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A Busy Sunday

September 4, 2016

I woke up this morning at 5:30.  Since I am old, sometimes sleeping makes me sore, so I went downstairs to get some Advil.  Of course, Franklin needed to get up because I was up.  I don’t really understand this cause and effect.  Literally anyone else can get up and he doesn’t care.  But if I get up–well then everybody needs to be up.  It is annoying.  I took him outside and then brought him back to bed with me (he usually sleeps with Sarah).  I was pretty much waiting for Jeff to get up so I could get some work done, but instead I fell back to sleep!  I slept until 9:00!  (That is really late for me.)  So, that put me behind.  I had to go grocery shopping, make potato salad, clean up the house, and take the kids school clothes shopping before taking Sarah to Choir at 3:00.  Jeff’s dad was coming to dinner.

I got everything done.  Whew.  I had about 10 minutes to spare.

Jeff got up early and tended the brisket in the smoker all day, and then made “beer can chicken” to boot.  Dinner was delicious.

Jeff’s dad stayed later than usual talking, so I just sat down because we had some cleaning up to do once he left.

I am tired, but it is a good tired.  I have a stack of work I am going to try to get through tonight.  I hope I can find some motivation.  Then I have another stack for tomorrow.  I have forgotten how much I hate grading papers.  It sucks.  However, I have some fun things to read, so once I get started I know I will be interested.  I am grateful for that!

Tomorrow we go to my sister’s house for Labor day.  I will have to prepare fruit before we go.  I am so blessed with a full life and a loving family.  Grateful.

I hope your weekend has been as wonderful as mine! xo

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Today

September 3, 2016

Today I woke up and read things for fun.

Today I didn’t leave my bedroom until after noon.

Today I got a little work done–things crossed off my list.

Today I talked to a good friend on the phone for longer than I should have.

Today I went to a movie with my family–the new Ghost Busters!

Today after the movie everyone scattered, and I had the evening alone.

Today they found Jacob Wetterling’s body.

Today I opened my door to a 13 year old boy who was dropped off in my neighborhood to sell candy for a cause that is not known.  I googled it.  Nothing.

****

He rang my doorbell as I was watching the clip about Jacob Wetterling.  I asked him who dropped him off at 7:00 at night in a strange neighborhood.  I asked him if he was okay.  I worry so much about these kids.  But what can I do?  I don’t want to get him in trouble.  And he is alone.  And he is vulnerable.  Gah.  He was such a cute kid.

Today my heart is broken.  For Jacob.  I was 19 when he was taken.  I remember clearly.  The whole state was praying for him to be found.  Everyone was keeping an eye out.  Patty Wetterling became an advocate for missing children.  Because of her, we have a national registry of people who have a history abusing children.  Because of her we have “Amber Alerts” that puts the public on the look out for missing children as soon as it is found out that they have been taken.  When we were at Target a couple of weeks ago buying school supplies, all of a sudden there were alarms coming from everyone’s phones–Amber Alert.  That ended in tragedy as well.  A seven year old girl.

Today I am worried about that 13 year old boy who came to my door.  I worry that he is alone.  He is from North Minneapolis.  That is not close to here.  I hope he is okay.

Where are you from?

September 2, 2016

A couple of years ago a friend of mine, and a colleague…more a colleague, I guess, but I like her…decided that we would like to teach a learning community together.  She teaches Sociology, and she “gets” my students. She understands that they have a steep hill to climb when they come to college.  She wanted to pair my Reading class with her Diversity class–sounded good to me.  Long story short, we didn’t do the paperwork.  I didn’t really know about the paperwork, actually.  So, we were denied.  We were still talking about it when I was slotted to teach the course that could be paired with her Diversity course, so I decided to pilot some new books and use the theme:  Diversity.  I taught it last spring.  It was a fun class.  I was uncomfortable sometimes, but some topics will never be easy to talk about, and learning how to have uncomfortable conversations is a skill everyone needs to practice…including me.

And then the summer happened.

So much violence.  So much hate.  So much blame. So much fear.

Everything I read from higher ed was about diversity.  Everything on Facebook was about racism, or the police, or…or…or…name your group/cause.  The politics that were racing around were not helping anything, either.  I began to rethink my theme.  Everything seemed to be such a hot topic.  Everything was divisive.  That is not how I wanted my classroom to feel.  To be.

But.  But, but, but…isn’t it my responsibility to teach students how to function in our society?  Isn’t that EVERY teacher’s job?  I know my methods are narrowly focused on READING, but still.  I let this marinate in my head during the summer.  I didn’t want to give up the books I read last semester.  And I wanted to make some sort of difference.  I wanted to help students confront being uncomfortable without being divisive.

Therefore, I decided to change the name of my course.  I would call it “Living in a Pluralistic Society.”  I felt good about that change.  Academic language.  No automatic groan because–more diversity.  Then I thought some more…and changed society to Community.  I wanted to stress belonging…  And then I thought BELONGING!  That is perfect:  Belonging in a Pluralistic Community.  Ta-da!

I also thought that I needed to begin the semester in a place that was comfortable.  To make sure everyone felt like they belonged in our classroom, to make our classroom a community, before we approached any subjects that were uncomfortable.  The best place to begin:  Identity.  Who were my students?

We began with an image assignment.  Ten images that represent who you are.  We shared.  Then they had to revise these images down to five or less.  We talked about the difference between what someone likes and who someone is.  It was a wonderful discussion.

Next, we read the poem “Where I’m From” by George Ella Lyon.  We talked about her choices that she made as a writer.  Why did she come from “clothespins?”  What did she mean by “He restoreth my soul…and ten verses I can say myself?”  Then I sent them home to use the same pattern as George Ella Lyon.

We shared our poems yesterday.

Now they have to pick one line that fits their idea of themselves the best and one image that might (or might not) depict their line.  I will piece together our class poem this weekend, if everyone posts to the discussion board.  I am so excited about this!

We also had a terrific discussion about “belonging.”  How it feels.  What it looks like.  And how it feels when you don’t belong.  What are some things that make you feel like you don’t belong.  They were all so thoughtful, and sincere.  It has been a great place to start.

Here is my poem.  I was deliberately thinking about my audience:  my students.  And my context:  belonging in a pluralistic community.  And my own identity:  heritage, faith, culture, etc.  I wanted to push some boundaries, and take some risks.  And yes it was scary.  But they were so great, it gives me hope.

 

Where I’m From

___

 I am from chocolate chip cookies made from scratch

still warm with a side of milk.

I am from dressed up Sunday mornings

turning into Sunday mornings in my PJs.

I am from the swimming pool in the back yard

blue with helicopters floating on the surface.

I am from entitlement and privilege.

*

I am from sleep-overs and junk food,

talking too much, and flirting with boys

I am from being loved to loving freely.

I am from use your manners and respect your elders.

*

I am from “them” to “us.”

I am from doggy-kisses in the morning,

from General Hospital and playing cards.

*

I am from kissing in the family room

long after dark

I am from spoiled rotten to spoiling rotten.

I am from just playing

to just working.

*

I am from “clean your room” to “this house is cluttered”

From “calm down” to “chill out.”

*

I am from rocking chairs and lovies

“let me kiss it” to “say you’re sorry”

from “ask me anything” to “be kind to your brother.”

I am from Love matters most

and Love wins.

___

What would your “Where I’m From” be like?  I would love for you to share!

Ready? Ready.

September 1, 2016

Today I was scrolling through my RSS feeds to take a quick break, and something caught my eye.  Elizabeth wrote a blog post!  I am so excited, and grateful.  I have been having a little bit of a hard time this summer, and especially this week.  I am happy I saw her post.  I am going to try to blog along for the month of September.  I already have a few things I know I would like to write about.  Here is to the first step…cheers!

Off Balance

July 2, 2016

For the past year, possibly two, maybe even three years, I have been pulled in many directions.  It seems like I always have something BIG looming on the horizon, or I am undertaking a HUGE project.  I keep thinking to myself…once I do x, y, and z THEN I will have time to [insert things I actually want to do].  But it is not like I don’t EVER do ANYTHING that I want to do.  I am writing here right now, and there is no deadline, no expectation (although I did challenge myself to write….), no consequence if I don’t write.  I just want to.  I like to write.

I feel like the x, y, z things just get replaced by the a, b, c things and then we run through the alphabet again.  So, I think I just need to be okay with “cheating,” and maybe I shouldn’t call it cheating.  Maybe I should call it “living.”  I don’t think I will EVER be done with the HUGE projects and the BIG things looming on the horizon.  I do think I need more balance in my life.

Last week, or maybe it was the week before last, I had a big project due in my class, plus I had our weekly homework of reading and posting a response to the “prompts” that my teacher assigned.  I started it right away, and read whenever I could in between softball games and baseball games and all the other driving responsibilities that I have.  I had my post done early, and then I started on my project.  I did my responses to my classmates posts and did my second weekly post and then finished my project.  It really took all week with no real breaks.  Once I was done with that I was in charge of a faculty book club at work.  We read The College Fear Factor by Rebecca Cox.  I hadn’t read the last section, and we were meeting on Monday.  So, I had to read and take notes and then figure out talking points (that I knew I wouldn’t use) because I was sort of in charge of it.  On Monday the book club went great, and I wrote up a little reflection–and yay! Done.  But I was DONE on many levels.  I had my next assignment for class due on Wednesday, but I just couldn’t face it.  I did a crappy job this week.  And that feels yucky.  But, Tuesday?  Was divine.  I played.  I relaxed.  I felt guilty, but not guilty enough to read my textbook.  Wednesday was hell.  I was up until 4:00 AM doing my homework.  So, I am not sure it was a good solution to take a day off.

I finished all my homework yesterday, and began on my reading for next week today.  But I was distracted.  I also played a little bit.  I am having people over for the 4th of July, so I really need to get my reading DONE by tomorrow.  And go grocery shopping.  And clean my house.  See?  How do you achieve that balance?  How?  I honestly don’t know how to schedule my time so I can relax.  Except to just say fuck it, I am writing a post.  And then, of course, pay for it later.

I guess I have some thinking to do.  I really do need to figure this out.

A New Month, and a Challenge

July 1, 2016

July.  It’s been a while.  Again.  I am not apologizing for my absence, but I am sharing my regret.  My life has turned into a crazy thing that I have a hard time keeping up with.  Even now, I should be in BED, because I have been up so late doing homework this week.  But, I felt drawn here.  I have on many other occasions as well, but there was always some other fire to fight first.  So.  Hello.

I went fishing tonight with my husband.  It was the perfect summer day: sunny, warm but NOT HOT, no wind.  Perfect.  The lake we went to was not really developed.  There were a couple of houses on the lake and there were a handful of boats out on the water, but for the most part it was quiet.  OH!  And there were loons!  We saw three of them, but we didn’t get close enough to get a picture.  They have the most distinct call, it is beautiful.  They were talking to us all evening.  Jeff caught fish.  I casted and reeled.  I watched the dragonflies, admired the trees and the sky.  I was wishing that I brought a Mary Oliver poem book with me.  Then it would have been perfect!

So, there!  A post here in July.  Now  I hope I can come back and write more  again!

Contradiction

August 15, 2015

Jeff is up north at a friend’s cabin–fishing and having fun.  I am so happy he finally could GO.  He has been asked several times the last couple of summers but always when there were major kid events that he was required to attend.  He never gets away, so I am happy that it worked out!  When he is gone I feel like I have no responsibilities, and I also feel kind of lost.  It is nice how quiet it is this morning, as I lie in bed and gaze out the window at the dappled sunlight that shines through the leaves of the tree outside my window.  It looks pleasant outside, like the shady tree would bring refreshing shade and the sun the warm glow that is so attractive to Franklin that he finds the nearest sunbeam to nap.  You can’t see the humidity that sucks the life out of you as soon as you open the door.

On Thursday, we took the kids and a bunch of their friends to the Cannon River and floated down the river in tubes.  It was an all day event, and we had so much fun!  Everyone brought their own lunches/drinks and we stopped off on a sand bar to eat lunch and then tubed some more.  By the time I got home from driving all the kids home–Jeff only had to take one neighborhood kid home, but he was making dinner–it was almost time for dinner.  I remembered that I had to text my mom to let her know we were not lost in the currant forever, and that’s when I got my sister’s text.

My dad is going through a downward slide right now and this is throwing my family into a transition.  He needs more care.  My mom needs more help.  And I feel like I should just move in to their apartment, but in the same breath I want to ignore the whole thing.  I am trying to be neutral.  I am trying to gather all of the facts so we can make a good decision about the kind of care my dad needs, and the kind of help that my mom needs.  These two things are also at odds.  One family member in particular has very strong opinions and not very good listening skills….oh, who am I kidding, WE ALL have very strong opinions and the listening skills are at the low end.  I am probably the only one who actually listens to anyone.  It is HARD not to put in my own two cents, but I try and let people have their opinions, and keep mine out of it.  But all of this will effect my mom’s well being on one hand, and my dad’s well being on the other.

Jeff has been great.  Really great.  My sister’s text told me that my dad went to the ER on Thursday because his blood pressure was so low.  He was dehydrated, so they gave him an IV drip and a couple bags of fluid.  I was told by my mom and my sister not to go to the hospital.  It didn’t feel right, but I sat down to dinner and tried not to worry.  It was Jeff that insisted that we go.  He drove me there and we ended up driving my parents home when my dad was discharged.  I slept over there to do night duty.  I probably wouldn’t have done that if Jeff wouldn’t have driven me to the hospital.  I am so grateful that he did.

My dad was up every two hours.  My mom got to sleep.  It was a good set up. I spent the day yesterday choreographing more care for my dad and setting up appointments to orchestrate even more care.  My mom has about had it.  My dad is depressed and crabby with her.  My heart is breaking.

The contradiction in every part of this is so difficult.  How can you feel opposite things at the same time, but I do.  It sucks.  Jeff has been my rock this weekend, even from afar.  It is helping me not to unravel completely.

AND??  I go back to work next week.  I kind of want to run away.