not unusual).  Still recovering.  Feel better today.

These were the  big things of the year.  There were many small things as well.  There were so many things to be thankful for this year.  I am blessed beyond measure with family and friends and usefulness.  I hope that 2014 delivers with good things as well.  But really, I am the one in charge of that, am I not?

Happy New Year Everyone!

Christmas Eve

December 24, 2013

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Well, the cards are not done.  They are printed and sitting in a box waiting to be stuffed into envelopes and mailed.  I have one package that also needs to be mailed, and two gift cards I need to purchase.  I have to drop off some donations and get my car washed and deliver the cookies to the neighbors and make the cheesy potatoes for dinner tonight.

Otherwise, I am ready.  I am finally able to breathe a little.  It has been a sprint to get here, and now I can jog a little.  I still need to be RUNNING though.  I spent last week grading, almost constantly and shopping.  Sarah put all the lights on the tree with a little help from Katie but mostly by herself.  If she hadn’t done that, I don’t think the tree would be done yet.  We decorated last Sunday.

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This was the week of School Plays and Choir Concerts with a sprinkling of Hockey for good seasoning.  Katie was the mirror in The Rockin’ Story of Snow White.  She stole the show.  She was sassy, and loud enough so everyone could hear her.  She did a solo RAP.  She wore sparkles from head to toe and carried a large mirror over her stomach.  She was also one of the evil queen’s bats.  She was awesome.  And, yes I know that I am totally bragging about my kid, but SHE WAS, I SWEAR!

IMG_0685Bad, distant iphone photo, but you can see her mirror!

The next night was the choir concert, which was…long, to be honest.  I love to see my kids sing, but the rest?  I don’t know.  It was low energy.  It started at 7:15, which was late to begin with, and by the time it ended I was elated!

Nicholas had to miss the play because he was busy scoring a goal and winning a game.  He also beat another team on Sunday.

IMG_0677Jeff has been working hard on the ice rink!

But now, it is Christmas!  And we celebrated last night, just the five of us, like we do every year with lasagna in the dining room, kids doing dishes, opening our presents and ending the night with Jeff asleep on the chair and the kids and I singing Silent Night by the light of the Christmas tree.  It was a great start.

We will go to my parents tonight, possibly for the last time.  My parents will move into Assisted Living in January, and I am not sure if they will host next year.  Their apartment is much smaller than their current town house.  So, that is a little sad for me.  I have ALWAYS spent Christmas eve at my parents.  This will also be the first Christmas that Jeff’s mom won’t be here.  We will go to the nursing home to visit her, but Ugh.  It is all so sad to see your parents grow old.

IMG_0680Jeff’s Mom’s Manger Scene, now in our house

But despite the sad-tinge, it is still a happy time.  There are cookies!  And three kids who still have the wonder in their hearts.  That helps me to keep it in my heart as well.

Merry Christmas everyone!

White

December 8, 2013

White

White

Everything is white

Bleached

Bright

The Sky

Along with

Snow

That covers

Everything.

Roofs

Tree Branches

Green Grass

Now White

Colorless

Fridgid

Winter

White

White

Everything is White

Brrrrrrr

December 5, 2013

Well.  It is official.  Winter is here.  There is no doubt about it anymore.  We have all been going on our merry way, believing that this autumn has been so mild…except for those couple of snowfalls.  But they melted!  There wasn’t that much snow anyway!  I never even got my boots out.

Times have changed.  Yesterday we had our first blizzard of the season.  Dance was canceled.  The roads were slippery and visibility was not good.  There were cars in the ditch all over the place.  I shoveled.  Jeff shoveled.  The ice rink is on its way to being an actual sheet of ice.

Winter is here.

Christmas is coming.

Oh, I am SO not ready!

*****

Update about Sarah:

She LOVED skiing.  “It was awesome!” That was the response I got upon picking her up on Tuesday.  Now, I am “encouraging” her to try out for the musical.  She is nervous.  She doesn’t want to because she doesn’t know anyone.  This is the same child who has been in TWO high school plays.  With High Schoolers.  At the High School.  Where she didn’t know anyone.

She is going to ask her friend to teach her the song that they have to sing, and she is also going to ask her choir director to help her.  She has decided that next Thursday is when she will audition.  I know she will do great.  At least I hope that she can over-come this need to hide from everyone.  She is so worried about how others are perceiving her.  She doesn’t want to be noticed at all.  I told her not to let “them” (whoever she is nervous about) let them keep her from being herself.  This is HER THING.  (And she knows it!)  So.  I really hope it goes well.  I hope she fits in and finds her people.  Her tribe.  She needs one!

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