Category Archives: Uncategorized

when routine falls apart

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Oh, how I love Jesus, oh how I love prompts from Ruth. If I didn’t have this pair, I would be a pile of mush on our hard frosted ground today.

I started my blog two years before the end of my teaching career. At that time my mom was struggling with early Alzheimer’s. We noticed a few things, but my dad didn’t want us to worry my sisters and me,; he certainly wouldn’t use the dreaded word.

I kept praying that they would both be okay until I retired.

Writing sustained me; my friendship with God, relationships at church, and teaching part-time at Judson brought me through to the other side after my much-loved career as a teacher-coach and staff developer came to an end.

For some reason, I’m feeling a need for a timeline today—

2014— I retired before I was ready, maybe. Two weddings and a funeral happened that first summer. After the weddings, which my mom sadly could not attend, my mom passes away… a blessing! My mom went to heaven, no longer slowly losing her memories, and sense of self.

2015— The focus now is on my dad, four years older than my mom, sorting out meds, selling their homes, and buying a condo. Now he’s the priority.

2016— Our church becomes a conflict zone this year. I lose my job at Judson, deciding I can’t afford the time and money it takes to get my Ed Doc, disappointment reigns.

2017— Back at Judson teaching in a new undergrad program that I loved but couldn’t commit to fully because of the time involved. We were in the midst of an exhausting rehab down to the studs of our new/old house with a lake view, feeling like we’re living in heaven on earth despite the time.

2018— Our beloved pastor resigns, who built our church with disturbing allegations that took two more years for us to digest and accept. He still has not admitted his mistakes publicly, but most of us realized that our church was never about one fallible person. God was and continues to be the head of our church.

2019— My dad falls, discovered by me 24 hours later, barely alive. He has a fantastic rehab experience, but PTSD symptoms plague me, especially when I drive to his place. We decided to put a caregiver in place; however, I continued to see him sometimes to do groceries, meds, and Dr. appointments.

2020— My dad has multiple falls, and we put 24/7 care in place, but I am still there often; in late summer, he twists and shatters his ankle, September 23, on his 95th birthday. At age 95 he has his surgery— pins, and plates and eight weeks of rehab followed.

I could only bang on windows at Rehab. We  FaceTime on his iPad. it is a  pitiful time. When I see my dad at his surgeon’s office, he doesn’t recognize me and thinks he is getting shrapnel removed from his foot in the Army hospital in England. He is right back on the battlefield.

My entire being tells me he has lost cognitive ability.

He is disheveled, wearing someone else’s too tight pants. His hair looked like Albert Einstein, his eyes wide saucers, and he smells like ****! The Dr. is also disturbed because rehab sent him four weeks too late for the first cast removal— now he has a pressure sore to treat.

I am heartsick, knowing it will be weeks before he can walk. I want to blame this new rehab, but I know that nurses are stretched with COVID-19’s protocols.

I can’t sleep. I can’t think straight.

but writing helps

My dad finally made his way home two Fridays ago. There is a lot to yay and nay about.

But at least the first week he walks.

The second week, he acted like he didn’t remember anything about walking. His whole body stiffens up, and he screams out like he is fighting in WW2 again. I think it is because of multiple caregivers that he doesn’t trust yet.

I looked up Ruth one day amid my mess and realize that I’m crying out for the SOS that writing brings. I want to share my stories again on my blog. God led me home to where I started. in my writing journey. I’m done with writing curriculum, done with writing books and querying for now. I feel so satisfied being back in the fold.

Today I desperately wanted to write about cues in my life, but this is what happened instead. I am in the midst of remaking my life in a way.  God knows I’m a work in progress. And he leads me from moment to moment if I take the time to listen to him.

Maybe next week I’ll do cues. But for this moment, processing this through writing gives lifts my soul.

Thank you for your SOS Ruth and friends.

XO nanc

 

when life is…

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When life is hard and I’m getting pecked, make sure Petosky encircles my neck.

It’s not as sweet as Ruth’s favorite librarian who kept her in books and cookies, but my Petosky needs to be there. I haven’t been wearing it lately, because it doesn’t exactly match my pajama pants and T-shirts that have been glued on my body for almost ten months. I don’t go to in-person church, I don’t get to travel to see my grandchildren, I only go to Jewel to wait for my groceries, to Rehab windows, and finally now to my Dad’s condo. Only me and his caregivers are the lucky people to see him.

My Petosky is my Mo-Joe. I need it. I need it today when I meet a new caregiver. Another one bit the dust yesterday— fired by the organization. All of it makes my head turn at funny angles and my eyes drip with the unhappiness of it all

My Petosky? It’s my touch-stone because it reminds me of God’s love, my roots, my passion, my people, and how I need to keep on polishing every day.

Maybe your asking… “Why polishing?”

Petosky stones, glorious in the sparkling waters of Lake Superior are dull and ugly taken out of the waves of frigid water. They need to be polished with sandpaper or a rock tumbler to look glorious again.

In my life when I touch my stone it also reminds me that God is polishing, or sanctifying me continually. I should be looking more and more like Jesus every single day. No, I never will be perfect until heaven, but I need to continue to strive, continue to confess, give thanks, and worship moment to moment in my daily life. 

Life is so jagged, there are so many ways to fail and fall. I need to look up and grab my Lord’s hand and hang on, pressing into his gentle but firm guidance as I navigate caregivers, groceries, and grief in all seasons. 

He is my ultimate Petosky stone—the ROCK in which I stand.

love nanc xo

PS Thank you SOS girls, thank-you, Ruth! Your S.O.S. came in the nick of time for me.

 

reading love, writing love

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We were after magic, Diane, and me. We’d find the location that we wouldn’t be bothered by younger sisters, twin brothers, and meddling mothers. In the summer we roamed our neighborhood for a sturdy oak or my apple trees that hadn’t dropped their loot. We’d spread an old blanket, and feast on our latest library finds. Our authors included Louisa May Alcott, Eleanor Estes; moving on to Betty Cavanna and Phyllis A. Whitney as we entered our tween years. We parallel read, occasionally sharing an awesome scene. We munched on cheese and crackers, drank Tang at my house, and sneak pop at Diane’s.

School wouldn’t have probably placed us in the high reading groups because our Think and Do Books were always messed up by our teachers’ big red checkmarks indicating our comprehension indeed was poor. We also balked at writing the formula bound book report, I resorted to copying the back flaps and turning those in. But sweet Diane would have never cheated like that. Believe it or not, I didn’t get caught cheating until 6th grade. The teachers seemed to conspire every year to ruin every book by making us write about it. But at least we had CHOICE and I could read All -of- a- Kind Family, even though my family wasn’t Jewish.

But there were great times in school during the late sixties. Once we were told we all needed to write a play from a scene in a book we had read or write an original play that would be performed. Diane and I loved that assignment. We wrote two scenes together and our teacher accepted it and even pronounced it SATISFACTORY.

Reading was our life and poetry became a fast love in Junior High and beginning High School because not many authors wrote books about Hippy love (all of us curious), racial protest, Vietnam, or black armbands; I guess it was deemed inappropriate for tween eyes. It was almost like we were expected to go from childhood to War and Peace in the summer of 8th grade.

So what were we to do? Magazines of course. We devoured Sixteen and Glamour for many years. We were lucky if everyone once in a while there was a short story. I resorted to sneaking my mom’s  Good Housekeeping because they always had a short story; sadly—today, they do not.

The summer of 8th grade, when Neil Armstrong landed on the moon, we had a stupendous idea! We spent two hours a day writing in my dad’s supposed ‘at home office’ (which was really just a storage spot for winter clothes and coats). We used at least a pound of yellow legal pads and finished writing our first book, between the winter coats, finishing before the end of the summer. The masterpiece was titled Summer Camp Love just because we loved going to summer camp. We composed together, argued about scenes and sentences, and alternated the handwriting part when our hands cramped up.

Oh, I wish I had those pages. I loved our sweet friendship— our reading and writing life together.

But those good things, those things I  loved about my childhood continue on inside me forever.  An SOS invitation arrives and words are breathed out and that particular happiness of shared reading /writing love springs from the deep and I am so grateful.

P.S. because I really like them… funny to me how easy it is to recall details from fifty years ago and I can’t remember where my cell phone went this morning.

Who’s in your Bubble?

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Definition: Bubble: 1.  a thin sphere of liquid enclosing air or another gas. 2.  a good or fortunate situation that is isolated from reality or unlikely to last.

It had been nine long months of waiting, every week thinking that it would be safe the next to get together for book club.

Until… one of my friends declared…

“I know what we can do. I will ask my daughter if we can ZOOM, she will organize.”

So there we all were on the screen all at once, saying hi and talking over each other, most of us in the medicare+ age range. My friend’s daughter got quickly off the screen, not wanting to teach the ZOOMing etiquette skills. I’m well acquainted with. I noticed that three of us had muted until we got ready to plow in and get our turn. The meeting was simply to talk about some of the books we had been reading. Many had too many books even to get started talking about. The chit-chat and catching up went on and on. Some of us unwilling to let the cheerful among us even know about our many trials.

Until.. one of my friends naively asked…

“So who is in your bubble?”

Shocked into silence—many of us still wondering what she was even asking. Our bravest talker began.

“Well, as far as Thanksgiving goes, I’m ordering four meals. If my two don’t show up from the city, it will just be more meals for us the next day.”

The question she had walked into was precarious. Some were brave enough to talk about gathering at Thanksgiving, and some of us got sadder and sadder. My son had just canceled our Thanksgiving planned with his family, our daughters’ families, and us. It had been painful; we had waited for this joyous reunion for so many months.

As a family, we decided to sacrifice a bit of what medical people have been doing from the beginning of COVID 19 onward. I didn’t want to start one long and tearful scream, so I kept muted. I thought about a friend who had lost her dad two months earlier; my ninety-five-year-old dad stuck behind a rehab window, my niece who’s brand new twin babies I wouldn’t get to help out with for quite a while. I thought about my other friend whose first grandson had to go to the hospital last week after becoming infected by a cousin in our schools who had COVID 19 and didn’t even know it.

And then I thought of my cozy house, my husband, who has had to put up with tearful me who has needed therapy and also a new therapy kitty for these last nine months. And then I thought about my new seventeen girlfriends who Zoom with me in Bible study, my old friends of ten years who do a less formal Bible study…but pray, and my new neighbor who sends me text encouragement every morning, and my sister. She listens from afar and helps me with anything medical related to my dad and has listened to my heavy sighing for way too long.

Yes, they are my bubble people that I can’t touch.

And then there is the one in the bubble and out of the bubble with me. He is the one who never will leave me. He is inside, wrapping his long arms around me, comforting my soul ache. He is out in the world, making a difference. He hears me when my heart hurts so deeply I have no words.

God heard me when I cried in my car in the pitch darkness in the parking lot of my church, crying over and over again about the state of our country and how terribly divided our churches have become. That night, a calm came floating in a massive bubble, the worship music on my cell phone. I will summarize and change a few words 🙂

I am the Alpha and the Omega, and I am with you in the the middle—nutzo, neurotic, Nancy. I am with you now and at the end. I will never leave you or forsake you. I have given my son that died for your sins—we will always be together!

PS ( because I like them) It is so much better if you can see this group on YouTube. It is very long, and the Alpha and Omega part comes in in the last three-quarters of the song.

PSS Our church had such a dynamic and powerful twist this morning.  If you have the time please tune in. If you live in northern Illinois Willow will have a powerful, socially distanced, Christmas Walk…get free tickets and enjoy. Again, if you don’t want music fast forward to Sean… his message is life-changing!

our freedom, our vote matters

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The last time I wrote a post, I wanted to encourage everyone to vote and ask people to pray that I would get my Dad Bob’s ballot to him in time. Crunch time was looming, and Cook County hadn’t sent out their ballots yet, but like politics in Chicago, they must have been waffling and arguing back and forth a bit before they put them in the mail. I put it as kindly as I can, Cook County isn’t known for their speediness.

Finally, I reached in his mailbox one day, and there it sat on a pile of very expensive colored pleas for his vote. I probably held in my hand at least ten dollars of waste.

We both have known for about three years who my father wanted to vote for, and the kind social worker at rehab assured me that he would help my dad with the task. I quickly said, “Please make sure you read the directions before you go to his room because it is the first thing he will ask you.” And sure enough, he did, as the social worker observed and later texted me.

Today as I picked up my online, free groceries from Jewel, I noticed a ‘vote early bus’ parked in the lot. My heart soared, let freedom reign, I thought to myself, as I viewed a long line of citizens standing, socially distanced with masks.

I said to myself, may the best man and woman win(some of you just stopped reading, but I’m okay with that!) Then I quickly say a prayer that I can accept the outcome, whatever it is.

It’s what I believe; it’s what I’m counting on every time I walk to the rehab window to see my dad through the glass windows near the prickly bushes.

An evil voice inside of me scolds, “Stay away. This doesn’t matter to your dad.”

“Oh, yes, it does!” I would shout back to the darkness and cry as I left him.”

I remember:

Prayer is my tether to my God who loves me enough to send his son to die for my sin and my angry thoughts about people who think—

they are less free because our governor says we need to wear masks,       

and my anger towards those who believe it is okay for separation of  parents from their children at the border,

and my anger towards people who think it’s okay to concoct a scheme to kidnap the Michigan governor.

(apologizing for the sentence length) 

Oh, I almost forgot about those people who condone automatic weapons outside of the military.

Vote, my friends, on FaceBook. Vote my friends on Twitter. Vote my friends on my blog.  Please cast your ballot for the person that you view as having the most integrity.

PS For those who think I’m not, Pro-Life, I am. I am Pro-Life in and out of the womb. Now finally, I’ve said my peace—until next time. XO

morning watch

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The best part of summer for me was traveling in a giant yellow school bus to Markesan Wisconsin  to Camp Grow for one week every summer. My dad drove me and my two little sisters to First Baptist Church of Oak Park. First we would walk to the park and look at my grandpa’s name on the statue  in the plaza near the church. He served in WW1. Then he would help get my suitcases loaded and it was time to say goodbye.

“Don’t forget to send us a post card, and be a good girl.”

The tears never sprang from my eyes because I couldn’t wait to sing my heart out with my friends that I knew from the prior summer. We crammed three in a seat and together banged on the windows to say good-bye to our families.

We were off to the deepest, greenest lake in all of Wisconsin, aptly called Green Lake. When we got to camp and met our counselors we got set up in either Woods, TeePee or A-Frame village depending on the year and spent the first night meeting new friends and our new counselor who would get little to no sleep the whole week.

I felt free at camp.

I felt seen at camp.

I grew closer to Jesus at camp.

Some things were new and unexpected at camp,

But…one thing always remained the same.

Every morning when the dew embraced the grasses in the meadow, we would do our MORNING WATCH.

They would send us off, to commune with God with a journal, our Bible and a pen. And throughout the years it became the most treasured part of my day. I didn’t know it then, but I do know it now, morning watch is a nautical term.

I love this little poem, that my daughter recently found tucked into some old notebooks of my sweet mother-in-law.

I caught a young hawk having his morning watch recently. It is the best way to prepare for the day ahead.

 

I am so THANKFUL for so many life experiences.

lessons from a berry patch

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In July, three years ago, we moved into our new/old house on Pine Cone Lane in Sleepy Hollow. It was only a half of mile from our old house, but we had never been down this one-lane road that, surprise—had a little lake. We jumped into our fixer-upper with a camping spirit, living in the walkout basement and quickly felt, hmmm- maybe we had bit off a honking big mess of work. Dave easily rolled up his sleeves, grabbed his tool belt, undeterred. I helped with jobs that didn’t require finesse—I can be trusted with a wallpaper scraper, but not a paintbrush.

 

That first July, a person close to our age, from a nearby neighborhood, marched towards us. She wore an appropriate Safari hat and held a bucket.

 

She barked, “Can I pick your berries? I always pick the berries at this house.” I thought, “I can also be trusted to pick berries.

 

“Well, feel free, if you can find the berries,” Dave said, muttering after a clean-up day in our new/old over-grown secret garden.

 

The second summer, I did see berries budding and hoped to pick them after a trip to Colorado. When we got home from our trip, I quickly went to look at the patch we had unearthed in the spring. They were picked clean.

 

“Probably the birds,” Dave said.

 

I fumed, “Probably that lady in that floppy hat.”

 

This year, to be safe, I asked if we could cover our berry patch with netting. I thought the mesh would ward away the birds and the hat lady. So we did. Our berries this year went from white and pink to red and then a glorious purple.

 

Dave said, “The berry will look plump and juicy at the proper time to pick, Nancy.” So, with instruction, I became master berry picker this summer,

 

So I’ve been harvesting every other day because berries are not all ripe at the same time. To get the berries, I crouch under the netting and hold the netting up with my head. I pick with my lefthand, cup the berries in my right and finally dump the berries from my right in my silver colander. I learned that shorts are not the way to go, long pants are a necessity even in the blazing ninety-degree heat because of the sharp barbs on the stems.

 

Today, I was getting better at it, but every time I lost a berry in my left hand, I moaned a little and glanced through the leaves to see if I could recover it. Sometimes I could, but most of the time, I thought, oh well. Though I brooded a bit, I plunged deeper and deeper into our patch.

Thinking is how I passed my time. And these are some of my morning thoughts today:

 

  • I’m sure glad God doesn’t leave me alone in the berry patch of life.
  • Even though I wander and get lost in the thorns in this world, he tells me in Matthew 18:12 that he will leave ninety-nine of his sheep to go after me, the one that is lost.

 

And God also says to me softly today as I pick, “My right hand will hold you fast.” (Psalm 139:10) Like a mother who holds her toddler’s hand during a red light, God holds me tight.

 

When we grow weary, tired of doing good, he also says, ” Let us not become weary in doing good, for at the proper time we will reap a harvest if we do not give up.” (Galatians 6:9)

 

Hoping that you have a BERRY GOOD WEEK. XO nanc

 

 

 

Question of the day: What are the things in your life right now that you are growing weary of? How does God help you with these things? or what are some things that God has helped with recently?

Brain Research…

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Ezekiel 36:26

 I will give you a new heart and put a new spirit in you; I will remove from you your heart of stone and give you a heart of flesh.

Jennie Allen (If) and Dr. Amen (PBS) say, the BRAIN and the HEART are one in the same: the heart controls the brain and the brain controls the heart.

We know the things that make our heart healthy: eating right, exercise, getting enough rest. The same things are also needed for brain health. God can strengthen both of these organs. In the brain we can create more neural pathways when we learn something new. It takes about 10,000 times to learn a new skill and then it becomes automatic, like learning to ride a bike.

My brain learned a weird thing about 10 years ago. My brain kept waking me up at 2:03 AM every single night.

Why did my brain learn that?

I guess it wanted me to spend that time at night fixating on the ‘hard’ in my life. At that time it was worrying about my mom and my son Jeff- neither in good places. It has taken me years to retrain my brain, and sometimes I lapse back.  But recently, I’ve been able to call back that darkness. I recite scripture over and over, I do progressive muscle relaxation, I get up and go to the washroom and drink some water.

I know I can make new neural pathways with God’s help. Instead of getting mad when plans change. I can make it a habit to think of a way I can bless Dave or help him with a project. Instead of brooding about another rejection with my writing, I can look up and ask God to open new doors. Instead of sighing, heaving and resenting specific family members,  I can move forward and ask God to help me love my dad and sister in new and creative ways.

I am becoming more like Christ. This sanctifying process is not easy— oh my poor soul, but more and more God is softening my brain and my heart from stone to clay in his hands.

Question: What are some ways you deal with night wakefulness? or What are some things that are helping you grow in Jesus Christ?

 

We need each other , oh yes we do!

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Exodus 17: 12

12 When Moses’ hands grew tired, they took a stone and put it under him and he sat on it. Aaron and Hur held his hands up—one on one side, one on the other—so that his hands remained steady till sunset. Exodus 17: 12

 

In Exodus 17:8–13 the Lord orchestrated a great victory that included the efforts of Joshua, who led fighting men on the battlefield; and Moses, who kept his hands raised while holding the staff of God. When Moses’ hands grew weary, Aaron and Hur assisted by each holding up one of his hands until the setting of the sun and the defeat of the enemy.

In the middle of the night, Pastor Samuel Baggaga received a call asking him to come to the home of a church member. When he arrived, he found a house engulfed by fire. The father, though burned himself, had reentered the home to rescue one of his children and emerged with an unconscious daughter. The hospital, in this rural Ugandan setting, was six miles (10 kilometers) away. With no transportation available, the pastor and the father started running to the hospital with the child. When one of them tired from carrying the injured girl, the other one took over. Together they made the journey; the father and his daughter were treated and then fully recovered.

The value of interdependence can never be underestimated. God, in His kindness, graciously provides people as His agents for mutual good. Listening ears and helpful hands; wise, comforting, and correcting words—these and other resources come to us and through us to others. Together we win and God gets the glory!-  Our Daily Bread

QUESTION:  HOW CAN WE SHOW EACH OTHER THIS KIND OF INTERDEPENDENCE IN THIS GROUP? WHAT CAN WE DO FOR EACH OTHER IN THIS SEASON?

Watch and Listen…another resource for you!

Paper thin, my skin

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slice button this marchPaper thin, my skin,

Unable to take your best shot,

Unable to withstand an attack,

And unable to fight back.

Today I should feel a new energy,

After all, sorries were spoken and

Forgiveness applied—

But wounds from those who matter

ache and sometimes fester when you have

a heart that perpetually seems to need two positives

for every negative.

heart

PS because I usually feel the need… for my friends still in their writing classroom…please remember when you conference and mark up work…there are many 🙂 thinned skinned fledgling writers out and about. xo

 

 

 

oh no, not another test

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Are all first-time grandmothers like me?  When I held our precious rosy haired hummingbird for the first time, it was love at first sight.  We raced down south and entered the labor and delivery waiting room with only ten minutes to spare.  I never thought I would get to gaze into a baby’s eyes during the ‘quiet alert’ after my own daughter was born. That miracle, that wide-eyed gaze was staring at me again— eyes that looked like a blueberry pie.

Dave and I cried in heaving gulps when left for five years to serve people in Ecuador. We made as many trips as possible to hold our dimpled girl.  She was the smartest, the naughtiest, multi-lingual girlie on the South American continent, but it was only our opinion.

Em Sam Dave giraffe

Em, Sam and Papa

As luck would have it, they ventured back stateside, and along the way, the family expanded to four— another girl, we were so blessed.

Soooooo… This is when I get on my soapbox.

Samantha enters kindergarten after finishing three years of all Spanish speaking Ecuadorian pre-school, where she has learned not to bite others, how to sit criss-cross applesauce, all the numbers up to fifty, all the letters, all the sounds and how to blend letters into words, yes—Spanish words, like I said earlier, she is exceptional, terribly gifted.

After a month of American of school, the kindergarten teacher said, “Yes, she is polite, yes, she listens….but she is behind our benchmark for this time in the year.  She may not make it out of kinder.”

KINDER

I am aghast, errrr, the dreaded one-minute timings?????

“Yes, m’am, we are a high stakes testing environment.”

GRADE ONE (she eeked through):

“Yes, m’am, her scores are okay now.”

Then why do you keep her in the low group? Aren’t these groups supposed to be ever flexible?

“It will be better for her to stay with the lower kids, we feel.”

Who is the ‘we’? I thought, trying to keep my grandma mouth shut.

GRADE TWO:

Sammy is taking tests every single day for a week.  She says the tests will get her in the Explorer group because they get to go on field trips.  Besides that, she says, they get some more challenges. Oh no, I fear for her remembering my own little girl’s sadness picturing…

FLASHBACK 1990:

my own little girl sitting lonely in her ‘high’ reading group after they took all of her friends away to-the gifted classroom down the hall. That day I had to explain to Emily— that tests will not show her creative side; the side of her personality that has no fear, or show her willingness to try hard, and the joy she brought to her mama’s heart every—single—day. Inside I felt terribly angry, angry at Otis Lennon gifted test creator. I carry my irritation with group intelligence testing. My fear has never diminished throughout all my classroom years.

FRIDAY, GIFTED TEST RESULTS in 2018

Gifted. Samantha is designated Explorer by said test. But all of us knew that already. Finally, a test that worked (or maybe in all her brilliance she was a very good guesser).

They should have asked Grandma, and saved money on said test.  After all, don’t we know best? XO

PS because you know I like them.  The upswing of high stakes testing all over our country gives me pause…the amount of time daily, weekly and then many weeks during the spring doesn’t give a complete picture of a child’s worth and value. It is soapbox on which I will forever stand.

 

 

…a little sensitive

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slice button this marchYes…people would say that I am a little bit sensitive, or maybe that I wear my heart on my sleeve and maybe sometimes…okay, quite often I over share.  The other day I was with my girls, they know me quite well and we were on a topic I don’t love- HAIR.

Hair always has been a such a problem, ever since my mom cut my bangs every two weeks as a child.  They were cut up high on my forehead and always at an angle.  Sometimes I got a frizzy Toni perm.  It’s a wonder my hair didn’t fall out, that chemical formula was lethal, I think.

I moved into my teenage years with lukewarm blonde hair, skimpy and straight and finally mom started letting me be a bit more independent.  I used Dippity Doo every night and tried to sleep on those horrible pink hard rollers.   Things started to improve with the blow dryer and then things really began to improve with experimentation with my girlfriends.  We perfected highlighting with the pull through  snug cap.  I could even do my own and when I married Dave he helped me pull from the back.  I never went to the beauty parlor, except for a trim, I’m a little cheap, kind of like my mom.

Fast forward quite a few years.  As I got older, my hair got better.  It had more heft to it. The person that cut my hair told me it was because of the grey coming in, which I really didn’t seem to notice.  It just kind of grew in pretty naturally with my highlighted hair, or so I thought.

Here is the conversation around my table of friends the other night.

Friend #1- I was thinking about getting my hair colored.  (She has snow white beautiful platinum natural hair.)

Friend #2 (hairdresser)-  Don’t do that, people pay for your color.  Some put purple streak in, it’s all the rage.

Me–  I need to do something with my hair, I’m bored with it.

Friend#3-  Nancy, you need a style!!!! (Okay, she might not have said it in such an intense matter but I also might have been a wee bit offended, because I’ve worn my hair the same way for so long and no one had ever said anything)

Me to Friend #2 (hairdresser friend)-  Do you think you could give me a style next week?

Next Tuesday I trot over to my friend’s for the style.

As she cuts she says.”You know how we were talking about Friend#1‘s beautiful grey hair?”

“Mmmhmmm,” I murmured thinking she would tell me how great my greys were.

“Your’s aren’t really the pretty kind.”

Well, (hmmph I thought.) I said,  ” Did you at least give me a style this week?”

“I think you look better than last week with the layers. But…”

“Next week…I hope you can help me out with the the other problem, the grey problem?”

“Anything for a friend, I’ve got your back, I mean, your hair.”

 

 

 

 

…sometimes I just

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sometimes I just

miss it all, too much.

the rising early, coffee in one hand

my backpack in the other.

the sound of soft quiet

before the

precious ‘lights’ enter my classroom.

the hustle, the scurry, the plans,

the joy.

and sometimes I just

shake my head in disbelief.

that the unbelievable has just happened

again,

that the innocent victims will never

have a chance,

to change our world and champion

love instead of hate,

giving instead of getting.

it is

so sad.

it is

so pathetic,

that the so-called adults in

the room seem

terribly insane about this issue.

But hopefully soon,

the children

will lead

us into

a better

tomorrow.

their hope.

their ideas,

their perseverance,

will change hearts.

sometimes I just know.

…kelly’s gotcha story…again

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Our story of getting our daughter Kelly has been told a million times.  It has been fourteen years now and beginning to sound like a fairy tale, a very true good and sometimes scary tale.  God and his goodness is very apparent in this yarn.  The dream of her heart has happened.  She is married to one of the best men I know. and has the sweetest baby boy ever!  I admire this dedicated mommy who loves so well!

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This was unusual for Dave.  After a Sunday message at church he turned to me and said,”I don’t know what, but I think God is going to be asking us to do something big- that’s gonna change our lives.”

I do remember thinking that this is definitely out of character for my guy that makes sure that he is well researched before making any big decision at all.  He checks the money, he checks the mood, he consults his mother, he wants me to ask my father… yep, God must really be talking loudly today for him to even be telling me this.

The next week, he came home on Tuesday and told me that he found you sitting at a table in the Media Center at school.  You had wanted to let him know that you wouldn’t be able to play for him this season because they were placing you in another foster placement out of our school district. Dave knew instantly, this was it, this was the big thing and that no…Kelly Marie would be definitely living at our house instead.

The next week we got you set you up in Jeff’s old bedroom upstairs.  Dave told you that he would paint the room whatever way you wanted. You chose ‘Pepto’ pink with stripes down one side of the wall,  I didn’t like hot pink.  Dave just smiled and painted away.  Your clothes were moved in.  I noticed you were a ‘keeper’ like me…a trunk of cheap stuffed animals and all the dresses and dried flowers from important events.   You said, not to worry, that you wouldn’t get in our hair.  You said you’d be off to college soon and that you were a ferociously independent type of girl.

You hung your pictures back from Jr. High…friends and more friends of every nationality, every creed.

Dave wanted to be your dad, he even looked like you.  You called him ‘Papa’.  You called me ‘Nanc’.

You gave your story to us, it told of the day when you thought you were going on a fun mini-trip to a hotel.  You remember that you had your ‘swimmies’ on your arms when you were pulled away from your mother. You thought you were meeting a new friend in a giant building called ‘court’.

You’ve been waiting all this time to be back with your mommy.  It’s been years of waiting and now you are in another placement my family…and that dream still continues to pulse inside of you.

Don’t worry sweet Kelly, “You can call me Nanc. I know you have a mom.”

I want that dream to stay alive for her…but I’m fearful of all things big and little… realizing early that years in a group home and then in placements that hadn’t worked out had to have taken a toll.  One day I asked you if you had any pictures of your little girl self.

You said, “not a one…but you said you looked just the same only smaller.”

I tried to imagine but didn’t want to imagine, a little curly-headed girl with swimmies reaching out to a mom that was walking away.

I think we’ve come to the place eight years later that you are my girl and I am your Nanc , and I’m very happy about that.  Now you have a different dream that includes a vast array of friends and older folks that have fed into your life for many years…you hope and yearn for the day when you will be a mom, who will hold on tight and never let go….never let go…never let go.

PS because I like them…I am proud of my girl…tell your story…tell it to the world- a story of strength, of perseverance, loyalty, and love.

PSS because I just can’t resist…Kelly is realizing part of her dream in June.  Papa will be walking her down the aisle, to begin her new life with her best friend, Matthew. xo nanc  Papa and KB PSSS Oh, did I tell you Francis is smart, really smart…and affectionate… such a good combo I think! xo

KMF

 

…in my 20’s, 30’s,40’s,50’s, yikes 60’s

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slice button this marchIn my 20’s I swam because I didn’t mind putting on my suit and cute leotards on for Jazzercize.  In my 30’s I did high impact aerobics, then low with my girlfriends and walked or ran on the Y’s quarter-mile outside track.  In my 40’s I tried to solve the chubbiness setting in with Jenny Craig and hiking in the woods.  In my 50’s I loved walking my dog, but after tripping quite often breaking multiple body parts I hung the leash up. I remember trying Zumba only once because some of my Latino girlfriends laughed the whole class away watching my comical ‘Swedish’ moves’.

Last week a new/old friend on the block said, “Nanc, I want you to be my special exercise friend.”

“I would be happy to be your new exercise friend,” I said even though my friend the elliptical. had me feeling quite content. “You know that I am in my 60’s now, don’t you?”

“Not to worry, I know I don’t look like it or act like it, but actually I’m in my  70’s.” my friend responded.

But what I didn’t expect was that last week my friend would pick me up every morning at 8:00 o’clock sharp.  Every day of the week we tried something different…Pilates, Yoga, Piloxing, Tableta, and Zumba, of course.  I left with his yearning for the days when we just called all of this stuff high aerobics and lifting weights.

After each session, I went up to each instructor,

“Thank you for the class.  I hope I didn’t distract you too much because every time you went left, I went right. And every time your arm was up mine went down.

All of the 20 something teachers smiled and said,

“Well when we are learning something new we always struggle.  After all, some of these people in this class have been doing this their whole life.”

A big inside sigh… ah yes, some of us have.

My new 70-year-old friend just looked at me and smiled.

“What will we try tomorrow?”

“Maybe a senior class?” I snarled.

“But we’re not… you know.”

“Not in our heads…but my knees are.” I quipped.

PS  This last week we have been exercising like it’s our job.  But on Friday after the free passes expired I decided to join. The rewards?  Friendship and strength I hope!

…goose convention

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That’s right, we’ve got a convention right in our backyard. I loved going to NCTE or IRC when I was teaching, but, I’m resentful that this goose convention was planned really close to our bedroom sliders without even Moi!

We live in Illinois, thirty miles from the best city in the world (according to my mother) and about two hours from the ‘Mighty Mississippi’ (I was so proud in second grade when I learned to spell it).  Why won’t these goosey guys from Canada plan a convention in another beautiful habitat like Kansas City where there’s tasty barbeque or even southwest to ‘Sin City’ where a few of them can try out a new comedy act. The perfect place I think would probably be on the ‘Daytona Strip.’  The sound of the surf is so amazing, and I know those sunbathers would have some room for them on this beach (heck, I’m sure the Atlantic waters are still flowing free in Florida).

Every fall these geese awe us with their practice sessions of their famous V formation. But instead, of flying south like God taught them to do they decide that our small wetland area suits them even on many below zero days.  And nights.

I know you are thinking, “Oh Nancy, why don’t you care more about these precious little honkers?”

Well, it’s not like I want a hunter to go out and massacre them in the dead of night.  I can’t can’t gather my hunting friends because of legal issues they would incur.  Here’s a new fact, my teaching friends…they are nocturnal, did you know? I’m guessing it’s the guys in the group having a party every night after the convention hours are over.  They are up all day learning what to eat in the tundra. And at night they must somehow get a bit inebriated and get mad when their ‘girl’ gets too goose cozy with a new feathered friend.

And then they let the whole world know about it at one, two and three am.

And for the life of me this one I can’t figure out. What do they even eat when the lake is slick enough to skate on, and even fishermen have to cut holes in the ice to dip their lines in.  But they must be eating something because they leave a ton of excrement behind (maybe more like two tons).

I’m sure I’ll get used to all this stuff after a time, we’ve only been here since July. People have told me that they don’t hear subway trains after a while.  All I know is this.  I can’t roll them over from their backs to their sides like I do with Dave on some occasions.

And don’t tell me to that I need to sing them all a sweet lullaby every night until they drift off calmly.

They won’t.  I know because I’ve tried.

…working from home

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You know the feeling of lingering and not having to rush.  The luxury of not having to be anywhere, not having to put your make-up on or change out of your pajama pants.  That slow cup of coffee is pretty sweet when it doesn’t spill out of your cup as you jettison to work with your honey pies.  As a matter of fact, I haven’t spilled down the front of my shirt for a good long while.

It’s sweet to make decisions on your own about what tasks you will take on and in what order.  Much like my former life in the classroom working from home is a pleasant existence of choices.  On a perfect day I write a little, read a little, write a little more. On a good day, I do the same but open the garage door to let the delivery men unload tile, or put a load of laundry in.

I have time.  Time to dream up stories and new ideas for stories.  Time to compose and look for a different sentence structure or a better verb that fits the rhythm of the article I am working on.

I’m still learning.  The pace of my former life still lives inside of me as I reach for my dad in a hug.  While I’m with him, the calendar and the ‘to do’ list emerge quickly.  With him, I do issue commands but also try to offer the dignity of choice.

Finally, I love this new journey, this new life, this new kind of slow.  slice button this march

PS  Many people have encouraged me to sub after I retired.  To be a good sub is a calling and it just wasn’t mine.  Last night a few of my friends said I maybe could try dog walking or being a personal grocery shopper. Both of those might be something to think about,  but writing and reading will always be a part of my daily business.  It’s who I am.

 

…you can

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slice button this marchI don’t have an ounce of patience for stripping wallpaper that comes off in small half-dollar sections.  I don’t have an ounce of patience for painting closets, ceilings and edging or even rolling.  But ” you can,” I say over and over again from July to January. I have no idea how to lay hardwood in a kitchen and in a great that suddenly doesn’t appear to be so great.  I have no idea how to cut trim, install all new doors or do a subway backsplash with light grey grout.  But “you can learn, by watching YouTube, I have the utmost confidence in you, Dave!”

It has been a journey so far and I am pretty proud that we have finished all one level of our fixer-upper.  Oops, excuse me…that Dave has finished; my perfectionist…the love of my life.

k1

GR1

 

 

 

i didn’t want to

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I didn’t want to leave my cozy red chair where my writing room where books surrounded me day and night and framed photos made me smile and cry. My window to the cul-de-sac festivities lost.  My battle with my man and his need to design waged on until he drove me down a lane lined with walnut trees and smelling of pine and wood smoke.  Seeing the wetland lake in the distance my heart did a pitter-pat. It was unkempt, not loved and as we crossed the loose gravel and opened the door, I feel my resolve begin to fade.  A massive rock wall from the peak to the lower level stood proudly before us beckoning us through the mess to view the lake beyond.  Awestruck I stood there, without taking a step any further I knew this was the place my dreams are made of.

PS I’m kind of excited about flash memoir…which is what you do every week when you SLICE.  A new person just joined her writing group, and this is a craft that she teaches. This is her blog.

PSS I like the idea of trying to write small and not long.