Thursday, March 31, 2016

Thank You for Saving My Passion For Writing

Three years ago my writing journey took a new turn when my friends Betsy Hubbard and Robin Sheldon convinced me to create a blog so I could join in on the Slice of Life challenges.  I can not thank them enough for nudging me in that direction for a lot of different reasons.
Before I started making the commitment to write posts on my blog I was struggling with so many issues in my life. Although I really enjoyed writing it was becoming a more of a burden on my mind. For so many years I prided myself in applying the newest and latest writing techniques into my classroom. The moment the new Lucy Calkins writing units were released I was one of the first teachers to use it in my building and I watched for any of the latest professional development books to come out so that I could make sure I was up to date.  I modeled my writing often for my children, at the time I taught 1st grade and they were enthralled to learn any new tidbit of information about my life and they could relate to many of my stories.   But then I hit a roadblock!  When I had a tragedy in my life it became much too difficult to share stories because the exposed wound was too raw and it brought too many emotions to the surface.  So, I became afraid to share, and I am ashamed to say I limited my modeling to safe topics.  I stopped journaling because I would start and not know where to go.  I worried about writing in the presence of my family for fear they would think I had lost my mind or worse they would want to read it.  There were many started entries in my journal but nothing ever was finished.
Meanwhile I  berated myself, thinking all the time about what I could write or what I should write knowing it would be a great healing strategy. Meanwhile the deep fear that if I didn't start journaling about my son, Trent that all those memories would be gone forever and that he would be forever be forgotten.  That wasn't helping it only put more pressure on me that I shut down further.
Fortunately for me my two friends and colleagues coincidentally began sharing with me this notion of Slice of Life.  Thus began my blog!
I didn't even care if anyone even read my posts but then Betsy and Robin faithfully read as well as commented on all of my posts.  It was the encouragement I needed and I began to write again.  It helped me personally and professionally.  Empathizing with my students when they hit a roadblock, understanding how just a little encouraging could be that little nudge to write.
So to my friends Betsy Hubbard I'm Living My Words   and Robin Sheldon Teaching Tomorrow's Leaders  Thank you so much for saving my passion for writing which allowed me to not only share my life's journey but also record memories of my son so that his spirit can carry on forever!

Monday, March 28, 2016

Children and Restaurants

Tonight we had an informal farm business meeting at a restaurant. My daughter, her husband and kids came along.  One year old Clair was impatient, fussing about sitting in the booster seat and Kasen, three years old, sat by Pappa hiding his head in his side obstinate about everything.  
As the discussion got deeper and more serious the children became more restless.  Clair worked her way out of the booster into her dad's lap where she climbed her way into mom's lap.  Finally, able to wiggle her way down she waddled off towards the big giant claw machine.  
Kasen perked up then, "Where is Clair Bear going?"  he said in a very concerned voice.  Not because he was concerned something was going to happen to her but more so that he might miss out.  
So, I decided to do a grandma intervention.
"Come on Kasen let's take a look" I replied as I grabbed his hand.  
About $10 later in quarters we managed to be successful at the claw machine while Clair was entranced by the whole process.  The definition of successful is all in the situation.  We "won" a stuffed item, it was a Betty Boop with a crazy eyed look sitting cross legged in her trade mark short skirt on a birthday cake with candles with big letters that spell June.  Good grief I thought!
Kasen was thrilled at first when he reached in the round hole for the prize.  When he pulled it out and took a good look at it his response was, "Well, this can be Clair Bear's, and the next one will be mine".   When we handed it to Clair she immediately chucked it on the floor.  Even she thought it was hokey. 
As soon as he said "next one" my mind began churning trying to decide what the odds were that we could actually hook two items in one night considering we were even lucky to retrieve one.  Pretty sure I knew the outcome we used up all the quarters that everyone had and the claw came up short every time latching on to nothing.  
Kasen was disgusted to say the least but took it like a champ after I gave him my phone to play with . Although he didn't win anything except a Betty Boop doll he did learn to distinguish a quarter from the other coins because they don't work in the machine.  Hopefully he learned that the claw machine is a rip off too but we will see.  
Taking small children to a restaurant is challenging but they behaved better than can be expected.  

Sunday, March 27, 2016

Auction fever

Whenever I hear an auctioneer a rush just goes through my body.  The sing-song voice of the auctioneer is mesmerizing.  It's in my blood you see when my dad turned forty he went through what I would now call a mid-life crisis.  He announced to my family that he was going to auctioneering school in Missouri and we would have to do chores while he was gone.  We were shocked! Our dad was going to leave the farm for two weeks without mom!  That was unheard of and to top it off he was going to fly in an airplane to get there.  My dad was deathly afraid of flying but nothing was going to stop him from achieving his dream.
While he was gone we had to step it up around the farm making sure that the 200 - 300 hogs and 50 cows were well taken care of including feeding, birthing, health care, etc.  It seemed like our dad would never get back but soon he was back and with a renewal on life.
My dad was excited to put his new skills to work.  He practiced day and night.  I would often hear him in the basement long before the sun rose in the morning auctioning every stick of wood that he threw in the wood stove.  When we were getting ready to eat dinner at night the food and dishes were sold over and over.   While working in the barn the livestock sold for an exorbitant amount.  He chanted the tongue twister, "Rubber Baby Buggy Bumpers" over and over again dedicated to perfecting his new found skill.  We were even sold to the lady in the red shirt and the man in the blue hat although they never claimed their prize.
Finally, he had his chance and our family rallied around him doing their part to support his dream.  My brother was the ring master, I was the clerk, my mom and sisters took care of registration/ check out.  The auctions were a lot of work but so much fun.
Those auction days spent with my dad and watching him fulfill a life long dream were great memories.  My dad isn't a man that will sit you down to fill you with words of wisdom but I did learn  lot by just watching how he chooses to live his life.
I learned that your never too old to fulfill your dreams!
So, when my daughter got married a few years ago on the farm it was only natural that before the  dollar dance we asked him to auction off the first dance with the bride and groom.  To my daughter's chagrin her new husband was sold for more money than her.

Friday, March 25, 2016

Weaning Time

Weaning Time
Ewes on one side 
Lambs on other
Constant blaating!
Mamas calling their babies
Babies frantically calling back
Echoes back and forth
Night is still 
All but the sound of the bleating  
every now and then
into the silence of night
Until tomorrow
when all is quiet 

Thursday, March 24, 2016

Dear Old Friends

Dear Old Friends,
What's happened?  We used to have a lot of good times before the accident.  I thought the good times would never end and that we would always be friends. It seemed as if my life was perfect, enjoying those carefree moments.  
After the accident you were there for a while but you soon began to slowly fade away.  Not calling, making other plans, finding different people to be with.  You would invite us over occasionally with your new friends but that soon stopped.
When the funeral was over some of you just avoided us all together, looking away when we were around, or trying to have a conversation with us but not know what to say causing you some discomfort.
Did you know that being able to talk about the accident was the only way to deal with the shock of what had happened?  Did you know that when you talked about your children that it was a stab to the heart?  Did you know that so many things would trigger a memory or a thought of him? Did you know that we had flashbacks of the night we found him that made us want to be sick and it took every ounce of energy to push those visions out of our mind?
For so long the grief made us physically sick.
I am sure it got old and annoying to hear about him all the time but it was extremely hard to be without him. To many we probably appeared to have lost our minds and for a while I really thought we had.   Those of you who tried to give us advice on how to deal with the grief I am sorry but you really had no clue about our hell that we were going through.  All we needed was some friends to listen.  You could have never completely understood and we would have never wanted you to.
I realize that I was no longer the same and that I was not the fun loving person but I needed time.  Time to heal my broken heart.  Time to deal with the shock.  Time to understand why.  Time to start my life over without him.  Time to learn to care. Time to want to live.
So, I guess I am wondering why you couldn't stick with us through thick or think?  I've learned to accept that some of you, I will never again have a relationship with and others will only be acquaintances.  A few of you lasted the storm and I am thankful for that.
Still, though I feel betrayed at times that more of my old friends are long gone and it will never be the same again but then again I will never be the same again.  So, I guess I don't blame you and since then I have learned to just accept the way things are knowing that there may never be answers.
The New Me

Tuesday, March 22, 2016

Give in or Give up!

This is a personal reflection on my character.  I am an all in kind of person.  Jumping in with both feet, when I take on a job or task.  If I strongly believe in something then I hold fast to those beliefs. There are times when this trait works on my behave and then there are times when it causes me aggravation. 
At this moment in time this attribute may be pushing me over the edge.  
Too many outside factors that are out of my control are pushing what really matters to me off to the side.  Each year it seems that I am incorporating less and less of my personal teaching touches into the classroom. It's beginning to feel more and more like a cookie cutter classroom where I am  focused mostly on what everyone else tells me to focus on.  Fitting more in is not an option anymore without squeezing out something.  
I feel I am losing my uniqueness as a teacher.  How can I be all in when I don't agree which then leaves me with only two options; speak up or give in.  
I have done a lot of speaking up but it seems it is out of my control to change the movement.  So, that leaves the option of acceptance.  If that is the way then am I losing my personality?  

Monday, March 21, 2016


Wringing out the icy cold towels I lay it across the lambs back.  He tries to shake it loose and I catch it just in time before it hits the ground.  Ashley is holding the cool towel on the other lamb with one hand watching the class in the arena. 
I just keep fussing offering the lamb a drink of water it just turns it's head away.  The sun beats down relentlessly hot I can feel the sweat dripping down the middle of my back.
Suddenly the crowd cheers and I look up to see the judge shaking hands with the winner of that class. Parents crowd around the arena gate as the other 4-her's slowly make their way out the gate.  Each child is holding a different colored ribbon which they either stuff it in their back pocket or hand it to their waiting mom.  Grandma's are snapping pictures of children holding trophies and ribbons. 
The show ring attendant opens the entrance gate to let the last round of anxious kids in with their lambs.  It's down to the best of each class.  A show down.  Ashley pulls the rope halter off and flings it in my directions.  I catch it mid air.  "Good luck"  I say.
It's lame I know but it's all I can think of at the moment because my heart is about pounding out of my chest.  I feel a bit sick.
The final contestants lead their prize lambs around the arena and they are staring intent on the judge.  Signaling them to circle the ring the judge is just as intent, watching as each lamb takes a step.  Everyone stops and quickly gets to the front of the lamb pushing into it's chest with their leg so it will brace up showing every ripple of muscle.  Ashley's lamb looks awesome not a leg out of place due to the months of intense daily training on the farm over the summer. 
The judge walks confidently down the line of lambs sliding his hands over the top of the lamb's loin and leg to check the amount of muscle each one had. 
I hold my breath when he gets to Ashley's.
Leaning on the fence I watch as the judge steps back looking down the line of really high quality lambs.  Which one will he chose?  I don't dare to think it would be Ashley's. 
With big strides the judge heads toward the winner.  I suck in my breath, as he heads in Ashley's direction.  Ashley is not taking her eyes off him keeping her lamb perfectly set up, slightly pushing into him so that his muscles are accentuated. 
As the judge gets closer he thrusts out his hand to congratulate the winner.  The crowd claps and cheers as he picks the grand champion lamb.
"Congratulations, Mom!" someone on the rail next to me says. 
The pride flows through me as I watch Ashley accept the trophy.  I smile because I know  all the years of hardships, the drive and determination that went into this one small moment of glory.