mommyverbs

Engaging Each Day with Action Words

Review. — 2013 Report Prepared By Those Lil’ Monkeys Again.

Many thanks to the WordPress.com stats helper monkeys who put this 2013 annual report together for MommyVerbs.

They are the best lil’ flying monkeys around. Not at all scary like in the Wizard of Oz. Because they add fireworks. I do love me some fireworks.

MommyVerbs has really begun to grow into its own this year. What started out as a little therapy on the cheap, a few fun stories and a couple of reflections, has now turned into a good friend. A place to come and be. A place to question. A place to share. MommyVerbs has a few official fans now. Beyond my Mom and my Nonnie, even.  MommyVerbs is getting a reputation, and I’ve even heard from a few folks that I didn’t know were connected to it, share that they enjoy reading it. That always makes me smile.  I hope those who like it will continue to share it with others who may enjoy it, too.

And for me,  MommyVerbs continues to make me be intentional … to be real about engaging each day with action words.

2013 also included a few MommyVerbs pieces showing up on The Huffington Post. A highlight for sure. AND MommyVerbs was also Freshly Pressed this year, a goal since this blog began in 2012. I’ve met a lot of good bloggy friends and I appreciate what they add to the conversation, how their writing challenges me, how they help me with my bloggy questions and beyond.

MommyVerbs has much in store for 2014. Maybe a few guest posts. Maybe a new format or design. Maybe even a MommyVerbs t-shirt … or two. You’ll have to stick around to see what happens.

mommyverbs tshirt1

Which is exactly why New Year’s Eve is my favorite holiday. It is a new calendar. A blank page. A fresh start.

And to quote my high school graduation speech (which was really quoting “Remington Steele” and “Say Anything”:

“Just think of the possibilities. And…Get ready for greatness, Lloyd.”

Happy New Year! Welcome 2014! 

If you are interested, here is a full report of MommyVerb actions this year.  It’s kind of fun and worth the tiny effort of the click. Besides, those ‘lil monkeys worked hard on this. 

Here’s an excerpt:

The concert hall at the Sydney Opera House holds 2,700 people. This blog was viewed about 15,000 times in 2013. If it were a concert at Sydney Opera House, it would take about 6 sold-out performances for that many people to see it.

Click here to see the complete report.

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Continue. — Random Holiday Traditions NOT To Be Monkeyed With.

I believe in tradition.

Growing up with some family traditions gives you a strong foundation. Because you know what to expect. You get excited about little things. You look forward to these little things happening. And as you grow up, you share these traditions, these ways of doing things with others.

Sure, you adjust. You are flexible as you need to be based on events and people and time.

Traditions are a guide. Traditions give you a place to start.

And I believe with all of my heart…that you don’t … “monkey with tradition.”

A line I stole from the movie, ‘Mystic Pizza’, and made it one of my life’s ambitions.

I am the glue. I am the memory. I am the keeper of the tradition.

I feel a responsibility to keep them going. To keep them alive. Even if no one notices or is even paying attention, it is important to me that we keep doing these things.

So here is a list of our random family holiday traditions.

That should never ever be monkeyed with.

Ever.

Christmas:

1. We open all of the family presents on Christmas Eve.

2. Santa brings unwrapped presents on Christmas morning.

3. Our elf on the shelf is named, Holly. I know, he has a girl name, but he’s a boy. Elf’s do that sometimes. Apparently. Especially when they are named by 5 year old girls.

4. Holly shows up on the first night that the Christmas tree lights go on. That’s how he knows to come.

5. The tree always goes up after Thanksgiving and usually comes down after New Year’s Day.

6. On Christmas Eve, the kiddos get to hug and kiss Holly goodbye. But he must be on the tree before bedtime so Santa can find him and take him home.

7. You may not go downstairs on Christmas morning before Momma. She must get the picture of the kiddos at the top of the stairs in full excitement mode.  It’s a Momma Rule. And Momma Rules can’t be broken.

8. We will have Monkey Bread for breakfast on Christmas morning. And we eat our Monkey Bread off of little blue Snowman plates. That is the only action those plates see all year.

monkeybread plate

9. We drive about 45 minutes to see Santa each year. We meet family friends for lunch and listen to THE Santa sing songs, play guitar and tell stories. It is pure Christmas magic. We believe.

10. We will always give our friends an ornament of some sort as a Christmas present.

11. We will always give a photo calendar to our Nanas, Maws and PawPaws.

12. There will always be 3 new ornaments added to the tree each year: one with a picture of X, one with a picture of Y and one with a picture of me and Felix together. Each with the current year engraved on it.

13. At Maw Betty’s house, we will always hang the “Horton Balls”, handmade ornaments with each person’s name on one.  New additions of babies or unions are added each year.

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14. We open presents one at a time. Sometimes we clap for each present. But not always.

15. We watch the TBS 24 hours of A Christmas Story for … well, almost 24 hours. I’m actually sad when it is over.

New Year’s Eve (My favorite holiday):

16. We bring the neighbors some oranges.

17. We eat 12 grapes at midnight.

18. We make our Family Mind Map of Goals for the new year.

Valentine’s Day:

19. Is always Family Fondue Night! A night for us to stay in and enjoy each our family, while dipping random food into chocolate.

Christmas 2010 - Feb 18 2011 387

Fourth of July aka Y’s Birthday:

20. Fireworks. No matter where we are. Fireworks.

Halloween:

21. We use the classic plastic pumpkins to go trick or treating. No bags or pillow cases for us.

Halloween 2010 031

Thanksgiving;

22. We go to an indoor water park on or around this holiday.

Birthdays:

23. You can have Monkey Bread for Breakfast if you would like. You always get to choose the food for the day.

24. There will be a sunrise walk and photo shoot on the beach and I will make you hold up your fingers to show your age. Guaranteed.

25. There will be number candles on your cakes. Not just the number of individual candles, but candles (and sometimes even the cakes) in the shape of numbers. Because they are cool.

July 4th weekend 130

And because it is … tradition.

And…say it with me“You don’t monkey with tradition.” 

You just keep making new ones.

Merry Christmas, Action Worders!

3 Comments »

Need. — Who Am I To Decide?

At this time of year, we are often compelled to give.

Give to others.

Others in need.

We give canned goods for the local food pantry.

We buy presents for children on Angel trees.

We tip better and make lists of gifts to buy for others.

We put together baskets of holiday meals for local families.

I have participated in these collections, in these canned food drives, in these angel trees, in these many acts of gift giving.

And every now and then, I have discovered that someone, some family, some child seems to be found on more than one list for giving.

I discover that they are receiving a basket of food from the school and a bag of gifts from the local church.

They are getting to go to the community center party and getting new clothes and shoes from the local Rotary club.

And I’m a little ashamed to think that I have probably thought  at some point or another, and maybe I’ve even said things out loud like, “See, that is what really bothers me … when people take advantage.”

But here’s the thing I have learned recently.

Who am I to judge?

Who am I to decide?

Who am I to have anything at all to say about who is really in need and who is only kind of in need?

Statistics show that the majority of us are really only six months away from poverty at any given moment …  if a tragic, devastating event were to occur in our lives. (Many of these start with the letter ‘D’.)

Death. Divorce. Disease. Deployment. Destruction. Disaster. Debt. Deceit.

We are all just a few bad choices or one act of very bad luck away from being …there.

And if we ever find ourselves…there…in need. In need of help. In need of the local food pantry. In need of help at Christmas.

If we ever find that we have to show up and get in line and look at others and ask for help. If we ever find that we have to put ourselves and our families on any and every list for help that is available. Then…

We wouldn’t want others judging us; deciding if we are really in need or only kind of in need?

Would we?

No.

Because if we are … there; if we’ve made the decision to ask, to seek out help … then we are indeed in need.

Need is relative. And it is also personal.

So when people seek out help for their needs, it is not up to me whether or not to provide help. It is not up to me to judge whether the need is really needed.

It is up to me to give with a joyful heart.

And do what I can to meet needs and fill wants.

Let’s all, Go. Do that.

P.S. I continue to be overwhelmed by the amount of generosity of people everywhere. We are still collecting donations for the families of the local food pantry to provide a present for each child and grandchild. If you would like to help, we are getting closer to meeting needs and filling wants…only need about $1100 more dollars to make it happen. If you are able to help, you can make a donation online: https://secure.easychurchtools.com/fieldstoneumc/

The Giving Tree Angel Tree

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Perfect. — Please Pass the Mashed Potatoes.

Norman Rockwell's Thanksgiving  Freedom From Want

Norman Rockwell’s Thanksgiving
Freedom From Want

Traffic might be heavy.

The weather may be dreadfully dreary and cold.

It might be too windy for the iconic Macy’s Day parade balloons to fly.

You may forget your toothbrush.

Or forget an ingredient that was on the shopping list.

Someone may say something that hurts someone’s feelings.

Or ask a question that crosses the line.

The kitchen might get too hectic.

The cook may feel overwhelmed trying to get everything to come out at the same time.

The mashed potatoes might be lumpy.

The gravy might get cold.

The turkey might turn out to be a little on the dry side.

A kiddo might refuse to eat. Or say something is yucky.

Or … spill their milk on the nice table cloth. Or on the carpet in the dining room.

Someone might drink a glass too many of wine.

Or may have one too many helpings to cause a belly ache.

There might be an awkward silence.

Or too many people talking at once.

Someone may not help clean up the dishes even though they didn’t help cook and it is their turn.

A piece of china might get chipped.

Or maybe someone wasn’t able to come home. Or schedules conflicted. Or someone is ill or too far away. Or doesn’t have family, related or not, to gather with right now.

There are so many things that can go wrong on days like Thanksgiving.

Here’s a gift for you to make this holiday just a little bit easier, simpler:

It is not supposed to be a perfect day.

It is just another day. Another Thursday, where we set the intention to come together as friends and family and just be together.

So, accept it all. Everything that might go wrong and know that it is all part of the story.

The story that is this holiday, this Thanksgiving.

Because families are all about their stories. Their pictures. Their times. Their memories.

The traditions. The laughter. The dessert. The time and place. The table. The gathering. 

It doesn’t have to be perfect.

Remember it all. And just be thankful.

For every little piece of this day.

And please pass the mashed potatoes.

Happy Thanksgiving!

3 Comments »

Deliver. — Put the Giving Back in the Thanks.

Tonight during a meeting, I watched as my friend took a phone call and jotted down some directions.

I leaned over, took a look and recognized some of the street names, so I whispered, “I’ll help.”

At the end of the meeting, we loaded a box into the back of my car.

A box containing all of the trimmings of a Thanksgiving Day dinner.

A turkey. A bag of potatoes. Cans of corn and green beans. Rolls. Stuffing.

A Thanksgiving Day dinner complete with a pumpkin pie.

I got in my car, turned the heat on to high, turned on the light and checked the address and directions one more time.

As I drove, many thoughts raced through my mind. Thinking about the meeting tonight. Thoughts about the great birthday weekend I had. Recalling the wonderful family dinner I enjoyed this evening.

Then the typical think about what-I-did-today list. Then I started counting off the what-I-have-to-do-when-I-get-home list. Followed soon after by the what-I-need-to-do-tomorrow list.

Suddenly, I realized I had been driving longer than I thought I would be. Did I miss it?

Nope. Here it is. A right here. A left here. I had no idea this neighborhood even existed in my little town. I have lived here forever, how do I not know this street was here? One more right. First house on the right. There.

The porch light was on. As I pulled into the driveway, a young man came out to greet me.

“Hi. Are you Mr. R? Good evening. I have a Thanksgiving dinner for you.”

“Yes. Thank you so much.”

I opened the hatch on the trunk and lifted the box out to hand to him. Even though I was talking to a grown man with a family ,the Momma in me couldn’t resist to remind him to put the turkey in the freezer. 

I’m sure he was thinking, “Well, Duh!” But he was kind and polite enough not to say that out loud.

Instead he simply said again, “Thank you so much.”

“Absolutely. You are very welcome. Have a Happy Thanksgiving with your family.”

And that was it.

Five minutes of driving. Thirty seconds of small talk. One box full of a Thanksgiving dinner. Delivered.

And as I got back into my car and backed slowly and carefully out of their driveway, I realized I was crying.

Crying for all that I have. Crying for all they must not have. Crying for all of the people that came together to make this dinner happen. Crying for all of those who won’t have someone show up at 8:00 p.m. on a Sunday to deliver a box of dinner.  Crying for the neighbors who may have just as much need, who just didn’t know or weren’t connected or referred or who didn’t sign up.

There is so much need.

For help. For giving.

This Thanksgiving, This Christmas. This season.

This year. Next year.

Every. Single. Day. 

Let’s all teach our children to be thankful and to be giving. 

Let’s all remember that a few minutes of giving here can mean a world of thankfulness there.

Let’s all really focus on putting the Giving back into the Thanks.

Let’s all, Go. Do that.

Every. Single. Day.

11 Comments »

Participate. — Cast Your Vote.

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The day is here. It is finally here. Today is the Tuesday after the first Monday of November.

Election Day 2013.

And here are your Action Challenges for this day:

Participate. Vote.

No matter what side you are on, Blue or Red, Donkey or Elephant, Republican or Democrat.

Very simply: Just Go. Vote.

It is our right. And it’s the right thing to do.

Personally, I love to vote. I love to walk through the line of volunteers in the cold at the local high school. Some of them I recognize from different times and places around this small town. We smile and nod and sometimes I spend a few seconds searching the depths of my mind for their names and how I know them. (Yes, this is how bad my memory is these days.)

There are some in red and some in blue. It feels like a bit of a parade, walking through the last of the yard signs before it clears as we get closer to the door. I traditionally accept the ballot forms and handouts from both parties, just because it seems like the polite thing to do.

It’s too late for arguing. It’s too late for debating. This is go time. Vote time.

As I get closer to the door to the auditorium, I toss the handouts in the garbage. I know it’s a waste. We should recycle these. I’ll work on that someday.

Once inside the doors, I love to approach the table of older ladies and retired civics and government teachers. I proudly display my driver’s license, when/if asked. But you should know, I always have my registered voter card with me as well. They never ask for it. We are a very small town after all. They do ask for my name and I tell them and let them know it will most likely be next to last on the list. My best friend/partner/hubby will be the last. They take out their wooden ruler and line it up with my name to double check that I am indeed in the right place to vote. I love that move right there. It is simple and old school and somehow comforting. A wooden ruler. Keeping the lines straight.

They hand me a little worn blue card with a number on it and I am told where to stand to wait my turn. I’m never concerned, there is never a long line and soon it is my turn.

“Next.” I hand over my card to the booth attendant and she holds the blue drape curtain open for me. Ok. Ok. I don’t think these are there anymore, but I miss them and I like to pretend that they still are. Now its just a 3-walled cubby kind of enclosure next to a wall.

I will pull this now imaginary curtain closed. I want my privacy. I take my time. Really, I like to make it last. Seriously, I wait all year to get to do this, why would I rush it?! I like to look it all over. I read through my choices and options. I click on my selected positions and candidates. I check them twice.

Another admission here. I miss the old school way of voting. I miss the heavy blue drape curtain that went almost to the floor, so you could just see people’s shoes behind it. I miss the little black handles on the screen that you could actually turn to the left and a little check mark would appear by your candidate. I actually miss pulling the old school lever with the red-tipped handle. It made this awesome mechanical punching of the card sound with a simultaneous dinging of a bit of an obnoxious bell. The whole experience was so much climactic than the touch screen computer these days. Thanks a lot stupid hanging chad nonsense of 2000. Ruined everything. 🙂

Now, instead of a bell, you get some kind of warning message, like, “Are you sure you want to do this?! Check your answers one more time!” Then click the large VOTE button. I don’t know if there is a ding or not. I still hear one in my head. I think there is a message, like, “Good Job. You have voted. You good and faithful American citizen, You.” Or something like that.

I love finally peeking out from behind ‘the curtain’, and I swear the lovely lady gives me a look that reads, “What took you so long?” That is when I smile. Because I know I get a present for my good deed. I’m like a kid who is looking anxiously at the bank teller in the drive through lane, hoping she will see me in the backseat and put a sucker (or lollipop for those not in the South!) in with the cash withdrawal for my Mom. Yes, I do want my “I Voted.” sticker. It is my proof. It is my message for the rest of the world for the rest of the day. I did it. I voted. Have you?

Then we wait. We look forward to the evening when the returns start, well returning. We watch CNN and local news as the ticker posts updates and percentages. It is all very exciting actually. The wait. The anticipation for the winner to be announced.

But this year. This year is a just a little more exciting. The anticipation is just a little more intense. Because this year, the best friend/partner/hubby is actually a candidate. Yes. His name will be on the ballot when I show up today.

So now it will take me even longer to vote because I will be in there taking pictures of the ballot screen today, too.

I’m very proud of him. He has shown up. He is participating. Lots of people talk politics, complain about politics, judge and coach from the easy seats. But very few of us are willing to throw the proverbial hat into the proverbial ring. He did this. He decided this was something he wanted to do. He followed the advice of “Either do it or stop talking about it.”

He participated in every step of this. He collected signatures. He wrote his own literature. He worked the social media. He made his own brochures and stickers. He designed and printed a single banner and built a frame for the back of his truck. He parked it in different places. He even painted his own yard signs. He didn’t run with a large budget, just a willingness to try. To participate in the process.

I am very proud of him.  X and Y are very proud of him.

And today, we all get to vote.

Whoever wins these races, for Governor, for Delegate, for Supervisor, for School Board, know this: There is work to be done. There is always work to be done. And on November 6th, we start. We accept the new leadership, celebrate or lick our wounds, and we get started.

Red or Blue.

That’s what we do.

Vote. Let’s All, Go. Do that.

vote

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Speak. — Your stump. Your truths.

Now that we have that Halloween nonsense out of the way and I owe Felix nearly a million dollars for taking the kiddos out trick or treating, we can get on to my favorite holidays:

Ahem. My Birthday.

Thanksgiving.

Christmas.

And my absolute favorite: New Year’s Eve.

But wait. First, we have to celebrate…Election Day.  And I do love some voting on Election Day. I wrote about it here.

And this year is a bit more exciting since Felix has thrown his proverbial hat in the proverbial ring. Since he printed brochures. Put a sticker on my car. Spray painted his own signs and put them around the town.

He is a candidate. He is participating. He is speaking out.

And our mailbox is now filling up with political literature. Other candidates running for office. Candidates being endorsed by this group or that group. Candidates sending me postcards that are going straight to the recycling.

Candidates telling me what they believe. What they stand for. What they are going to do.

Candidates declaring their promises. Declaring their intentions. Declaring what they will and won’t tolerate.

This is part of the process. And it has been part of the process for as long as we have been electing officials to represent us in our government.

Back in the day, the days of the early 1800s, candidates would literally stand up on top of a sawed-off tree stump to deliver a speech about their politics, their beliefs, even their opponents.

People would come to sit in the green grass and listen to them speak.

Skilled stump speakers, like Abraham Lincoln, could rally a crowd to action, just with his words.

This is how it went. No campaigns. No signs. No out of control fundraising with dinners costing a $1,000 a plate. (Felix didn’t have these either!) And while there has always been those who took advantage. Those who lied. Those who misrepresented.

There were still good people who stood up on stumps and just spoke their truths.

Kind of like The Lorax in the Dr. Seuss tale, who stood on a stump and spoke for the trees.  lorax

People stood tall. Stood up taller on tall things. And spoke words that incited people. Words that excited people.

Words that spoke to people. Words that moved people to movement.

So. I want to know. What is your ‘stump speech’?

What do you believe in so much that you would stand up…stand up taller… and speak your truth?

Let’s all, Go. Do that.

Today’s Action Challenge:

Write it down. Your stump speech.

There is a catch. Because we are busier now. We are more distracted than in the 1800s. We can’t sit around all day listening to you.

So…for this stump speech… you only have 8 words.

Yes. In 8 words or less…what do you believe? What is your message? What moves you to move others?

Live your stump speech. Make it your rallying cry. Your own personal call to action.

Then stand tall and speak your truth.

Everyday.

Let’s all, Go. Do that.

stump speech

P.S. Here is mine: Eat well. Play more. Choose Happy. (And repeat.)

3 Comments »

Lock. — This Is A Drill. It Is Only A Drill.

lockdown drill

I remember Columbine.

Ironically, on April 20, 1999, I was teaching 2nd grade and had taken a half day of personal leave to go over to Virginia Tech to interview at a job fair. My soon-to-be husband and I were getting ready to move to Charlotte, NC and it just so happened that the Charlotte-Mecklenburg school division was there, looking for teachers.

I arrived on campus to see huddles of people looking at T.V. monitors. Everywhere I turned, huddles of people, staring, hands covering mouths wide open. They would watch for a few minutes, shake their heads and then walk away … heading to their next class or to catch the bus.

(Ironically, just 8 years later, almost to the day, eerily similar scenes would unfold just a few hundred yards from where we stood that day. This is not lost on me.)

I stopped and tried to take in what I was seeing. All I remember now is the footage of kids coming out of the building, running in lines, with their hands in the air or behind their heads. Trying to follow the directions of the many heavily-armed police men and women, no doubt in varying degrees of trauma for what they just saw and heard.

I know that I didn’t come close to grasping  the full tragedy of it all as I walked from T.V. to T.V. on my way to an interview.

An interview where I would volunteer to put myself in harm’s way, put myself in front of my 7 year old students if ever, in the craziest of craziest worlds, a gunman were to come in to my quaint little school.  Oh, that … and I would also teach them to read and write and add and subtract and investigate and inquire and listen and be a decent human being to others.

I was offered the job on the spot.

And then I went home and watched the news.

And like the rest of the nation, the rest of the universe, I was horrified by the stories. The first person accounts. The eyewitness’ tales.

That night, and many nights afterwards, I had nightmares. Vivid, sweating, calling out in my sleep nightmares.

Of frantically trying to hide my baby students, other Mother’s babies,  under desks, in the library, under computer tables, behind chairs. Anywhere to keep them safe.

That summer we moved to Charlotte and I was teaching 2nd grade again. One day, the local police department decided that it would be a good idea if we all started getting prepared for these sort of terrorist-like actions on elementary schools. In retrospect, he was probably right. But I will never forget the day that they pulled a full lock down drill.

During lunch.

Without telling the teachers anything.

I was sitting with my students, reminding them over and over … and … over to eat their lunch more and talk and socialize a little less, when I heard the announcement for the full lock down. I was surprised and shocked and all of a sudden very afraid. As nice as this little school was, I knew that there could be some that might be frustrated with others. Some that might ‘act out’. Some that had the ability to create violence.

I quickly scooped up my kiddos and led them into the nearby art room. I squished them into the corner and then counted again and again and again, making sure that I had everyone. I remember pulling the blinds, turning off the lights, trying to make them smaller, while trying to make myself bigger. Shushing and reassuring and listening…for anything. Everything.

And after what seemed like hours, but was probably just minutes, ‘they’ came over the PA system and announced that this was a drill. It was only a drill.

I don’t care what they said. My heart couldn’t tell the difference.

Complacency had turned to fear in an instant. Fear had turned to terror.

And now, I was just angry.

I led my students back to the cafeteria, trying not to let them see what I was feeling and thinking at the time.  We arrived at our table and suddenly all of the trays of half-eaten food looked the same. They couldn’t tell which tray was theirs and neither could I. I very clearly remember telling them, “Pick a tray. Sit down. Eat.”

But none of us had much of an appetite.

Fast forward a few years and I can tell a story about the shootings at Virginia Tech. Where I was. What I heard. How I still feel on campus today as I teach a class there one night a week.

And a few years later, a story about Sandy Hook Elementary.

And then later at a local community college.

And there are so many stories in between, that now our school system and local law enforcement are on first name basis, not out of an emergency relationship, but just by being proactive.

For the first time last week, my X and Y were going to be in school, when our brave local police and emergency response teams were going to do a full school division lockdown drill.

As a school employee, I knew this was going to happen. As a parent, I was told with a memo that this was going to happen. I know my colleagues in the classrooms knew this was going to happen. We all knew the day. Only they knew the time.

The teacher in me flashed back to that day many years before and my heart ached for my friends who would now have to huddle their kiddos in corners and in cubbies, in closets and even in bathrooms.

But the parent in me…Oh, my heart was broken for what MY kids, my babies, my beautiful X and Y, those innocent souls, would have to do that day.

I knew that my X would be in his Kindergarten classroom with the same awesome Kindergarten teacher that his sister had three years before him. I knew that he would be herded into a corner, behind her desk, where he would dutifully sit, perfectly quiet and still for 15 minutes.  I knew, in her way, she would make it all okay.

And I figured out, by piecing little clues together, that my beautiful and super-sensitive and intuitive Y, would be at lunch when they called this lock down drill. I wasn’t sure what their plan of action would be, but I shared my story with her the night before and I told her the kinda-funny part about the lunch trays. And we talked about how safe she was and if she just listened to her teacher and followed her directions, she would be fine.

I was so anxious on the day of the lock down drill. I kept thinking of my X and Y and hoping that they weren’t too scared. Knowing that they were with amazing teachers who work so hard to make themselves bigger when they have to.  I was never worried about their safety and I’m still not. I just hated the whole idea that they have to practice this.

Like a fire drill.

They have to get up and turn out the lights and huddle in corners and be quiet. Just in case. Just in case, a lunatic with a gun decides to open fire on six year olds and their teachers.

It is a crazy, crazy world we live in. A crazy world where my kids have to prepare for something that I can’t fully bring myself to discuss with them.

As it turns out, X didn’t blink an eye and I had to really pry to get any details out of him. That tells me that 1) he’s a boy and 2) his teacher made it so easy and non-chalant for him, that he didn’t pay much attention to it.

Which makes me 3) even more in love with his awesome Kindergarten teacher.

My Y.

My Y was at lunch with her friends. She says she figured it was going to happen at lunch, too, because her teacher spent some time talking about what they should do … just in case. See….what did I say about intuitive? Like mother, like daughter, a little walking, talking mirror, that one.

She and her classmates did have to leave their lunchboxes and trays and head into the serving lines where they were locked in and had to sit in the floor without talking for 15 minutes.  She has just enough of her Daddy in her, that she didn’t like where she was because there was some water on the floor, so she moved and she can’t be quiet for more than 5 minutes so she actually got in trouble for the first time of her 4 year academic career and lost five minutes of her recess for talking to her friend. (Which, by the way, I’m fine with because the teacher had to do that to make the point about following directions, so I have no problem with this at all…I’m a teacher fan, does it show?)

This… she didn’t tell me until the very last minute as I was tucking her in for bed, worried that I would be disappointed with her.

I smiled. I kissed her repeatedly. And told her that 15 minutes was a long time to be quiet and if she was talking to her friends in order to keep a sense of normalcy during an incredibly absurd activity, then I could not be more proud of her.

For not being afraid. For not settling for sitting in fear in silence (in water) on the floor of a serving line.

For being an 8-year-old kid.

I am proud of them both. For being normal kids in such an abnormal time.

I hate everything about these lock down drills.

While being a little thankful for them at the same time.

A crazy world, indeed.

Full of amazing and awesome young people… (guided by amazing and awesome educators, putting up with an amazing amount of pressure and crap) ... who will grow up to make it a better world.

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Blast. — Backpacks and Pencils and Crayons, Oh My!

Yesterday, as I was leaving work, I get the usual — a Can You Please Stop By the Store and Pick Up… list text from Felix.  So, 15 minutes later, armed with milk under one arm and toilet paper under the other, I was headed to the checkout lines.

But then, I found myself distracted. Helpless against the magnetic pull of a huge display of goods. Being a former elementary teacher, and a Momma to the very creative and equally destructive X and Y, I have no defenses against the allure of …  school supplies…on sale. Boxes of brand new sharply pointed crayons (full box, with none broken or missing!) 10 for 10 cents! Reams of unbent lined 3-hole punched paper! 50 cents each. Packs of pencils, erasers, pens, pencil boxes, highlighters, markers! And my new favorite: black and white composition notebooks!  *Sighs* All on sale. *Sighs again*

I picked up a few items, (I told you I can’t resist those crayons!) and then stopped by the school supply lists.  One for Y. Check. And …Oh Yeah…the boy child starts Kindergarten this year…I have to pick one up for him, too!  I think I may be subconsciously struggling with the fact that he is starting school. I keep forgetting to buy supplies for him, or remembering that he needs to go school shopping, too!  I hope I remember to put him on the bus in a few weeks! 🙂 Although I have a feeling he might remind me.

Later, at home,  I was looking over the list for each of the kiddos and it is the typical stuff. Many of the things listed above plus glue sticks and folders and scissors and notebooks. Hand sanitizer. Tissues.

It’s actually a lot. I mean it is the typical stuff that kids need at school, so I’m not saying it is too much. As a parent, now buying for two, I can see how this can really add up to be an investment. I started thinking about  all of the families with more than 2 kiddos in school. And then what about the families that are struggling a little to make all of the ends meet. Those that are loving their kids up, working multiple jobs to pay the bills, saving and scraping to make sure their kiddos don’t go without.  There are kiddos I know who have lost a parent or have seen tragedy and dealt with sadness that grownups couldn’t begin to handle. And the I also started thinking about the kiddos whose parents are just struggling…with bad choices or bad luck or whatever life has handed them…and school supply shopping is not even close to being on their to do list.

As a former teacher, I certainly spent plenty of my own money to purchase these supply items for my classroom just to make sure these kiddos had what they needed. But like I said, it’s a lot.  Just like families, school budgets have been under attack over the past few years and more and more is needed to help make it all come together in the classroom.

Which is why I am so thankful and appreciative for those in our community who take it upon themselves to help. To help others. In anyway they can. There are lots of opportunities for everyone to help all of these kiddos and families at the beginning of the school year.  There are “Pack the Bus” events or “Adopt a Student” or opportunities to purchase filled backpacks for students.

My challenge to all of us: Do something.  Pick something, some way to help students and families at the beginning of this school year.  Just something. Sponsor a family. Donate some money. Buy some crayons and drop them off at a school. Grab a few gift cards for shoe stores or haircuts and donate them to a local women’s resource center.

Do something.  

And if you are looking right now for the something you can do…let me again tell you about that little church in the little town doing big things. They are sponsoring a Backpack Blast. Taking action. Practicing what LOVE DOES by filling hundreds of backpacks for students in our community who are in need. Families who are facing extraordinary difficulties and loss. Kiddos who just want the fresh haircut and new shoes and nice backpack with all of the crayons and pencils and notebooks that they need to get started on a new school year full of opportunity.

If you are looking of your Do Something chance: Here is one way you can help:

https://secure.easychurchtools.com/fieldstoneumc/

You will be glad that you did something.

“I would send you a bouquet of newly sharpened pencils if I knew your name and address.” (You’ve Got Mail) But since I don’t…here are a few virtual pencils to enjoy and know that I adore you … for doing the something that helps others.

You. You are awesome.

English: Colour pencils. Español: Lápices de c...

English: Colour pencils. Español: Lápices de colores. Français : Crayons de couleurs. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

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Wait. — No Matter How Early.

I get up early, sunrise early, to take the dog for a walk.

Just as I am ready to head out the door with leash in hand, here comes the boy child toddling down the steps.

He wants to go with me if I can just wait for him to go get pants and socks.

So I wait.

That same child goes upstairs and wakes up his sister.

Really?

Now she wants to go, but she needs to find her shoes.

Sigh. So I wait.

Outside, the boy child now doesn’t want to walk, but ride his bike instead, which requires the garage door to be opened.

Finally, we walk.

And talk.

She holds my hand.

We make little discoveries in the grass and the trees together.

We watch the fog lift and the sun rise above the ridge together.

We chat about the day ahead and list the things we are looking forward to doing together.

We breathe in the morning breeze and I say a little prayer for another day we have together.

Sorry to everyone, Felix and the neighbors, for being noisy as we walked so early this morning.

Today.

This morning, knowing the heartache that is happening in Oklahoma…

This Momma just couldn’t say “No” to spending some time with my kiddos.

No matter how early.

holding hands

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