Sunday, December 20, 2009

Life Isn't Fair

I have become very familiar with the phrase "Life isn't fair". Anyone with multiple children can probably relate to the scenario where one child may feel slighted if they aren't given the exact same thing as their siblings, whether it be a material possesion or just the amount of time spent with their mom. Their natural inclination is to feel (less worthy??) if they don't get the exact same number of cookies as Johnny, despite the fact that they might not have been hungry in the first place. As a mother who wants the best for her children, I consciously try to teach them to recognize their personal needs and what is good for them instead of just expecting to get what all the others get. What good does being "fair" really do for our children (or anyone for that matter)? I believe it teaches them that they deserve something that they are not entitled to....something they didn't earn....and possibly something they might not even want. And this all for the sake of being "fair"? As far as I'm concerned, I believe the sooner they learn and accept that life isn't fair, the happier they will be.

The reality is that each of us will have different opportunities and experiences in life. If life was fair then everyone would be the same....same house...same car...same amount of love, same game of cards, same number of brothers and sisters....need I go on? So, In a nutshell...."Life is not fair". I shall embrace this and step down off my soapbox now.....

Thursday, October 29, 2009

Just In Time For Halloween!

Another excerpt from Chandler Nichols poetry....

Orange and Black

Orange and black, imagine this,

A little snake that just would hiss.

This is what you should be afraid of,

not like it's a little dove.

Orange and black, such a great thing;

It's even better than a little duckling.

Orange and black look good when they're seen,

especially when it's Halloween.

Fright Night

It's already dark, who will I fright,

a boy in a costume, as a brave knight?

I'll come to your house and I'll shout "BOO!"

Hopefully I will scare you.

I'm at someone's house, who will I scare next,

maybe someone that my mom will text.

I see fake pirates with a big shipwreck,

I might even hear someone say,

"What the Heck?"

I'm at my house eating some candy,

saying to myself "maybe this will come in handy".

I'll say, "I had such a good fright night",

Then I would say to my mom, "Good Night!".

The Light is So Bright, So Hold on Tight!

The light is so bright so hold on tight,

because this may be one horrible fright.

Come on down to my frightful shop,

and you can spin a bloody top.

You might want a horrible scene,

especially on Halloween.

Everyone might shout "Hooray!"

and maybe even have a part-ay.

That's why it's one horrible scene,

all because of Halloween.

Saturday, October 17, 2009

Excerpts from Chandler Nichols' poetry book...

Halloween Night
I’m just outside my house,
What will I see,
A wiener dog on a grill
Just for me.
Even though I’m having fun,
The wiener dog is in the bun.
Even though I’m by my mother,
I might even scare my little brother.
I’m getting that hot dog, you will see,
That hot dog is no match for me.
I have the hot dog, now I will eat,
That little hot dog filled with meat.
I’m at my house, just at noon,
On Halloween, I’ll see you soon.
Into the Dark on Halloween

Into the dark, where I can’t see
There’s something that might scare me.
I’m in the dark, the floor keeps creeking.
I’m starting to feel like someone’s peeking.
Out the window, behind the front door,
There might be something under the floor.
It may be true, it really might be,
Little creeps after me.
Into the dark on Halloween,
Is the time I don’t want to be seen.

Why I am convinced I have ADD

Carleigh, Morgan and Chandler are all at sleepovers and I have just put Chloe to sleep. My intention is to cross off a few items on my "to do" and I set out to do so. First is to type Chandler's Halloween poems and check to see if I have any frames lying around downstairs. I just love these poems and since Chandler's dad's birthday is next week, I thought he would really enjoy them, too. In fact, I'm sure he'd love them even if it wasn't his birthday, but there's that whole "kill two birds with one stone" thing...., which, BTW, means to do two things by one action; or to get two results with just one effort. I just looked this up in my Dictionary of Idioms, which states its origin is the following:

"There was a similar expression in Latin about 2,000 years ago, and "kill two birds with one stone" became popular in English many centuries later. It comes from hunting birds by throwing stones at them or shooting stones at them with a slingshot. If you actually killed two birds with just one stone, a practically impossible feat, you'd be carrying out two tasks with just a single effort."

But I I'm downstairs poking through boxes with photos and mementos, trying to find a frame suitable for presentation when I come across a bunch of photos of my kids. I paw through them trying to remember when they were taken and which child was which. No good frames here. The next box reveals mementos from my early years, including a beautiful Hummel plaque that reminds me of a new friend and her fondness for Hummel figurines. I pull it out and study it for a moment, trying to remember where I came across this obvious gift. I am fairly certain that I did not purchase it, but simply can't recall who gave it to me. Despite my early onset dementia, I decide that I need to display this plaque and set it aside to bring upstairs. Maybe if I look at it every day, I will eventually remember where it came from...

Back on task, I continue my search and come across my results for the Keirsey Temperament Sorter II and also the results for the Career Ability Placement Survey, both of which spark my interest. You see, as of late, I have been struggling with my identity, and anything that can help me sort out those deep "Who am I?" or "What do I want to do with my life?" questions could be very helpful. And according to Keirsey, I have a temperament of Guardian, with a variant temperament of protector. Oh, really? And what does that mean? Well, let me tell you...

"Guardians, being concrete in communicating and cooperative in implementing goals, can become highly skilled in logistics. Thus their most practiced and developed intelligent operations are often supervising and inspecting, or supplying and protecting. And they would if they could be magistrates watching over these forms of social facilitation. They are confident of themselves in the degree they are respectable. In search of security as they are the "Security Seeking Personality" -- trusting in legitimacy and hungering for membership. They are usually stoical about the present, pessimistic about the future, fatalistic about the past, and their preferred time and place is the past and the gateway. ...yada, yada, yada....They tend to be enculturating as parents, helpmates as spouses, and conformity oriented as children."

Whew. These too, I set aside with the Hummel plague. More items added to my "to do" list. By now I am wondering why I came downstairs and remember the poem project. Still searching for that frame, I come across my high school year books, but resist the temptation to open them. Digging deeper into the box, I discover many cards I have received over the years and I start to read a few of them. Imagine outdated ShoeBox Cards in the Hallmark Store...they may be old, but they're still funny. I have a good laugh until I also stumble across cards from my SBE, Dave. Now I'm on a mission to find them all so that I can throw them away. At this point, I am vaguely aware that I am not accomplishing the task I had originally set out to do, but since I am already here and the cards are already in my hand, I might as well go through them all (and there are a LOT) to be sure I didn't miss any. I believe my thought process was something like "I don't want to stumble across these again, so I better take care of it now..."

Next, I notice a stack of laminated obituaries. I flip through these and am reminded of my grandparents which makes me a little sad. My grandmother had a knack for poetry and I dig deeper in the memento box for copies of her poems. I read and reread these for a while, remembering them fondly when I remember that I am supposed to be looking for a frame for Chandler's poems.

Quite some time later, I have several piles of "stuff" lying all around the floor, including the Hummel plaque, the cards from Dave, the temperament/ability tests, some old photos, and other misc. garbage. That's about the time the realization hits me... I must have ADD because what normal person sets out to accomplish a task and not only fails to complete that task, but adds 5 more tasks to her "to do" list?

Did I forget to mention that I have a new kitten? He has seven toes so we named him Lucky #7. He's really cute. One of these days I'll take some photos of him to share, but don't count on it too soon because I have ADD. Oh, yah....and dementia, which means you will probably never see photos because I will forget that I wanted to share them....

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Chapter 2: Life is still good even when it's bad after being a homemaker for four years, I have to go back to work. Due to the current state of affairs, finding a job has proven to be a difficult task. I don't need to tell you that "homemaker" screams "not qualified" on my resume. Regardless, I am still searching for that one activity that is going to tear me away from my kids and home for 50-60 hours a week, leaving me with just enough money (hopefully) to pay my bills and provide me with enough discretionary income to justify a somewhat modest bottle of wine when I desperately need one.

In the meantime, my plan is to earn a little cash while enhancing my qualifications and filling the gap in the timeline of my employment history. Which brings me to today: September 16, 2009. Today was my first day as a substitute teacher. Central Elementary school has been my second home for the last 6 years. In one way or another, I have volunteered my services for the enrichment of my children and the children of our community....a very worthy cause. Now I actually get paid for it. My first assignment: Mrs. Mason's second grade class, which is also, coincidentally, my 7 year-old daughter's class.

Our morning started off great and I remember thinking "this is actually fun". The children really seemed interested in learning and sharing. I was amazed at their intelligence and the sequence of their thoughts. Geography was particularly fun, with children asking questions spurring conversations about government and taxes and property...who would have ever thought a seven year old would want to know why the US government wanted to purchase the great state of Alaska, especially when it's so far away?

The second grade class was generally very well behaved, especially considering it was the start of a new school year. My daughter, Carleigh was especially helpful in secretly advising me of Mrs. Mason's classroom rules. Honestly, I was a little uncertain how she would act with her mother as the "sub". (Carleigh is never dramatic or demanding.) Today, she let me see a different side of her personality. I was amazed at how different she acted in the presence of her peers. The Carleigh I know so well was lost in the shadow of this child that sat, respectfully in her seat, and raised her hand when appropriate.

The afternoon progressed quickly; before long, I was shuffling the kids outside for afternoon recess. I was busy reviewing lesson plans for the remainder of the day when Carleigh, escorted by miss Morgan J., returned to the room. Carleigh's hair was messed up, pieces of dirt and grass stuck to her head and clothes. She was sobbing and holding her right arm. Morgan explained that she had fallen off the monkey bars and landed on her arm. She seemed very concerned and agreed to walk Carleigh down to the office while I retrieved the students from recess. Assuming Carleigh was taking advantage of this particular situation, I had convinced myself that she was fine and advised her she needed to return to class. As I tried to instruct the remaining 45 minutes of class, Carleigh quietly whimpered in her seat while holding an ice pack on her arm. This poor child will probably never forget those 45 minutes the rest of her life....scarred by the loathsome, cold and uncaring substitute teacher (a.k.a., her mom).

During those last 45 minutes of class, I slowly realized that this poor child might really be hurt. As this dawned on me, I found a moment during the chaos of packing up for the day to actually examine my child's injured arm. Guess what? Yup....swollen and tender to the touch. Now, I'm sure some of you might be able to understand the feeling that overwhelmed me at that moment. But to actually put it into words is proving to be much more difficult than I thought. Let's see....schmuck? How about cretin? You might even have a better word to describe me...

Amazingly, in her eyes I am still her mom.

(And yes, after hours in the emergency room waiting for the consult of a specialist, we discovered she indeed had suffered a broken arm.)

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

Weekend with Kids and Gracie in Northern Michigan

I've long since felt a calling from the North. After living in Traverse City for a year while starting my pharmaceutical sales career, I fell in love with Northern Michigan. Nowadays, it brings a sense of calm, a sense of home. After all, it was here that I started to discover myself after a traumatic divorce. The peninsulas and bay offered tranquility and driving past orchards with roadside fruit stands were consistently distracting and tempting. Lasting friendships were made and are still cherished today.

My kids, my dog and I answered the call last weekend. We set out Saturday morning to escape the rain down here. The kids entertained themselves watching movies while I tried to unwind from the stress of the earlier week. Our plan was to try to find a cheap hotel with a pool in the Sleeping Bear Dunes area and to go fishing. Unfortunately, rain dampened any hopes of outdoor activities; and finding a hotel with a pool and pet access proved more difficult than expected. We finally decided to head toward Traverse City and the plethora of hotels.

The first hotel we checked out was far too expensive and didn't allow pets. Sitting in the parking lot of that hotel on the corner of South Airport Road and US 31 is where the fun begins. While the kids are playing in the lawn of the hotel, I try to locate a place to reside for the evening via cell phone and local directory. Obviously distracted, I didn't notice that Gracie, our 4-year old Golden Retriever with a knack for escape, had gotten out of the van. She proceeded to run around the back of the hotel as I noticed her tail disappear around the corner through my rear-view mirror. Chloe is still strapped in her car seat in the car while Morgan, Chandler and Carleigh are chasing the elusive fluffy red Houdini. I join the chase as Gracie stops traffic close to the busy intersection, cars honking with passengers gawking and scowling. A kind woman and her daughter stop to help in the chase as I return to the van to tend to Chloe. Fortunately, she is unaware of the drama unraveling around her as I drive the car across the parking lot to where the other kids are still in pursuit of our beloved canine. Jumping out of the car, I advise Morgan to go back and sit with her sister while I assist the others in the catch. Who knew we'd be fishing for dogs? Our bait proved unworthy as she fled across the street to water the wildflowers. Eventually, the daughter of the kind woman who stopped to assist coaxed our "best friend" to return where we all heaved a sigh of relief. I gratefully thanked the women for stopping to help as Chandler surprisingly looks down at his feet to discover a large petoskey stone. Now, we have a special memento as we will always remember that time in Traverse City when...

Sounds crazy, I know...but the drama doesn't end there. Upon returning to the van, I find Morgan in tears, obviously very upset. I assume her demeanor is a result of the potential loss of her canine friend and I proceed to try to sooth her fear. Through tears and frustration, she explains that she thought Chloe was kidnapped and the car stolen. In the mass confusion immediately following Gracie's escape, I forgot to tell Morgan that I had moved the van across the parking lot; she had returned to our original parking location to take care of her sister only to find the van and Chloe missing. I can't imagine how she must have felt, but was deeply sympathetic as we together picked some beautiful flowers growing wild and free in the ditch.

Crisis adverted, we finally located a hotel with pet access and suited up for a dip in the pool. Sunday morning sunshine greeted us as we took advantage of continental breakfast and a quick swim in the pool before checking out. My longtime favorite, Good Harbor Coffee House, provided delicious scones for my freezer and we also toured the beautiful Munson Manor before leaving town and heading for the peninsula. I was grateful for the brief visit with the talented tour guide and my beloved friend, Michelle.

Our time in Fishtown was brief since Morgan and Chandler deemed it unworthy of casting. Now I'm no fishing expert, but I assume the nickname "Fishtown" must mean something, so I try to encourage the children to stay and explore. I lost this battle and we continue driving south to Sleeping Bear Dunes National Park, where the kids are excited to get another stamp in their National Parks Passport. I wait at the bottom of the dune with Gracie, securely leashed, watching my kids ascend. Regretfully, I realize I never told Chloe to run down slowly as I watch her tumble head over heals as she gathers far too much speed. As I run up the face of the dune I am assisted again by two strangers who are kind enough to gather my daughter in their arms until I arrive, more than slightly winded. Carefully, I wipe the sand from her eyes and mouth as I try to sooth her with hugs and kisses. All is forgotten as we near the bottom where Morgan, Chandler, Carleigh and Gracie wait to ascend once again....this time with Mom to hold their hands.